Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sitting On My Porch Part 91

April was a very busy month so I’m glad we are experiencing some good weather to get outside. I timed my activities of the weekend to watch basketball this evening. Earlier today was another successful Lemonade Day. People seem to be so happy about seeing the little kids selling drinks. I wonder how much I could make next weekend doing the same thing with Crown Royal. I’m pretty sure the city would have some kind of issue with that. Tomorrow I will be heading to the Jazzfest. I don’t know whose performing. I’m going tomorrow because I have a free ticket and that’s the only way I will ever go to the Jazzfest again with those prices. I’m still on a traditional New Orleans salary and I can’t afford too many high price events.

There was an article recently that said New Orleans had the second highest income gap in the nation after Atlanta. The city has been obsessed with being like Houston or Atlanta for as long as I can remember and we are almost there. If the income scale is 1 to 10 with 1 being the super poor and 10 being the super-rich, I would place myself around a 4.5. When are in the 4-6 range you have to be selective about the activities you spend extra on.  It’s a give and take situation. For instance, I want to get out of town for a real vacation this summer. In order to pay for it I have to stop eating out and treating myself to steaks. This plan will work out fine as long as my car doesn’t break down.  Spending money on that would ruin everything.

There’s been a lot of talk about gentrification and the city changing. I think your view on this depends on who you are and where you spend most of your time in the city. There are some people who are obsessed with it. There are others who hardly realize it’s happening. Those people tend to be the ones in the most likely to be shipped to the suburbs when their neighborhood becomes desirable. No one is moving in to my neighborhood and with the way things have been going I think it means no one will be investing much around here. Maybe we need some crossover residents to get more than a Wal Mart.

You can’t label everyone the same way.  Stereotypes of any form are bad. I went to a meeting yesterday and met a guy who has a writing and arts program for kids in the city that was so cool I wished I was a kid just so I could participate. You don’t want to make those people feel uncomfortable about living here.  There’s probably a bunch of people whose intent it is to turn New Orleans into their personal cash cow and one big tourist play land where Mardi Gras Indian parades pass every 15 minutes up Frenchmen Street.  Since I can’t tell one from the other just by looking at them I choose to judge everyone individually. I guess new residents are like the NOPD. You don’t know their intentions until you meet them personally. 

I’m watching Game 7 of the Memphis and Oklahoma City game right now. I’m happy the Donald Sterling situation is not getting in the way of enjoying this. What a strange situation. Strange is the only word to use for an 80 year old white man losing his basketball team full of black men for arguing with his half Mexican and black girlfriend about taking pictures with Magic Johnson.  There’s been so much said about this story over the past week. I only have two things to take away from the situation.

The first thing is that the consequences of your actions have a lot to do with the environment you are in. Clive Bundy made his comments about black people possibly being better off picking cotton and that was horrible. He’s a rancher in Nevada. Regardless of how you feel about what he said he’s pretty insulated from what the kind of thing that happened to Sterling. He was the owner of a team in a league that is 75% black.  NBA players are heroes in the black community. I believe they were all personally offended but even if they weren’t they would have had to take some kind of action or have to deal with the fallout from the people.

The second thing is that we are approaching the time where technology is going to expose more and more all the things that humans have been into and aroused by and it’s going to stop the progress of social networking and the sharing of everything you do. Humans are not going to stop having the same lust and desires. They are just going to find different ways to get it without it coming back to ruin them. Before we had so much access to one another the person who gave those tapes to TMZ would have had to work really hard to get that story out there.  In 2014 the story broke last Saturday and Donald Sterling was suspended on Tuesday. That’s remarkable.   I’m glad there were no camera phones in the 90’s when I and my friends were out enjoying life.  I liked a page on Facebook once and within ten minutes people were sending me messages about it. My point is I stopped liking the page but I look at it when I have a few minutes to spare. Google and Facebook aren’t going to make me stop being me so if push comes to shove I’ll just use my phone only for talking like I used to. I hope nobody tapes me.



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Reconnecting

Yesterday afternoon I was driving back to work from my doctor's visit. From the year 2000 to 2013 I may have visited a doctor's office three times. I have already been four times in 2014. What started as an ear infection due to our crazy weather this winter turned into a physical, medication and a lot of thinking about how badly I have been treating myself. It was a smart decision to actually go to the doctor. It was stupid that I waited so long. I'm two months away from turning 40. The closer I get the more things I start to ponder. It was a long ride back to work. I don't want anyone reading this get alarmed. I'm not dying or anything. Except for hypertension and the need to lose a few pounds I am relatively healthy.

