Saturday, January 28, 2012

Don't Get Distracted. Murder Is The Real Issue

I knew when the New Orleans Police Department started releasing the arrest records of murder victims it was a bad idea. The potential distraction was too great. It would be a different situation if every single murder was due to illegal activity like mafia hits but that’s not the case. Releasing the arrest records of the victims is an insult to their families. Unfortunately we now have a situation where a man was killed and he just so happened to have an arrest record. Now people are distracted talking about that instead of the real issue. Mike Ainsworth’s record has nothing to do with his death. He didn’t get killed in a drug deal gone bad. He was killed trying to stop his neighbor from being car jacked. We should be more concerned with the identity of his killer and the people who are hiding him.

Some people in the community are also questioning why the FBI offered help in this case and not with all the other murders. I can see how that would appear to be questionable. I look at the situation and realize that the attempted carjacking and murder was a random thing and there’s no connection to the victims and their assailant. There’s no one for the police to talk to on the block about beef that’s been going on or anything. It may actually take resources that the NOPD currently doesn’t have to find this person. You can’t look at every situation the same.

I notice that the NOPD has been identifying suspects for shootings faster than they use to. Kim and Alcee Perry were murdered at their home in October of last year by their next door neighbor who became upset when he Ms. Perry asked him to stop driving so fast because the kids were outside playing. You didn’t need an investigative team to find that fool. He was right next door. When one year old Kiera Holmes was murdered in December it didn’t take long to identify who did it because the shooters and the suspected target had already been feuding. If someone would have kidnapped that baby or shot her attempting to steal her mother’s car the FBI probably would have gotten involved. You don’t need the FBI to help with foolishness and ignorance that spills into the streets. The NOPD already knows who those guys are. They just can’t do anything to stop them before they kill someone.

Let’s not get distracted by spending too much time on issues that won’t solve anything. I don’t think the police should put the arrest records on victims out there the way they do. I think if the FBI was going to help out in the case of Mr. Ainsworth they should have just done it quietly so no one would feel like their family member who was killed was important enough to get that kind of help. I think it looks bad when after all the negative things that have happened within the police department and all the other crimes it took a man being killed in Algiers Point to get commanders reassigned and changes made.

The truth is that if the NOPD never released any information on the victims, the FBI had an entire team dedicated to nothing but solving every murder in New Orleans, and we had new leadership in the police department the people who were murdered in our city would still be dead. We have to figure out how to change the mind state of the killers. The man who killed the Perry’s is arrested. The men who shot Kiera Holmes have been arrested or murdered themselves. Hopefully soon law enforcement will catch the man who shot Mike Ainsworth and he’ll be brought to justice too. At the end of the day the one thing they’ll have in common is that they are not here anymore enjoying their lives just like the rest of the victims. We need to be united in trying to stop this from happening because if the police have to decide whether to issue arrest records or not and the FBI is involved we have already failed. I don’t want to have the conversation about releasing the arrest records because I don’t want anyone killed in the first place to even make the topic valid.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Let's All Be Careful Out There

Yesterday a man named Mike Ainsworth was murdered in New Orleans after trying to defend his neighbor from a carjacker. I would like to send my condolences to his family. I’m sure yesterday and every day after will be a tough day for them. His murder yesterday was another blow in a battle that right now the criminal element seems to be winning.

We should all appreciate a person that would put his life on the line for the safety of others. That’s real bravery. I’ sure Mr. Ainsworth had more courage than his killer but his killer had a gun and a gun to some of these fools gives them all the courage they need to do something senseless like trying to carjack someone and killing a good man for no reason.

There may come a time when any of us will defend ourselves or our family and neighborhoods from danger. I hope it never happens but if it does I hope it can be resolved without anyone getting hurt. I just want to tell the people in my city reading this to please be careful and try to avoid as much confrontation as possible. These fools don’t mind taking lives and unless you are ready to take their life too it may be better to not resist and call the police so they can handle it. We need to protect one another and be as safe as possible.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sitting On My Porch Part Seventy Eight

It took a whole week but I am finally ready to accept that the Saints are not going to the Superbowl. It was a heartbreaking lost in San Francisco and I have been in denial ever since. I was in so much denial that I invited my co-workers to my tailgate party this weekend when we played the Giants. They suggested I go home. I’m still not ready to talk about the season so I will direct you to Grandmaster Wang who did a pretty good job at it.......I still can’t believe we gave up the exact same play to lose the lead twice. That was unbelievable.

