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 blogger.com 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.