Even without a checkup I knew I had fallen into a bad routine of doing the same routine every day that was going to lead me to keep getting heavier and less healthier. My routine is to get up really early, get dressed and go to work without eating breakfast. When I do eat breakfast it's always something heavy that I couldn't possibly burn off sitting behind a desk. After that I drink coffee right up to lunch time. Then I go to lunch and eat something heavier than the breakfast was. I work late, stop at the store to get something to drink, go home, do all the stuff I need to do in the evening and finally sit down for a break around 8:00PM. I'll usually fall asleep for about 45 minutes which energizes me so now instead of going to sleep for the night around 10:00, I am up until 1:00 AM or later having a drink and watching TV. Then, no matter how little sleep I got, I'm up on time again the next day and do it all over again. There's only so long you can do that before your body starts giving you warnings like ear infections or asthma problems. I got the message.

When your days are like mine you start losing the energy to do things like sit down and keep your blog updated. Hobbies are the first thing to suffer when you are stressed and tired because you can ignore them for awhile without any consequences. It's been four months since my last post and no one from Blogger has called me to find out when I am making another post like the student loan folks do when they want money.

It's not like the good old days when I first started blogging. People had to put a little effort into what they were doing. Now I can log in to Twitter and Facebook and get a thousand opinions in less than an hour. We are so overloaded with content that most likely hardly anyone will read this. That's good because now I can go back to posting stuff I like without caring who's reading. I want my hobby back.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sitting On My Porch and Glad 2013 is Over

I can’t wait until 2014 gets here. I wish the change of the calendar really did eliminate everything you feel and allowed you to start over. In the ranking of years that sucked 2013 is high on the list. It wasn’t on the level of 2005 or depressing as 2007 but it is definitely ranked number three during my lifetime.

In August I found out my daughter was diabetic. We found out the hard way because she was in a coma for a few days. Despite starting school late and having to get adjusted to pricking her fingers as well as taking shots two times a day she is doing fine. I wish I was one of those people who found inspiration in bad events but I am not. One night in the ICU of Children’s Hospital was the first time I questioned why God let certain things happen. I’m the one that drinks all the time and eats too much. I’m overweight and out of shape. I have been saying that I am going to start working out again and never did it. If somebody has to be in ICU then let it be me.  I deserve to have my life altered. She doesn’t deserve anything.

I learned after my old life flooded away that things don’t work that way. You have to deal with the current circumstance and try to move on. If you spend a lot of time dwelling on what happened to you life will pass you by because the world doesn’t stop.  Unfortunately I have spent much of my 30’s with a high level of focus that it requires to make bad situations good as they can be. Somehow I have managed to have a pretty good life despite being somewhat melancholy under the surface the whole time.  I am sure that’s not a good thing but I am so used to it that it feels comfortable.

Friends like to joke around with me about going through a midlife crisis before the age of 40. That’s what I kept telling everyone throughout the year.  I don’t feel old.  When you are my age and from where I am from you have dealt with a lot of unnecessary death from your peers. Lately I have been thinking about all my friends who are not around and all the different reasons they are missing. 

Right before Mardi Gras my friend Christopher’s truck went off the Causeway Bridge. We met when I was 20 and we both worked at Auto Zone together. He became my road trip companion and partner in crime as we went through the city doing dumb stuff together. As we got older he was one of the few people still in New Orleans that I trusted and would call on him or go talk to him about things because I knew he would give me an honest and raw opinion if I needed it.  I can’t replace that guy and the city doesn’t feel the same knowing he’s not around. Plus, there’s jokes I can’t crack anymore because he was the only person that knew what they meant.

I met Anderson in the 9th grade. I called him Doug E. Fresh because back then he kind of looked like him.  We had a group of guys that we called the Six Man Posse. We lost contact after high school but ran into one another at a football game after Katrina. He was working at a restaurant at the World War II museum. We had been talking about getting together with our kids and lighting the grill. He was stabbed to death in April.  Of the Six Man Posse at least three are no longer with us. I’m looking for the other two but haven’t had any luck.

These are the things that lead up to 2013 being not so good. Despite that, I am looking forward to 2014 and turning 40. I’m also looking forward to bringing back my blog to regular posting.  It’s not that I haven’t had things to say. I just haven’t felt like typing too many words. I think I have my spirit back.

