Tuesday, March 31, 2009

High Stakes and Messed Up Memories

Tomorrow morning kids all around the state of Louisiana will be taking the LEAP and GEE test to determine if all of those days of getting up early and doing all that homework were just a big waste of time. Put me in the column with the people that are against high stakes testing. I was in one of the first graduating classes that were required to pass the exit exam in order to graduate. It was around that time when I finally realized just how much stuff we didn’t learn in high school. Back then you had to pass all four parts English, Math, Science and Social Studies. I think now you can fail the Science or Social Studies and still graduate. I remember they had my homeroom class locked in this hot ass room with the intercom on to make sure we didn't cheat.
You took the English and Math in tenth grade and the Science and Social Studies in eleventh grade. I didn’t have much problem with the English and Math. The Science portion wasn’t too bad. Social studies was a challenge because we essentially had two social studies teachers and one of them made the decision that no matter what the subject was he was teaching black history. I didn’t know a damn thing about Geography but I knew all the words to the Black Preamble (yes there is a black preamble and no I couldn’t find it to link to). That was actually pretty cool but it made that Leap test hard as hell. A lot of kids failed the Science and Social Studies part so our senior was spent tutoring and trying to get people prepared to take it again and walk across the stage. Some people made it. Too many people didn’t. The end result was good kids we had been sitting next to in class for three and four years sitting at home on graduation day because nobody wanted to get their name called for a certificate of attendance. I hope all the kids are ready and do well. These tests are stupid but they are the only way out of there so you have to do it. I wish we get the chance to vote on these tests continuing. The thought of my high school class president who had a scholarship to Tulane University not graduating with us because she couldn’t pass a social studies test that she probably never saw half the material for would make me commit voter fraud and get back in line to vote NO twice! If all that hard work means nothing when you fail this test then why couldn’t you ask to take the test in early and stay home during high school? I should have asked to take it in ninth grade, passed it, then stayed home and played basketball in my yard all day for four years.

Good luck kids and if you fail keep asking to take it until you pass. I don’t care if it takes five years. If you did all the work you were supposed to you have earned the right to graduate.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Dealing With The Pain When Our Efforts Don't Work

Saturday at Armstrong Park here in New Orleans was the Yes We Care march and rally where hundred of black New Orleans residents came out to make a commitment against violence. I have been going back and forth for awhile about this issue. If people are going to put extra energy into solving this problem then count me in. However, before we run down to the streets and take on the challenge of changing lives we need to admit that this is not a Tyler Perry movie and that real life people don’t fall in line with change that easily.

I have been thinking about the things that led to this point and how the community’s attitude became so passive when I know deep down they care. In my opinion that attitude comes from all the times we have watched, friends, family, and people around us get caught up in bad things despite our efforts to stop them. I think it’s not true to say the community hasn’t done anything or at least tried to. There’s just been so much heartbreak and disappointment on a personal level that you have to detach a little just to soften the blow for the inevitable tragic news. Nothing enhances the pain of watching your people fall than the feeling of failure that you couldn’t stop them. I am not ignoring the circumstances that lead to the mind state that leads to some people not knowing enough to always accept the support you are trying to give but the hurt is still the same.

There are many success stories of people who turned things around and got things together. No one is a hopeless cause. There are many bad stories too and those seem to stick with us. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that I am sure many people in the community know a mom who they tried to help get out of a rough environment for the benefit of her and the kids but she didn’t want to and one of or all of her children ended up in a bad situation. There are probably many of us that have called in favors and gotten jobs or other opportunities for someone we know and they didn’t show up or did show up and acted so crazy that they burned that bridge forever. There are many friends that are no longer friends today because one of them chose to roll with a different crowd that ended up taking them down to drugs or violence even after the other friend tried to tell them what was going to happen. These situations and others like it have happened over and over in our community and I think it’s one of the main reasons more people tune the problem out than the number that gets involved. The only way to get over this is to admit openly and talk about it.

