Thursday, December 30, 2010

Looking Forward To 2011

This picture was from my book reading at Mimi's for the Howling in the Wires book reading. Between this, my CNN appearance and being giving award named after Ashley Morris, how could I see this year wasn't a good one.

If I had to describe 2010 in one word it would be bipolar. Never has one 365 day period given so much joy, excitement, pride, sense of accomplishment, aggravation, despair, grief, and frustration all at the same time. The high point was the Saints winning the Superbowl. The low point was definitely the oil spill which showed what happens when big money controls politicians. Less than a year later since the Deepwater Horizon blast you barely hear about the story. At least we didn’t have any extreme hurricanes that made the problem a lot worst. If I take my personal year, add it to the events that affected everybody and look at the hurricane season, 2010 wasn’t so bad. I mean it could have been a lot better without the oil spill, violence in the streets and blatant stupidity of a lot of people but there was no need for Contraflow or constantly refreshing Weather Underground. That’s always going to give a year extra credit. Now it’s time to move on to 2011 with a more realistic forecast of what could be on the horizon.

In 2011 many things will be just like they have been for a long time.

In 2011 there will be a few things that shouldn’t make sense to anyone but someone with a vested interest will try to convince us that it should.

In 20ll there will be a few things that should make sense to everyone but someone with a vested interest will try to convince some of us that it doesn’t to us separate.

In 2011 I probably won’t be changing much about myself or giving up anything because I am pretty cool with who I am and what I do. I finally have a good idea how to balance my different personalities so why mess with it now.

In 2011 even though we are not old, cats my age will have to start the process of taking a more leadership role in turning our community around. The older men who are fighting the battle are already stretched thin, the sisters are doing all they can and there’s a void that needs to be filled. It’s unfair to ask one man to be a hero and save an entire neighborhood by himself. We could start turning the tide by just talking to the kids on our block or ones that we know around town.

In 2011 dozens of new impressive buildings will be built or started all over New Orleans and further strengthen the foolish notion that suffering and loss of life due to Hurricane Katrina was a good thing.

In 2011 I will go crabbing for the first time since the BP Oil Spill. I will probably look down at the water and think it looks a little different, get worried but then tell myself that there’s no harm and keep going. Just like a lot of people in South Louisiana it’s something I have been doing my whole life so I’ll tell myself that everything is safe.

In 2011 Governor Bobby Jindal will cut so much money from the Health and Hospital system that a record amount of babies will be born at home and 2012 will be considered the Year of the Midwife. When a kid says he was born in the 7th Ward he will really mean it because it was in his kitchen.

In 2011……….Three Dat!

In 2011 Drew Brees will commit to being more focused this offseason and only do 500 endorsements instead of the 1000 he did last year.

In 2011 our focus should shift to teaching young men what bad choices are because I’m not sure they really know the choices they are making are the wrong ones.

In 2011 we have to be more focused and dedicated to protecting our children and not exposing them to dangerous situations.

In 2011 we need to do a better job of making young people in our community understand the consequences of bad choices because right now we have too many people throwing caution to the wind and do whatever comes to mind without thinking what’s going to happen afterwards.

In 2011 Jay Electronica will finally release his album so I can stop putting him on the list of things I am looking forward to every year.

In 2011 I will try to push myself and take my blog and my writing to the next level because I can’t talk to these young men about recognizing who they are and embracing it without doing that to fullest myself. I have to do what the words in my blog title that was sent to me by a friend years ago. I need to “embrace my potential and be productive” because that’s what I want the young cats to do and I hate hypocrites.

In 2011 we are going to live, love, laugh, cry, eat, drink and enjoy life. A lot of my people like to take the things they have been through and use that as the reasons why they should give up hope and pack it in. I’ve been guilty of that a few times but now as we go forward I’m looking at things a different way. We are battle tested and ready to handle everything we need to in order to make life better.

Happy New Year and I’ll see you in 2011

Monday, December 27, 2010

Katrina is Off Limits When Trash Talking

I want to post this before the end of tonight’s Saints game because how I feel has nothing to do with if they win or lose. After waiting my whole life to see the Saints just make the Super Bowl I had very realistic expectations going into the season. These days it’s difficult to repeat. A lot of teams barely have winning records after making it all the way. I figured as long as we didn’t fall on our face and stayed in the hunt all season it was a good year. I watched every game intently but I didn’t have the same stress and paranoia. As far as I was concerned it had been a good year. I was enjoying the legitimacy. Even the great season by our biggest rival the Atlanta Falcons didn’t bother me as much as it would have in other years. They are pretty solid team and their record is legitimate. Besides, no matter what happens we will have always won a championship first. I’m good with that.

Leading up to this game Roddy White had to go and make everything personal with his insensitive and ignorant tweets. I guess the NFL made him apologize after the New Orleans folks went all out crazy on the internet. Today I read an article on SB Nation Atlanta about how Saints fans are looking for sympathy because of Katrina. That might not be the exact context because the coward took the article down so I couldn’t read again when I got home.

I don’t like when people from my city do or say ignorant things. If there’s anyone that can use a change of image it’s us. However, if anybody references the K-word to take shots at us then whatever is said is fair game. Don’t people understand that people died during the storm? Don’t they know people suffered? Don’t they know that Saints fans passion for the team has nothing to do with rebounding from Katrina? That’s two separate things all together. It’s not like the Saints won the Super Bowl and the recovery sped up. It’s not like the Saints won the Super Bowl and we suddenly got category 5 levee protection. It’s not like the Saints got rid of all the crime and challenges. Our love for the Saints has nothing to do with Katrina. I would never belittle what happened during the storm by associating it with a football team.

Of course the NFL will do that. The fact that the Saints are still here in New Orleans and thriving is a major achievement for their league. I’m not mad at them for that. I’m not mad at the players who feel that way either because the majority of them arrived in town when things were still in really bad shape. They should take pride in what they accomplished since then. I’m just a fan and a lifelong resident. I love the Saints and if they would have won the championship ten years ago my reaction would have been the same. I was home and rebuilding before we even thought about a Super Bowl ring. I lost family in the storm so I don’t know how to look at an attempt at being a witty writer as just playful trash talk. Call us the Aints if you want to. Make fun of the fact we stole some Atlanta rappers’ song and made it our theme song. That’s all fair in trash talking. When you talk about Katrina that transcends football with me and it makes me want to hate you even when there isn’t a game. Besides, Steven Godfrey doesn’t write well enough to make being an asshole entertaining.

The next time you put that much work into talking about something leave it up there and stand by it.

Rest in Peace Teena

Last year on the Just A Song blog I wrote my first post dedicated to my favorite Teena Marie song. After she passed away last night I was fascinated at the crossover appeal she had in the black community without any mention or care of her race. There's a lot of black people that didn't know she was white until they were older. I hope now more people will look into her work to figure out what the fuss is all about and realize she is one of the most gifted performers in history.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sitting On My Porch Part Sixty

This is 60th edition of this foolishness. I wonder if I can make it to 100. If I make it that far I am retiring this blog and you people need to find something to do.

The holiday season is supposed to be cold. It was 75 degrees today in New Orleans. People were walking around in shorts. The only good thing about weather like this is it allows you to do things you things like sit outside in the evening and enjoy the cool breeze. That’s what I just did over a cigar and a nice glass of whiskey. Now I’m ready to write my last Sitting on the Porch for 2010.