Happy New Year..

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Working Through The Shut Down


 
 
 
I’ve sitting at my desk today trying to determine if its worst to be furloughed because the government shut down or to work for two weeks and find out you can’t get paid because someone involved in the process has been furloughed. I guess it doesn’t matter since everyone ends up struggling. I already have a few friends sitting at home today. I’m hoping I don’t soon have to join them until this shutdown is over. There are so many public and private sector jobs and programs that help people tied into the government that it’s amazing that a shutdown would even be an option.  Maybe it’s one of those things I don’t have time to read up on and understand properly. It seems to me like the potential for the country to go into a tailspin is so high that no one would even think about doing it. We had two wars at the same time and almost went broke trying to pay for them. I never heard of any opponent of war talk about shutting down the government. Now it’s been done behind health insurance.
The confusing part is that most of the new healthcare law appears to be a windfall for insurance companies. Sure they have to work with customers they used to deny coverage for but those people also are going to be paying them and if they don’t make enough to pay the government is going to make up the rest.  I can’t imagine they would have enough of an issue with the law to send their lobbyist to Washington D.C and force anyone to shut down the government for their benefit.  It seems to me that there has already been compromise in passing the law. 
What happened in Congress is the same thing that happens in the streets. When you make bold claims about what you are going to do to get recognition you have to follow through on some of it or you risk looking fake and losing respect. Some of those representatives have been telling their constituents they were going to Washington to shut down Obamacare by any means necessary. They kept saying it even after the Supreme Court upheld the law and the president was reelected.  They had to take it to the extreme and legitimize their position. They couldn’t go back home with the program being rolled out quietly then turn around and ask for campaign funding without taking the most extreme action because districts have been so gerrymandered that there’s someone even crazier than they are willing to do or say anything to go to D.C.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sitting on My Porch Part Eighty Nine : Blogging While The Saints are On



The Saints and Cardinals game is about to start. I have never blogged through a game before. I’m not posting this until after the game so I could make a prediction and just fill in the actual score to look like a genius. My prediction is Saints 27 Cardinals 20. We’ll see what happens. 

It’s a nice cool day outside today. I don’t want to jinx anything but I am going to call this hurricane season a success. No one had to evacuate and no one was flooded. I realize it’s not over until November but we got past August and that’s usually a good sign. The Gulf Coast needed a year off after Isaac. It’s also good to get a nice cool front so we can finally turn the thermostat up and not run the air conditioning as much. Those summer energy bills are challenging when you make “almost money”. 

Score update 7-0 Cardinals….The Saints didn’t tackle anyone on that drive. 

“Almost money” is the income bracket where you make just enough money to not feel poor but not enough to keep from struggling every now and then. People in this category usually have issues during the summer months or when something unexpected comes along like a family illness that takes you out of your normal budget schedule. People who have almost money usually have nice cars but have very long car note terms. They could probably pay it off in four years but six years is a lot easier on the budget.  People with almost money are also more likely to use groupons, and frequent Outback Steakhouse when they really wish they were at Ruth’s Chris.  This topic deserves its own post. 

Score update:  Saints and Cardinals tied at 7…..welcome back Robert Meachem.
End of first quarter tied at 7…. Drew Brees is getting hit a lot. 

There was a time when I thought Jim Letten and his staff was the best thing to ever happen to New Orleans. I even wrote a post about why President Obama should leave him in place when he got elected. I’m second guessing that now since the police officers convicted in the Danziger case are going to get new trials. It baffles me what professional people will compromise their work for. I deal with confidential information at my job that is probably not as important as evidence in cases involving police shootings and even I know not to talk about it on the internet. It’s so ridiculous that it seems like one big scheme to get everyone off the hook. I don’t think that’s the case but if someone told me they felt that way I wouldn’t try to argue with them. 

Now we have to relive the whole Danziger event again and open those old wounds. It’s just a reminder that no matter how hard everyone seems to be trying to promote how much the city has changed, we still have a lot of the same problems. They might not be getting the same attention they used to because of economic development and our desire to be taken seriously as a world class city but they are still there.

Score update: Saints 14 Cardinals 7. Tom Benson is going to right Jimmy Graham a very big check. 

It’s still 14-7 Saints at halftime. We can’t run the ball today but Cam Jordan and the defense are playing great. This defense is nothing like we expected. 

