Sunday, August 28, 2011

Seven Years In Blogger Land And I'm Still Here

On August 25, 2011 this blog made 7 years old. I'm old school. I'm a veteran. I've been posting a long time. You get the idea. I'm amazed at myself for still being this engaged despite my incredibly short attention span. The last few months I had been seriously thinking about retiring and hanging up my Blogger user id and password. I was all set to do it but then I changed my mind. I figured after years of coming up with new things to talk about a few times a week I had run out of ideas or the interest in the world around me to talk about anything. The real truth is that I am just getting lazy and distracted by things. I still love doing it so I'm going to hang around for a bit longer.

Yesterday I was this year’s Rising Tide Conference. It’s the perfect place to be for a blogger who needs a boost. A friend of mine was on the Brass Band Panel. When he saw me he asked what I was doing there. I told him I was there every year. He looked at my name tag and was like “What the hell is Cliff’s Crib?” I told him it was my website. He gave me a confused look and said “Cliff you gotta website?” He’s probably still confused today. The conference is getting bigger and bigger. It’s getting so big that now you can actually be there all day and not run into some of the familiar faces. That’s a huge sign of progress. It shows that blogs are still going strong despite the term for what we do being lumped in with every person who decides to leave a comment on a news story or anyone else that types a few words online.

What they do is comment on other people’s work. What real bloggers do is create our own voice. Sometimes we do a good job of that and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes people read it and sometimes no one notices. Either way I respect the people who go through the process and put themselves out there even if I don’t agree with them.

I remember how it was last year to be at the Rising Tide Conference knowing you won the Ashley Morris Award and couldn’t tell anyone. I thought I gave it away when my friends showed up and lowered the black/white ratio of the crowd slightly. I have my plaque sitting on a stand in my office at work. Winning an award for blogging is funny because one of the unwritten rules of the game is to try to not make things so serious. It’s hard to maintain that when people stand up and applaud your work.

This year’s winner is Dedra Johnson also known as G Bitch to her blogger friends. She’s a well deserving winner and I can assure you that her real life personality does not match the name of her blog. She’s good people and I am happy for her. Congratulations and I hope we are all around next year when a new winner is honored.

To all the other bloggers out there still coming up with relevant, informative and thought provoking posts keep doing what you do. I’ll be right there with you. I love doing it. Plus, you can’t put a price on telling someone “Google me” and actually have things show up during the search that don't involve arrests. You can’t put a price on that.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Cost Of Young Men Making Dumb Decisions

Unless LSU has been hiding something for the last few years I feel comfortable in saying that Jordan Jefferson is a good kid. Nevertheless he and his teammates did a dumb thing by breaking curfew and it led to him and a teammate allegedly being in a fight which caused them to get arrested and suspended from the team. Young men do dumb things. They always have and they always will. I did some dumb things at that age. I made some choices that were so stupid and hazardous to my well being that I pass certain spots in New Orleans that remind me of a crazy night and feel like I should go straight to church and thank God that nothing happen to me. Nothing too bad ever happened. I always made it home jail and bullet free. I was never a bad guy and never looked for any trouble but when you make bad decisions the potential side effect is bad circumstances. Things could have gone either way. I am glad thankful they never did.

I’m sure Jordan Jefferson’s parents and coaches told him to be careful just like my parents used to always tell me. When I was 20 years old I would say okay but when the night is calling and the adrenaline is rushing you hear what they are saying but it doesn’t always stick. I went to a few places I shouldn’t have and been around some people who could have put me in danger. Kids do that all the time it’s just that most of them are not the quarterback for a major college football program.

I feel bad for the kids involved especially for Jordan Jefferson because he paid so many dues to get to this point and have it all blow up on him because of a few minutes of bad judgment. I don’t know what actually happened yet. It really doesn’t matter at this point. His football career is ruined and if LSU loses to Oregon next week everyone is going to blame him. If the entire season falls apart some fans are going to talk like he’s a mass murderer instead of a kid that got into a fight and that’s unfortunate.

Times have changed in our society. You could be the starting quarterback for your college or the first person to do well and make it out of your neighborhood and there will be just as many people out to hate you as there are to love you. You have to stay clear of places where there is the potential to have altercations with people because you can’t control that environment.