Saturday was a beautiful day in New Orleans. We are not having much of a winter and I am not complaining. The weather was almost good enough to make you forget how bad this year has started for New Orleans. I almost did a spring time activity and bought some crawfish to go sit on the lake and eat. It’s a little too early for that. Days like this makes you wonder why we have so much violence in this city. It’s such a beautiful atmosphere that we make ugly with our behavior. I didn’t want to watch the news tonight because I didn’t want a double shooting to ruin my mood. I figure it will be there waiting for me in the morning and I can depressed over breakfast.

What I really need Mayor Landrieu and Chief Serpas to do is to stop having press conferences and talking their way into animosity for something everyone should be united against. This is especially true for the chief who seems to be using the past of the victims to explain why his department hasn’t been able to calm things down. Anybody who lives here and pays attention knows what’s going on. A lot of the victims have criminal past that put them in the environment where violence is likely. The problem is that you can’t use that to explain every victim and even if that was the case it’s the police department’s job to protect everyone even if they have been in trouble before. We don’t want to start picking and choosing what person’s death deserves proper attention. I don ‘t think Cheif Serpas means it that way when he’s talking but why give anyone the chance to misunderstand? Let the media give that kind of information and just keep working to stop it.

I’m watching Newt Gingrich celebrate his win in South Carolina tonight. I am not surprised by the results. I don ‘t know how well Mitt Romney’s going to play in the south. Newt Gingrich is from Georgia so he understands how to win votes down here. People in the south vote for the person they can recognize with the most. They will also rally behind their guy if they feel he’s being picked on and will cast their vote as a way to strike back. This is true for black, white, Republicans and Democrats in the south.

Once Juan Williams and CNN started asking Newt about cheating on his wives and his race baiting code words the election belonged to him because he responded in defiance instead of acting like both of those topic were valid to ask someone who wants to be president and lead the country. That means that the people who shout family values to the top of their lungs all the time gave Newt a pass for trying to turn his wife into a swinger just because he’s from the south and they hate all media outside of Fox News. It’s no wonder we ended up with eight years of George W. Bush, a ten year war in Iraq and almost had the second great depression. That’s not a good way to choose a candidate.

Just for the record, if anyone I know tells me they are voting for President Obama only because he sung two lines from an Al Green song at the Apollo Theatre I am going to tell them the same thing. That’s not a good way to choose a candidate.

I’m taking the kids to see Red Tails for several reasons. The first reason is they need to see their history and understand that they weren’t put here destined to be thugs and gangsters. Part of killing a destructive culture is changing the outlook of the kids that’s involved. The second reason is that George Lucas spent 58 million dollars of his own money to get the film made. I figure we at least need to go out and generate enough money for him to get that back. I respect him for putting up his Darth Vader money for the Tuskegee Airmen’s story. The third reason is that my grandpa fought in World War II and it always fascinated me that those men put their lives on the line for their country knowing when they came home they wouldn’t get to enjoy the full rights of the country. The older I get the more I am amazed by these men and the more the present situation in our community seems even more confusing. I’m hoping the movie confuses some of the young men who see it as well. The way we behave right now isn’t supposed to make sense.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Living the Dream in The Era of Self Destruction

Today is the day we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. I always take the time to recognize his sacrifice along with others to give us the opportunity to fully experience freedom and the American dream. He was gave his life for that cause and changed society so there’s no doubt in my mind that he deserves the proper recognition.

I think if Reverend King were alive today he would not attend any of the events planned to celebrate his work. The people who he fought and sacrificed so hard for are killing one another in the streets for nothing. Gun violence is widespread and it’s tearing our community apart. Year after year it seems we are mourning the loss of young men, women and children. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s a code of silence that keeps killers on the streets and that only leads to more violence from them or someone feeling like they have to get justice themselves. We have kids who are so out of control that some parents have to stretch their finances to pay tuition at better schools just to keep their kids away from their own people so they can have a chance to learn.

These things are going on in full view of the rest of the world and our leadership and community doesn’t seem to be willing to concentrate 100% on this issue. What could anyone in a position of leadership and influence today say about living the dream when there’s a chance someone could kill me in cold blood because I stepped on his shoes by mistake? Today is a day to recognize a man who loved everyone enough to preach non violence but his own people hate themselves enough to embrace their own destruction.

