Wednesday, September 05, 2018

So yesterday, I found myself sitting in a Starbucks waiting for my car to be serviced. They told me it would take about 2-3 hours, and I didn't feel like going back home or going anywhere else, so I decided to kill some time on my laptop while I drank some tasty, overpriced coffee.

When I set foot in there, the line was at least 25 people deep, so I decided to secure an open seat by an outlet first, while I waited for the line to die down. I took out my laptop, my phone and my computer charger, and I sat down to begin my job search (yep, still unemployed).

I had been sitting down about 10 minutes, when this lady who could not have been any older than 30 years old came up to me. I could tell she was nervous and a bit tentative, but that didn't stop her from moseying her ass on over to me, so that we could have this inane conversation:

Her: Excuse me sir and good morning. Um, you cannot just sit here in Starbucks without purchasing something first

Me: (while looking at the long line): Well if you allow me to cut to the front of the line, I'd be glad to buy something, do you think you could do that for me?

Her: (laughing): No sir, I definitely cannot do that

Me: (definitely not laughing): Well can you tell me what the difference is between me waiting for that line to die down while I'm on my laptop, and me standing in that long ass line?

Her (stammering): Well I don't know

Me: I didn't think you could, so would you kindly service the 25 customers waiting in line? I promise you I'll join them soon but for now, I need you to leave me alone or find a manager

She turned red, then she walked away. The manager made an appearance and I saw him talking to the woman who harassed me, and he later came over and apologized. I told him I like my apologies in the form of copius amounts of free drinks redeemable at any Starbucks location. He obliged. He also clearly must have asked the young lady to come over to me to apologize because she did so reluctantly. After she apologized, I told her it was ok because she clearly didn't know any better. She gave me a dirty look but she knew better than to provide any type of nasty retort because 1) she might have been fired and 2) I'd have gotten much more profane and personal with my insults. All parties walked away unscathed.

Now, I know I should have lost my temper a little more and maybe I should have made a bit more of a stink about this woman's behavior, but I didn't have it in me. After all, I was already pissed that my car was in the shop (at the dealer shop no less) and I was being overcharged for some simple repairs. Initially I felt like a sell out, but I'm at peace with my actions.

I was in Bethesda, Maryland which is diverse (and affluent) for the most part, but this particular was White and Asian only. I was in that Starbucks for nearly 2 hours and no one who looked like me set foot in that place at all. I grew up not to far from the neighborhood, so I know how to navigate those murky waters, but I was a bit surprised that this young woman would come at me like that.

Just goes to show you that even when you're unemployed, some good, homegrown discrimination can still find its way in your lap.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

I am on day 21 of employment, and I have no problems admitting that it is starting to weigh on me just a bit. Just yesterday, I had what I thought was the perfect job lined up. They saw my resume, a Project Manager was 100% sure that my skillset as a writer was something he was looking for in a technical writer, and the salary was even more than I was making at my previous position. I was pre-screened, we had a bit of a conversation, and last Friday we made plans for me to come in and interview on Tuesday (today) at noon. The recruiter I spoke to said that he'd send me an email with details in terms of who I should report to, the time I should come, the address, etc. That was at 3pm on Friday.

Monday morning came, and I didn't think it was too alarming that I hadn't receive an email, because Mondays are usually full of bullshit office small talk, useless meetings and an abundance of emails. I haven't been unemployed that long that I cannot remember that game. But Monday morning turned into Monday afternoon, and by 4pm I still had to yet to hear from this employer--so I called.

When the dude answered the phone he apologized for not calling me sooner, then he informed me that the job I had visions on claiming, was $20-25k less than what I wanted. In the next breath, he mentioned two or three other jobs that he would consider me for (one of which I'm waiting to hear about now), and I'll admit I was optimistic that he had something else ready for me. But I was sill pissed that I was the one who had to initiate the dialogue, especially I was informed that an email was forthcoming.

So that's where I am. I went on a third interview with an employer yesterday, and it appears that an offer is forthcoming, but that job starts Nov 1st which means I'll have to sell crack and write freelance articles by October 1st (I'm kidding, but not really).

I've also discovered that the question, "So how's the job search going?" annoys the shit out of me, and makes me wildly defensive. I know people mean well and they just want to see if their assistance is needed but I feel like job updates are something I should initiate. They should not be provoked. Of course I could end all this b.s. by simply being employed once again.

I'm working it.

It has been a few days since Aretha died, but I can still post my favorite song right? I love the drum break down in this song, and I also like how effortlessly she rides his beat. She was a once-in-a-generation talent, and thank God her vast music catalog is still around for all to hear/see/digest.

Monday, August 13, 2018

My son Carlton turns 21 years old today. I have actually had to stop and say that out loud more than a few times. Twenty f**king one. He just got back from overseas, he's married with a child on the way in October, but I still consider him to be my young man.

21 years ago on this day, I was working in Stride Rite and substitute teaching on the side. I was living in Fairfax, VA, and my son's mother was living in Hampton, VA. She called me around 1:15 in the afternoon to say that she was going into labor---two weeks early mind you--and I jumped in the car to head her way.

Two hours later, I was on the side of the road after being pulled over by a Virginia State Trooper in Spotsylvania County. I was going 81mph in a 65mph zone, and as soon as the cop came to my window, I told him that my son would be born any minute, and his mother was in labor. He looked me and said that was a heartwarming story, but that didn't give me carte blanche to speed---especially in Virginia. I took my ticket and kept right on speeding for the next hour.

I went right from the highway to the hospital, and after signing some b.s. paperwork, the nurses made me wash and scrub my hands, before putting on a hospital smock or whatever it is called. I was told that my son had been born just 30 minutes prior to my arrival and he was resting in the incubation room. That didn't make me cry.

I saw him laying down in the incubation room with his outfit on, and his little beady eyes were just darting all over the room. That didn't make me cry either.

But as soon as the nurse lifted my son out of the incubation tray and put him in my hands, I looked at him, he looked at me, and I just started bawling. My mom and Sara's (my son'so the grandmother) mom just walked away so I could have my moment.

It's the little things you know?

And even though I am quite sure I have mentioned this story and the song I'm about to post below, I don't care. It never gets old...but I do..

Here's the picture that was taken an hour after I arrived to the hospital:

And here's the song I played to young Carlton as we left the hospital:

And here's my son--the Marine--just a couple weeks ago before he came home:

Monday, August 06, 2018

So I am almost a week into unemployment and my feelings are mixed so far. On one hand, you never realize how much of a break you need (and never get) from working until your hand is forced by the evil monster called unemployment. I applied for jobs last week, and I tied up loose ends with my previous employer, but I also got a chance to write and binge watch a little Mad Men. I thoroughly enjoyed that.

Conversely, when Monday morning came, and my wife and son were getting ready for work and school respectively, I felt like a supreme loser. I had an interview scheduled for this morning but it was postponed due to some unforeseen family emergency. So instead of sitting in the house while continuing to apply for work, I "ventured" over to a coffee shop in an effort lift my spirits. It really isn't working, but I'm out of the house so that's good right?

The one good thing that has happened is that my son Carlton is finally home from overseas after being gone since last year. I get to to see him and his pregnant wife next weekend, and I could not be happier. It is still bullshit that I am going to be grandfather at 43, but it will be fulfilling to sit with my son and his wife as they prepare for parenthood.

In the meantime, if you're reading this, and you can help me get a job in the technical/sports writing field, send me an email and let's go business:

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

So, I lost my job today.

At the beginning of June I was laid off because the government neglected to fund my position along with about five or six others. Luckily for me, I was able to land on my feet shortly afterwards, because an old boss of mine found a slot for me at the same company.

