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

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rambling Relays

I think I’m trying to avoid writing about something. There are a couple of things that are on my mind, but I don’t know how to go about writing them. I tell myself I just need to season the idea little, turn a phrase here or there and relate it to this or that so that I can be comfortable with it, but I never do. I have a few unfinished pieces on Word with one or two paragraphs and that’s it. Truth be told, even if I were to go back to them, they’d be so old that I probably couldn’t figure out what it was that I was trying to say originally. So I will just ramble on a bit.

It’s Penn Relay weekend and I have nothing that I want to do. There are of course the games. But I think that I have gotten to an age where I am just interested in the athletic performances and not the ancillary performances of the spectators looking for dates or whatever both in and out of the stadium that often accompanies the Relays.

If I were to go with friends, I would be the one seen as putting a downer on the whole thing because I would be the one looking to see who was winning a race, whereas they would be the ones looking to see who had the most to jiggle up front, or behind, or see who was built like a brick shit house and what they’d like to do with them. Not that there’s anything wrong that, but what the hell does it mean to be built like brick shit house anyway? I can see the brick house part, but where and how does shit make it even more of a compliment?

Anyway, since it is Relay Weekend that means that it’s the official or unofficial Black Gay Pride weekend in Philadelphia. It also means that there will be plenty of parties that I will not be invited to and I few where I wouldn’t show up even if I were invited because I never have been a real party person unless of course the liquor was flowing the way that it should be and or I was comfortable with the people that were there. It also means that there will be the clubs or bars dedicated to getting that black gay dollar this weekend from people of questionable ages that I will also avoid like the plague, just because I know how the kids get when they are trying to act all grownup and Miss Thing. God, was I ever like that? Also could I make these sentences any longer? Changing gears.

Today I was out in the sun for a few hours doing a few things and decided that I would go to my gym for quick shit and a shower because I was feeling sweaty and stinky. Actually I’m joking about a quick shit because I have something about public toilets that one or two therapy sessions still wouldn’t be able to help me with and why I thought showering and putting back on the same stinking clothes would make a difference is beyond me. But there I was drying off and I noticed I had a tan line on my upper arms from wearing a tee-shirt.


Well for me, that’s a big thing. I am dark and I can get even darker. One time I went to Guadeloupe and I turned so dark there were highlights that I saw on my chest that were actually purple when the sun hit it just right. That was interesting. It was also fun. Nice work if you can get it and it’s time to start working on that again and getting back to my Maasai roots. "But the Maasai are from East Africa” you say, “and slaves were taken from West Africa.” To which I would reply that my family has always travelled and who is to say that they weren’t vacationing in sunny Ghana or Nigeria at the time?

I was going to downshift even further and talk about another “Golden Girl” leaving us but I think that I’ve gone on too long as it is and may leave it for another day. Nevertheless I truly believe that Betty White is going to survive everybody and keep working although at this point that’s not going to be much of a bet, but I’m still taking wagers right now if you’re interested.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tea for Two or Taxes?

The Mad Hatter's Tea PartyI finished my taxes at about 12:30am on Wednesday night or Thursday morning the 16th if you want to get technical and work for the IRS. But I figure I had lived in the Hawaii instead of the east coast I would have still had a few hours to go before it was midnight so I think that will be my defense if I should hear anything like late filing fees or any nonsense like that.

Why was I so late? No real reason I suppose. I thought it would take about 20 minutes since I was using Turbo Tax but instead since I had nothing like the records I needed, ready or in front of me, so it took almost 2 hours with a short smoke break in between. I just need to be so much more organized in my life. I’m still looking for a credit card that I took out from wallet some time ago and have no idea where I put it. I would call the bank and tell them that it’s lost but since I seem to lose my credit cards or wallets every 18 months, they may decRitz-Carltonide not to send me another one. The card has been owned by Chase since the beginning of the year and looking at their website they don’t seem to be as friendly as when it was owned by Wamu, or Providian, or whoever owned it before those two. Where am I going with this?

Oh, when I was doing my taxes it finally hit me what all these Tea Parties that were being held in different places were about. It was tax day and people were protesting about the supposed increase in taxes that will be coming in the future due to the increase in government spending today. No taxation without representation. Folks were doing a present day version of the Boston Tea Party and not the afternoon tea parties they have under the rotunda of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philly. I will say, you have to wake up pretty damn early in the morning to slip one over on me, hee hee.

