Saturday, May 30, 2009

My Weekend Vibe...Songs That Represent My Life

I stole this idea from Neecha's page so I felt it was only fair I give her a shout out and a link to her page. She admitted to me that she took this from somewhere on Facebook so even if you go and check out her answers don't give her any creative credit for the questions. Don't tell her anything about it because she's one of those New Orleans people who likes a good confrontation. This was fun to think about and it was harder than I thought to settle on one song.

A favorite political track.
"Not Yet Free" – The Coup

The song you’d use to tell someone you love them.
"As" – Stevie Wonder

A song that has made you sit down and analyze its lyrics.
“I Am I Be” – De La Soul

A song that you like, that a two-year-old would like as well.
"Jam On Revenge" - Newcleus

A song that gives you an energy boost.
"Terminator X To The Edge of Panic" – Public Enemy

A song that you and your grandparents (would probably) like.
"How I Got Over" – Mahalia Jackson

A song that you really liked when you were 14-16, and still really like now.
"Hey Young World"- Slick Rick

A sad song that would be in the soundtrack of the movie about your life.
"When Your Life Was Low" – Lahla Hathaway and Joe Sample

A peppy song that would start the opening credits of the movie about your life.
"Gonna Have A Funky Good Time (The long version)" –James Brown

A good song from a genre of music that no one would guess that you liked.
"One Headlight" – The Wallflowers

A song that could play softly in the background every single day without you getting tired of hearing it.
"Moe Better Blues" – Branford Marsalis and Terence Blanchard

A song that you think should have been playing when you were born.
"Grazing in the Grass" – Friends of Distinction

Favorite artist duo collaboration.
"Nothing Better Than Love" – Luther Vandross and Gregory Hines

A favorite song that you completely disagree with (politically, morally, common-sensical, religiously, etc.) But I have it as a ringtone! Just aweful!
"Do It Stick It" – Lil Boosie

The song that you like despite the fact your IQ level drops several points every time you listen to it.
"Can’t Believe It" by Lil Wayne and T-Pain

Your smooth song, for relaxing.
"Back In The Day"- Erykah Badu

A song you would send to someone you hate or are mad at.
"Hit em Up” - Tupac

A favorite track from an outfit considered a super-group.
"Losing My Religion" - R.E.M

A song that makes you reminisce about good times with a family member.
"Before I Let Go” - Maze

A song that puts you in a romantic mood.
"Here I Stand" - Usher

Your favorite song at this moment in time.
"Carried Away" - Mojoe

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What's Wrong With A Little Empathy and Perspective

The reaction to the Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court is very fascinating to me. There is nothing that brings out every legal and cultural difference in the country like a Supreme Court nominee. That shows just how powerful that position is. I hope we can all sift through the crazy people’s opinions and have an honest debate. It probably won’t happen. I want to touch on one of the issues being used against her. There’s been a big deal made about empathy and how her cultural and life experiences may have and effect on her decisions. First of all I blame President Obama for that because he shouldn’t have mentioned it as part of the criteria before he made the choice. Second of all, doesn’t everyone do this anyway even if they don’t say it?

Is there really anyone that can read something or hear a story on the news and not apply their own personal experiences and outlook to their opinions? Even if your job is to interpret and enforce the rule of law, you would have to be conscious of who you are and what you believe even if it was just to remind you of the fact that a certain case may make you biased. If I was a judge ruling on a case involving the Corps of Engineers there is way what happened in New Orleans wouldn’t come into my mind. I would still have to judge the facts and rule accordingly but I would have to address my personal feelings even if it was internal. That would be a natural human response. It’s just like when a story about a problem in the black community comes up and a middle class white person from the suburbs tells me they don’t agree with my stance or see it differently. That’s not a bad thing if I engage them and we exchange our different views on it. In my opinion it’s foolish to think that if five people from different walks of life are sitting in a room reading a story that their background won’t come into play when giving their opinions.

That’s one of the products of having a diverse society. People are going to see issues in different ways. That’s a good thing as long as you don’t want to harm the other person who doesn’t see it the way you do. I think different outlooks and opinions are a good thing even when it involves the law. If there was never any wavering in the written letter of the law then it would probably be illegal for a man that looks like me to express this opinion to the general public. Why nominate a Puerto Rican sister from the Bronx, NY if you don’t want any Puerto Rican Bronx flavor added to the mix? When Justice Thomas who is as conservative as it gets made his dissent on cross burning, you don’t think his experience as a black man growing up in Georgia during the 50’s and 60’s had anything to do with that? The point is everyone’s is affected by their life experiences. If not then we might as well let robots take over.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How Hard Will They Fight This One

President Obama’s pick of Sonia Sotomayor will be very interesting to watch. This will be a moment where America gets to learn something new about the Hispanic population of the country. I have Hispanic friends but I am still not that familiar with how they view people like politicians and Supreme Court Justices. I know how black people are about the first person to do anything. When you are the first black anything it is such a big deal that we will protect you forever. There’s a special place for the ceiling breakers. I bet there is a large portion of the people who couldn’t tell you much about what President Obama is doing right now but his picture is hanging up on their wall or they have an Obama t-shirt. On the city and state level every first black mayors, senators, judges or stuff like that have streets, schools, convention centers and anything else we can stick their name on in their honor. We’ll even let go of our own ideology in support of the first person to take a position. The last presidential election proved that.

