Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Favorite Candidate is Gone

I am very disappointed in the John Edwards campaign. I thought he was the best candidate for the future of New Orleans. I am not sure if the other four people in the race have us on their mind like John did. At the risk of pissing off the black blogosphere and Tom Joyner, I can’t understand how John Edward’s platform was totally ignored by black people for the most part. We should have at least used his platform to bring out the ideas in the other two people running against him. I realize Obama and Clinton’s opportunity is a first in our lifetime but could we at least acknowledge the fact that Edward’s agenda was closer to the needs of our community than anything else presented during the race? By the way, don’t tell me go to Obama’s website. I know what’s on the website but he’s on television all day long. I’m not dismissing hope but it doesn’t pay for anything. I think Edwards doesn’t have the charisma to make people vote for him. He should have realized that when he couldn’t beat John Kerry for the nomination in 2004 because Kerry is a walking mannequin. Maybe I am biased for Edwards since he started his campaign around the corner from my home and ended it in the Ninth Ward. My concern for the faith of my city trumps all other issues in this election. Edwards should have stayed in it at least until the debates were over. Tonight’s debate is going to make me dizzy from all the talking in circles.

Doing the Small Stuff

I helped a brother outside of my job get his car started after dozens of people had passed him by. Although I had one of my good outfits on, I didn’t mind the greasy hands to help him and his pregnant girlfriend get out of the weather. The cat I helped was so glad someone finally stopped that he tried to pay me. I couldn’t take his money. I try to help people out of jams like that when I can. I figure that’s all a part of trying to be a decent guy. That scenario got me thinking about by so many guys drove right pass the man. I think it’s because we are too busy trying to live up to this larger than life definition of manhood the media has trapped us into. We are so busy trying to shine that we can’t even take pleasure in the little things that make the community a little easier to live in. What good is all that climbing going to do if we can’t help a brother out? Besides, we are not all going to get a Masters degree, or move to the suburbs, or send our kids to private school. There is going to be a whole lot of us spending our lives in the same old hood. You better start lending a hand to one another and making the best of it. Do traffic duty at the school. Drive the elderly lady down the street to the supermarket. Put up a basketball for the kids in the neighborhood or show them how to build things and use their hands like my grandpa used to do. That is every bit as manly as having a big bank account or driving a Benz. Plus, when people speak of you in high regard there will be no greater sense of pride than that. That’s really all we can do to work through this foolishness.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Carnival Memories and Helpful Hints

Our culture is beautiful. Play that clip and learn something.

It’s Mardi Gras time again. It’s time for thousands of people to descend on the city, get totally wasted and show their bodies for pieces of plastic. That has to be the greatest marketing tool for an event in the world. Since we need all the money we can get, I won’t be too negative about how carnival season has been watered down to a drink fest. Anybody that wants to come down and fight for their lives on Bourbon feel free. You won’t see me down there. The best thing about the commercialization of Mardi Gras is that it didn’t trickle over to the neighborhood festivities. We still have a little tradition if you can get pass the pit bulls and the guys rolling blunts right in front of your babies. The one thing that sucks about living in the East is that you can’t go out your door and see Indians walking around at 6:00 AM like the old neighborhood. When I was growing up Mardi Gras was serious stuff. Families would dress alike or have costumes. Every school had a royal court and parade. My elementary school, Thomas Edison had a big ass parade that used to walk the entire Lower Ninth Ward. I always thought that was cruelty to children to make us walk that far. The parade used to pass right in front my door and I wanted to jump out of the line and go lay in my bed. Remember when you had to make those stupid floats out of a shoe box for class? There was always that one kiss ass kid who’s parents spent way more money on the thing and made your aluminum foil and tissue paper decorations look trifling. The kid with the overly decorated float was usually the first jackass to also bring a king cake to class. When you went to a school full of poor kids like I did, nobody wanted to get the baby (that‘s who buys the next one). When I realized that I had the baby I would always chew it like it was a piece of the cake and spit it out later so I wouldn’t have to buy the next one. At least back then you could get a 3ft. cake from McKenzie’s Bakery for five dollars. Now you need to spend at least ten dollars to buy one big enough to feed more than two people. I remember staying up to watch the ball when King Rex met King Comus just to see if I was going to see somebody black in the royal court or Dorothy Mae Taylor charging in to stop the whole event. Me and my boys used to walk the entire Zulu parade route with an ink pen and a sheet of paper for girls’ phone numbers. I don’t think I ever got one. I used to love that day.

