Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fed Up And Aggravated With Violence

I've been making post like this a few times a year for the last seven years and that's depressing. I was trying to come up with new words to describe this new wave of violence that I haven't used before during all the other waves. I didn't do a real good job. This was all I could come up with...

Yesterday I was speechless. I didn't know how to explain how I woke up Monday morning feeling like I was partially responsible for a two year old's murder. There's that feeling that since the shooter was a black male and I'm a black male and his dad probably didn't do the right things for him and I am a dad and he's from New Orleans and I am too, that somehow in a very indirect way I am partially responsible. That kind of guilt used to always accompany the grief I feel for the victims of all the shootings. As time passes and the incidents pile up my grief and sadness for the victims is just as deep as it ever was but the guilt part is fading more and more each day. I think we are at the point where the killers have to carry the blame on their own because I haven't shot anyone.

I know a wide range of people in this city from all kinds of backgrounds and cultures. If I threw a party and invited everyone I knew it would be a pretty diverse scene. I can count members of the media, college professors,cats that shoot dice for a living and everything in between among my personal friends. The one kind of person I can say I don't know is a killer. I don't know any killers. I know of a few people who might be killers but over the years I separated myself from anyone like that to actually verify if they were or not. I look at the Crimestoppers list all the time and I can't help them out. I don't think any of the people I know could take you to where any killers are sleeping either.

We can't do it but someone can and when I was reading about all of the violence over the weekend and the descriptions of the suspects and the automobiles they were in I know somebody knows who that car belongs to. They could call and even if they don't give a name they may send the police to the place where the gun is and at least we could get that off the street. It's better than nothing.

It's hard to explain how difficult it is to approach this problem from a black perspective. On the one hand the violence has a greater chance at effecting us than it does anyone else. We are more likely to lose our friends and family to it. On the other hand, so many things have taken place to cause the mind state that leads to the violence that we almost feel obligated to not throw that element of our community to the wolves. Whenever something tragic happens people get to talking and they come up with all kinds of reasons for the problem and solutions to fix them. Everyone is right but everyone talking isn't a killer in the first place so what do you do when the assailants are out here and they don't mind dying and taking you with them?

Folks, I don't know the answer but I know I am sick and tired of this and I am willing to try anything except the National Guard unless they are coming to do forensics and detective work to keep some of these fools in prison. We've came back from too much and work too hard to feel this down.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sitting On My Porch Part Seventy Six

I realize there were no post this week. I was busy getting a new project off the ground at work. I was trying to focus. Despite what Newt Gingrich said some poor kids did learn how to work from the people around them so that's what I had to do. The funny thing about his statement is that poor people usually have jobs that require nothing but hard work for little reward. Poor folks don't know anything but manual labor. Rich kids probably grow up not knowing the value of hard work but it's okay with them because they can always hire illegal immigrants do it for them.

After reading the Forbes article this week "If I Was a Poor Black Kid" I would like to apologize to my parents for not checking the test scores of the school I was in for 2nd grade and making them pay for me to go to a private school. Had I taken my destiny into my own hands when I was 8 I could probably be hiring illegal immigrants to work for me right now. I regret those years when all I wanted to do was watch Mid South Wrestling and play sports with my friends.

New Orleans is probably going to be the murder capital of America again. When all these stories are written like the one from the New York Times last week I hope it's understood that the majority of us are trying to make it better and don't like this shit.

There are some things in life that no matter how hard you try to get right you just can't do it. For me that thing is Christmas lights.

Chris Paul is a Los Angeles Clipper. Thursday morning I listened to a CD created by the kids at KIPP Central City school. I had to listen to my baby bust a freestyle about education. On the front of the cover under the picture of the kids was the letters CP3. There will be no Chris Paul bashing here. The only thing I will say is that I never pegged him as the kind who needed the major city shine like some of his friends. I think there's a little following going on in this situation.

I have always felt from the beginning that the NBA didn't really want a team here. That was made even worse by the fact we had a shady owner who couldn't make it work in Charlotte which is a basketball town. He was so bad the market hasn't recovered yet. You know it was going to end well for him in New Orleans. I believe Commissioner Stern when he says the team will be staying here. I don't think it has anything to do with how he, the owners, or the players feel about New Orleans as a market. I think they see the Saints and that waiting list for season tickets along with the Mercedes sign on the building and they want to show the world they can make it happen like that. The Saints went through 40 years of drama to get to this point. The Hornets won't have that much time. They need to do it in a few years and that's hard when their players act like signing here is like going to Siberia. Look at the faces on these guys. Who is supposed to get excited about that?

Tomorrow the Saints play my fourth most hated opponent in history the Minnesota Vikings. If you're curious the first three are the Falcons, Rams, and 49ers. Minnesota has nothing to play for except for pride and the fact Jared Allen's an asshole. They have no pass defense and we have a little. The difference is we have Drew Brees and they have Christian Ponder. That's worth 20 points so my prediction is Saints 34 Vikings 14.