Are my Hispanic brothers and sisters like this? If they are then this selection by President Obama was a stroke of genius. From what I have read conservatives would be standing on their principles to oppose her nomination. If they decide to go all out to stop her isn’t that like going all out to stop Thurgood Marshall? She would be the first Hispanic member of the Supreme Court. If they stop her appointment and the next candidate isn’t Hispanic, are they basically conceding the 2012 election since the Hispanic population is growing every day? I want to see how it plays out. I think having a diverse Supreme Court is a big deal. It makes the law seem inclusive and fair even if that isn’t always the case. Clarence Thomas probably votes against my personal interests 90% of the time but his image still needs to be in the picture. Maybe Hispanic Americans are not into that kind of symbolism the way African Americans are. Republicans better hope so because she’s liberal and they have to fight her nomination or that will be the ultimate rollover.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Veteran's Memory Told Grandpa Style

It’s Memorial Day weekend which means folks will be out having a good time if the weather doesn’t spoil everything. Celebrating the sacrifice of military men and women is a good thing. I still say that there should be a law that says when their tour of duty is over, any debts they had are paid and they get a 300 point bonus on their credit score. If they are killed in combat then we do it for their families. Maybe we should let their kids go to college for free too. I don't think men and women who go to war should have to struggle when they come home. So many politicians are quick to kiss up to the troops to make themselves look good but they don't really do a damn thing for them.

I thought I would share the only World War II story I have from my grandfather Walter Harris Sr. My grandfather always talked to me anything and everything except his time in the war. I never asked him about it because since he talked so openly about everything else I figured it was just one of those things that he didn’t like to talk about. I remembered him mentioning one time he was a gunner on a Navy ship. I was always curious about it. One day about ten years ago we were sitting in his TV room watching the Atlanta Braves play the San Diego Padres. The cameras got a shot of the sailors watching the game in the outfield bleachers and that led to this conversation. This is almost verbatim and told through my grandfather’s Seventh Ward dialect as well as I can type it. I'm probably not going to do it any justice and make it as funny as it was when he told me.

Grandpa: Them boys just docked at the port down there. That’s where we used to come in…through San Diego.
Me: Really?
Grandpa: get off the boat after being over that water for a long time you looking for a game or something to get into. I was on a minesweeper around that time. Going through those channels in the Pacific
Me: It’s that only boat you were on.
Grandpa: No….I was on a battleship for awhile too
Me: Remember when you told me you were a gunner? How did you pull that off?
Grandpa: When we first got on the ship they had us all in the kitchen. One day we got attacked and I was down in the kitchen. I went to the captain and told him if a son of a bitch is going to be shooting at me on this ship then I want to be on a gun or something because if I’m dying I rather be shooting one of them sons a bitches too.
Me: What did the captain say?
Grandpa: He said fool you crazy! Don’t nobody asked to be here around all this stuff going on. Anybody crazy as you need to have their ass up here and that’s how I got on the gun. I still had to cook and everything too but when the fighting started I went up there to help.

I am sure the real scenario was much more complex than that and that he was trained to do whatever job he was doing on the ship. When an old man shares a war story with you for the first time you don't ask many followup questions. As far as I am concerned this story is exactly what happened. As I sit under this patio enjoying the right to drink a cold beer in honor of the best old dude ever, I hope all the veterans are having a good weekend.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Weekend Vibe.......My Tag Team Partner

I was on a field trip Thursday at a beach with a bunch of small kids. As I watched all the little boys to make sure none of them got swept out to sea I couldn’t help thinking about when I was that small and all the kids I used to play with. When were five and six years old all we wanted to do is running around and play. Nobody had any idea of what was coming for some of us at an early age. The city has a way of taking its toll on a group of friends as time goes by. I was thinking about that on the bus ride home. When we got back to New Orleans there was a guy picking up his son. I remember seeing him at other school functions and thought his face was familiar but everyone looks familiar to me and I never know why so I don’t say anything. While I telling how his son took a belly splash into a puddle of water and sand he looked at me and said. “Didn’t you grow up in the Lower Ninth Ward? You lived on St. Claude St. by Pugilas store right?” I said “yeah that’s me”. He said “I remember you. You used to be with that bright skin dude that stayed in the big house”. I replied “yep that was me and my tag team partner”. My weekend vibe song is dedicated to that bright skin dude in the big house. Back when we made wrestling belts out of cardboard boxes, Mardi Gras doubloons and black shoe polish this was our ring entrance music.Our ring was whoever dad had the least amount of tools and work supplies on the back of his truck or my grandmother's backyard if she didn't have clothes hanging on the line.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Good, Bad, and Ugly Of Daddy's First School Year

Next week is my daughter’s kindergarten graduation. Tomorrow is the last field trip. No one will be happier than I am that school is ending. She won’t be happy because she loves going but she won’t get any sympathy from me. It’s been a long grind and I after this first year I have new respect for my parents and all single moms especially those with more than one kids. If you all get those children where they need to be on time and still make it to work yourself no one in this world should have a bad thing to say about you. You all have my permission to call in sick the first two weeks of summer to sleep late if you want to. I won’t be mad at you.I got a little taste of what your day might be like and I don't know about doing that until high school graduation. You can have that. I salute you.