Here are some unwritten rules for Mardi Gras:

Mardi Gras day is the only day that heterosexual men are allowed to dress alike and walk down the street together. It’s also the only day you can get away with dressing like a woman or wearing a leather g-string without no one really bothering you.

All kids must save their beads from previous parades so they can ride around the day of Mardi Gras and play parade. If no one in your family has a truck, you are allowed to play from a porch or apartment balcony. If you were raised here and never played parade, please turn in all of your New Orleans paraphernalia now. Your tribal membership has been revoked.

The best strategy for drinking while hanging out is to make friends early in the day with someone near you that has a portable toilet. People are willing to share the facilities with you if you have been talking to them for awhile. Please do not walk up on a group’s private potty and get a beat down.

The best method for getting a Zulu coconut on Orleans Avenue without knowing anyone on the float is to surround yourself with as many little girls as possible. Then, when the float passes, scream out “WHAT’S UP COUSIN !!” No one in New Orleans keeps track of all their cousins. They will think you are one they can’t remember and hand you one for the babies. If the rider doesn’t have any coconuts, you will at least get some stuffed animals to give to the little girls.

Finally, always remember that all drama on Mardi Gras day usually takes place after 5:00 PM. New Orleans people can have a good time together without any problems until there has been too much alcohol consumed. If you are not from around the area, too tipsy to realize what’s going on, or don’t have good running shoes, this would be a good time to go home and rest up for Ash Wednesday. If you are partying with locals you don’t need to be out all night long.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Honoring the Legacy

Today is the day we officially celebrate Dr. King’s life. There will be lots of speeches, marching and the singing of Lift Every Voice and Sing. All of that is cool but we need to get a deeper meaning from this day.

Everyone should remember that Dr. King had a doctorate. It wasn’t one of those honorary kind they give people for speaking at graduations. He also was a pastor. That means during the time of his life he was among the best and brightest we had to offer.

He could have lived a very long life preaching and raising his kids, yet he chose to put his life on the line to speak out for everybody. When he was assassinated in Memphis he was there to help sanitation workers. He gave his life trying to help his people. It didn’t matter if they were educated, or Baptist, or lived in a certain area of town. Imagine if we had that today? What if we still had that sense of community that we pretend to have now? We don’t really want to admit that the old neighborhood is a ghetto because many of us left it and never came back. That’s understandable to me because we were taught that way. Remember in school when there was a career day. They would always bring in that guy who went to your school and was highly successful. He would give you that speech about how he had made it out of that raggedy ass place you live and never came back. Then you went home and looked at your family like a bunch of losers. You go to school with your mind solely on getting the hell out. It’s no wonder poor black people have such a hard time getting support from their own. That’s why Dr. King’s death was so tragic. He didn’t live long enough to explain that the dream didn’t mean to split your own community. People took that one phrase, exploited it and buried the rest of his message. I think we need to do something to help another person that may not have it as good as we do. That could be something as small as helping a child in your family learn how to read or helping one of your friends get their GED. Making the lives of everyone better is how you honor the man. If we can’t do that then we all should have went to work today.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Happy Birthday To You

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobile rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to mankind.

When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.

Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Let This Go

Do black people in this country really know what they want?

Everybody is on the Obama bandwagon because he gives us hope and he is not like the old school black leaders. So why are we being suckered into this Clinton race angle?

