Thursday, December 27, 2007

Here It Is...

The cover of the long-awaited album from Nas. I think Nas might pull this off. From the cover it looks like he is saying that regardless of how accomplished you may be... you get the picture. Look for this release to hit stores during Black History Month.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Magic Number

At some point in any new relationship, the most awkward of questions inevitably comes up. No, it's not "Will you pee on me?" (shout out to Kels!) or the classic "What are we doing?" (If you have to ask...). It's a question far worse, a question that has the potential to turn a solid, new relationship into a shaky one. That question is... "How many people have you slept with?" Damn! THE question! The question that, for some, is a defining point in their relationship.

There's only one problem, though: It seems like nobody ever tells the truth. As a man, I can say that it may be easier for us to admit to the truth due to "the double standard," but even men lie about their numbers in some instances to make the number more acceptable to the woman they're dating. A man that has slept with over 50 women may be a little reluctant to tell the truth to a woman who he considers his potential wife. That number may be trimmed down to 20 to 25. On the flipside, a man that hasn't had much experience with women and may have only had 3 or 4 partners may inflate that number to around 10 so that the woman he's dating won't think that he's a lame in the bedroom.

Even still, for men, more sexual partners means more sexual prowess and is more accepted in our society than it is for women...

Which explains why women are more reluctant to enter into sexual episodes than men. The weight that comes with "the number" is 100x heavier for women. They wear it like the Scarlett Letter. So fellas don't get mad when you try to spit game and she tells you to get the hell on! Either she's really not interested or she's testing you to make sure that you're worth potentially getting added to that unkind list. There is, after all, a reputation factor to consider. When that rep is damaged, it will be harder for her to find a man willing to marry her.

While women may be more willing to accept a man's sexual past on the way to marriage, you will find few men willing to marry a woman that has had an extremely large number of partners, as unfair as that may be.

I've had this honest conversation with females and most concur that they usually lie to some degree. There's a very complex system for some women that determines which ones counted and which didn't. This process of denial includes such things as not including guys who didn't last long, who were assholes, who were too small, one-night stands etc. Before you know it 50% of their past never happened; but should it matter? Should a new relationship be based on skewed numbers? Should it be a don't ask, don't tell thing?

Though I am a staunch protestor of dating Karrinne Steffans I personally think that playing Sudoku to help determine who you should be with isn't a good look. If you are confident that past behavior is past behavior you shouldn't let a number keep you from a good thing. I mean go get tested first, but after that, you shouldn't let a number keep you from a good thing. To quote the great philospher Cliffor "Tip" Harris:

"I've been told every nigga in the streets know she nothin' but a freak ho/when I look in her pretty eyes I don't see it though/Now she done showed me some things that I ain't seen before/but what we do behind closed doors is for me to know/...I done wasted plenty time contemplating, second-guessing, procrastinating, I'm gonna buy a ring and pop the question..."

F*** Shakespeare!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ike Turner's Eyes and Other Ike Turner Reflections

Gene is back! In this post he wrestles with the loss of Ike Turner and Ike's impact on his life.


I was 12, when Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne starred in “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” At that time, I knew very little about Tina Turner outside of the song with the same title and can’t remember if I actually saw the film in a theatre, but I do remember being interested in the tale shortly after hearing about it.

My early childhood was pretty much spent listening to gospel and soul music from the 60s and 70s – which probably explains my not so mild interest in 80s music now (and to a lesser extent 90s music). And biographies and memoirs – especially of black people and entertainers – have always interested me more than any other type of book, so this movie was pretty much right up my alley.

So I saw the film. Loved it. Saw it a few more times. Unconsciously became a big fan of Angela Bassett. Read the book that the movie was based on. And became a bit terrified.

Between being somewhat fascinated by him and his story, I developed a bit of fear of Ike Turner.

The summer the movie came out was my first summer staying at home alone. I was too old for camp and not old enough for a job … officially. (Of course, I later discovered that there are camps for all people regardless of their age and that I could have worked somewhere, just not legally.)

Anyway, I don’t recall my parents giving me many “rules” about staying home alone beyond making sure the lights were off in rooms when I wasn’t in them. The placement of windows in our house meant that most of the house would be dark even during the day. I’m not scared of the dark. I never have been. But for some reason, every time I’d try to go up the stairs to the second floor – which was pitch black – I always saw Ike Turner's eyes illuminating through the darkness at the top of the steps. Not Laurence Fishburne’s eyes. IKE’S eyes. They were piercing. And druggish. Remember Scar’s eyes in "The Lion King" shortly after he killed Mufasa? Mix those eyes with Dave Chappelle’s eyes when he dresses up as Prince. Yes, THOSE eyes.

And Ike was tall when I saw him standing behind the banister. Like 5’ 11” tall, which was tall to me back then before I went to college and met 6 foot 5 18-years-olds.

I seriously tried not to be scared. Even then the thought of it was comical. Plus I KNEW Ike Turner wasn’t on the second floor. I wasn’t crazy. But I was very cautious. I seriously kept seeing dude’s eyes. Weirder things have happened, right? RIGHT?

I don’t know what I was scared of. Did I think Ike would beat me? I mean the pictures in Tina’s autobiography showed that Ike was real skinny, so I knew I could take him out if I had to, but then again, I’d never been in a fight … and uh, clearly Ike had, so I wasn’t so sure.

I don’t remember when my Ikenophobia passed, but it did. But my interest in Ike and Tina’s story didn’t. It faded, but I usually watched the film anytime I got a chance.

Fast forward more than ten years.

Either in 2004 and 2005, I was flying from Kansas City to Raleigh through Cincinnati and who had the nerve to be in the food court at the airport?! Ike freakin Turner!!! No lie. I wish I had the words to describe everything I was feeling, but I don’t. Disbelief would be the best word.

Disbelief on soooo many levels.

Ike was short. I mean like 5’ 5” short. And that man had a high top fade. A high top fade in 2004 or 2005. The chick he was with had on a wig that was easily bigger than Tina’s early 80s joint. I was like, are these people serious? Yeah, they were. Ike looked like he was totally unaware that people were gawking. Everybody else around me was staring and seemed as shocked as me. Ike freakin Turner was at the Panda Express. Ok, I can’t remember if he was actually at the Panda Express, but you know what I’m saying …

Then I got mad. At myself.

I haven’t been 5’5” since probably late elementary school. How did I let some concocted image of this dude scare me? And then I felt sad, because unless Tina is shorter than 5’5”, which is very possible, it showed how much of a mind game domestic violence is, because she probably could have taken that dude. I mean she DID take that dude, when she made up her mind that she wasn’t going to take no more.

So I kept staring and did what I do whenever I witness hilarious tomfoolery: I called my little brother. And then I got on the plane.

Fast forward last week.

When I saw the Yahoo! News “breaking news” banner announcing Ike’s death, I just let out a “LAWWWD!” Not quite the jump-in-the-casket funeral Lawd. I mean, I was at work. But the ain’t-this-some-ish type. And then I called my little brother again. And dude let out the same type of Lawd. LOL.

And then that fool asked me if Tina was going to sing at the funeral. WHAT?! My brother is a church musician, so he was probably genuinely interested. I told him I thought she would attend given the role Ike played in her career and that he was the father of at least one of her children, but I doubted that she’d sing. I’m not sure that Tina has any funeral songs in her repertoire. I mean, it would be interesting to hear her version of “I Won’t Complain,” but I figured that it probably wasn’t going to happen. And then my brother and I got off the phone.

Fast forward early this week.

Man, Tina said she ain’t even GOING to the funeral! WHAT?!

Her spokesperson said Tina hasn’t seen Ike in 35 years. THIRTY-FIVE YEARS! That shocked me on so many levels. That meant that I – ME – had seen Ike since Tina had last seen him! And while 35 isn’t old, it’s a long time to me. I’m not even 30 yet. And then I got sad.

Ike has called the movie and Tina’s book an exaggeration since they came out and even came out with his own book. And while I wasn’t there, I just don’t believe that Tina is lying about EVERYTHING. I found out yesterday that the character “Jackie” who was at the restaurant when Ike smushed the cake in Tina’s face was a fictional character, so that whole scene could be a lie for all we know. But I believe that most of the book and movie was close to the truth. And that’s when I thought about all that Tina must have gone through. I’m sure that I can’t even imagine it all. To not see someone you once loved and even made a child with for 35 years is serious, regardless of how much they hurt you. I’m not saying she’s right or wrong, I’m just saying that that’s some serious disinterest.

Hopefully Tina is not bitter or still mad and is there for her son right now who may be dealing with the issues that stem from losing a father. But all of this just made me think about how we treat people. And the lasting impact that our mistreatment and disrespect can have on people.

This past year, I've seriously tried to become more mindful of the things I say or do that leave scars. I've failed often. Sometimes, miserably. And I'm sure I can't imagine the damage I've caused. But I'm trying to do better. It would be quite unfortunate if someone I once called my best friend was so done with me that our last goodbye was actually our last goodbye.

Gene also writes for

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

LIL' Bow Wow Is A G?