This was not intended to make the case for people not to care or to turn a blind eye to the problem. I just think that if we need to be realistic and prepared for what may happen if people take on the task. In order for this change to take place we are going to have to learn to deal with rejection and keep coming back for more until the light finally goes off in the heads of some of our folks. It means we might have to lose a few more because some people are too deep into it. If you are not ready to deal with this reality and accept resistance to change then maybe you don’t need to be directly involved in this fight. Honestly, I am not sure if I am ready myself. The babies and kids are something I can handle. It takes a different level of emotional commitment to deal with those teens and adults. It’s going to be a long and hard struggle.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blogging From The Patio....The First 2009 Edition

This is the first addition of blogs written while sitting outside on the patio. It’s a beautiful day outside and I am enjoying some fresh air. I would rather sit out here since Louisville and Pittsburgh have officially destroyed my NCAA tournament bracket. I knew I shouldn’t have picked against Tom Izzo. I had Memphis too which means that if North Carolina figures out a way to stop the beast Blake Griffin they will be the only team on my bracket to make the Final Four. I was flipping back and forth between the college game and Lebron James. I mean no disrespect to the Hornets. I am a local team supporter all the time but the world needs this Cavaliers/ Lakers match up in the finals. It’s going to be a sports junkie’s dream if that happens. I’m only going against the Hornets because I don’t think they have any chance to win in the playoffs beyond maybe the first round.

I’m watching this story in Fargo, North Dakota and hoping this river goes downc far enough that the levee won’t breach and flood the town. There’s nothing like waiting for catastrophe to happen. We went through this last year with Hurricane Gustav. Even if the flood doesn’t come the anxiety is enough to kill you. I hope everything there works out and it gets even colder for a few more days so the water level can go down even more before the ice melts.

I have some advice for whoever in the city is responsible for putting up the Recovery in Progress signs. Lately we have been having all these investigative reports about money not being spent and the slow pace of projects. Whenever one of these stories comes out there is always someone from the city with a logical explanation why this money and that money isn’t yet available. I can handle that but can someone please take the signs down so I can stop expecting stuff to be done soon. I know how the city looks and I have accepted that to some extent. I can handle it and be surprised when something new opens or reopens but stop putting these signs like these things are going to happen quickly and then leave the project sitting there for months or longer without anything happening. Let the contractors put the sign up when they are going to start the work if you feel the need to let everybody know who was in office when the work started. Then I won’t have to wonder why that a sign has been up for two years and things still look the same. That way when you announce things that are about to happen I can stop thinking its all bullshit.

Whodini is a top five hip hop group of all time and I will not debate that.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Lessons of a Chaperone

Today I had my first opportunity at being a field trip chaperone. We managed to sneak in a trip to the zoo between rain storms. Taking a trip with a class of kindergarten students can be quite and experience. I really thought that I put out a lot of mental energy during the day when I am at work. After seeing what these teachers have to deal with I feel embarrassed about the times I have complained about being tired. I learned a few things today.

  1. Always make sure your camera is charged before leaving your house for an event. If not you have to take some shots with your phone that needs a data cable to download to the computer which happens to be at your desk and you weren’t going in there today so you have to post a blog with no pictures of the zoo.
  2. All teachers are grossly underpaid. They deserve six figures just for dealing with that many children at one time for five days a week.
  3. Any teacher that can do this without having at least one cocktail after work deserves more money and admiration for their self-control.
  4. After years of internal debate I finally realized today that not going to school for elementary education was the right move.
  5. After 29 years I owe Ms. Ford an apology. Ms. Ford was my Kindergarten teacher and back in 1980 I thought she was nothing but pure evil. She had to be because on the first day of school she took two sticks and wrapped them in masking tape in front of class declaring that the law. (That’s back when teachers could do that and not get arrested.) I looked at those little boys today and thought about how I was at five years old. Ms. Ford wasn’t evil. She just knew we needed the law upside the head a few times to stay in line. I’m sorry Ms. Ford for all the horror stories I told people about you. You were great and so were all my other teachers except for 3rd grade. She was mean for real. I would mention her name but I am afraid if I do she might find me and want to fight.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sitting On My Porch Part Twenty Three

I have been waiting all day to come home and watch the Sweet 16 tonight and see if my tournament bracket still had life. Then someone reminded that today was Wednesday. Not only am I not watching games, there are still two work days left. I want to sleep late so bad.

President Obama has a huge budget and apparently my grandchildren are going to be paying off the deficit caused by it. That’s going to suck but if everything goes according to plan at least they will have a quality education, a car that gets 40 miles per gallon on solar power and affordable healthcare. We have a deficit now and all we have to show for it is Saddam Hussein’s execution and some corporate bailouts.

Whenever a brother gets arrested in a high profile case in this area you can usually depend on several days of follow-up stories just so the public knows how crazy he is. Someone got arrested for stealing a truck full of waste from a major company and dumping it into a sewer drain and that story just disappeared. Can anyone explain that?

