Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Weekend Vibe .....Talking Loud and Saying Nothing

My song for this week is James Brown Talking Loud and Saying Nothing. I’m dedicating that to everyone in the New Orleans area including me for taking our eye off the ball and letting FEMA get away with holding up our progress. I’m using this clip of the ’45 record going around because it reminds me that they wouldn’t pay me for the loss of my record collection. After the revelations about FEMA this week I am filing a new claim for five thousand big ones! That’s right; I want five grand for my albums. If FEMA doesn’t have it then they can borrow it from the Road Home surplus. I am sure some of that extra money was meant for me or someone in my family.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Unite For The Real Enemy

I am still not talking about local politics for Lent so don’t tag this as a political blog. This is about an entire community. Excluding crime and violence because that’s a big deal, we have been arguing about a whole lot of things with one another. We have been throwing down with neighborhood against neighborhood, black against white, rich against poor, and suburbs against the city.

All this time we have been fighting FEMA has been holding 68% of the recovery money and racking up so many complaints it’s almost unbelievable. Apparently all the money we thought everyone was stealing was sitting in FEMA’s bank account so the local office could keep their jobs. That’s almost 4 billion dollars sitting in downtown New Orleans to dish out at their leisure while we argue about picking up trash and who gets to live in St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans East. They were probably watching the news at one of those plush hotel suites and toasting champagne every time our local officials came on ranting and raving about everything but them. Just to add an exclamation point to the entire thing, we had to wait for a national news story to break this wide open. I would like to thank Armen Keteyian for not letting our actions get in the way of his reporting. I am sure we would have been all on top of this if anyone accused in the story had some local status.

I haven’t read any blogs today so I don’t know if I am the first but I officially feel embarrassed. I vote for everything else anyone is pissed about being put on hold while we get together to fight crime and FEMA. I would just like to tell our local leaders it’s ok if you all get together and speak as one voice on this situation. That’s what most people want you to do anyway.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bobby Can Do Better

Things must have really gone bad for Governor Jindal last night because even FOX news said it was bad. The funny part about this clip and is always funny on Sunday mornings is the chance for Juan Williams to say something negative and it's so true that no one else on the panel can argue. It's like you can see the gloating in his eyes. Maybe the governor really doesn’t like crowds and the idea of the entire country listening threw him off his game. If that’s the case then he needs to work on that if he’s going to run for president or he won’t make it out of the first debate. All jokes aside, I have heard Bobby Jindal speak lots of times and this was not reflective of his skill. I know he doesn't like to spend money but he might need to put out a few dollars on a speech writer for his next national gig.

A Good Mardi Gras And GIving Up Local Politics for Lent

There are several things I need to make a perfect Mardi Gras day. You need good weather, no violence, a good spot on the parade route surrounded by good people, access to a restroom, a Zulu bead, and enough food and drinks to feel good but not so much that it makes you sick. We would have had a perfect 6 out of 6 if those assholes on St. Charles wouldn’t have decided to start shooting in a crowd full of people. That means it wasn’t a perfect day but it was a really good one. At least they got caught and no one died. Someone tell Chief Riley he can make one of his speeches about prosecuting these guys to the full extent of the law.

I am sure everyone knows this already but today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. I am not Catholic but the principle of sacrificing something for 40 days is a good one. I usually pick something to give up and never tell anyone because my habits are so consistent that everyone who knows me would just wait for me to fail. I am not saying they want me to fail. They just know I like what I like and I do the same things all the time. Anyway, I have decided to give up blogging about local politics and I am sharing it with all of you.

I have several reasons. The first reason is that it’s going to be much easier to do that than giving up red meat or beer. The second reason is that I find it to be frustrating and not a true representation of what goes on in my life on a daily basis. I have friends and neighbors of all colors and we never talk about contracts and who’s picking up trash. We do discuss things but most of the time everybody has the same problem. The path to fixing it may be debatable but the issues are common. We are our own worst enemy. I was listening to Tom Joyner’s radio show Monday and he made the comment that he didn’t understand why we were having Mardi Gras when there were people still sleeping under the bridge after Katrina. As incorrect as that was I couldn’t be mad at him because since all we do is argue and bicker about everything, people would get the impression that we really don’t give a damn about one another. I am sure there are some people that don’t but that has to be the minority. I have to think it’s the minority because it’s the only way I can function here without losing my mind.

