Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mugabe, white man's Burden?

When I was young, most boys like me would read comic books about Superman or Batman. Some boys would follow the Marvel Superheroes, but I never got into that. I was more of a strictly DC Comics man myself. But what I really enjoyed was going to the library and reading all of HergĂ©’s TinTin books that I could get a hold of. They were about childhood adventure, crime and travel around the world in order to save the day and put things right for everyone. Until I hit my mid 20’s, I had thought that I had read all of the TinTin books but then I came across the hidden book, TinTin au Congo and I was shocked.

I wasn’t shocked in a debilitating way. But I was offended by the cover of a young African child with huge plate like red lips flapping in the wind being driven by his white European pseudo master. I was reminded that these books were written in a different age when HergĂ© was a Nazi collaborator (maybe) and imperialism and colonialism was a good thing and black people were seen as less than human, or at least people who needed to be taught the right way. It was the time of the white man’s burden.

I never read the book not just because it was in French, but by that time black people were coming into their own. The King of Pop was black at the time and was turning the music industry around. The other MJ was the ruler of the sports arena and pulling in celebrity, fame and fortune. I think RJR-Nabisco was on of the largest companies in the world and that was headed by an African American and New York City had gotten its first and so far only black mayor. Apart from a few earlier troubles with Idi, most African nations were free and independent and headed for a prosperous era that they had not seen since before colonialism. Even South Africa looked like it would free Mandela and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe was the one that everyone was trying emulate.

But I guess all that changed when Mugabe decided that the agreements that he had made for independence in Britain with the former Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, Ian Smith were no longer valid and he started to turn farmland once held by white settlers over to his own supporters whether they knew how to work a farm or not. They say that the land has become fallow now and inflation has risen astronomically and that the people are hungry. They say that other industries there have collapsed and the economy has become so burdensome that it affects the economies of Zimbabwe’s neighboring countries. I'm not saying he is wrong in what he wants done, but it may not be working out for him or the people.

There is to be an election in Zimbabwe tomorrow with the leader of the opposition Morgan Tsvangirai refusing to campaign because of the violence that they say is perpetrated by the Mugabe militia against those who do not support him. As Mugabe has already said that he will not leave office until his work is done, a sort of African version of Charlton Heston standing by the NRA podium crying out, “from these cold dead hands,” and holding up a rifle above his head. In other words, it's doubtful that any change will come to Zimbabwe unless it’s a Mugabe change.

What does all of this have to do with the people who live across the Atlantic? Nothing probably. Except maybe that if Zimbabwe is a allowed to become more and more unstable, how soon will it be before the country's instabilities become exported to neighbors like South Africa or Zambia where we do business? How soon then will it be that the US puts on its neo-colonialist hat to protect American interests like it has done so many times before? How soon will America have to start driving the Africans around just like TinTin? Who knows?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Folsom Street East 2008

People will often look at me and say they don't believe me when I tell them that most of my free time is spent at home doing absolutely nothing. They tell me that they can't believe that I'm not out partying with the hoi polloi or meeting and greeting with the young and beutiful and the elite. But I don't. Actually, I'm a kind of a reserved person who doesn't mind being myself at times. In fact, I think I'm going to admit, I'm sort of shy. I don't like to draw attention to myself. That is unless a point needs to be made and I need to be the one who does it.

On Sunday in betwee the rains, I wanted to do something different, so I went to New York and attended the Folsom Street East Fair. This was a first time for me and I think by the pictures that I took, I finally proved to myself just how shy I am.

You'll notice that most of the pictures are of people looking away or their backs. I didn't even have the guts to ask anyone to stand, pose and look at me while I took their pictures, and these are people, some of them, who were just walking around begging for attention in a pair of boots and prince alberts hanging from the tip of their dicks. These were the best I could do.

Anyway, I wanted to see if people of color attended big leather events like this and apparently they do. Although, there were not that many women and that sort of saddened me. There could have been more but I only remeber seeing 2 Asian women and 3 black women, of which 2 of them looked like they were more butch than me so I didn't want to bother them so I only got this picture and she was working in a booth.

I wonder what I'll do next year, or even the rest of this year.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Benefits and Shit

One of the benefits of having a membership at the The Sporting Club at the Bellevue, is that it is considered to be the premier gym/spa in the City of Philadelphia. Of course that's not really taking into consideration the Philadelphia Tennis & Racquet Club two blocks away, which I think may very well be so much better, but I have never been there. You have to be invited by a member, or be to the manor born. But at my gym, apart from the people like me who struggle from paycheck to paycheck, you are surrounded by local politicians, a US Senator and a governor. There are also high priced lawyers, judges, doctors, a few celebrity athletes who have passed their prime and others who are wheeling and dealing in some sort of scheme to get even richer than they are now.

Occasionally at the gym you will see some level of media celebrity, ranging from Butch who works one the access free TV cable shows and throws the underwear party at a leather bar and Heidi from the first season of Donald Trump's The Apprentice. Who?...Moving on. There have even been reports of Oprah showing up at the gym whenever she is in Philly and there was of course the time that I saw a celebrity and was kind of rude to him.

