Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ignorance is Dis

I don't particularly like the definition of "Ignorance." It makes no reference to the root word "ignore". Ignore- to refrain from noticing or recognizing. Many people in the low income bracket are ignorant.... I know... folks in high income brackets are too. I would argue that they can more afford to be. Some ignore that something called standard english exists. It's not that there is no access. The libraries are free and there are plenty of examples on T.V. What some folks in the African American below the poverty line community speak is way beyond Ebonics with which I don't really have a problem.
I want a word that says ignorant by choice. It's probably in the dictionary somewhere.
I'm trying to figure out how to handle the ignorant people in my daughter's life. She is becoming very race conscious person. Black people my age still talk about "good" and "bad" hair and delineate between light and dark skinned African Americans.
Getting back to the language thang, when people are totally oblivious to standard english it strikes me as reverse snobbism without the power. So snobbism is snobbism. As most of you know, if educated black folk us standard english around certain brothas and sistahs they/we are branded as "sellouts" and "toms" by some. Some of this is rooted in anti-intellectualism which cuts a swath across all socio-economic and color lines. this attitude has been showering down from President Bush since he has been in office with his C+ self.
For many sub-cultures the adoption of standard english can signal the "movin' on up (to the east, west, north, south side)" and out and away from "yall" syndrome which certainly does exist.
With my daughter I am trying to instil the multilingual theory of American language. She can talk all the slang and Ebonics she wants as long as she learns standard english and knows when to use it. Of course the ultimate dilemma is what to do when you are faced with both groups simultaneously. You know, you colleagues want to go on an adventure into "the hood" for lunch and ya run into somebody you know. Do you give them dabs and a hearty "What up my Nig?" or do you feign ingnorance with, "Sir do I know you?" Well "Nig" usually isn't my vocabulary but I've always reverted back to the language of my roots which is actually both. So I speak what the recipient is most comfortable hearing. My standard english is the "I gotta get paid" language in the world of the Anglo-American workplace. I must admit however, that I have introduced black and country and urban colloquiallisms that I use into the workplace and even into lectures to mostly white folk. On one level to know a culture is to speak its language and there are many things we say in our communities that have a certain elegance and creativity against which standard english pales.
Do you know the difference between "sang"as a present tense noun and "sing?" In my community you can be corrected if you say, "Aretha sure can sing!" likely response, "No honey, Aretha can sang!"
I heard you but I "ain't tryin' to hear" that noise. Nameen?
Do you "lightweight" understand me, "yo?"
What is the difference between "excuse me" and "excuse you?" Excuse you can save you a lot of words when someone has offended you in some way... anyway.
Well these examples aren't necessarily in the realm of ebonics like replacing "th" with "d" like in dis for this, udder for other and so on. One of my favorite parts of ebonics to speak is the "aspect marking"...that is the use of forms of be to mark aspect in verb phrases. He be steady tryin' ta teach me "correct english." He be sayin' all dat stuff that I ain't tryin' to hear.
Well many countries get into the fight to preserve the language. I remember years ago the French wanted to outlaw the use to the American word "hotdog". In the southwest USA and other places the push is on to make (standard) english the "official" language. this makes since to me for the sake of uniform agreed upon communication. Language is hard enough even within a locale or family. However, I would like to see the walls of ignorance and lack of acceptance on both sides come down. Thusfar the only thing I can see is that the right or wrong is sole decided by whomever is in charge.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Proper Etiquette for Grieving People

The mass italics below is a response to my friend Ro who just lost her dad. She was saying that some folks thought it strange that she would host an open mic poetry set during this time. She is a poet.

Behavior at a viewing, wake or funeral
A friend of mine you may know, Ray (Buddy) McNiece is burying his mom today. He did a gig Weds and maybe has one tomorrow. I couldn't go to funeral today. I'll be surprised if a lot of poets didn't show and if poetry wasn't read. I went to the viewing yesterday. Got there late because of the snow and I was the only one to see Delores. I walked in as the vacuum cleaner was going and folks preparing for the viewing. I knelt and prayed for a while. I made a note from a flyer I had. It originally said "Party at the Speed of Light". I tore off the "y" in party and wrote a eulogy of sorts and put it in the coffin. I hope nobody was offended. I'd be offended if people don't do that at mine. I never met Delores but I wrote in the memories book because I have 10 years of Ray's life on stage, in meetings, etc.

Our particular nuclear Clan and toward my mother's side of the family are not very emotional or rather I should say we don't readily show them. Out of my parents, my sister and I, I am the most subsceptible to wailing and crying. When my father died there was none of that! Just our wet eyes. I don't know about mom and sis but I was choking back tears. Mom silently wept and rocked side to side. My sister looked straight ahead very erect and proper silently crying.

My dad's sister Leola was a wailer and did not hold back.

I have a huge family. At one of our family reunions the family facilitators counted 500 folk for our sit down dinner and that was without the kids. During this entire time you could hear jokes about dad being told in rememberance. Mom tells this story of dad killing a rattlesnake with a rake. He swung the rake so hard that he knocked himself backward and tumbled completely head over heals. she still laughs about that.

I've been to funerals where libations and bourbon where in order.

I remember when the head of a local motor cycle gang/club died. I say gang/club because it's hard to tell unless you have intimate knowledge of them or they get in the paper a lot. Some clubs like the Zulus are more social clubs and everybody has a legit day gig like "Pee Wee" who works at the post office, but ya can't tell to look at them. There are also members that are a little less savory.

AfroDog was the name of the deceased. It was a pretty amazing site. So many gangs were represented, the Soul Players, the Zulus, Pagans, Banditos (Ithink they were there). It was somber and respectful and a little tense because of some truces up for the funeral.

Sorry for your loss hon. It's not strange to be at a reading. We are a peculiar people so folks ain't always gonna get it.

Proper Dress

Growing up I went to a lot of funerals and folks were always dressed up. this is still proper ettiquette for us. As an adult I went to a funeral for the father of my friend Thaddeus Root. Thad wore a long green, tattered army coat, black pants and army boots. So that was dressed up for Thadeus. I guess he wasn't breaking any rules.... At my funeral wear something clean. Needless to say Afro Dog's funeral was about full bike regalia and if I remember correctly, mostly Harleys.

Remebering the Dead

Many times when I go to visit family in Alabama I will catch a group of my elders getting together that haven't seen each other in a while.... or sometimes they have. There will be a period of (names ficticious):

Uncle John: "U 'member ole Saul? Lived down by da ole cotton gin 'round da way?"

Uncle Obadiah: "Don't belive I doooo."

Uncle John: "You know! Married uncle Dave's boy dat had da rickets and one eye...!"

Uncle Obadiah: " Oooooh Yeahhh."

Uncle John: "He died."

Uncle Obadiah: "Umm. umm. umm. Well you member Virginia Dobbs lived atop da mountain over yonder?"

Uncle John: "Don't belive I doooo."

Uncle Obadiah: "Yeah ya do! You used to be sweet on her back in nineteen ought nine! Moved to Arkansas bout twenty sebbun yeahs ago."

Uncle John: "Hmm. hmm. hmm. I almos' forgot."

Uncle Obadiah: "She died.... Hundred lebben yeahs ole. Blind since she was sixty sebben."