So for the past month, I've been helping to write and organize proposals, which was a skill I hadn't used in a few years. Yes my boss was a dick and a half, and my commute took time away from my family in the evening but I made things work, because it beat being unemployed. Plus I was still looking for another job.

But today my good luck ran out. One minute I was sending an email to one of my colleagues, asking her to meet with me about the veracity of the boilerplate language on my company's proposals, and the next minute I was summoned to my boss's office.

I thought he was asking to attend some type of impromptu meeting, so I brought my lemon zinger tea, my pen and a notepad. I got two steps away from the office, and saw my HR representative in my boss's office, and I knew I was doomed. I was told that for budget reasons, my position (along with others allegedly) was being eliminated. My benefits ended immediately, I was offered the dreaded COBRA option, and I was also told that I have a severance coming in a few weeks. I asked a few obligatory questions, and I rolled out without shaking the hands of my boss or my HR rep. Yes I was angry--although I later called Ms. HR lady and apologized for not being respectful.

I was angry for about a good two hours but the beer/wine helped numb that pain. Now I'm looking and applying for jobs, accepting paying sportswriting gigs, and trying to do the things that responsible adults who have just been fired do. I haven't been unemployed since the summer of 1998 when I was 23 years old, and even then I found a job within a month.

But yeah it sucks.

By the way, go read my latest collaborative article.

Monday, July 16, 2018

I have made it known on more than one occasion that Rakim is my favorite rapper. I know that Jay-Z is more prolific, and Black Thought may have better rhymes and Ice Cube may have better stories, and Eminem may be more technically sound, but when Rakim pulls off a thoughtful, symmetrical rhyme, I feel oddly fulfilled considering I get no personal or financial gain. I have felt that way since 1987 when I first heard him, and that feeling has lasted 31 years.

But the reality about someone my age (43) having a favorite rapper who is 50 (as Rakim turned on January 28th) is that there are long periods of inactivity. Yes there are tours and yes there are greatest hits collections, but when most rappers get close to and even pass the 50 year old threshold (the exceptions are Chuck D and Jay-Z) it is rare to hear new music. And up until a few weeks ago, Rakim was no exception.

He had been doing tours and lectures all around the world, and I'm sure he solidified his elevated status with established fans and won over some previously ignorant fans, but there had been no new music for over almost 10 years. I actually went to see him during one of those tours, when he showed up at the Blue Note in NYC backed by the legendary Roots crew. He looked good (Rakim was never a great live perform, but his stellar rhymes served as the perfect misdirection), he sounded good, and he teased new music, but nothing happened. And don't even get me started on that failed Dr. Dre/Rakim collaboration

But a few months ago, I was minding my own business on Instagram (which is as oxymoronic of a statement as I've made in a while), and I noticed that Ali Shaheed Muhammad just casually posted this clip of Rakim rhyming.. Muhammad (along Adrian Younge) helped score the first season of Luke Cage and for Season 2, they decided to bring Rakim into the fray.

Now I don't know if an album is forthcoming or if he will continue to work with the Muhammad/Younge duo, and frankly it doesn't matter right now. What does matter is that Rakim Allah resurfaced to make some damn good music in 2018. It's the little things...

Monday, July 09, 2018

First off, I write for Forbes now, so please go read

Second, my friend Nichole wrote a book, go buy it

Now, I would like to profess my profound appreciation for single parents--both male and female.

I am currently in the fourth of a six day wife-less stint, meaning it has just been my son and me during that span. So allow me to get the politically-correct touchy feely stuff out of the way.

I love my son and I love it when we have extended one-on-one time. Since his mother has been out of town on "business" in sunny Orlando, we've watched Black Panther, learned the Wakanda greeting, played the game Trouble, talked about the pretty girls in his summer camp, listened to Barry White's "Playing Your Game Baby" over and over and we even practiced the breaststroke in and out of the water. Occasionally, he'll hit me with a "Daddy I miss Mommy" and I promise him that we'll talk to her via FaceTime at some point during the day. This is quality bonding time and one day both of us will look back on this fondly,

But man..having to be the center of my son's attention during his every waking hour is some incredibly draining sh*t. Even when he's doing something that should seemingly be all consuming like playing games on the iPad, he has to call me over every 30 seconds by saying, "Daddy look at this!" or he'll regale me with a detailed explanation about the superpowers of one of his many toys/action figures. I humor him because it is hard to shun those big beady eyes, and the accompanying excitement, but damn. Sometimes I want to watch the World Cup, or NBA Summer League or wild porn--and he makes it nearly impossible to sustain any meaningful momentum doing anything of those things---until he goes to sleep of course and by that time, I'm tired too.

But nothing epitomizes my frustration more than what went down in the grocery store.

If you've ever taken a kid under the age of 10 to the grocery store, you know that kids absolutely go bonkers. If they see their favorite cartoon on a random balloon or cereal box, you are forced to hear 5-10 minute monologues about why they should absolutely get the cereal AND a toy. If they see their favorite food, they will pick it up, shove it in your face, and give you yet another monologue about how life itself will cease to go on, unless that food makes its way into the cart.

Even if you successfully squelch the kid's desire for toys and random food, that kid will run, skip, jump and cartwheel down every alley in the store. And with my son, you get an added bonus of learning every time he passes gas--not because you hear or smell it, but because he loudly says to anyone within earshot, "'SCUSE ME I PASSED GAS!' I told him that I admire his honesty, but sometimes, that info needs an inside voice. He agrees with me once, and then the cycle begins again.

So after I endured all of those antics---the type of antics a six year old is supposed to pull by the way--we finally get to the checkout line which of course was long as all get out. We waited in that line for a good 15 minutes, but it was fun, because we told jokes, did dances (I don't know what the dances are called, but I know I saw Donald Glover do them in this video.

But right as the couple in front of me was finished paying for their groceries, my son announced that he had to pee. Now here I am with a cart full of groceries, no wife to watch them for me, 6 people behind me eager to skip my ass and get their groceries paid for and out of the store, and a panicked look on my face. So the first time I heard my son say what he said, I straight ignored him and kept taking my groceries out the cart. So my son saw my neglect and raised me with an even louder, 'scuse-me-I-passed-gas like voice and said, "DADDY I DON'T WANT TO PEE ON MYSELF, CAN WE GO TO THE BATHROOM?"

At this point, if I don't take him to the bathroom, I'm 100% sure that Child Protective Services or ICE (they are interchangeable) would come and get me. So I politely ask the clerk if he can keep ringing me up so I don't lose my space in line, and thankfully he said yes. The people behind start huffing and puffing quietly, but they knew better than to turn the volume up on that sh*t too much because a) there's a kid involved and b) I had the look of death on my face just waiting for someone to say something while I was in the midst of this wife-less week.

Thankfully the bathroom trip was quick and efficient, my groceries were still being rung up by the time we returned, and no one was harmed. Still, the stress of the whole experience made me appreciate those folks who don't have a spouse or partner to returning to them at all. God bless y'all. I hope you keep plenty of bible, alcohol or weed (or all three) within arm's reach at all times. Lord knows you need it.

I mentioned earlier in this blog that Nyles and I have been jamming to Barry White's "Playing Your Game Baby", which means that I also have to play the clean version of Black Moon's "I Gotcha Opin remix" as well. One day, I'll post a video of my son rapping along with Buckshot Shorty while screaming, "DUCK DOWNNNN!":

Friday, June 29, 2018

So my life has turned upside down and inside out during the month of June, which basically neutered the creative writing side of me---which explains why I didn't blog and wrote just one Wizards-related article this month.

First I was laid off on the last day of May, because the contract I was working on was abruptly defunded. Lucky for me, I was re-hired by the same company a few days later, which means I really should not complain---but I will.