My grandma’s gone. I never found my dog. My family is relocated to other cities. When I came back to this place I didn’t just drive up to the house put the key in and go to bed. It took me two years to get back in my crib and I am still wondering how many years it’s going to take for me to stop thinking about where everything and everybody used to be before the flood. I am not saying this just to make you feel bad for me. I’m saying it because I feel like I have paid as many dues as anyone here and If I can’t be happy about being here then I am going to start asking myself why the hell am I here and you can’t function anywhere with thoughts like that. Lent is here at the perfect time. Everybody can keep arguing about old issues without discussing any new ideas. I’ll be blogging about my renewed quest to grow my hair back and getting ready for the recession. I just hope no one does anything so amazingly crazy that I get the urge to write about it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

How To Close the Mind of An Open Minded Black Man Part 2

A common theme in the blogosphere is that black politicians play the race card to protect themselves from being accountable. I actually agree with that but I thought I would show how other people help the race card work. I know Mardi Gras is Tuesday and people are in party mode. I plan on having a good time too so let’s just leave this up here for the rest of the week so people can read it clearly after their hangovers are gone.

Two years ago when the old housing projects of New Orleans were still standing there was a protest at the St. Bernard Housing Development in an effort to have it re-opened. During that march a guy named Garelle Smith was arrested. I wrote about right here. Garelle Smith is a guy who has been accused of several murders in the city but has never been convicted because no one will testify. His reputation and status of what’s wrong with the city is so bad that Soledad O’Brien made him a focal point of her special on New Orleans. During the time of that march I wrote about how crazy it was for the people involved in that movement to have this guy involved in any way. If I didn’t know anyone personally like my mom, my nanny, god sister, Ms. Gladys and all them folks that lived in the St. Bernard project, I could see how someone would look at that story involving that guy and think to themselves “Why should we spend the money to help a bunch of murderers come back to the city?”. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the general topic. When a man like that becomes a part of the equation is alters the way people think. There could have been someone who believes in everyone’s right to return home reading that but their concerns for crime and safety made them uneasy about buying in. Criminal behavior has been used against the black community in this city to validate the horrible pace of recovery. It gives our detractors ammunition and we need to figure out how to fix that.

A few weeks ago we had some drama around the city’s sanitation contracts. I was online at my desk and came across the story of one of our council members Stacy Head’s protest at a committee meeting. The story was posted on This is probably the most popular news channel in our area and I am sure people around the country visit this site to keep up with what is going on around the area. At the time of reading this article I was really trying to understand the facts and figures involved in this sanitation thing to see if there is some merit to what she is saying. The sanitation committee is headed by Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis. I don’t know what made me break the rule of not reading comments on news stories but there was a statement in one of the comments that went something like this:

“Why do black women hyphenate their names like it’s impressive? It’s not! Go get em Stacy.”

That’s almost the exact comment. I tried to get the actual quote but I can’t pull up the comments section on the story anymore. What in the hell does black women putting hyphens in their names have to do with a sanitation contract? How does a man who was raised by and is raising black women think clearly about this topic after reading that? See, when I read that my thinking shifts from a person trying to understand the cost of sanitation to a man who isn’t down with a sister getting disrespected. Instantly I am ready to protect Councilwoman’s Lewis’s honor and I am no longer paying attention to the bare facts of the issue like I should. I don’t always agree with the actions of Councilwoman Willard-Lewis but if she walks through my door right now she’s going to be Ms. Lewis and she’s at the age where I would probably answer everything she says with yes ma’am. Regardless of whether or not someone thinks she’s doing a good job, her respect is non-negotiable. That sad part is that this one is mild in comparison to some of the other things said online and on the radio. I can’t sign on to any movement that’s going to tolerate her disrespect. Just like the story involving Garelle Smith affected people’s concerns about rebuilding public housing; personal attacks on black leaders in this city that have nothing to do with business affects me. In the same way I could understand how someone would think re-opening the St. Bernard Projects would be bringing murderers back into the city, I can understand how a black person could read a comment like the one I did and start feeling that the news media, Councilwoman Head and anyone who supports her side is racist. I don’t know any of those people personally to make that kind of accusation against them but if no one connected with that side of the issue isn’t going to say anything then you leave people open to make their own assumptions and that’s when problems start.