The Proper Thing to Say when yo get the News

If you happened to have missed a funeral as of course often happens you 'd respond to the news with, "How was the funeral?" If you were at the funeral you might respond, "Awww it was beautiful!! So and So looked real good..." or "It was beautiful but so and so lost so much weight, didn't look liker herself." or whatever. On my dad's side of the family we do "marathon funeral"

If you've never seen (Atheist and god haters may not want to read the link and then again you may get a good laugh. It's scripture from the Bible and we hold it very dear to our hears. Enter at your own risk) a Masonic Funeral you are missing a treat. Very beautiful with lots of pomp and circumstance. At my father's funeral the Highway Patrol had officers posted at each intersection the procession passed. They stood at attention by their cars with the lights flashing until the procession passed. Wow!

When my dad died I didn't skip a beat. I went right back to work. We weren't estranged or anything but I wondered at how I was more broken up over the death of Bob Bergman, former director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Was it because I didn't know if he was going to heaven? Was it because I saw him daily and my dad lived in Alabama? Was it the arguments and discussions we had about art? I think it's because I know I'll see me father again. Anyway I think about him a lot and I am apt to say a lot of things that he said... repeatedly, that I see myself passing on to my daughter:

"As long as someone owes you, you'll never be poor."

" My eyesight is so good, I can peep down through muddy water and spot dry land!" we both wore glasses and I am legally blid w/o my glasses.

"I had the patience of Job."

"Work smarter not harder."

I have his sense of humor in a lot of ways. He was a storyteller, I am a storyteller. Consider him remebered.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

10 to the 7 to the 5. 10 Defining Moments. 5 Pivitol People. 7 Critical Choices part ONE

A woman I love recently completed an interesting exercise. List 5 pivitol people in your life. List 10 Defining moments. List 7 critical choices. I don't think I will like what I find. I don't know how honest I will be with myself especially in cyberspace. All 10's are defining moments; all 5's are pivitol people; all 7's are critical choices. I reserve the right to do more or less and to revise, revise, revise. Some things I may say a lot or somethings nothing at all... right now.
5-Muhammed Ali- along with Joanne Howard a very beautiful high school english teacher, Ali thrust me into the world of poetry. I would write and recite silly prose like Ali. "moves like a butterfly, stings like a bee, who could it be? Muhammed Ali! He spoke these words before the fight, then Smokey Joe put Ali in flight, When Muhammed came down, Smokey Joe was still there, this was more than Clay could bear..." I still remember the entire thing! Embarrassing! However, in my junior year Joanne encouraged me to enter a poetry competition which I ultimately won. That poem, "Happiness Is" can be found at the end of this blog. I continued to write but was pretty sick of the poetry scene. Well mostly I was sick of mine own ego. I really didn't like any poetry but my own and I new something was wrong with that picture. 1986 I move back to Cleveland and I find this poetry set and... well this poem albeit long winded tells the experience best. It's called Born Agin. Of course the poet who inspired the poem is in the last line or so. Don't know where the edited rewrite copy is right now. I'll insert that one later. A few years later I am hosting a poetry set at the Cleveland Museum of Art. I bring in a group called the Black Poetic Society. People came from 3 or 4 counties to see this! they blew me away. One of the cats in the group was R.A. Washington who has been a poetry mentor, friend, confidant who has modeled much about the artist's life before me. Here he is:
Monkey Musak I have to say I am indebted to the poetry world and poetry community and Mike, Muhammed, Joanne and R.A.
I was once testifying to what Mike did for me at the Nia Coffeehouse and when Mike got to the mic he quipped, "Man I tell ya, give a guy a kidney and he never let's ya forget it!" Hey may be tired of that joke but it still tickles me silly this 8 years later.

Borne Agin

I walked into this joint with my wife and an old friend.
One cowering to my left
The other with the back of my shirt securely clutched in
Both hands
C’mon, C’mon, sez me
Irritated that I was out with two people who would actually
Show their fear
Let’s sit over there
Standing in a doorway
We peered in
A bare light bulb in the center of the room
Hung down
A swinging
and 4th
Like a freshly
Shedding light
Not quite bright enough
To give the corners of the room
Anything other than a
Enter at your own risk
sorta feel

Suddenly my mind escaped back to
My poetry days
My poetry haze
And I remember
I remember how I left the poetry scene
I just didn't dig any
But my own

I’m wrenched back to the future
Of that past
The now
The hear and now
My ears are filled to over-flowing
Filled to exploding
By a cacophony
Of living words
(If it weren’t for the safety valve from my ears
To my mouth)
Pictures with imagery so
juicy my mouth is literally
(If it were not for that safety valve
Surely, I would be deafened)
Living words
I’m drooling
Words that individually
just words
Words together
So strong
They lift me up off my feet
Squeeze the air out of me
Abruptly, return me
To gravity’s
Arrogantly stop time to
Give me a sweet
Negating the impact as I
To the hear
And now
Well sorta
I look at my wife
Her face is blank
Eyes bolted on some guy
At the mic
I wave my hand in front of her face
She only sees the words
Rolling, spilling
Cascading, spewing
Out of his mouth
(If it were not for the safety valve
From the ears to the heart
She would surely be blinded)
As the words hit the floor
Some flatten and spread
And become sticky
The smell of hot, freshly
Concocted Marmalade
Cooling on a porch in
Huntsville, Alabama rises to greet
Some words are slimy
And I reach for a
Handkerchief to wipe the snot from my face
And look around to see
Who needs it
Words sore
Words vex
Words sour
Words soar
Words Ricochet like high powered
Super balls
Causing us to dodge and weave
Duck and cleave
To one another
The room is chin high with these
Chilling us as they seep inside us
These words
Warming us
These words
Burning us as they touch bare
Tearing us as they touch thin
I realize the three of us
Sharing the same moment
Sharing the same
Slowly we separate
Into our own
Self absorbed
Time zones
Our own
Selfishly guarded
The room reappears,
But now it is
Gold tiers that were
Once steps going to who knows where
Now exist of their own recognizance
to go beyond
Just soaked in light
It is almost like the time
God spoke to me while I
Was tripping on acid
looking out over Placid
Landscaped greenery with brooks
That gurgled
Birds that twirped
wind that
the most
Wonderful Symphony
God said
I live and
I can touch you
and reveal My Glory
Even when you are
Out of
Enjoy your trip
And I want time with
you when you come down
And here I was
Coming down
Brown, round clown, sound
The blood in my ears
Ground, bound, found, hound
Is that what he’s saying?
I don’t think I can hear
The blood in my ears
Mound, town, wound
And I hear words fading out
And crashing into nostalgic self
“”Big King Daddy of …
Big King Daddy of what?
Is that what he said?!
At this moment God forges this
And God takes it
And sprinkles it
Into our
Shoving us back
To that single plane
Re-shuffling us together
Like a deck of cards
I take the thought
Form it into words
Take a deep breath
Just to hear my wife say it
The 1st part
What was that?!
And my friend
Say it
the 2nd part
What just happened!?
And I thought I heard God
“He’s one of mine”
About the guy at the mic
I thought he said
“When I count to 3
You will be back in Tremont
The other thing I remember…
The only furniture
In the room
A bean bag chair
The 1st time I heard Michael Salinger read

Happiness is…

Loneliness… an
Eternity- involvement then
Tranquility, Togetherness

Evolution toward total bliss,

Now two Psyches unite, a heart is won

The mind of a lover is totally undone
One heart seeks
The other mind…

Just a friend
So half goes without
And is empty within
The abyss of need
Devotion seemingly
Relentlessly severed

Life struggles to live
And gayety works at not being
As sadness and pain
Complete their cool deed
With but half the effort

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

In All Things Give Thank?