The new job is in Falls Church, Virginia, which means I have to ride the train for 35-45 minutes and then take a bus the remainder of the way. I suppose I could drive, but I despise sitting in traffic and paying tolls en route to work. You may be telling yourself, "Hey you big dummy, just a few weeks ago you were unemployed, and now you're bitching and moaning about a lengthy commute to a paying job? Get over yourself!" And if you were bold enough to say or write such things to me, I'd say that you were absolutely right. And then I would counter that by informing you that I have walked to work since 2013, and my walk has never been longer than 10 minutes. So yes, I am spoiled, but you would be too.

In addition to the long commute, I now work for a supreme a$$hole. He's younger than I am, he isn't 100% qualified for the job he does, and he really didn't want to hire me, but he was strongly urged to do so by folks who outranked him and liked me. Justified or not, I've built a bit of a reputation with my company, and that has afforded me the right to get hired days after I was fired. I still don't' feel comfortable thanks to my new boss who does an exemplary job of making me uncomfortable by excessively cursing, not giving me morning salutations and making a big deal out of trivial things that I do.

On the Washington Wizards side of things, I am thisclose to leaving the site I currently work for (Truth About It) in favor of another site (Wiz of Awes). Truth About It has held me down for 8 years, but unfortunately, most of the writers have been struck by the type of life-changing things that cause you to write significantly less. Two people got married, four people moved to New York, some folks got jobs, and after the dust was settled, I was thrust into being a major contributor for the site. That would be golden if I was a single man in my 20s, but I'm married with two kids, and I simply cannot write as often as I'd like. But on Truth About It, if me or one other person didn't write, nothing would be published, which jeopardized my ability to get game credentials. So I'm about to move to another site, which doesn't have as much of a reputation, but I can be a writer and a editor at my leisure...and I can get paid, which ultimately is what I want.

So yeah, the month of June has been wild. I haven't even mentioned the book that I am working on, thanks to my main man Sabin kicking me in the ass once again...

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

I am not a fan of LeBron James the basketball player, because my loyalty to the Washington Wizards precludes that type of traitor activity. But I'm a big fan of LeBron the family man, which is why I am posting this tweet. It made me smile this morning:

Monday, May 07, 2018

First off, I hate trying to write the same day Ta-Nehisi Coates comes out with an article. His writing is so substantive and seemingly effortlessly good...and here I am writing about frivolity. But the show must go on...

This past Saturday my wife was out of town with her girlfriends, which meant my son Nyles and me were left to our own devices. We went to the barbershop, we bought shoes, we had lunch, shared fancy pretzels, went to the playground, and we ended up at a carnival.

Nyles was way too afraid to get on the Ferris wheel, the rollercoaster, or frankly, anything that lifted off the ground. But he was all into the games. First he played a basketball game, then he tossed beanbags into random holes, then he squirted water into holes to advance his horse (I promise this wasn't as perverse as it may be reading), and did a little outdoor fooseball.

The last event of the night was some type of hammer contraption. Nyles had to hammer an object as hard as he possibly could, and the higher his score, the bigger the prize. He swung as hard as he could three times, and finally he earned a prize: A Marvel Superhero Balloon. He had three choices: Spiderman, Batman and Superman.

Nyles has plenty of Spiderman action figures big and small, so I knew that was out of the running. I wanted him to choose Batman because I always regarded him as a dark, mysterious bad ass. The Superman ballon had a cape and he...well he was all white. Now I have nothing against white people or white superheroes, but as I may have alluded to before on this blog, so many of the fictional characters my son sees on TV are white or non-white characters voiced by white people. He may not realize how demoralizing and unfair that is for a little brown boy, but I do, and I don't like it one bit. Whenever I can literally, sprinkle a brown (Fat Albert) or black (Black Panther) cartoon/action figure in his life, I do just that.

But needless to say, my son chose Superman.

So after the carnival, Nyles and I went to the liquor store so Daddy could get some wine, and all these black folks took one look at my son, and another at this Superman balloon with the super white face, and they looked back at me as if say, "Dude what the f**k?". For the remainder of the day, my son was carrying this damn balloon around like Linus carried his blanket, and it was eating away at my insides---but I said nothing to discourage him or his choices.

But at one point, my son was play fighting with this giant balloon in one hand, and the tiny Black Panther action figure in the other, and I literally wanted to maim that damn Superman doll. Luckily for me, a few days have passed and Black Panther is back in the can-I-hold-a-toy-on-the-way-to-school rotation. And today when he got back home from school, he played with both superheroes in harmony. The Black Panther won some fights, as did Superman. Racial equality at its finest.

I think I sound racist in this blog, but I'm not. I just want my son to see people who look like him in cartoon land to offset all the folks who don't.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

First off, I would be honored if you go read about my article about how the Washington Wizards coach isn't anywhere close to losing his job...not yet anyway.

Second, I have a rare follow-up to the last blog entry I wrote regarding my father's judicious use of profanity.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this on my blog, but my father's girlfriend had an aneurysm last year, and although she survived, she is still a work in progress. She can't talk, she can't use her hands, much of her body is paralyzed and all of this has left my father in the position of being part-time caretaker. His lady is in a facility 24/7, but my father goes by for a couple of hours once a day to check on her, which is quite admirable--for the most part.

Even at the age of 67, my father still has needs which range from primal to just regular companionship and occasional visits to a facility just ain't gonna cut it. He doesn't want to admit this out loud but I hear the loneliness in his voice everyday. I want to tell him to ditch her and the guilt trip that comes with her, but he has to do that at his own pace. So I don't look like an asshole, I suppose I should mention that the doctors have told my father that it is highly unlikely that her condition will improve. Sorry to be depressing but I had to set the scene.

Since his lady entered the hospital, her family has been in and out of town to check on her, and one of the main visitors as you can imagine is her mother (I should also mention that my father's lady is 15 years younger than he is). Prior to her current condition, my father's lady made it her business to minimize the number of times her and my dad met, because she knows how quickly my father can get annoyed. She was also keenly aware at how overbearing and annoying her mother could be.

But now my dad has been forced to deal his lady's mom directly, which has gone just about as well as you could imagine...not too well. She has asked to stay with my dad on a couple of occasions, and my dad says yes the first time and no each and every other time---much to her mother's chagrin.

So a couple days ago, my father mentioned that the mother was coming in town soon, and he was dreading having to engage in small talk with her in and out of the hospital, which led to the following conversation

Me: So when will she be in town
Dad: Some time next week I think
Me: Aren't you going let her stay with me
Dad: Man hell na--I'm sorry, excuse my language
Me: Nah its too late, just say it now
Dad: Let's move on

I can't even begin to describe how big of a smile I had on my face. Ronald Reagan didn't issue a directive to my father to tear down the wall of secrecy that has blocked him from cursing around me, but it is starting to erode organically. I don't want him to start spewing motherf**ker and b**ch, but an occasional ass, f**k, goddamn, and hell would be a welcome addition into our father-son lexicon.

Anyway..thanks for listening.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

My father prides himself on being a very private person. He was like that while I was growing up and that hasn't changed even an iota in my adult life. He didn't tell me he had prostate cancer until his final treatment was done and the cancer was gone. He didn't tell me he was getting re-married until a week before the wedding, then he begged me to be in it. And until I was 35, I never saw him consume alcohol at home or in public--which makes the story I am about tell pretty me at least.

My dad, my Aunt Sharon, my brother and I were in the car on my way to my Aunt Sarah's funeral back in 2001. Sarah was a former White House cook who lived a long life, and died exactly one year after her husband of 60 years passed away. It sounds like a sad story, but considering she got to be with her husband again, there was almost a festive atmosphere surrounding the funeral. She had a damn good run.