When did Lil' Bow Wow decide he was gonna be hard? He still makes music for 13-year-olds, right?

Anyway, in this clip Bow Wow flips on journalist Toure' for disrespecting him and singer Omarion during an interview. I can't blame him for standing up for himself in what appears to be a botched joke, but it's funny to me to see dude act like he's about to go to a Walgreens parking lot to pick up some heat for Toure' he hides behind one of his lackies and tells his bodyguards to "handle that."



Throwback: Black People Don't Tip

I'm mainly reposting this because, since I posted it back in May, I am still receiving comments on it regularly--mainly from frustrated, non-black servers. Turns out that if you've had a bad day on the job at a restaurant and type in "Black People Don't Tip" in google to find some sort of support group this post pops up. So you can imagine some of the feedback in the comments section. Check it out.


...So it's my last day in Las Vegas. It's about 2:36 PM. Me and my remaining two friends fly out in six hours. We check out of our room and make our way to the taxi line in front of the casino. The plan is to grab some grub, check out some casinos that we haven't been in over the last three days, and lose more money on the Big Six table.

Soooo... what do we want to eat? Some place where we can sit down, watch the game, and have a beer... a place that is nice and classy. A place where we'll receive Grade-A service and where they will appreciate our business. A place that is all of these things, yet delightfully tacky. So we head on over to Hooters... yes, I know.

So we hop in the cab.

"Where can I take you guys?"

"The Hooters over by the MGM Grand"

"You got it, boss!" He quickly weaves through the traffic on The Strip and takes us to the front of the Hooters casino, which is literally about three minutes away. We hop out, pay the fare, and tip him 5 or 6 bucks.

We make our way through the dealer tables and slot machines and find the small line to the restaurant. So there we are, waiting to sit down at the tackiest casino on Las Vegas Blvd. (relatively) and dressed the part. Are we in button-ups, slacks and dress shoes like we usually wear? No! We have on polo shirts, jeans and sneakers. Comfortable, like everyone else in this town.

When we get to the front, a beautiful girl in a tacky uniform looks at us, puts on her fakest smile and asks how many in our party.


With the smile on her face, she turns to a pretty Black waitress and says "They're all yours Kristen."

"Gee... Thanks!" she replies sarcastically.

This semi-rubbed us the wrong way, but we let it slide. Besides, this is nothing new. Black people don't tip, right? There's no way she would've guessed that the party consisted of a Regional Territory Manager, a Corporate Marketing Specialist, and a federal-employed Electrical Engineer...but should that matter? She takes us to our bench-styled table and asks for our drink order.

"Water and a Corona... Water and a Heineken... Water with a lemon for now, I'll probably get a beer later."

She's off. So me and my boys sit there and start discussing which casinos we're going to hit afterwards and the money that we have already lost thus far (Thanks for the gambling tips guys... you really came through in the clutch! *cough*).

Fifteen minutes of all this talking has my throat parched. I reach down for my... wait... She's still not back with our drinks? We see our waitress tending to another table and get her attention. We make the universal "I'm thirsty motion" and she walks to the back and emerges with a tray of drinks.

Waitress: "Sorry guys... here you are!" No explanation. "So what will you guys be having?"

Us: "Wings... Fingers and salad... The wing platter."

Waitress: "We're out of coleslaw and baked potatoes for that platter," she says to my boy.

My boy: "Well can you substitute fries?"...

Waitress: "No."

*Awkward silence*

My boy: "Oookay?"

Waitress: "Sooo... you want fries with it?"

My boy: "Can you substitute it?"

Waitress: "No... but I'll work it out."

My boy: "OK."

She's off again. For another 20 minutes, we don't see this chick. We came here to watch the game, so we're looking around to see if we can find her to have the channel changed. She's nowhere to be found, so we flag down the hostess that gave Kristen our table to see if she can change the channel. She did so, reluctantly.

A couple minutes later, a waitress that I haven't seen before comes with my salad. After she walks off I realize there's no silverware on our table. I walk over to the hostess to see where I can get a fork. She looks around for Kristen and then says "Ummm...I guess I'll get it for you."

When she comes back to the table with my fork, Kristen is right behind her.

"Kristen," she says playfully as she looks at us with Hooters-flirty eyes. "Your table is demanding. You should be taking care of these guys." She said it jokingly, but she was serious. We were asking her for too much.

Kristen tells us the food is on the way out. It quickly follows, but not by Kristen, but by the cook and another waitress.

Food was good. No Kristen. Drinks low. No Kristen.

Naturally our conversation shifts from the game to our horrible service. Was she just a bad waitress? Was it because we are young, black males (*Smacks down the ol' race card on the table*)? Was she just having a bad day? The "Gee... thanks" comment she made when she got our table kinda cemented our thoughts on the issue.

When we finally see her, it's with the unsplit bill. "Sorry guys, I just got busy all of a sudden," she said as she looked down to avoid eye contact. She tells us she'll take the bill when we're ready. We ask her to split the bill. She didn't even remember what we had ordered individually so she starts looking over the bill and asking us who had what.

Then she pulls out the ol' patented Hooters "let-me-sit-down-and-let-them-flirt-with-me-so-they-will-give-me-a-good-tip" move. We didn't flirt with her. It was awkward. She went to split it.

When we look the bill over, it looks like she charged my boy extra for fries that she had agreed to substitute. He was going to let it slide, but we tell him that the LEAST she could do was make sure that the bill was right. Besides, she hadn't done anything else.

She comes back, he brings up the discrepancy. She tells him that she told him she couldn't substitute. He reminds her that she did say she "would take care of it" and that she would essentially be charging him full price for half of a meal. Annoyed, she smiled, took his receipt and said she'd see what she could do.

She came back with the correct charges. She thanked us and bounced.

We sat there disgusted and disrespected by the lack of good service and started discussing what we should tip her. So there we are having a Rainbow Coalition meeting in Hooters.

We decided that she had made her mind up about the service she was going to give us when she saw us. Of all of her tables, we were obviously the most neglected. After researching stereotypes about tipping habits, the overwhelming majority of waiters and waitresses hate getting black tables because "we don't tip," according to them. Message board after message board characterizes Blacks as cheap tippers and as chronic complainers (which we do apparently because we want to have a reason to not leave a good tip). I've personally seen good and bad tippers across the board.

So herein lies the dilemma: Do we tip her based on the service she gave, which was worth week-old cow dung, or do we tip her like we would normally tip a decent waitress (I usually do 20-25%)?

If we tip her poorly, we buy into the self-fulfilling stereotype. She will feel justified in giving us bad service and will do the same to the next group of casually dressed young, black males--not realizing that we tipped her poorly for a reason and not because we're black.

If we tip her properly, JUST MAYBE we will get the point across that stereotypes are just that...stereotypes. And maybe she will be more conscious of how she treats Black people in the future. If you can reach just one...

We left 8 bucks. Not the best tip, but definitely more than she deserved.

Has anybody else faced this situation? Should we be forced to think in a group mentality and tip on behalf of an entire race? It's getting old. The more I think about it, the more I realize that acting on behalf of your race does little to change ingrained stereotypes.

Does the stereotype have any merit? What would you have done?

Friday, December 14, 2007

When Is Killing Justifiable?

I just caught wind of this story recently, but a black man from Long Island, NY is still in jail for killing a white kid after a "mob" showed up at his home in the middle of the night to confront his son. Of course, this story is full or racial overtones that made it newsworthy enough for the NY Times to make it a feature story (below).

Apparently Arron White, a 19-year-old black kid, was attending an all-White party when he was confronted by guys claiming that he had threatened to rape a white girl via internet chat nine months prior. According to reports, Aaron and the girl had resolved the issue before the confrontation, and the incident had been chalked up to being a misunderstanding. Supposedly, it was concluded that Aaron never threatened the girl.

Even still, he was asked to leave the party because of the commotion being caused by the accusations. He did so without incident.

After leaving the party, Aaron immediately started receiving threatening phone calls from the guys that had confronted him. According to Aaron, after telling him they were on the way to his house to confront him they called him "nigger" and said things such as "I'm going to f*ck you and your mother." ...

To make a long story short, Aaron woke his father up to tell him what was going on, the guys showed up and Aaron's father "accidentally" shot one of the white kids.

To date, the stories have not been corroborated and it remains the word of Aaron's family against the guys that showed up at his home.

For details on the story read the NY Times excerpt below.

Is there ever a time where it is justifiable to kill someone? The kids didn't have guns, but they were on his property. Does showing up at someones home with intentions on having a confrontation give the owner of that property the moral right to kill them? They were threatening his son, but should Aaron's father have left it in the hands of the authorities? Did the kid deserve to be killed?


The shooting occurred around midnight of a Wednesday evening during which Mr. White’s son, Aaron, attended a party at an acquaintance’s home in a nearby town. At the party, where the police said there was a lot of drinking, a group of young men, all white, accused Aaron White of having threatened to rape a girl, also white. The threat was said to have been made by e-mail nine months before.

Though he denied making any threat, Aaron White was asked to leave, and did so. A short time later, according to the police, a group of men led by Mr. Cicciaro decided to pursue him. By cellphone, Mr. Cicciaro told him that he and his friends were coming after him, according to the police.

