Wednesday, June 30, 2010
We Don't Need Haters
I don’t think I want anyone not liking me because I am doing well. That’s never felt like a good thing to me. Hate is a very negative word. When you hate anything it takes a lot of your energy away. We like to take negative things and change them into a positive. We’ve been trying to do that for years with the n-word but it’s always hard to maintain any boundaries on something like that. There are too many things left up to interpretation. Now we have too many dismissing constructive criticism from people around them as just a bunch of haters in their business. It’s like the only way for anyone to be acceptable in their world is if they agree and cosign on every decision no matter how bad it is. I hate on my brothers and friends all the time because I love them enough to tell them if I think they could do better. I expect them to do the same for me. You need those people around you.
I bet you Tiger Woods would be better off today if one of his inner-circle would have hated on him and told him he needed to calm his hot ass down and stay home with his wife and children. There probably was that person around just like I think someone was telling Michael Vick that he was about to blow 100 million dollars messing around with those dogs. That’s not hate. That’s love and we got it confused.
The brother at the training didn’t need to be motivated by those guys hating on him and the guys who are hating don’t need to be hating either. Negative energy shouldn’t be empowering. That creates a situation where there can be no outreach between both parties to figure out how they can all be successful together. I hate the fact that we take all of this negative energy and try to change it into a positive instead of just getting rid of the negativity all together. We have to turn the haters into lovers so we can all live better. I don't think the negative energy is going to get us very far.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
My Mentor Chronicles Part 1
He’s just a big baby. At ten years old he still has the little boy in him. I remember when I was ten years old and a lot of my friends were still playing and having fun. Somewhere around the age of thirteen things started changing and by 16 it was basically all over. I don’t want to think that I am going to be responsible for keeping my little brother from making that change to the streets. Feeling that sense of responsibility is one of the reasons why my dad told me not to get involved in programs like this. He knew I might get too wrapped up in everything. He might be right as usual but I am going to give it a shot anyway.
To my benefit I am still a big kid at heart so we had a nice conversation on professional wrestling and the positives and negatives of John Cena. I told him I was more of an old school cat and would turn him on to some Junkyard Dog clips. I knew watching that stuff for 30 years was going to come in handy one day. He was a little too young to be impressed with the fact that I could still name the starting lineup for the ’86 Saints off the top of my head but I knew the 2009 version so I was still winning. We will see how things go from here. Don’t send me any comments congratulating me because I haven’t done anything. I’m just trying to be part of the village since we all have to live here. I’ll keep you posted.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Sitting On My Porch Part Forty Eight
Now that Ray Nagin is no longer the mayor, I hope everyone can have a rational discussion about what to do about these deficits every year because I don’t know how much more we can cut.
I would like to thank Congress for messing up the flood insurance program.
For weeks after this oil spill started story after story about our dying coast and culture have had such an impact that hundreds of people call here everyday wanting to know how they can volunteer to help out. The country was rallying behind us while we waited for the federal government to come in and do what is right. Well, the feds came and in a move to assure that the other deep water rigs were safe they wanted a moratorium on drilling while they checked everything out. BP even set up a fund to pay everybody for the time they were out of work. When this happened our local leaders were outraged and rallied against the same people were demanding to come and take control of the situation. Look, I understand the oil industry is supposed to be a big part of our economy but can we at least admit to someone in another state that’s been watching us cry for the fishing industry for weeks that this could be confusing? I’m thinking that it’s probably weird to defend the oil industry publicly as long as the Spillcam is still going.
There’s a lot of money in oil and all I am hearing is how it’s such a big part of the economy. Jefferson Parish is in the direct line of fire from the oil flow and they just laid off 196 teachers today. Either we are not getting the amount of money from oil drilling that everyone says or someone is stealing big time. I hear everyone talking but the conditions in our state isn’t matching the risk. If the Texas governor was speaking on behalf of the oil industry I would say a word. If we were getting the proper revenue for ourselves I wouldn’t say a word about my governor doing it either.
I was going to comment on the bar being opened in New York named Ninth Ward. I was going to tell everybody that I wasn’t offended. Then I read the story here and in the comments section was the following from someone who calls himself rucass:
Ninth Ward style is gunfire, poverty, 40 oz.' s , nickle bags,... at least before Katrina. Do they evoke that as well?
Now I am against the whole idea and I hope Rucass has an STD. I don’t really hope he has an STD. I’m just tired of people picking on my hood for no reason. I thought we got past that shit.