I know if this was true someone in the media this week would have mentioned it but I have been scanning my memories and I don't ever recall a good game the Saints have had in Minnesota. I can't remember a win during my life time. The Metrodome is where Saints dreams go to die. Nevertheless I think we are past all that and will whip on the Vikings. I advise Saints fans not to get too emotionally invested in tomorrow's game. Save your energy for Monday night and the arrival of the Atlanta Dirty Birds featuring the quarterback with the coolest nickname even though he hasn't done anything Matty Ice and Jared Allen's distant black cousin Roddy White.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saints, Titans and The Chris Paul Trade Fiasco

Before I get to the Saints I want to talk about the Hornets because this week was one of the dumbest episodes in NBA history. Not every relationship has to end with animosity or bitterness. Sometimes people grow apart because of circumstances and everyone knows it. That was situation with Chris Paul and Hornets fans. We knew he was leaving. That wasn’t a big secret. It’s just the way things are with basketball. For as much as the Saints are legitimate and respected team in the NFL, the Hornets are the opposite in the NBA. It’s been that way since they moved here and it hasn’t gotten better. It’s actually gotten worse. That’s not Chris Paul’s fault. He played hard every game while he was here no matter who his teammates were and never spoke negatively about the city. He was an active member of our community while he was here and I can personally vouch for that. Everyone had accepted the inevitable and it was going to be the smoothest way a franchise player could leave town without many hard feelings.

Then the NBA had to cancel the trade that sent Chris Paul to the Hornets because the other small market owners got pissed. I'm not a big fan of any of the players the team was getting back in exchange for the franchise guy but at least they were getting something. Since the league still owns the team there was nothing Chris Paul or the Hornets general manager Dell Demps could do about it. Now if the trade doesn’t happen Chris plays out the year angry and the Hornets end up with nothing because he’s signing with the Knicks or the Lakers anyway. The Hornets could end up with no owner, no CP3 and the worst record in the league because right now there’s not even a full roster. The NBA was more fun for me when New Orleans didn’t have a team.

The Saints play the Tennessee Titans tomorrow. I haven’t watched a lot of the Titans this year but I know they are a tough team. They have Chris Johnson who’s finally found himself and their running game has been strong the past few weeks. We have a good chance at stopping him. Our run defense isn’t so bad. The Titans quarterback is Matt Hasselbeck. He’s the destroyer of Saints Superbowl repeat dreams and the man in Roman Harper’s nightmares for the past year. When Roman Harper’s on the field Hasselbeck turns into Joe Montana. I hope Malcolm Jenkins makes this not as big of an issue tomorrow. He hasn’t quite been standing out either. It’s usually the games against an offensive player that should have a big game where the Saints defense steps up the most.

A win tomorrow means another 10 win season and a playoff berth. Tennessee is trying to keep pace with Houston so they will be playing with playoff intensity as well. I think the game will be close because it’s in Nashville and the Saints defense makes a play to change the game. We get the win and change our focus to winning the division and catching San Francisco for the number two seed.

Saints 27 - Titans 17

While I was writing this the trade between the Lakers, Hornets and Rockets was resubmitted to the league. Even if it’s approved it doesn’t change how awful the NBA handled the trade on Thursday and how sad it is the Hornets don’t have an owner. As long as there's no owner they'll always be the least desirable team in the league for players.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

At This Point Just Teach The Kids

There’s an article in the local paper this morning about charter schools and who gets and doesn’t get permission to run a school. The locals are getting restless because they don’t have control of most of the school system anymore and are having a hard time competing with national charter school organizations. I haven’t spoken about this issue for awhile but every now and then a reality check is needed. I would like to tell all my local friends that no one really wants you to run your own schools. New Orleans is now the proving ground for any charter program looking to show its value and we made it that way with years of failure and neglect. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

The people who are running our schools now will listen to you because they can’t piss you off too much but they don’t have to cater to your ideas and history because they have the grades of your kids prior to Katrina to show we don’t what we are doing. This is a stats driven society and there are a lot of people in our city who haven’t came to this conclusion yet. Bobby Jindal just got elected to his second term. This state is as red as it’s ever been. Very soon our superintendent and state board representative will be Teach for America disciples and our mayor endorsed them. His chief deputy mayor was the leader of Teach for America in the state so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s about to happen. The charter system is here to stay and the best thing we can do now is support the kids to make sure they have the best opportunities possible.

I’m a charter school parent and I love the school my kids attend but I am not necessarily pro charter schools. I can’t say that I am a big supporter of local control either. I’m for educated children of New Orleans no matter what. If the teacher most qualified for that task is a recent graduate of an Ivy League school or a twenty year teaching veteran from Algiers then let them do their job. At this point I just want the kids to make it because we are at a crucial time. We have to support whoever happens to be teaching them and hope they succeed.

The only thing I will add to this is that even though I accept the failures of the past and change in the system I am still a big believer in the fact that New Orleans natives can control their own destiny and do for themselves. If some of these groups from out of town receiving charters can’t make it work and kids are failing then I am going to turn pro local control really fast. I can’t support anyone who comes here to get paid and doesn’t teach our kids because they’ll be living somewhere else ten years from now while we are here trying to keep their failures off of the street and out of the cemetery. We don’t need anyone to help us do that. We are already experts at school failure.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The 2011 Struggling Bowl : New Orleans vs Detroit

Tonight the Saints play the Detroit Lions in what I called a few years ago the Struggling Bowl because of the state of both cities. In the three years since I wrote that the Saints won a Superbowl, New Orleans has a new mayor and some things appear to be getting better. I wish I could declare victory in the tale of the tape against the Motor City but thanks to the auto industry bailout they still have Ford, Chrysler and Chevrolet. That has to count for something. The Lions play in Ford Field. We have the Mercedes Benz Superdome. At night does an image of an Ford F 150 drive around the stadium with flashing lights on? I’m giving us a slight edge since the Benz Dome is always lit up like a Christmas tree and it’s the holiday season.