In the interview, Mr. White said he was awakened by his son “from a dead sleep.” The son told him that Mr. Cicciaro and his friends were pursuing him, and why. He said he thought “they were going to kill him,” Mr. White said, adding that Aaron was “more frightened than I had ever heard my son in his life.”

Mr. White said he grabbed a weapon he kept for protection, a handgun he had inherited from a grandfather, Napoleon White, who brought it with him when he left Oneonta, Ala., in the 1940’s for New York. In an unsolicited aside during the interview, Mr. White said his grandfather had left not long after the Klan killed two brothers, both shopkeepers. (The police described the unregistered gun as “an antique.”)

According to both Mr. White and his son, Mr. Cicciaro and his friends used racial slurs when they arrived at his house. The young men later denied it.

Mr. White said he told the men to leave, and that after “a lot of posturing” they seemed to be ready to go, when suddenly Mr. Cicciaro rushed him and grabbed the muzzle of his gun.

Mr. Cicciaro’s friends gave the police a different account. They said Mr. White pointed the gun in the face of each of them, shouting, “I’ll shoot you.” They said Mr. Cicciaro never grabbed the gun but waved it away when it was pointed in his face.

Mr. White said that when he tried to pull away from Mr. Cicciaro’s grasp, the gun went off accidentally. Mr. Cicciaro’s friends told the police that Mr. White simply pulled the trigger at point-blank range.

It was in the frantic 911 call by one of Mr. Cicciaro’s friends, made from a car carrying the mortally wounded teenager to a nearby hospital, that a police tape captured the type of racial invective the Whites said they had heard throughout the confrontation. The cellphone had been left on, and Mr. Cicciaro’s friends were heard using racial profanities as they spoke among themselves, investigators said.

A Suffolk County grand jury indicted Mr. White on gun charges and a single count of second-degree manslaughter, which is a charge of reckless homicide. The police initially charged him with second-degree murder, the intentional killing of Mr. Cicciaro.

In a separate interview, Daniel Cicciaro Sr., a man of medium height with scarred hands from many years of work in auto repairs, seemed almost in pain as he maintained an air of self-control. With his wife, Joanne, sitting beside him on the porch of their home in Port Jefferson, he said: “I want you to know I have no animosity personally or racially toward the White family. I cannot presume to know what was going through his mind at the time he killed my son. But God have mercy on Mr. White.”

Mr. Cicciaro returned again and again to his son’s lack of racial prejudice and the unlikelihood that race played any role in his pursuit of Aaron White. “If going to this guy’s house to beat up his son was seen as some sort of racial attack, my son was so not-racist that the thought would never even have occurred to him,” he said.

He disputed Mr. White’s claim that the shooting was accidental: “If it was an accident, like he says, why didn’t he call the police immediately? He called his lawyer instead. And why does he come out with a loaded gun in the first place?”

During his interview, Mr. White, a tall, thin bespectacled man with thinning hair, spoke with a similarly painstaking deliberateness. He said he had the gun to “protect my family” and told his wife to call the police, but she told investigators she did not hear him.

After the shooting, Mr. White said, he and his wife did not call 911 because they were “in shock.” Since the killing, “I have not slept at all,” he said. “I never think about anything else.” He said he felt “devastated and remorseful” for killing the teenager. “But I thought these guys, this mob, was coming to hurt my child.”

Asked if he saw them as a white mob, Mr. White pondered for a moment. “I saw them as a group of grown men in my driveway. I was scared to death.”

In describing his background, Mr. White placed himself as the second of eight children, and he referred repeatedly and with deep affection to his grandfather, tearing up when describing the family lore about the Klan killings of his great-uncles.

When pressed, Mr. White said he viewed his grandfather’s world and his as different universes. He rejected any notion that he might have perceived what happened in his driveway through the prism of his grandfather’s losses.

“I did not mean to shoot that young man,” he said. “I grieve for his family. I moved out here with my children just like everyone else, to protect them,” he said. “I have never had problems with white people — if I did, why would I have come out here in the first place?”

Mr. Cicciaro said he was “baffled” by a charge of less than murder against a man who “walked 80 feet down his driveway and told these kids he was going to shoot them, and then pulled the trigger.” He said he was “extremely disappointed” in the criminal justice system.

Mr. White said he understood that disappointment, but added that when he picked up his gun, he only meant to “scare those kids off,” he said.

During the interview, he referred several times to his new home as “my dream house.” He recounted how his wife, Sonia, decorated the house with loving attention. “Stickley, Audi in the dining room; Henredon, Baker living room; Kashan rugs, the works,” he said.

They will be leaving that house as soon as they can, Mr. White said.

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable keeping my family here. I know how I would feel if someone hurt my kid,” he said. “There wouldn’t be a rock left to crawl under.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Brad Pitt... Saving the 9th Ward

FEMA? Nope. Presidential Candidates? Nah. Neigboring states? Not a chance. Brad Pitt, people. Brad Pitt.

I must say that I'm very impressed with his "Make It Right" campaign to rebuild the lower 9th Ward in The N.O. He moved his family out to New Orleans to focus on the project and has donated $5 million of his own money to put the project together.

What's most impressive is that the goal of the project is not to gentrify the area for investors, but to build nice homes for the minority families that were displaced in the aftermath of Katrina. In addition, Pitt has employed world reknown architects to design seven different home models, which families will be able to choose from once the homes are sponsored and built.

Check out the to view the floor plans and to see how you can purchase fixtures for donation or donate funds directly to the project.

I have a new found respect for Brad Pitt. For people thinking that he is doing this for publicity, I say---I don't care if he is or not. He's putting his money where his mouth is. Finally somebody is taking a bold step to make things right in New Orleans.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

For 25 Cents A Day... can sponsor a starving comedian. Somebody get Keenan Ivory Wayans a biscuit.

Hat tip to RWS

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Older White Women Join Kenya's Sex Tourists

Shouts out to Gene for sending me this story. Is this any different from dinner and a movie in the U.S...followed by cheap, meaningless sex?


MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - Bethan, 56, lives in southern England on the same street as best friend Allie, 64.

They are on their first holiday to Kenya, a country they say is "just full of big young boys who like us older girls."
Hard figures are difficult to come by, but local people on the coast estimate that as many as one in five single women visiting from rich countries are in search of sex.

Allie and Bethan -- who both declined to give their full names -- said they planned to spend a whole month touring Kenya's palm-fringed beaches. They would do well to avoid the country's tourism officials.

"It's not evil," said Jake Grieves-Cook, chairman of the Kenya Tourist Board, when asked about the practice of older rich women traveling for sex with young Kenyan men.
"But it's certainly something we frown upon."
Also, the health risks are stark in a country with an AIDS prevalence of 6.9 percent. Although condom use can only be guessed at, Julia Davidson, an academic at Nottingham University who writes on sex tourism, said that in the course of her research she had met women who shunned condoms -- finding them too "businesslike" for their exotic fantasies.

The white beaches of the Indian Ocean coast stretched before the friends as they both walked arm-in-arm with young African men, Allie resting her white haired-head on the shoulder of her companion, a six-foot-four 23-year-old from the Maasai tribe.
He wore new sunglasses he said were a gift from her.

"We both get something we want -- where's the negative?" Allie asked in a bar later, nursing a strong, golden cocktail.

She was still wearing her bikini top, having just pulled on a pair of jeans and a necklace of traditional African beads.

Bethan sipped the same local drink: a powerful mix of honey, fresh limes and vodka known locally as "Dawa," or "medicine."

She kept one eye on her date -- a 20-year-old playing pool, a red bandana tying back dreadlocks and new-looking sports shoes on his feet.

He looked up and came to join her at the table, kissing her, then collecting more coins for the pool game.


Grieves-Cook and many hotel managers say they are doing all they can to discourage the practice of older women picking up local boys, arguing it is far from the type of tourism they want to encourage in the east African nation.
"The head of a local hoteliers' association told me they have begun taking measures -- like refusing guests who want to change from a single to a double room," Grieves-Cook said.

"It's about trying to make those guests feel as uncomfortable as possible ... But it's a fine line. We are 100 percent against anything illegal, such as prostitution. But it's different with something like this -- it's just unwholesome."
These same beaches have long been notorious for attracting another type of sex tourists -- those who abuse children.

As many as 15,000 girls in four coastal districts -- about a third of all 12-18 year-olds girls there -- are involved in casual sex for cash, a joint study by Kenya's government and U.N. children's charity UNICEF reported late last year.
Up to 3,000 more girls and boys are in full-time sex work, it said, some paid for the "most horrific and abnormal acts."


Emerging alongside this black market trade -- and obvious in the bars and on the sand once the sun goes down -- are thousands of elderly white women hoping for romantic, and legal, encounters with much younger Kenyan men.
They go dining at fine restaurants, then dancing, and back to expensive hotel rooms overlooking the coast.

"One type of sex tourist attracted the other," said one manager at a shorefront bar on Mombasa's Bamburi beach.