Michael Jackson passed away a year ago today. This is my six year old daughter’s favorite song ( don’t ask me why) and in my opinion the best song by a marching band during a parade.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Between Creighton and Albert
I am sitting here on the first day of summer thinking about last night’s episode of Treme. That was the best episode so far. Last night it was confirmed that Creighton Bernette did indeed jump from the ferry and into the river. There was a scene were his wife Toni told her friend that he quit. I think the line went something like “The whole city is on its ass and he quit!” What you have to do is take that scene and compare it with the scene where Chief Albert Lambreaux and his gang are trying to finish their Indian suits for St. Joseph’s night. Then you take the scene where they finally get to come out on the streets after all that hard work. Those are two different men from two different backgrounds and circumstances. It would appear that Creighton was the weaker of the two because he gave in to the pain while Albert defied everything to preserve his culture. I guess it would be easy to come to that conclusion seeing that Creighton had his home intact, his job, a book deal, and a hijacked public school for his daughter to attend while Albert was sleeping in a bar room that barely has electricity yet still managed to stage a housing protest and make an Indian suit. Those are two extremes of the post Katrina experience.
In the real world I think most of us are in the middle somewhere and swing back and forth depending on the day. On my birthday I feel more like Albert because after everything that happened I am still here and grinding through almost out of spite for all the people and obstacles that make it hard to be here. On my grandmother’s birthday I feel like Creighton. I look around at all the places where things I cared about used to be and wonder why in the hell are we dealing with this bullshit anyway. The New Orleans I know is dead and I just want to punch someone in the face. Everyone I know is somewhere on the line between Creighton and Albert. You have to lean on the ones that are close to Albert and hug the ones that are closer to Creighton. As far as the folks who are all over the place like I am, they can always start a blog or something and exchange rants with random people. It seems to help out a lot.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Color Him Father....Color Him Love
What makes a man a good father? It's not what he can buy you or how much child support he pays. It's not how many things he lets you get away with. It has nothing to do with education, status, or his IQ. Character, presence, accountability, and respect and love make a good father to me. You have to try and be there for everything. I lived in my father's house for more than 20 years. Every single day when I woke up in the morning he was there in his room. There was nothing good or bad that my siblings and me went through that he didn't participate in. He went to dance recitals, football games, awards dinners, report card conferences and anything else. He played with baby dolls, washed his daughters hair and even played Power Rangers with my baby brother. He's all man but he has never been afraid to show his tender side when it was needed. I cannot think of one single time that he was not there for me. Actually, there have been times where I may have needed him and didn't call because I knew he would disrupt his whole schedule trying to get there.
Every mother and father is not going to get along like my parents do. I understand that sometimes men and women have to be apart for the benefit of everybody; living in another place has nothing to do with how much effort you put into being a dad. I honestly don't know how brothers can walk around and not know what’s going on with their kids. Being there for them is a true test of manhood because it means that you have to love them so much that you are willing to do whatever it takes to give them what they need and expect nothing in return. That's a real man above all the romantic images we praise these days. Real men just do what they have to do and don't look for acknowledgment. The best you could hope for is to be like my grandfather and get treated like a king by your kids and all of their kids until your last day. He got to live his payoff. Even if you don't get that it doesn't matter. You have to be there anyway. That's the kind of men I come from. I hope to be in their league one day. The things your kids take from the time they have spent with you will always last much longer than your monthly payment. I never miss the days when I wasn't a father.
Yesterday I was at the park working out. There was a guy there with his son standing on the bridge looking at the ducks feeding. His son may have been about 4 or 5 years old. I am not sure exactly what the topic of the conversation was but I could tell that his daddy was using the ducks as a metaphor for whatever it was he was trying to tell the young brother. I remember being a little boy and having those kind of conversations with my dad and sometimes with my grandfather. That little boy was probably thinking to himself "Why is this man telling this?” I used to think the same thing all the time. His dad understood. He knows that 20 years from now his son may be in a situation related to whatever the topic was yesterday. He's going to be sitting around thinking about what he should do to make it right and that's when the lesson with the ducks he heard from his dad that day in 2006 is going to pop into his head. He might even find himself quoting that kind of stuff all the time to other people that need some advice. That's what being a good daddy is all about.
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO CLIFTON JOSEPH HARRIS SR. AND ALL THE OTHER MEN IN MY LIFE WHO HAVE EVER GIVEN ME ANYTHING POSITIVE TO USE IN LIFE.
Anybody out there who has a man or men that helped them be who they are, show him some love.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Sitting On My Porch Part Forty Seven
Isn’t that the best looking world championship ring you have ever seen? Hell yeah it is! I can't wait until jewelry stores start selling the knock off version.