For the last sixteen years you negroes have hailed Bill Clinton as the first black president. Now, him and his wife make one confusing comment and they are defending themselves all over TV instead of talking about things that matter. I know all you educated people know what an analogy is. She might have chosen a bad example but you can’t tell me you honestly think she was trying to disrespect Martin Luther King. Even if the Clinton’s were bigots, don’t you think someone should have noticed that when Bill was the leader of the free world for 8 years? We weren’t worried about that because he played a saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show and if that’s all it took to win our support then we are stupid anyway and probably shouldn’t be voting.

We have to be bigger than that and keep focused on more important things. No matter how hard the media tries to bring this to the forefront we should resist and focus on the things we need to get our problems in order. Personally I think that if you are a black politician and all it took was one comment to move your support then you haven’t heard any issues and must be doing a bad job. Support Obama because of his agenda. Don’t support him because of this foolishness. Also, if Barak Obama believes all that noise he talks during those speeches he would silence this entire conflict now and move on to bringing people together. If he uses it to his advantage he’s not better than Jesse or Al. He’s just a professional politician like the rest of them and he’s trying to get elected. He’s playing to the same emotion Hillary Clinton did when she cried. He’s supposed to be Bobby Kennedy. He’s not supposed to need to entertain this kind of thing.

I’m not the brother that doesn’t believe in racism. I grew up in the deep south so I know it’s a very real thing. It’s so real and so volatile when you are faced with it, it’s impact should never be weakened by exploiting it where it isn’t. Let’s say Obama plays this race card and wins. One day there’s going to be a real racist jackass who’s going to say or do something that we really need to address. How is mainstream America going to accept that after watching us go crazy behind a few comments from a family we adopted as our own years ago.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Great But A Little Too Real

The Wire is the best and most addictive show on television that no one watches. It’s almost at Sopranos status. The difference between The Wire and The Sopranos is that some things on The Wire are so realistic about inner city life that the shit is depressing. You can almost tell who’s going to die before it happens. There is something too real about the addicts, the senseless killing, the rules of the game that are life and death, the pain, the hopelessness and the realization there’s another generation getting prepared to start the cycle all over again. If I hadn’t seen some of these things before here in New Orleans and didn’t have so many kids I grew up with laying in the cemetery, I would say the writers on this show are genius. The truth of the matter is that this is going down in cities all over America. The producer of the show wants to create another show based on New Orleans. I hope he changes his mind because people like to use stuff against us and I would hate for the tourist industry to fall apart because of a few hours on HBO. Why can’t we just leave this craziness in Baltimore? They are close enough to Washington D.C to withstand the bad publicity.

We are the murder capitol. What kind of dumb ass name is that to give a city? This title has got to go. The worse part about living in the city labeled the murder capital I that you have to hope a large number of black men in another city get killed to take the name from here. I’m going to the Field Negro’ site every day to check the murder count in Philly like that’s going to make me feel better about this bullshit down here. I guess that will BET’s next show. They’ll have some kind of contest between all the major cities to see who can get the most ignorant the most often. It will come on right after American Gangster since we can’t have enough glorification of street violence.

At Least They Let Her Keep Her Citizenship.

Aside from a Katrina victim, is there another person having a worse two year run than Marion Jones?

Talk about losing everything. She just went to jail for six months. She lost all of her medals. All of the men in her life turned on her. She’s banned from competing and is probably dead broke. At least Mike Vick gets to play football again and make some money back. I feel so bad for her. I like Marion Jones. She might as well get some meat on her bones and figure out what she’s going to do when she gets out. I bet you those sisters who had to give up their 4x100 meter relay medals are blowing her phone and email up with all kinds of nasty and hurtful messages. I suggest that when Marion gets out she heads down to New Orleans to live. There are two reasons. One reason is that New Orleans residents rarely get star struck and she can walk around the grocery store and sit on her porch without little fanfare. The second reason is that it takes a lot more than lying about steroids to get ostracized in this city. Come on down Marion. Send me an email when you get here and I will help find you a job.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sittin On My Porch Part IV

Since Mardi Gras is quickly approaching, this blog is dedicated to Professor Longhair. I know you young cats like to ignore heritage but check out the video at the bottom.