If I was leading the movement to re-open the projects I would have been trying everything I could to distance us from the thugs like Garelle Smith. If I was a member of the local media, or one of the council people involved, or even a concern citizen who really means well, I would be doing everything I could to make sure the people who represent the majority of my city understood that the statements like this do not reflect my integrity or my agenda when I present a story or protest involving certain officials. Saying nothing about things like this has the same effect as the people who don't say anything about crime. It gives your detractors ammunition to throw that race card and have it stick with enough people to weaken your good government agenda. All the people who claim they just want good government for everyone need to figure out a way to fix that or the race card is going to be your downfall even if you get the changes you want.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Still not listening to Mardi Gras music..

After too many parades in a three day span and the need for Ben Gay to soothe my shoulders after picking up on kids for every float that passed, no one wants to listen to anything related to Mardi Gras until Tuesday. Instead I am vibing to Royce Da 5'9. I have been listening to this song for weeks but I just found a version that cuts out all the cuss words...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Weekend Vibe....Headed to the Parade

I'm headed to the NOMTOC parade on the Westbank. I know it's carnival season but I don't feel like listening to any carnival music. Instead I want to tell the world that thanks to the power of YouTube and Lawanda I am now totally into the music of Idris Muhammad.

Friday, February 20, 2009

How To Close the Mind of an Open Minded Black Man Part One

As I was sitting at my desk writing all this junk it hit me all of a sudden that I had written almost the exact same thing before. That let's me know that the way I feel about this is genuine and I have no problems saying it again. I might as well use the same picture. These are the kind of things that take an open minded cat like me and make him isolated.

I’m trying to be as open minded as possible with this situation between the mayor and the city council. I don’t want to take anyone’s side because most of these folks will soon be out of office and we will all still be living here and dealing with the same issues. This is not to defend the mayor’s job performance at all. I didn’t vote for him in either election. The point I am about to make is really a personal issue that I have as a black man and it just so happens the mayor is the focal point of it. I know when people see his name they instantly go on attack so that will probably happen this time too. If people choose to go that direction so be it. It won’t change how I feel.

The law says that the mayor is not supposed to delete any public records for three years. If for some reason he purposely did that then that’s his problem to deal with. I am not condoning irresponsible behavior. I also don’t really care about city contracts as it relates to who gets them. As long as they do a good job, everything was legal, and we are not grossly overpaying so be it. I don’t have time to follow every contract that comes up for bid. At some point we have to trust officials to do the right thing and vote them out if they don’t.

My issue right now is the premise that because Mayor Nagin is friends with some of the contractors who received city business there must be something funny going on. This is when I get uneasy and the good government movement loses me. Black New Orleans is an intimate community. There is only about 3 degrees of separation from one another. There’s a serious gap between the haves and have not financially but socially the gap is much more narrow. I am certain there is a guy digging a ditch somewhere right now that could get Mayor Nagin on his personal cell phone if he needed to. I remember when he first got elected and did the corruption sweep in the Taxi Bureau. One of the people arrested was his cousin. That’s how interwoven everyone is. It’s one of the reasons why some problems we have are so difficult to fix because we have to go against people we know in some form. It’s my belief that it is impossible for any black mayor of New Orleans to do business with any local minority business here in the city without knowing the owners or someone closely connected to the company. If I was mayor I would have the exact same problem. The only way I could avoid being accused of being corrupt following these guidelines is to award contracts to all out of town companies or all white ones. I would have to hurt the minority companies in my own city just to avoid a witch hunt using that reasoning.

There’s a difference between doing business with someone you know and hooking up someone you know. I am totally against blocking out other people just to give money to your friends. I am also against blowing millions of dollars on contracts without any performance. If that’s happening in the city then I don’t care if the company is own by a family member; that person shouldn’t be paid and we need to fix that. I have no sympathy for those people and everyone who helped Pampy squander all that money and set the city back should go to jail. All I am asking for the benefit of future race relations in this city is that if anyone has evidence that Mayor Nagin and any of the people who currently have city contracts has done anything of this nature to please make it known. It’s the only way I can get on board. Please don’t send me any messages about him taking his wife out to dinner on the city credit card or having two take home vehicles. While those things may be wrong and irresponsible, they pale in comparison to the rhetoric and awful words that are thrown around to describe this man.