The criminal element is trying to ruin our holiday season. We’ve had a rash of murders the last few days. It seems like whenever we let go of the negative energy long enough to allow ourselves to feel positive about the future we go through is. I can’t say it doesn’t make me feel down. I just feel like if we ever get to the point where we accept this kind of behavior as a routine thing it will never change. So while we grieve for the victims and offer support for their families, we have to try and remain positive enough to keep going and do what we can to save more people from ending up the same way. I think it’s the best way to honor the deceased.

I know I just said we need to try to be as positive as possible but you have to wonder what kind of world we live in when faith would put a young brother with nothing but good things ahead of him at the same gas station with a guy who has been charged with quadruple murder that his brother is serving time for. On the one night he’s out celebrating his achievements he had to run into this guy. That’s hard to come to terms with.

The one thing I don’t want us to do is act like this culture of violence is just a local thing. The other night there were so many people talking about how they were thinking about leaving and making statements like somehow living in New Orleans or being from here made the them more prone to be violent. We must never accept that. A few years ago after the incident where a kid’s mom told him to go back out and kill another kid I did a post on my blog called 100 Brothers Strong where I asked people to send me names of positive brothers. I posted the list a few days later just to prove that we are not all monsters. I’m thinking about doing it again. Since we know that were not monsters we can stop other kids from being monsters too. I’m stuck on how to do it but I know it can be done.

For a man who seemed to take such a beat down during the midterm elections President Obama seems to be on a roll. Almost all of the major bills he wanted have passed. He knows more than me because I thought the first thing he should have done was pick the biggest fight possible. That’s why he’s the president and I am just a blogger.

I still don’t know how I feel about the tax deal but I am all for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Besides having no issue with gay people the repeal fits my philosophy that no one should fight for their country and not have the same rights and freedom they are risking their lives to protect. I’ve never understood that. My grandfather fought in World War II and defended the country in his 20’s. He was in his 50’s before he could eat and shop in certain places and other people still had to struggle to make that happen. America is at its best when we embrace people despite their differences instead of excluding them because they are different. That’s why people should want to fight for ideals in the first place.

The best thing about being a new millennium daddy in the digital age is you can buy your children loads of gifts and there is nothing to stay up all night and put together like Big Cliff used to do for my toys.

Either Bobby Jindal is a genius for telling BP building those sand berms would catch oil and getting them to pay for the project knowing all the time they would end up being helpful in coastal restoration or he’s the luckiest traveling governor in American history because he sure made a lot of noise to get those berms built when we could have picked up just as much oil with trash bags and cooking spoons.

The 2010 Census data is out and it looks like Louisiana will be losing a seat in Congress. I am already expecting an assault on the 2nd Congressional seat held my Cedric Richmond. Since I don’t know this for sure I won’t say anything else right now. This should be fun.

I haven’t been listening to much Christmas music because I just haven’t been in the holiday spirit. I’ve only played Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto by James Brown twice. Tonight I ran across The Roots performing The Christmas Song on Jimmy Fallon’s show on the Soul Bounce blog. Not only is Black Thought a lyrical assassin but he can sing too. I want to ask The Roots to hit New Orleans for a show in 2011 and I promise to be there even if I have to go myself.

Stay together New Orleans….We gonna be alright.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Win Streak Is Over So the Saints Posts Are Back

Now that the winning streak is over I can break my blogging moratorium on the Saints.

We lost a tough game on the road today to the Baltimore Ravens. It was a combination of poor tackling, a few mental errors, and a great day by Ray Rice. The Ravens running game went wild on us today. There’s no shame in losing a close game in cold weather to a team like Baltimore. I’m upset we lost but I am not tortured by it the way I am about the losses to Arizona or Cleveland. Those two losses are going to come back and haunt us if we are playing on the road the first week of the playoffs instead of having a first round bye and home field advantage. I expected to get Baltimore’s A game today because we are in the upper echelon now and we come to town teams are going to get excited. I think that’s a beautiful thing. We’ve come a long way to get to the point where teams look forward to playing us.

While I am only slightly dejected by the lost I am completely ticked off by some of the questionable officiating calls towards the end of the game. There was a personal foul called against Will Smith that the television broadcast didn’t show and no one seems to be able to find. I don’t think that penalty lost the game but it sure didn’t help any. Right now we have a cash reward on Twitter for anyone that can produce a video clip of this penalty. At the time I am writing this the total amount of the reward stands at twenty three dollars. Please feel free to send me the link. I can’t guarantee the money but send it anyway.

Now it's on to Monday night and the Dirty Birds.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Things Change and Memories Stay The Same

It always feel strange when you run into old friends on the street. It’s usually the same routine. You hug one another, ask how everyone is doing, and then you exchange numbers and say you are going to call but you don’t. Time and circumstances have a way of separating people. There was a time when I spent more time around a certain group of friends than I did around my own family. Friendships that have that kind of bond or often stronger than blood relatives because you are together by choice. When it was this far into the holiday season we would be in and out of one another’s houses all the time. Everybody would be up all night drinking, eating, and playing games. We bought one another’s family gifts for Christmas. We even all had our Saints season tickets together.

I can remember when Gabby was born and there was so many people in the room at the hospital that I thought the nurse was going to kick them out. People were sitting along the wall just hanging out and having a good time right in the maternity ward. I also remember lighting the grill at night and drinking moonshine my boy got from his neighbor. The orange color from the charcoal used to make these fools so excited that they wanted to go to the store at 2AM to find something to put on it so they wouldn't waste the fire. Those were good times. I thought things were going to stay that way for a long time. Then the water came and flooded the city. Some people came back and others didn’t. Some people held it together and other folks changed. Today most of the people I am talking about barely speak or see one another. There’s no bad blood involved. I love everybody and if someone needed me right now I would be there. It’s just that we are all on different paths now.

A few years ago thinking about stuff like this used to depress me. What made it worse is that I used to think because I was having such a difficult time dealing with how much things changed that I didn’t do enough to keep everyone together. These days I don’t think that’s true. I think it was just a great period in my life that I can remember fondly. I’m only 36 but I have had a few periods like that involving different people and they were all cool in their own way. As time goes on there will probably be more. If there aren’t anymore that may be cool because then that’s less people to think about and hope they are doing okay until you run into them again.

Thinking like this is one of the side effects of the holiday season.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tax Cuts Passed : Now Rich People Have To Do Something

The House of Representatives passed the tax cut package last night for the president to sign. I guess he’s real happy right now. Once he signs the bill the tax cuts for the rich will be extended for two years. I would be more optimistic if this same strategy had worked the past ten years it was in place. I would also not be so disappointed in President Obama right now if he wouldn’t have campaigned against these same tax cuts during his campaign. In fact he campaigned so hard against them that even if making this deal made sense from a political standpoint it still looks like he caved in. The first President Bush had the same problem after raising taxes despite having that video clip of him saying “Read my lips, no new taxes!” He did the sensible thing at the time and raised taxes when he had to but he never recovered from it. I hope going back on a campaign promise doesn't come back to haunt President Obama like that.

Since our economic policy is basically staying the same as it was the past ten years I think it’s time to talk about the rich and their responsibilities to the country. I grew up in a family without a lot of money. I never heard anyone sitting around talking bad about rich people. The truth is that people without money are much more hated than the rich. A lot of Americans seem to have a problem with the single mother in the grocery store paying for her overflowing basket of food with her food stamps or living on a housing subsidy. We think she’s getting over on hard working people even though she’s probably working too and has to make her life an open book just to live in a neighborhood where here children get a sub par education and are vulnerable to crime and violence. They feel she’s bringing down the country by getting just enough help to live in a neighborhood that most people won’t even drive through.