A lot of people who know me think I have a problem with people falling in love with our culture and moving here. I don’t have an issue with that as long as natives are not excluded from opportunities. If we are all going to grow and prosper it’s as good thing.  I’m also for local artists and customs getting their day in the spotlight and affecting popular culture as long as no one tries to exploit the community. 
There have been a few challenges since our local culture went global. The biggest challenge is that not all things were meant to be consumed by the masses. Some things are enjoyable in small doses with the idea that it’s cool as long as it doesn’t become a national craze. Sometimes, when things crossover they can become corny and disturbing real fast and so much that even the people who were around when it started stop liking it. This is how I feel about twerking and why I hope no one ever leaves here and tries to start a Mardi Gras Indian gang in their hometown. Miley Cyrus and internet videos have ruined parties in New Orleans for me. 

Drew throws an intercept to the Honeybadger who I am pulling for to be successful. He could have waited until next week to get his first interception. 

Score Update:  Saints 17 Cardinals 7. Drew is still being hit too much but at least he’s moving around and trying to still make plays. 

I may go check out the new Cotsco store in Carrollton later on today.  It’s great to have them there instead of the empty lot that used to be the Carrollton shopping center. I’m also excited that the Wal Mart in Gentilly is about to happen. A lot of memories from my childhood were at the Carrollton mall and the Gentilly Woods mall so it’s sad not for them to be there anymore but I am glad there will be some stores to generate tax revenue with jobs instead of empty space and blight. 

Score update Saints 24 Cardinals 7. I have to give Drew Brees credit today for moving around and making places despite the offensive line struggling. 

Intercept Kenny Vaccaro. I may have been wrong about saying the Saints should have taken someone else with that draft pick. 

Final Score: Saints 31 Cardinals 7: After the first two games generated so much anxiety I needed a blowout like this. 

P.S. 
For the last few months I have had my own international diary in a new UK magazine called The New Idealist. Since I suck at self promotion I am just telling everyone and it's almost time for the third issue. Thanks to Lydia Andel and her crew in the UK. I hope your publication becomes huge.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

I was going to retire this page. I don’t feel like I am doing right by it anymore. I haven’t been putting much thought into things the way I used to. I definitely haven’t been reading anything. It’s very difficult to write anything when you don’t read. Who feels like reading about budget cuts, babies getting killed and the struggle all the time anyway? People who don’t pay attention to those kinds of things always seem to be happier than I am. I’m a bit jealous of that. I don’t know the last time I went through my news feed to see what everyone was doing. 

2013 has been a bumpy year for me so far. I lost two good friends. One had an accident in his work truck and the other was killed by his girlfriend.  I’ve been having them on my mind all the time because we shared so many memories together. When you grow up in my era of New Orleans sometimes it feels like if you are lucky enough to grow old there won’t be anyone around to share memories with. I turned 39 in June. I never did a search to find out what age is acceptable for having a midlife crisis but I have been feeling like I am at the start of one for awhile now.

I also had the experience of being in ICU at Children’s Hospital with my daughter. There is no one in the world I dislike enough to wish that experience on them. She’s doing fine now. I think she is better than I am. Kids are resilient as long as you don’t put too much on them. She is young enough that certain thoughts don’t creep into her head. I’m not so lucky so   for the last few weeks I have been trying to find out who in my family ever had Type 1 diabetes. My parents and their siblings are pretty good at family history and no one has come up with anything. I have chosen to place the blame on the grandfather (mother’s father) that I never met and have promised myself that if by some chance he is alive and wants to look her up before he passes away, the first thing I am going to do is ask him if he has type 1 diabetes. After that I am going to punch him in the face.

Life is unpredictable. You never know what is going to change from day to day. One of the lessons I learned after Katrina is that the world doesn’t stop so you can get yourself together. You have to keep moving and deal with the old stuff too. I am very good at doing that. I wish that list of things to deal with could stop adding new things so I could catch up a little.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"Trayvoning" and Other Foolishness

I’m a black man from the south that grew up New Orleans. When I was Trayvon Martin’s age there was a lot of things that could have caused me harm. I know what it’s like to be profiled and the last thing you need is a strange man coming towards you and not knowing what his intentions are. I can’t separate my personal experiences and who I am from the situation. I knew the outcome of the trial wouldn’t do anything to change how I feel so I chose not to follow the trial every day except for the occasional update. Nothing that jury did or didn’t do was going to wake up the young man and give him back to his parents. Even if there was a guilty verdict it still would have been a sad event for me because death is final and George Zimmerman gets to live his life and prosper while Trayvon Martin can’t.  I remembered the night in 1995 when I was pulled out of my car and made to get on my knees with my hands behind my head by two sheriffs searched my car. I wasn’t sure what they were looking for but it turned out all I did for them to pull me over like that was having a blown taillight.  I was scared as hell that night and those were people in uniform so I was basically powerless. I can’t imagine what I would have done if a stranger would have ran up on me. I probably would have gotten shot after trying to defend myself.