I don’t mind listening to a few old speeches today from Reverend King himself but the folks here now should all be quiet and in meetings trying to figure out how to fix this situation we have. I don’t think we can consider anything accomplished until this violence goes away. I'm just hoping no one gets shot today at a MLK Day parade. That would be shameful if it did but at the same time no one would really be surprised.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Raising Our Kids to Change The Culture of Violence

Today was my grandpa’s birthday. He would have been 96 this year. My grandfather was a great family man. He was a World War II veteran in the U.S. Navy and had worked with his hands for so many years of his life that when he rubbed them together they sounded like to pieces of rough sandpaper. Despite his toughness and grit, he was also very caring and had a great sense of humor. I stole his custom of giving people nicknames as a term of endearment.

My grandfather and my dad used to talk to me about growing up and being a man even when I was real young. They used to talk to me about working hard and being responsible. They also used to like to tell stories about fights they had with other kids when they were young. Men take pride in being tough and not letting anyone push them around. That’s especially true around these parts because sometimes toughness and the willingness to fight is all some people have to identify with. The men who raised me had way more substance than that but when you grow up around some of these ignorant cats the fighting part comes in handy from time to time.

Like I said before, this is the land of misguided soldiers who look for any reason to have confrontation with other people. We literally grew up around people who wanted to fight because it made them feel like somebody. Bullies were everywhere. I was raised that the best way to deal with a bully is to beat him down as best as you can one time and hopefully you do it so well that he won’t bother you anymore. My grandmother used to say that if the person was too big to fight off with your hands find something on the ground and hit them with that. She used to give us that advice from her experiences of fighting her way home when she was in school. That’s how deep the culture is. I don’t think the elders worried too much about it because unless things got totally out of hand they all lived to tell stories about the battles they had.

Now there’s a new generation with the same basic approach but they have far less guidance and support from their family. They also have weapons that can wipe out entire groups of people at once. Their guns are status symbols in the circle of people they hang around. They want to show them off just like guys used to want to show off gold teeth, expensive tennis shoes and car rims. If they have the guns they are waiting for a reason to put it on display. What better reason than another dude talking shit? It’s the perfect recipe for shootings that seem to be happening for no real reason at all. The shooting is somewhat new. The fighting for no reason has been there for a long time. Last weekend a man and his teenage son were killed at their home in what seems to be an argument between some girls that started over rumors. Thirty years ago that argument would have led to a few fist flying and everyone waking up the next day to tell the story. Now two people aren't here anymore for nothing. An argument like that can breakout anywhere at anytime when anyone is around. That's frightening.

If I had a son right now I honestly don’t know what I would say to him in regards to how to carry himself. I don’t know if he would have much freedom to go anywhere without me bringing him. I would probably teach him the same principles my grandpa gave to my dad and they both passed to me but I think I would take out some of the tough bravado. I wouldn’t want him to be so soft that people ran all over him but I would be so scared of him ending up in a cemetery or a prison that I would want him to think violence was the worst way possible to deal with any issue. I would hope he could enjoy growing up in New Orleans without me having to take him away from here to escape this drama.

It’s not the New Orleans tradition to walk away from a fight but we need to do something different. We have to switch things up a little so the next generation isn’t caught in this cycle. I know Walter Harris would be okay with that because he wanted nothing more than his family to be okay and you can’t be okay if you are dead or incarcerated. It's time to apply this to all of our extended family and neighbors in the community.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sitting On My Porch Part Seventy Seven

Today was the first real day back at school and work for most people in the new year. That means there was less sleep and more traffic. There was also all kinds of people coming back from vacation and trying to catch up on three weeks worth of emails and voice messages. When you add this consistent cough that I can't get rid of my day has been pretty aggravating. The worst part about today is that I am taking cold medicine so I can't have a birthday toast for my dad today. I'll make it up to him this weekend when I am back to full strength and watching the Saints game.

Not enough Saints fans seem to be concerned with playing Detroit as I am. I think they have enough offense to hang with ours and are young and crazy enough not to be effected by the crowd. I also think they are ignorant enough to do something like hitting Drew Brees early to knock him out of the game. They are too unpredictable to feel comfortable about. I don't like the Saints in a position as favorite anyway. I am not listening to any media that gives the team that kind of status. I watch Saints games in paranoia like we constantly have something to prove and the minute we lose that edge something bad is going to happen. For that reason I need to think that the Lions have a shot.

Last night Mitt Romney won the Iowa caucus by eight votes over Rick Santorum. Politics aside I think Rick Santorum is strange. I don't know if I would want him to be president even if I agreed with his agenda. Crazy as he is I also think he's authentic. If he was acting he would be trying to come across more normal. In a strange way I respect him for keeping it real. If he was elected my expectations would be exactly where they need to be. I would be prepared for his foolishness. Mitt Romney on the other hand scares me because he's like a used car salesman. I believe he would say anything or adopt any idea if he thought it would help him get elected. If wins the nomination and the presidency no one would quite know what the hell is going to do. That worries me especially since he thinks corporations are people. Wal Mart might be his Secretary of State.