If there are any people around the country who are looking for a place to stash away some cash during the recession I would advice you to deposit it into the City of New Orleans bank account and tell them it’s for housing or parks and recreation. That money will sit there for years. There’s a high chance that even the people in charge of the money won’t know it’s there until you ask for it back.

Our local television special investigators should all be working for the FBI. They find out everything. And why does it seem like their reporting is the only way to get our local leaders to show any passion for anything besides fussing with one another?

Who in the hell is Tammy Bruce? What makes her qualified to call Michelle Obama trash and is America the only country where insignificant people can say disrespectful things about other people and gain fame?

I am making an official prediction that someone is going to put something on Twitter at the wrong time in the wrong situation and the whole social networking phenomenon is going to come crashing down. The next step from Twitter is a website where all you have to post is one word entries like “Happy” and “Sad” with the emoticon to go with it. This level of laziness will cause people to abandon every other site. I just gave someone my million dollar idea.

I volunteered to read to kindergartners on Fridays. I am not really doing it for my baby because she does a great job at making herself look good. I am doing it because the truth of the matter is there are some boys in her class without a dad around or not involved with the school work. I know the teachers and their moms are probably doing their best but I want them to see an actually example of a grown man that looks like them reading and having fun doing it. It sounds small but that’s a big deal living where we live. Sometimes positive reinforcement can be that simple. I don’t mind reading Dr. Seuss for a few minutes to get that point across.

In honor of my new reading adventure I would like to dedicate Children’s Story by the great Slick Rick. If the kids look bored when I start reading I will just start rapping this song. Well, maybe not this one. I know a few Blues Clues numbers I can add some soul to.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Long Mondays Make Me Talk Crazy

Ladies and gentlemen, I can't think about anything long enough to write it down and that's beautiful. At least I think it is. It could mean that I have finally shut down mentally and can no longer come up with any ideas of substance. It could be the tap water I am drinking from the lake that is seasoned with waste from unlocked business trucks with the keys inside. It could be the extra pollen in the air from springtime. I don't know if that's making my mind clearer but my eyes are definitely burning. Between the allergies in the spring and hurricane season during the summer, it's amazing that I hate winter so much. I would probably have no stress and full lung function if I just moved to Canada. They would probably send me back to New Orleans though once I drunk up all their beer and told them I don't like hockey.

I need to change my style from a long winded blogger to nice, short and to the point posts. I'm either going to do that or just start posting video and audio clips with no explanation. Here's a quick story from the weekend..........

Sometimes things happen to you during the day that make you feel good but have absolutely no impact on your life. I was coming out of McDonald's drive through Saturday after picking up some happy meals. There was a really fly sister in a convertible Corvette. She looked like one of those sisters that be at the basketball games trying to get an NBA player's attention. While I was at the redlight struggling to put straws in apple juice packs she blew her horn and waved at me. Now folks, I don't know if she was just showing respect for my daddy skills or she was really digging my new goatee look. It really doesn't matter. All I know is that woman had an eye for quality. Lucky for everyone I know that I am a humble man and things like a model looking sister blowing at me at the stoplight won't fill me with all the extra ego that I already have but try to pretend I don't. I would become one of those obnoxious guys that wear sunshades at night and indoors and start referring to myself in the third person like "Excuse me everybody, The Cliff needs another drink". I would punch myself in the face.

I'm going to chill out and listen to Ceelo. Have a great Tuesday.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I Got Some New Pets for The Weekend

It was a great weekend. I actually did things outside of the house Saturday and Sunday. I forgot how draining that is. The highlight of the weekend was buying a new fish tank. I will only discuss the tank for now because my initial fish are kind of boring but this represents the first post Katrina pets. We started off with some fish that didn’t cost so much because I haven’t had a tank in a few years and you don’t want to kill fifty dollars of fish on the first try. I never publicly apologized to my two fish Big Blue and Tupac that I left behind during evacuation. Sorry guys but I wouldn’t have had anywhere to put you for a month or longer anyway. Knowing how it feels to leave things like your fish behind is why I never got another tank but part of life is having and doing things you like and I really like having fish. It's only been a day and I already want a bigger tank.

Maybe one day I will work my way back up to the emotional attachment of owning a dog again. I love dogs but losing one of them is almost like losing a relative. I have had about ten dogs since I was a little boy and every time one dies it sucks. I think I will wait a few more years before I get another one. The fish will have to do for now.