I had noticed some black guy running around the track and I had thought to myself, at last some new color on the premises and I continued doing bench presses. But, I must have paused in the middle a little to long because all of a sudden some female lackey whom I had seen with the black guy came up to me and asked just how long I would be on the bench. Naturally, this meant that I would have to inform her that I would have at least 2 more sets to do out if spite, which I did. She then walked up to the black guy and I suppose told him what I had said. They nodded at each other in agreement and they both left. It was then that it hit me. I had been rude to Denzel Washington who was in town making a movie without even trying. I had blown my chance to get to know someone famous. I had thrown away the opportunity to become tight with a Hollywood star, and believe me we would have become tighter than my nuts on a cold day in January if I had known what was what. Oh well, life goes on.

So needless to say, but I will, there is a large number of gym members who have reached shall we a say a certain age. Muscles don't build as easily as they once did for many people there. That gut that many of us endeavor to get rid of seems to hang around like the hookers used to do at the entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel on the Manhattan side. Something familiar but something you know you should get rid of. The smell of Ben Gay will sometimes permeate the locker rooms as old men try to relive their glory days while relieving themselves of the pain of strained ligaments, joints and unfulfilled dreams. I have even seen once when I was in the showers an elderly gentleman became so weak and disoriented that while he was pulling down his powder blue swim shorts, I saw the stain of fecal matter run down from between his legs and into the floor drains.

On Monday this week, the men's whirpool was shut down by the time I had entered the men's locker room and wet area. It was out of order and I looked down at the pool and wondered why instead of just draining the water and filling it up once a week with a quick wipe around the edges, why didn't they ever clean it properly and scrub the walls and the floor and pick up what looked like grit that had sank to the bottom. I was told that they had just refilled the pool and poured a bucket of some white fluid. I assumed that it must have been some sort of disinfectant, because when they use chlorine it's usually in a powdered form.

On Tuesday, I dipped my right hand into the whirlpool to see how warm it was. It had been months since I had gotten in and I thought this might be the day when I got in it again. Curtis told me as I was about to drop my towel, get naked and feel the rejuvenative powers of the water jets that the reason the whirlpool was shut down on Monday was because someone had taken a shit in the pool.

I decided not to get in. You would have to have a particularly piquant set of sensibilities to overcome something like that, and I'm not sure I would qualify. I don't like to worry unecessarily.

By the way, it may be just my imagination, but my right hand has been tingling ever since.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Stream of Thought

Is it just me, or has national politics all of a sudden become boring?

We all know that Obama will be the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party and the McCain his counterpart for the Republicans, but it seems that all the intrigue, back stabbing and nail biting has disappeared since my girl Hillary, “oh what a world,” Clinton was so soundly washed out of the race like the Wicked Witch in the Land of Oz. Of course she may be back as a contender for VP, but I actually think my town’s local dog catcher would stand a better chance of getting it. I’m not joking; I haven’t seen a stray dog in this town for years. Plus I think it would be a bad idea anyway. Meanwhile, we are left with 2 guys taking petty snipes at each other. The war hero who looks like he may have served under Roosevelt, Teddy not Franklin and the wunderkind who is (hck)… my age. Where did I go wrong in life? Yes it looks like it’s going to be one of those woe is me posts. I’m feeling it.

Anyway, politics really wasn’t what was on my mind. It was to be an introduction for something else. I had actually intended to write about tomatoes and salmonella and the spinach from last year and the beef that was sold from cows that just seemed to drop dead as opposed to ones that were slaughtered. I was going to go into my thoughts that people should be more concerned about buying food stuff grown locally. That way the consumer could establish, develop or maintain a closer relationship with the seller/grower. As a buyer you would have a greater input in the produce that is grown and sold because both buyers and sellers would be more aware of the others needs. Transportation costs would be reduced as some foods would no longer need to be shipped across country to markets far away from they are grown. Think globally buy locally as they say when they are pitching for money on PBS.

Having lived most of my life in New Jersey, the Garden State, I am fully aware of the produce that is grown locally and the Chicanos who migrate every summer from where ever to help with the growing and the harvesting. It’s a big industry here and yet I buy strawberries that are grown in California and frozen peas and other stuff that travel from who knows where because of the convenience of the supermarket and maybe the price. Although, I don’t really take much notice of the price, I figure I have to eat regardless of the cost.

Plus if where you live is like where I live, much of the farmland is disappearing. 20 years ago you take a short drive out in South Jersey, hit somebody’s farm and pick some apples or something else and pay an almost nominal fee for what you got. At least that’s what my father used to do on his way home from where he used to work at the Salem nuclear plant. He was a strange man. I think I hated him at the time, now I think I miss him. Hmmh. Anyway, now this part of the state is being overrun by corporate parks, strip malls and over-priced residential developments that nobody can buy any more. But now I don’t even want to write about that. I just want to wallow about getting old and being a wage slave and not really accomplishing shit.