Rich people are different. Despite the fact that a formerly rich bastard like Bernie Madoff can ruin thousands of people’s lives by taking their money, we don’t really care what they do. We just assume it must be good for the country because they have a lot of money and we hope to have a lot of money one day too . Over the last year we have been listening to politicians tell us that we had give the rich and powerful as many breaks and benefits as possible so they would feel good enough about their own situation to hire the rest of us and bring unemployment down. If that’s true and they now have an extension on their tax cuts, the question becomes how long do we give them to actually invest in America and start hiring Americans before we get angry and question their patriotism the way we do the poor?

The fact is we are borrowing money from other countries to pay for these tax cuts. According to the conservative ads that ran for the past two years there is nothing worse than leaving all this debt behind for our children and grandchildren to pay for. I heard this every day before the midterm elections. That was the line when it came to helping average people. If we are willing to live with such horrible debt for the tax cuts to continue then how long do we give those that control wealth to reinvest in the people whose family will be paying the bill? If the rich are making and keeping all of this money and we are not going to demand that they do anything, then we might as well let them run the country and we can stop voting because it won’t matter who’s in office. The rich and corporate America has gotten everything they want from the government. Now it’s time for them to step up to the plate like everyone else is expected to do. After all of the yelling and screaming for two years just to get to this point, if the people who have the most resources are not required to do anything then we all should just be quiet and accept the country the way it is now.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How Big Is Your Jail?

There’s going to be a new jailhouse in New Orleans. We can’t seem to agree on how big it should be. The deputy mayor Mr. Kopplin led a group that determined the size of the jail should be 1438 beds. Sheriff Marlon Gusman says he needs 3200 beds. I think Mayor Landrieu is leaning more to Sheriff Gusman’s side on this one and things the jail should be bigger as well. If I were a betting man I would put my money on a number closer to the 3200 because we are going for the bigger and better theme these days. Right now there’s blocks of property being torn down in the middle of the city for a new hospital and that’s just for the parking space. Why wouldn’t we build the biggest jail possible? Plus, we like locking people up in New Orleans. If it’s a real good Mardi Gras season we can get at least 2500 tourists in there with no problem.

If I had a vote I would want the jail to be about 500 beds and maybe another 200 to hold people until they went to court after being arrested. All we need room for is people who commit violent crimes, sexual assaults and anything against children. Maybe if we had a jail that small people would get serious about coming up with strategies to change the circumstances that lead to so many people being arrested in the first place. Besides, there’s a bunch of inmates in parish prison now and crime keeps happening. When I see a number like 3200 beds I think about 3000 black men being locked up. New Orleans court isn’t the most diverse place in the world when it comes to defendants. There’s got to be a better way to spend that money on new programs that will do more to help those guys be productive citizens and make the city safer instead of giving them a new jail cell and more space to waste the prime of their lives away. I know we are spending money that was allocated specifically for a prison but there has to be a way to do something different and creative with that space.

I’m sure everyone involved knows that already. There’s just the small issue of having so much money to spend on a facility. The planners have to get their cut. The consultants are going to want some of that. Then there’s the construction company and contractors who need to stick their hands in. I’m sure I’ll be seeing construction crews full of illegal immigrants and out of state license plates thinking to myself how funny it is that we are building a jail for the city of New Orleans and it’s future occupants didn’t even get a chance to make some money building it. When I think about some of the things that have went on in the redevelopment of this city the 3200 bed plan might actually be conservative. I should be happy the new prison complex doesn’t stretch all the way to Hollygrove.

Monday, December 13, 2010

There's No Replacement For Daddy

Tonight I am heading downtown to check out Monday Night RAW. I’m going with my cousin, my nephew, and my little brother from the mentoring program. It should be a lot of fun. My first experience as a mentor has gone pretty well. My only issue has been trying to remember what a mentor is supposed to do. The kid is only ten years old and it’s hard for me to just talk with him about things without fussing and telling him what he should do. According to what the mentor training says our job is to just help them work through issues and not take the place of a guardian. I guess that’s for the best but it still feels strange to me because Big Cliff was my friend and he helped me work through a lot of things but at 10 years old he was still the boss of me and didn’t hesitate to shake the life out of my body if I was tripping.

My little brother could be on the verge of having that kind of relationship with his dad. He just got released from prison about a week ago. I’m not sure how a mentor comes into play when your own father is around. My dad would have taken it as an insult if I would have been in a mentoring program but he was there every day. Maybe this brother won’t mind since he has a lot of things to do to get his own life together. Only time will tell. Once I was informed that he would be released I already told myself that if he steps up and decides that he is ready to be a full time presence in the kid’s life I will call and check on him occasionally but get out of the way. I’m not sure if that’s what I should do but that’s what my instinct tells me.

The close it came to his dad getting released the better his attitude and behavior got in school. It’s too early in the day for black father bashing but there’s one thing I am sure of and that’s that all these kids want their own father involved. I don’t care if they are 5, 15 or 25 years old; when it all comes down to it you can’t beat the power of having a relationship with your dad. For most of his life my little brother never had that chance and now he does. I really hope things work out and I can lend my time for another young brother that didn’t get the opportunity to have that reconnection. If it doesn’t work out then he can always call me. I’m looking forward to the day I call to check up on him and all he does is ramble on and on about all the cool stuff he and his dad did together. That will be a great conversation and we can add having awesome dads to the list of things we have in common like our love of professional wrestling and being good looking black men from New Orleans.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Repost: Neighborhood Wish List

I'm not getting lazy when it comes to blogging. It's just that a lot of issues have been going on so long that I have spoken about them before. This morning on the front page of the Times Picayune was a story about how despite having 71,000 residents living out here New Orleans East and having a pretty good median income compared to the rest of the city we have no retail and amenities of a neighborhood with middle class people. When I read it this morning I felt the need to say something about it. That's when I realized that I already had so I went back and found this post from July 2008. I went back and read it and despite a few references to some officials no longer in the positions they were in at the time everything I said still holds form. Hopefully I won't be re- posting this again in 2012. If I have to post this again two years from now I won't be so nice about it especially with all these feel good development stories going on.

I have never been one to get excited by stories in the paper and magazines about up and coming developments in my community. I believe it when I see it. Actually, I believe it when I see people coming in and out of the building. With that in mind I want to discuss my current area of the city. I live right along the border of New Orleans East and Gentilly. There are thousands of people living out here and most of us are middle and working class people. Any given day you can ride around this area and see work being done on houses everywhere. I would argue that besides the affluent non flooded neighborhoods, there is probably more working people in New Orleans East and Gentilly than any other neighborhoods in New Orleans. So why is it when I want to buy a non bootleg CD I have to spend gas and time just to go to the store? I know we are supposed to be all in this recovery together but its obvious no one in control of the money wanted us to move back out here. This may seem petty to most people but by the time I get to a place with a really good cup of coffee to sip on the way to work I am already in the building.

This is not about the obvious things like a hospital or new schools. This is also not intended to disrespect and minimize all the stores like Winn Dixie, Home Depot and Sears that are open already, the small businesses opening up around the area or the Asian and Middle Eastern grocers who were here months before anybody else. What I am trying to say is that I want some of the things that are on the Westbank, Metairie, Slidell or Uptown. I think the folks around me make enough money to warrant some of these things. Here is my list. If you want to add to it or tell me about something being built please let me know. Keep in mind we had some of this stuff before the storm. I know we won’t get all of this. I will settle for five and would actually be shocked if we get one anytime soon.