Today I opened an email from a poet colleague. He has a blessed life with an artist for a ma, who gave him art and made him art and of course his fair share of lifes eddies and undertows to suck him under now and again. He is onery and yet sensitive.
I have often thought that he is my reflection but in reality I hope his essence is my destiny.
He is the head pastor of "the Church of Not So Much Pain and Suffering" and goes bravely where he has not gone before. He is one of the few people I can think of who does not care what others think, but actually has respect for himself. That's something more than naturally attained. It is something that is nutured and watered and grown in dark, damp "godforsaken" terrain as well as broad daylight.
At almost 60 years of age this guy has finally...or maybe again "found" true love. Over the past few months this new love relationship has been cast into the email seas like giant harpoons at the hands of Captain Ahab at the hands of Herman Melville the creator. Unlike the captain's harpoons many times these announcements and poems find their mark in my ocean of tsunami thoughts, death death dreams and heartaches of failures and even worse... things that fear has driven off.. I have long admired and yes patterned my words after the freedom of his brave, fierce, tender, silly, unyielding, unguarded words that strip him naked before the world everytime they are penned.
This ultimate artist and renaissance man has few regrets and admits he has done more than most. His newly found love now faces the ultimate test as does he himself as he faces cancer of the throat. He and new love still plan to sell their belongings and split this here continent for Europe. They hope to make a living from their art. Thusfar art has made a living off of them feeding off of their pain, their pleasure, their interactions with the dead and the living. Art has taken every opportunity to express itself through and possess them like ocean tides smoothing and grinding beautiful beaches for all but the beach itself to enjoy.
Unless indeed beaches are able to resist being moved by their oceans. The only other people I can think of that can stand close to this word meister and artist is R.A. Washington and Karen Job. I know many people who have done the "I Did It My Way" voyage. How many though have dived into the ocean body surfing to other shores as the sea saw fit to take them and become free? How many have plucked raw fish from the water when they were available and went satisfied... without when no fish were? How many have baked and dehydrated in the sun of life but accepted the water as carrier only and avoided suicidal sips of salty sustainance? He feels he will beat this cancer and to me it seems likely. In fact, I refuse to see him as anything but healed and healthy. Imperfect to be sure he may yet come face to face with God before he follows his mother to out of this world. Maybe face to face with God once more.
My friend Karen Job succumbed to cancer a number of years ago. She fought valiantly to the end and what does she have to show for it? Well in this world at least a daughter, grandchild and the following remembrance. In the next world? I don't know.

What I did on my summer vacation

Up to my neck in coffee at Joe Mugg coffeehouse,
Huntsville Alabama.
Searching under writer’s block rocks
for a creative geyser or even a spurt.
Sifting through thin, wet air
for nuggets of neon green,
cobalt blue, candy apple red words
with those metallic flakes
that sparkle and catch your minds eye.

Wading toward still, deep silence,
expelling the world From my lungs
to completely go under.
More silence but not enough
Only fool’s gold does my
mental pan hold.

On the road again,

Lungs full of the world.
Hours of yellow ribbonned road sail by.


I ponder
that I thought a thought deferred,
400 miles ago. The thread,
the vestige, the remnant of that thought
seems to have been washed away.

Sleep has drugged the world I breathe.
With each shallow drag of life,
I sink deeper into murky labored thinking,
head first. Clouds quickly inundate every space,
In my ears
around my head,
Those chasms that live
Expanding and contracting
Between the bumper car rhythm of electrons, protons
And neutrons.

Thoughts flee.
My eyes glaze over their windows
And pull their shades tight
As my consciousness loses control
Like a racing speedboat having bucked its rider
My subconscious self
Slides into the driver’s seat.
Breath in, breath out.

Next Day

Hangin’out with my sister in Mobile.
where giant
roaches and small industrial strength ants
are neighbors and roving
alligators call upon small
pets for dinner.
She filled us with French cuisine
and “down home” restaurant food.
Filled us with fellowship,
and much needed solitude.
I watched my daughter Autumn
Happy, gleeful, carefree,
Baptized in her first pool play.
This is the joy of parenthood,
the joy of a father-daughter relationship.
If I die now, I am fulfilled

Checking Messages
My voice mail has taken the analogue
Signal of a human voice and
Captured it, frozen it in
Fluid time, in an unstable
Digital signal.
We are preparing for
More eating and drinking
And being merry, when
I punch in fifteen numbers
To release the digital signal.
Boop, boop, behp, buhp,
Each key on the keypad chirping its lifeless
Yet familiar and weirdly satisfying tone.
It’s Karen Job. She’s in the hospital. More surgery
For terminal cancer.
She would love for me to call her,
Come by.
And I’ve been a terrible friend.
This message, living word
Morphed into digital signal,
Morphed to living word by the playing
Or is it by the listening?

At one hundred eighty-six thousand
Miles per second my mind travels
from daughter’s genesis to Karen’s
Book of revelation.

Humph. Death is…
Death is on the horizon
Death is the beginning
Of A new life; death is
Separation; death is
An illusion. Even if all these are true.
Still, Death is and all else is
Doctrine in this world.
I want to rip these pages

My vacation is over

It took an hour to find
Karen. It was
Another half hour to uncover
And reveal Karen positive. She
Was buried head to toe under stones
Of resignation and pea sized pellets
Of disappointments and setbacks.
Heavy blankets of immobility
were soaked in hours of surgery and dry
chemotherapy , and covered her to the neck.
“How is your son?”
“How is the Baby?”
“What is happening at your job?”
I drew a few quick sketches
of the outside world
with short, measured answers.
Eventually, I ladled
my tongue into a near-by
pond of adjectives, metaphors
and such giving her a cool
refreshing taste of reason
for leaving her bed.
Our living waters of conversation
spoke away the stones and pebbles
and caused the blankets to rise and float off
only to snag on reality dried clay feet.
I will be back several days next week, I say.
Standing by her bed, I
Run my fingers through her
Hair, curly and soft.
“Thank you for touching me.
People hug me and
Kiss me, but not many… touch
My lips rain
Kisses down on her face.
You know that kind of soft, warm semi-torrential rain
that fills your shoes, sloshing as you walk
and makes your clothes cling?
The kind that floods your loins with warmth
and tickles running down the crack of your butt?

“Do you mind if I kiss you?”
“Cav I love it when you kiss my face”.
“Karen, I’ll see you next week.
We’ll hit the art museum”. Outside the hospital I notice
A layer of dust
from her rocks and pebbles had conquered every
inch of me. The dark perfume of the blankets
mixed with those living waters
still resides this time later.
I haven’t seen her since.
Nor shall I again
In this world.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

X Box 360 Do Whatcha Gotta Do to Get One! | Home

"Rob a liqour store if you have but can your hands on one and don't let go because this machine is incredible," read one of the customer reviews today.

This morning @ 8am. on the news a Black couple in their late 40's stood in line. It turns out that the wife had been in line since 5pm last night to get the new X Box 360. Was this for that child in their lives that would be sorely disappointed if he or she didn't get one of the very first toys out of the store? Well sort of. It was for her husband who had joined her a bit earlier this morning. "I love my man and if you love 'im you do anythang for im..."

Yeah but....

I will never hear "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" the same ever again!

The woman newscaster said she heard a rumor that Lebron James had purchased 15 of the 40 available in Cleveland. "he knew somebody who knew somebody" the newscasters joked. I could care less about X Box but I was pissed about that. It was like the time this cat won Indians tickets on WMJI 105.7 radio and the DJ chided with, "well ya could at least act happy!" because the winner sounded less than enthusiatic. It have been he was overwhelmed or hadn't yet sipped his first cup of coffee. All I could think though was, "What! We can't buy tickets at the gate or elsewhere because your station and other companies bought them up before they were available and he's supposed to thank you for making him quack like a duck or whatever to get some tickets!!?" This is not even taking into account the time spent to be the 10th caller.