Personally speaking, I refuse to turn black men into criminals just because I don’t approve of the way they are doing their job. I think Ray Nagin has not done a good job at articulating the frustration, urgency and severity of the needs the citizens in his city have. I feel if we had a mayor that knew how to speak out all the time instead of when he is personally offended it would go a long way to bringing the city together. There are many things that he could do differently. At the same time I am not ready to make him a criminal without evidence. I’m also not ready to paint everyone whose been rewarded a contract with that same criminal brush just because they are friends with or know the mayor. To me that crosses the line when you don’t have any facts to prove that. All black people are not guilty by association. Even if you caught a few people in City Hall doing something wrong, it doesn't mean that every person in the entire building and all those connected to them are part of a criminal operation. Real fairness in America is when you can look at one person and say "they suck" and leave it at that. Racism is looking at that same guy and saying "they suck so everyone of the people involved with him must suck too and they should all be punished". As a black man who has had to defend himself, his family and his community against pre-conceived notions based on media stories and stereotypes, I simply can’t fall in line with this agenda. To do so in my mind is an insult to the black men who raised me. Besides, I have enough real criminals roaming the streets to affect my image and standing in society. I don’t need to create false ones.

To me it’s just like that New York Post cartoon of those policemen shooting that monkey or Senator Gregg turning down the Secretary of Commerce post. Some things bother you right at the core and you have to say something. I had to get this off my chest because it's getting to the point where I can't follow the news and think rationally like a responsible citizen should without being personally offended.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Let's Go Beyond Transparency

I have been taking an assessment of my local leaders. I have a mayor that is so hated by the media and some citizens that they want to know what is said in every meeting, sent in every email and what him and his wife eats for dinner every night. Even though the city charter gives him the authority to hand out contracts, he can’t get anything done because people are going to go over every single detail. In some cases that's fair. In other cases it seems a little unnecessary and personal. The personal part bothers me because even though I am not happy with the mayor's performance, he didn't rewrite the city charter once he got elected to office. I don't like when people talk like he's doing something different than every administration since the 50's. Then we have the city council that never has any ideas or new solutions . They just like meeting and arguing to validate all the negative thoughts about the mayor. They are really good at demanding answers for things that they already knew about and acting shocked when stories hit the news like they just found out with the rest of us.

I have a solution to make the council happy, ease the mayor’s stress, and satisfy all the watchdog groups. Starting next month, we will do all city business by majority vote. Who needs elected officials? No matter whom the person is there’s going to be some section of the population that thinks they are doing something underhanded. Let’s take this transparency and citizen involvement to the next level. Freeze all city business. Print out a copy of the charter, laws, and all city contracts and deliver them to each household. I’m sure regular citizens have the time to review them all. In 90 days we can have one big mega election day and decide what stays and what goes. This is the only solution I can see at this point. Let’s not have any exit polls after the vote so when something stupid makes the cut and passes we can be mad at a certain percentage instead of picking out certain people and sections of the city.

Everyone is so emotional and divided along racial and class lines now that the next election cycle will do nothing to bring this city together. It’s all going to be a big waste of time because unless there’s someone no one knows about sitting at home preparing the greatest speech since The Gettysburg Address no one person can heal this place. Our local media won’t let it happen because they can’t sell advertising time to the companies that cater to some closed minded people in the suburbs who need to feel good about themselves by making New Orleans corrupt even though their areas couldn't survive without the city. There are too many people within the city that haven’t figured this out yet so we can’t have legitimate conversations about issues. At least my idea is true democracy so after things are settled everybody can just shut up, deal with it and stop all the grandstanding.

The way we are handling things is really disheartening.

Monday, February 16, 2009

That's My School!

I love being from this city but so far this year I hate living in it. There are so many things bothering me about this city and its surrounding areas that all I can do is shake my head. That’s why I am glad I went to the parades yesterday. I can care less about catching beads and that other useless junk. I was happy to see the local bands. Folks around here identify themselves with their neighborhoods and their high schools. The band is a serious part of that. Yesterday I was on St. Charles and it felt pretty good seeing all the high schools coming down the street. That was a bit of a morale booster because they all appeared to have good participation. I especially enjoyed seeing my own school coming down the street. I think they had the best banner but they could have looked a little livelier than they did. At least they had on decent looking uniforms.