Wal Mart
Best Buy
P J’s Coffee ( I would be in here every morning. They would probably stop charging me after awhile.)
Any Big and Tall Men’s Store
Buffalo Wild Wings
Fox and Hound
Borders Books (because I have a discount card)
A movie theatre (with proper security)
A cigar shop
Martins Wine Cellar
24 hour fitness center with a basketball court
Chuck E Cheese
Cell phone stores from all the major carriers.
Applebee’s, Outback, N.O. Hamburger and Seafood, Bennigans, anything?
Another original restaurant like Sassafras will be ok in place of the names above.
Burlington Coat Factory
Kroger’s( I know we don’t have these in New Orleans but they have the best steaks and beer selection for a grocery chain )
Golden Corral
About three of those 5 min oil change spots.
A really good hibachi restaurant

I think five from this list is fair. We definitely have the space. I have a great idea. How about we tear down that destroyed Six Flags park that is an eyesore and never going to open again. We can take half of that space and give some of these companies free rent. I should send this to Ann Duplessis and hope her lack of a pay raise hasn't affected her ability to open emails.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Bit of Justice For Henry

The verdict came in for the Henry Glover trial yesterday evening. Three officers were found guilty for killing Mr. Glover, burning his body, and trying to cover it up. Two other officers were acquitted and get to go home to their families. Yesterday when the verdicts were being announced there were a lot of people who were pissed at the fact that David Warren who pulled the trigger and Greg McRae who burned the body weren’t convicted of first degree murder. Warren was convicted of manslaughter and McRae was convicted of civil rights violation for burning Mr. Glover’s body. Personally, I will take these results as a victory for justice because the truth is that there isn’t a good track record of officers being brought to justice for killing black people. I honestly expected all of the defendants to be going home with their families after the verdict.

I didn’t expect any convictions in this case. I was ready for a hung jury. This is not like the Danziger case where there is almost no gray area in what happened. The Henry Glover story in our world was a bit fuzzier. Henry Glover was a “would be looter” like our local newspaper called him a few weeks ago when the trial started. It was Katrina and people were under a lot of stress. The reason of Officer McRae says he burned his body was because he was tired and stressed from seeing all of the things he did during the time. I fully expected that jury to get behind closed doors and have at least four of them to think to themselves that it was totally understandable how these officers did what they did. Besides, it’s not like they kicked in the door of a man’s home or shot up a family like the Danziger cops did. Henry Glover was a looter and a lot of people in this area agree that looters should be treated like animals.

When I think about like that the verdicts yesterday are disappointing but don’t seem like a travesty at all. The officer that killed Oscar Grant in Oakland was on film and wasn’t convicted of murder so a manslaughter conviction in this case under the circumstances is a win for justice. Maybe I have the bar set too low when it comes to the justice system and my community but we have to start somewhere if things are going to change. As I have said before, just because there's a crime problem in our community doesn't mean that anyone gets to compromise our rights and dignity because of it. This is especially true if the same people responsible for helping end the crime problem are the ones who are going to compromise my rights. How are we supposed to know who to trust under those circumstances?

We still don’t know what the sentences are yet but at least Henry Glover’s family has it on public record that wrong was done to him. Hopefully during the sentencing phase the system doesn’t pull a fast one and have these men spend less time in jail than people do in Orleans Parish for traffic tickets. If they do we’ll be right back to square one. No matter how this case and the others on the horizon turn out we still have a long way to go. I just hope it happens during my lifetime.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Are The Hornets Leaving?

The New Orleans Hornets have become the first team purchased by the NBA. That’s embarrassing. According their financial statements the team is bleeding money. I had a feeling this day was coming. I knew George Shinn wasn’t going to make it. I just figured by now someone would have stepped up to buy the team and move them another city. I think the recession saved the Hornets in New Orleans. I would love for the Hornets to stay here. I know Gary Chouest has to be disappointed after trying to buy the team for a year. Nobody spends that much time on something if they don’t really want to do it. I hope someone or a group of people step up and put the money together to make that happen.

At the time the Hornets moved here I had Saints season tickets. I knew there was no way I could afford both and when it comes down to the choice I will always choose football. If I had the money I would both even though I wouldn’t make half of the games because of my lifestyle. I think that might be some of the reasons the Hornets have trouble with attendance except for big games. People drive from all over the Gulf Coast for Saints games and that’s only 9-10 times a season. The Hornets have to sell tickets because we don’t have the corporate sponsorship around here to guarantee enough money where our arena can be empty like the other places I see and still be profitable. There’s no way they can survive without a strong season ticket base. It will be interesting to see what happens. Chris Paul and his teammates are doing so many good things for the inner city youth. It would be ashamed to lose that at this point.

I realize as a market we have to ultimately take responsibility if the team isn’t successful but I think the NBA needs to take some too. I’m addicted to sports and will watch a sport I like on any level. I love NBA basketball but when the Hornets moved here I never got totally into them as my hometown team because the NBA and the NBA media never really acted like they wanted the team to be here. Maybe they saw some of the issues the team has now on the horizon and were too worried to be enthusiastic but I have always expected the team to be gone at any minute. I could have probably purchased a few more tickets and got more into the team on a consistent basis but I never thought that made sense when I thought the league was trying to figure out a way to get them out of here. If the ownership thing gets worked out I will try to do better. I hope it's not too late.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Timing is Everything in Politics

This post is not about any part affiliation or whether or not I agree with any policies or decisions that have been made so far. This is about the actual art and skill of being a good politician. I’m also not trying to compare being a mayor to being the president. Those are two different things by far and the POTUS has a much tougher job than any mayor in any city. I’m just trying to show you that in politics timing means everything.

Since Mayor Landrieu took office he’s been doing a lot of things in small amount of time. He got things done during the budget process that Ray Nagin would have been ran out of town for even suggesting the last few years of his term. He’s taking on the sanitation contracts that some black people in the city treat like the symbol of Civil Rights. He’s also gotten taxes increased and council members that voted No if Nagin asked no matter how dire the situation was. We don’t know how things are going to work out but I can give him credit for knowing when to strike when the iron is hot.

The city has so many issues that eventually things about to start getting rough and when that day comes people will retreat back to their comfort zones. When that happens it’s going to be hard to get anything major done because then you’re worried about votes and campaigning. If you want to play hardball with the black owned sanitation companies and raise property taxes on everyone including the rich then you have to do it when the majority of people were so disenchanted by your predecessor that they are willing to give your plans the benefit of the doubt. That’s how you use political capital. You use it before you lose it.

That brings me to President Obama and his style. I know he had an economic collapse and the auto industry to deal with when he first got in office but it just seems like if he was going to make major changes the best time to take a shot at it was the first six months of his presidency. I know he passed the health care bill and know one else was able to do that but it just seems like it took so much time and effort to get done and there was so much compromise involved that it drained all the political capitol he had to get it passed. His party controlled the House and the Senate.