So while all of us were in the car and my dad was making everyone listen to the Temptations as usual, he and Sharon were having a conversation in the front seat, and my brother and I were in the back talking about something. My dad would say something that was barely audible and loud ass Sharon would respond in boisterous fashion. My brother and I didn't necessarily want to hear their conversations, but once Sharon opened her mouth, we really had no choice. That was the dynamic in play in the car.

Out of nowhere, Sharon looks at my dad, and says, "Michael you still like to get you a little taste?"

**sidebar** For those of you not familiar with that particular usage of the vernacular, "get you a little taste" for people in my aunt and father's generation is the same as "get your drink on" for younger/current generations. I feel like I shouldn't have to explain that, but at a Christmas party one time, I asked a co-worker of mine if they could "bring me a plate", and instead of bringing back a plate full of food, they literally brought back an empty, white-ass plate--but that was my fault for assuming they were hip to the vernacular. I shall not make that mistake again. **sidebar over**

As SOON as my Aunt asked my father that question, my brother and I shut the hell up and perked up our ears to hear our dad's response. Up to that point, we had not seen him imbibe at all. We had seen beer and wine in and around the fridge, and we'd also seen alcohol in the garbage/recycling bins, but we hadn't actually seen him put mouth to bottle/glass, and it felt very intentional. Now here was his sister asking to him discuss his drinking habits in front of his previously-in-the-dark "children" (I was 26, my brother was 23).

First my father shot my Aunt the look of death, but she had already shifted her glance out of the window after asking the question, so she was oblivious to his quiet outrage. After a long pause he looked at her and said, "Sharon, do we really have to talk about this in front of "them?" Then she made it worse by first saying, "Oh please Michael!", then she looked back at my brother and me and said, "Y'all don't know your Daddy likes to get him a taste every now and then?"

We started to answer, but then we caught our father's scowls in the mirror, and for a minute we hesitated. Then I remembered that was 20 f**king 6 years old and grown enough to speak up (kind of), so I said, "We know but we've never seen it." There was a bit of a pause, and then my dad started laughing, then my aunt started laughing, and after my brother and I were absolutely sure that this laughter wasn't fleeting, we joined in on the laughter too.

After the laughter subsided, they went back to their conversations, my brother and I went back to ours, and that subject never came up again. Ten years later, my brother, my father, my oldest son Carlton and I went out to eat, my dad ordered a red wine we held a mock ceremony to commemorate the embargo being lifted. Now, he drinks freely in front of us, and we join in, like functioning adults.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

This will read as a stream of consciousness-like post, so please humor me...

I kept hearing how good Meshell Ndegeocello's new cd was--it is called Ventriloquism--but up until a couple of nights ago, I really had not gotten around to taking a listen. I started it two nights ago while I was in the shower, and I finished it just a few minutes before I sat down to write this here blog.

Meshell takes some of her favorite 80s classics and puts her own unique Meshell touch on them. Some of the songs like Al B Sure's "Nite and Day" and Janet Jackson, "Funny How Time Flies" and Prince's "Sometimes It Snows in April" work like a charm while others like George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" and Tina Turner's "Private Dancer" fell kind of flat in my opinion. But it is hard to ever get truly mad at any missteps on this album, because Meshell's voice is so damn sexy and the music is good.

So after I listened to Meshell's version of "Nite and Day", I went and listened to Al B's version right after that, and it took me back to the summer of 1988, when I couldn't figure out whether Al B was a man or a woman. I didn't watch videos regularly back then so there was no visual evidence for me to lean on, and even though his name was Al B, I thought that was some type of gimmick because his voice sounded like a damn woman---which is why it was perfect song for Meshell to cover. I finally figured out later that summer that Al B was indeed a dude, and his whole album was so good, it really ended up not mattering.

After listening to Al B's "Nite and Day", I decided to stick with that same theme, and I cued up Tevin Campbell's "Alone with You" which was produced by Al B and his main man Kyle West. I was a freshman in college when this song came out, and I made it my business to put it on every slow jam tape I made. I had lots of slow jam tapes but no one to use it on, but that didn't stop me from curating a quality product. But when I look back on that song, it is little weird that 16 year old Tevin (not exactly a pillar in the masculinity community) could make a sexually-charged song that had the proper amount of begging, urgency and accuracy. I think that last sentence danced awfully close to the politically incorrect line, but you know what I meant right?

Anyway, I found myself wondering if Al B Sure sang "Along With You", would that song still have resonated with me and others. Then I found myself wondering why there are no more quality slow jams. These days, there are slow rap songs that lack any scintilla of romanticism, or there are slow R&B songs where the singer "sings" in a rap cadence, which doesn't exactly inspire romance. Although I supposed there is something to be said for listening to rap songs while you and your partner/spouse have hot, sweaty sex with urgency on the stairs.. I get that. But slow jams aren't always about the sex, they are about a mood, a state of relaxation and yes, maybe a little coitus on (or in) the back end.

This concludes my rudderless rant.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

I wrote a little something about the NBA and mental health, and I think you should read it by clicking here.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Rickey Henderson is considered to be one of the best--if not the best--base stealer of all time, and it is the main reason why he has a bust in the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame. And if you don't believe me, just ask him, because he has such a big ego, that even Kanye West would say, "damn, bring it down a notch!".

Aside from Rickey's ego, his other attributes were his tremendous speed, his quick reaction time that was out of this world, his ability to climb into the heads of pitchers, and last but certainly not least, he knew exactly how much of a lead (the space between he and the base) he could take without getting caught. To watch him play was my absolute honor:

Why did I spend my first two paragraphs talking about Rickey Henderson, base-stealing and leading? Because there are Rickey Henderson imposters walking around the District of Columbia, but they aren't taking leads off of bases, they are taking leads off of city sidewalks. Allow me to explain.

Have you ever been driving down the road wanting to make a right turn and your ability to do so is impeded by a pedestrian? This pedestrian does not have a "walk" sign and for their safety they really should be keeping their ass on the sidewalk. But instead, this pedestrian takes not one, but two steps into the street and cranes their neck while trying to see if they can safely jaywalk. A little something I like to call a lead.

If you are in a car and attempting to make a right turn while this person is taking a lead in the street, you certainly have some options, but they all have varying consequences.

The first option is to widen the right turn in an effort to avoid the pedestrian completely. This will certainly put the pedestrian at ease because a wide turn will spare all of their body parts from "accidental" contact but this puts the driver at risk, because in order to pull this wide turn, it is virtually impossible not to veer a bit into the opposite lane. By doing wtat, the driver could possibly run into the cars traveling in the opposite direction. Even if you avoid a head-on collision, the driver's side mirror could still graze the mirror of the car passing by, and no one needs that drama or potential for road rage.

The second option is to simply stop the car completely and beep the horn until the passenger either crosses the street or steps back on the sidewalk. These two options are dicey too, because the cars behind you may see your stagnant car and cause a cacophony with a symphony of horns and expletives. If the pedestrian steps back on the sidewalk, then all is well, but if they keep walking, then the other pedestrians may be empowered to jaywalk on your watch as well. Then you have a little something I like to call a Beatles' Abbey Road situation:

The last option is akin to a brushback pitch in baseball. For those unaware of what that is, a brushback pitch is a what a pitcher throws when he thinks the batter is standing too close to the plate. The pitcher wouldn't dare hit the batter (not yet anyway), but he wants to not-so-politely let the batter know that it could indeed get to that point if they don't back the f**k up. Here's an example:

The car equivalent of a brushback pitch is a bit difficult to execute because sans intense concentration, the pedestrian could be struck, which will surely cause a loss of license points, a significant delay, or worse. But if this maneuver is skillfully pulled off, and the driver can pull just close enough to the pedestrian, so that they scurry and run back on the sidewalk like mouse in an alley, then dammit it is a job well done, and that small deed goes a long way in ridding the world of these jackasses who feel the need to lead.