"Old white guys have always come for the younger girls and boys, preying on their poverty ... But these old women followed ... they never push the legal age limits, they seem happy just doing what is sneered at in their countries."
Experts say some thrive on the social status and financial power that comes from taking much poorer, younger lovers.

"This is what is sold to tourists by tourism companies -- a kind of return to a colonial past, where white women are served, serviced, and pampered by black minions," said Nottinghan University's Davidson.


Many of the visitors are on the lookout for men like Joseph.
Flashing a dazzling smile and built like an Olympic basketball star, the 22-year-old said he has slept with more than 100 white women, most of them 30 years his senior.
"When I go into the clubs, those are the only women I look for now," he told Reuters. "I get to live like the rich mzungus (white people) who come here from rich countries, staying in the best hotels and just having my fun."
At one club, a group of about 25 dancing men -- most of them Joseph look-alikes -- edge closer and closer to a crowd of more than a dozen white women, all in their autumn years.

"It's not love, obviously. I didn't come here looking for a husband," Bethan said over a pounding beat from the speakers.
"It's a social arrangement. I buy him a nice shirt and we go out for dinner. For as long as he stays with me he doesn't pay for anything, and I get what I want -- a good time. How is that different from a man buying a young girl dinner?"

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sexual Eruption

This dude done lost his mind. Peep the hair-do. The nigga got bangs, yo! Hot song tho.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Is It Time To Consider The Other Side?

This post comes from my boy Jermel in Maryland. The hot political topic in the black community seems to be "Hilary or Obama?"; but should that conversation be "Giuliani or Romney?" Why are we loyal to the Dems? Have they taken the black vote for granted?


We’ve all heard it before. “I can’t stand them damn Republicans!” But have you ever wondered why, as black people we have such an undying devotion to the Democratic Party? Most people would point towards the civil rights movement as the beginning of this marriage. It was further solidified by the Regan administration which ushered in an era of unprecedented inequality. Next Bill Clinton was virtually adopted by black society as being a “Black President”.

I certainly understand why most of us are democrats, but I wonder…Is it time to consider the other side? Now I know what you’re thinking. “George W.” led us into an unnecessary war; his administration sued the University of Michigan for giving preference to black applicants as part of their Affirmative Action program; and the federal government’s response to Katrina was abysmal. Trust me, I understand all of that, but shouldn’t we base our political affiliation on something more concrete; say like our opinions on the issues. In particular, how we should be taxed, who should pay for individuals’ health care, how tough should judges be on violent offenders, should abortion rights be decided at the state or federal level, and what role should religion play in education, if any.

I have no problem with democrats. I’m a registered democrat myself. But I also believe in evaluating each candidate based on how I believe they will perform in office. This belief caused me to vote for a republican governor during last year’s race in Maryland, and it was the first time I’ve ever voted for a “Repo”. I’m not telling you to change your party; I just believe as black people we need to become more free-willing voters, that vote based on all the issues, not just one or two. Then and only then will our concerns be taken seriously.

What do you think?

BTW, the race or sex of a candidate should not be an issue.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Attention Players: Play the Game Responsibly

This post comes from one of my beloved AKA/Theta Pi sorors. In it she dicusses the Game that men and women play and the consequences that come along with it. Stats suggest that the great majority of relationships and marriages endure at least one instance of infidelity (regardless of whether the other mate will ever find out or not). Is cheating in a relationship inevitable?

Marcie is challenging you to be honest in your relationship...but if you're going to play the game, play it responsibly. It's a dirty game...


Tupac: The Great Philosopher once said..."got my game...from our women"

Despite his tendency for a prophetic word, I think I must disagree.

To be fair, I did get my ESP, attention to detail & ability to avoid "sloppiness" from women (yes, this is going to be another relationship blog so stop reading now if you want), but I definitely learned the game from men.

Anyone who knows me, knows the majority of my friends (with the exception of my chapter sorors and a few other girls) are men. In fact, my best friend of 15+ years is a man and my closest males friends are Kappas (see my friends list). I only state these facts b/c most of my female friends would say that they (Kappas) are the absolute worse (for those with Greek affiliations) when it comes to guys telling you what they think you want to hear...code: NOT the truth.
(Disclaimer: Yes, I know (and there are) several dishonest Alphas, Ques, athletes, GDI's, etc...stay focused; Kappa bashing isn't the point of this blog.)

In fact, two major reasons I question whether I'll get married is exactly my understanding of men. In my experience (with even the most wonderful men), I believe (and have been told repeatedly by them) that all men (95% or higher) cheat. So, I technically understand that isn't ALL, but the odds of anyone (or me) ending up with one who doesn't (or wouldn't) is ummm, unlikely at best. What's even worse for me is my ability to catch a cheater. Do I instantly assume a man is cheating and start checking his pockets, messages and violate his privacy in other ways? Nope, not at all! I just ask questions and put the pieces of information together like a puzzle.

Anyone who knows me knows that I incessantly ask questions (of everyone) and have learned about the world in this way since I could talk so it's normal for me to seek lots of information. I also have a memory and a web of connections that makes me a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the flow of information I can/do receive. And most importantly, I learned my game from men. Does this mean I never get caught up? Of course not. I have emotions and get caught up with the best of them, but I keenly understand "the game" from a man's P.O.V.

This knowledge and my early experience mastering the game (I was the sickest player in my prime...who, despite my conquests and trail of broken hearts, remain friends with most of the guys I dated, teased or pleased) makes me even more opposed to playing the game (or getting played by the game) as an adult. The game is ugly, the streets are real and the consequences (pregnancy, STD's, hurt, etc.) are high.

Yes, the fear of loss for men is great. It causes many of them to enter in binding agreements (i.e. exclusive dating/sex or marriage) because they are too afraid of letting someone go. However, the selfish desire to have more than one and/or the desire to find the best one (even after an existing commitment) often trumps these binding agreements. Sadly. Thus, there are many who refuse to let the game go. If you are one of those who enjoys playing the game, AT LEAST get on the adult version of the game...Code: the TRUTH.

In 2008 (and beyond), I challenge all the "players" out there to be honest. Be honest with yourself and the people you date, or in some cases, are engaged/married to. Honesty, really is the best policy...and really, who can hate you for telling the truth? Not telling it doesn't change it! Besides, the truth ALWAYS comes to light...sometimes it just takes time...and people are always more upset about something when they've been lied to, duped or embarrased than they might have been otherwise.

I hear men groaning..."women don't want to hear the truth;" "women can't handle the truth;" "etc, etc." For those with these objections to embracing the ADULT game, I say the following:

1) Women, families and healthy relationships can't handle the consequences (refer above) of NOT knowing the truth. 2) Women can handle childbirth and broken hearts of ourselves and our friends...we can handle the truth. 3) No one, despite their best arguments, can justifiably be upset with you for giving them full disclosure and the ability to CHOOSE whether they get involved with you given your desire to date other people, etc. 4) Your word and reputation are all you have in this life. No one will ever like all your decisions, but at least they will respect you for them when you're honest...code: INTEGRITY.

And lastly...if you are a woman playing the dirty game...this blogs for you too. The more any of us continue this, the more families (esp the black family) will continue to be dismantled. In 2008, I want to see steps forward, not back.

If you make New Year's resolutions (or simply commit to constant growth and self-improvement), I hope this blog will encourage/convince/inspire you to leave that relationship BS in 2007.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Throwback: Are We Ready???

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple months, you've heard that Senator Barack Obama is gearing up to make a run for the White House in '08. Is America ready for a Black president?

Condoleezza Rice says yes:

"Yes, I think a black person can be elected president," She said the first successful black candidate will be "judged by all the things that Americans ultimately end up making their decision on: Do I agree with this person? Do I share this person's basic values? Am I comfortable that this person is going to make decisions when I'm not in the room that are very consequential?"

Some say "yes", some say "no". I, for one, am not sure. I've heard a few schools of thought on the issue:

Some say that we ARE ready and that people have gotten past race when it comes to making political decisions. Others say that race is a HUGE barrier that will outweigh the issues at hand when people are in the ballot booths, regardless of political party affiliation.

Many black folks that I've talked to think that we are not ready, and that if Obama, or Hilary, make it out of the primaries, it will be an automatic victory for the Republican Party in '08.

Personally, I think that this issue is bigger than party affiliation. As much as I disagree with the current Administration's policies, I would probably vote for Condoleezza Rice if she decided to run for president... Or a conservative white female candidate... Or an openly gay candidate... or an Asian American candidate... or a Jewish candidate... or anything other than the current status quo (given that their ideas aren't extremely radical, right or left)...

Why? Because putting one of the aforementioned people in office will make it more possible for America to accept change. Idealistic? Maybe... maybe not.

Ignorance: ...even though Obama's middle name is Hussein.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Conversation With A Divorced Man

I'll never forget what my uncle told me. As we were sitting at his dinner table (me, him and his wife of over 30 years) he looked at me... looked at her... then looked back at me. He then says "Boy...don't you ever get married! You'll end up like me."

All I could do was laugh. "haaaaaaaa! hahaha... man you are cra..."