We have Treme on HBO to spotlight our city. The show is set during the time right after the storm so it’s not the best representation of the current situation but if it makes people visit and spend money I am okay with it as long as no one stops me on the street and asks me to dance. Detroit has the best group of meter maids and traffic people on Parking Wars. I’m giving Detroit the win on television entertainment because of the dude on Parking Wars they call Ponytail is more entertaining than the Mardi Gras Indian gang on Treme that showed everyone their suits before they are ready. That’s not supposed to happen.

I’m deducting ten points from each city for crime.

Detroit is on the verge of bankruptcy and the state may have to step in and take over. I’m going to give New Orleans the win in this one because we are poor but not bankrupt and have only lost control of our schools. You know, if the bug three automobile companies are doing so well now why is Detroit and the surrounding cities so broke? I thought when the private sector was doing well financially people would have jobs and that would take care of everything? Shouldn’t they be rolling in cash? I guess the trickle down hasn’t started yet. I’m giving New Orleans the slight edge on fiscal shape.

As far as tonight’s game goes I think the Lions are having a good year considering where they were a few years ago but they are too inexperienced and not ready to deal with Drew Brees at home. There’s still a chance for the number two seed and after last year I think Coach Payton doesn’t want to end up playing on the road the first week of the playoffs if he can help it. I expect the Saints to play with playoff intensity. Detroit won’t quit because they have enough talent on offense to score on defense and their coach is too crazy to give up. As long as we contain Megatron Johnson we’ll be okay If Houston can hold on against Atlanta today and we win tonight we can get some cushion in the division.

Saints win this year’s Struggling Bowl by a score of 34-20.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sitting On My Porch Part Seventy Five

8 - 3 looks pretty good........and can someone please beat Atlanta so we can get some distance please.

Tuesdays after the Saints shine on Monday Night Football seem to go pretty quick. You forget all about the lack of sleep and over drinking on a Monday. Late Tuesday is about the time your body starts to come down from the football high which meant that Wednesday was going to be a hard day and it was.

The only drawback to watching football games this time of year is the endless stream of jewelry and luxury car commercials. The Lexus commercials are the worst. Do you know how much money you need to have in this economy to buy a Lexus behind your partner’s back and they don’t look at you like you’re crazy? Everyone on those commercials is part of the 1%.

I can't stand the flashing lights on the Mercedes Benz Superdome. I don't mind the colors but why do they have to flash all night like a club sign on Bourbon St?

I don't like neighborhood associations that fight when stores want to open close to them. New Orleans isn't big enough for you to be that selfish. A store in the right area actually serves dozens of neighborhoods because everything is so close. You just happen to live in an area where companies feel good about investing in. Bite the bullet and do what's best for the rest of the people living around you. If you want to move somewhere that no one wants to change come out to New Orleans East with me.

The NBA lockout isn't officially over yet and poor Hornets fans have already been subjected to Chris Paul trade rumors. Chris Paul is a good guy and his situation with the Hornets doesn't reflect on him personally. The way the NBA works almost dictates he has to leave for a larger market team. The players have all the control over where they wanna go and the financial structure makes it possible for them to play together with their friends if that's what they choose to do. That doesn't bother me but it's hard to get totally behind a team you know has no shot of winning a championship without a miracle before the season starts. The best player in the NFL at the moment is Aaron Rodgers (sorry Drew). He plays in Green Bay Wisconsin. If the NFL was the NBA then all the Green Bay fans would hear about is what big team he was going to leave for.

It really bothers me that every time someone gets arrested for murder it seems as if they have already been arrested 20 times for all kinds of crazy shit. I know we don't have enough witnesses coming forward but these cats are not leaving any evidence around. We have some sophisticated uneducated criminals around here.

Today I went to lunch and in the mile or so I drove I saw at least ten guys just hanging out around 1:00 PM during the day. The reason we are having so many violent crimes early in the day is because when you don't have anything to do there's no difference between day and night.

There's nothing funny about what's happening to Herman Cain's campaign right now. I would much rather his campaign just fell apart because he wasn't the best candidate than to have the whole world making fun of him as sex hungry black man that can't control his zipper. It would have been better for him to win the nomination than what's happening now. The worst image of a black man besides we are overly violent is that we want to have sex with everything moving. It's so bad even we believe it. Having Herman Cain's campaign fail because he couldn't be faithful to his wife is not good for any of us. That's true even for the guys who think he's an Uncle Tom. If I was a Secret Service agent and a woman other than Michelle Obama came within three feet of the President I would hit her with a stun gun. We can't have any of that foolishness going on. If the brothers at the top can't get right then there's no hope for the guys on the street. If Herman Cain had a stable of women he should have never ran for president to begin with.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Back IntoThe Grid

I tried to stay off of the information grid as much as possible this past week. I’ve realized over the past week that between phones, having a job that depends on web based software, and my addiction to Words with Friends it’s almost impossible to escape the internet. I would have to take a vacation and drive until I couldn’t get a signal like those guys on that car commercial. They drove a long ass way to get somewhere without a signal. It’s not the worth the gas money. I guess I was really off the disconnected from everything. I just didn’t have much to say so there weren’t many tweets or Facebook updates. There wasn’t any blogging either. I missed a lot of things.