I am just so out of touch with things nowadays. Maybe it’s because I drink coffee like the girl below so I can’t relate.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Ten Commandments

Charlton HestonFor some reason I have developed certain TV movie and traditions over the years for which I have no explanation for. Like, and I have never told anyone this before, I always cry when I watch the Sound of Music. When Capt. Von Trapp is hiding on the roof top or grave yard, I’m never quite sure, with his family while the Nazis search for them. Then Rolfe who is in love with one of the girls finds them and betrays them, tears will just start to roll down my cheeks. I don’t plan to do it. I don’t even plaThe Ten Commandmentsn to watch the movie, but I always catch it and I always feel shivers up my spin during that scene.

Another tradition is watching the 1956 version of The Ten Commandments every year around Easter. I try not to, but as soon as I switch on to the local ABC station and see it playing, I will forget whatever I was doing or planning to do and watch as much as I can. That means I watching it up to when the Israelites who were singing and dancing and having sex around the Golden Calf fall into the pit of fire, or 2 minutes away from the end credits. Did I say people were having sex around the Golden Calf? I may have been projecting. That probably happened at the clubs that I used to go to where the white people acted like they reliving the Golden Calf scene and the black people mainly stood on the outskirts trying to get a look at what was going on so they could condemn it later. Ah memories.

The strange thing is, I don’t even like The Ten Commandments. I remember seeing it on the big screen in the late 70’s and I was impressed by it. But since then, the more and more that I’ve seen I realize that it’s really a bad movie. The actors all play as if they are acting for the people in the balcony with stultified gestures and over the top dialogue that came straight out of the 1920’s. In fact in this version, I bet if you were turn the sound down for 30 or 45 minutes you would The Ten Commandments 1923still know what was going on because it seems like the director, old Cecil B. himself, used his notes from his 1923 version of the movie. And the fact that ABC has turned a 3 hour movie into a 4½ hour movie with commercials doesn’t really help.

I can’t help myself, I have to watch it. Each year I have to look and see if I can find where Edward G. Robinson says, ”Where’s you Moses noowww?” I’ve never caught it, only heard people say it's there. I still thrill at Yul Brynner saying with hands on hips, “So let it be written, so let it be done.” And I still love to watch Anne Baxter vamp up her interpretation of Gloria Swanson or some other silent screen great, but with sound; and all of this in glorious Technicolor.

Some people get dressed in silly hats or ill fitting suits or chase around for hard boiled eggs that will put them at risk for salmonella poisoning to celebrate Easter, I watch The Ten Commandments, so sue me. What do you do?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pieces of Eight

It’s funny how so many of the things that we believe in when we are children slowly disappear as we grow up.

When I was young, out of the many professions or occupations that I thought about doing when I got older, becoming a doctor or a lawyer were never listed as the ones that would interest me. Of course my only interaction with either one of these professions was limited to the occasional doctor’s visit and what I could see on TV. Neither vocations excited me. What did enthuse me from watching TV however, was the idea of become a pirate.

Even though I didn’t know then and still don’t know now what swash buckling was, I was thrilled by the thought of doing it for a living. I dreamed of ordering the canon to be shot broadside against the enemy ships, swinging from the ropes when boarding them, swordplay, screaming “arghh matey” and “shiver me timbers” and scaring the women folk. It was a job where all men were equal unless you were the captain, and you didn’t have to explain your skin color or your religion or why you hadn’t had sex Gulf of Adenwith a girl even though every male you knew said that they had. Yet I knew deep down that those days were over and that it would be one more dream that would never be fulfilled. That is until recently.

It was only a few years ago while watching 60 Minutes or some other news show that I heard about the many small boats and yachts that were being robbed by bandits as they sailed the Caribbean. It was a kind of modern day act of piracy that got a few bucks for the perpetrators. The big money events, I would learn last year or the year before were going to the pirates out of Somalia where they would hijack the larger ships and tankers operating in the Gulf of Aden between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, leading to the Indian Ocean.

Apparently these brigands will come upside of the ships in little motorized boats, throw some grappling hooks and climb on board before anyone knows what’s happening and take over the boat. Then they’ll hold it hostage until payment has been made by the owners for whatever cargo the boat is carrying. The real big haul is when they can get a super tanker full of oil worth millions of dollars and take home some prize money of say 10% of the oil’s value.

