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What the Hell?...5

On the subject of Hell, I believe God has booked a presidential suite in Hell for this guy from Austria. I hope he suffers every single second for eternity.

On a lighter note, if not a ridiculous one. What the Hell is Nas thinking? One of the most prolific, lyrical, thought provoking down to earth cats to ever spit a verse on wax has apparently decided to throw us back to the era of the cotton gin. Whatever his reasoning, it will never be reasonable enough to justify this.



There are only a few men who don't think ménage à trois when they hear the word "threesome." God forgive me for even desiring such a thing, but I never got the chance to indulge in this debauchery prior to being married and unless my wife completely loses her mind, I don't expect to have the opportunity now that I am, although the literal meaning in French is "a household of three" --- a married couple and some other chick.

As it turns out, however, I've recently realized I've been involved in a ménage à trois for the past year or so, indulging at times at least three times a week. When my daughter decides she's done with the austere comforts of her crib, she makes her presence known in the middle of the night with a wail or a scream and joins our bed. Sometimes she never even makes it to her crib, as she begins her nightly slumber in our bed between us. Depending on how tired mom and dad are, we might not get up the energy to move her once she falls asleep. "We" means my wife because I am damn near dead when I'm asleep.

In any case, what I gleefully envisioned as a sinful, wonderfully lustful experience no less than two years ago has in actuality materialized into an experience where I am headbutted, poked in the eyes, slapped, kicked in the mouth and stomach, slept on, farted on, pushed off the bed, and deprived of sheets and covers. Sometimes only a few of these things happen (in varied combinations), and on other days, like last night, my daughter is capable of all of this. Once the sun rises, I greet the day beat up and ready to go back to bed. And who's out cold, sleeping like a lamb? My daughter of course. God has an awful sense of humor.


What the Hell?...Breaking News

Dispensing with my usual attempts at humor, this morning a little after nine a verdict was delivered regarding the detectives involved in the fatal shooting of Sean Bell in November of 2006, the day before he was to be married. They were all acquitted of all charges and in the eyes of the NYPD Law justice has been served. I knew they weren't all going to get slammed, but I figured some level of penalty would be levied on Detective Oliver --- the one who emptied and reloaded and kept on shooting.

It's no longer precedent in NYC to be a young adult black male in the wrong place at the wrong time and get shot to pieces by The Law for whatever reason they offer up, real or imagined. It's just standard operating procedure. Fear and misunderstanding is what convinces someone who has sworn to serve and protect to become suspicious, assume and unload. Shoot him in the ass, shoot him in the leg, shoot him in the arm, shoot him in the stomach, disable him and arrest him if he's done something wrong so he can be charged. Shooting a man long after he's dead is just mind boggling in this day and age, but as much as things change, things stay the same. My father was born in 1933 and based on his stories, I can say not much has changed. What hope does the future have when they see that it's legal for men who look like them to be killed when they've done nothing wrong, regardless of their past?

Honestly, I didn't expect much. But I didn't not expect anything. I'm staying away from the news for the rest of the day.


It's All in the Numbers

The Root is a website I like to visit every so often for intellectual stimulation on blackness. While doing some light reading on the site, I stumbled across an article by Michael Dawson, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, that linked to a finding he and several colleagues published on the Racial Divide in America. The numbers are interesting, alarming, not surprising and depressing.



I hope I spelled the slang right as I don't want to disrespect anyone from Baltimore. The family and I spent this past weekend in the Maryland, Washington D.C. area and it got off to a very rough start. For reason unknown to even me I was moody beyond belief which impacted the entire weekend and based on my wife's attitude toward me today, probably this week as well. The trip limped along from the very beginning. A 3-hour drive on I-95 became 5 thanks to traffic. A Realtor we were meeting to view property (a hobby of ours) didn't bother to keep our appointments even though we had been speaking with him for about 2 weeks prior. Our hotel room wasn't ready when we got there. Every restaurant at the Inner Harbor (Baltimore's version of the South Street Seaport) had a 2-hour wait including a tapas bar that was empty (think the airport scene in Meet the Parents). Calls to friends of mine in the area went straight to voicemail (they never called back). In an effort to escape the weird, indecisive weather here in NYC we went where there was a torrential downpour on Sunday (meanwhile NYC had one of it's best weekends of the year). To add even more spice to it I caught a flat on I-395. Changing it was easy enough as I've owned cars since 19, however I learned the weight of an SUV's 5th wheel is way heavier than a Honda Civic donut. The last night of the trip was quite nice (we switched hotels to a high rise that overlooked downtown Baltimore) even though my cold takeout from the Cheesecake Factory left me with the runs. In the midst of this my wife walked into a plate glass wall thinking it was a door. The whole trip I believe was summed up in a brunch disaster I experienced the next day when I was victimized by one of "Baltimore's Finest". As active as an imagination as I have, I seriously can't make up this madness. But my kids enjoyed themselves so that's all that mattered.