But I digress.

The first time I heard of this kind of materialist lunacy was was in the 80's with the marketing of theCabbage Patch the Cabbage Patch craze produced several fist fights across the country between customers who once again waited in line all night to get them. Now with X Box more will be out later this year. I can understand Microsoft creating this atmosphere but I probably don't understand the reasons most of these "suckers" have who go out and stand in line all night and maybe even resort to fisticuffs.

However, to show I'm not necessarily a snob nor am I above this sort of thing I present:

The Some Things I Would Stand in Line All Night for:

A dinner date with any of the following; Smith Wigglesworth, Madonna, Muhammed Ali, Laurie Anderson , Bono and U2 , Pres. Jimmy Carter, Pres. Bubba, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara , Thurgood Marshall, Harriet Beecher Stowe , and the guy healed at the gate called beautiful ... did he ever get a job? MLK (I won't put anymore dead people or impossible things)

To hear/see

the USA apologize to us Black folk for slavery with the same regret that the USA apologized to Japanese who were U.S. citizens for their short internment during WWII. March 25, 1998
U. S. President Clinton expressed regret for the American role in African slavery. By the way, i'm not proud, I'll take my 40 acres and a mule plus interest.

See the very last racist be laid to rest.... O.K. this is the last impossible thing, promise. Perhaps he or she should be preserved in an action figure pose and displayed in a history museum in his or her hometown. It would boost the local economy. May as well get some use out of it!

Hear President Bush do stand-up comedy and explain the axis of evil comment.. what were you thinkin' boy!?

Take a ride in a space ship. Bungy Jump, ride a great wooden roller coaster. Drive a race car in the Indy 500, dive in a submarine. Join the mile high club in a C141 flying a hyperbola.

Go to another world series of Rock at Jacobs field. the old ones were at the old Cleveland Stadium.

to get a limited edition scrabble game. to get a Romare Bearden painitng, Jasper Johns and others.

What are some things you would stand in line for? Did you stand in line for X Box? Why?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I wanna freak you tonight... with poetry and soccer

I judged a hyped 8th grade team slam Saturday night(yesterday). It is part of a program from America Scores. The Cleveland Scores chapter did a lot of work along side school administrators, coaches, parents and other volunteers in this soccer/ poetry program. They should all be applauded for their concern and hard work. Here are the schools involved who all sent teams to represent. Veteran slammer and poet Educator Ray McNiece MC'd the event and several area veteran poets performed and read.

A quartet in the tradition of Backstreet Boys, called Added FX performed. Their website says:"

Added FX is a hip-hop R&B group comprised of four talented young men based out of Cleveland, Ohio. They were bonded by one common interest, pure dedication and drive to succeed as performers. Billy West, Jeremy Rath, Jay Rogers, and Donnie Cole came together and began their journey to achieve their goals:

- To soar to the top of the music industry with their strong work ethic and drive.
- To impress everyone who sees them perform live with their intense dancing, smooth flows, and tight harmony.
- To create and perform music that touches the soul, making a positive change in the lives of their listeners. "

They were fun to watch. One of the group showing great showmanship that the others rarely did. They seemed to be steeped in concentrating on the dance moves event to the point of letting a tongue hang out. At one point I turned to look at the youth audience and there were 6 or 7 rows of girls ranging from maybe 10 years of age to early pubescence standing and dancing.

The one down side of their act was a song with the hook, "I wanna freak you all night." I thought this was totally inappropriate for such a young audience. I wonder is this just me? We have such a superficial, materialistic, sexual society . We send them messages like this and then bemoan teen pregnancies. In the black community, I read 98% of girls have had sex by the time they leave high school. It was reported to be 58% in Hispanic communities. No numbers for everybody else were available. I find these numbers hard to believe but still, what's wrong with this picture? I assumed the SCORE folks had no idea that the group would do a song like this but then I don't know. Many of the young adults there were smiling ear to ear, pumping fists in the air at these lyrics. Are we just numb from sex shots to the gums that we can't speak? Are we so inundated with the message that we don't hear it or have just plain ole given in to it? Am I over reacting? Chime in.

Well like the Backstreet Boys at the beginning of their carreers who had to get started abroad because they couldn't cut it in the USA, Added FX is mediocre at best with damn good music beats behind them. They could be more but like so many in our society their wrectchedness may soon be clothed in bling.

Friday, November 18, 2005

"Crack whores day in Court" or "Open Season on Black Men"

So we are almost at the end of a kind of nasty divorce. It has been a terrible marriage literally from day one. I woke up the day after I got married and knew I had been taken. I though things would change. I always thought they would get better and that God would turn things around. I married in disobedience to God and that is not what happened. I have stopped asking myself, though, how I could be so ignorant? "Why didn't God put me with the woman I was after and wanted to marry before that?" and other whys.
I know I am responsible for all of my decisions. About two years ago or more we were in marriage counseling for the third time and I use the term loosely. It was mamby pamby "let's learn how to communicate" counseling. We were communicating well. i was saying, "I have these issues, needs and grievances and my wife was saying basically, "I don't give a shit". By her own admission in her journal she admitted, I had really tried to please her.
She just refused to be satisfied and happy (me saying this not her). Well while in counseling it came to my attention that she was dating someone she hired at her job. It also came to light what I already new from two previous counselings that she was not vested in change of looking at herself but as she said during our 2nd to last therapy, "that's why we are here, for you to get fixed". Mamby pamby counselor called her on the carpet way too late at our last session.

I would suggest to any married couples going through difficulty not to go to marriage counseling before individual counseling to identify your own culpability and the real issues at hand. Or counselors before this were not bad at getting to issues, such as trust and laying out a plan of corrective action. Wifey would never do it but they can't control that can they?

I tried over the years to every now and again get her to go to personal counsel as it was apparent that she had serious issues. One issue is hatred for her father that she takes out on any man that exerts himself in anyway. Wow! what a no brainer. Doesn't like her father? Stay away! She has totally emasculated her 22 year son who already has apparent developmental challenges. I gave her months after I knew about it.... trying to talk to her and such and as usually she had nothing to say. The difference was that she feigned powerlessness. This is kinda tricky because her low self-esteem gives her this attitude of powerlessness which she can't admit so here she was faking the feeling or powerlessness she really felt....never mind! She felt she had a lifeboat boyfriend. In December she called me at work to see how I would feel if she went out "with another man". Would have been a nice question months before while they were staying out late talking hours on the cell phone, ignoring her daughter yada yada. I went home and told her I wanted a divorce. At last I felt there was now hope and I knew there was no foundation to rebuild anything. I was tired of the abuse. I was tired of my daughter and stepson seeing an absolutely sick relationship to model. Initially, I tried to get a dissolution to no avail and so now it's divorce court.

Anyway I have been totally involved in my daughter's upbringing. I love everything about being a father except being her mom's husband. We could not agree on family parenting so we had to go to "Family Conciliation Services." They have a really difficult job trying to decide what is best for kids in situations like ours. My wife got to me in one of the sessions as she told bald face lies and misrepresented many many things. How could they possible know what was the truth? They couldn't especially with my wife who has spent her entire marrried life anyway being insincere and living a lie. It seemed apparent that many things she said she actually beleived. If I hadn't journaled things at the time they happened throughout our relationship I would think they didn't happen at all. That is how convincing she is and I think that shows the depths of her denial.