With all the chips he cashed in to pass that bill he could have gotten the Bush tax cuts handled, closed Gitmo, and probably got a green jobs bill passed before his conservative opponents regrouped and the Tea Party movement had a chance to establish itself and gain all that momentum. Now I can’t see any of these things happening because his opposition has no fear of disagreeing with him. I think President Obama didn’t make use of President Bush’s incompetence the way Mayor Landrieu is making use of Ray Nagin’s. Of course, I’m just assuming the president wanted to make a lot of changes in the first place. If the current direction was part of the game plan and he didn’t really want to do all the stuff he said during the campaign then I’m misinformed and I owe him and his staff an apology.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's December Already

It’s December already. I don’t know where this year went. It seems like only yesterday I was firing up the grill to get ready for the Superbowl and now I am hanging up Christmas lights. There’s a saying that time flies fast when you are having fun. I don’t know if I had that much fun but I guess it wasn’t so bad. I guess if I was really having fun it would be 2012 already. With a month left in the year I really don’t know what to make of it. It seems like we have the same amount of issues to work on. I can’t say anything this year changed so drastically that 2011 gets me that excited. I thought we were turning the corner on the violence thing and the last month has shown me that things are the same as they have been. I think we can say that about a lot of things. It just doesn’t feel like December. Maybe it’s because I put up decorations in shorts and a wife beater yesterday. I have always found it hard to get in the holiday spirit when you are running the air conditioning.

Right now I am relaxing after eating a breakfast fit for a king. I had four eggs, CDM coffee and a leftover Popeye’s biscuit to pick up the leftover egg yokes. I can feel the jealousy through the screen. I’m getting ready to watch the Saints play a underachieving Cincinnati Bengal team who will probably be looking at this game like their last chance to make a statement. We’ll see how we do with the cold weather. That’s all I am saying about that though because I haven’t made a Saints post since the winning streak started. I don’t want to jinx anything. I’m not talking about the Saints until the streak is over which hopefully means that you won’t hear about them until February.

Maybe after the game I’ll go to the store and see how I can contribute to the economy by spending money on Christmas gifts and other stuff I don’t really need. They just showed one of those dumb Lexus commercials where the people say corny things and somehow managed to buy a Lexus for their spouse without anyone asking how much the damn note was going to be. The people in these commercials must be in those brackets that need their tax cuts extended so they can give everyone a job. They can’t be doing too badly if they are buying Lexus for Christmas like it’s no big deal.

Anyway, the game is about to start and I need to put on my lucky shirt.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Some Things Should Never Make Sense

I have a friend on Facebook that I went to high school with who recently lost someone close to her to violence in the metro area. She’s been really upset and trying to come to grips with it. She’s not the only one suffering from the same circumstances but I have been watching her go through the process of trying to accept what happened. Wednesday she posted a message saying she was trying to make sense of his murder and why he’s gone. I am not that good at saying things to people in grief. I’m sure what I wanted to tell her may have been misunderstood. My advice to her and everyone else was going to be not to try to make sense of it because it shouldn’t make sense. In my mind some things don’t make any sense and admitting that is the only way to change it.

We have the issue whenever a murder or act of violence on the street happens that we have to come up with some reasonable explanation of why these things keep taking place. I think that’s why the violent culture became so entrenched in the community. There was just too much investment and energy needed to admit that kind of failure and we didn’t have enough leaders willing to put in the work to change course. I was in my teens when it really got bad. I have many friends that aren’t here anymore and it still bothers me. Back then it was usually just the drug dealers or someone associated with them who got killed so when a shooting happened we just charged it to the game. After all these years of losing young men I’m thinking that if maybe we treated the first wave of killings like it was the plague here to destroy us all we may not be in the predicament we are now. Just maybe there would be many more fathers and sons here. Maybe we would have found a way to work around the obstacles that put us in the situation to be around this violence instead of finding as many reasons to validate it and not stopping it. I don’t know for sure if things would be different now but I wish we would have tried that approach.

The need for things to make sense no matter how wrong is not just limited to the inner city. We see it everyday all over the world. There are people who ignore obvious things right in front of their faces because they have to validate the beliefs in their head. You can’t spend years telling yourself that something is happening for a particular reason and then just let that go. The human brain is too stubborn for that. If you think black on black crime is caused because of slavery when they split up the families of because the government let drugs flow into the community then you’ll never get to the point mentally that you need to be to fix it. I happen to think that the reasons people give are true but I never let that dominate my mind where I find validation in any violence. At the end of the day it’s genocide. That’s the bottom line and we all have to see it that way if we want to stop it.

The black on black violence in America is just one example of what I’m talking about. People all over have the same problem. We see it everyday in many different areas. I think the violence will end and some of the problems around the world will change when more and more people can look at something and say to themselves that this situation makes absolutely no sense at all and try to change it instead of trying to validate why things are the way they are. We can’t bring our family and friends back but we can stop people from joining them by just admitting that there is no excuse for any of this foolishness. We have to get to the point where murders hurts all so bad we can’t focus on anything but stopping them.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sitting On My Porch Part Fifty Nine

I haven’t posted anything since I got back to New Orleans from my Thanksgiving trip because I have been trying to figure how the WikiLeaks story happened. I just don’t understand how we live in a world where you can barely get back into your personal email unless you remember every single thing you said when you established the account but some private in the Army could log into a computer and send government secrets to someone. At the end of the day this seems like an epic government failure. If the information being released is that dangerous then it should self destruct like Mission Impossible. I have different opinions on the release of information like this. I’m all for transparency and open government. If our country is doing things to compromise the rights of other Americans then I am against that. However, if things need to be done to stop some crazy leader in a foreign country from firing a bomb over here while we are sleeping I don’t think everyone needs to know all the details. As long as we are not killing innocent people are allowing someone to bring drugs into the inner city like the Iran Contra scandal then I can deal with it. I don't know if my opinion is right or not. The world makes it difficult to settle one way of looking at this stuff.

By the way, I don’t blame the other Arab nations for being worried about Iran and Ahmadinejad. We have a few cats like this in the hood. He’s like the DMX of the Arab world. As long as he’s around anything can jump off so you never feel comfortable.

I drove to Memphis last week and that was unfortunate because I didn’t get a chance to experience the new TSA security procedures. I bought new underwear and everything to walk through the scanner. Personally, I don’t think enough attention is being paid to the security folks that have to perform the scans and pat downs. Every day they go to work and feel on strangers’ body just to feed their family and you know they are underpaid for what they are doing. I’m not homophobic by any means but if I had to select folks to pat down lets just say there would be some profiling going on. There would be a lot of potential female terrorists on my shift. Bin Laden is watching all of this from the flat screen television in his cave and killing himself with laughter.

Here are three thoughts from my holiday road trip:
1. My dad has lost so much weight that I’m going to lose 20 lbs just because.
2. We went to Neelys BBQ and it wasn’t all that.
3. My parents have regular retail jobs in the city. If the neighborhood they live in now was in New Orleans people would think they made six figure salaries to live there. I don’t think any of my family is making much more money than they did when they lived in New Orleans before Katrina but they all live in nicer areas now in other places. Working class people live here because they want to and not because it’s the most convenient and comfortable. Don’t get me wrong. There are some rough areas of Memphis but at least there are some areas you can live pretty well without having to make six figures. New Orleans is still working on that.

I think there may some readers of this blog that may not get my Ahmadnijead/DMX comparison. I received a comment on my last post that included the statement.

“I, too, am thankful that i discovered your blog. It's great to read grounded commentary, even if I don't always get your musical tastes. It's a white senior citizen thing.”