When I was a little boy there was no cable in the Ninth Ward. I would put on my Spiderman pajamas, stick socks in the shoulders for pads and listen to Jim Hawthorne call LSU football games on my AM radio while I ran back and forth. Back then it was all about Dalton Hilliard, Gary James, and Eric Martin. I am going to enjoy LSU winning the national championship. This is the best consolation price you can have when the Saints choke.

I see the Hornets worked a new lease deal that will allow them to leave after 2009 if fan support doesn’t get better. The Hornets need to average over 14,000 fans a game to save the team. Where so I sign up to volunteer for the moving team? There is no way this is going to happen. Suburban folks in the New Orleans area like football, football, baseball and football. If the Hornets do leave I think all the blame should be placed on the Northshore. Those people drive dozens of miles everyday just to keep from living in the city. They take all the big money back and build a paradise but can’t buy a damn Hornets ticket. If they don’t want that kind of blame then they shouldn’t act all high and mighty.

Speaking of suburbanites………Don’t you hate it when you and a co-worker are having a conversation about something going on in the city and somebody who thinks they are all that because they live in some subdivision locked away from the rest of the world sticks their nose in the conversation to tell you how that doesn’t happen in Flower Gardens where they live? You just know half the kids there are making crystal meth in their garage but she wants to come and pass judgment on my hood.

She’s probably the same person that keeps leaving half eaten cans of food with the spoon still in it right in front of the refrigerator at work. One of those containers had roots and stems growing out of the fungus.

Why are there murders in The Lower Ninth Ward. This has to be criminals driving victims to the neighborhood and killing them. There is no way this can be people who live down there. There are only 20 people in the whole neighborhood. Listen, if you can’t get along now with a handful of people, what’s going to happen in the year 2050 when they finally start helping Brad Pitt to rebuild. You guys have forty years to get it together.

I am not saying this happen because he was black. I’m saying that I have been following politics since I was 11 years old and I have never seen a man lose 15 points in the polls in one day. John Kerry flip flopped everyday and didn’t lose that much ground. Kerry endorsed Obama today. If I was Obama I would pretend I didn't know about that.

The presidential race heads to South Carolina where black voters make up 49% of the Democratic vote. This means that Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton should not be able to escape issues that affect Black America like they did in Iowa and New Hampshire. They have to answer questions on poverty, black on black crime, education, and the unfair justice system. If they can’t then I say vote for John Edwards. If the black candidate runs his race without ever speaking of these issues in a specific way then how can we get mad at anyone else for not doing it.

Friday, January 4, 2008

My Obama Confusion

First of all let me state my personal view on blacks running for political office. I personally think that politics were the worse thing that happened to black leadership in American history. There has been more disappointment and more people have been bamboozled because they related election wins with overall progress. We really have nothing to show for political gains. That’s why I don’t back any candidate just because of skin tone.

The presidency is a different set of circumstances. He is the leader of the free world and the symbol of what we stand for as a nation. Unless Obama tattoos a confederate flag on his head and dances a jig with black face in front of the Lincoln Memorial, the symbolism alone is worth it to vote for him in my view. Seeing his victory speech tonight was a good feeling.

I just wish I was really on the bandwagon. What is it that I am missing about his message? I may not be listening objectively. I am going to call it the Ray Nagin/Oliver Thomas/ William Jefferson/ Marc Morial/Cynthia Willard Lewis/ Eddie Jordan/Ellenese Brooks-Simms/ Insert your local black political here Syndrome. I’m just tired of getting played by my own folks.

However, do you know that Iowa only has a 2.3% black population? That brother is reaching more people than just ones that look like him. That has to count for something. Am I wrong for thinking he still can’t win in the long run?