The big debate here is charter schools versus local school board control of the schools. Some people love the idea of charter schools and some people hate them. Like other decisions that have been made since the city’s recovery started, this is one of those things that have already been decided and there is no turning back. Once there was any improvement in those test scores that fight was already over. There won’t be less charter schools. There will be more. My personal feeling is that I want good education for the kids of New Orleans. At this point it doesn’t matter to me if its charters, vouchers or letting the school board run them all. As long as the teachers are qualified and the schools are addressing the needs some of these kids have then so be it. Regardless of what system we end up with, it needs to be easier for parents to understand. It is public school system after all and you should be able to go to one spot and apply and test for any school you want to. That goes for those privileged “public” schools where the principals make the big money. Since the year is ending I thought I would give my take on the good, bad, and ugly of my first year as a school parent. One thing I have discovered by being around other parents is that you can be totally satisfied with something going on while the next person thinks the entire school sucks. I guess it’s all about perspective. This is just my opinion.

The Good

The Principal: Any fears I had about sending my daughter to a first year school was settled by this guy. He’s a good guy and he really cares about those kids. I have a naturally apprehension when it comes to the intentions of people not from the community that decide to come in and work with the kids. From now on I will give them the benefit of the doubt because as long as he’s in charge of the school my kids will be going there. If he goes to another school I might follow him there. That’s how impressed I am with his operation so far.

The Student Environment: Every parent likes to see their child be recognized for his/her achievements but I think it’s a good idea if a school promotes the idea that all of the kids are in it together. The kids seem to understand this and pull for one another. I don’t know how long they can keep this up as they older but right now it’s a cool thing. When I was in Kindergarten I didn’t know all of my classmates names because as long as they were quiet our teacher didn’t call us out. Teamwork is a good thing.

The Level of Material: Addition, subtraction, units of measurement, Science, writing stories……what the hell happened to finger painting and nap time in kindergarten? I have a suggestion for the powers that be. If homework is going to be this involved going forward, there needs to be some kind of program for the parents who need to help the kids to get them up to speed on some of this stuff. I’m not trying to be funny at all when I say New Orleans doesn’t have the greatest academic record and by the end of the first grade some of these kids are going to know more than their parents. It’s going to be harder and harder for these kids to get help at home.

The Bad

The length of the school day: The regular school day schedule is 8:00AM to 4:00PM. When you add in the after school program and the bus rides, we are basically looking at an eleven hour day for kids ages 4-6. Add an hour of homework to that and I don’t know how they retain any of the information they learned. They should really think about cutting about an hour of this time down. There’s another big reason for this included in the ugly part.

The Behavior Chart: Teachers need a way to maintain order and discipline since they can’t slap kids on the hands with rulers anymore. I guess these behavior charts work but have you ever seen the look on a kids face with a negative mark on the behavior chart? It’s too much pressure to if you ask me. The guidelines seem to be up to the teacher’s interpretation and I don’t know if that can be fair. This especially bothers me for black boys because they are the quickest to be labeled and a few bad notes in a student record can follow them all the way to high school.

Mandatory Parent Events: I don’t have a problem with mandatory parental events in theory. I have a problem with the type of events they selected. You shouldn’t have to make parents come to the Thanksgiving dinner or the Mardi Gras parade. There should be some other mandatory things like helping with homework, PTA meetings or building that playground like we did.

The Ugly

Uninformed parents: Every Friday afternoon there are dozens of parents out there for early dismissal. Every Friday you hear whining and complaining about the teachers and the program. Every parent meeting the same ones whining and complaining are nowhere to be found. How do they even know what to complain about if they never visit the school or talk to the staff?I don't know how you can manage not talking to them when they demand so much of the parents.

The hood around the school: There’s a store on the back side that’s not so friendly. There’s a house across the street that isn’t so cool either. The few blocks leading up the school are a little rough to pass through too. It’s like one of the parents told the school recruiter about describing it other people “things are really good once you get inside the building”. I am not sure if there is anything we can do about this without moving the school or becoming vigilantes.