What the Hell?...4.1

Okay, the week isn't even over and I couldn't make it out. I should add a PARENTAL ADVISORY to this as I probably will curse once or twice before I'm done. This evening after I got off the train I get into my car to go to pick up my baby from the sitter. Driving along I put on my left turn signal and wait at the red light. In the rear view mirror I see a silver, two-door Honda Civic stuffed with four fat Puerto Rican guys, probably late teens or maybe early twenties. As soon as the light turned green the driver honked despite being the fifth car back from the light. When it's my turn at the light to turn, with plenty of space for someone to pass me on the right, the Civic swerves out from behind me passes by with the guy hanging out of his window saying, "Mutha F#$%&, put on your turn signal!" as he sped by. Just like my last run-in with a random nitwit I was nonplussed. I made my left turn and went to pick up my child. But I was curious, was my rear turn signal out? In the past I've found out my lights didn't work when the cops pulled me over. At the sitter's I put on my turn signal again just to be sure. I wasn't surprised when I saw that it worked. I chuckled. Maybe the sun was in this guy's eyes and he didn't see the amber turn signal on my truck. I could see through my rear view mirror that he was very involved in the conversation with his 3 fat friends, so maybe he wasn't paying attention. Or maybe, just maybe, he and his fat-ass friends weighed down that little Civic coupe so close to the ground, he didn't have the ground clearance to actually see my blinker. But here's what stuck in my craw, what in the world gives people the arrogance to believe they can say whatever they want to complete strangers with no repercussions. My windows are tinted, he didn't know who, or what I was, or what I had, and if anyone was in a deathtrap waiting to happen it was him and his fellow pork rinds. I could've been having a bad day despite the weather. I could've just been straight crazy. And I hate to do it, but to quote Biggie, one day that cat is going to cross the wrong person and there'll be "a lot of slow singin' and flower bringin'. Road rage, walk rage, look at you wrong rage, everybody's upset about everything. No one has a shred of patience and apparently, barely any common decency. I mean really, What the Hell? And it's not just my people or people of color in general. I was at Best Buy/Geek Squad this evening paying off the remainder of services needed to repair my fried computer (and get my family off my laptop) and two fights broke out between customers and Geeks (three if you consider that one argument simmered down for about 40 seconds before reigniting). There's no escaping this and there's no making this stuff up. Since becoming a real adult, I rarely subscribe to something being wrong with everyone else before first examining myself, but as of late I'm really believing everyone is on the crazy train, including me for being in the midst of this _________ (insert expletive).

Or maybe, it's this surreal state of affairs we're in as a nation and the macrocosm is wreaking havoc on the microcosms that comprise it. The dollar's worth potatoes; the brain trust at the White House is so laughable it's no longer funny or angering; all that "New Day" crap from the Dems seems to have been just that; our entire nation is in debt up to our eyeballs; New York is overrun with European tourists buying our expensive __________ (insert expletive) as if they were tchokes just as we Americans like to do in the Caribbean; our nation's wealth is owned by less than 5% of the population; education costs are rising, Sallie Mae just reported that soon they may not be able to write student loans anymore (huh?); there are practically more houses in foreclosure than for sale; and gas is frickin' $3.60 a gallon at the pump. I want to say something else in place of Hell --- actually What the ________ (insert F-word). But this isn't the place for that, nor am I trying to give life to words I do my best not to use. But I mean, come on, really? Is this for real?


What the Hell?...No. 4

I hope to keep this short. I'm happy to report the stock market didn't make it to this installment...