I will leave it up to Book to judge how every band sounds. Based on who I saw yesterday, and judging on appearance and uniforms, I have to say that the best school I have seen so far is Warren Easton (do not leave any crazy comments on my page either). All of the schools I saw look pretty good. The only schools missing is Fortier (their school got stolen), Lawless (their building was destroyed and my brother just read this and passed out) and Kennedy (they got played because their building is around a neighborhood where people have money and didn't want those poor kids back around there). I won’t mention any Jr. High schools because I don’t think we have them anymore. Oh well, it’s still a lot of progress from three years ago. I think I am going to try to check out a few night parades this week. Bands always look better at night for some reason. I just want to give props to all the band heads working in the schools to keep the traditions alive.

P.S. Southern University of New Orleans has a marching group that is setting Mardi Gras back 50 years with that showing. I can’t describe it. You just have to see it for yourself.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Carnival Memories and Helpful Hints.........Again

I hadn’t realized that it was this close to Mardi Gras until yesterday when I realized the restaurant I wanted to go to was right on a parade route. I think the first weekend is the best weekend of the Mardi Gras season. There are little tourist and smaller crowds. The kids marching in the bands and dance groups are still fresh so you get that extra bounce in their step when they pass you. Plus, for some reason floats don’t seem to breakdown and people don’t fall off during the first weekend. I am headed out today to catch back to back parades. It’s a great day because it’s cold and rainy and this kind of weather separates the true parade watchers from the bandwagon jumpers. I wrote these tips last year. I thought they were pretty good. Let’s do it again. By the way, I tested my tip for coconuts and got so many I had to get rid of a few. Let's have a good season without any violence.

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 oneself 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.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Memory.....Passing Me By

I want to share this story with the public in recognition of Valentine’s Day. Back in 1988 when I was in the 8th grade I had a crush on Latonya Banks. Back then I was very shy and never said anything to girls I was digging. On February 14th I finally got the courage up to go to the store and buy a card to give to her. I tried to pick the best card with the least amount of words for under 4 dollars (that was all I had). I would have gone with one of those sappy poems but I couldn’t risk that getting around the school I went to because it would have been torture. I bought my card and waited for our 7th period English class. I figured if I gave it to her at the end of the day she might be more willing to show a brother some “appreciation”. Back then appreciation was hugs for me so don’t get all excited. The bell rang. I walked up to her and gave her my envelope………….

And she didn’t even open it. She took it, said thank you and walked away with the rest of her friends. It took me three weeks to get over that. It was my first lesson that picking up the pieces in your life is a process. Looking back on it I don’t know why I was so into her anyway. She had a jheri curl and everything. I don’t want to sound bitter because she was actually a pretty nice girl. Besides, that was 21 years ago. I would like to dedicate Passing Me By performed by one of my favorite groups of all time The Pharcyde to Latonya Banks and ask her how it feels to know she broke the heart of a 13 year old kid. I know she was 13 too but so what. Girls mature faster than boys so that makes her guilty.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sitting On My Porch Part Twenty Two

It’s hard to be a successful blogger when you get sick, can’t stay awake, and decide not to watch the news. You know there had to be a good reason for me to leave Lil Wayne’s performance up there all week. There’s something in the air around this city right now and everyone seems to be ill in some way. I think this is where they sent all the bad peanut products. Whatever it is I hope it goes away soon because I can’t take any more pills.

I’m two weeks late on this but when I was at the Beyond Jena forum and met some young sisters there that I told I was going to give a shot out too. So, this goes out to Ms. Candice and Ms. Shana. I also wanted to say hello to Kamm.

I would like to tell President Obama that while I understand what he is trying to do with the bipartisan strategy, sometimes you have to make people respect you first before you extend the olive branch. That means laying the smack down to some of the opposition as well as some folks in your own party who threw all kinds of crazy things into a stimulus bill that didn’t need to be there. It’s just like when you get promoted at a job where the employees have been there a long time. Sometimes you have to be jerk at the beginning until everyone knows who is running things then you can sing Koombaya later.