I don’t do well with responding to comments but I want to tell the white senior citizen that left this comment that I thank him for reading and not to sweat the music because my dad is a black almost senior citizen and he doesn’t get my musical taste either so I’m cool with it. The next time my dad visits you can come over and I can put on some of this Talib Kweli and drive both of you crazy. It’s actually quite poetic if you listen real close.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'm Thankful

Tomorrow I will be headed up to Memphis to see my parents, brothers sisters and my new niece. I'm looking forward to it. A lot of times I have a bad habit of refusing to let myself be excited about things or look forward to events that make other people feel good like the holiday season. As a matter of fact, I was being a smart ass earlier today and told one of my friends that my favorite day of the holiday season was January 2 when everything is over. I didn't really mean that. It's just that I get drained from the daily routine and it's hard to switch out of that focus on what I need to do. I'm working on that.

The truth of the matter is that I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. If I was one of those people that could detach from everything going on in my city, state and country I would consider this one of the best years ever. Since I am not that kind of guy I won't do that but I won't act like it's all doom and gloom either because that wouldn't be honest. I was just sitting here having a pre-road trip cocktail and decided to write down just a few things I am thankful for. I came up with this list that contains no food or alcohol products.

I am thankful for......

Fatherhood - If it wasn't for this I would probably be jumping off a table in a barroom somewhere with no hope for tomorrow.
The Volunteer and Information Agency and it's employees
Unity of Greater New Orleans
KIPP Central City Primary School
Good health
Superbowl 44
Hartley's Field Goal
Tracy Porter's two interceptions - If I am ever on life support play this clip and if I don't at least crack a smile go ahead and pull the plug. I'm already talking to my grandparents.
No hurricane evacuations in 2010
Howling in the Wires (Thank you Sam and Mark)
The Ashley Morris Award (Thanks Rising Tide People)
CNN Newsroom with Don Lemon (Thanks Karen Gadbois)
The opportunity to help others.
The Volunteers of America Mentor Program
My mentee/little brother Christian and my other little sidekick Savion
All the people from different walks of life around my city that believe in me

See, 2010 hasn't been so bad. I hope everyone has a great day Thursday and I hope the Saints whip that fugazi football team from Dallas. I hope me watching the game in Memphis instead of my usual spot doesn't break the winning streak. It doesn't matter either way because I'm going see the St. Claude Street gang our our new addition. That's even more special than Reggie Bush's three touchdowns his first game back. I have my priorities straight. We'll talk next week.

I'm also very thankful and excited about Jay Electronica signing with Jay Z's Roc Nation. 2011 will be the year the image of the New Orleans MC's changes for the better.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Boil That Water Baby!

It’s about 6:30 PM and the city of New Orleans is under boil water advisory. Last night the main water plant lost power and the pressure was low. Now we have to boil water before we drink it or brush our teeth. I didn’t know about the advisory this morning and had already made my coffee. I think I will be okay. I’m going to have a few shots of straight whiskey tonight to kill any bacteria that may have gotten through the coffee filter. I boiled some water to brush my teeth and it took about 30 minutes to cool down before I could gargle. Monday morning there’s going to be a whole bunch of people calling in sick because they don’t feel right after drinking water. The funny part is going to be when most of those people don’t even live in an area under the advisory. Hell, if I get a hangover after the celebrating the Saints victory tomorrow I might try it too.

All jokes aside, this kind of thing scares me a little. The first thing you do when you get out of bed is go to the bathroom and brush your teeth. I almost feel like something that could affect that many people should warrant the police going through the streets with loud speakers telling everyone to boil the water first. I don’t keep my cell phone next to me all night and if the TV is on cable I won’t catch the news. We may have to do a better job at communicating things like this to the people.

The only good thing about this is that I get a chance to post a Parliament song. The Eastbank of New Orleans is doing the Aqua Boogie tonight at its boiling point.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Going Through The Process Again

On Monday I was disappointed in my community because of the horrible way we handled the death of a human being. On Tuesday sadness was added to that when a three year old buy shot himself with his mom’s boyfriend’s gun. When I heard the story my first impulse was to turn on the computer and write a few lines about the situation but I came to the realization that I have explained that kind of thing so many different times that’s it is getting more difficult to come up with a new way to arrange the words.

I have been running into that a lot more lately. Either it’s the same thing happening over and over or some issues seem to take forever to resolve. I think that’s why I am posting less and less as time goes on. I believe to be a good blogger or writer you have to stay tuned into the world unless you want to write something dark and disturbed. I guess you don’t need to be paying attention to anyone for that. However, to exchange ideas and opinions with people you have to aware of what’s going on. That requires watching the news, or reading the paper and sometimes going even deeper into a story to find out more information then what’s on the surface. When you do that the stuff you find is usually more depressing than the initial story. That gets to be too much.

For most of 2010 I was thinking about closing down The Crib. I was going to turn the lights off, put up some plywood and lock it up. I was just going to keep cutting the grass because you know New Orleans has a blight problem. It seems like every time I get to the point of deciding something happens. The first time I decided to do it the Saints made the Superbowl and I ended up on CNN. The next time I made up my mind I ended up in a book. Then I got an award. It fits my life pattern that the time I decide to stop I end up with more people following me. I usually discuss the ins and outs of blogging with Afromamba. I have mentioned retiring a few times and I think she is on the verge of threatening me with bodily harm if I do it again. I’m not doing it.

I never thought New Orleans would be the microcosm of America’s issues. We always had the crime and poverty thing covered but after Katrina we have just about everything covered. We have crime, poverty, racism, class warfare, urban renewal, gentrification, taxes, budget issues, charter schools, school reform, the environment, and corruption. If City Hall installs some of those body scanners (By the way, I know the people that work airport security are trying to provide for their families and all but are they paying them enough to look at random nakedness and grab people's body all day? They have to hate the new security more than anyone.)

We have everything you need to keep a blog going for years to come provided the lack of net neutrality doesn’t mean I won’t have to pay 100.00 a month just to get to the in order to post it and kids won’t keep dying to depress the hell out of me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

This morning I drove to work listening to kids call up one of the local morning shows to talk about the murder of Messy Mya. He was a popular YouTube personality with some folks in our city and in the bounce music community. I have seen his clips a few times but I wouldn’t call myself a fan. Nevertheless, I couldn’t get his murder out of my head last night. I think it was because someone shot in at a public event in front of all kinds of people and no one said anything. Then someone had the nerve to take a picture of his murdered body and sent it out to Twitter and Facebook. This was something so horrible that I thought about ending my accounts on both websites. We have reached a new low. I just couldn’t believe we have gotten so savage that anyone could stand around and actually take pictures of the body. I’ve lived in New Orleans through the worst possible times of drugs and crime and we never took life and death for granted enough to hang around and snap pictures of it. How did all those people sleep last night after being so close to that scene? Just thinking about the coldness of it all bothered me and I didn’t know the brother.

If all the folks out there dancing around with him loved this kid so much they would tell the police who took him away like that and let justice take care of it. Hopefully that happens today. If not it’s going to make a sad situation even sadder. We can keep this kind of violence up but the city is changing. The people in position to make decisions didn’t come up with the same traditions we did. They are trying to move the city forward and if you are not going to act right then they can eliminate that stuff and not lose any sleep over it because to most people it would be the right thing to do for the benefit of the city.

Pretty soon there won’t be any block parties, second lines or anything else. Everything outside of the French Quarter is going to shut down early. The neighborhood groups will run down to City Hall screaming racism only to look like a bunch of jackasses to the rest of the world when the media pushes out the crime statistics and stories like this kid getting shot in the face in front of a crowd and no one saying anything. When that day comes don’t look for me to help out the cause. I’ll be sitting on my sofa saying I told you so. We continue to be our own worst enemy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sitting On My Porch Part Fifty Eight : Just Thinking

I think I want to wish my dad and my late grandfather a happy Veterans Day.