The person who should really feel bitter is Michelle Bachmann. No one got out in front of the world and carried the ball for their party like she did the last few years. She was one of the main faces of the Tea Party and had no problem going after the president and his agenda anytime she could. She was a fresh face with the skills to energize her party and when she won the Iowa straw poll and showed she might actually be a real contender for the nomination the good ole boys in her party dissed and pushed her to the back. It was almost like she disappeared after that.

Rick Perry is still in the race. That means we need to look for our governor in New Hampshire.
If the murder rate in New Orleans went up 14% and Warren Riley was still the chief, how calm would everyone be right now? I miss the days when New Orleans bloggers would try to come up with ways to insult Chief Riley without sounding racist. The local blogosphere is much milder since Nagin and Riley are gone.

Yesterday a friend mentioned she went on a social media fast and how clear her mind was after not looking at Twitter and Facebook for awhile. I don't know if I can do that and still maintain a blog like this but I have decided to take at least two days a week and not log into any social media site. I'm also not reading any internet comments under news stories because those will make you lose faith in society.

My dad is 62 years old today. Since I am in New Orleans he's not I have been playing his kind of music all day in dedication. I was listening to the song on the clip below. My dad used to have an old reel to reel player be brought back from Vietnam and on weekends he used to pull it out and play B.B. King Live in Concert very loudly. He can't do that anymore since everything he brought back from the war was destroyed in the flood. This song is for him, his reel to reel player, and all the people who want to keep telling me New Orleans is so much better since Katrina. We have some nice new buildings and they only cost us lives and memories. Who wouldn't want that deal?

Certain things still trigger my anger.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 : Looking Forward

Wit is on guard, I challenge you to a duel
Who needs a chain when every thought's a jewel
God bless the weirdo when everyone’s a fool
F_ck a genie and three wishes
I just want a bottle, a place to write my novel
I am like heroin to those that hear a rhyme and think
How do you find this upper echelon this time?
Let’s toast to better days, a beautiful mind, and a flow that never age

Greg Porn from The Roots – Kool On

2012 is here and I am starting it off when one of the worst colds I have had in my adult life. I have the most miserable cough that wakes me up out of a dead sleep. I’m tired and full of medicine which I hate. I don’t know how people drink cough syrup or pop pills for recreation. It makes you feel off balance. Give me a glass of bourbon or brandy any day over a pill. All I need is a ham sandwich with mustard and a large glass of water before bed to get over a few glasses of Crown. It’s going to take two weeks to come down from this cold syrup high.

I wish the calendar was powerful enough that when it reset so did your life so you could change course faster. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions but I do rank years and try to see what I could do differently going forward. 2011 wasn’t like 2005 or as frustrating as 2007 was to me but in my view it wasn’t the best year. I'm sure I didn't have the right energy last year. My favorite post of the year was the 20 things I hate. Work was draining. I felt tired and uninspired. So many people seemed to be stuck in cement when it came to progress. Black men in New Orleans wouldn’t stop firing weapons at one another. I lost two close family members which made me less and less concerned with things going on around me. I checked out a bit on following the news and the happenings in the community. Those are the things people blog about so in turn the page suffered because I wasn’t in the mood to pay attention.

Now the pages turn to 2012. Work doesn’t seem as draining as it was this time last year. I shouldn’t have to do so many things on my own. I have a good crew and I like how things are going. People are still stuck when it comes to progress but it’s easier to deal with when you are engaged. It help clears your conscience. I’m at a lost about what to do about black men in New Orleans firing weapons at one another but we have to keep fighting that too even though it’s going to come with lots of frustration and disappointment on the way to fixing it. As far as my family and friends go, all we can do is pray for good health and prosperity and deal with whatever happens.

Life isn’t that complicated when you really get down to the basics. Most people just want good health, a safe place to live, and enough money to pay their bills and have a good time every now and then. Some people add a lot of extra things to that list and some don’t but between all the extracurricular activities we all come back to the same thing. In 2012 I’m going to work on my basics and try to add a few extracurricular activities to the mix. Hopefully next year in 2013 my first post will be talking about all the fun we had and how everything is changing for the better. If not at least we can toast to our efforts in trying.