That’s easy for me say now. I’m 37 year old dad with a career and an upstanding reputation. I’m so paranoid of something happening that I hardly hang out anymore because I am afraid of screwing everything up. When I was Jordan Jefferson and his teammates’ age I probably would have thought “All we have to do is go to the bar, meet some girls and have a few drinks without any trouble. We’ll be back in enough time to sleep a little before practice. No one is going to even know we left. What could possibly go wrong?” Ninety nine percent of the time that works. This story is the case of the one percent that it doesn’t work and you end up sitting on the sofa at your parent’s house watching television as some other guy leads your team out of the tunnel for the first game of your senior season. He should have just stayed in and went to sleep that night. I hope this makes him a better man as he gets older.

Some life lessons sting harder than others.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Farewell Mr. Fielkow

New Orleans City Councilman at Large Arnie Fielkow is stepping down to move to Chicago. He’s going to be the president of the NBA Retired Players Association. That sounds like a pretty cool job. I would like to wish the councilman well and thank him for his service to my city. I’ve never had an issue with Mr. Fielkow since he’s been in office. I didn’t like the NORD public/private partnership and even though I thought that plan was misguided and unnecessary I feel his heart was in the right place. He was just trying to help the kids.

In many ways the councilman’s story is the perfect example of a lot of our current residents. He’s not a native so he’s free of some of the baggage natives have. He came to town because of work. He and his family fell in love with the place so they decided to get involved and make a difference. There is more and more of this demographic around town. Most of them are cool and have a genuine concern for the city and all of its residents. Then there are others who are here to take advantage of our struggles and failures. They caught us at our most vulnerable and are trying to reshape our city for their own agendas.

I think Mr. Fielkow belongs in that first group. I would like to thank him for trying to do some progressive things to move the city forward and for never telling the world that everything here was going okay because we had a second line parade on Sunday.

Now comes the fun part because the councilman has to select an interim replacement and the council needs to approve that person. Then we’ll have a special election after that to elect a new councilperson. I haven’t made any predictions in awhile but I think whoever is selected for the interim post and how the rest of the council handles it will decide the next election. If there’s one more backdoor hookup to maintain a certain level of control by some members on the council then there’s going to be a pushback in the citywide race.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

College Football Will Never Be The Same

I am a college football junkie. I'm one of those guys that watches ESPN U for signing day and follows the recruiting websites. I used to buy magazines all the time until the Internet made that unnecessary. When I was a kid I would rent every college football history book from the school library. I could hold my own in a trivia contest. After the Saints are done playing on Sunday my NFL interest start to fade a little. I can watch college football all day and night on Saturday no matter who's playing. I think it's the best level of football because of the tradition and the players. I don't really care about the BCS and all the money involved. I just want to watch the games. This off season there has been a few scandals involving players receiving benefits. People are acting like there’s a huge problem. I say the things going on are just the nature of a beast that’s been created and it’s not going back the other way.

You got these huge expanding conferences trying to generate more and more money from television contracts. Stadiums are getting bigger and bigger. In order to sell the ad time while the games are on and to sell the extra suites and seats in these giant stadiums you have to market the game in a way that expands it’s following beyond the students of the school or the people who live in the area of the school. That means you have to get the best player’s possible. You have to get players so good that football fans in Wyoming would have to be interested in the players involved in an LSU and Alabama game that they will tune in and CBS will give the SEC billions of dollars for the right to broadcast their games. There’s no way you can have that much money involved without any corruption and it’s foolish to think every player is going to sit there and be okay with that.

Things are even more confusing for the players because now there are college sports video games and other merchandising. When Reggie Bush was at USC you could buy a video game where #5 for USC didn’t have Bush on the back of the jersey but you knew he was supposed to be. I went to Ohio State’s website to look up the price of a jersey. You can get a replica #2 jersey for 59.95. I’m not saying Terrell Pryor was right for breaking the rules. I’m just tripping on people acting like he murdered someone for trading his own clothes for a tattoo.

If I was a world class football player coming out of high school I don’t think my parents would have let me accept any money to go to a particular school or any gifts from someone after I got there. I’m thinking that if I was 19 years old and looked around to see thousands of people wearing a jersey with my number on it I might think getting a few tattoos for one of those jerseys was fair especially since I’m the reason they are selling the jersey with that number on it anyway. I would get punished for doing wrong by the NCAA but when a system grows to a certain point the line between right and wrong gets blurred.

The media and the fans should just calm down and admit the fact that it will never be 1965 again when it comes to college football. As long as there is lots of money involved there’s going to be corruption and the players are always going to be the most susceptible to it. The glory days are not coming back so lets just accept it and enjoy the games on Saturday.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sitting On My Porch Part Seventy One

School is in full swing around these parts. The little kids are going back to school and the big kids are going off to college. I had a talk with a friend that sent her son off to college this morning. She was real proud. I gave her props for getting him to that point but I wish the idea of young men from our community going to college was as routine as getting a driver’s license. It would be a great thing if the whole neighborhood was packing up and going away to school and it was no big deal.