They, the Family Conciliation People are severely crippled and probably have crippled many children through their extreme bias against men and to my way of thinking, Black men. I would also point out that it seemed to be a department of all women. I have been educating my daughter and trying to instil all kinds of values that mom does not have. She is exposed to adult content by her mother and one of her family members, Her son has introduced her (she is six) to pornography and has an issue himself. She holds social life above education. Once at a family gathering we were talking about our desires for daughter and kids in general. you know, doctor, teacher yada yada. My cousin mention valedictorian of college graduating class and mom proudly said that her daughter would be prom queen.

So all of this issues were brought out and the final report says that I am unstable (not mentally) and I don't pay the bills (untrue). They completely ignored the adult content, andy character issues and there was no thought whatsoever given to the pornography issue. ONe of the counselors didn't like me from the start. Think I have a chip on my shoulder? Not! She managed to turn her back to me and not my wife in our conferences even though I was sitting right next to my wife. Her face contorted everytime I spoke. She cut me off frequently. She look mostly at my wife and would glance at me occasional, I guess to be inclusive and one occasion she joined in with my wife on the unstable thing. I explained to her I would be living in Shaker or Cleveland Heights but that I couldn't get a place until wife had refinanced and afforded me the opportunity to sign off on a quit claim.... In one ear and out the other, plus this wasn't her first day on the job, she knew what the deal was.
Daughter could be a great student and life long learner but right now I am relegated to Thursday through Sunday every other week and 2 midweek visits. My lawyer feigned being unhappy and feeling it is unjust. I think it's just that he doesn't like to lose. Daughter loses though, not me or him. I should acknowledge that it is possible that this is what is best for daughter at this time for whatever reason... I can't see it, but it could be!

I was talking to a friend of mine who is a divorced mom and she told me, "Ohio is a mom state and you can be a crack whore and still get the kids." Well "my baby's momma" is more a child crusher than a crack whore but I'm not missing the point.
My lawyer said the same thing. Well it didn't actually mention crack whores but he said the courts favor mothers in one breath and in the next told me the magistrate and judge I have fit the profile to a tee. It is much more than favor. According to my lawyer they have preconceived ideas of the outcome... as I said, at least the particular judge and magistrate I have been assigned.
Do I sound pissed? Do I sound upset? Am I blaming Family Conciliation, my lawyer, "the man" or in this case "the woman"?


God controls everything or God wouldn't, couldn't be God. That's where the buck stops. So I am deciding whether or not to go to court for a custody battle. In court I could possibly fair better. Wife and witnesses might be less inclined to lie and avoid perjury... or not. The same prejudice against men and particularly Black men would still exist. When I told my lawyer about the plight of Black me in the sytem he gave me a white, blank stare. "does not compute! does not compute!" He sorta felt me but some denial laden disbelief kept him from really rapping his mind around it.

Shamefully enough there are a great number of Black woman like my wife and some of her divorced single friends who love dick and hate men. The court system is helping our sick Black community stay sick and grow men haters and women haters also. But ultimately, what the hell is God doing? He can have any outcome he wants for my daughter and he is choosing this: She gets this Thursday- Sunday every other week plus two mid-week visits.. I have grown a lot spiritually and years ago I would have turned my back on God and stopped seeking him and trusting him and started pouting and being angry with him for a long, long time.

Now I am endeavoring to walk in what I say I believe and trust God knows what is best and that he has a plan for me, wife, daughter, stepson... Unfortunately I believe he has planned for "X" amount of folk to go to hell by creating them fully knowing they would rebel to hell.
I must say I am at a point where I think it is not possible for God to use me (contradictory?) for great things. I don't trust God to ever deliver me from the consequences of my actions. I don't trust God to every make trials more than not giving me more than I can bear. I don't think I will ever be able to walk in wisdom. I am too weak. Strong in many areas but weak where it counts.

So God will never leave me nor forsake me and cavalierly I think, "big deal!" Heaven is in the bag and I'm not gonna be of much use down here. Hell why stay? This is not a cry for help and I am not suicidal. I do have depression and am taking prozac for it. Wow! What's that about? Why pray? The prayers of a righteous man does a lot of good according to the bible. I don't see it. I've had a handful of miracles since 1978 which is when I became a head over heels follower of Christ. Were they really miracles? Reality. What is it and where is it? Reality: truths and situations that are not subject to change.
Well I guess the point is relationship with God. God is God and I am not. In that relationship he can do what the hell he pleases and I am at his mercy. He has a right to be. He paid the price to be and he loves me. Whether i see it or not something in me tells me to come to grips with that. Should I not accept cursings as well as blessings from the creator? Should I not willingly put my life in God's hands and trust and follow and obey no matter what?
There is an inner voice that flies in the face of all of the circumstances that come against, disappointments in God, failures due to character like cowardice and rebellion, deceitfulness of riches and more. that voice is the key. Follow it or die. this walk is not fun. I see Christians around me enjoying life, victory in Christ, finances, domestic happiness... not to be confused with bless and a virtual cakewalk.
As I look back at my closest walk with Christ I have to say that it was just O.K. Islands of emotional highs that can easily be explained away. So what, I feel God because I cry in church, I "lead someone to God", I accomplish things, I make it through trials, I help others. So what!? I want to know God and walk with God, HERE on earth, NOW and I know I never will.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My Nose is Tied to the Doorpost

Sunday, December 13, 1992, along with Omar Shaheed I had my septum pierced. The septum is the piece of flesh separating the nostrils. It was a ritual for me, a rite of passage, connecting with my God Jehovah, my people of Africa, and my people, the Original people of this continent called North America. In the spring of 1991 I had a strong desire to get my septum pierced. From whence came this desire? From within. At the time it seemed a very African thing. Today it seems a very primordial thing, a very, a very spiritual thing, a very holy thing.
It is no secret that my Jewish forefathers bought and sold each other. (Yes, I am of African descent, Native American, Irish, AND Jewish descent.) Read Exodus of the Pentateuch or the 21st chapter of Exodus. Menservants were set free after seven years. If menservants desired to stay with their masters after receiving their freedom, they were to pierce their ear.

Exodus 21.5-6
...And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.

Deuteronomy 15.12-17
And if your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold to you, and serve you six years; then in the seventh year you will let him go free from you. An when you send him out free from you, you will not let him go away empty: You will furnish him liberally out of your flock, and out of your floor, and out of your winepress: of that wherewith the Lord your God has blessed you shall give to him. And you shall remember that you were a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you: therefore I command you this thing today. And it shall be, if he say to you, " I will not go away from you"; because he loves you and your house, because he is well with you; Then you shall take a awl, and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant for ever. And also to your maidservant you shall do likewise.