I'm proud to say that I've executed the car brushback many times and it is thing of a beauty. In fact, I am usually so elated that I don't see the middle fingers and curses being thrown in my direction--from the sidewalk of course.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

When I was in college there was neither Twitter nor facebook to guide me and my peers in terms of figuring out what music was good, bad or legendary. I had to rely on my own ears, a little help from The Source and Vibe magazine, and a big assist from the cars that drove by.

At Hampton--although I'm sure the same thing went on at all colleges and certain neighborhoods--you knew what songs were hot and jammin on the one, by what would you hear playing out of car speakers (back when those were still a thing). In the late summer and early fall of 1994 there were two main artists whose music seemed to be flowing out of every damn car. The Notorious B.I.G. whose death anniversary was just "celebrated" on Friday, March 9th and Craig Mack who passed away yesterday due to heart failure.

"Flava In Your Ear" was the song and every damn body was playing. The band played it at football games, DJ's played it 5 or 6 time at parties, my boy played it in his room while he cut my hair, and I had the maxi-single to play in my Walkman while I trekked around on campus. The beat was sparse yet addictive, the song started with distinctive lyrics (Just. like. Uniblaaaab), Craig's voice was unique as hell, and the way he said, "boyyeeee" made everyone laugh. Those combination of factors alone made the song a classic in my eyes...then came the remix.

I can't remember exactly when the remix came out, I just remember it was out around Howard's homecoming (late October/early November of '94) and that just kicked things up a notch. It started with Biggie, who had already had the biggest album of the summer/fall (his best line was, "You're mad cuz my style you're admiring/don't be mad, UPS is hiring). Craig Mack batted second and his best line to me was (You won't be around next year...). In fact to this day, whenever I want to be dismissive of someone new--whether it is in sports, entertainment, literature or a politician, I use that line has a slight homage to Mr. Mack.

Third on that Flava In Ya Ear remix was a fellow named Rampage, and his verse was not memorable at all, so I won't quote it. Next was LL Cool J, who hadn't done a song of relevance in a few years, so his appearance on there was a welcome surprise. His verse made little to no sense, but it was catchy and on-beat, so he received a pass ( Word to Momma/I tongue kiss a piranha/electrocute a barracuda/I'm here to bring the drama).

Last, but definitely not least on that remix was Busta Rhymes, who from 1992 to around 1996 was on an amazing run of guest appearances, where he'd bring energy and he'd damn near upstage the person who invited him on the track in the first place. This remix was no exception. Busta was screaming and rhyming with boundless energy, and I'm not going to post my favorite lyric of his because it misogynistic as hell, but dammit at 20 I didn't care.

You put all of that together, and you had a song an accompanying remix, that are still impressionable nearly 25 years later. I hadn't really thought about it in this level of detail until I heard that Mr. Mack passed away. He was only 46 and he succumbed to a long battle with heart failure, which is yet another reminder that health is priority number one.

This is one of his songs that my boy used to play in his Geo Tracker, every. single. f**king. day!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

I work down the hall from a New England Patriots fan, and she was talking big shit all season about how her team was going to be in the Super Bowl and mine (the Philadelphia Eagles) was not. If I'm being 100% honest, I didn't have much faith that my team was going to make the Super Bowl after Carson Wentz got injured. But lo and behold, at the end of the playoffs, the Eagles and the Patriots were scheduled to meet. This was back on February 4th.

Since my co-worker took it upon herself to talk all that jive during the regular season, I thought it would be mighty black of me to place a wager with her. I didn't know her financial situation, so I suggested something harmless and beneficial: A bottle of wine. I told her that if I won I wanted a Coppola Merlot and she told me what kind of wine she wanted if she won. I didn't even pay attention to what she wanted because unlike during the regular season, I was supremely confident of my team's chances in the biggest game of the year. We shook on the bet the Friday before the Super Bowl and I felt damn good about my chances.

The Eagles won of course, and the next day at work, I just kind of casually dipped my head in her office. My co-worker was still understandably salty about her team's demise, but she told me she would purchase my fine wine by the end of the week. That was on February 5th.

I hadn't seen her for a few weeks until last week when I just so happened to see her in the kitchen, while I was washing my dish after lunch. We exchanged pleasantries, and then she told me that she hadn't forgotten about me, she had just been really busy as of late, and she still was going to get me my wine. I jokingly asked her if she was sure, and she basically said her word was bond---that may be the case, but it damn sure isn't timely.

When the loser of a bet has to pay, it absolutely has to be done in timely fashion. The person who won the bet, needs that instant gratification of knowing that a) They beat and outsmarted your ass and b) the person who they beat had to endure a bit of inconvenience as a result of their loser ways. I felt good in the few days after the bet, but now my good feelings have been nullified due to her neglect. Furthermore, she has the upper hand, because if I don't say anything, she'll continue to not pay but if I do gently remind her that she owes me a fine bottle of wine, I look petty and pressed as all get out, stressing her about a $12 of wine. She's turned the tables on me.

That being said, I have no problems being petty and I fully plan on getting that wine this week. Delayed gratification is gratification nonetheless. It's just a shame she does not know the proper bet-making-and-paying-up etiquette.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

I haven't been inspired to write lately, and then the wife and I sat down to watch the movie, "Midnight in Paris", which centers around the thoughts, comings and goings of a writer. Something about hearing a writer's process, the neurotic way they organize their thoughts, and the quirky routines writers put themselves through to achieve what they think is perfection, just made me want to sit at this damn laptop and start writing. The main character in the movie was working on a novel, I am simply writing a blog entry, so those two things are hardly the same, but humor me please.

Now when the movie started, the wife and I immediately saw two things: The movie was produced by Woody Allen and Harvey Weinstein was affiliated as well. I looked at my wife, my wife looked at me, and we thought we were dead wrong for watching the movie, but we discussed it and decided to keep watching. We've been trying to see this movie for seven damn years, and something always comes up--and that something just so happens to be our son who was born the same year the movie was released (2011).

I shouldn't be supporting Woody Allen, just like I should be boycotting the NFL, burning all of my R Kelly music, and ignoring the Cosby show when the reruns are on television. All of that stuff is rooted in logical thought, but on an emotional level, it is difficult to discard those individuals and some of the fine work they have produced over the years.

The fact is, I like the way Woody Allen writes and constructs movies. He's a chronic overthinker (which is the only similarity he and I have) and that trait is evident in all of his movies. He has a knack for impeccable casting, his movies are usually concise, and they always make me think. There aren't many directors who can check all of those boxes. And yet, I have skipped most of Woody Allen's movies over the past several years, because he clearly has a problem with leaving some underage girls alone. All these creepy scandals over the years have taught me that someone can be brilliantly talented at their craft, while being a royal fuckup in other aspects of their lives.

Yes I should be responsible and distance myself from any and everything these people have created. But damn, why do I have to deprive myself of that good stuff, just because they can't get right? This is the type of dilemma millions of people have endure daily.

And as I am writing this, I imagine there is one person reading my words, and wondering why I haven't mentioned the victims of all the creepy individuals I have described. I am not ignoring them, nor am I downplaying what they may have gone through, I am just being incredibly selfish with this blog entry, which means I am choosing to focus on how their behavior affects me.

That's all for now.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

John Coltrane was born in 1926, Michael Jackson was born in 1958, Rakim wss born in 1968 and I was born in 1975.

I discovered Michael Jackson as a four year old when Off the Wall came out. I was introduced to John Coltrane by my father in 1985 when he played My Favorite Things for me on vinyl. And I discovered Rakim in 1988 during an episode of Yo! MTV Raps.