I remember when I went for a doctor’s appointment, I may have written this before but I’m still traumatized by it so here it is again. The doctor, who was female, and about 10 or 15 years younger than me started rolling my testicles in her hand even though I had told her that I already knew how to check for tumors. I remember thinking at the time, “little girl, just cause you know I’ve seen a few men before, don’t think I can’t rise to the occasion.” But I didn’t. Instead she made me feel real old and sexless. And that’s what I feel today, old and sexless while others my age are out there changing the world.

There is a great line that Lily Tomlin said in one of her shows, “I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.”

I should have been more specific.

Monday, June 9, 2008

It's too darn Hot!

Forgive me if you've heard this before or have lived it yourself. Back in the day, rich folk would leave New York City or where ever they lived and head for Europe because it was much cooler there in the summer. The rest of us would slave away in the sun picking cotton or dropping dead somewhere in the mills or a factory because of accident or heat exhaustion. How times have changed.

Today, I'm walking the 3 blocks from the train station to where I work and I start popping this vicious sweat thing which make me wish that I had carried a change of clothing, or at least a shirt, so that I could at least start the day out right. At lunch time, I'm heading back from getting something to eat and I am so wet I start to feel the sweat drip down between my legs and I start to think, if this keeps up I may have to head for the feminine hygiene aisle at the pharmacy for some help and protection, maybe eve the one with wings. When I get back home, I am so completely exhausted the only thing I can think about is stripping naked and collapsing on the bed.

In the city it was over 98 degrees today and with a heat index from the sun rays bouncing off the sidewalk that took it somewhere close to whatever it is in the Mojave Desert. Although with the dirt and pollution and the crazy bastards lining the streets begging for money or airing their unwashed privates for all to see and smell, I would have preferred to have been in the desert.

True, I don't really have it bad compared to other people. I'm not watching the house float away from floods in Wisconsin, or climbing up from under rubble in China, but this is too much.

I had wanted to write about something else today but I forgot what it was. I'm a black man who doesn't like heat, so sue me. The only thing I can think about is this damn heat, global warming, hurtling towards the sun and another thing that I can hate George Bush about.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Clothes make the Man

"Clothes make the man."

I couldn’t remember where I heard that quote from so I googled it. Apparently, it’s from Mark Twain. “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” This is why I try to be careful in what I wear. There is always some impression that I want to make or leave or not leave, and one of the easiest ways to do it is by the way that I carry myself and my choice of clothes. This is not a testament to the large and wonderful wardrobe that I have, because I don’t have a large and wonderful wardrobe. Rather, it is about communicating something, a feeling without me having to verbalize it.

There have been times on the street when someone would ask if I was in the military because of the way I held myself and the close haircut. Other times when I used to have to wear a suit to work, we went casual about 5 years ago, people would ask if I was a lawyer. Although, I could never tell if that was an insult or not because most of the lawyers I’ve met are drunks or cocaine fiends. One time at the gym, a woman asked me once if I was a ballet dancer. Again, I’m sure if it was because of my muscular and graceful bearing while I was stretching, or if it was the Lycra spandex thing I was in. Suffice to say, that article of clothing went into the garbage can at the end of the day.

This Saturday, I have a funeral to go to. The youngest sister of a co-worker passed away a few days ago from complications from cancer. As a friend, I have to go. I don’t want to go, but it’s not all about me so I’ll be there. The only thing is though, I’m not sure what I should wear. Trivial, I know but sometimes it’s the smallest things that count. Should I wear a suit? The ones that I have I got when I was about 10 pounds lighter. In fact about 4 years ago when I father died I wore one and halfway through the ceremony, I realized I was the only who was wearing a decent suit. My half-brother had some dingy colored thing that looked like he had just pulled it out the Salvation Army box. I couldn’t say anything of course since he’s older and we hadn’t spoken in about 10 years. Don’t ask, we’re not close. Other people wore shorts and even one had on a Tee shirt with a tie painted on it. King Tut was dead, this was what he was called behind his back and this was how they honored him.

Well I felt like an idiot looking more like a funeral director than a member of the family and I don’t want to feel like an idiot this weekend. It’s supposed to be 92 degrees and last thing I need to do is sweat like a pig in a sports jacket or collapse from heat stroke in the middle of the service. Like I said, it’s not about me and I don’t do heat well.

Hopefully the temperature should drop by 8pm when they show The Wizard of Oz in the open air at Penn’s Landing. That might be another clothing issue that I am going to think about. I have never been to one of these things, but from what I understand the audience usually entirely white, dresses up as movie characters and people sing along and cheer at the right places like they used to do when The Rocky Horror Picture Show used to be the cult film that everyone went to. I asked Larry for ideas for what costume I could wear and he said I could just dress normally and go as one of the flying monkeys….I’m a fuck him up next time I see him.

Anyway, just as Wizard warns us not to pay attention to the man behind the curtain, I really hope that day that no one pays any attention to me as I do what I do best, sweat and worry over nothing and just let the clothes make the man.


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