I’m happy to report that as far as post Katrina life goes the start of this holiday season isn’t so bad. I guess I am finally used to not having tradition enough that I won’t force myself into being miserable until the new year anymore. I’m not sure how I feel about that but feeling normal beats being depressed.

I can name many things to be thankful for. I know a lot of good people. I’m not rich but I am currently not broke. I have all my visible teeth. I have a full staff at work now which is one of the best Christmas gifts I could have received. Maybe I can leave work at the office now. When you have a full staff with an extra twenty bucks and most of your teeth it’s hard to be upset. After I write this I am headed to make a donation to a family that really needs it. Then I’m coming home to sit outside in this cool weather and smoke a cigar if it’s not raining. I guess I’ll watch some football even though I’ve been conserving my energy for the Saints on Monday Night


If anyone reading this in the New Orleans area has a stove or knows someone with one who may want to help a family in need let me know.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Negative Aspects of Human Nature and The Choices of Men at Penn State

I love college football but this Penn State story has really messed up the season for me. I was at Children’s Hospital the last few days because my baby wasn’t feeling well. When you walk around that place for awhile it really reminds you of just how vulnerable kids are and how much we as adults have a duty to protect them from as many harmful things as possible.

I don’t feel like I am equipped to speak about the effects of child abuse so I won’t disrespect the victims by talking about it directly. I also don’t feel like I can make sense of the things Jerry Sandusky allegedly did because I might say something misguided and ignorant. Sexual abuse is a serious issue and while everyone should have their own opinions I don’t know if we need everyone to speak on it. I’m going to leave that to the experts.

The part about this story I want to talk about is how the decisions of one person can affect the decisions and lives of so many others. In this case there was two major ones involved that really highlight how human beings think. The first one was the graduate assistant Mike McQueary who walked into that shower and saw one of his mentors in life having sex with a kid. He left the scene without the kid and called his dad who told him to leave and tell Joe Paterno what he saw. Everybody has things in their life they have done or didn’t do that they second guess. I think about those kind of decisions all of the time. However I have to think that if I walked up on someone having sex at my job I would have said something even if it was two adults nevermind a kid.

Even if the initial shock made you so confused that you left I would think the guilt and second guessing would either make you ask everyday what was going to happen to Jerry Sandusky or you would have to quit and go to another school because you couldn’t look at yourself in the mirror knowing that guy was still free and possibly still abusing kids including the young boy you left there in that shower. Humans have a natural instinct towards self preservation. When people in bad neighborhoods don’t snitch they are doing it to keep from putting themselves and their families in harms way. The only thing in danger for Mike McQueary was never getting to coach at his alma mater. I can’t respect that and feel like he should never get another coaching job anywhere. He made the choice not to say anything so if he can’t coach again then so be it.

The other person in this equation who has a burden to bear in my opinion is Joe Paterno. I know he didn’t touch a kid. I know when he got the news from his employee he went up the chain of command the way he was supposed to. I know Jerry Sandusky wasn’t on his staff anymore. I get all of that. The reason why I think it’s perfectly fair for people to come down on him is because since I started following sports as a kid all anyone has ever done is kiss Joe Paterno’s ass for being a man of integrity and dignity. There’s some people who’s personal stature transcends their official title. You might have someone at your job that’s not even in management but their character and standing is so great that even the owner of the company listens to what they say. That’s the kind the pull Joe Paterno had. In fact, his stature was so great that I believe he could have got this case investigated and resolved at another campus just on the strength of his name.

Usually the people who have that kind of status know it. Even if they don’t flaunt it all the time they know it’s there and that’s why I can’t excuse the coach for going up the chain of command. I think he knew what would happen if the story came out in the open and he just didn’t want to deal with it. He also didn’t want to be the one that took down his long time friend because it’s human nature to not want to see your people fall. When you make that kind of decision over the safety of kids I can’t feel sorry for you if you have 409 wins or 4. I would like to think that even if I went to Penn State I would feel the same way and not be so caught up in the aura of the football program and it’s coach that I talked myself into making excuses for adults who enabled a child predator. Actually I know I wouldn’t because it’s also human nature to recognize right and wrong and this degree of wrong was obvious.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Appreciating Life and Death

Rap legend Heavy D passed away yesterday at the age of 44. People under 30 may not remember the time where he was a pretty big deal in the hip hop world. I was sad when I heard he passed because it reminded me of a part of my teenage years. A day before boxing great Joe Frazier died of liver cancer. Whenever boxing legends pass away I think about my grandfather. I loved watching boxing with him and I loved listening to him tell stories about boxing even more. There are people who find it annoying when a big deal is made about the death of someone who hadn’t had a hit record since the early 90’s or a man who hadn’t had a fight since the 70’s. Someone doesn’t have to be on your mind constantly for you to feel an impact from their passing. I have friends who I haven’t seen for years like Joseph Warner or my boy Fred. If I found out something happened to one of them I would be just as heartbroken as if we were hanging out yesterday.

I think life is precious and we all should hope to live a long one with as much quality as possible. I’ve always found the loss of life hard to deal with it especially when it feels like someone left too early. My generation and the one following has had to deal with a lot unnecessary death from things like gun violence and drug related issues. After awhile it starts to weigh on you. It actually doesn’t matter if you knew them at all. I get upset when I read about horrible things that happen to people who I don’t know. Maybe I’m just getting overly emotional these days but there could be more of that in our society. Everybody gets caught up in the ideology and forget that there are people involved. I remember after Katrina when everyone was talking about neighborhoods returning and taking over school systems I kept feeling like there was something really disturbing about the fact that the thing we talked about the least was all the people that passed away. When you don’t give life its proper respect you generate negative energy. That’s the kind of energy that is all throughout our community. That’s the energy that led to guys having shootouts in front of crowds of people and some murder victim’s deaths make the second or third page of the metro section in the newspaper. I don’t know how to change that but I think we should start working on it.