I saw this on Red’s blog and when I realized my friend had something to do with it I had to highlight it myself. Check out The Roots of Music website and show them your support. I can personally vouch for the band director. Mr. Rawlins is a great guy, a dedicated musician and if you invite him to your house he will always bring something.

Don’t you hate when you tell someone you are having a bad day and they start giving you all these inspirational quotes and stuff? I said I was having a bad day. I didn’t say I was jumping off a bridge because life isn’t worth it. I don’t need you to tell me that I have a lot to be thankful for if my day is rough. I know that already. That’s why I am telling you and not cussing out my CEO.

If America wants a poster child for how party politics brainwashes politicians look no further than Joseph Cao. Here is a man that voted with his party against the stimulus package when the entire health of his district depends on government money. He actually has one of the few districts in America that should accept federal money with no shame at all since it was federal levees that put us in this position. He should have been asking for more money. Here’s what I don’t get. I live in New Orleans East. The majority of the Vietnamese population in this area does as well. Congressman Cao is their first Vietnamese representative in Washington and lives in New Orleans East himself. Shouldn’t someone on his staff had been working the halls of the capitol pledging his yes vote for the stimulus if there was guaranteed money in it for a hospital in New Orleans East? How twisted is the political system when a man of any party votes no instead of working for the needs of his OWN NEIGHBORHOOD!

The crime and social problems around this city are complicated because New Orleans is such a close knit city that you know people on each side of the equation and that can affect your morale. I had two conversations this week with some old friends. One made me feel really good and optimistic about things going forward. I had the second conversation fifteen minutes later and wanted to pack all my possessions, hit the highway and not look back. Your outlook on the situation can change just that fast.

I just can’t see Chris Brown hitting anybody. Chris Brown looks like one of those boys whose parents never let them leave the gate to play football in the street with the other kids. You know the one when everyone else was playing the game in the street he was running back in forth on his porch throwing the ball to himself? Guys like that are not supposed to hit women. Guys of any kind are not supposed to hit women unless his life is in danger.

Finally, tomorrow is the greatest corporate driven holiday in the world. It’s the day where months of hard work by men trying to gain the favor of a certain woman can be destroyed by not spending money he doesn’t have on chocolate she won’t eat and a card full of words no real man would ever say. I know there are some guys out there that have a new boo and have already used up their money and home run gift idea on Christmas. Well, I am about to help you out and give you a solution for less than 40 bucks. Go to the store; get the ingredients of whatever you know how to cook without burning, some wine, and dessert. Go to her crib, clean up for her, cook, then put this song on after dinner and ask her to dance. Trust me; this is worth way more than that stuff animal and candy. Don't worry if she doesn't know this song. Just tell her to pay attention to the words and you are in there!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

It's Sunday and football season is over. The weather is good so I am going outside and get my stuff in order. Big G. is coming by to help me take care of a big problem. You know, I am not one of those guys that have a lot of friends. I have to say that even though some of the ones I do have are mentally disturbed they are loyal and dependable and since my family isn't here I couldn't make it in the city without them. I want to give a shout out to the irreplaceable Mr. Williams, Mr. Johnson, Big G., Mr. Hubert, my big cousin Mr. Baker, and Black Chris. I also want to say whats up to my real brothers in Memphis Mr. Walter Wade Harris and Jerald Jamal Harris, and my brothers in spirit Mr. Brister in Mississippi and Mr. Anderson chillin in Atlanta.

Gentlemen, I feel that victory is in our clutches.....Just keep grinding.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cliff's Opinion on The Stimulus Package

I have been listening to people talk about this stimulus bill all week and I am even more convinced that most politicians and news people covering the story have no idea how real American families live. If they did this stimulus could have been passed ten days ago. Politicians are already posturing for the 2010 elections. I also have figured out that too many Americans don’t understand how other people live either because if we did then none of this argument would make sense if we are talking about stimulating the economy. There has to be different strategies for different people if the thing is going to work. I have lived on different sides of this problem so let me break it down.