 Not everyone is able to see a situation from the view of someone different than they are so if people want to celebrate and validate the death of an innocent kid then I’m not wasting any energy on them because it’s a hopeless situation. They can listen to Sean Hannity and their Ted Nugent records in the comfort of the country they wish was 50 years younger.  I prefer to use the energy I would spend arguing with them on helping young men like my co-workers son who is starting college on a track and academic scholarship. We need to try to help these young men live as well as possible as a tribute to all the young men like Trayvon who didn’t have the chance. 

The only way to really avoid the energy that’s given off by situations like this is to get off the grid. Between Twitter and Facebook there’s so much information going back and forth that I feel my brain is going to explode. There are people posting audio clips and articles constantly. Some of the news stories aren’t even real.  Some of these things are just trying to increase hits to worthless websites or spark emotions in people that care. Other things are just insensitive and stupid. I think the tone of everything has gotten worse since the verdict.

Yesterday a friend of mine asked me if I was going to say anything in my blog about “Trayvoning”.  Since I hadn’t been blogging much and trying not to pay too much attention to foolishness I told her I didn’t know what she was speaking about. She asked me to Google it and when I did I got pissed.  Apparently people think it’s funny to take pictures posing as Trayvon Martin’s body lying on the ground holding Skittles and ice tea. I wouldn’t want anyone to take my life as a joke like that and it’s been very difficult not to find these people online and spend the whole day threatening them and proving someone’s point about us being violent.

I should have told her to ignore it and not let it bother her so much but I couldn’t bring myself to do it because as a mother of two sons her anger is valid in my opinion. Despite the anger we feel we have to keep trying to move forward and ignore some of this foolishness. I can’t imagine how Trayvon Martin’s friend and family are dealing with everything. I couldn’t watch the news or open an internet browser at all. I probably wouldn’t turn on my cell phone for a few months. It would be too much to take.

I often wonder if people have changed or has technology just put more of a spotlight on the way people think and made it easier to share with the world randomly. I wonder if technology was the way it is now in 1955 would there have been people taking pictures of people posing as Emmett Till laying face down in the river. I’m sure that would have been the case because back then there were many people who thought that his death was for a legitimate reason just like Trayvon Martin’s was.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Stages of Coping With Street Violence

We are in the early stages of the mental process from Sunday’s events. Unfortunately the people of New Orleans are veterans at the street violence routine. The rules have never been written but it always feels the same way.

The first thing you do when you hear news of a shooting like the one that happened Sunday is you start thinking of all the people you know who could be at the scene and in danger. That’s if it’s a public event like a second line. If it happens at a home you think about all the people you know around that neighborhood and hope it’s not an address you are familiar with.  My friend Deborah was hit in the gunfire and it could have been a lot worse personally as I had dropped my kids’ grandmother off at the start of the second line about an hour before the shooting started. She was fine because she was walking in front of the parade with the children’s group.The day could have been a lot worse than it was on a personal level.

After the personal concern for your friends and family is out the way the focus shifts to general concern for any victims. You hope there were no children and that no one was killed. It’s a strange feeling of relief when you find out no one has passed away. If someone does pass away you get a sinking feeling in your body and you say a prayer for them and their family. This phase lingers for awhile.

After the grief and concern comes the anger. Each episode becomes more and more frustrating because it doesn’t seem like it will never end. You wonder how the people who did it can sleep at night and who in the world is helping them hide what they did. You want to arrest anyone who had the slightest idea of what happened and you hope when they get arrested they are sleeping next to the evidence so that a jury will have no problem sending them to the worst possible prison with no chance of parole. If you are really emotional you might even make a comment or two about the death penalty.