Rest in peace to Heavy D, Joe Frazier, war casualties, victims of disease, any of your friends and family that are no longer with us and all the victims of violent crimes even the ones that look like thugs.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Searching for Apathy

Tuesday I at dinner at Galatoires restaurant for the first time. I had a great time. My work colleagues treated me to say thanks for all my hard work. I had no problem accepting the free dinner at such a great restaurant because I believe in people showing appreciation to another. I also believe in working hard and free food so it was a winning situation all the way around for me. Our dinner engagement was the day after Halloween when there was a shootout and killings that gave the city another negative story for people to take in. Despite being all dressed up to eat I was in a sad mood all day because I believe in community, and personal responsibility. I also believe in the potential in young black men from New Orleans to do great things and when they make the decision to kill one another and bring the community down it’s draining to me. It’s like a slap in the face to everything I try to project as a man. I get upset about these things like there was something I could have done to stop it and didn’t.

That afternoon I was sitting at my desk and I started thinking about my own life and wondered if I was cheating myself out of the satisfaction for my own accomplishments. The truth of the matter is that I haven’t done anything to contribute to the problem we are having. I’ve never sold drugs, owned a gun or been arrested. Outside of a few times when I had no choice but to defend myself I’ve never really had a thought about harming another man. I hate to see people fighting in the streets especially women because I believe their behavior and character set the tone for everyone else. I’m trying to teach the kids the same thing but I also have to be realistic about where we live and also let them know that you may have to fight your way out of a bad situation.

I wish I could reprogram myself to be more self absorbed and ignore things I see around me as long as I am doing well. Then every time I see something horrible in the news or someone tells me how much they are going through I can look at my vehicles or my big TV and sleep like a baby with no cares in the world. Things would seem a lot less bleak if I could just stop feeling like we have so much untapped potential and could take care of ourselves and our children without anyone telling us what to do. I want to be one of the people who judge the quality of life by how many days they can go out to the club and gauge my city’s health on the number of second lines we have. If I was in that state of mind it wouldn’t matter who was the governor or the mayor.

I wouldn’t have any concern for the murder rate or black male image. I really wouldn’t care about the education of any children outside of my own and I wouldn’t be so concerned that some of these charter schools are experimenting with our kids like lab rats. I wouldn’t even say “our kids” because their future doesn’t have anything to do with me. It wouldn’t be my fault their mama made the wrong choice. Hell, rename or demolish everybody’s alma mater like our tradition and history doesn’t mean anything. My school is still standing. I may even start making excuses for politicians. It’s going to be great if that day ever comes. Until then I’ll just keep shaking my head and hoping for the best.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Positive Vibes Are Short Lived

Last evening I went out on the street to trick or treat for the first time since I was a young teenager. It was actually pretty cool. I was all set to get up this morning and tell you all what a great evening we had going around the neighborhood to hustle candy. I went down a lot of streets that I don’t think I’ve seen since the storm. There seemed to be more kids and families out walking around and more people sitting outside their homes giving out candy. I was going tell you about the neighbors I got to talk to and make friends with and how I should start going to the neighborhood association meetings because there’s a benefit to it. I was going to mention how good I felt about the evening and how my sense of community was strengthened. I think I got invited to a few BBQ’s by the people who live on the next street. I went to bed feeling pretty good.

Then I got up this morning and read the news. I saw all the shooting that happen last night on Canal St. where someone lost their life. I read about these two guys shooting at one another on Bourbon Street despite standing around all those people and how so many innocent bystanders were hit. That could have been anyone standing out there including someone in my family. Those two are just the big stories. There were other shootings as well. Now, I’m back to being frustrated and I haven’t even finished my first cup of coffee. Ignorant and dangerous behavior can really mess up a good vibe.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sitting on My Porch Part Seventy Four

It’s Thursday evening and I think the Saints just scored again on the Colts......

We don’t need every game to come down to the wire. I had fun watching that 62-7 destruction! Towards the end I started feeling sorry for Reggie Wayne. He had 50 family and friends at the game and they had to sit through that. What’s even worse is that you know they had to go work Monday and hear it from all of their co-workers about what happened. The Colts scored 7 points and Reggie Wayne should have scored that touchdown.

This week we play the St. Louis Rams. That’s a team that has caused me much pain in my life especially in the old NFC West days when they were in Los Angeles. If one of the Saints happens to be reading this I just want them to know that it is perfectly okay to run up the score on the Rams. Why be satisfied with 62? 10 touchdowns is 70 points. I know we can do it. We have to win these games against inferior opponents because ever since Julio Jones got injured the Falcons remembered they had Michael Turner and are getting their act together.

I don’t watch a lot of baseball but I am rolling with the Texas Rangers because of Ron Washington and my extreme New Orleans bias.

Today my day started at 5:30 AM and ended at 7:32 PM. That's the time I finally sat down and turned on the game. My average day during the week is 12-14 hours. Adults have really long days. I guess kids have long days too but I never felt like the day was long when I was a kid. Days feel really long now. I think it's because adult life is full of things you hate doing but have to do...like ironing clothes.