When you have a good job and own a home, you can purchase just about anything in this country on credit. Sure, people are having trouble paying their house notes but no one is mentioning the student loans, the furniture bills, the big plasma TV bill and all that other stuff in their possession they are still paying on too. Those are the bills that really make you feel the pinch. That means that if you just give them a tax cut and they get a few more dollars on their paycheck, their first priority is going to be stopping all those phone calls from collectors. They don’t need to go shopping. They need to pay for the stuff they already purchased when things were going well. If you want to help them you have to give them enough relief to pay off that debt so the house payments won’t be so difficult. That way they won’t be foreclosed on. If you don’t feel comfortable sending out checks then come up with a way these families can fill out something listing the account numbers of accounts they need to pay off within whatever limit we set and let the government send the money directly to the creditors themselves. Wouldn’t this help the banks too? I don’t need to see the money if you can get Visa and Master Card off my back. That’s a winning solution for everyone involved.

Now let’s take poor people’s situation. I have been a member of the working poor. I am not that far from it now. Unlike the middle class, when you are poor and working, you don’t buy anything other than necessities because it’s hard to get credit and you can never save enough money to make big purchases. Trust me when I tell you that if you go to your bank for a loan and don’t make a lot of money, those folks won’t even take the courtesy to call you back to tell you no. So, since the middle class already has the things they want and will surely not be going on a shopping spree with any extra money, you have to give some money to the working poor because they will actually spend 90% of it and stimulate business. Talk show host and political pundits need to stop saying this is a redistribution of wealth to play to their base. A few hundred dollars is not going to make a poor family wealthy. They are going to take that money and get their car fixed, or buy some new bedroom furniture for the kids. They might go on a shopping spree but it’s the only one they are going to go on for a long time. Why do you think most poor people run out to file their tax returns the minute they receive their W-2? They need the money to buy all the things they couldn’t throughout the year. Earned income credit doesn't make people rich. It makes people like Wal Mart and Sears rich. Think of all the jobs that will be saved because there will have to be people working somewhere to serve them. That’s a winning solution for everyone involved too. It would help the cities and the states because they would get the sales tax revenue.

As far as the banks and corporate America is concerned, they don’t need anything because we still have half of the financial bailout remaining. My question is why it seems like there is not one person in the media or in politics that can explain the situation from both angles like this without making one group the enemy of the other one. In my opinion, this should be the foundation for the entire stimulus. No disrespect to President Obama and the rest of our esteemed political leaders but I don’t see how an 800 billion dollar stimulus is going to work without at least half of that going directly to the people.

My Weekend Vibe

I am headed out to enjoy a beautiful Saturday. Before I do I want to add another group to my personal agenda of highlighting local New Orleans hip hop artists that break our stereotype. I would like to present The Knux and apologize to them like I did to Jay Electronica for being late to discovery. I love when guys like this start getting recognition because it's proof that not every brother from New Orleans looks, talks, and acts like Lil Wayne. Enjoy the video until Universal Music blocks it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

History Shouldn't Be A Mystery

Sometimes we get so caught up in what’s happening now that we don’t take time to think about the past. It can be a guide to help you what’s currently going on. I just got through watching this special on PBS titled Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans. It’s narrated by Lolis Eric Elie. It was great and I actually learned a few things I didn’t know. I think it should be shown in all New Orleans schools so these kids can know exactly what proud culture they come from. The only drawback to watching this program tonight is that history has a way of striking a nerve when it’s presented the right way. You have to brace yourself. It’s going to be difficult to feel patriotic and promote racial harmony for a few moments after watching that. America has a cold blooded past and black New Orleans paid the price. At least we got jazz out of the deal. I guess that’s a positive.

Trying to Turn the Tide

On Saturday afternoon from 1:00PM-3:00PM there will be a meeting of black community leaders and activists to discuss what programs are currently running in the various neighborhoods and how can concerned individuals get involved to support them and offset violence. The meeting was called by Minister Muhammad of the Nation of Islam. They are also trying to get black men to volunteer for walking the streets of New Orleans during the times of the day when the city is the most violent. There’s supposed to be tables set up from the various programs so people can see which one they can contribute to.

I know that the last few weeks I have sounded kind of harsh towards these issues. It’s only because the problem frustrates me. It only frustrates me because I love my hood and I get tired of them not loving themselves. Nevertheless, I am going to go and see what I can do without taking time away from my own responsibilities. That’s the real simple solution but the situation is too critical not to attack it on different levels. It’s going to take a lot of people to get this done so I encourage anyone who reads this before Saturday to at least go down there for a few minutes and check things out. I'm hoping that when I get there the crowd is so thick that there is not enough space to accommodate all of the potential volunteers. That would be a great sign. I am also hoping to see my mayor, other elected officials and the police chief too. This is the kind of event that they all should champion and lead the call for.