Michael Jackson is my favorite performer ever, John Coltrane is my favorite jazz musician and Rakim doubles as my favorite rapper and the greatest of all time.

I'm sure all three of those statements can be both argued and challenged, but not within the confines of this blog. Those are my statements and I stand firmly by all of them. Why do I mention these things?

In the past two weeks, I have discovered a couple pieces of information that link all three of my favorite musicians--a bizarro Kevin Bacon game if you will.

Two weeks ago Quincy Jones went on a bit of a media rampage, and started snitching by telling stories about various celebrities he had hobnobbed with over the course of his sprawling career. As much I doubt the accuracy of some of these statements, I really can't hate on Quincy, because he's doing exactly what 80+ year old men tend to do: Talk a lot of shit.

That being said, there was one particular passage, which I found quite interesting. I had seen this in an article a few years ago, but I hadn't been able to find it. Luckily for me, Quincy reiterated it for Vulture Magazine:

Michael Jackson's "Baby Be Mine" is usually viewed as the weakest link on "Thriller" and with good reason:

1) Wanna Be Startin Something has the African Chant at the end
2)The Girl Is Mine has a Beatle as the co-star
3) Thriller has Vincent Price as the guest star and is accompanied by the best video of all time
4) Beat It has the Eddie Van Halen guitar solo
5) Billie Jean is arguably the best pop single of all time
6)Human Nature is unlike any song you've ever, and it was written by the 80s pop group Toto,
7) PYT has Janet Jackson, James Ingram and LaToya Jackson on background vocals, plus it has the "na na na/UHH" breakdown
8) Lady in my Life is the ONLY song MJ has ever begged on.

Well now you have a reason to love "Baby Be Mine" because the chord changes you hear at certain point of this song are akin the chord changes all through Coltrane's "Baby Steps". Don't believe me? Listen to the Coltrane song starting at the 26 second mark and continuing through the rest of the song...

Now, listen to MJ's Baby Be Mine right around the 3:30 mark, and check out the chord changes there. It happens two other times after this point, but that's the first time.

That may not be a big deal to you, but it made me giddy. Quincy is a fan of jazz music but more importantly he used to play and compose jazz music, so knows what he's talking about. The fact that he brought a bit of Coltrane to MJ, and they are BOTH in my personal pantheon of great musicians, is a big elfin deal to me. But there's more.

Today, I was listening to Toure's podcast with Rakim. Toure asked Rakim about how he wrote rhymes and who influenced his cadence, and Rakim guessed it...John Coltane.

Rakim's mother used to play Coltrane records and one day his mother played "My Favorite Things" and Rakim was blown away at how Coltrane seemingly played two notes at once and how off-the-charts his improvisation was. From there Rakim started discussing how he would hear songs, and decide to cater his approach to rapping/writing to how Coltrane approached his solos.

When I heard him say that, I instantly though of Rakim's flow in "Lyrics of Fury"---specifically at the 32-second mark, starting with the line, "Haven't you ever heard of an MC murderer"

Notice the syncopation and how he starts a little after the "1", and then continues flowing rapid fire similar to Coltrane on the horn. It is beautiful, poetic and an homage to his favorite musician.

I like Coltrane, MJ and Rakim because of their talent, the way they sound and how much of an appreciation they have for their craft. But now that I know that they are all intertwined in some weird way, makes me extremely happy. And it should make you happy too goddammit.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

In my last blog entry I did a bit of bellyaching over my slightly advanced age and the tangential consequences that I now suffer as a result--like losing my keys. This morning I had a different type of issue that had nothing to do with age, and everything to do with stubbornness and laziness.

Two weeks ago I noticed that the heel of my shoe was slightly loose. I don't wear real cheap shoes, but these aren't exactly $700 shoes either. They are good solid black shoes that I wear to work, and they have served me just fine for about two years now. BUT, I also walk about two miles to and from work every day and that--combined with the fact that I'm not one of those dudes who wears tennis shoes to work and changes to dress shoes when I arrive--has caused a bit of wear and tear on my shoe. Thus the loose heel.

When I saw the loose heel, I took a long look at it, and used my non-existent loose-heel experience to make the determination that I could get a few more weeks out of it. In hindsight, I should have just bought new shoes during my lunch break that very day, rather than chance a tragic accident. But I do not like shopping for clothes, food, my son, or any of that. The only time I have patience for shopping is when I'm buying records, but that's only because I consider that to be a borderline, orgasmic experience. Clothes/shoe shopping? Not so much.

Anyway, I was walking into work while listening to the Tony Kornheiser Podcast, when I tripped over a loose brick in the sidewalk (why sidewalks are made out of brick, I do not know). I was a bit embarrassed about how hard I tripped, but I was determined not to linger too long in that spot, so I attempted to keep walking, and that's when I knew the heel was even more damaged. When I looked down at my shoe, I noticed the heel was 80-percent detached from the rest of the shoe, and I had to make a decision: 1)Do I walk slow with a damaged heel? 2) Do I rip the heel off and walk lopsided 3) Do I call an uber home and just forget this day altogether. I chose option #1.

I walked about 20 feet (no pun intended) and I realized that I wasn't going anywhere fast. The heel was flopping around which made it nearly impossible to have any semblance of a cool gait, but I kept trying to walk while simultaneously trying to make sure no one was walking behind me or looking at my feet. I can't begin to communicate how uncomfortable I was, and even though the door to my job was just 500 feet away, it felt like 500 miles, and all I wanted to do was comfortably sit down, work and eat my breakfast.

Finally the heel fell off completely and I just did the lopsided walk into my door. Luckily for me, there weren't many people around, and I was able to make a beeline to my desk. As I type this pitiful entry, I am sitting at my desk sans shoes, but I still have to figure out how I'm getting home to change, and eventually out to get more shoes. This is pitiful I know.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

I'm getting older and that is starting to rear it's unwanted head in the oddest phases of my life. Today, it was key misplacement.

It is a rainy day today here in DC, and all I really wanted to do is lay on my ass and watch Tiger Woods play, but that is nearly impossible to do when you have a six year old with endless energy and the need to ask the question, "So what are we doing today Daddy?". So I got off my ass and took my son to Dave & Buster's--the indoor amusement park for both kids and adults.

My son and I played games for nearly 90 minutes and the day was filled with fun and whimsy. I didn't check my phone and he didn't ask "so what are we doing next daddy?", we just played and played hard. After the game portion of the afternoon, we went over and had lunch at Chik-fil-A, and then we headed back to the car. I confidently walked to the car, reached in my pocket, and I noticed that my car keys were missing. And hell yes I panicked.

I took my wedding ring off while my son and I were in Dave & Buster's (I always take my ring off when I play basketball or skeeball) and so instantly I thought that maybe I accidentally dropped my keys there while reaching in my pocket to put my ring back on my finger. I went to D&B and talked to the manager, who radioed his staff and asked if keys had been found, but nothing was found.

From there, I went back to the Chik-fil-A to see if a manager/cleaning lady had possibly seen my keys on the table, by the trash or on the floor, but after 15 minutes, they couldn't locate my keys either. My next move was to stop a police officer and a security guard to see if they or one of their colleagues had been alerted about missing car keys. Still nothing.

I headed back to D&B to look around in there myself, instead of relying on the manager/security. Before I could get in there, the manager saw that I had bottled water in my hand, and he told me I could not play on the games with outside food or drink. I explained to him that my visit was far from a leisurely one, I was just headed in with my son to look for my keys and I proceeded to keep walking in the place. The manager put his whole hand on my shoulder and impeded my process.