This is your favorite ghetto intellectual and I am coming to you from the land of not enough oil boom, budget deficits and brass band curfews. I’m writing this post under the influence of my favorite maduro cigar, a glass of brandy, and some confusing back pain that is causing me to walk like Fred G. Sanford. We are going to try and see if I can make it through this long post without mentioning much about the oil spill. I should just get that part out of the way first.
Watching Tony Hayward give those lame ass answers in front of Congress made me realize yet again why I can’t be a politician. There’s no way I could have sat through that without losing it. I guess he was still weary from the 20 billion dollar shakedown the day before.
I sent some cats the information for the oil clean up work but there are a few issues. I won't put them on blast but I will say that you might not have every credential needed when an opportunity comes your way but you should have all of the basics together to give yourself a chance. Have a valid driver’s license or state ID. Make sure you are able to pass a background check. Be able to pass a drug test. Don't have things in such disarray that people are reluctant to help you and risk losing their creditability.
I wish they wouldn’t have announced how much money BP gave to pay for claims. They should have just given it and kept it quiet. The reason I say that is I have learned after Katrina that Americans can’t comprehend when you ask for more assistance when there are stories of big money already being spent. In a lot of national stories about New Orleans still needing help the media would throw in a line like “So far, 5 billion dollars has been spent on Katrina recovery.” If you try to tell the world you need more money after that it looks like you are trying to get over.
Do you know how good a half shrimp/half oyster po boy taste when you eat it thinking it may be the last one you have for a long time?
Congratulations to the Lakers on winning the championship last night. Just for the record, I roll with Kobe. I was also happy for Ron Artest because he didn't choke anyone. I thought the Celtics showed a lot of heart and Rajon Rondo has a new fan. That seven game series was a great distraction for a lot of people. There was a online trash talking war that I really enjoyed. Now I am ready for American football to start. I have been watching some of the World Cup and I know understand how the sport isn’t number one in America. We can’t take the ties. In our major sports there has to be a clear winner and a loser. Remember when college football games used to end in ties? That drove everyone crazy so now an overtime game in college can last forever just to make sure we know who the winner is. Soccer would make gains in America if they add sudden death overtime. I have to be fair and say their crowds are way cooler than ours. We need some of those songs that everyone in the crowd seems to know the words to.
I wish I was in South Carolina just long enough to vote for Alvin Greene.
I am not sure if I am supposed to admit this so I am going to type it in whisper print…...I like Congressman Cao and unless someone runs against him that sweeps me off my feet I am going to vote for sending him back to Washington D.C. My reason is that he seems like the kind of guy you could talk to and he actually uses the information to make a decision. He’s not just a brainwashed zombie that tows the party line the way other people do. Even if I don’t agree with his votes I can get him to explain it. That’s good enough for me.
I want to make a comment on the column written by Jarvis DeBerry in today’s paper. You can read it for yourself but I just wanted to add that another reason that 15 year old kid didn’t go to the police about two brothers that killed his grandmother is that he might have been scared for her and the rest of his family. The police department needs to stop contributing everything to vigilante justice. Crime in New Orleans is a complicated thing.
I noticed that people like to label themselves as being a certain kind of person. In my opinion this is not a good thing whether your label you want to promote yourself in a positive or negative light. I don’t want to limit myself into any box. You don’t need that pressure. I would rather be able to go to the parent meetings on Saturday mornings and hit the strip club that evening with my boy without having to explain my actions to anyone. You don’t have to call me righteous, a soldier or a family man. Just call me Cliff and we will be okay.
Sunday is Father’s Day so I thought I would close this post with one of my favorite daddy stories. My daddy likes to write letters and notes. When you are a little boy this can translate into some strange messages from inanimate objects. I used to have a problem with leaving things out of the fridge and the cabinets after I used them. It would have been easy for this man to just tell me to put it back. Instead I would go to sleep or go outside and come back to find a letter on my bed that would go something like this.
I am a lonely bottle of mustard.
I feel so sad sitting out here all alone on the table.
I hate being away from the mayonnaise and ketchup.
Could you please return me to the refrigerator with my friends?
People wonder why I am such a smart ass. I love that dude. This song is for Big Cliff.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Fight The Ticket In Court Next Time
Yesterday everyone kept passing around this video clip of the Seattle police officer punching a teenage girl in the face during an altercation with her cousin. I know everyone is not going to agree with me on this because I have already had a few heated discussions about it. I’ll admit that it’s not a good thing for a grown man to punch a girl in the face unless his life is in danger. It didn’t look like she was doing anything overly threatening to the officer so maybe he could have handled it a different way. That’s what the rational politically correct side of me thinks.