I sat here for the longest time trying to come up with a song representing fish and I couldn’t come up with anything. Luckily my vast knowledge and love of bad comedy movies kicked in and I found a backup. In recognition of my new pets, please enjoy the Wheel of Fish.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Morning and Working with a Mary Kay Hustler

It’s been a long week full of meetings and trainings and I can’t wait for Saturday when I can watch some of the NCAA tournament. There’s one more meeting today. I was going to take my employee but I am scared because she is on a crusade to turn every person we have a meeting with into a Mary Kay client or salesperson. We had a meeting last week and all she kept doing was trying to give people her Mary Kay card. Wednesday I was teaching a class. After the training one of the case managers attending mentioned that she was tired of carrying so many cases on her workload. What was my people’s response? “Sounds like you should be selling Mary Kay!” I was thinking “Sounds like you shouldn’t be attending anything else with me!” If she is like this after only a few weeks of being a salesperson, what are those people like who earn the pink cars?

I don’t mind anyone having a side hustle to make ends meet but calm down with it. You can’t push it on everybody. I already know what’s going to happen. Someone is going to end up calling my desk looking for her to complain that the anti-aging cream they purchased doesn’t work. I’m going to get aggravated and say something crazy like “Why did you waste your money on that eye cream when everything about you looks aged to me?” and get in trouble. I don’t feel like writing any apology letters so I have to stop this before the inevitable happens.

I am heading to my meeting. Everybody have a great Friday. I will be playing this new EPMD in my ride.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Something Still Stinks to Me

This SDT illegal dumping story has me very confused. Clay sent me this link to the story. Apparently this guy is trying to frame Sidney Torres and stole the truck. This would be easier for me to digest if the truck wasn’t being parked in St. Bernard Parish. This story goes against everything I have ever known about the St. Bernard Parish sheriff’s department. For the folks that are not familiar with the layout of New Orleans let me give you a quick geography lesson. St. Bernard Parish neighbors the Lower Ninth Ward. I have spent lots of time in St. Bernard Parish during my life. Crabbing is one of my favorite pastimes and that’s where we go. There are good folks in Hopedale and Yscloskey. There are pretty sisters in Violet. We also did a lot of shopping and things in St. Bernard so I am not hating on the place. However, there is one thing that everyone who grew up in my area of New Orleans knows and that is that when night fall comes the sheriffs department in St. Bernard does not play around especially with brothers who don’t live down there. I know a guy named Nat who was once driven to the city line and told never to step foot in Arabi again. This is the same area where my family was once pulled over in my dad’s van for riding through a residential neighborhood so they could look at Christmas lights during the holiday season. They didn’t get harassed or anything but the message was clear that there would be no foolishness going on.

Somehow this young black guy managed to go to a closed business, steal a truck (which the keys were conveniently left in along with an unlock gate and a full tank full of piss and shit) drive it out of the city, dump it, then drive it back to where he got it from and still manage to get in his ride and make it home. That means he got in and out of St. Bernard Parish doing illegal business after hours twice! Either Katrina has really changed the approach to crime in St. Bernard Parish or the guy who managed to pull this off should be sent to the Middle East to look for Bin Laden because he has a special gift. I am not saying Sidney Torres is lying. I’m saying it goes against everything I have ever known about the area this crime occurred. Something doesn’t seem right about this to me and I find it amazing how people can believe this so easily when they question every other explanation for every other incident that happens in this city.

Let me get this straight. The mayor can say that someone made a mistake and deleted his emails and he has to go to court and pay a fine because no one believes him but Sidney Torres can say that a disgruntled ex employee made his way to St. Bernard Parish to steal a truck from a million dollar company and get lucky enough to find the one with the keys in it and a tank full of waste. He then drove it through an unlock gate dumped it in the Ninth Ward and drove the truck back to the same spot and this makes logical sense? My logic must be really off because this explanation is not cutting it for me. At the least someone needs to explain why tanks of waste are sitting overnight so close to my house.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Absolutely Garbage

Hey New Orleans!

While most of you obsess and argue over what happens to government emails and start recall petitions for every elected official, does anyone realize that someone (or some company) has been dumping waste into the city’s sewer system? I don’t know if you need me to inform you of the fact that plagues and disease knows no color.

I realize the waste was pumped into the Lower Ninth Ward and that automatically makes the majority of the citizens here less concerned. The first question I pose is how do we know this is the first attempt to “set up” Sidney Torres. Whoever is trying to set him up must be really pissed because he managed to dump waste in City Park and St. Bernard Parish too but finally got around to bringing a camera this time.