Unless you having been living under a rock for the last few days, then you would probably know at least a little about the prcargo shipesent situation where a US flagged ship, the Maersk Alabama was the first ship since I guess the days of the Barbary Pirates to be attacked by buccaneers. I’m not going to comment on the circumstances other than I hope that it doesn’t turn into an Obama version of the situation Clinton faced with the Branch Davidians in Waco Texas. But I will say it doesn’t seem to be as glamorous as when Errol Flynn and his like portrayed pirating on the silver screen. In fact, it seems like a dull thing to do and kind of silly position to be in once you’ve been surrounded by what looks like the US 7th fleet.

Oh well, another childhood belief dashed to pieces.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Art of the Accountant

Wall St BullI don’t think that I have given my explanation of our present financial or economic crises and how it came about. Now I suppose I could go into explaining about sub-prime mortgages and credit default swaps and collateralized bond obligations, but I bet you already know about those. Instead, I’ll just give you a quick allegory. Tell me if you have heard this one before? You probably have, it’s about 40 years older than my father and he’s been dead for almost 10 years now.

There is this boss who is hiring for a position in his company and he has 3 people come in to the office to interview for it. While interviewing the 3 people separately, he asks them the same question, “What is two plus two?”

The first candidate was a lawyer and he answered the question using historical and legal precedents, bringing up references to the Napoleonic Civil Code, the Magna Carta and even a few passages from the Koran and the Talmud. Finally he said, “As you can see, historically, ethically and legally, there is only one number that can be found to be a true representation of the sum of two plus two, and that can only be four.”

The second person was an engineer and thought there must be some trick involved, but she answered much more simply, "Depending on whether you’re dealing with positive or negative numbers," she said, "the answer could be plus four, zero, or minus four.”

The third person was an accountant and when he was asked the question, he looked to his right and then he looked to his left. He looked at the interviewer straight into his eyes and then he got up and walked over to the window. He pulled the venetian blinds down and closed them. Then he walked over to the door of the office, opened it and took a quick look outside. He closed the door and made sure that it was locked so that no one would enter. He walked back over to the desk and leaned over looking his potential boss in the face and said barely above a whisper, “How much do you want it to be?”

And that’s the crisis in a nutshell. Not enough people willing to give us a straight answer. Just accountants and CEO's and Madoffs telling us what they think we want to hear.

Here endeth the lesson.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


This picture would be funny if you knew the movie this referenced, trust me on that. If you want you can click on it and I'll show you what I mean.

V for vendetta at G20 protestsI was going to write about something personal today, but I haven't figured out how to put it down. Instead I think I could do some gossip about Operah's girl school or Madonna's attempt to adopt another African child, but I don't really care about either. So if you don't mind, here are just a few pictures that I've stolen from the news organizations and few thoughts behind them.

Hillary ClintonYou know if there is one thing that I can say about Hillary Clinton it's that she seems to be having the time of her life knowing that no matter what happens, few people are going to blame her if it all goes terribly wrong.

British Foriegn Secretary David Miliband, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British PM Gordon Brown, US President Barack Obama, US Treasury Secretary Tomothy Geithner, British Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair DarlingCould this really be the face or faces of our salvation that will lead us from our economic doom or will they guide us to it?

Barack & Michelle ObamaAnd when exactly did the Obamas think that they would go from the picture above to the picture below?

The Queen & the Obamas
Or even to this picture where if I could recognize more than 7 or 8 world leaders who may be determining my future, I would be doing well.

G-20 world leaders at reception from the Queen

You know the last time I lived in London, the only black policeman I knew about was the one that did traffic control outside of the Hammersmith Odeon. I wonder what happened to him.

PC Michael Zamora and the President Also the only riot that I have ever been in was during one of the Notting Hill Carnival riots in the late 70's where the police didn't really have riot gear to speak of.

G20 Riots in London

G-20 riots in London
I remember before crossing the police line to see things from the other side, how 1 constable had picked up headboard from a twin bed and proceded to defend himself from the bricks and rocks that were being hurled at his position. Crack! was the sound of a brick as it made contact with the headboard. Crack! was the sound of the second brick as the policeman swatted it away. At that sound, all of us behind him started to clap as if he was up at bat playing cricket at Lords. It was a very British riot.

Sometimes I miss those days.


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