If Hell exist and I mess up enough to make it there, the devil could really punish me by making me iron clothes for the rest of eternity. Extra punishment would be making me do it after waking up with an alarm clock with a broke snooze button. Double extra punishment would be having a Falcon's game playing non stop and I couldn't change the channel. Triple punishment would be Buffie the Body behind a glass door holding a cold beer while I am ironing and I wouldn't have a key to open the door. I'm going to have nightmares tonight. It's time for a vacation.

The Saints just reached the red zone again......

I’ve been checking out this Occupy movement going on around America. I think the whole movement is a teachable moment. I’m down with the cause and I support it but it’s interesting to look at the reaction of politicians to these movements compared to some of the rallies the Tea Party had. When the Tea Party was at it’s peak and had rallies being staged around the country politicians on both sides changed their agenda to match what they were saying. Like it or not they have a lot to do with the current political direction of the country. Some of these Occupy movements have had damn near riots and outside of the mayors in the city trying to control everything you haven’t heard much from elected officials. The 99% may represent a large cross section of the country but the 1% buys politicians. To change the system it’s going to take money. The power is in the PAC.

When did Mayor Bloomberg of New York and all these other business people become so concerned with who controls schools in Louisiana? What made him and his anonymous donors to his PAC suddenly become involved in the education of our children? If there was a grassroots candidate running for the BESE board seat in New Orleans and they could win because of money that didn’t come from anyone directly affected by their decisions, that person really doesn’t have to answer to the parents and citizens in that district. We wouldn’t control their marching orders. That’s why I won’t be voting for anyone that falls into this category. Sad to say that they’ll win it because they have the money and the muscle to drown out the other candidate. The power is in the PAC and there’s nothing we can do about it.

The Saints just scored on the Colts again.......

If you want to do something for the community and feel good about it. Click on this link and help some good people help the folks at the homeless encampment under the expressway near Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. You don’t have to give any money if that makes you uncomfortable. You can call and ask what the folks need and buy it yourself if you want to. The people that are trying to find housing for the men and women in this camp are really good people and some of them are my friends. I’ll guarantee that they’ll do the right thing with whatever you decide to help out with.

I’m signing out before the Saints score again.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Living In The Red Boot With Few Choices

I went out to vote yesterday morning. I looked at the ballot and thought to myself that this was the first time I voted where it felt like a waste of time. When I voted in 2010 it didn’t feel like a waste of time. It felt like I was voting already knowing the outcome and I was right. The reason why this election felt like such a waste of time is because everyone knew Bobby Jindal was going to win again. I’m willing to bet that most of the people in the state couldn’t tell you who was running against him. Besides that all of the other statewide elections had nothing but Republican candidates to choose from. That means if you want to vote in those races you are a Republican by default. The Democratic party must be saving their money to help President Obama raise the 10% of the vote he's going to get in 2012 to 20%.

I guess if you wanted to you could vote on everything else and leave those parts of the ballot blank but then there’s always a chance you might end up with someone who’s first bill once he or she gets in office is to suspend the driving privileges in New Orleans to anyone who can’t pass a standardized test or something crazy like that. So now when we vote we have to figure out which candidate is a Republican but still a rational human being and which one is a wacko and vote for the rational person hoping their not faking like a rational person but is really a wacko too.

I think the governor has some wacko tendencies. He’s just so intelligent in how he presents it you can’t tell. He even fooled me once in 2003 when I voted for him over Kathleen Blanco. That wasn’t the greatest two choices in the world either. I still don’t understand why he’s not the Republican nominee for president. They have been screaming for smaller government and empowering the private sector. Jindal is all about that. Forget Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” plan. My governor tries to run the state with the “0-0-0” philosophy. That’s 0 taxes, 0 government programs and 0 state employees. He hasn’t gotten there yet and probably never will but I am sure he dreams about it. Maybe I haven’t driven around the state enough to see what’s going on but are we doing that well where there’s no need for any opposition to the current leadership? I guess the answer is yes if you go by the election results.

I hope whatever the governor and his majority in the capital does works because unless you plan on moving out of state we are going to be under this philosophy for at least four more years and that’s a long time for things not to work until you get to vote again. I just hope the wackos keeps the wackiness to a minimum.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cliff's Crib First Guest Post : Leslie Krick

This is an historic event in Cliff's Crib history. I’ve never had a guest post before. I had a few special requests for topics. A few friends asked if they could post something but I have never actually done one. Last week a young lady reached out to me and asked would I mind posting some work of hers in hopes she could get some exposure for her freelance writing career. Her name is Leslie Krick and her piece is about teenage drinking during Mardi Gras season. I’m flattered she thought enough of my blog to ask so I am posting it tonight and showing it off for a few days. After posting this I won't make any jokes about Crown Royal for at least six months. Leslie's bio and contact information are at the bottom if you want to say hi or ask her to write something.

The Truth about Alcohol & Mardi Gras

Teens can have fun & stay safe during the most dangerous holiday in the U.S.

When teens think of Mardi Gras, they often think of breast bearing women, excessive public drinking, dancing, and fighting and out of control behavior on Bourbon Street. And between the fishbowl hurricanes and giant tankards of mudslide they might be on to something.