I would still rather have this same program around my own house: It's a good thing I work close to the school because there's a good chance I wouldn't have drove across town just for kindergarten. I don’t know how you have a truly functional neighborhood without your own school. New Orleans used to have elementary schools all over the place. We may have had too many before and now I don’t think we have enough. Going to school where you live helps you get to know the people around the area. Plus, it would help some of these parents who struggle to make it across town with their children. I may not change schools now because I like the principal so much but I would still like the option. Maybe they are building a new one and I don’t know because no one is communicating.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Feeling Like A Monday

I came into work this morning. There's a cool front outside so the temperature is lower than usual. They haven't adjusted the thermostat for the air conditioning so I feel cold like one of those episodes of Survivorman when Les is trying to survive seven days on the frozen tundra of Siberia. I got my coffee but it doesn't taste right. Checked my email and found work I don't feel like doing. Opened up my blog and thought about what I was going to the good people today. I came up blank. Everything in the news is not interesting enough to talk about. Plus, I did absolutely nothing this weekend so I don't have any stories or observations about that. All I could think about is how I am a certified expert of hip hop records from 1985-1995. I would put my knowledge and pre-Katrina catalog up against anyone as long as you don't ask me anything silly. I have been sitting here at my desk deciding on the song to go with this post. That turned into listening to old school hip hop music for the last two hours. I know that makes it seem like I haven't done anything productive at work this morning but the music helps me focus while I plan and make policy. I hope everyone bought that excuse. Besides I need something to block out the two ladies on the other side of the wall talking about Mary Kay cosmetics all day. I need to stop playing around and get something done today. If not I will never get that honorary degree from Arizona State. They have high standards for a black man's accomplishments.

After careful deliberation I went with Chubb Rock because dancing to this song at my desk is increasing my body heat and saving me from hypothermia. Notice how Chubb only joins in the dance routine at the end when the kicking and jumping around is over. I thought that was funny back when I was small enough to do the dances myself. Now I understand Chubb. Now I understand.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Weekend Vibe...Doing What You Have To Do

My brother cut off his dreadlocks last week. He did it in order to have a better chance at finding a job. That was a big deal for that cat because he absolutely loved his hair. He’s probably been cussing since he did it. I have to admit they did look pretty good the last time I seen him. He almost made me want to get some. The thing about the world we live in is that I am at a place where I probably could have kept mine. I am in a little better position. He’s trying to get into the door and unfortunately as black men we get judged on things like that especially without the official credentials that can override appearance. It’s probably worse for him now because he’s living in another city and there is not the same amount of people that know him personally like here in New Orleans. In New Orleans he knows about 50,000 people from all walks of life on a first name basis and I am not exaggerating. That’s a gift he has that I don’t. Me and my brother have had heated discussions about things like haircuts and dress clothes. I want him to know that I never promoted changing his look because I didn’t like his hair or the way he looks in it. It’s just sometimes when you have to move forward in life concessions are necessary. My brother gave up his locks. Now I hope he’s rewarded with enough opportunity to make so much progress he can grow them back and not have to worry about it. You know what, when that day gets here I will grow some with him. I dedicate this song to my brother and guys like him who decided to do what they have to do for progress even though they hated doing it. Keep grinding brothers and things are going to work out just fine.

Indie Arie - I am not my hair - Indie Arie featuring Akon

Friday, May 15, 2009

What Happens After Everyone is Corrupt?

I think Big Man might have said what I am about to in far less words. Since I read his before posting mine I will give him his props. Reading what he said made me feel even better about what I am about to say..

Last night I went to a meeting of black men organized by the Yes We Care group about the rising violence in the city. I wanted to hear what the brothers had to say and show my support. I actually went ahead and signed up to volunteer at one of the local mentoring programs. I figured I could fit in some time around my own personal responsibilities. I will talk more about this later. This was a very positive event but it barely made the news because everyone seems to be overly obsessed about our city council members’ emails.

I believe in being consistent in your beliefs and that they shouldn’t change based on who is involved. When the paranoia was about the mayor’s email and his schedule my opinion was that if we were going to spend all that time and energy trying to prove he has done something wrong then it should lead to some kind of change in leadership or procedure that benefits everybody. Turning the mayor into a criminal mastermind does nothing for me as a citizen if everything is going to continue running the same way it always does. I feel the exact same way about these emails. If we are going to go through all of this time and money to expose all of this information then it better lead to something. If it doesn’t lead to anything concrete and ends in just ruined reputations then who wins? I can tell you who doesn’t win. Hard working people don’t win because every day we sit around stressing over foolishness is another day without plans for new health care facilities or youth programs and things like that. I’m sure those things are being worked on somewhere by people behind the scenes but we have created an environment where most of the public assumes nothing is going on or going right because this group is plotting against this group and the other group is out to get the first group. It was just a few weeks ago that we found out FEMA was sitting downtown playing with our money and a national news show had to tell us about it. How crazy is that?

Let’s take our current mayor and council members out of the equation for a minute. We are having elections next year. What person can run for office and win without being investigated the first week of their term because of the vibe we have set forward now? We all know that this is an intimate city and that most people are connected in some way. If you are a person with enough support or money to run for office then it’s almost a certainty you know someone in the same groups of people involved in all the bickering. After the last few years of fighting is everyone going to hit the reset button and hold hands to sing because there are different people in the positions? Are all the people leaving hurtful comments on websites and making angry phone calls to radio stations going to cease immediately when the individuals they have all singled out as the problem are gone from the scene? My prediction is we won’t be able to. We probably won’t be able to make it through the first two weeks of campaigning without the he said/ she said starting again. The mayor and council will be getting investigated the day after being sworn in. It’s the same basic principle when I am talking about the violence on the streets. We now have a culture of wanting to incriminate everyone over working together towards a better city.