The second question I have is if Mr. Torres knows he’s being set up with such venom that someone would be willing to pump waste into the ground, what in the hell were the trucks doing with waste in them overnight anyway? Is this some common practice? It’s not like the mysterious person stole the truck and faked like they were dumping waste into the ground. The city had to send someone to clean it up. Do all sanitation companies leave tanks of piss and shit sitting around during off hours with no one watching? What happens if the yard catches fire and some of those tankers start burning? I only live about 10 minutes away from where this truck was stolen. Is there the possibility that I could wake up to a green cloud of burning excrement flying overhead? Who’s supposed to be taking care of this kind thing? Haven’t the people in my hood suffered enough without worrying about catching Hepatitis?

How about if I say Ray Nagin is the one that drove the truck with Veronica White riding shotgun? I’ll make it even better and add that Stacy Head was the one working the camera and when she got home she emailed the clip to Tracie Washington. Are you pissed off enough now? It’s fitting that sanitation would be the thing to take this city off track. All this seems pretty garbage to me.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Looking for a Different State of Mind

I remember when 9/11 changed America for about six months. Everybody was holding hands, singing songs, and had three or four American flags on their car. I was even caught up and thinking to myself that maybe things were really about to change and people were going to come together. We all know what happened. After a few election cycles we were back to red, blue, left and right in all out warfare even though their fortunes are all tied together.

The same can be said for New Orleans after Katrina. Recently I have come to realize that I am not an example of post Katrina New Orleans because there is a lot of things about me that are different but since most of the people I know haven’t changed at all (or refuse to admit it) I always seem a little crazy. I’m not crazy at all. It just amazes me at how some people are locked into their mind state. I think we have actually fought against reality and forced ourselves to pretend that nothing has changed at all. There are some folks who accuse me of not having a life or being anti social because I don’t go out to bar rooms and hang out like I used to. I’m not going to sit here and brag but my personal life is actually pretty good. It’s just not exactly like what I used to do so they don’t pay attention. I have a friend that got mad because I didn't come to a party she was having. It's not that I mind a good party. It's just that she was begging people for the money to pay for it and I didn't see the since in everyone struggling to pay bills for the month just to put in for a party with the same people you see all the time. Saturday night I and my cousin went to our old hangout spot. I saw some folks I hadn’t seen in awhile and had a good time. There was a moment that really made me realize how people think. There was about six people at the table we were at. One of them looked at me and asked me “Cliff, what’s happening with that (censored because my family reads this)?” I looked and said “Do you realize that was 12 years ago and we are all men with families?” One day I told someone I know I was on a forum at Xavier University. His response was “Man, I didn’t know you still were girl hunting on those college campuses!” I got in my truck and drove off. I’m just trying to be versatile and do some other things. If it is this frustrating for me, I can imagine what it’s like for these guys coming straight off the streets and want to change their lives around. Those guys catch all kinds of hell from the people around them. That's why when you usually see a converted thug you hardly ever see them with the same group of friends they used to have. The best way to do it is to remove yourself from the environment but that’s hard to do when emotions are involved.

By no means am I saying I am better than my folks or I am so enlightened that I don't make the occasional bad judgment. I’m just saying that when you talk to people around here the condition of the neighborhoods and the way things are make more sense. There are a few too many people that are content with the way things are just because their favorite bar is open. That's why we can have our leaders spend so much time on email, not spend millions of federal dollars on affordable housing and dump raw sewerage in the Lower Ninth Ward. We are still trying to live like it's 1999 and not paying attention. Things have changed too much for that. All you have to do is ride around to see that. I think I need a vacation and more than five hours of sleep.

Friday, March 13, 2009

My White Collar Crime Dream

I see Bernard Madoff finally went to jail. I am glad the authorities were able to pull him from his million dollar apartment. I was disappointed with what I saw. First of all he had on a suit. He should have had on an orange jump suit and shackles. I have seen people look more criminal than that going into traffic court for unpaid tickets. Secondly, there should have been a moment where the people whose lives he ruined were allowed to cuss him out or hit him with a broomstick. I know he’s supposed to get a 150 year sentence but the man is 70 years old. He’s already had the privilege of living his prime years as a billionaire. I think he got a pretty sweet deal for such an evil and heartless crime. I pose a question to everyone that reads this. Since I will be 35 soon let’s use that age. If someone told you about an idea that could allow you to live the next 35 years as a billionaire and the only punishment was you might have to go to jail in your 70’s would you do it?