I think we do a lot of kissing up to military people but once their service is over and they take off the uniform we don’t do nearly enough to make their lives easier.

I think days like Veterans Day which honors people who served like my family and friends makes me want to punch anyone in the face who implies that somehow black people from New Orleans aren’t real Americans.

I think I wish I had more pictures left of my family in their military uniforms but flood water hates photo albums.

I think that I am coming to terms with the fact that as long as I live I will never fully understand women, the tax code, and black on black violence.

I think that this story is far more depressing to me than anything else in the news.

I think one of the hardest things for young black men and boys is to soak in negative images of themselves every day and then somehow believe that none of those images apply to them. Most of these images are disguised as cool and attached to pretty girls. This is a difficult thing to do even with a good family supporting you.

I think that if the slaves used music to communicate and get through their struggle and if music inspired people during the civil rights era, just maybe the constant barrage of misogyny and violence in today's music may not be causing problems directly but it sure ain't helping the situation.

I think one of the hardest things to do in the world is to invest time in someone else’s child.

I think the thing about myself I am having trouble restoring is my youthful exuberance for the little things in life like using my grill or having a few drinks at a bar with strangers. I’m far more happier sitting at home alone than I should be.

I think I was going to let my hair grow out after years of being bald but my co-workers made a joke about me coming to work looking like George Jefferson so I scrapped the idea. I think I am not old enough yet to tolerate an afro with shiny spots in it.

I think that George Bush should be embarrassed for saying Kanye West’s statement was the low point of his presidency. I’m not saying that it shouldn’t have upset him but I can think of at least five things lower than that.

I think Kanye shouldn’t have apologized because he only said out loud what everyone was feeling at the time. Besides, the president told me Iraq had weapons of mass destruction to start a war and he never apologized for that being false so he shouldn’t be complaining about anything anyone else said.

I think some of the same people criticizing people that voting for Cedric Richmond because of President Obama voted for Senator Vitter for the exact same reason.

I think I have no problem saying that I want Barack Obama to be a great president because of the historical significance and his skin color. I would have felt the same way if he was a Republican.

I think with that being said, he and his administration are failing because they act like they forgot that a lot of people voted for John McCain and many of those folks are passionate about their views. It’s like they thought everyone was going to join hands and let them do whatever they wanted. They were not prepared to deal with opposing views. President Obama needs to find the Democrats’ version of Karl Rove if that person exists.

I think that right now in the city of New Orleans you can’t have a debate about contracts or the city budget along racial lines because any resolution will hurt someone black. If we keep the sanitation contracts the way they are now then their happy but some programs and infrastructure things that need to get done around the city won’t and that affects black people too. Take race care out of that discussion because no one depends on government programs more than black people in this city do. It’s a rough situation but I don’t see any way around paying less for trash pickup.

I think if I could get a guarantee that the next 20 hurricane seasons would turn out like this year’s not only would I accept 20 straight losing seasons by the Saints but Wade Phillips could be our coach and Brett Favre could be the first ever QB to play until his 60’s in black and gold.

I think the Saints are going 6-1 after their off week and will end up with a first round bye. I feel good about our chances of getting back to the Superbowl but I am scared of Michael Vick and the Eagles.

I think this blog post is long enough and I need to end this foolishness.

Before I go I want to dedicate this song to Big Cliff because it’s the song that’s playing in the background on his first night serving guard duty in Vietnam. I won’t give you the details because it’s a father and son story I want to keep to myself but I am sure glad he came home safely. His service to the country could have denied me the chance to carry on the Harris legacy. What we don’t have in money we make up for in character and personality. Hopefully one day we get can some big money to see how it all works together.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

An Open Letter To Dwayne Carter

Dear Lil Wayne,

You are about to be released from prison any minute now. I’m glad you made it through safely. I’m writing this letter to you to ask a favor. I’m a fan of yours. Sometimes your songs don’t really make a lot of sense to me but you always manage to release a few a square older dude like me can get into. I’ve figured out that your charisma is so much that you can get away with not being that deep. People are going to like what you do because of your personality. That’s a gift that not many kids that come from where we do get to display to the world. You should feel blessed. You should know that I am still upset about those little girls being on stage during the BET Awards while you were singing that horrible song but I forgive you for making Drake so popular I can’t turn on the radio without hearing his annoying voice. Let’s get to my favor.

I have no right to tell you how to act or what to do. I’ve already read about the big party plans after your release. You have the money to do it so have a good time. This is America and I don’t believe anyone is obligated to be involved in anyone else’s life if they don’t want to be. I am not expecting you to come out of jail, head to New Orleans and rescue the kids of Hollygrove. It wouldn’t be fair to demand that from you when there people who live here that are not involved. If you want to buy another five cars when you get out or find another spot on your body to tattoo then you should do it. If that’s your agenda then have a good time.

What I would like you to do is not to make jail sound like summer camp or some cool place to be. It would be nice if you really make it seem like you are sorry for doing anything that led to you spending a day in there. Even if you don’t mean it you should say it. There are a lot of kids that look up to you. While I know there’s a bunch of rappers that portray that street thug lifestyle, there aren’t many who carry your weight. In fact most of those other rappers are just copying off what you are doing anyway. The kids on the streets are living out the lyrics but at the end of the day there isn’t a director stopping the camera so they can head back to their mansions like you. They are going to prison without any protective custody. Even worse they are going to the cemetery. I know your music didn’t cause this and I am certain that just you alone couldn’t stop it but you don’t have to add extra fuel to the fire. It's already burning out of control and we are having trouble stopping it.

Wayne, when you hit the streets, please talk as negatively about prison as possible. Please just do this one thing for the people. Make it sound so horrible that maybe some kid might think twice about ending up there. Don’t worry about your street cred because you haven’t lived a street life for a long time. Plus you have enough charisma and talent to not have to be a slave to ignorance. If you don’t have anything bad to say about being locked up it then don’t speak at all. I don’t think this is too much to ask.



Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'm Voting Today and I Am Not Excited About It

I will be so glad when this midterm election is over. I have never seen so many people geared up for something that will do absolutely nothing to change the country. I was going to vote earlier this morning but realized I didn’t know who I wanted to vote for yet so I changed my mind and will go later. I’m not excited about this at all. We already know what’s going to happen anyway. There’s been a poll taken every 15 minutes and the experts have it figured out so well that John Boehner is already writing his acceptance speech when he becomes speaker of the house. Today is just a formality in an election cycle that never ends. Tomorrow everyone will just move on to the presidency and keep campaigning.

I get much more excited about local elections than the national stuff because I feel like those folks have more of an effect on my day to day life. You can have one crazy mayor with a lot of power and cripple a city for decades. The federal government doesn’t really work like that. There are so many people involved in what goes on that unless 60 districts are going to send the same kind of person you did to the Senate there won’t be any real radical changes.

Take the current president for instance. I would vote for that guy 20 times over because of what he represents to me but once he got in office he had to play the game. I knew he was in trouble when he hired Rahm Emmanuel who never met a campaign contribution he didn’t like. My personal opinion about President Obama up to this point is that he has tried to do as much as he could for the average everyday American without pissing off Corporate America more than he’s had to. We got some tax cuts in the stimulus and a few new programs but he didn’t go hard at those insurance companies in the health care bill or kick Wall Street’s ass during financial reform the way I would have liked him to. I’ve accepted that because I know to get re-elected you need money and you can’t piss off every affluent person and expect to win.