Who in their right mind would even want to be a political leader in this city right now? Can we name more than one or two people we may think are untarnished enough to lead us? Someone is going to have to come in from out of town because there isn’t anyone here right now with a good reputation across the board. I know I am right because if we put a positive article about anyone there’s going to be a commenter making an accusation or posting a link to some story implicating them in some scheme. It happens all the time on our local newspapers website. We have so many investigative reports on the news that regular citizens are speeding through school zones while working their cell phone cameras just to get a shot of a city vehicle’s license plate. We also have an entire group of amateur investigators that just search through everything looking for the big conspiracy. I never really hear most of these folks have any concrete ideas about what we could be doing differently. They just know they don’t like the people currently in office so anything else that gets destroyed in the way was justified. When it comes to leadership in this city my morale keeps getting lower. It’s a good thing I know enough people living here that give me enough hope to balance the negative. I am not sure we have a person with enough the personality to rally everyone together in the right spirit. I think we had one but he is in prison now for having some proven bad judgment. Things are not looking good from my perspective.

I know what some people are going to say when they read this. They are going to let me know that we need transparency, and corruption hurts us all. They will mention Nagin’s trips and the crime camera debacle and Stacy Head’s emails. All of those things did happen and should be looked into but look around this city. Most of these problems were here long before either one of them got in office. Do I think we should ignore any wrong doing? I don’t think that at all. I’m saying that if all we get from turning over all these stones is bad feelings and new faces in office we will have the same problems because there will be no policy changes to benefit the public. Isn’t that what all of this is supposed to be for? Why does it seem that we never talk about any of that very much? Sooner or later we have to move on to other things. What is the plan for the future of the city when there is nothing left to investigate?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sitting on My Porch Part Twenty Six.......Nothing Serious

This blog has gotten way too serious. People are going to think I am an angry man. You can't live being angry. I am not angry at all. I may be a little delirious and confused by the actions of other people but I can live with those issues.

How does Mark Cuban own an NBA team and not know its never a good idea to shout a big black dude's mama especially one with a big tattoo of red lips on his neck. You want to keep that guy peaceful as possible. Speaking of people with neck tattoos...

Do people with tattoos on their neck wear sweaters to job interviews when it gets hot outside? Unless you are already rich, a musician, in the NBA or a tattoo artist yourself, that might not be the best place for ink.

Is it just me or are those Quiznos Torpedo commercials very disturbing?

The coolest man I ever met was a 4’10 cat with a perm from the 7th Ward affectionately called Warm Daddy.

Why would the most interesting man in the world drink Dos Equis beer?

Take it from a person with a extensive background of hooptie experience,…..people with cars that can’t go over 40 miles per hour should not get on the interstate. Get a map and study the street routes please.

How may football fans are hoping Brett Favre breaks his shoulder while doing yard work so he can retire for real and stop hijacking the off season with his fake retirements?

Why hasn't Billy Mays done a commercial for whatever product he uses to dye his beard? This is a slam dunk promotion if I ever saw one.

If you are on a helpdesk call at work and the user on the end of the phone shouts "Lord Jesus!!" when you asked them to click on something, that is a good indication that it's going to be a long phone session. Tech support people understand what I'm saying.

Our ex Technology Director in New Orleans spent over 1200 dollars at a New Orleans East strip club. How many lap dances is that? There truly is class division in the city because less than a block away is another club where you couldn’t spend 1200 dollars in one night if you tried. Not only do they not take credit cards, there isn’t even an ATM inside. Of course this is what I heard from other people. I’ve never been in there myself of course.

Why don’t hip hop DJ’s scratch anymore?

If you roll over in the morning and it feels like there are three people lying on your back, it’s time to hit the gym again. I’m not back to three people yet. Right now it’s more like one adult and a small child.

One of my major pet peeves now is people who misspell words on their online profiles and leave it that way. Are you “thinkful for all of your bleasings" or "thankful for all of your blessings". These people usually have 200 friends and no one cares enough to send them a message to fix it. is a funny website to read unless you see one of your messages on there.

The Knux along with Jay Electronica will be the next big thing to come from New Orleans as long as they don’t sign with Diddy.

A hot ass BBQ pit + a very hot day + two cocktails = A cure for insomnia.

Don't you hate it when someone does something nice for you that appears to be a favor but they keep reminding you about returning the favor so you end up feeling like a freeloader and wish you never accepted the offer in the first place? "Don't forget now...friends take care of one another."

It’s the hot season down here in the south. It’s time for the greatest fashion statement of them all…………I dedicate this song to the sundress.