Alcohol is a big of a part of the two week period that marks Mardi Gras. And even though it’s a Catholic carnival, it still translates to “farewell to the flesh”, which means teens are bound to get a little out of hand during this period of feasting and revelry before Lent. When you figure in 50 parades, more than 301 miles of parade route and 1.2 million attendees it’s no wonder alcohol fuels the fun—from the French Quarter to the Garden District.

However, there are rules and laws that must be followed, and failure to do so could have you crying over your doubloons (the festive coins thrown out at revelers). Remember, in addition to the fun, Mardi Gras ranks as one of the most dangerous holidays in the United States for motorist collisions. In terms of most vehicular teen deaths and car crash injuries, the duration of Mardi Gras is the deadliest of the eight holidays. Just look at the car accident statistics for teenagers in the U.S (between 2001 and 2007):

• Car crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths
• Teens between the ages of 16 and 19 are 4x more likely to get into accidents than adults
• That’s 33,027 fatal teen crashes compared to only 19,886 fatal adult crashes
• And, the younger they are; the more likely teens are to be involved in an auto collision
• Teens who drink and drive are 12x more likely to be killed compared to sober teen drivers

So then how does a teenager ensure a good time at Mardi Gras without injury to body and soul? Let’s start by giving you the truth on New Orleans laws and city regulations when it comes to drinking and driving during Mardi Gras, as well as debunking some of the more popular Mardi Gras myths…

The Open Container Law - The trickiest myths regarding Mardi Gras revolve around the city’s Open Container Law. Yes, it’s true; it’s perfectly legal to carry an open container of alcohol within the city streets. However, the drinking age is 21 as it is everywhere else in the U.S., and it’s strictly enforced. It’s also strictly forbidden to have an open container of alcohol in your car if you are drinking it and driving a vehicle.

Drive-thru drinking - Hankering for a Mardi Gras daiquiri or mudslide while taking a drive? Just pull up to a “drive thru” and pour yourself a boozey slushy. You can get a Baskin-Robins array of flavors in a Styrofoam tankard at one of the roadside stands where drinks like a white Russian, long island ice tea, Red Bull and vodka, Cajun heat and many flavored margaritas are sold. However, you can’t just drive away sucking on that straw. A loophole in the open container law means as long as a straw hasn’t pierced the lid you're free to drive on.

Here are some additional rules to abide by at Mardi Gras. Out-of-towners need to be especially vigil as city police won’t hesitate to write you a ticket on the following infractions:

Driving under the influence – Basic common sense reigns in New Orleans just as much as everywhere else in the U.S. When it comes to DUI / DWI, if you’re drunk, please don’t drive or you’ll face an increased, minimum 15-day jail sentence. Those who refuse a blood alcohol test will face a one-year license suspension.

Drinks can’t be in glass containers - Glass breaks…end of story. And when it does, it causes a whole bunch of danger on the street, especially when you throw in a parade and a ton of drunken tourists.

Be wary of bars selling drinks glass bottles – If you buy a beer in a bottle, you must stay on the premises and finish your drink before you leave. Many bars will do this to keep you in their establishment for as long as they can.

Boozing it up in parking areas - Many areas of the city prohibit drinking alcohol all together in parking lots. Be sure to read the signs before you take a traveler to your car.

Urinating in public – A common law in most cities, but a fair mention here considering alcohol is involved. If you are drinking during Mardi Gras, remember that the amount of alcohol you consume is directly related to the number of times you’re going to have to pee—and public bathrooms are few and far between. Don’t get caught with your pants down.

Don’t be a public nuisance – Disorderly and loud behavior isn’t tolerated by the New Orleans police.

Be wary of your surroundings - Do not jump in front of a float to snag a bead, cup, or doubloon. Remember, that float weighs several tons and can crush you. It’s also a good rule of thumb to step on doubloons before picking them up or your hand might be the one stepped on by another eager parade go-er.

Public nudity – Anything doesn’t go in New Orleans, and you’ll really only see flashing breasts in the French Quarter. Parents can shield young ones from nakedness just about anywhere, but in the French Quarter. And, if New Orleans Police Department catches you displaying your goods outside of that area, you’ll be arrested.

Bio: Leslie worked as a legal secretary at a personal injury law firm for many years before making the transition to a full-time mom and wife. Leslie loves nature and uses it as a source of inspiration for her writing. She divides her time between her family and her writing, which focuses mainly on her knowledge of law. Leslie is currently looking for freelance work, and can be contacted at LeslieEKrick@gmail.com.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Tough Lost and an Injured Coach

I was wrong about that one...

The worst part about today besides losing was Coach Sean Payton damn near getting his leg taken off by an accident on the sidelines. I really feel like the game took a weird turn after that and the Saints never recovered. I was right about Raheem Morris having Tampa fired up. I thought that wouldn’t bother the Saints and I was wrong.

I would rather lose three games to any other teams in the NFL than one divisional game. Those always suck more than the others.

We are still tied for the division lead. We’ll be ready for primetime next week.

Get well Coach Payton.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Week 6 : Saints at Tampa Bay : Division Dominance

Before I get into the Saints I just want to say that the easiest way to stop some of the violent collisions that are leading to so many concussions is to let defensive backs touch receivers within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage. You have receivers running full speed across the field and the only thing defensive players can do is hit them as hard as possible and hope they drop the ball. You would have more pass breakups without the collision and it would slow everyone down. If not you are going to have violent hits. Players are running free on passing plays the same as they were on kickoffs and they changed that rule for safety.

Now, lets get to the Saints.......