  • The YFZ Ranch/Sect...
  • Both Democratic Presidential Candidates & Bill Clinton, an increasingly pointless tripling I have lovingly decided to name Barack O'Billary...
  • Randolph College Students went on a school field trip to the Chicken Ranch to interview prostitutes on American consumption...
  • My daughter wakes, sleeps and spends her days talking about, singing about and talking to SpongeBob SquarePants...
  • Alicia Keys --- although every celeb/entertainer is entitled to one instance of saying too much to the media while wearing a gold AK-47 pendant on a chain around their necks, let's hope and pray it ends there. I won't be able to survive another Lauryn Hill...

Sign of the Times

Maybe I should stop riding the train. It seems that nearly everything I write here is either precipitated by or occurs on a train. Yesterday morning I was on the train with my beloved wife wearing my beloved aviators. As the ride into the city is about 25-30 minutes I had intended to either memorize lines for a little scene I have to do for an acting class, or just veg out on my iPod Touch. Before I got the chance the wife speaks:

"Just so you know, these are my plans for your son's birthday..."

His birthday is at the end of June and I was simply trying to make it to ten o'clock.

He's turning 13 and she wants to plan a blowout for him entering his teen years. Most days we want to blow him out because of his preteen-isms, but in any event, she's cooked up this elaborate plan that involves Six Flags, a gaggle of his friends and a party bus. She went on to state that she's priced the expenses at roughly $1,500. Upon hearing "fifteen hundred dollars" I left the conversation. My eyes, still shielded behind the gradient lenses of my shades, found a point over her right shoulder and fixed on that until she was finished talking.

In no way shape or form do I want to withhold the best from my son. She wants to do this because we don't have a yard to plan a backyard blowout that she believes would cost the same with a DJ, food and whatever pyrotechnics, laser light show and petting zoo she believes would cost $1,500. Mind you, $1,500 would be a nice contribution toward a house (with a yard). Many a married man has mentioned, if not warned of the woes of being bled dry by that woman you live with who's wearing half a car on her ring finger.

I was taken back to the first time my parents dropped $1,500 directly on me --- for my security deposit for my first New York apartment. There's no measure on the money my folks have spent on me over the years on food, clothing, education and the general maintenance of an only child. Besides not being able to remember 13, I can't even imagine myself ever even wanting something that would cost $200 for my birthday. The kid hasn't asked for this, but the expectation for something big is clearly there. My parents and all my friends' parents thought we were bad. At least there was some distinction between kids and adults. As mouthy as I was I knew I was a kid and I enjoyed being one. I didn't have what my parents had (cell phones, iPods, laptops, shoes and clothes that cost the same if not more than adult shoes and clothes) and I didn't mouth off without backing it up, meaning I had some brains behind it.

A little more than two years ago, I found out I was going to be a father of a baby girl and I haven't splurged on myself at all since then. The most self indulging I've done was purchase a nice suit and accessories for my wedding. I haven't gone on a honeymoon and I want a house with several rooms in it, one specifically for my daughter to destroy to her heart's content. I believe this is reasonable as my entire family benefits. And then I have my own wants, flat screen televisions, a car with only 2 doors and a few hundred horses under the hood (to all my environmentally responsible readers: forgive me), and several other things that are personal to me. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that and what's more I don't believe I deserve these things. At the end of the day I don't deserve anything. God is not a respecter of persons and neither is life, so I'm entitled to zilch. But I have earned the right to want whatever I want. If this is selfish, then so be it. A dose of selfishness every so often isn't criminal.

Now as a man, I understand the seething contempt I used to see in my father's eyes when my wants began to get outlandish (by 70's and 80's standards). I believe my son now sees it in me when he asks for everything that isn't nailed down or free and his room looks like it was raided by A.T.F. and D.E.A. agents everyday. Apparently they keep coming back because whatever it is they're looking for they can't find. And apparently, neither can he.


Us & Them

Yesterday morning, as I was leaving Grand Central Station headed for work I bypassed a couple standing at the base of the ramp that herds foot traffic up and onto the street. They were young and the man was passionately explaining himself, talking with his hands and so on. The woman stood beside him, but perpendicular to the direction he was facing. Her eyes were glazed over and she wasn't reacting to anything the man was saying. I shook my head as I passed, thinking, that poor brother needs to stop. I'm sure the woman with him heard every word he said, but she looked like could care less. Women are pros at that detached stance. Men should be better about reading it and saving their breath until a later time, a better time or just saving their breath.