He was stonefaced. She was stonefaced. "you're serious"

It was awkward after that. I slowly got up and left the table. The strange thing about that statement was that he was serious, but yet he loves his wife dearly. Otherwise he wouldn't be with her. The go back and forth all the time like that, but at the end of the day, they wouldn't give the other up for anything in the world.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago and one of my divorced frat brothers schooled me on this whole marriage thing. His advice was this:

"Before your get married, make sure you discuss sex, children, and money. Anything else you can work around, but if you aren't both on the same page with those things, your marriage will fall apart."

He said that when it comes to money, talk about how much should be saved each month, if it should be kept together in one account, and so forth.

Also, most husbands assume sex will remain the same in marriage, both in frequency and in actions performed. A lot of wives intend to make changes in the bedroom after marriage. If couples don't discuss sex before marriage, they may be in for a real shock.

Children are the biggest point of contention, apparently. Surprisingly, it's not the number desired or whether each couple even want kids. Rather, it's how the kids should be raised. While married couples do discuss names and how many they want, many overlook how kids should be raised. Are you going to spank, "whoop" or do time outs for discipline? What time are they to sleep? A difference in values will be enough for the kids to pit one parent against the other if those values are polar extremes.

In his opinion, if you discuss these three points in depth before marriage, it'll let you know if this is the person that you should marry, or if you'll be another stat. Or worse yet, you'll end up on Judge Maybelline's Court Show on a random Wednesday trying to get your CD Player and her portion of the waterbill that she owes you back.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Illest Christmas Song Ever

A lot of people don't know this, but OutKast's first single "Player's Ball" was a Christmas song. It was featured on the LaFace Family Christmas album.

Since the Christmas album did so poorly in sales and "Player's Ball" was the only bright spot on the album, L.A. Reid decided that it would make a good single to introduce the group to the rap world. They went back and edited the song to make it sound less holiday-ish. They banked on the single being successful because they figured no one would link it to the Christmas album.

I used to wonder why there were so many censored words on the video back in '94, but it turns out that the bulk of the censored phrases were Christmas and New Year's references.

If they would have released this as a Christmas song as their very first single, they could have possibly been brushed off as a gimmick by the mass public, LaFace may have put their project on the shelf, and we may have never heard anymore from hip hop's greatest duo. That was a hell of a risk to take.

Peep the above clip and hear OutKast spit lines like:

*notice the sleigh bells as the song starts*

"It's beginning to look a lot like [Christmas]..."

"Some nonsense about some 'Silent Night', I gets it crunk if it ain't real ain't right..."

"You thought I'd break my help y'all deck... the halls..."

"Hall-e-lujah, Hall-e-lujah..."

"Ain't no chimney in the ghetto so I won't be hanging no sock..."

"So ho ho hos, check my king-ass fro..."

"When the Player's Ball is happenin' on Christmas day."

So there's my useless hip hop knowledge for the day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Supermanning Hoes

Hip Hop culture is all about creating new slang. Over the years we've seen different words come and go. "Dynamite" evolved into "fresh" which evolved into "dope" which evolved into "tight" which evolved into "hot" and so on and so forth. We know what they mean now, but when they were first used a lot of people were in the dark in regards to their meaning.

Every year there's something new. Along with these words are also words and phrases that were sexual in nature that left folks scratching their heads.

Remember MC Brain's "Oochie Coochie La La La"? (yes, I'm old as shit) Would you believe that folks used to wonder what the hell he was talking about? Now we know that coochie is...well... coochie.

How about O.P.P.? When Naughty by Nature came on the scene with this little diddy, kids everywhere were singing along and asking everybody if they were down with O.P.P. It was on the radio and on video shows in HEAVY rotation. My mother almost had a heart attack when she found out that it meant "Other People's Pussy/Penis" and was an ode to infidelity.

Fast forward to 2003. Who could forget the old "awww skeet skeet skeet skeet skeet skeet...aww skeet skeet hot damn!" To quote Dave Chappelle months after that song became a smash hit: "You know what the dope shit is about 'skeet skeet'? White people still don't known what it means." We now know (and a lot of us knew before this song dropped thanks to Dr. Dre) that skeet means ejaculating.

And there were tons of words and phrases between the gaps of the above observations i.e. brain, badonkadonk, etc.

Well now there's a new breed of slang that folks haven't figured out yet. One of them is the title of a smash hit that kids and parents everywhere are singing along with and dancing to at ballet classes and cub scout meetings everywhere.

That's right folks... supermanning hoes.

At first I brushed this off as mere nonsense because the rest of the song is mere nonsense. But the 16-year-old Soulja Boy has managed to slide a phrase into the main stream that soccer moms everywhere are oblivious to meaning-wise. As a matter of fact, this is probably one of the most disgusting slang words that I've heard of in a long while.

Apparently, supermanning a ho means ejactulating on a woman's back and putting and leaving a towel or bed sheet on her back while she's sleeping. After it dries, the towel/sheet will be stuck to her back, thus looking like a superman cape...

I wonder how big this song would have been if this was explained beforehand.

Golly gee... kids say the darndest things.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Why Are We Celebrating This Guy?

Here is Frank Lucas & Nicky Barnes on a teleconference boastfully discussing who had the best dope on the streets. Sad.

Also, Bumpy Johnson's wife has come out & said that Frank Lucas is a liar & that he & Bumpy were never that close:

93-year-old Mayme Johnson, widow of the infamous Harlem gangster Elsworth “Bumpy” Johnson and the man Lucas says was his mentor and who taught him everything he knows, is pissed about what she deems graphic inaccuracies about her husband and Lucas’ relationship. “Frank wasn’t nothing but a flunky, and one that Bumpy never did really trust. Bumpy would let Frank drive him around, but you’d better believe that he was never in any important meetings or anything. Bumpy figured Frank as a liar, and he would say you can trust a thief quicker than a liar, because a thief steals because he needs money, while a liar lies for the hell of it.” Miss Mayme is particularly upset about Lucas’ claim that Bumpy died in his arms. Lucas, she says, was nowhere around the night that Bumpy died from a heart attack while dining at the famous Wells Restaurant on Seventh Avenue in Harlem. She says Lucas probably thought he could get away with the lie because he figured everyone who was around Bumpy at the time is now dead. “Junie Byrd’s gone, Nat Pettigrew’s gone, Sonny Chance is gone, and Finley Hoskin’s gone. Frank would never have said any garbage like that if one of them were alive because he’d know they’d come after him…I bet he thought I was gone, too, but I’m not. I’m 93, and I don’t have Alzheimer’s or dementia, and I’m not senile. Frank Lucas is a damn liar and I want the world to know it.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Gift and the Curse

Pretty corny title, I know...

But Jay-Z's subtitle for his Blueprint 2 album is the perfect phrase for describing what the internet and downloading has done to music artistry. On the one hand, we are given the gift of previewing music waaaay before an album comes out, which used to be a wet dream of mine (figuratively... what?? I love music); and on the other, we have robbed artist of making good music. After all, what's the point of making a hot, cohesive album if all people want to hear is a few hot singles that they're going to download? Artist now are choosing to spend their budget on the hottest producers and a hot hook for two or three songs to sell it and then put bullshit on the rest of an album to fill space. Fuck artistry. Why? Because rarely do people download entire albums--folks download the one or two hot tracks to determine if it's worth buying.

Not only that, but we have also deprived ourselves of fairly judging albums. I used to be a loyal CD purchaser. The fun of buying CD's, for me, was to critique the album all at one time--from the album cover, to the intro, to the sequencing, the collaborations, the beats (regardless of who produced it), the cohesion, the outro.

I remember going into the store for Jay's second album at the midnight sale back in '97. I hadn't heard any of the songs off of the album, save for a few singles. Got home, ripped the cellophane off of the CD, popped it in, read the inside credits and the art work, listened to every track song-by-song and made an opinion of the album after it was over. I didn't even like it very much on the first listen.

The proponent of downloading would say "you could've saved yourself $15 if you would've been able to hear it first," but I also would've never bought the album which is now one of my favorites of all his CDs. Those songs that I thought were skippable on the first listen became my favorites--namely, "You Must Love Me" and "Where I'm From" which is probably Jay's best ever lyrical song. A lot of why the album grew on me had to do with the sequential order of the album's tracks and the "speed" of the album, which are two things that you can't get when you download tracks here and there.

By buying the album and investing in it, it gave me the opportunity to give the album another chance. On the flipside, had I been able to download a few tracks here and there a month before the album came, I would have brushed it off as a wack album and spread the word to others that it was wack. If that would have happened a couple million times from others it may have been "grand opening, grand closing" for Jay.

Kingdom Come fell victim to this in my opinion. Two weeks before the album dropped, songs started leaking and folks started saying "Jay fell off." A few of the folks that told me that hadn't even heard the whole album. After borrowing mine and letting it grow on them it's now one of my friend's favorites (you know who you are).

I'm no different. I was with my boy this weekend and he asked me what I thought about Common's album, Finding Forever. I said "it's alright I guess." After getting grilled on why I thought that, I fessed up and admitted that I hadn't even heard the whole album because I downloaded half the songs. After downloading six songs, my assessment was it was "alright" so I didn't bother downloading the rest and Common is one of my favorites. But me falling to the victim of our "right now" society, I downloaded what I could find weeks before the album dropped.