It’s week six of the NFL season and we are running late on Saints post. Since there was no real off season and a lot of roster changes all around I think this is about the time you will start seeing what your team really has going this year. I think I have a good idea on this year’s Saints team now. Here are a few things I am pretty certain about.

1. Drew Brees is back to playing at a championship level and whoever the Saints play this year is going to have to bring their A game for four quarters to beat him. Our 4-1 record is about right because the only lost was to the Packers and Aaron Rodgers who is playing like a machine.

2. I was so wrong about the Darren Sproles signing. I didn’t think he would have as big of an impact as he has because San Diego didn’t use him like Sean Payton is. I was a huge Reggie Bush supporter and apologist. It hurts me to admit this but Sproles is looking like a better fit for this offense. He’s also an instant cult hero to the fans. As my cousin explained in a text message during the Texans game. “If Darren Sproles gets hurt I am going to cry.”

3. I was wrong about Darren Sproles but I was right about Jimmy Graham. I just had a feeling he was a steal in the 3rd round. My only concern is him staying healthy all year because he is being hit by two or three people sometimes. His running some of the same routes Marques Colston does and that’s why he’s always getting beat up. I said I would never draft a Saints player for fantasy because they spread the ball around so much. I broke that rule this year to take Jimmy Graham and I’m undefeated. If Jimmy Graham gets hurt I am going to cry.

4. Gregg Williams is coaching his ass off on defense. He’s getting everything he can out of the group he has. They do just enough to win and with the kind of defense being played this year that’s all you can ask for.

5. The only thing separating this team from the 2009 team is scoring. That sounds crazy for a team averaging over 30 points a game but it should be closer to 40. John Kasay has kicked so many chip shot field goals after drives were ended inside the 20 yard line. It hasn’t come back to haunt the team yet except for Green Bay but it may cost us another game down the line.

Last week I was pulling for Green Bay to beat Atlanta and put them behind two games in the standings because the first goal should be to win the division and at least get one home game in the playoffs. It’s not too early to put some distance between us and the rest of the division. The perfect scenario for Sunday would be the Panthers beating Atlanta to give them another loss and for the Saints to beat up on Tampa. I like Tampa’s young coach Raheem Morris. He’s going to have them all hyped up this week after getting destroyed by San Francisco last week. They’ll be out there jumping around like crazy. None of that will matter because the Saints are a better team. It's been awhile since there was a game where the Saints just destroyed the other team and sent their fans home early. I think tomorrow's game is the one.

Saints 38 Buccaneers 10

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Trying To Understand Herman Cain

I’ve been trying to figure out the Herman Cain phenomenon. I’ve been watching his rise in popularity and I can’t quite figure out what I’m watching. Either the Republicans are just that unsatisfied with the so called front runners that he’s passed in the polls or he is a political genius. I’m fascinated by the whole thing. Personally speaking I would be so excited to see Herman Cain go against President Obama just to see how Black America dealt with all the issues that kind of debate would bring. It would also make real racists head explode. That election would change the country even more than Obama winning because Cain would be coming from a mind state that most black people aren't thought to have.

A lot of people in my community have already made their decision on Mr. Cain. I’ve heard him called a bunch of names and none of them are flattering. The most popular accusation is that he’s a sellout. Calling someone a sellout is something I reserve for the most extreme cases. I think we have to be careful when judging someone’s racial authenticity because those guidelines can change all the time and you never know when you might be called the same thing. Maybe Herman Cain’s life experiences led him to believe the things he does. Being conservative doesn’t mean he’s not as black as the rest of us. He has the right to believe in bad policy and still be black.

The only thing Herman Cain has done to bother me is to say that he doesn’t think there’s any racism holding people back these days. I’m actually not surprise he would say that because he’s a Republican and right now they believe there are no obstacles holding anyone back other than their own laziness. That’s why they think they can cut every program and wait for the private sector jobs to roll in so government won’t have to do anything. If you admit that there may be real barriers for people to prosper like racism then you might have to do something about it and they don’t want to do that.

Mr. Cain was also was a radio host. Talk radio shows, 24 hour news channels, and people looking to sensationalize things have turned the idea of racism into basic things like calling someone the N-word, saying nappy head hoes on a radio show or dressing like a slave for the office Halloween party. Those things are racist but we spend so much time and energy focused on those things that we don’t take the time to explain the deep rooted institutional racism that makes being successful a bigger challenge for Black America. There are obstacles that make things different. Even Herman said so in explaining his original statement.
“Are there some elements of racism? Yes. It gets back to if we don't grow this economy, that is a ripple effect for every economic level, and because blacks are more disproportionately unemployed, they get hit the worst when economic policies don't work. That's where it starts.”
Why are we more disproportionately unemployed? If there’s no racism or whatever he wants to call it to put us in that position, why do we get hit the worst when economic policies don’t work? If everything is equal and it’s all about hard work then the black unemployment rate should be the same as everyone else. There has to be something that caused that. If it’s not racism then give it another name but don’t pretend like there’s nothing involved. Deep down I think Herman Cain knows this but he can’t say it because he doesn’t want to sound like he’s being racist telling the truth. I don‘t question Herman Cain’s identity as a black man but I am worried about how far he would go to prove himself and the policies he might introduce. We are already catching hell with the president in office that we love. I have no desire to try and survive four years of a President Cain trying to prove his own personal reality is true for everyone else. Our community isn't ready for him to try and prove that theory to his supporters.