I don’t have the evil in me to steal money from all those innocent people like the financial mafia guys did but if I could come up with some computer code or something like those cats in Office Space that takes the fraction of a penny off of the accounting numbers I think I would go for it. I could get a lot done in 35 years as a billionaire. I could take care of all my family and friends. I could send my kids to one of those schools that are so good they teach Quantum Physics in the second grade. I would let my lady get some of those ugly designer clothes by some new wave fashion guru that cost so much people force themselves to think that junk looks good. I would take monthly trips to Japan to watch professional wrestling just because I can. Since entertainers and athletes like hanging out with rich people I would befriend them and make them take all the money they are going to squander away eventually and donate it to my foundation. Then I would take that funding and put a new school and health clinic in every poor neighborhood in the city. I would buy up blocks of blighted buildings and replace them with playgrounds, learning centers, and housing for homeless people. Every new project would be named after one of my grandparents or one of my aunties. By the time they catch me in the year 2044, I would be so popular that no one would believe that I stole the money anyway. I think I could accept my sentence at 70 years old after doing all of this. I figure after the daily routine of steaks, 12 year old scotch, and Cuban cigars I wouldn’t be in my cell long before I ended up in the infirmary. This scenario works for me.

Of course I could never really do anything this crazy. I don’t have access to any financial institution’s accounting system. I took two programming courses and hated them both so whatever I did would be so bad that they would discover my hustle the first week. Knowing my luck they wouldn’t send me to the country club jail with the rest of the rich white collar criminals. I would end up in Angola with a young skinhead cellmate whose been doing 1000 pushups a day, watching Eyes on the Prize, President Obama’s victory speech and listening to Public Enemy on whatever music will be played on 35 years from now in anticipation of my arrival. Plus I have the wrong friends and background to make it work. In order to make scams work you have to be really smart and hang around other smart and rich people. Americans never question smart, rich people and will give up their money willingly to them with no questions asked until they find out that money isn’t there anymore.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Springing Forward

This is my favorite time of year. This is when living down here pays off. It’s daylight savings time and the humidity is not at the point that the life is sucked right out of you. There is enough sunlight in the evenings after work to get things accomplished outside of the crib. That means it’s time to work off my football season weight gain. It’s time to head back to City Park to walk in the evening. This is one of my favorite activities and where I do my best and clearest thinking. It's probably all that good fresh oxygen. I have some serious weeds in the garden and I can’t tell them from the real plants anymore. I guess I have to clean that up now. Hopefully I can make it to the lakefront in the evenings if the lakefront police department decides to let people up there. Sometimes they block it off to make themselves look important. It’s time to clean my grill and fill my propane tank. This is the year to boil your own seafood because the crawfish prices are serious. We won’t be eating too much of that if I have to pay that much.

Just like we set the clocks forward, I hope everyone can do the same thing to their minds and do some mental spring cleaning. It appears the world has embraced the New Orleans tradition of a constant flow of negative news. It's our greatest export to the rest of the world since jazz only this one is depressing. It's time to step away from CNN, MSNBC, and close those laptops. Even if you don’t have any chores or things to do around the house, just get a chair, a radio, a cold beer and go sit outside and get some fresh air. You can play a CD but don’t listen to any stations because they have news updates and that will just spoil your mood. Find yourself some nice outside music and try to have a good time.

Every time I post one of these songs on here I realize I am an old dude trapped in a young dude’s body. Kids, this is what happens when you grow up in a house where your parents control ALL of the music. I can sing stuff like this but they can’t rap any verse of a Run DMC song. I’m cool with that because I don’t think I am ready to hear my parents singing Peter Piper. You know what; I’m posting that song too out of respect for my own generation.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Benjamin Button Speaks for New Orleans Again