If Common wasn't as established as he is, this sort of thing would have ruined his career before it even started. If I was in an artists position, why would I take the risk of making a good album when I could put my budget into making singles about crack, guns and 24's since that's what people are buying...excuse me...downloading. Downloading isn't conducive to judging artistic music that's meant to be heard in it's entirety, but rather the newest disposable club tracks.

That's why album sales are low and artists are not being artists anymore. Because of downloading. Because of me.

"The game's fucked up
Nigga's beats is bangin, nigga your hooks did it/
Your lyrics didn't your gangster look did it/
So I would write it if y'all could get it/
Bein intricate'll get you wood, critic/
On the internet, they like you should spit it/
I'm like you should buy it, nigga that's good business"

-Jay-Z's "The Prelude" off of Kingdom Come

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I haven't had a nightmare in years. How fitting that I would have one right before Halloween. I'm sure somebody out there has read a book on dreams and their meanings. Since I haven't, maybe you can enlighten me.

Last night I had a dream that I was on my way back from visiting my family in North Carolina and was travelling through the back roads of South Carolina in the middle of the night. The back roads of South Carolina are extremely rural. No lights, no gas stations, nothing. You could easily go 10 miles and only pass a couple of pastures, abandoned homes and delapidated barns.

Anyway, I'm driving down this dark road and the next thing I know I'm running on foot from a car swirving and blowing its horn at me. I'm terrified.

The car then pulls in front of me and stops. All I can see are the car's lights. The door opens...

I wake up.

I googled nightmares and running from cars and I found the above clip which is eerily similar to my nightmare.

Somebody help me out here. Help me make sense of this dream and put it in perspective.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

"They Shoulda Never Gave You Niggas Money!!!"

After all of the outcry and support from the Black community for the Jena 6 in Louisiana I figured that the guys would come out and become the posterboys for a new Civil Rights Era. I mean I know they're young and still "kids" but if there were ever a time to consider yourself a spokesperson for the Black race in terms of speaking out against inequality and presenting yourself in a dignified manner, this would be it, right? Or am I wrong?

Fast forward to the BET Hip Hop awards. "And now coming to the stage to present the award for best new artists, we have two members of the Jena 6! [standing ovation/applause]."

The next thing I know, I that Jeezy and T.I. coming to the stage? B.G.? No no no... it must be Soulja Boy...Nope. It is in fact the guys from the Jena 6! They looked like they had just came off the video shoot for their new hit single "Fuck Them Haters...Bitch!" To top it off, they said "We'd like to thank all our fans..." Fans?

*blink blink*

I shook it off and rolled with it. I just figured they would come out a little more humble and low key. I dunno...maybe a "Free Mychal Bell" T-shirt and a pair of fitting jeans--just something that says "world...take us seriously." But after I thought about it I said to myself..."Self...they're still kids, they love hip-hop as do I, and they ARE at the BET Hip Hop Awards. It shouldn't matter what they're wearing. Stop judging them boys!" I let it go.

But now pictures have surfaced of one of the boys, Robert Bailey, Jr., alledgedly rolling around in donation money that people sent to them for their defense fund.

I know that their cause is bigger than them individually, and that them being charged with attempted murder was still an injustice regardless of their personal lives, but damn! You have to know that the world will be watching your every move now to see just who are these guys that the entire Black world was defending. And rolling around in money that was sent to you to defend yourself in the face of racism is a slap in the face to the people that sent it.

C'mon folk. Let's think smarter.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why Did I Get Married Sabotaged?

I ran across this article on another site about movie theaters potentially sabotaging Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married's sales by crediting Perry's sales to other movies, thus attempting to keep the movie off of the top box office sales list. Well as we all know, the movie still debuted at #1 so it must not have been a wide spread problem.

Is this a real concern or are folks overreacting to a legitimate error? Is there really a deep-seeded conspiracy in the movie industry to keep Perry down or are folks being paranoid? I'm not saying either way, but would folks have been upset if it were another movie that the error was made on? Did the theater do it on purpose?

I know that racism is rampant in the U.S. and there are valid issues that come up that need to be addressed, but is this particular instance a cause for concern or are we too paranoid sometimes?

In any event, if anybody is going to see the movie make sure you check your stubs.

What do you think?


Film target of sabotage opening weekend

By Kenya Vaughn Of the St. Louis American

Even before Why Did I Get Married opened, Tyler Perry talked candidly about his struggle to get his film released in a number of theatres comparable to his mainstream counterparts and other apparent attempts to undermine its success on its opening weekend.I went to see the film on Sunday night at my regular theatre (Wehrenberg’s Jamestown 14 Cine) and had an interesting experience.
When my ticket was torn, the man working the door said, “We Own The Night is in auditorium three.” I told him that I didn’t buy a ticket to We Own the Night, but to Why Did I Get Married. He said, “It’s fine, just go on in.”After informing him that I didn’t want another film to get credit for Tyler Perry’s sale, he said, “Fair enough, wait here” and brought back a stub from Why Did I get Married.

When I arrived in the theatre, a woman who asked not to be identified said, “Girl, make sure that your ticket says ‘Tyler Perry’ because mine said We Own Night. My friend said that it happened to her yesterday. They been tryin’ to be shady all weekend.” I was not the only one. Neither was she. There was a bit of commotion as people looked at their tickets and, sure enough, their tickets didn’t say what they thought it said. The concerned patron who attempted to school me on the error went to the manager and he said that it was a mistake. “Well, I ain’t never seen them make this kind of mistake before,” the woman said. In the 20 years I had been patronizing the Jamestown 14 Cine, neither had I. A bold, matter-of-fact woman, she went to the manager and insisted that he make an announcement in the theater. His message regarding the cause of the “mix-up” was unclear, but he told the audience that they were welcome to come to the box office and get their ticket changed. But when the film was over, the box office was closed.By the time the office opened Monday, someone had already called the American to voice concerns regarding a similar incident at the same theatre.Quinton Pittman, an attendant of The Wehrenberg theatre in St. Charles, conveyed his disdain via e-mail.

“I took my lady to see Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married yesterday in St. Charles at the Wehrenberg Theatre on 1st Capitol. I glanced at my ticket stubs. Why was I sold tickets to Resident Evil”? Pittman wrote. He said that he talked with the usher and management and decided to contact Werhrenberg Offices.“To add further insult to this injury, when I called the home office of Wehrenberg Theatres to complain, I was directed to Linda Curbell (Guest Services) who told me, ‘The only way you're going to get ticket stubs to that movie is to get them out of the trash,’” Pittman said. He said that Curbell refused to take his complaint formally and brushed him off with a nasty attitude.“Had it been Harry Potter, Spiderman or Barney Goes to Jail, they would have fixed it right then and there,” Pittman said. “My conscience is burning because they were being racist - period. They are stealing money from Tyler Perry’s movie.”“It was a mistake, and we’re looking into it,” Kelly Hoskins said in an abrasive and condescending tone when I called Wehrenberg’s corporate offices and asked about the incidents. She also said that the theatres installed new ticketing systems that might have contributed to the error.Shawn Ellens went to St. Louis Mills (which is not a Wehrenberg theatre) to see the movie. According to her, she waited for more than 20 minutes from the original 6:45 p.m. start time to see Why Did I get Married.She said the film then was screened out of focus and with the actors’ heads cut off. They stopped the film to resolve the issue and left guests waiting.“When it finally got up, the film had already started and we had missed part of it,” Ellens said.After people started complaining, they offered passes to see another film.“I had never experienced that type of problem before,” Ellens said. “While I can only speculate (regarding motive), 99.9 percent of the people in there were black.”Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married opened at the top of the box office with $21.5 million.Ellens says that she rarely goes to see a movie on the first weekend, but as a fan of Perry, she wanted to make sure he had a strong finish.“Even with all of that trifling behavior, he still came out number one,” Ellen said.“I’m tickled pink, and I wish we could get word to him what happened here in St. Louis.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mos Def & Cornell West On Real Time

Mos Def and Cornell West both sat on a panel to discuss politics on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher last month. For part of the show Mos struggled to effectively articulate his points on some political issues, but did a great job (in the second clip) in addressing how our justice system is helping in conditioning minority youth in poor neighborhoods to become criminals.

Check it out.

Friday, October 19, 2007


It was announced this week that Nas will release an album in December entitled Nigger. Not surprisingly, the album title has gotten a reaction from the NAACP, Jesse Jackson, and Fox News--all calling the album title dispicable and "in poor taste."

I'm sure that this will be a concept album that will have a socially responsible message and theme, in the same vein as the Dick Gregory biography of the same name. But my question is does this album title reflect a provocative artist who is looking to make a statement to better the world, or does it reflect an artist who is losing relevance in music and is attempting to gain attention through controversial album titles and themes?

I'm personally a fan of Nas. I must admit that I'm not as much of a fan now as I was during his Illmatic/It Was Written days, but I honestly think that he is one of the best lyricists that ever did it.