The T-Shirt or The Second Line

A 13 year old kid was murdered yesterday after an argument with a 14 year old over marijuana. Add that to the killing of an elderly couple on Mother’s Day and this week joins the competition for the most depressing of the year. All these stories stem from the same culture of violence that I have been talking about. Let’s take the 13 year old kid for instance. There is nothing positive about this but I bet you somewhere right now his friends and people he know are planning a second line or ordering t-shirts in his honor. You know those t-shirts with the pictures and some inspirational saying about death. Those are the ones I refuse to buy or wear. There’s always the t-shirt or the parade. I realize in this city we have a tradition of celebrating life and death in a joyous way. I love second line funerals and when I am about 90 years old and finally leave this place I want people to second line to my life too. When a kid gets killed in the street for nothing we shouldn’t be dancing at all. All we should do is take up a collection for their parents to give them a proper service, support them, pray, and figure out ways to stop the next one from getting killed. His funeral should be a sad and miserable day. The mayor should close City Hall while it is happening and everyone should wear black. Maybe one of these times with the family’s permission we can leave the casket of one of these kids open like Emmett Till and make as many young people as possible walk through there to view the body. We should make them come through with their parents. Some of these men who don’t know where their kids are should walk through as well. We have to do something to make everybody understand the urgency in changing this mind state.

I will be 35 in a month. In my generation everybody knows a few people that are not here anymore for unnecessary reasons. If I am in my 30's and had friends murdered in their teens and teenagers are still being killed now, that means we are dealing with over 20 years of the same drama. The only way something like this goes on for as long as it has is we have let it become acceptable. People are getting tired and worn down. Before we all take to the streets the first step is trying to come up with a way to make everyone understand that this kind of violence is a bad thing. If we are really being honest then we must admit that not everyone in our community thinks its wrong and those are the people involved in the violence. I can hear about this and think it is a waste of life and potential. There's some kid somewhere thinking "my boy went out like a soldier". That’s the reason nothing we have tried to stop it has worked so far. We have to kill that culture to end the violence. I don’t know how you kill it but I know it has to die. I mean no disrespect to the young brother’s life or his family. Pretty soon one of these incidents has to be the last straw for everybody.

Monday, May 11, 2009

When they were deciding to make all these official holidays on a Sunday, why didn't anyone take the time to make sure everyone is off the next day? I have too much work to do this morning to type more than this. So I am going to take the lazy blogger approach and highlight another person's work. This video is cool.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Concerns About Treme

I’m very concerned about HBO’s decision to pick up the series Treme based here in New Orleans. I am not totally certain this show is a good idea. The fact it’s on HBO doesn’t concern me. I like the fact it’s airing on HBO. I love almost every show HBO does. They are always very detailed and compelling. They were the ones that aired When the Levees Broke and let the people tell the real story of Katrina. I like the fact that David Simon is involved. He managed to deliver a top five show of all time in The Wire that told a harsh reality about some things in Baltimore without totally destroying the city’s image. It takes someone truly gifted with the right intentions to pull that off. That brings me to my worry. I am sure Mr. Simon and HBO have the right intentions. I’m just not sure America can judge our city fairly enough for this show to be as realistic as I think it’s going to be.

I may be overly sensitive about people’s opinion about my city but it seems like no matter what happens and what we do, there’s too many people who think we are the bottom of the barrel. There was a Time magazine article titled "Is Baghdad safer than New Orleans." Now that’s something considering I read a story on Forbes that said we are the 11th most dangerous city. I’m not saying New Orleans is the safest place in the country but if statistically we are only 11th, why wasn’t the title of that article “Is Baghdad safer than Orlando?” or “Is Baghdad safer than Stockton, CA”. Both of those cities were ranked higher than us on this list but we get the Baghdad comparison. Why would this reporter pick us as the reference? He did because it’s easy. He did it because people will understand our city as a reference for violence and mayhem despite the fact that statistics show there is ten cities more dangerous. It’s like we can’t play enough music, kiss up to enough tourists or tell enough stories about our never say die spirit towards saving our city for people to think we are anything but a bunch of brass instrument playing thugs. That’s my concern about this show. People watch Big Love every week but I don’t think they assume everyone in Utah has a few wives. People watched The Wire but I don’t think they assumed that everybody in Baltimore sold drugs. I loved the Sopranos but I don’t think every Italian in New Jersey is in the mob. I am not sure after the first scene of Treme showing someone being shot on St. Phillips St. it won’t cut the tourism industry by twenty percent because of fear. Since no one has ever figured out a way to generate the same amount of money in another area if that happens we are going to suffer.

If it is done right America will be treated to an inside look at one of the most unique cultures in America. I just hope that there aren’t too many Americans that think the acts of violence that may pop up in the show doesn’t happen to everyone and is not committed by everyone that lives here. Maybe David Simon can put a disclaimer at the beginning of every episode that says something like. “This is a story about a unique city in our country. Please think openly and not sit there waiting for the one negative thing you see to validate your unfounded views about these people.” That probably wouldn’t work but it would make me feel better about the angry emails I am sending to any reporter or critic who uses the show to make sweeping accusations about where I come from. This show will be awesome to watch as long as it doesn’t turn into a sweeping indictment.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Mayor Needs To Own This One

There haven't been many people in the New Orleans blogging community that have defended Ray Nagin. I don't think I have defended the mayor as much as I have tried to stress the need for concrete evidence before putting any criminal labels on him. That's a general principle I have. There are some people in the community that go far beyond what I have said and fiercely defend the mayor and any attacks against him as a racist conspiracy to take down black politicians. I have never came around to that conclusion but there have been some over the line things said and done to get them in that frame of mind. It is those things the mayor has played to.