This piercing is also a figure of my voluntary servitude to Jehova Jireh, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. It is a public pronouncement of my will to walk as a man, as I see fit and not so much as is dictated to me. It is a proclamation of my will to walk as a chaste man apart from the ways of the world, steadfast in virtue, integrity, and faith in God.
Why did Omar pierce his septum? It was a journey into the past. It was a fellowship with our ancestors of beauty out of pain. It was a breaking of bread, if you will, with our ancestors and their spirituality. It is a rebellion against what is thoughtlessly accepted. It is Omar's repudiation of the edicts of a seemingly omnipresent oligopoly and against the emphasis place on one's outer appearance, so that he might focus on his inner self.
I first mentioned to Omar, that I had a strange desire to pierce my septum seven months prior, in June. Around the same time, a desire to do this had also risen up in him, how incredible! Omar's travels took him to Jamaica where for two and half months he worked on monumental sculpture with David Breden.
Are things like this ordered of the Lord? (or God or The Universal power or whatever one believes in. ) Many Christians would say this is not. Some would go as far as to say this is dark and ungodly. To me it seemed ordered of the Lord that Omar would come back to the states and stay with me during the week I chose to have my septum pierced. While back in the states, Omar could have gone to Los Angeles where he lived for many years, or to Columbus to stay with a friend, or he could have stayed in New York with his son. He was drawn to Cleveland. Omar is not fond of Cleveland.
This weekend was a weekend of prayer and fasting for me. I am usually rather intuitive and more sensitive to the urgings of the Spirit when I am fasting. It was a weekend of spiritual conversation with Omar. Omar is Muslim and we disagree on many things, as one might imagine. We vigorously argue our disagreements, but, choose to focus on our similarities. We both believe that without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. We believe that love and respect for God's creation does not allow for hatred and disunity and violence (physical or mental) toward what is offensive to us. Hatred toward the flesh of mankind is operating from a position of weakness. Love is the power to build, or rebuild. Love is the power to destroy by juxtaposition with that which is not true and single.
My sister performed our piercings and was the only one outside of Omar who was privy to my sacred moment. After "completing" the readings of my ceremony, I closed my bible and said, "O.K., let's do it!" Trella, my sister, countered with, "What about the rest of your scripture?" as she flipped her hand over, palm up, waiving in the direction of my bible. She was nervous and this was her only valid stab at procrastination. "Do you want to suffer through it?", I asked. "Sure," she said, "even as I try to procrastinate." I gladly read the rest of my readings in proverbs, about my "wife" and "sister", who is Wisdom, and then once again I touted, "O.K., let's do it!" The loud crisp "SNAP!" of the leather awl jutting through the cartilage in my nose made Omar and Trella cringe. A year ago I had a guest list of people I wanted to be present. However, at the time of the piercing I can only think of one person to invite, and he is in Chicago unable to attend. I hold the steel awl, as Trella walks to the gas oven and blackens the end of a bamboo skewer to replace the awl. The skewer, which is covered with an antibiotic cream,. does not go through as easily as the awl. As my sister struggles to force it through the hole, I clench a yellow bandana with much more force than when the awl was injected. I am overcome with laughter as I watch my sister's puzzled reddening face try to look it through. Finally! It's done!
Trella, asked me what if I change. "You're following God now, but you could be real far away next week. What makes you think this is forever?" Leave it to my little sister to add a spark of reality. I trust, God builds faith, and I hope against hope that this will not happen. Trella drills Omar about why he is doing this and is apparently not happy with his answer, which is a far cry from what is recorded earlier in this writing. "That's it?! That's all?! That's why?!" With great resolve Omar acknowledges, "That's all I can articulate right now." With complete empathy, I understand this. Months have passed before being able to articulate many of the things I find myself led to do.
Omar's ordeal is similar to mine. After his bamboo was in place, we laughed and hugged. Trella joined in the mix and received much deserved love and gratitude. It was harder on spectator and expediter than on recipients. I was elated. I marveled at how something which had no particular significance to others was elevated to what I felt was a sweet savor wafting up to the throne of God. "Lord! I want to tell someone! I want to tell everyone! But who can I tell? Who can I share this with?," I thought. " Who can greet this event with more than bewilderment or indifference? Who would have the presence of spirit to not defile this moment?"
A women who said I am her best friend (until this night!) called. "Great! MAYBE I can tell HER!" There is no one else. Well, I don't get to tell her. After five minutes she is breathing curses and saying I am not her friend and that I am an asshole. God! I should make asshole my middle name! The venom is so great, I am affected physically. I have a pain in my stomach and my hands are shaking badly. I find myself in the kitchen with a glass of water, watching it shake out of the glass uncontrollably. Possibly, that relationship is forever gone. But, that night, I returned to my bedroom and talked to God and worshipped God, as I know this Being. My resolve? Family, friends, finances, and good fortune may all forsake me. But who shall separate me from the love of God? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or gun? I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God...My nose is tied to the Doorpost.

Monday, November 14, 2005

WOW! for Steve B. Smith & Kathy Ireland Walker-Smith

Now I bow
at how God
a pow so loud
to make love
to vow
against all odds
cotton candy cloud
to accumulate cumulus y'all.
you weather the yeow
of this world
tethered together.
in-dao-ed with each other.
I'm WOWED, speechless
and proud
to glow from you
to see something old
made new
and something new
made wise
before my eyes.
I'm speech less- now.
Just future eyes for you
praying happy
surprises due.

a blessing for you
God bless you both in the next step of your Christened, Christ sent precious, prescient, , journey.
May nothing separate you. You were two. Now you are one. Now you can only be separated into she says/he says pieces. Don't let it happen.
Advice if I may be so bold:
Don't let the sun set on your anger. Remember BOTH of you, having your way ain't all that.
What you see now is what you get.
Finally, don't pray for patience unless you want trials.

sbsmith wrote:
Kathy Walker - now known as Kathy Ireland Smith - and Steven B. Smith will marry January 2006. As soon as possible after ArtCrimes #21 is published May 2006 (this will be my final ArtCrimes issue), we sell our possessions and move to Europe to live. We will write, give readings and have adventures. Before we leave, there will be many readings, gatherings, parties, partings, and sharings of our amazing fairly tale love. May all you know such joy in your lives.

Those who’ve asked about the rings we wear – I gave her my dead mom’s ring, we got a pawn shop ring for me, and pledged each to each our fidelity and love. We are mated for life. January is merely the legalization of our is.

go thee, and suffer less
the church of not quite so much pain & suffering
the irreverend smith presiding