I have written about 7 blogs to post here and left them in the drafts folder. I may get aggravated and not post this one.I look around and think to myself “What’s the point. The whole world is tripping and there’s nothing we can do about it.” No matter where I look all I see if foolishness. It doesn’t matter if it’s the super committee and the thought that I will be working until I’m 75 or parents in Louisiana killing their children, everything is out of order. Just Monday I drove children to a school within a block of a triple shooting that happen the night before. When it comes to worrying a conscious brother from New Orleans will become delirious trying to keep up with all the things on the agenda. I think that’s why I am tuning out of things more than before. Nevertheless we need to get back to a regular blogging schedule so let’s see where this goes.

Who really wants to pay attention to such foolishness as Steve Harvey deciding who’s an Uncle Tom or not? When did being totally happy with everything the president does become criteria for having your blackness questioned? That’s just crazy. I don’t know what Tavis Smiley and Dr. West’s full motives are with their poverty tour but I am sure speaking out for the poor isn’t Uncle Tom behavior. The truth is that if someone asks me I wouldn’t know how to exactly describe an Uncle Tom.

I don’t think anyone should be debating the president right now because he has his supporters so confused they may have to wait until after he releases his job plan and the outcome of the super committee to know if he’s a closet conservative, a pushover, or the greatest politician in the last 50 years. Emotionally I can only deal with the last two options. The first one would be so devastating to my community that we wouldn’t recover. The only thing that might save us is that so many of us are so blindly loyal that we wouldn’t realize the truth for 30 years anyway.

Who really wants to follow the Iowa Straw Poll and the Republican presidential race? The whole thing is a joke because as much as Republicans talk about their values they don’t really want a candidate that far to the right. They are just dying for someone to rescue them from Michelle Bachmann and Rick “Long Wolf McQuade” Perry. Michelle Bachmann won the straw poll and although I think her and her husband or crazy and dangerous they seem to be legitimate in how they think. If the Tea party is right and the majority of Americans feel the way they do then she should win the nomination and the White House in a landslide. Why do the media seem to be ignoring her so much after the weekend?

Is there any website left on the internet that you can’t share with your Facebook friends?

New Orleans Saints post will start after the third pre-season game and I have a better idea of what the new team looks like. I’m just getting over the Reggie Bush trade so I am almost
ready to talk about them. I think this year I am going to blog about my fantasy team too just to have extra stuff to talk about besides the news. I have been in the same league since Hurricane Katrina and the reason is that it’s the most gentlemanly and respectful football league in all of America.

So the Jay Z and Kanye West album watch the throne came out last week and after listening to it over that time I am ready to give it four out of five stars. I couldn’t give it five because there was just a bit too much noise in some of the songs. I’m old school and like that boom bap sound. The best song is Murder to Excellence by far. It’s a good album that respects hip hop but it’s not the best song out right now. The best hip hop song out right now is Dee 1 Featuring Mannie Fresh in The One That Got Away.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer Vacation Keeps Getting Shorter

On Saturday I went down to the beach in Mississippi. I can’t say that was our end of summer event but it might as well be since school is starting already. Kids all over New Orleans are going back to school at the beginning of the hottest month of the year. I think the days of waiting until Labor Day to start school are over. I like to joke that if school started this early back when I was in elementary school half of my class wouldn’t have been there. I’m sure I would have had friends with two weeks worth of absences before they ever met the their teacher. I’m joking and exaggerating but there would have been a few people like that. Actually, there were a few people like that even though school started later. It’s just a small component of how we got to the situation we have in our city.

We are trying to break free from some of those problems now. That’s why as much as I want another few weeks to sleep later and make pit stops to drinking establishments on the way home from work I won’t make a big fuss about school starting today. According to state statistics black students in New Orleans are finally closing the achievement gap. I don’t know what this means in the long run for the community but it is positive. I wouldn’t be surprised if the smart people sent her to change our educational system decided that all of the kids need to be in school all year around to close the gap just a little bit more. If that happens we’ll just have to deal with it and do what we need to do. We need to get the kids in school now as prepared as possible to take care of themselves because the way things are going there won’t be any safety net to keep them from suffering if we fail.

I guess going to school in early August isn’t so bad. The kids now have a few things going for them that many of us didn’t have like working water fountains and air conditioning. It was hard to focus on reading and math when it was 100 degrees inside the classroom. The kids had a short summer but at least they will be cool at their desk.