Now I see how what I read in the paper happens. Yesterday after work I was making my way uptown to a class I have on Wednesday nights. As I was walking to my usual place on the D Train's platform on 34th Street, I moved to get out of the way of a girl who appeared to be maybe somewhere between 19 and 22. She had on some Chuck Taylor-ish type sneakers, some skinny black checked pants, a hoodie and a jacket.

She moved in the same direction as I and we had a collision. I'm sure there isn't even a number that goes high enough to count how many times this happens on any given day in the city of eight million stories. She bounced hard off my chest, I stopped and looked at her, completely stunned that she would walk right into me when clearly I was trying to avoid her. She looked away. Maybe she thought I was menacing too. Normally I apologize for stuff like this, even when I'm not wrong, but I think I was too caught off guard to do so. Life goes on, and I had a train to catch. I moved around her to walk away and this little girl elbowed me as I walked past her --- she did it with my back turned for cryin' out loud! I looked over my shoulder the way one might when someone tells them they have a stain on their back. I thought three singular things in this exact order: cops, newspapers, my daughter. If I had raised a hand to that girl I wouldn't be typing about what happened right now. I can only imagine the ridiculous headline the NY Post would have splashed on today's paper: "Subway Fiend, Father of Two, Throws Helpless, Angelic White Girl onto Train Tracks", or whatever.

Honestly I gave it no thought and didn't even get angry --- not even enough to call her a name. I've never promoted myself as a tough guy and I'm not going to sit here and say, "Oh she's lucky I'm a nice guy." What I will say is that she's lucky she didn't pull such a stupid, punk move with someone who has no regard for others or some headstrong teenager. She walked away probably thinking she showed me when in actuality, she walked away with her life. On the train ride to my class I was in shock that, 1) I had no reaction whatsoever, no fear, no anger and damn near oblivious; and 2) A girl, in some goofball act to assert herself, or vent the frustrations of the day, or as I said earlier, fight off this menacing black man, would so reckless jeapordize her own safety and mine --- we were inches from the edge of the platform. It scared me to think of what my daughter might do if ever faced with the same situation.

When I got in last night and put my daughter to bed, I prayed over her. Praying that I be the kind of father who teaches her right and wrong and how to protect herself and how to use wisdom over emotion. I prayed for myself because I can't believe I've become this numb to my surroundings. There are just too many people in this city. Everyone's going somewhere and everyone's in someone else's way. This little incident could've ended up so much worse for that girl and I. I'm very thankful it didn't.


What The Hell?...No. 3

Not much made me raise an eyebrow last week other than...

  • 11 third graders tried to do-in their teacher in Georgia with knives, handcuffs and all kind of other stuff that a third grader can't possibly have the intuition to do. But by the looks of things they did (details still pending)...
  • Gas is almost $3.50 in New York no matter how many 'hood gas stations I drive to on empty in a desperate attempt to comparison shop...
  • The stock market bounced back based on rhetoric...
  • It was almost 70 degrees on Monday and barely made it to 40 for the rest of the week...
  • I attended a school play with my son and at least 20 girls huddled around him before it started, during the intermission and after it was over (the play was 2 hours on a Friday night!). He later told me they said I was scary and went on to suggest that it may be due to the fact that I'm black (they obviously were not)...


Judge R. Eugene Pincham

I woke up this morning to the sound of driving rain. Gray days and dreary weather forces us to slow down just a bit, just enough for us to listen to ourselves...our footsteps, our heartbeats, and all the other people who inhabit the planet with us. At the very least in NYC you have to be on guard to protect against having an eye gouged out by another's umbrella while walking down the street.

Today my wife was mad at me, not an uncommon event in my life as a married man. I won't say she didn't have good reason to be. Funny thing, is that she decided to ride the train with me to work (but why travel with me if you don't want to be around me?) and I felt her chill most of the way in. She left the house without her umbrella. I offered mine, but she passed preferring to get soaked. She walked ahead of me and I watched her, slightly saddened that we hadn't made it through the night before without going to bed angry. Something my mother told me never to do.