Michael Savage made a good point on his show (Yes, I listen to the Savage Nation. I‘m a radio talk show and MSNBC junkie.) He said that the reason Obama couldn’t win was because all the white males that haven’t been voting would come out and vote just to vote against him. Maybe that’s true, but what about all the black people who haven’t voted since Jesse ran in 1984?

You know my favorite candidate is actually Jon Edwards. In a perfect world Barak would make him his running mate and then it’s all good.

Tavis Smiley said that Mike Huckabee would be one Republican candidate that would not concede the black vote to the Democrats. I need this race to happen just for the dialogue. The debates alone make me excited just thinking about them. America might not be ready for big change but we need to have the conversation.

The question now is how is Hillary going to attack this man in New Hampshire without pissing off all these black people.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Awake From My Slumber

Well, I stand up next to a mountain
And I chop it down with the edge of my hand
Well, I pick up all the pieces and make an island
Might even raise a little sand
Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix

Have you ever lived your life day to day in a haze? I have since August 29, 2005. It’s a new year. I have been in deep thought for the past few weeks about what direction things were going to go in. Things became clear to me this weekend after I helped my cousin move her things back into her Lower Ninth Ward home. I was so happy for her. A close friend of mine was helping me and made the comment that stuff like that gives him hope. It gives me hope to. After we finished we took a ride around the neighborhood. That’s when I figured out my New Years resolution. Sometimes we have a tendency to find the positive side of everything no matter how horrible it is. What usually happens is that we ignore the negative part and the pain and let it eat away at us because we don't want to look ungrateful. As happy as I am for my cousin to be home and as good as her remodeled house looks, she would have gotten that anyway because she earned it. She didn't have to lose so much just to get a little.

Many positive things happen to me in 2007. I moved back into my home. I got promoted. I bought my first ever brand new ride. I had a few minutes of notoriety on NPR talking with Sister Chideya. I even went to a college to talk on a panel like I have sense(Thanks Bart). While all these things may have happened since Katrina and were related to it, really all of them had more to do with who I am and what I stand for. That means that I can take pride in all those things but be absolutely pissed about what the hell is going on here at the same time. I have to be because what I lost was too great and means too much to me just to let it slide because I have a new bathtub. That goes for everybody. You don't have to choose. You can love where you live now and be angry your baby almost starved to death to get you there. The truth of the matter is that if you were making 5.00 an hour in New Orleans before Katrina and you now make 50K a year, you always had the ability to make 50k. If anything, you should be pissed about the fact it took a flood and weeks of struggling for you to get it. It should have been in plain view for you to begin with.

Now, everybody can’t handle both ends of the emotional spectrum. Things have to be black or white. To try and fit in with the surroundings I am currently in I denied myself the full range of emotion and ended up going crazy in the process. I can’t worry about any of that or how anyone feels anymore. I must be true to myself. Here is my resolution for the new year, I am about to get back to being full blooded Cliff every damn day. That means I am going off about things that bother me no matter who doesn't like it. I’m going to crack jokes so funny you piss on yourself. I am going to drink even more Crown and Miller High Life. I am going to sit on the lake and BBQ every chance I get. I’m going to see my family even if it means I have to put miles on my ride. Cars never meant that much to me anyway. I’m going out and get my dance on (I roll with the two-step). I'm going to play my music and sing off key. I’m going to work hard at my job and bask in the glow of other people’s accolades of me. I’m going to raise these kids, show love to the people who love me, give the game of life to a young brother who wants it and maybe if there is time and a little extra money, squeeze in a lap dance or two. I guess I can blog and read a few books in between all of that. That's who I am and if you don't dig that then it's your problem.

My dad’s favorite saying whenever something gets me down is “If you can wake up from it and it didn’t kill you then it wasn’t that bad and you can learn from it”. Well, two and a half years was a long ass sleep.