I couldn't curse because my son was with me, but in hushed tones I politely asked the manager to get his hands off of me before I f**ked his ass up, and he called security--the very same security guard I had already spoken to regarding my keys. The security guard saw me, dapped me up and asked what the problem was, and I explained it, and he told the D&B manager to let me in with my water, because these were extenuating circumstances. I gave the D&B manager a look of disdain and tried to locate my keys, but I still came up empty.

At this point, I had to call my wife to come get my son and me, because she had the spare key. I felt defeated and hella old but I couldn't really pout because my energetic son still needed to be entertained. 45 minutes later, the wife arrived with the spare key and we all walked towards the car. Just as I getting ready to get in the car, I noticed something in my windshield wiper---something that had not been there when I walked to the car earlier. I must have dropped my keys in the parking lot somewhere, and someone was nice enough to discreetly put them in my windshield wiper. I'm amazed someone didn't steal my car, but I'm thankful they didn't.

But damn, what if dropping and fake losing keys is the first step in the long, winding road towards senility. I'm mainly writing about this because I'm a blogger/writer, but part of me wanted to do something meaningful to prove that I still have some modicum of intelligence in an attempt to restore a little order in my life.

Friday, February 23, 2018

So in response to the lack of outward progress in preventing another school shooting like the one in Parkland, Florida, high school students all around this fine, flawed country of ours have decided to stage walkouts. They are leaving school grounds, and walking around during school hours so that their voices can be heard. They are tired of living in fear, tired of lawmakers not tweaking gun laws and tired of feeling like powerless kids at the knee of powerful, yet ineffective adults.

I was a teenager once so I understand that natural angst and restlessness constantly bubbles inside of them. They are at that weird age between being take care of by their parents yet preparing for post-high school life. They are dating, their bodies are changing, they have endless amounts of information at their fingertips, and so they have access to way more information than teens in past years--present company included. That part I get. But when you add in the very real threat of being shot at or killed during a seemingly innocuous school day, you add in a level of fear and terror, I know nothing about---at least from their perspective. I worry about that as a parent now with my six year old, but that's part of the omnipresent overprotective feeling of being a parent. I can't imagine what these teens are thinking and feeling on a daily basis.

But I do know this...I am not a fan of the walkouts. Not at all.

I have already established that my worries as a teen were tame compared to the concerns of these kids, so please know that I'm not turning a blind eye to that fact. Having said that, when I was that age, my father made it very clear, that my job was to go school, get good grades and prepare myself for post-high school life. He didn't want me misbehaving or dillydallying in school, because those type of things (and yes those are clinical terms) hindered, not helped my ability to achieve our final goal.

If my son wanted to walk out of school, I know that I ultimately could not stop him from doing so especially if all of his friends were following suit. But I would pull him aside before he left that day, and request that as long as a teacher (an unarmed one for now) was in front of the class, it was my expectation that he'd be sitting right there learning as he would be doing any other day--not because he (or I) was turning a blind eye to the greater movement--but because that was his job during school hours. Then, I would sit down with my son and brainstorm about 5-10 other ways he could adeptly make his point that he was not happy with the guns, the shootings and the lack of real change. I'd also let him know that walkouts are fine, but there are other ways to be just as effective and just as radical. Maybe he could write a letter to a newspaper, record a message on youtube and circulate it profusely, go to a very public place durng non-school hours with a megaphone and talk from the heart. I'd throw out ideas, I'd listen to his and maybe we could come to a compromise.

My son could very well end up telling me to go f**k myself (figuratively, not literally of course) and that he wanted to be involved in the walkout and I'd have to respect. But he'd have to respect the fact that I didn't like it, and he'd also have to endure me coming up with alternative suggestions for how to protest. I think that's a fair exchange.

If he were a college student, he'd have carte blanche, but as a high school student, I don't think that much leeway should be granted. As I typed this out, I realized that I sound conservative as hell, but frankly, I am like that with a few aspects of my life. You get like that as a parent sometimes I suppose...

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Usually I like to go see movies on a weekday around 11 or on the weekend during the earliest available matinee. I don't like crowds, I don't like teenagers, I don't like post-movie applause, I just want to be able to think and draw my own conclusions on the movie, and sometimes crowds do not allow those types of deductions to take place.

My persnickety demands where movies are concerned, combined with the difficulty my wife and I have finding a sitter to allow us to go see a movie---especially when we'd rather go out and drink and do something festive once we finally fine someone to watch Nyles--pretty much means that my movie attendance over the past couple of years sucks. The only movies I've seen recently are the ones my son wanted to see, which basically means I have to fight between going to sleep and playing on my phone.

I could not apply my wishes and demands to the Black Panther movie, because my wife really wanted to see the movie during the first weekend, since everyone was talking about it. It wasn't that I didn't share her eagerness, I just really wanted to control the outside variables, since I knew this was supposed to be a movie of great importance.

As you can imagine, I did not get my wishes. I bought tickets for Sunday evening show (8pm to be exact) and I purposely picked a theater that served wine, so I could ramp up the Black Panther experience. But when I arrived at the theater, I learned the bar was closed. I didn't lose my cool though.

The wife and I arrived at 7:15 for the 8pm movie, and when we got to the theater where our movie was playing, there were already approximately 30 people already waiting and we just got behind them.

**Sidebar: Lots of black brothers and sisters used the release of the Black Panther movie to dress in traditional---or at least what they believed to be traditional--African garb. I get the sentiment, it was a cool, unifying gesture to see, but I wasn't doing that sh*t. I loved seeing all the black and brown folks on the big screen, but at the end of the day, it was just a movie. A movie that may open the doors for black and brown people on and behind the camera, but a movie nonetheless. I didn't need any African-ness (if you will) but for those who did, God bless them*** Sidebar off***

Everyone was let in around 7:45,and I went to get popcorn and beverages, while the wife saved my seat. We had chosen a spot in the upper left corner, so I could sit in the aisle, in case something went down (you'd be a fool to not think that way these days), but when I arrived back at my seat, we were surrounded by loud ass teens who looked to be between 15 and 17. Still, I remained calm. The kids actually weren't that bad once the movie started, but they were a bit too loud and dramatic for my taste. I'll be returning to my traditional matinee times going forward.

I won't say too much about the movie, because I don't know who has or has not seen it. The cast was great, the acting was good, the African vs African-American story line was rich with conflict (which would make a great writing assignment for a college/high school class), the strong female roles were refreshing and it was one of the better Marvel movies I've seen. I didn't like the reliance on the usage of CSI and at times, the movie dragged a bit, but I feel like I'm nitpicking. Not since Blade with Wesley Snipes and Marvel's Luke Cage, have I seen such bad ass black superheroes. When my son gets a little older and I feel like he can deal with the effects of movie violence (lots of questions and bad dreams), I'll let him see it too.

Friday, February 16, 2018

It took 43 years, but this morning I finally had my first white-woman-clutch-her-purse-when-I-walk-by moment.

It was around 6:15am, and I was in the midst of my 5-mile run around Northwest Washington DC. I had headphones in my ear, but the music remained at a relatively low volume, so that I could hear everything going on around me. At that time of morning, there are other runners/walkers, people driving and walking to work, homeless people sleeping, peeing or wandering, and insanely large rats jumping out of unsuspecting places to scare the shit out of me. Quite a motley crew right?

I was running by a well-lit but quiet section of DC when I spotted a woman walking and talking on the phone. My head is always on a swivel while I run, so I saw her a good 30-45 seconds before she saw me, and I immediately noticed that she was talking loud on the phone, and not paying attention to her surroundings. I didn't give it much thought, because my plan was to run by her without making any eye contact, so I didn't startle her.