The anger stage becomes complicated because embarrassment and shame sometimes gets mixed in with it. As a black male in New Orleans, there’s often a hint of shame because deep down I know the actions of the few reflect so negatively on the many.  I feel like I should be going out and doing something to atone for what happened even though I haven’t done anything. This makes the anger greater because now I’m madder these fools are making my life more complicated. The Internet has added fuel to this because comment sections are filled with general hate that strikes a nerve even though you are just as outraged as everyone else. On the YouTube clip I posted yesterday with Deborah’s interview there was a comment on the page that said “You can’t fix niggers so stop trying”. There was no way I couldn’t take that personal because I know there are people that can’t separate me from the shooter. What made it more depressing is that I wasn’t sure if the person making the comment was white or black.

The next stage is detachment. It is probably the stage that stops us from making progress towards fixing the problem. You hold on to the other emotions as long as you can until the moment comes where you tell yourself it isn’t fair to me that I am feeling this down when I haven’t done anything. Why am I this upset when these fools keep doing the same things over and over with no concern? It's not like it's my family out there doing these things. When you get to that point you purposely ignore the issues and start finding every reason to feel good about your life and community.  Before you know it weeks go by and it’s almost like nothing ever happened until the next time it does. Then we start the process all over again.

Get Well Soon My Friend

And all of the other victims too....

We have to do better New Orleans. 






I'll have more to say about this later.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sitting On My Porch Part Eighty Eight

Yesterday was a pretty good day. The weather is strangely cool for May in New Orleans. It was National Lemonade Day and the KIPP 4H stand just so happened to be a block from my uncle’s house.  I got walk down there and talk with him and my little cousins. I had a few cups of lemonade. I met a few groups of Jazzfest Hippies. It was all good. I lit the grill in the evening and had a few beers. It was a pretty good Saturday.

I found time to stop at the polls and vote on the Crescent City Connection tolls. It looks like we won’t be paying that dollar anymore. I have to be honest and say that although I voted no to the toll, I have no idea what’s going to change by not having the money coming in. The toll was one of those issues where the eye test didn’t match the information.  I think the average person feels like the money is going somewhere that doesn’t affect them. We may be proven wrong for voting no in the long run but right now it felt like the right thing to do. 

NBA player Jason Collins came out last week revealing to the world that he is gay. This is a big deal because the major sports in this country are seen as being the ultimate sign of masculinity. If society is going to change the climate that allows people to be themselves sports is a good place to start. The biggest shocker in the story to me wasn’t that he was gay but that he managed to hide it from his twin brother Jarron. Either Jarron was in denial or the feeling you need to hide who you are is so great that it keeps you from hiding it from the person you are closest to in the world.  That has to be a horrible way to live.

Neither of my brothers is gay but if they were I would want them to be out and be free of the burden of trying to act like they were not. That goes for my sisters and daughters too.  I feel like its much worst to have people live a lie and ruin other people’s lives by getting married and having kids with someone of the opposite sex than it would be for someone to be out.  In my opinion I think I would rather have two gay dads than a gay dad that faked who he really was. My dad is my hero and the things I took from him are what keep me grounded. I do a lot of things and take part in a lot of things that he probably wouldn’t but at the core we are the same person. I couldn’t imagine if I found out that he was living a lie all that time. I would question everything about myself.  It would send me into a tailspin. We need to let people be who they are. 

Four years ago Danny Platt cut his son’s throat to keep from paying child support. I wrote a blog talking about how much I wanted to kick his ass. On Thursday he finally pled guilty in order to avoid execution. I just want to say that I still hate him and I hope someone kicks his ass every day in prison. That’s a sad excuse for a man.

If you are headed out to the Jazz and Heritage Festival today I hope you enjoy the food, the culture, the mud, the cool breeze and the great Frankie Beverly





Tuesday, April 30, 2013






Today I was sitting in my office looking out of the window watching the downpour of rain and I said to myself “Cliff, you need a vacation”. It’s not like the job is stressful or anything. Everything is going pretty well. The first year of our new project went great. I have more staff than I ever had.  I even won an award that I’m quite proud of.  I’m not having any real issues from a workday standpoint. Every year around this time I start to feel like I am going to pass out at any second. That usually lasts through the end of May. Around June I start to come back to life. July is usually pretty cool. Once August gets here I realize school is about to start and its back to the hamster wheel. 

After more than 8 years of blogging it’s very difficult to describe how I feel that would be different than the last 20 times I described it. That’s one of the challenges of having one of these things if you don’t have the interest to speak about current events like you used to. Following the news every day is draining when most of the stories put you in a negative mood.  After a long day who wants to sit around talking about sequesters, crime, and health care cuts in the state.  Not only are those issues not going the way I want them to, I’m tired of talking about most of it. 

