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

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Witness to History

The thing with being at a historical event is that eventually there will come along something bigger, or better or even more influential that will turn what you have witnessed into just an interesting footnote in history. But until that moment happens, I shall always remember this night.

I wasn't able to make this week's event in Denver, but as usual I did the big screen TV thing in Philly at the Independence Mall.

There were hundreds of people waiting, sitting, standing, cheering, trying to avoid the threat of rain in night as Barack Obama was the first African American, the first person of color, the first non-white to accept a presidential nomination from a major American political party.

I was a witness to history.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

NYC Waterfalls

I missed the exhibit in Central Park a few years ago when they put up hundreds of red or orange banners over the pathways. From what I understand, many people would walk through them and experience some sort cathartic response. So I figured that I would not miss the waterfalls that were constructed temporarily on the banks of the East River this year and so I went to New York City on Saturday.

Actually I thought, just to go to the city and see the waterfalls and come straight back to Jersey would have been a waste of time. So I decided to take advantage of the last days of summer and do Fire Island again but without the large party crowd. I had read on someones blog where they referred to a large group of black people on Fire Island as urban sprawl. I might have thought that as funny except that I realized they were speaking of me and my people. But I've never been one to be frightened of going anywhere because of mere speech, so I went.

I think I love Fire Island. There is something to be said about being being able to walk stark naked on a public beach, dick swinging left and right as you move and not be harassed by police or onlookers. There is a sense of freedom that is hard to describe. I would have taken pictures, but this ain't that kind of party.

Anyway, so I headed back into the city at the end of the day and arrived north of the Manhattan Bridge sometime after 8:30pm where I could see 3 of the man-made waterfalls. I walked down South St to the Brooklyn Bridge taking pictures for the next hour. I was impressed by the sight, as I'm sure everyone is just by being in Lower Manhattan. But I found after 47 pictures only 3 of those of the Brooklyn Bridge that came out with any real focus. Just 3 pictures after walking in and among the brothers drinking and dodging in between the Asian men fishing. Can you believe people fish from that river? Who knows, maybe one day they will pull up Jimmy Hoffa. I'm sorry, I forgot he's supposed to be buried in Giants Stadium.

Well I need to get a real camera, an SLR and not this point and shoot that I use. It should be called point and throw, especially for night shots. I was too far from the subject and it was too late for the pictures not to come out grainy.

After a while I gave up trying to get a good shot, so I used the video function of the camera to see what I could capture but even that came out wrong. But I guess that if you've read this far, you will still need some sort of payoff so don't say I didn't warn you.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Philly's Caribbean Fest 2008

When started this blog I never meant for it to be about my own personal escapades. I didn't want to do a diary or daily journal of my life, it would be too humdrum for even me to read. Neither was the blog to be a personal photo essay journal with pictures trying to make me look like I was trying to resurrect Life magazine. Does anyone remember Life magazine? But somehow I seem to be getting that feel.

Well anyway, I went to the Caribbean Fest last weekend at Penns Landing. It was the first time that I had ever done that. I had always missed it or even avoided it because it had no interests for me. But last weekend I had nothing to do and I found I found no reason to stay at home and do nothing there like I usually do in that situation.

I didn't stay for the whole event, and I'm not sure that I even enjoyed myself as much as I hoped I would, but my friend Curtis had said that the whole thing wouldn't be to bad so I took some pictures of the day.

I think that I might have been disappointed because of the heavily Jamaican theme going on and the lack of representation from many of the other Caribbean nations that would have made it more multi-cultural in nature. Plus there seemed to be a lack of cohesion with the stage acts and the other things that were being sold or were being given away around it. It kind of made me feel disjointed and disorganized.

All that being said, here is what I saw.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I don’t usually celebrate my birthday. Most times I just treat as another day to get things done or avoid people who want to see me act like an ass just because the numbers have changed on my personal records.

I share my birthday with Michael Jackson the King of Pop, do people still call him that? I also share it with John McCain; presumptive presidential nominee for the Republican Party who I understand for his birthday will announce the name of his running mate for Vice-President in the coming election. Even though most people think that it would be a long shot, some people have spoken about Dr. Condoleezza Rice as a possible running mate. She could bring in some of the Women’s vote and help dilute the Black vote that will surely go to Sen. Obama.

That day is also the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina where hundreds of lives were lost and where I remember many black people started to disapprove of the Secretary of State for not caring about her own people. She shopped for boots, dressed like she was doing a sequel for the Matrix and saw a Broadway show. Meanwhile people drowned. At least that was the criticism.

I thought at the time that people were being unfair to the woman. After all she was in charge of foreign policy not domestic affairs. In fact, I figured out that she had gotten the State Department job because as National Security Advisor, the attacks on the World Trade Center had occurred and that probably didn’t look too good on the resume. From what I understand, Miss Rice is actually one of the premier knowledge experts on the former Soviet Union and was in fact an advisor in the previous Bush administration.