Since my city seems to subcontract and outsource every thing else, I would like to subcontract the job of city spokesman to Brad Pitt. I can’t say enough good things about this guy. While most of our local leaders and media are arguing about emails and what group gets to give their rich friends and contributors money, Brad Pitt is on Capitol Hill trying to get money to help rebuild the Ninth Ward. I want people outside of the New Orleans area who read this to understand that these houses he's building are not in a neighborhood full of influential people. I would actually say that on the pecking order the Lower Nine was always at the bottom of the ladder. There's really nothing to gain in this city by helping the folks he's helping except for the satisfaction that he corrected a terrible wrong for as many people who move back because of him. I wish he could run for councilman at large but I am sure he’s too busy making movies and stuff. Plus he’s getting more tangible things done just being himself anyway. What makes his visit to Congress so impressive to me is that the country is going through a tough financial crisis and he went to ask anyway and he should have. He’s representing one of the few groups of people that can actually say the government owes them something. I just hope if he wins any new funds from the government they send it to him and not our city leadership because it’s going to take ten years of arguing to figure out where and how to spend it. Brad gets money and houses get built. That’s the end of the story. Before he started this work the best thing I could say about the man is that he starred in one of the greatest movies ever Snatch. Now I realize that I wasn’t given him enough credit for being the person he is. We haven’t shown this man enough appreciation.

Maybe we can have a Brad Pitt day down at City Hall and give him a second line parade or something. We should be able to get that done as long as it doesn't require emails, trash pickup, city take home vehicles or any cameras.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Taking A Look At Everything Part 1.....The Music

I remember there was a time when I always seem to be struggling financially. No matter how much money I made I never seemed to have enough to make it until my next payday. One day I came to the realization that going out a few times a week and buying rounds of drinks and lap dances probably isn’t a good economic plan. I had to cut back or eliminate some of that behavior because I couldn’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. I never stopped liking those things. I just knew I had to sacrifice some of that if I wanted to see changes.

We are having a struggle in our community with violence and murder. Everybody wants to talk about it but it doesn’t seem like no one wants to give up anything to get different results. It’s time to try some different outlooks and make some small sacrifices. One of those things may have to be our music. Now before everybody thinks this is an indictment of hip hop let me say this is bigger than that. There are songs where singers are singing about worse things that the rappers or rapping about. I love music and especially hip hop. I would never stop listening to it. You have to ask yourself however that in a time of crisis like this is it really a good idea for kids to be listening to music that glorifies the very behavior we are all stressing to find a solution to? I can’t remember a time in our history where the music didn’t reflect the mind state and ambitions of the people.

Since slavery we have been singing about whom we are and where we are going. If I am feeling a little down and want a pick me up I listen to a little gospel. If I want to relax I throw on some jazz. If I want to be romantic I am playing Luther. It makes sense that maybe some people listen to derogatory lyrics to validate their mood. I don’t think you can listen to a woman be called a bitch or a whore all day long and not start to think of a few them like that. I also don’t think you can listen to people brag about killing each other and not become desensitized.

I don’t give the music any blame for creating the environment or the circumstances that led to this problem but at this point what can it hurt to take some of this out of the equation and see if it changes the vibe. It can’t hurt anything and at this point everything should be on the table to help find a solution. I’m going to have to work on this one myself because nothing goes better with riding through the city at night like an good old school angry Tupac CD. I still love Scarface, Ice Cube, UGK, and Juvenile but I am willing to do without it if we need to put it away to get these brothers minds off killing one another. We should at least get if off mainstream radio. Since my baby started riding shotgun with me when school started I have come to appreciate the fact that you can be a responsible man and father without compromising your love for the music. When you are dealing with this kind of drama you have to take a look at everything.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It Won't Be Too Long

At the end of 2008 I had really high hopes for 2009. After two months and four days of the New Year, I have to say it has kind of sucked. Yesterday was not a good day in the city for a few different reasons. One story in particular really bothers me. I can’t believe this woman was found not guilty. It bothered me so much two years ago and now it’s bothering me again. It’s a shame her son got convicted and she didn’t. If anything she should have did more time than he’s going to do because it’s obvious he never had a chance. I guess that’s the justice system at work. Then there’s this whole thing at City Hall. I am not going to talk about the particulars. I am just going to say that black people in positions of influence owe it to all the people who defend their reputations to at least come clean and be upfront about what you are doing before you make everyone look stupid. If I didn’t know for a fact that there was 80% of the population in the city holding everything together in spite of what’s going on at the top and bottom I would be inclined to seek another place to live. With the economic trouble going on I might end up in a place that’s headed for worse trouble than New Orleans. Let’s take the optimistic view that all of this is just the last few pains in a process leading to a new direction. I hope that’s the case and that the Crown Royal company doesn’t fall on tough times because we need lots of it. There’s only one year left until the next elections.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Firing A Few Can Be The Best Thing For Everybody

This blog is not about politics. This is about leadership. What I am about to say applies to anyone in a position of leadership even a mayor. I have some leadership responsibilities at my job now. I have supervised more people when I was younger. You want to be loyal to your employees and you hope that they are loyal to you. Loyalty is important but it can be a cancer if there isn't competence to go along with it. When you are too loyal to people who are not doing their jobs the way they should it brings the reputation of the entire organization down and makes you look like an ineffective leader. If it goes on too long then people think everyone who works for you is that way because you haven’t done anything to change the perception. That’s why you can’t be afraid to fire people who deserve it.