Well now it's time for the mayor to do the right thing by the people who have been trying to support him through all this turmoil and come clean on his vacations. This morning in the paper he claims that the vacation his family took in November of 2005 is a blur. Mayor Nagin, please don't do this and make your supporters look foolish. I'm not going to be long winded about this. I would just like to say that in 1991 on the last day before Christmas vacation me and my high school classmates exchanged gifts. My friends Kendra and Nicole bought me a Georgetown hooded sweatshirt with a hat to match. It came in a white box and both of them gave me a card with kind words that I still had up until the flood. My point is that if I can remember getting a sweatshirt and hat back in 1991 despite all the things that have happened to me, there is no way you don't remember the details of someone paying for your entire family to go to Jamaica. I realize it was after the storm and you were dealing with a lot of serious things. Most people who survived the storm can tell you every little town, person, and conversation they had before they got back to the city. I am certain if a friend of mine would have took me to Jamaica to get away I could tell you everything about that trip. Saying you don't remember just sounds ridiculous to anyone with common sense. Even if you have decided to go with the 'I can't recall' strategy, at least do the city a favor and acknowledge that this all seems questionable. That way we won't have to waste all the time, energy and hurt feelings arguing about a vacation you obviously went on because your family's names are on the credit card statements. If a story comes out and there is no proof I will be the first one to say back off the brother if you don't have evidence. When the evidence is obvious then you need to take responsibility and admit you made and error in judgement so we can move on. You need to speak up on this one.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Things Will Be Alright If We Let Them Be

I was just sitting here trying to figure out why my generation appears to be the unhappiest group of people despite the access to more education and opportunity than any other generation before us. Out of all the people I know personally in my age group, I can’t think of too many that are just generally happy people. Most of us are stressed to the edge and we can’t even explain why if you ask us. I know some folks with money. I know some people without money. I know some educated people. I also know some that are not so book smart. The one thing we have in common is the effort we put into never being satisfied. I don’t think we know how to be satisfied anyway. It’s because our parent’s generation failed too many of us and we don’t have enough basic foundation for understanding what fulfills us in life. Much or our value and fulfillment is based on material things. Since material things are built on marketing and promotion you are going to always feel like there is something better than the things you have right now. There are people who are happy and content with the things in their life but people look at them like they are crazy. Everyone wants to know “What’s wrong with that cat?” and “Why is he so happy driving that old ass car?” “Doesn’t he want anything out of life better than that hooptie?”

Maybe he and his family drive around in that hooptie everyday but their kids are all on the honor roll and they eat big home cooked meals every night. Maybe they have so much fun at home with one another they don’t care what kind of car it is as long as it gets them home. We should all be jealous of that guy. Instead we keep over extending our credit and ruining our savings trying to show the world we are doing big things only to come home and feel like the walls are closing in. That’s why we drink all of that liquor and smoke so much weed. That’s why we can’t sleep at night. That’s why our women question the man they chose to be with and the men question them too. That’s why false prophets find easy pickings among us because they know deep down we feel something is missing so they give us a safer vice to lean on than the booze and the drugs. We are all trying to lessen the impact when the reality hits that we were approaching things all wrong. We want to stop these brothers and sisters from being violent and not embracing life but we have the same problem. The only difference is that they chose to cross the line and risk their lives in the streets. The rest of us have chosen the slower path. I think that’s why we coexist with them the way we do. They might be tuning us out because they already know the truth what we refuse to admit.

This post may not be making any sense. I probably shouldn’t hit the publish button. I just want people to take a few moments every now and then to embrace the good things in their life and the good people in it. There’s too much self misery and all its doing is weighing everything down. We can’t fix the community if there are too many of us feeling broken. If I am not broken then no one should be. We should all do like the Harris family from St. Claude St. Call in sick, buy some chicken and beer. Hit the road, head to your favorite fishing hole, drink laugh and have a good time until it gets dark and the bugs start biting. If fishing isn’t your cup of tea then play this song and dance with someone in your living room.

Be Alright (LP Version) - Zapp

Monday, May 4, 2009

Why Jim Letten Should Stay

Some people are a little upset with Senator Mary Landrieu’s decision to recommend that President Obama let Jim Letten remain in his post as our U.S Attorney. They say he practices selective prosecution and site the fact he didn’t go after Senator Vitter as proof. Maybe he does target certain people and gives others a break. I can’t argue against that. If it’s true then I guess we need to have another attorney. I guess seeing some new attorney go after Republicans for indictment will make some people feel better. I won’t be one of those people because if that happens it will only take the focus off the real issue. The real issue as far as I am concern is why are there so many black politicians that represent the most vulnerable people in this area getting indicted in the first place? How many people Jim Letten indicted have screamed racism because they were innocent? Let me know when he sets someone up.