So I don’t want to talk about the news and I am tired of talking about how tired I am. My only solution is to try and do some things that will give me something else to talk about. Maybe I can write 500 words about my Candy Crush addiction (I’m stuck on board 70). I don’t think anyone wants to read about that. I could write about the Black Chris dedication nights I have planned but I don’t know what might happen and I don’t want to let anyone know where I was.  Maybe I can start posting pictures of food that I ordered at restaurants. I don’t think I’m going to do that.  I really don’t get the food picture thing. Some things just get out of hand.  It’s one thing to post a new dish from a trendy restaurant. People are posting pictures of their leftover red beans and pork chops. This has to stop. Anyway, I’ll think of something to get my juices flowing and post more than once a month again. 


I’ve lost two good friends in 2013 so far. Rest in peace to Anderson “Doug E.” Soco.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Searching For The Line To Cross : What's Going Too Far?



“"Put molly all in her champagne/ She ain't even know it/ I took her home and I enjoyed that/ She ain't even know it,"

People are upset over some of the lyrics from Rick Ross that seem to glorify rape.  He was on the radio here in New Orleans and said he does not condone rape. He didn’t even say the word rape. Rick Ross is either ignorant in not knowing the full definition of what a rape is or he’s so stupid that he thinks you don’t condone something by not saying the word even if you describe it. My personal opinion is that you can only keep talking about the same subject song after song and he slipped up in an attempt to be creative. It was wrong and he should apologize and never perform that song.

There a few times a year when the community has a moment that triggers a reaction and you wonder if we are finally at the line where everyone thinks it’s time to stop certain behavior and get ourselves in order. Usually it’s something much bigger than a song lyric like a baby being shot or Trayvon Martin. No matter how much these events affect us things seem to go right back to the way they were. I don’t think that’s because we don’t care. I think it’s because we don’t know what the line is anymore. When there doesn’t appear to be a limit to what you can say and how you can act it’s difficult to know when enough is enough.

When I was in high school The Geto Boys had a song called Gangsta of Love. If my daddy had known this kind of song was in those headphones that I never took off he would have made me sleep on the porch. I was going to post a link to it but I don’t know who is going to read this. That song’s lyrics are so misogynistic it makes the things today’s rappers say seem like love songs. That was over 20 years ago right when the crack era was in full swing. From those days until now we have experienced so many things and nothing has seemed to pull the community together to correct itself. There has to be a limit somewhere.

I have my own personal limits to what I will and won’t do. In any situation I can feel if I am taking something too far and pull myself back. I got that from my family who set expectations on a certain level of behavior. I know there are a lot of black families who have the same expectations and standards. There are reasons I may not be smart enough to figure out that makes it seem like it’s impossible to spread this around to the community as a whole. I think the downward spiral started when we made the decision to embrace hustling and getting money above all else. That’s how drug dealers got to thrive for so long in our neighborhoods while destroying them. That’s why mothers let their sons stay out all night doing things they shouldn’t do to buy tennis shoes and clothes because they think he needs those things to be somebody. That’s why our young ladies love those guys and why Rick Ross can get rich faking like he’s one o f them. How was he supposed to know a line about slipping a molly into a woman’s drink was going to piss anyone off? He may have performed that song live a few times and the first three rows full of women were singing along with him.

You should never say anything that indicates it’s okay to have sex with a woman without her consent. I’m not a fan of Rick Ross and its okay for people to go after him for awhile but let’s keep it all in perspective. Unless we make some tough choices and have the family argument we need to get these things corrected we are headed for a full blown rape song.  Anything is possible when the game has no rules.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sitting On My Porch Part Eighty Seven

2013 has gotten off to a rocky start. First, my take home pay was reduced when the Medicaid tax cut expired. Second, my take home pay was reduced when my private insurance went up again just because they could do it. The only thing more expensive in this country than potential illness is actually being sick. Maybe I’ll get some of that money back when the insurance exchanges kick in next year. I’m not optimistic about it since I live in Louisiana and our governor seems to be trying to do all he can to make sure everyone has to pay as much as possible for healthcare. 

When I found out that our insurance at work was going up again I thought about not signing those papers. I figured I’m young enough where I could make it a year or two without coverage. The extra few hundred dollars in my pocket would be good. I eventually sucked it up and agreed to keep paying because anything can happen in life no matter how old you are and if I really needed medical attention I would rather be faced with coming up with the money to cover the portion my insurance won’t or going into complete financial ruin by having to pay for everything. After the country almost broke out in another civil war behind healthcare legislation a few years ago, the fact people are still making these kinds of decisions makes all that seem like a big waste of time.