But about 10 seconds before I was to run by her, she saw me. She didn't stop talking on the phone, and she didn't appear to be startled--in fact she gave me a half-smile, which was nice, but not necessary. I began to nod my head at her, and then I noticed that her hands had gone from her pocket to her pocketbook. Not only were both her hands holding on to her pocketbook for dear life, but she also turned her body slightly away from me, as I ran by her. I really started to stop and say something rude but 1)I was way too tired and my thighs were burning way too damn much for me to do anything menacing and 2)That's all I needed was for a cop or another citizen to see me berating a woman (a white woman at that) from afar. That wouldn't end well.

But here's the thing that gets me. I was clearly running. I had a water bottle in my hand, headphones in my ear, and I was sweating like Kevin Garnett in a postgame interview. How the hell does one pivot from being in workout to robbery mode? I can understand being cautious when it is dark and early in the morning, but this woman was talking LOUD and not looking around for almost a minute before she saw me. Not to mention, if I really wanted to rob her, the clutching and turning technique would hardly be a deterrent--she'd still get got.

Honestly, the clutching part didn't bother me (yes it did) as much as the body turn. She decided that that the clutching only scratched the surface, so she had to slightly turn her body away to seal the safety deal. It wasn't even a full turn, it was just enough of a turn for me to get annoyed.

Again, I tried really hard to look at it from a woman's perspective, but I can only do that up to a certain point. I felt some kind of way about that, but on the positive side, what better month for it to go down right?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

When I tell people I"m not a Drake fan, they tend to think I'm hating just to hate, or I'm just hell-bent on hating any millennial hip-hop music, and that is simply not true. I like some of J Cole's work, I like Kendrick Lamar, and I even like some offerings from 2 Chainz (it pains me to spell it that way) and A$AP Rocky (I'm equally pained by that spelling).

Drake has always felt, sounded and looked artificial to me. He sounds like a brother from Canada who has been given a long-term assignment of trying to sound like a brother from the South. He raps one way but that stands in stark contrast to how he sounds on interviews or even hosting Saturday Night Live. I think when he sings he sounds more authentic, but it sounds hella nasal and not particularly pleasing to my snobby ears. To that point, my main man Bomani Jones says that if you think of Drake as a singer who raps, and not a rapper who sings, he becomes easier to tolerate. I tried that and he still sucks...for the most part.

Two years ago when I was shoe shopping with my son Carlton at Foot Locker, I heard this song come on through the store loudspeakers:

His rhymes in that song sounded believable and not forced, and even the singing was tolerable. I remember telling my son that this would be the only Drake song I liked in my life. My youngest son likes "Hotline Bling" so I play that a lot, but when he's not around, I'm not really a fan of that song. Over the past two years, I've heard lots of Drake songs, and they were all lukewarm to wack to me, until today.

I was listening to a Pandora station, and an older Drake song called 0 to 100 came on:

Now, parts of this song still sounded contrived and not at all like a brother from Canada, but the combination of the beat and Drake's flow, reeled me all the way in. I wore this song out today, and even gave this song a spot in my elusive workout playlist. I still don't like him, and he'll never convince to buy an entire album/cd/tape, but for now, I respect his ability to win my if he really cares if a 43-year old likes his stuff.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

So on this Valentine's Day, I think I'd like to focus on my wife. I usually keep her business out of this blog because 1) this blog is supposed to be about me goddammit and 2) she really doesn't like for me to put her business out there, and for the most part I have respected her wishes. I will do no such thing today.

The wife has had quite a difficult year. Her mother is in the midst of some pretty debilitating nerve pain that we saw up close when we visited her and her husband in Minnesota, and my wife is concerned about that. Then last month, her favorite uncle died suddenly and unexpectedly and we had to attend that sad, sad funeral. Not to mention, that uncle was her father's youngest brother, and now she's increasingly worried about her dad, which is totally understandable. Older people are obsessed with other people's deaths and funerals for some odd reason, but that doesn't necessarily mean they know how to cope with them.

And lastly, my wife has spent the last five months at a job she really can't stand. There's always a learning curve when a new job is involved, but this boss seemed hell-bent on significantly shortening that curve and berating my wife for falling short. At first, she handled it and chalked up to newness, but eventually that great attitude turned to anger, which turned to stress, which turned to all out tears--and considering the list of things she was already enduring in her life, you can imagine how difficult it was for her to get through the day. She loves me and she loves our son, but there was only so much cheering up we had in us. A change in employment was needed and luckily for us, one came last week and it has served as a catalyst for good vibes.

She's still worried about her mother and father, but she's able to deal with that stress with a clearer perspective now that a new job is on the horizon. Plus, she has a five-day weekend before the new job starts, and she'll be able to enter this new situation with a clear head and justifiable excitement. It doesn't hurt that she'll be working with an old boss, who knows and respects her work ethic.

I don't know if the wife will read this, because let's face it: ain't nobody really checking for my blog on a regular basis anymore, since I write about as frequently as the arrival of Halley's Comet. But she'll stumble on it eventually, and when that magical day comes, she'll (and everyone else who reads) will know how happy I am for her. Also I wrote a condensed version of this in her Valentine's Day card, but I realized I had more to say than Hallmark would allow, so now I've empty the to speak.

Monday, February 12, 2018

So earlier this morning, my 20-year old son Carlton was shipped to Afghanistan, where he'll be until November or so. While he's gone, he will most likely miss the birth of the child that his wife will give birth to around that same time. God-willing, when that healthy child is born, I will be a goddamn grandfather at the young and tender age of 43. How is that for an opening paragraph after dwelling in a blogless existence for two months?

One of my least favorite expressions is "unpack" but in this specific instance, it feels apropos to use that phrase, so let's unpack each of those bombs I dropped in the previous paragraph.

I've known for several months that my son was going to be deployed, but for the longest time, he had been pretty tight-lipped about the destination. And given that he's in the Marines, I knew better than to pester him about something like that. But about a month ago, when I visited him, he told me that his nine-month stint would be divided between Norway and Romania. Both of those countries sounded a bit innocuous to me, but I didn't pressure him. I learned he was going to Afghanistan not through a direct conversation with him but via a conversation with his mother last Friday. He didn't have the heart to tell me directly, which I get.

First I sat there in shock and told myself that missions like this were exactly what Carlton prepared for, and I needed to man the f**k up. Then, almost involuntary, a montage of memories with my son from birth to 20 started to play on an endless loop on the Summer Jam screen in my head, and that served as the catalyst for my tears. I cried and cried at work, and as luck would have it, my boss called me mid-cry. I got my shit together long enough to not sound like a babbling idiot, but I ended up telling him why I was somber, and thank god he understood.

Last Sunday, just a few days before I found out about the Afghanistan deployment, my son told me that his wife was pregnant and I was going to be a grandfather. I don't agree with their decision, due to the volatility of their relationship and from my vantage point it feels like this was a save-the-relationship child, but he and his wife are grown, and far be it from me to interfere with their affairs and their reproductive organs. But again, to be a grandfather at 43---even though I want a healthy child to be brought into this world--is difficult for me to wrap my mind around. As I told a friend of mine, now I have to wear an ascot, keep a few extra buttons of my shirt open and smoke a cigar, per the grandfather handbook.

I am proud of my son, don't get me wrong. He's 20 years old, he and his wife are homeowners, he has a steady income and they are about to bring a child in the world. But in my mind, he is still a child, and based on what I know about them both, they simply aren't ready to be parents. Then again, who among us is really ready to take on that large of a responsibility? I was 22 when Carlton was born, and I had a degree, no money, no property and my sources of income were a job at Stride Rite and substitute teaching. He'll find his way I'm sure, but I worry about him. But I will be supportive and helpful, because that's what parents--specifically fathers--are supposed to do.

Thanks for humoring me and welcome back to the blog. This is the 12th year of its existence.