If there is one employee that is bringing an entire organization down with them the best thing to do is give that person a pink slip and move on without them. You owe it to the rest of the people under your leadership to remove every obstacle possible that keeps them from being successful. If that’s one of their fellow employees that can’t get things right then so be it. You have to set the tone that poor performance and lack of accountability won’t be tolerated. Look at the big picture, think about the number of people and their families depending on things going the way they are supposed to and remove the ones who are slowing down progress. Sometimes you have to do it even if you like the person. That’s just one of the costs of being the boss. It doesn't make you look bad if you fire someone but you look really bad if you have someone who is obviously not doing the right things and you defend them.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

An Example Needs To Be Made

A young man was murdered in New Orleans on the Westbank after being followed from an argument at a bowling alley in Kenner, LA. For the people not familiar with this area, that's about a solid 30 minute ride to where this murder happened. That means whoever the shooter was had to maintain his anger to make that drive and still shoot three people. There is nothing we can come up with to change the mind of a man that would ride that long intent on doing what he did. Some of these cats are too far gone to save now. All we can do in my opinion is give him some long hard time and send a message that you can't shoot men that look like you anymore without proper punishment. Maybe when that word gets out it would make a few of these guys think twice knowing they might actually go to jail forever. That might sound cold but I know that there are some of these men who are emboldened by the fact they don't think they will get any real jail time. There was a period when I was about 14 years old where everyone in the neighborhood started stealing and shoplifting. It was fun because no one went to jail. Once the first knucklehead got a few years of time at least half of the rest stopped stealing. Once we get their attention the ones that want to do right and not sit in that cell will come to us. We have to make an example out of somebody. Besides, there are dozens of grieving mothers out here and they deserve the same closure everyone else gets.

Honestly, the thought of young black men going to prison depresses me because whether we like it or not we all share a common existence and when one of us fails we all fail in a way. It's hard to explain unless you live it. I take no pleasure in wanting them sent away but I am willing to deal with it because the knowledge of so many of us dying young is a worse thought and weighing us down more and more with every murder. It's like a run away train with no brakes.

Republican Hood Cats, and Soft Democrats

Some Republicans and hood cats have a lot in common. They have the same methods of persuasion. When someone from the hood wants to convince you of something they get louder and sound angrier than you until you finally give in. They get an opinion and stick with it no matter what you show them. That’s the same thing a lot of these Republicans on the news shows do. If I was an alien from the same planet that kidnapped all my local politicians and turned on the news this morning, I would think that President Obama’s new budget is the worst thing to happen in the history of America and that armed forces would be kicking rich people and small business owner’s doors in to take all of their extra cash to give it to poor people. I haven’t read the budget but it can’t be that bad. I would also think that President Obama has been president for the last ten years and not a little over a month. It’s a good thing I can remember that they were in control for most of the last eight years and turned a surplus into a deficit when someone starts talking.

I’m starting to worry for President Obama because he belongs to such a weak party and they are not going to speak up to match the rhetoric of his opposition. Say what you want about Republicans but if Democrats would have lost in the same way Republicans did in November it would have been at least a year before anyone on that side of the aisle said anything. They would have let the president do whatever he wanted then hope to pick up guilt votes after everything was screwed up. That’s what they did for President G.W Bush’s two terms. Democrats always get walked over. The president needs some foot soldiers to handle the street fight while he does the real work. Since the Republicans fight like hood cats then he needs to fight fire with fire. It’s time to make that call to Reverend Al. He has nothing to lose in the process because he holds no office and people already think he’s crazy. He’s smart enough to explain the agenda and can get loud enough to match most of the people on television or the radio screaming now. What better way to battle a hood philosophy than with a really hood person. Plus, it’s great entertainment for all Americans who make their own decisions and are not influenced by people yelling and screaming in the media.


Republicans, you can’t have Karl Rove giving his opinion on any news shows right now. It’s just too soon after the previous administration. All he does is remind people of how much your party had to do with these problems. I know he’s loyal to your views and everything but it’s not a good look. Send him to the island where Jesse Jackson is hiding out for the first year of the new administration.