The side of me that grew up on the avenue looked at that same video and thought she got off pretty easy for stepping into a situation where an officer is trying to arrest someone. I was thinking she was lucky she was in Seattle because she and the friend and everyone they were with would have been going to jail with a knot upset their heads especially since the friend was fighting the officer tooth and nail to keep from being arrested. Seattle must not have the same tension in the streets like some other cities because that officer had a lot of patience with the girl he was arresting. I'm not picking on the New Orleans Police Department but if this would have happened down here there wouldn't be many videos because they would have cleared that entire block. I’m not condoning the police hitting anyone. Police brutality is wrong but if two people confront an officer like that there’s nothing much he can do without using some kind of force. I hated to see the young sister get punched in the face like that but who knows what a taser or billy club to the body could have done to her health long term. We have to try and eliminate all the incidents we can through our own actions. Next time just go to court and fight the ticket.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Trying To Be Distracted
We are entering the perfect storm of stress and anxiety. We have hurricane season about to kick up. The five year Katrina anniversary is on the way. All of this is taking place while thousands of gallons of oil are still pumping from a well 5000 feet below the ground and we can’t stop it. Everything is set up for the worst case scenario. It’s pretty hard not to imagine a storm missing the Gulf of Mexico all together. Even if we don’t get a direct hit all it takes is the water in front of the storm to push oil into different waterways. What are we supposed to do? All you can do is be mentally prepared as possible for when the bullshit reaches a new level. I think the next level is coming unless we have some divine intervention. You have to take your mind off of this stuff sometimes so while the rest of my local blogger friends are driving themselves crazy watching the Spill cam, I will be watching wrestling clips on YouTube or something. Katrina already made me crazy. The oil spill won’t have the same opportunity.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
It's Not Always New Orleans Fault
I don't want to review everything that was done in both of James Perry's campaigns. New Orleans is a one name city. What I mean by that is that when people here have a good rapport with you and a certain level of trust they will call you by your first name or a nickname or some variation that signifies they know you personally. That's why a lot of people of all races felt comfortable voting for Mitch. He had that kind of recognition. That might not always be a positive but it is what it is. James Perry and all the other candidates running against Mitch Landrieu had the same problem. I never heard anyone say "I can't wait to James get in there and straighten things out." He never made that connection and that's why he had a good message that didn't reach enough people. If James Perry really wants to get out there and be successful in New Orleans politics he will work hard at being a man of the people. That's one of the things that we don't have right now and there are thousands of voters waiting for that person. He's got time to make that happen if that's what he really wants.
There is one thing in that article that I don't like and its when people excuse their own flaws by hiding behind the flaws of my city. This article makes it sound like an angel sent James Perry down from the clouds to lead us to the promise land but we were too messed up to realize it. What about the things he could have done differently? I have a close friend of mine that could never keep a job in New Orleans. He would always find one then get fired for all kinds of stupid reasons. What was his excuse? "New Orleans wanna see a brother struggle." He would say stuff like this so much that his wife talked him into moving to Atlanta. They got there and he's still getting fired from job after job for the same poor work habits he always had and blamed on New Orleans. One day we were on the phone and he was complaining about how the man was keeping him down in Atlanta I stopped him in mid-sentence and said "You know I have love for but maybe you are just a bad employee and it had nothing to do with New Orleans." I got love for James Perry but maybe he just ran two bad campaigns. He shouldn't be blaming us for that. He should be blaming the folks that ran his campaigns.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Sure, We Love The Pelicans But We Need That Oil Money
Don't consider this a post about the oil spill. This post is about dependency and choices. Human nature is the same no matter what the personal situation is for people. When people become dependent on something for their survival it causes them to compromise other parts of their life to ensure that the support keeps coming. You have these young parents in the inner city that don't have a lot of education and opportunities so they get on government assistance. As years pass a lot of them depend on it. When you become totally dependent on it they don't really want to find a better job or get married because all of these things jeopardize their qualifications for assistance. Most of these people know that they should be trying to do better but they have never had to live without it so it's scary. That's why they appear to seem more ignorant than what they really are. The same rule applies to illegal money too. Those mothers you see on television crying after their sons are killed knew what a lot of them were doing but how do you put a stop to that when he's supporting the entire household financially. They don't want their sons risking their lives every day but they can't afford all the things he likes and where is that money going to come from if he's not hustling? Those kids weren't born criminals and their parents weren't born bad parents. They are all just dependent on a lifestyle that doesn't lend itself to good choices.