Then you have the Tea Party. They might have been something new and different until they forgot about what was supposed to be their core message of limited government and went crazy. They let the mainstream Republican Party attach themselves to their anger and now they are just part of the two party system like everyone else. Sure, they got rid of a few old senators but when you look around the people speaking for the conservative agenda or the same old people who have been for a long time. The saddest thing about that is after two years of yelling, screaming, and rallies all we got out of it was the debate whether to extend the Bush tax cuts or let them expire. We have almost torn the country apart for an idea that’s been in effect for 9 years already. Our main focus on change is something we don't even have to change.

There you have it. Two years of drama to end up with a debate over decade long tax cuts that already didn’t stop the economy from collapsing. I hope Republicans enjoy their victories tonight. I’m watching a movie.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Same Thing For Every Child

I woke up this morning with sore shoulders from swinging hammers and shoveling dirt all day at KIPP Central City Primary school. It was a great day despite the fact that we worked much harder than I thought we were going to. It was good to see a lot of parents that we haven’t seen before out there building benches and laying sod. Nothing brings a school together like getting your clothes dirty. We had more dads out there too and that always makes me better about things. I think more people show up each time because of the staff led by the principal Mr. Johnson. You don’t mind leaving your kids with that guy. New Orleans is lucky to have him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the main reason Chris Paul of the Hornets chose that school as the pilot for his Afterschool Zone.

People should know that the class of 2021 was the inaugural kindergarten class at KIPP Central City and at the time no one had any idea what was going to happen. We basically sent our children into a situation that could have gone either way. I mention this because I love my charter school but I don’t like the way the charter school situation is being handled as a whole. As a matter of fact, as time goes by I am not for or against charters, local control or choices for parents. I’m for a quality education for all the children of New Orleans and the easiest way to make sure that happens.

As a parent I love my school of choice. I don’t want anyone to stick their noses in and change anything just for the sake of changing it. If it’s not broke then don’t fix it. Now I know my school is a charter school and since I love it then that should be in favor of charter schools. I’m in favor of what’s going on over there but why does it have to be restricted to just schools under the banner of that charter or any other charter if what they are doing is working. After five years since the schools were taken over, we should be at a point now where we are ready to streamline this thing and implement the processes that have show success across the board. That means to me that the city should be able to run its own schools and that nothing going on at KIPP should be in danger. Instead of going in there and changing what the successful schools are doing the other schools should be learning from them. That sounds like what would be happening if it was truly all about educating every child.

Thursday I read a newspaper article that said that almost 20 new groups have applied for a charter to run schools in New Orleans. When I see that I’m thinking the powers that be are still experimenting and playing games with the kids’ future. If we already have programs that are successful then either let them have all the charters or apply parts of what they do to every school and give the city control provided they wouldn’t go into schools and start removing people just to bring their friends back on a post Katrina revenge mission.

When I see all these new potential charters it makes me wonder about what happens to those kids if things don’t work out. I think we have a good idea of what’s working so lets just do those things. I keep hearing the word “choices” everywhere when the discussion of public schools in New Orleans comes up. As a parent and concerned city I don’t care about choices. I care about educating everybody enough to have a good life and stay out of poverty. That shouldn’t have anything to do with choices. I want everyone to have the same feeling about their school that I do and until we take the guessing game out of that then the system is still failing.

Some of our children are are in great schools in the city but we can't isolate them from everybody else that's not.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sitting On My Porch Part Fifty Seven

My Saints hangover is gone. I have finally accepted that we lost to the Cleveland Browns. That was a bitter pill to swallow. Next week there will be no pre-game Saints post. I probably won’t have time to write it anyway with Halloween and birthday parties going on. We’ll just see what happens against Pittsburgh and deal with the second half of the season. I will say this; when you are trying to right the ship on offense the Steelers isn’t exactly the team you want to see.

I hope the chain gang man that was hit on the sideline is doing better and that Courtney Roby is not feeling too bad by running him over.

My Saints hangover ended and my city budget hangover started. After listening to those hearing two days in a row I feel dizzy. I knew everyone was going to be hesitant to accept this budget because of the property tax hike. I have been telling everyone for years that we didn’t have enough money to do anything. Marc Morial knew it. Ray Nagin knew it too. Mayor Landrieu knows it and that’s why he presented a plan with the tax increase. We’ll see how it goes once everything is approved. Something tells me that we will be in the same fiscal shape we are in now next year. If that’s what everyone wants them fine. But there should be no complaining.

Next week I have to vote for my new congress person. If I vote for Joseph Cao it will be because I was impressed enough with him personally to ignore anything that has came out since the campaign started. I have been pleasantly surprised with his performance. The downside is that his party has made it perfectly clear that they are not trying to spend any money on anything that my community would need. We just can’t afford that at this time so I might have to vote with the standard New Orleans black candidate in Cedric Richmond. He’s impressive, he’s smart, he looks like a leader and we’ll probably see him every six months. This is the kind of situation that makes the obligation I feel to vote something I wish I didn’t have.

Sometimes I think about it and I would love to be conservative. I would love to be so conservative that I would volunteer to hold a Tea Party rally in my back yard. I would love that because it would mean that I, and my neighbors, and the folks in the hood I grew up in and all of my other people in New Orleans and around America were educated and functioning at level that would allow them so sustain themselves without help. If that really was the case you could get rid of all the assistance programs in the budget. That would be a far better way of living than hustling from check to check and calling around looking for rent and utility subsidies. That’s not where we are right now and I don’t want to see hundreds of people sleeping in boxes before we figure out how to get there. I don’t really care about Republicans or Democrats. I care about struggling parents and their children. I sound like the Rent Is Too Damn High dude. One could make the argument that the current setup makes us dependent so we will never be as self-sufficient as we could be. I might agree with some of that but cold turkey isn’t the way to go.

With all the traveling he’s doing the governor should buy everyone a souvenir t-shirt that reads “My governor went away for a campaign fundraiser in another state while we had a budget crisis and all I got was this dumb t-shirt”. I used to love those things when my grandparents came back from Las Vegas.

I’m not trying to put anyone’s business out in the street but I have heard a few stories. I won’t get into any details. All I will say is that if BP takes a second look at some of these claims it’s going to be one of the most embarrassing things to hit the area since the guy took his FEMA check to the strip club or this brother right here. I hope the things I have been hearing aren’t true.

Since I have been spending time with these kids lately and throwing the football around, I am finally realizing just how much I let my body go as an adult. When I was their age I could go outside at 8AM and run until 8PM. Now if I start running at 8AM I am going to be ready to go back to sleep at 8:45. It’s just been too much steak, too much drinking, and too much watching sports instead of playing. These boys are bringing back my youthful spirit and I am starting to do better.

I’m feeling so inspired that earlier I bought a six pack of Bohemia beers from Mexico and no matter how awesome they taste when they are really cold, I am only going to drink three. …..during the first half of the Lakers game…..the other three are for the post game show.

I’m taking baby steps to recapture my youth.

Maybe if I listen to some music from my youth I will get inspired and workout. It probably won't happen tonight but this song goes good with my beer.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I don't know what's going to happen anymore. I'm going to drink a beer and watch the championship DVD from last year to snap out of the daze.