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Underworld Rivers

A wonderful life
Last December 19, 2003 while at work I received a call that would cause me to redefine, reconstruct who I had been for the last 8 years or so. Imagine living a deception and “awakening” to realize much of what you thought was or could be, is not, and barring a miracle from God will never be and there is no “do over.”
My body traveled a road from literal nausea down the path of the living dead who have experienced being pierced through with a dull, jagged, stake just nicking the heart. My soul was gagged, bound and abandoned to die floating face down in the suffocating, thick black vacuum of river Acheron. Five rivers to cross back to the land of the living. Five rivers. Swim Styx as fast as you can boy! Hold your breath and walk the bottom if need be. But don’t make an oath you won’t keep with its waters in your lungs! Get out! River Lethe sucked the oxygen from my brain, the blood from my heart. Its water confounded and soothed at the same time. I feared for my sanity and yet every accidental gulp while flailing and gasping for the sweet savor of anything beside the stench of my own vulnerability preserved me. Its effects linger. I can still taste it on the pallet of my mind. Anger plunged me into the Phlegethon and subsided, but still its waves and eddies burned me to the core. Why am I not consumed?
I languished in the icy Cocytus and I prefer that to these flames.
Along this journey there has been no solace but tears, no reprieve but uneasy sleep and the river Lethe still in my lungs. Between rivers the world’s gravity had multiplied seven-fold and it was all I could do to get out of bed, drive, meet someone’s eyes or fake a smile. I thought I’d work on a self- assignment for the Cleveland Museum of Art where I’m employed. I would’ve gone to Columbus, but heard tell there was shooting at the I-270 corral. Gravity loosened its grip the further removed from Cleveland I became. Moments later I was in Pittsburgh visiting the Warhol and the Mattress Factory. In that timeless moment between Cleveland and Pittsburgh I talked to God and tried to listen and knew I had to face this event. I was responsible for decisions I would make and I would father a ripple affect that would spread beyond my comprehension and already beyond my control.
Warhol’s gallery of death was chilling. One canvas hosted multiple images of a young, beautiful woman who had committed suicide by jumping. She landed, dress gloves in hand atop an automobile positioned as if peacefully sleeping a chase lounge. The contrast between the evidence of the horrendous impact with the car top and her elegant, peaceful, demeanor was eerie. There was a mangled body rag-doll hanging from a wrecked automobile and other images. In another space there was playful cow wallpaper, in another huge matter of fact black handguns silk-screened on colorful canvases, in another huge raurchac tests. Warhol memorabilia was particularly captivating. There is something about pet magazines, letters, shirts and such especial when they outlive their masters. All these images combined to speak of the height and depth of humanity. Combined to speak of the power we wield, unleash and like Pandora’s box opened, can’t control. It said that no matter how abused we are, no matter how much we embrace the dark side, it is hard to kill the child within. Two floors were dedicated to the Kennedy assassination. In an instant I understood once more, I was not suffering anything uncommon to man. People endure much worse. At the Mattress Factory minutes away there were several installations that caused me to think about the reality of perception. Colorful 3-D cubes hovering in the corners of dark rooms turned out to be “just” light speaking volumes about light as particle and wave and ruler. It was apparent that my life was not what it seemed to be and that this 8 years was neither its total definition nor its conclusion. Let God be my Author and Finisher.
For 5 or 6 weeks I tried to work and to write and to still be involved in Issue 31 and other arts endeavors but to no avail. Not long ago I realized I was at the bottom of Maslov’s pyramid just trying to endure its weight and nothing else mattered. Thank God for the arts. Who would’ve thought Warhol could be an anchor in a turbulent emotional ocean, that the Mattress Factory would slow and cushion my fall? That afternoon as I returned to Cleveland, and I was so inspired by the Agnes Gund show at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Later, with my West Side passport in hand and I stopped at Touch Supper Club. I had pizza and a healthy dose of Spanish from the “locals”. Yes, I’m an East Sider. Nice canned funk began to tug and pull my Working class, Blue collar Cleveland attitude from the depths to the shore and onto dry land and sizzling live salsa downstairs filled my heart with joy making me buoyant and feather light. Well it’s 2:00AM and where do ya go in Cleveland? The Mardi Gras of course or Lancer’s Steak House. I sat on one side at the Mardi Gras and had some seafood and great music and ran into some friends who would show me empathy.

Friday, November 04, 2005

remembering Larry Glover

Larry Glover

Larry Glover was a tireless jazz promoter, historian, theologian, drummer and friend. He died a few years ago of a heart attack. It was a shock to many. I wondered out loud why Larry never "made it big". He told me he didn't want to and that the travel wasn't worthy. He affected the lives of many including probbably thousands of youths over the years in person and through the many jazz and music programs he created and instituted. I think his favorite program was "Instruments for Kids." This program supplied instruments and music lessons for kids that could afford neither. As long time president of the (Northeast Ohio Jazz Society (NOJS) Larry contributed much the jazz community and the world. Go to Services or hit the link in the sentence above (programs) to see some of those things. On these pages and all of the links to the left of these pages you can hear original music by Larry and Jazz pianist/ educator Doug Dostal. One of the things I miss about Larry is how I could never mention an album or musician he didn't know about. I would go to the library and find an obscure jazz album or recording and be so excited about my new discovery. I would call Larry and give him the initial info... Name of the album and who the main cat was and inevitably Larry, who had a photographic memory, would finish my sentence. I would read the album liner as he told me what I was listening to when and where it was recorded and many times tell me what the cover looked like and the entire history. It became this game of trying to find something about jazz he didn't know. I was never able to do it. What fun and passion in this world no longer. But his memory and legacy lives on and on.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The sinking of a Friendship

For Karry

So this was one of my best friends. I met her in 1986 in college art deparment. She is sweet and hard, thoughtful, caring. I was in love and she was providing everything my wife refused me except we weren't lovers. Her house was a refuge for me. She would always clip things from the paper she knew I'd be interested in. I needed to break it off or felt I did. I couldn't bring myself to tell her I loved her and needed to keep away from her before I asked to make love. She has a beautiful body.... great legs. I sabotaged the relationship and made her hate me. Hindsight I was surprised at how easy it was. Wow! She thinks I am this.... hmmm maybe I am. She was surprised when I knocked on her door to face her. "I didn't expect to see you here, at least you had the courage to come," she said. Part of her pain, I think, is that I knew her so well and used it. I threw this beautiful relationship away for a piss poor, sick, unhealthy marriage three or four years ago. The marriage ends within the month and I regret losing Karry. Karry, I think about you often. Unfortunately or fortunately, I shall never think of my soon to be ex.... like Karry.

Upon an altar of
Lies a friendship
Slain, limp
Conversation propelled
Its one athletic foot
Loved to tango, waltz
Ballroom dance
Around puddles and chasms
Of darkness
Frictionless friendship
Reconcile atrophied
But now the other shoe
A novice dancer
Full of dark glory
Dark puddles’ answer
Dark chasms’ partners, dancing
Stalking, walking
On hind legs
Black star imploding
Fantasy foreboding
Now she dares me
To prove I am not
That thing
And uncaged
“I don’t believe you”
On her tongue
Lighting the funeral pyre
Turning the final page
“Have a nice life”
Her pained defense breathes
“I don’t know you…”
Truth be known
Now you really do

Friday, October 28, 2005

Listening to R.A.Washington's AUDIO BLOG. Pretty compelling stuff. Who Am I? Where Do I Fit? How Do I Be True To Myself? Damn! I'm starving, in the dark, without heat!
He questions whether folks in careers are satisfied, doing what they want in their carriers, and more or less making it.
Reasons folks don't succeed include: no skill, no drive, no education, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of a risk, no confidence in God, and because God has not allowed it. I guess this last one supersedes all of the rest except that God might not allow it because of one of the other reasons. Catch 22 at it's best, wouldn't you say?
R.A. feels it is an unalienable right to make money at what one loves. This a is relatively new concept in Industrialized America as far as the masses are concerned. Educated folk thought that way but higher education wasn't a mainstream concept until the late 60's when Black people saw it as a way out and mainstreamed it, followed by White women in the early 7o's. This country was driven by longshoremen, factory workers, construction folks and folks would have to be crazy to be in their careers for fun. That's why until recently this country's work force has been "
Llivin' for the Weekend."
John Keynes, an economic theorist brought in a theory that was soundly rejected until the 1929 deppression. President Kennedy assigned, Keynes follower, Walter Heller to head the President’s Council of Economic advisers and thus we have Keynesian economics being pushed at us by the government. His theories give rise to the consumer driven economics and culture that we have today.
I hope I don't sound like I have answers. I am about to give up on the notion that I will ever make a proper choice that will lead to prosperity and happiness and fulfillment. Like R.A. at first glance all the ingredients are there for success. It hasn't happened yet. God doesn't count success like I do and that is a problem.
I know my own heart can lie to me. It has done so on many occasions. So I try to trust and follow God. It seems I am not capable of seeing the right thing to do AND then doing it and I suffer the consequences.
What will be my legacy?... poverty, defeat, dissolutionment? Suppose I am rich in God's eyes? Wouldn't I know it? Well I know no such thing. I have the grace of salvation but that is not enough in the present and I've yet to develop a long range view of where I am.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tookie, the Crips and Capital Punishment