On the train I listened to jazz on my iPod and read the Piano Lesson by August Wilson. Outside, the rain peppered my window with a steady spray of water. The waters of the Bronx River were beginning to rise and spread out onto the parkland bordering it. Ideas and imagery flooded my mind as these kinds of days are the ones when I'm most reflective, introspective, romantic and creative.

My mother sent me a text message telling me our neighbor, Judge Pincham, passed away in his sleep at 4:30 this morning from lung cancer. A weight pressed into my chest, depriving me of air for a moment. He was 82 and his wife has been gone from this world since 2005. Judge Pincham was The Man. Handsome, suave, always dressed nice and a judge for cryin' out loud. He had the biggest house on my block and I always walked past it in awe. I didn't even know his real name until I was practically in college.

The Honorable R. Eugene Pincham was born poor in Alabama and rose to the heights and perils of being an outspoken litigator and eventual public servant. A position that can be especially perilous when you're Black. More times than not my neighbor was in the media being quoted and castigated for some outrageous (and often funny) statement he technically shouldn't have made given his station in life.

Judge Pincham had me over in his office a few years back. The walls were lined with nearly every Chicago politician that's ever been a politician and there was a trophy case packed with baseball paraphranalia and trophies. He told me about a time when he worked as a waiter at Lundy's in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and met and served Jackie Robinson his dinner, and what it meant to be a Black man at that time. Many times when I think of home I think of that story he told. Now it means that much more to me.

Rest in peace, Your Honor.


This Morning

I should’ve known something was wrong when I caught the train that would get me to work on time (this normally never happens)…

So I’m on my overpriced surface rail train enjoying an express trip into work. A woman was sitting beside me, two women were sitting in front of me and one woman was sitting by herself across the aisle to my left. I’m not exactly sure what the cue was, but as soon as I turned on my iPod all of them started putting their faces on. The woman to my left was particularly skilled as she did so while talking on her cell phone (it wasn't on speaker) and putting on a pair of socks (apparently an emergency pair she keeps in her bag) as it was a little nippy this morning. The woman sitting with me stood momentarily and began adjusting her skirt the way a man adjusts his crotch. In the midst of this estrogen fiesta I wondered what it must be like to be bound to your looks. Women wear makeup and marvel over men not having to and having flawless skin. Maybe makeup is the culprit behind bad skin? There’s an answer out there somewhere. Having grown up a geek I’d be lying if I said I can’t relate, but at this point I don’t give one insert whatever you like here about what anyone thinks of me. Of course, I do have my bad days where I walk out the house looking like I should be walking into it, but I just grin and bear it until it's quittin' time. This all comes on the heels of last week, when on three different occasions women I work with felt the need to tell me they had just gotten their periods. And then at home, my wife got hers too. Oh joy!

My train pulled into Grand Central Station and I exited reveling in my manhood, the freedom that accompanies it and the knowledge that I'd be at my desk by 9. After walking about 100 feet on the platform I saw a man in a very nice coat rummaging furiously through a garbage can. He was digging so deep it looked like he was going to fall in. By the time I reached him he had found his gold: a silver Blackberry he must’ve accidentally chucked with his morning paper. He inspected it momentarily before running off, never looking up from the tiny screen of emails I’m sure he just had to check before leaving the platform.

The shame of it all is that I didn’t miss a step or bat an eye.


Please God, no!!!

Married or not, one of my fantasies seems headed for a predictable and horrific end.


What the Hell?...No. 2

This is my 2nd official installment of what I hope to be my weekly (sometimes longer) look back at the things that left me scratching my head.

  • Ex-Gov. Spitzer was linked to yet another prostitution ring, only this time the madam was better looking than that little 22 year old, and better endowed...
  • Jeremiah Wright vs. Bullets Over Bosnia, and the eerie Republican quiet in the midst of all this Democratic infighting (more on this eventually)...
  • My landlord, a.k.a. King Shanty, told us with a straight face, “That light is too strong for the outlet.” This was his reason for our apartment suffering a power surge that fried my computer and knocked out the power to the entire place. The light, which was purchased at Ikea (there were no warning labels on it) just happened to be off at the time...
  • The stock market...
  • I gave my preteen son a cell phone for perfectly legitimate reasons I can no longer remember now that I’ve given it to him...