The best and brightest of our local leadership Oliver Thomas admitted to guilt and he is serving time in prison right now. One of our former school board presidents wore a wire to help catch the brother of our former congressman as a way to escape prison herself. (As far as I am concerned anyone stealing from the kids should automatically receive at least five years in prison but that’s just me and my 20 year old books in 7th grade talking.) I have mentioned on this page before during some of the Ray Nagin hysteria that I would not convict a black person without evidence and proof that he or she is a criminal. That is not the same as excusing people who have chosen to do the wrong things for their own benefit instead of what was right for the people. I don’t care what you do to them. As far as I am concerned they haven’t gotten enough jail time. Maybe if they did it would stop happening. You simply can’t have this kind of thing especially in a city where the effects of things not being done the right way can be seen so vividly. If my neighborhood looked like some of the ones David Vitter represented then maybe I could spend more time worrying about why Jim Letten chose not to prosecute him. As it stands now, I’m worried about a hospital being open and wondering why there is not an elementary school within walking distance of my home.

I don’t live in a nice subdivision with all the high class politically connected business people and preachers that would like to see Jim Letten gone so they can get their hustle on. I live down here with struggling folks who suffer because of the hustle. Even if the people choose not to acknowledge what happen you can’t ignore the evidence. Corrupt politicians are worse than street thugs because they have been educated and have full understanding of what they are doing. I don’t care if he’s Republican or Democrat or black or white at this point. If it takes Jim Letten to scare people into not stealing or not running for office at all if they have the wrong intentions then so be it. We need leadership and good government in the worst way. All we have to show for that blind and one sided loyalty is regret and wasted opportunity. If Jim Letten needs to be there to make a few people think twice about doing something underhanded then so be it. If we do the right things it doesn’t matter who the U.S. Attorney is.

An Official Sign That It's Hot Outside

The New Orleans summer has officially begun as right now we are in the middle of our first termite attack. This is a good one too. I'm sitting in my room with all the lights off like I forgot to pay the bill. When cars drive through it looks like a big cloud of bugs sitting in the street. They are in your clothes, in your face and if you keep your mouth open too long you might eat one or two. You usually don’t see one this good until Mother’s Day. I always thought the termites had it marked on their calendar because they always come out that Sunday.

The list of things flood water can not get rid of now includes the following

  1. Termites
  2. A high murder rate
  3. Pine Trees
  4. Second lines
  5. Cats
  6. Squirrels
  7. Civic Pride
  8. Crazy People
  9. Our natural style and swagger
  10. Politicians not working together

Everything else is still up in the air.

You have to love a Monday morning when at 8:15 it's damn near pitch black outside and everyone has their headlights on. What better weather to start off the week than thunderstorms. At least the bad weather held off until most of the Jazz Fest was finished although I think some people like sitting out there in that mud and slop.

New Orleans has it's first confirmed case of the piggy flu. It was brought to my attention that my office is in a medical facility. The media has built up this piggy flu even though all the medical experts said it was mild and probably not going to be too bad. Since I have to hear about it every five minutes I figured I should get something out of the deal. That's why if anyone in this building or a patient of any doctor in this building gets it I am not coming back to work until July. I'm just joking. I should be safe as long as I survive the elevator ride to our office door. There is so many bottles of sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and spray around here that a sneeze will instantly turn into fresh air. All jokes aside, I hope we don't get any more confirmed cases around here. Between the governor and our mayor, we will have to shut the city down.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My Weekend Vibe.....A Song Just to Chill With

If you are lucky in life there will be people that you care about and who care about you. I have an existence full of people like that. Some of them are connected to me by blood. The others are connected by spirit but they are just as close. When you have people close to you it can come with responsibilities. One of my responsibilities is being the person that other folks like to call when there is a problem or crisis going on. They share the good things too but more than likely when the phone rings and certain numbers pop up on the screen I know that something is going on and I may have to do something. I am not complaining. This is something that was passed down from father to son. I take it as a compliment of what kind of person they think I am. The only draw back to it is as time goes on and circumstances change, I find myself consciously never getting too excited or overly happy about anything for more than a few days at a time. The reason I do that is to protect myself from the violent swing of emotion when something happens. It was not too long ago that I found out I was getting a raise at work and a few minutes later someone I care about was calling to inform me that she and her son was about to be homeless. It would have sucked to listen to her sobbing while I responded with glee in my voice because of my good fortune. This is how things happen for me. A similar episode happened yesterday. You have to claim those issues as your own to help people work though them. You also need to deal with the realization that there are so many things beyond your control that you can't help fix.

Next month I will be 35 years old. I am not feeling like an old man. I feel like in these times if you happen to be the kind of person that other people look to for support you will be faced to deal with some serious stuff. It’s causing me to lose the ability to display my boyish charm as much as I used to. It only comes out now when I am listening to music. That’s why I always post songs to my blog like this. Sometimes you just need to rock your head from side to side and chill out. That's why this weekend we are rocking with the Black Sheep.