I feel the same way about my state and everyone fighting back against President Obama's moratorium on oil drilling in the Gulf Of Mexico until it's clear everything is safe. The fact that so many people are paranoid about a break in drilling even with thousands of gallons of petroleum washing up on the coast shows just how much we need oil money at all cost. We can't have it both ways.
I've lost count of how many days since the Deepwater Horizon exploded but since then all I have been hearing is people wanting the federal government to come in and fix the problem. Every night on the news you have to watch fisherman talking about losing their culture. You have to see birds and other animals fighting for their lives coated in brown oil. You have to see all these people with tears in their eyes and government officials looking helpless because they know there's nothing we can do about the situation because the oil is still leaking. Then the president comes in to take ownership of the situation and decides that since this is the worse environmental disaster in the nation's history it's probably a good idea that we make sure everything is being done correctly on the other rigs because if this happens again without safety measures in place then everything is doomed if it's not doomed already. That sounds reasonable to me especially since another leak from another well was found yesterday but now the sky is falling and the rigs are all going to move to other countries because they can't wait until everything is checked out for safety.
First of all, the only people I am concerned about are the ones that work on these rig projects. Their livelihoods are affected but they should be able to be paid by BP just like the fishermen because all of this is fallout of the oil spill. That takes care of them for the few months when no drilling is going on. Secondly, I find the notion that these oil companies are going to pull up those rigs and go to other countries. Even if they did they would come right back as soon as the moratorium is over. There is no way all of those oil companies are going to leave billions of dollars worth of oil alone forever because they had to pause a few months. Our country is going to drill for oil anywhere and everywhere we can. President Obama has already stated he's committed to it so there is no need to worry. We'll be back to risking our wetlands and hurricane protection in no time. That's what dependent people do. Louisiana is acting like the welfare queens of America. We want to do the right thing for our people and our culture but we are too afraid of what's going to happen if we lose that check so we let bad choices happen.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Sitting On My Porch Part Forty Six
I’m sitting here watching game 1 of the NBA championship. I am picking the Lakers in 7 games but I have to say that the referees are ruining tonight’s game. The crazy thing about NBA playoff series is that each game can be called differently by the same officiating crew. It makes no sense. I have been thinking about going to the park for a few games of basketball again to get in shape. Nothing will get you in shape better than basketball provided it doesn’t kill you.
It’s the fifth hurricane season since Katrina and we already had a test run with Gustav. Everybody knows what to do and where they are going. There’s no need to panic. We can’t do anything about nature if it comes this way and we can’t do a damn thing about the oil. Let’s just go about our every day business until Dr. Jeff Masters says it’s time to get ready.
I am happy to report that my new house guest Ms. Raccoon has been caught and relocated to a nice natural habitat. The neighbors don’t have to pay us back for calling the removal service. Some of my friends think I overreacted by calling someone to catch the animal but that’s because they didn’t have to wake up in the morning to a raccoon staring at them through the bathroom window. I am not ashamed to tell you I was scared of the raccoon. It's not my fault. We never had those in the Lower Ninth Ward when I was growing up.
One of the problems America has is that we are too concerned with looking for a clear right or wrong answer that fits our beliefs instead of coming up with realistic solutions to problems. I’ve heard some people say that we need to end our dependence on oil and look for other energy sources to replace it. The opposite argument is that we depend on oil so much in our every day lives that it would be impossible to live without it for the foreseeable future. Everyone on both sides of that debate should see the reality which is that we probably should have other reliable sources of energy but the way our economy is set up at the moment, half of the people couldn’t afford it so we need oil too. Everybody can’t run out to get solar panels on their house and a new electric car. We are all having enough stress paying for the ones that burn all that gasoline. No matter how good of an idea you come up with people are going to resist or not participate if it doesn’t fit the survival plan for their lives. You have to take that into account. There are people right now who understand what's going on in their environment and can't afford to take a stand against it.
It reminds me of when I am watching one of those cooking shows where the chef keeps telling everyone how they need fresh and healthy ingredients to live longer and better. Everyone would choose that if they could but we all can’t afford the pork loin that was cut from the pig that only ate fresh vegetables and spring water. That kind of pork cost about 50.00 at the store. For 50.00 a family of four could buy a meat special from the corner store full of meat filled with steroids and table scraps and still have enough to pay the light bill. Do you think people buy that 20 piece chicken deal from Church’s Chicken because they want to feel miserable. They don't want their kids to have 30 year old bodies at the age of 12 but they do what they have to do. More people would do the progressive thing if they could afford it. First, you have to find a good source of energy to do all the things oil does. Then you have to make it affordable so I can actually use it every day.