However, his body of work has been dissappointing over the last seven or eight years. Even his highly controversial Hip Hop Is Dead album from last year sucked musically (in my opinion), but had the world buzzing off of the title alone.

Now we go from declaring to the hip-hop community that the music that they are making is, in fact, NOT hip-hop, to ruffling the feathers of the world by selling a product that carries the name of a word that represents lynchings, discrimination, racism, slavery, death, ignorance, frustration and, today, acceptance. Is this brilliance or irresponsibility? Is Nas, who went from a ghetto prophet, to a murder rapper, to a coke-dealing mafioso, to a confused rapper, to a struggling artist, to a socially conscious rapper, the person that should take on this word on behalf of an entire race? Because believe me, when it drops, the current beating that hip-hop is taking after the Don Imus fiasco will turn into fire and brimstone when the media catches wind of it. I mean can you imagine the word Nigger being on the Billboard charts? Or white kids going to Best Buy or Wal-Mart and having a black lady ringing up their Nigger CD?

This could go either way. Either he will be looked at as a hero--a champion of the people that took on one of the most vile words to ever exist. A word that still stings when used in a derogatory context--or he will be looked at as a washed-up opportunist that realizes that his creative well has run dry musically and must resort to controversial album titles to remain relevant and sell records.

Which is it?

Monday, October 15, 2007

This S**t Must Cease & Desist!

...someone please murder this song. I need you to pull out your .44 caliber Smith & Wesson and end this madness.

I'm at the drive-thru today getting a #4. As I'm relaying my order to the lady taking orders, I hear a car pull up behind me and the faint sound of a "Wa' Me Cra' an' Wa' me Ro'" I think to myself..."These damn kids HAVE to be skipping school" because it's 1:13 in the afternoon. Surely they need to be in class.

As I lower my rearview mirror to get a good look at the youngster, I find myself staring into the retina of a 50+ -year-old conservative-looking White woman in a Buick Skylark.

*blink blink*

Let me try this again...

I'm at the drive-thru today getting a #4. As I'm relaying my order to the lady taking orders, I hear a car pull up behind me and the faint sound of a "Wa' Me Cra' an' Wa' me Ro'" I think to myself...

You get the point!

Why is this happening? Why do we celebrate perceived ignorance? Am I being hard on this dude? I think not! Last Friday I heard a Soulja Boy interview on satellite radio and he sounded NOTHING like he sounds on record. And by that I mean that he actually finished the last sounds of the words he used (i.e. "Watch" vs. "Wa'").

I know that when I was growing up we had dance crazes hit the scene. We had the "Kid 'N Play Tap," the "Electric Slide" etc. Even in recent years we had the "Macarena" hit and the "Cha Cha Slide" (I know the Ghetto Hokie Pokie when I see it!), but something about this Soulja Boy stuff doesn't sit right with me. I know that it's for the kids, but is this what we want kids mimicking? Sure, it's catchy. Sometimes I catch myself reciting the ridiculously incoherent lyrics, but it just seems wrong.

A few post ago I wrote about Lupe Fiasco's "Dumb It Down" song. Is this not the very definition of "dumbing it down"? We're all entitled to mindless, disposable music every once in a while, but why are we constantly spoonfed unintelligent and ignorant lyrics from artists who are capable of speaking intelligently and producing music with substance... or at least coherent music.

This song is #1 on the charts. This is a problem. Just as Italian-Americans are tired of being portrayed as New Jersey mobsters in entertainment, I'm tired of seeing us portrayed as backyard bucks that love to have sex, Superman hoes, and dance. That's OK in moderation for the sake of entertainment, but there needs to be a balance. The scale is heavily unbalanced right now.

Look at the audience, as seen in the above video. Then look at the guy on the stage performing for the audience. All we're missing is the black cork, red lipstick, top hat and white gloves.

...that [Soulja] 'Boy sure does keep us entertained!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Should They Give It Up?

You probably heard that Jones gave back the five medals she won at the Sydney Olympics Monday after admitting that she used illegal drugs - including two she won in relay events.

The United States Olympic Committee chairman Peter Ueberroth says Jones' relay teammates should also give back their medals. There have been incidents where the entire team was not punished although one athlete tested positive for illegal drugs, but Uerberroth said this case is "tainted." Not quite sure how this one is different, but ....

"It's our opinion that when any sporting event is won unfairly, it's completely tarnished and should be returned. The relay events were won unfairly," Ueberroth told the Associated Press. "We don't have the jurisdiction on that matter. If we did, we would be on the side of returning the medals."

The USOC has not talked to the other athletes yet about giving up their medals.

Two athletes - Chryste Gaines and Torri Edwards - on the 400-meter relay team with Jones have served doping bans since the 2000 Olympics.

What do you think they should do?

Gene is a journalist in Phoenix.

Guess Who's Back

Hot or washed up?

Monday, October 8, 2007

More Poetry from R. Kelly...

Stand out lines:

"Always accusing me of some ol' bullshit when I'm just tryin' to have a good time."

"Hol, hold up! Didn't I just give you money to go get your hair, toes, and nails done the other day? Hmm? Yeah yo ass was smilin' then."

"Uh! Gave who some damn money??? I ain't gave nobody no damn money, girl!"

"You called my momma's house and what??? Girl my momma ain't gotta screen no calls for me!"

This cat is a genius? Niggatry in its purist form. The fact that he probably takes this song seriously makes it all the more hilarious.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Decoding "Dumb It Down"

I was on my LB's blog and ran across this new video from Lupe Fiasco called "Dumb It Down." In the clip, Lupe hits you with a barrage of metaphors and wordplay that could leave you dizzy, which plays right into the title of the song by having you wonder what the hell he is talking about.

When I googled the song folks on messge boards give Lupe props for the song and his ill wordplay (even though they don't know what he's talking about), others call it wack because they think he's not really saying anything, and others knock it because the video isn't directed by Hype Williams and is too plain (lacks color, materialism, and girls)...

Before reading my commentary on the lyrics, watch the clip and see if you can decipher what he is saying. Afterwards, check out my interpretation below and see if we are on the same page.

I listened to the song a couple times and this is how I interpreted each of his verses:

First Verse:

In the first verse Lupe starts by explaining that he (the listener) is blind and deaf through lines like "my iris resides where my ears is." After a couple lines of reiterating his senses deficiencies he allows someone else to take the wheel and steer him in the right direction because he lacks the capacity to do so. While driving the person steering the wheel (negative rapper) drives wrecklessly and leaves the "windshield menstual" (bloody) and "in the grill is road kill" which I interpret as his way of saying that the rapper is feeding him blood, "gun talk," and violence which is what the majority of rappers who dumb down their lyrics talk about.

In the middle of the first verse, he references The Matrix and talks about how the listener takes both pills (knows right from wrong initially) but gravitates towards the negativity, which Lupe follows with a barrage of sci-fi violent imagery (lies) that is more appealing than the truth.

At the end of the verse he talks about ghosts penning lyrics and giving flowers to the mothers of the deceased. To me, he's talking about how rappers in the industry 1) have ghost writers pen their negative lyrics (even though they themselves don't live that lifestyle) and 2) the effects of their lyrics that perpetuate violent behavior in the community and how rappers deflect responsibility once they are confronted.

Second verse:
He reiterates that he is blind and deaf but can only hear the message of the person steering the plane once he realizes that the stewardess of the plane being driven by the negative rapper is a hot woman (video girl). Peep how he talks about how the message is as "high as an earring to the ground is." A woman's height is not very high. He then says the "Pimp C (see) the wings of the Underground Kings, who's also Clingon, to infinity and beyond" which I interpret as how the pilot (The Underground King/Clingon) degrades women and will both use them to spread his message (to the Pimp (listener)) and simultaneously steer them in the wrong direction. He goes on to talk about how he is flying on a pegasus (Winged Horse from Greek Mythology to convey his truthful content) while the listener is "flying on a pheasant" (common bird) while snorting the white horse etc. The "pheasant" is another way to portray the rapper's message as a negative one.

Dumbed Down Interpretation of 2nd Verse:
Rappers use video girls as a formula to get people to listen to their negative message. Once she has your attention, he can proceed to tell you about how killing and doing/selling drugs is cool. Then the white guy (the industry) on the hook is trying to make him "dumb it down" so that the women who are being exploited will not realize that they are being taken advantage of.

Third verse:

Talks about being brain dead and " foreplay-less sex is" ....(damn that's a hot line/metaphor...did you get that???)... to the point where whatever the pilot says goes. This verse is more about how rappers use "street cred" to convey their authenticity. Peep how how says "they need proof like a vestless chest" and then think about how rappers that get shot are the ones that the masses want to listen to. Similarly, he points to street cred by saying "necklace theft" to reference how rappers validate their credibility by claiming to steal the chain of another rapper. After you believe that they have "street cred" the pilot will then drown you with materialism and other negative things until you are "neck-less." The water starts to drown the listener, but ...

LUPE TO THE RESCUE! He comes in and pulls the plug to drain the water so that you don't drown...that is "until the water rises again" (or until his next album comes out). He's pretty much calling himself a breath of fresh air.