It's only February. We have lots of time to turn this year around and make it a good one.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

They Break It...We Bail Them Out.... Then They Get Paid.

I believe in the American hustle. What that means is that I have nothing but respect for the person who can come up with an idea and a plan to gain wealth. I don’t care if it’s Sam Walton, Martha Stewart, Baby from Cash Money Records or the kid that designed Facebook. It’s all fine with me as long as you don’t kill anyone or destroy the wetlands. I also don’t believe the government should reward people for screwing up. That’s not the same as helping people stay in their homes and feeding their families. We should be doing that because it’s a humanity thing and take it from me, there is nothing rewarding about living off of public assistance. That’s a misconception created by the media. If you or anyone you know has ever had to struggle on that level you know it’s not a paradise. If it was there wouldn’t be the amount of pain and desperation that leads to criminal behavior. You’d have to be insane to live like kings and queens at the government’s expense and still be that angry. Hell, it’s hard enough to stay sane while earning your own money that’s never enough but that’s not what this post is supposed to be about. Let’s get back on topic.

Today President Obama made his first decision I agree with 100% when he decided to limit the salaries of companies who receive government bailout funds to 500K. There are people in the financial world screaming bloody murder about this but he’s talking about folks who are getting bonuses for running companies that would be bankrupt right now if the government hadn’t bailed them out. They don’t deserve a bonus especially since they got the TARP funds for help and still didn’t loan anyone money or extend any credit. Now companies are dropping employees like flies because payroll is always the first thing to go when times get hard. Those guys deserve a bonus? Most of you would get fired for taking the extra bottle of White Out home without permission. Even though this is supposed to be punishment, 500K still sounds like quite a lot of money especially when you already have millions in the bank. I could live for the next ten years with that amount. Corporate big wigs from failed companies shouldn’t worry. In a year or two the economy will be picking up again, you can pay back the public’s money and go back to blessing yourselves with huge bonuses and private jets again. You can do all of that and have fun with it as long as we don’t have to pass a bailout plan that didn’t work followed by a stimulus bill that is so big and complicated that no one can explain exactly what its going to do anymore.

You don't get much news while sipping on rum and flirting with beautiful island women but did I hear President Obama actually admit to making a mistake with Tom Daschle? He actually took the blame for something. I was going to call him out on this decision too but now I don't have to. How many times did George Bush do that? I was so impressed at the fact he actually took responsibility that I was going to end my mental vacation early but then I read this.............

I might extend my vacation another month.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I want to say happy birthday to my sister Michelle and dedicate this song to her. I know you don't drink but I am having a toast for you right now. I miss you. Sorry I went to Barbados without stopping in Memphis first

A Mental Vacation From My Stinky City

The picture above is a view of a beautiful beach in the country of Barbados. Unfortunately I didn't take the picture with my camera phone. I am still stuck down here in crazy New Orleans where something simple like picking up trash has turned into a story so embarrassing that I am going to pretend that for the next few weeks I am vacationing on this beach. Before I close my eyes and mentally drive myself to the Armstrong International Airport, let me just say that I have learned a lot about people in my short but interesting lifetime. If there is one thing I am pretty sure of is that every single person in our local government knows exactly what needs to be done but every single one of them are too busy trying to save face with their particular faction to work together to fix it. I need a city government break. I can still blog every day without ever having to mention the names Nagin, Clarkson, Head, Fielkow, Carter, Lewis, Morrell, Midura and everyone else. I will leave that to the special interest citizens who want to feel good about themselves by blaming it all on one group or the other like their representation has done everything right.

All I know is when I come back from the beach my big black trash can better still be in front of my door and when I pass a multi unit building outside of the French Quarter, (we know that trash is going to get picked up one way or another) I am not attacked by a swarm of flies because no one has picked up the trash this month. I hope the aliens return all the real elected officials and take back the drones while I am on vacation so we can get something done. Have fun my fellow New Orleanians. I'll send you a post card.

Sunday, February 1, 2009