So I am actually surprised that with all this expertise in hand, and I don’t know why I should be surprised, the Russians were either allowed or provoked into invading Georgia in the Caucasus region causing untold damage and death to civilians. I am also not sure why we have thrown away any chance of working with the Russians to halt or at least hinder the nuclear program that the Iranians may or may not be working on. I am left to wonder why we threaten to punish to the Russians with a cold war mentality of economic sanction and forced withdrawal from the G8 and that with this new missile pact with Poland, a NATO member, we seem to be heading for a reverse Cuban missile crisis with the Russians about to make their last stand. Should I start building the bomb shelter now like they did in the 50’s?

When Donald Rumsfeld was Defense Secretary, people said that he was responsible for the missteps taken in Iraq and that as soon as he left things would get better. It can be argued that they did. If Condie goes, will there actually be a foreign policy developed where the US is not only respected but will have a positive influence over friends and enemies alike? I don’t know, but if her next job is as Vice-President, and I know she says she not interested in it but in case she changes hers mind, I’m heading for Switzerland.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fire Island Blackout 2008

I went to the Fire Island Blackout last week. It was the second time that I have been there and I'm thinking maybe the last, I'm not sure yet. Everyone seemed to having a good time there but it seemed to be a place for the kids. Anyone over the 35 age group was definitely in the older side of things and in the minority.

Funny that, I seem to find myself uncomfortable with people much younger than me as well as those who are older. I shall have to explore that later on I guess.

The beach was so crowded and full of people playing playing, I sort of got bored there so I didn't take many pictures, but here are some of the ones that I did take.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I remember years ago when Ross Perot told us what his thoughts on NAFTA, (the North American Free Trade Agreement), were. It went something like,” That giant sucking sound that you hear is the sound of Jobs flowing to Mexico.” Well something like that. Now I don’t know about anyone else’s job, but my job, even though it just begging for foreign placement, has not left. Apparently, someone isn’t sucking hard enough. I would give tips, but that’s a different story. What I’m trying to say is that I believe in Globalization, and for a reason.

I believe that artificial protectionism and forced mercantilism are the millstones around our necks that keep us and the world from truly benefiting from all of the resources that are out there and need to be dismantled both here and abroad. I believe that the import duties that we pay for products just because they are cheaper than the ones made domestically hurt the poor and prop up industries that are in need of overhauling or at least revitalization. I believe that subsidies given to farmers so that they can make their crops cheaper for export help hurt famers in Africa and elsewhere by undercutting their prices and so force peoples of poverty stricken nations to remain poor and hungry and not develop their own farms and rely more and more on American grain that they will soon no longer be able to afford.

I believe in the attempts in Doha of the WTO (World Trade Organization) to have the United States, the European states and other nations drop tariffs and taxes and other trade barriers that nations put up to protect their own industries so that everyone could gain from lower prices and increased competition and the possible development of industries in the less developed nations.

Why do I believe in all of this? Because I just ordered a new laptop for almost a third of what I paid for one 4 or 5 years ago with a hell of a lot more bells and whistles than I have now. Designed by some people in California and made with parts that were constructed in Malaysia by some woman making some ridiculously low salary, but still high for her neck of the woods. And then it was assembled in Mexico for pesos on the dollar. Who knows what the thing would have cost if it were all done in New Hampshire. Progress? Perhaps. World trade and globalization? Definitely, and I’m loving it.

If all of us can can create wealth then all of us should share the wealth. And so I say in the spirit of the Olympics, One World! One Dream!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Today, it’s been raining all day in South Jersey and I had wanted to post pictures and talk about the Fire Island Blackout I went to yesterday. But today I have been thinking about Michael.

Michael was murdered, oh so many years ago. He was found one night in the back of a Brooklyn store with five bullets riddled in him. Three of them were centered on his groin area. The police said that someone had tried to make a statement with that. Was it drugs, women, men? A statement was made alright, Michael was dead. His only statement was a two inch column in the back of the New York Post just before the classified adds and the sports section.

I loved Michael, probably still do. Even though he was only three or four years older than me, he seemed to be much wiser and experienced than I was. He was one of my Uncle Charlie’s many children from who knows which woman and he was the first person that I can remember that actually spoke to me as an adult. That is if you can be an adult at thirteen or fourteen.

When he was not fighting with my father, everybody fought with my father, he would tell me why Christianity did not work for him and why he had turned to Islam. He showed me that his beliefs were just as valid as the ones I was brought up to believe in and that the logic that he used was no different or less legitimate than those used by others. But more than that, he taught me to open my eyes and not just accept everything because someone else said it. He tried to make me think for myself.

I was going to tie this piece to missed loves or friends, but that might have been too maudlin. I was even going to relate it to the beliefs that some have that Obama was thought to be a Muslim. But as far as that goes, if people don’t like him because of his religion, then fuck ‘em. In fact if they don’t like anyone because of their religion, then fuck ‘em. They are not the people that I am thinking of today.

Today, there are no pictures of my cousin, or silly links to YouTube. There are no attempts to be witty or clever. Today, I’m thinking about Michael.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Beijing or Bust

It looks like I didn't make it to the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics this year. Poor planning? No not really, no funds. And even though George took his father George to China and I would suppose everyone else in the family, me and him aren't that close. So I had to make do with celebrating it Philly style in Chinatown.