That's hip hop people.

Lupe is one of my favorite rappers and this song exemplifies why. This is what is missing from hip hop music. I remember the days where you could listen to a hip hop song years later and pick up something that you missed before. Those were the days.

Peep the clip and see if I'm overthinking his lyrics.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

We All Fit the Description

Gene from sent me this NY Times article about growing gang activity in North Carolina. In it, a black reporter travels to Salisbury, NC to talk to gang members and gets more than he bargained for when he runs into the police. Very interesting read.

I understand that police officers are "just doing [their] job" but after being in the job for so long, it is obvious that they develop an us vs. them mentality and can easily create (or reinforce) biases toward an entire race due to the nature of the job and the neighborhoods they patrol.

So if me or you were walking in one of those patrolled neighborhoods, any considerations of us being decent human beings goes out the window in their eyes. We'd be guilty of something by simply being there.

Can I blame them? Not really. They find criminal activity in these neighborhoods all the time so they have a reason to be skeptical of the people in them. But that's just it--if you're only looking for crime in a black neighborhood, you're GOING to find crime in that neighborhood, regardless of whether or not other crimes are happening elsewhere.

At some point, their jobs are less about protecting and serving and more about busting some Yo's heads. The behavior of police officers on the show The Wire mirrors real life behavior, where officers get a rush from harassing "perps." To them it's a never-ending game.

At some point, we have to find the root of the problems causing folks to want to join gangs and do crime in the first place. Street sweeping is counterproductive and does little to actually stop crime. I'm sure if some of the "gang members" had access to better education, role models and economic opportunities at least some of them wouldn't turn to gangs for validation.

But at the end of the day police officers and the world at large look at this one example of black life, as diverse as black life is, and transfer it to us all--at least initially. Then the Fear of the Powerless manifests itself.


Reporting While Black

Chris Keane for The New York Times

Published: September 30, 2007

THE police officer had not asked my name or my business before grabbing my wrists, jerking my hands high behind my back and slamming my head into the hood of his cruiser.

NIGHT SHIFT Outside a known gang house in Charlotte, Officer Castano checked an ID.
“You have no right to put your hands on me!” I shouted lamely.

“This is a high-crime area,” said the officer as he expertly handcuffed me. “You were loitering. We have ordinances against loitering.”

Last month, while talking to a group of young black men standing on a sidewalk in Salisbury, N.C., about harsh antigang law enforcement tactics some states are using, I had discovered the main challenge to such measures: the police have great difficulty determining who is, and who is not, a gangster.

My reporting, however, was going well. I had gone to Salisbury to find someone who had firsthand experience with North Carolina’s tough antigang stance, and I had found that someone: me.

Except that I didn’t quite fit the type of person I was seeking. I am African-American, like the subjects of my reporting, but I’m not really cut out for the thug life. At 37 years old, I’m beyond the street-tough years. I suppose I could be taken for an “O.G.,” or “original gangster,” except that I don’t roll like that — I drive a Volvo station wagon and have two young homeys enrolled in youth soccer leagues.

As Patrick L. McCrory, the mayor of Charlotte and an advocate of tougher antigang measures in the state, told me a couple of days before my Salisbury encounter: “This ganglike culture is tough to separate out. Whether that’s fair or not, that’s the truth.”

Tough indeed. Street gangs rarely keep banker’s hours, rent office space or have exclusive dress codes. A gang member might hang out on a particular corner, wearing a T-shirt and jeans, but one is just as likely to be standing on that corner because he lives nearby and his shirt might be blue, not because he’s a member of the Crips, but because he’s a Dodgers fan.

The problem is that when the police focus on gangs rather than the crimes they commit, they are apt to sweep up innocent bystanders, who may dress like a gang member, talk like a gang member and even live in a gang neighborhood, but are not gang members.

In Charlotte’s Hidden Valley neighborhood, a predominately African-American community that is home to some of the state’s most notorious gangs, Jamal Reid, 20, conceded that he associates with gangsters. Mr. Reid, who has tattoos and wears dreadlocks and the obligatory sports shirts and baggy jeans, said gangsters are, after all, his neighbors, and it’s better to be their friend than their enemy.

Sheriff’s records for Charlotte-Mecklenburg County show that Mr. Reid has been arrested several times since 2004 for misdemeanors including driving without a license, trespassing and marijuana possession. Despite his run-ins with the law, Mr. Reid said he had never been in a gang and complained that the police had sometimes harassed him without a good reason.

“A police officer stopped in front of my house and told me to come to his car,” he told me. “I said, no. They got out and ran me down. They did the usual face-in-the-dirt thing.”

Maj. Eddie Levins of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said that officers are allocated to different areas based on the number of service calls they receive, so high-crime areas are likely to get more police attention.

“Where there are more police, expect more police action,” Major Levins said. “Some people think ‘I can just hang out with this gang member as long as I don’t do any crime.’ Well, expect to be talked to. We can’t ignore them. In fact, we kind of want to figure out the relationship between all these gang members and their associates.”

Major Levins said that his fellow officers aren’t perfect and that he was aware of occasional complaints of harassment, but he said that most residents would like to see more police officers on the streets, not fewer.

Even Cairo Guest, a 26-year-old who complained he was handcuffed in his backyard, acknowledged that gang members in his neighborhood were “out of control.”

“There are a lot of guys out here doing stuff they shouldn’t have been doing,” Mr. Guest said.

Still, some civil rights advocates complain that the definition of a gang member is vague. Gang researchers find that most active members usually cycle out of their gangs within about a year. Even active participants might only be marginal members, drifting in and out of gangs, said Kevin Pranis, a co-author of “Gang Wars,” a recent report on antigang tactics written by the Justice Police Institute, a nonprofit research group.

Harsh penalties could actually reinforce gang membership by locking peripheral gangsters in jail with more hardened criminals, he said.

Suburban Salisbury, population 30,000, is about as far from the traditional ganglands of Los Angeles, Chicago or even Durham as you can get. But it has had an outsize voice in pushing for tougher antigang measures since a 13-year-old black girl was inadvertently killed there in a gang shootout after a dance party in March.

I arrived in Salisbury at midnight, figuring that gang members would be more visible after dark, and found a local hangout with the help of a cabdriver.

Striking up a conversation with young gang members in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar town is always a tricky proposition, but the one advantage I figured I had was that I am African-American. Brown skin can be a kind of camouflage in my profession, especially if you do a lot of reporting in minority neighborhoods, as I do. Blending in visually sometimes helps me observe without being observed.

But even when my appearance has been helpful, the benefits rarely survive the first words out of my mouth, which usually signal — by accent or content — that I’m not from around wherever I am.

“What’s The New York Times doing down here?” asked an incredulous black man. He and about a dozen other men were standing in front of a clapboard house in Salisbury. I observed several drug sales there within minutes of arriving.

“Man, you a cop,” said another. “Hey, this guy’s a cop!”

“You’ve got me wrong,” I said trying to sound casual as the men looked at me warily. I started to pull my press identification out of my wallet. “I’m a reporter. I’m just trying to talk to you about your neighborhood.”

In the distance I heard neighborhood lookouts calling: “Five-O! Five-O!” — a universal code in American ghettos for the approaching police. I thought they were talking about me, but thought again as three police cars skidded to a stop in front of us.

A tall white police officer got out of his car and ordered me toward him. Two other police officers, a white woman and a black man, stood outside of their cars nearby. I complied. Without so much as a question, the officer shoved my face down on the sheet metal and cuffed me so tightly that my fingertips tingled.

“They’re on too tight!” I protested.

“They’re not meant for comfort,” he replied.

While it is true that I, like many of today’s gang members, shave my head bald, in my case it’s less about urban style and more about letting nature take its course. Apart from my complexion, the only thing I had in common with the young men watching me smooch the hood of the black-and-white was that they too had been in that position — some of them, they would tell me later, with just as little provocation.

But here again I failed to live up to the “street cred” these forceful police officers had granted me. As the female officer delved into my back pocket for my wallet she found no cash from illicit corner sales, in fact no cash at all, though she did find evidence of my New York crew — my corporate identification card.

After a quick check for outstanding warrants, the handcuffs were unlocked and my wallet returned without apology or explanation beyond their implication that my approaching young black men on a public sidewalk was somehow flouting the law.

“This is a dangerous area,” the officer told me. “You can’t just stand out here. We have ordinances.”

“This is America,” I said angrily, in that moment supremely unconcerned about whether this was standard police procedure or a useful law enforcement tool or whatever anybody else wanted to call it. “I have a right to talk to anyone I like, wherever I like.”

The female officer trumped my na├»ve soliloquy, though: “Sir, this is the South. We have different laws down here.”

I tried to appeal to the African-American officer out of some sense of solidarity.

“This is bad area,” he told me. “We have to protect ourselves out here.”

As the police drove away, I turned again to my would-be interview subjects. Surely now they believed I was a reporter.

I found their skepticism had only deepened.

“Man, you know what would have happened to one of us if we talked to them that way?” said one disbelieving man as he walked away from me and my blank notebook. “We’d be in jail right now.”