Stanley Tookie Williams, III, the founder of the California street gang called the Crips will be executed December 13th, 2005 for murders committed in 1979. July 30, 2005, news article detailing the life of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, a convicted killer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Tookie's Corner
Fact: Executions for murder do NOT lower the murder rate.
Fact: Death penalty convictions are usually racially motivated according to a NJ study in 1996.: Racial discrimination was [also] highlighted in a study conducted for New Jersey's Supreme Court, made public in February [1996]. The study concluded that black defendants in the state are 10 times more likely to receive a death sentence than white defendants (where other factors were equal) from a jury. The study analysed 341 murder cases dating back to 1982 in which defendants faced the death penalty and found "strong and consistent biases" against black defendants. Of the 16 prisoners under sentence of death in New Jersey, 10 are from ethnic minorities. Here for full story.
Even if this were not the case there's always that possibilty that someone innocent is being convicted and executed for something they didn't do.
"But what a closure for the murder victum's survivors?" What about justice? I admit if someone murdered a loved one of mine my first reaction would be reveange, an eye for an eye, I don't think is morally right.
"What about the burden on society caused by keeping a murderer incarcerated?" Look elsewhere in the system to lower the burden. Most people are not in for murder. Many, many people don't deserve to be in prison.
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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Slavery in Detroit

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Went to Detroit yesterday (Saturday) to meet with Aurora Harris . Noelle sat in the front seat with me and we talked and played tapes (I don't have a CD player yet) on the way up. Amazing woman that Aurora! We got there so late though. Aurora is a phemoninal poet and social activist. She is beautiful and driven and very accomplished. We are hoping we can connect with her on our poetry/technology program. She and Noelle seemed to really hit it off. Noelle and I were both very juiced up after talking and planning with Aurora. Aurora works with her partner Chazz Miller. He is director and she is co-director of Public Art Workz . Aurora does so many things she must have a twin.

Also saw the Charles M. Wright African American History Museum . Noelle cried her way through the life size replica of the bottom of a slave ship with slaves in shackles lined up and crammed together like livestock in a shoot on their way to slaughter. We saw a slave being branded like a cow. We saw a slave woman on a ship strung upside down about to be whipped by a laughing white man.

If slaves got sick the slavers could still be paid if they threw them over board but could not get paid for delivering sick, diseased slaves. We read that in shackles slaves couldn't move and had to throw up, urinate, defecate in the ship's belly and lie in it. It said that the ships stank so badly that one could smell the ships from miles away and that once a slave ship always a slave ship because that is all those ships would be good for there after.

We saw the Elmina slave castle which still stands in Ghana on the coast. I remembered being there and this group asking me to take a photo of them as they stood on the drawbridge. Their faces were a mix of oblivous joy from some, anger from others, sadness from yet other quarters of the group and then there were people who knew they should be angry and so tried to look appropriately. The group was a church group I believe made up of both Black and White folk.

I wondered what the white people going through the exhibition in Detroit thought. Previlaged white kids completing homework assignments held their papers up on the walls taking notes. A middle aged white woman met my eyes but quickly averted hers. I smiled a little trying to make her feel at ease and trying to give here the benefit of the doubt for at least being there.

Most of the white folk I talk with about this, no matter how liberal, rebelliously contend with that guilty paternal attitude that they have... you know the one I'm talking about, "I never owned any slaves!" They are so willing and able to over look the fact that they benefit from it and do nothing to change the status quo and would probably fight tooth and nail if there was ever a serious challenge to their melanin deficient previlage. As it is their passive agressiveness strike many mighty blows. Especially in the 216.

Took Fred up too. He had a good time and rarely thought of "bitch". My words not his. I'm sorry for thinking that and I thought if I just said it I would get it out of my system. The more I pay attention to her though the more she is like Lydia, whom I hate. I haven't prayed for her, that is Ethel, recently and when I don't pray for her and remember I am/we are no better I let myself get angry.

O.K. of course that didn't get it out of my system. I will pray for her. Father in the name of Jesus put your protective sprit around her right now. Through your Holy Spirit soften her heart and mine too. Surround her with your servants to be her guide to you. Forgive me that I couldn't /didn't over the years pray for her as much as I could have. Love her as much as I could have. Forgive her in light of the things you have forgiven me of... that are much worse than what I know of her. You are willing that none be destroyed. Help me to accomplish your will in me and through me. Forgive me In the name of Jesus amen. . I know I have to face my heart and God's word concerning Lydia... sooner rather than later.

Detroit also has artist activist Tyree Guyton and the Heidelberg Project . <-click there and see for yourself.

Friday, October 21, 2005

What Is Important?
I was reading someone's blog here at Blogger that said, "This Blog is Going to be Important Stuff". It turned out to be an Al Qaeda update. If there was an opinion, I didn't see it.
What is important? I think the update would have been positive or negative depending on where one is in the world. How important is this entire Al Qaeda thing to me? I can't change anything. I don't have the ear of anyone who can change things. I could go protest but so what?  I don't think the real "story" has been revealed.  Conspiracy theorist that I am I think it's mostly oligarchical and government spin at best.
Here's a scary thought. Suppose history proves Bush right? One hundred years from now Iraq is a democratic world power and they owe it all to the U.S.A. It could happen!
Then what would be important? How many of us jump on this band wagon or that or even pull the band wagon and have yet to conquer ourselves and bring our minds into submission? If you've ever meditated you know that your mind is out of control unless you take it over.
That would be important to me, having control of my own mind.
What about conditions of the heart? Greed, covetousness, murder, envy, lying, etc. If we could conquer the tongue and the heart things would be a whole lot better. I don't think we have it in ourselves to conquer our hearts. They can lie to us. If your own heart can deceive you than what hope is there that we can ever now where reality is ergo what is important? Selfishness is a challenge and balancing it is important. It's in our bones so what do we do?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

We live in a nation of wussies. That’s right, self absorbed wussies at that.
I’m sick and tired of aggressive attacks in the guise of Politically Correctness (PC.) absolutely no prayer in school because of separation of church and state though this is not a legal thing; there no Jesus at Christmas so Mr. Agnostic doesn’t get his feelings hurt and feel left out, oh yeah and how about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” so Mr. Homophobe can keep his head up his atrophied surreal world vision of the “good ole days?”

However, I am sicker of those that buy into it.
Christians want the right to say “Merry Christmas, have Christmas parties be called Christmas parties, take their beliefs into the schools, keep GLBTQ folks  in the closet. Many of them are “saved” and struggling, thank you very much. They should have those rights according to this world system in America. I realize apostle Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen but we are not of this world.

Why would a Christian want to go to a “Christmas” party at work or anywhere that was not centered on Christ with people who don’t give a flip about Christ? It should be called a “holiday party!” Why would a Christian want total strangers to agree, ”Merry Christmas!!?”  Neither of these two things are particularly good proselytizing tools. Hit me back if you’ve had anyone fall on bended knees and accept Christ because you or someone else said “Merry Christmas!”

Believe me, this is not sewing seed!

It is a self-centered oblivious approach to interacting with others. When I was a child working  for Harlan Diamond (Owner of Executive Caterers, Beachwood, OH). I would greet him  “Merry Christmas” every Christmas season and inevitably he gave me a quizzical look. One year it hit me, “he’s Jewish!!” What an opportunity to engage in conversation AND find out about Hanukkah and Judaism, the roots of Christianity.  Well not with Harlan but you get the idea.   As you know we Christians are many times less than bastard Ishmael to Jews but we ain’t got nothin’ but love for ‘em. It’s all in the family, right? Merry Christmas!