Now we are all in the middle of the sequester drama. I don’t think my job is affected in the short term but who knows what the future holds. I guess it will depend on how Congress and the president feel about the homeless. There's 96 million in cuts to homeless assistance programs so I guess they don't feel that good about it. I'm sure if the budget was slashed and my position was eliminated I can get one of those great private sector jobs if the freeloaders who are laid off sooner haven't taken them all. Everyone in Louisiana will have a great job from a Fortune 500 company once the governor frees them from the burden of corporate taxes so I'm not worried.

I don’t really understand why Democrats would have ever agreed to this in the first place unless they wanted it to happen. Nothing has forced Congress to move from any of their positions on spending in the last few years. They gave in a little during the Fiscal Cliff crisis and were acting like they sold out all of their values. They weren't moving on the sequester deal. I think they threw the military cuts in the deal to give the GOP a reason to cooperate and even that didn’t work. It seems like he’s been talked into more unnecessary financial crisis and every time his opponents get more and more of that they want.  He gave up his biggest playing card when he didn’t let the Bush tax cuts expire. He would have had the same hate towards him and the same attacks on his character only with half the deficit that would be steadily shrinking. I support the president but something is wrong when he can't get one long term financial deal done while President Bush got two wars funded, a tax cut, and a bank bailout while the deficit was growing. It makes you think the current administration is taking the wrong approach. I'm not smart enough to know what the right approach is but the current one doesn't seem to be working. 

I always have a lot on my mind and I used to write about it to let it out. I’ve shared a lot of my personal feelings with the public. I’ve tried not to do that as much lately. Sometimes I think about some of the blogs I posted and how personal they were. I’m not sure if I would write some of the things I did in 2006 and 2007 in 2013. When I first started blogging social media and self appointed spokespersons weren’t as out of control as they are now. There are two issues that I have a problem with. The first is that people can take something you say out of context and run with it without you having a chance to explain yourself. I guess that’s the price you pay for sharing your opinions in the first place. The other issue is some people are labeling themselves as an example of a particular way of life or ideology. There are a lot of people trying to become famous by being the voice of the “intelligent black man”, or the “strong black woman”, or the “New Orleans expert”, “black fathers”, or “the hood” and any other niche you could think of. I never wrote anything to try to be the voice of any of these things.  I’m just trying to be Cliff and not mess that up too much.

I don’t have a lot of guys in my inner circle. I’ve never made close friends with guys that easy. I had more friends when I was younger but life and time has made that number even less. I value those guys like family so to lose one is a devastating blow. A few weeks ago I lost one of them in a truck accident and the world seems a lot less fun. I want to close this post by saying rest in peace to Black Chris. I think about him every time I have a really crazy thought during the day and I need someone to share it with. I don’t think I’m ever going to have that kind of routine with another friend again because I wouldn’t let anyone cuss at me the way he did.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Quick Thoughts on Super Bowl and It's Host City



I’ve never watched Superbowl coverage. I didn’t even watch it when the Saints were playing. There’s only so many ways you can hear the same analysis about the same game before you get tired of it. There have actually been only a few Superbowls I’ve watched all the way through because I don’t care who wins. I am going to try and watch as much as I can of the game today. By the time I post this it could be over but I’ll go ahead and predict 49ers 27 Ravens 21. I don’t like the 49ers but I like the way they play football. I think they had the best team all year. 

I have tried all week not to be the sourpuss that ruins the party for everyone. It could be a good thing I have had the flu all week and couldn’t really get into any of the local SuperBowl festivities. I’m glad the visitors are having a good time and I am glad the city did a good job. I just don’t understand why we are carrying on like this isn’t our tenth Superbowl. We kind of know what we are doing with these things or the NFL keeps coming back. Our local leaders and media are acting like this is the first big event we’ve ever hosted. Maybe that’s because so many of them weren’t living here when we hosted the other ones. I don’t know what the issue is. I may have given everyone a pass if this was the first event since Katrina. We already have done 7 Mardi Gras, a final four, a BCS Championship, and about 200 festivals. I’ll admit that the Superbowl is bigger than any of that but we need to tone it down a bit.  Hosting people is what we do best. We need to go overboard with patting ourselves on the back when we cut the murder rate in half or end homelessness.