Oh, I guess I have to say that even though it was my camera, all of these pictures except for maybe one or two were done by Curtis. Having said that, I'm starting to wonder why I was in none of the ones taken by him. Also, why didn't I show up earlier for the free food, dragon and fire crackers?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I drive the Car

Officially when people ask me, my favorite movie is Casablanca. I will tell them that it’s full of drama, intrigue and unrequited love. There is humor, death, friendship and suspense. In fact it has anything that you are looking for in a movie and often more if you look for it. But in all actuality, my favorite move depends on the mood I’m in, the time of year or day or who I’m with or not with.

The clip listed below is one of the movies that I like immensely. It is Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels by Guy Ritchie before he married Madonna and when he showed talent and promise. The part that I'm really interested in is the middle of the clip, around the 3 minute mark.

"You go get the guns, I drive the car,"is the line I hope you caught. It's always been one of my favorite lines. It shows that even when you are on the qustionable side of things, the dodgy side of the law, there are always parts and roles that people must play in order to avoid chaos. Let's take Salim Ahmed Hamdan.

How about that for a segway?

Hamdan was caught in the early days of the invasion of Afghanistan trying to escape with his family by Afghani forces and sent to Guantanamo Bay. As a man known to be the former chauffer of Osama Bin Laden, he was tried recently as an unlawful enemy combatant on conspiracy charges and convicted as a person who provided mterial support for terrorism, presumably by driving Bin Laden’s car.

Now I am no lawyer and I know very little about law, but would I be wrong in assuming that by this logic, if he and Bin Laden had stopped by a local Kabul café and bought a cup of coffee and ma’s home made baklava, then the café owner could also be rounded up and also charged with providing aid, comfort and material support for terrorism? Kind of like how Dr Samuel Mudd was when he did his job and fixed John Wilkes Booth’s fractured leg after President Lincoln had been shot. But I don’t know.

Actually what I am really asking, what really frightens me is if the government can and will go after some fat boy who is just a car driver and sentence him to 30 years, how far down the chain will they stop? If the President can determine anyone can be an unlawful enemy combatant whether they are American or not, who then will be safe from prosecution and undetermined sentencing and I wonder.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Everything Old is New Again

In a strange way, if you have read my last post, this post is sort of related to it.

There is this German guy who has been working in one of the soaps since, if not since I was born then at least for the last 30 years. He was in the 3rd Planet of the Apes movie, the one that proved that sequels can never be as good as the original. And he was in my favorite science fiction movie all time, The Forbin Project. He plays a scientist in charge of a giant supercomputer that is given control of all of the American nuclear missiles. Then with its Russian counterpart, it starts to take over mankind. It is really good, or at least it seemed so back in the 80’s when I first saw it.

Anyway, this German guy is always marrying someone or threatening someone else on his soap and my mother loves him. I have never been able to understand why. I mean how can someone do the same story line year after year and not get bored. How can someone else watch that person year after year and not get bored as well. How can anyone watch a soap opera period, and not get bored. This has always been, as Yul Brynner used to say, “A puzzlement.”

I took this class on public speaking once, and we were told that whenever you gave a speech, you were supposed to relate to your audience in order to get across what you wanted to get across. One of the best ways of this was to start with a joke, a witticism or story that the audience could grab a hold of and believe that you were part of them while you prattled on about the crap that no one was really interested in. It needed to be something that the people there either knew about already or something they could easily catch and move on with.

After each speech from the class was given, there would be a question and answer period. After one of my speeches about social security, or maybe it was about plagiarism, someone asked me, “who was Yul Brynner?” …Apparently the little bastard was too young to know who Yul Brynner was and I saw my grade slip a notch right in front of me. If you are in that cretin’s age group and don’t know who the great Yul Brynner was, then look for the King and I on PBS, or wait until next Easter and watch The Ten Commandments and you’ll know who I mean.

Well as of tonight, I now know what dearest Mama goes through when she watches her soaps. I was able to catch in the middle, Regis Philbin’s latest game show from New York and I realized it had a familiar ring to it. I thought immediately of Dick Clarks Pyramid. But then Regis pulls out Betty White and she started to slip words back and forth with the game show’s players and I know that it is Password.

So I’m watching Miss White, she was called Miss Betty White even by her husband Allen Ludden when he was hosting Password and was still alive, and I’m transported back to 30 years ago and I recognize the same head and body movements, the same false gasp of incredulity at getting an answer correct that this old pro has been using for all of her game show career, which may go back even further than the 30 that I’ve known her. There was a certain comfort in watching her create a false sense of surprise and suspense as the single words were played back and forth between her and the contestants. I watched as she gave that warm folksy show business personality of yester year and I knew as an audience member that I was in the hands of an expert.

I doubt that the show will last very long, it seems kind of weak. But like my mother, there is something about watching a professional at work, looking at them hone their craft and sharpen their skills that will make me watch out for Betty White again and again and again.


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