Sunday, August 31, 2003


There's a popular song out by the Southside Houston rapper Big Moe called, "Hell Yeah!" There's a lyric in the song that goes, "..(I) used to be the drank man selling P-I-N-T's, so if I fall off or times get hard?, Moe go go back and attack the boulevard!" For those who are unfamiliar, the lyrics refer to his former days of distributing codeine syrup ('drank') on the street and his willingness to go back to that life in the event of the future failure of his musical career. There are a lot of our youths today that aspire to be rappers, singers and professional athletes. I always try to encourage them to chase after their dreams fervently, but at the same time, I have no problem with supplying the realities of society to the equation also..

So, you want to be a rapper huh?
Who's your favorite rapper?
50 Cent!!
So you want to be like 50 huh? What do you know about him?
Yeah..50 is the BOMB!! He grew up poor in the projects, sold drugs, got shot in the mouth and survived and now he's rapping and RICH!!
Yeah..I like 50 too..but the chances of YOU being able to follow that same path and just making it out ALIVE are very slim. For every 50 Cent, you see, there's about a couple of thousand other brothers out there, who did the same things 50 did, that are in jail, crippled for life or dead.
Aww mane!! Don't tell me nothing like THAT!!
It's true..if you REALLY want to be a rapper, you need to study hard in English and Math in school.
English and Math?? Why??
English, because if you're going to write rhymes, you've GOT to have a large base of words in your head..all that street lingo of 'Yeah mane" and "Fo real doh" will only be fresh for one or maybe two albums tops. If you don't have anything else to offer after that, then you're definitely going to fall off.
Why Math??
Because of all the things you do, you better know how to count your money for yourself. When they start throwing all of those royalty percentages, licensing contracts, A&R fees etc. at you and you don't KNOW how numbers work, then you'll be pimped for all your cash just like all the other naïve and uneducated artists that had to rely on others to manage their money. No matter what happens to you in your life, education is one thing that they will NEVER be able to take away from you. It's a sure 'lick' that will keep hitting wherever you go. Get it now why its free and you can, cuz its people like your grandparents who wanted to go to school but couldn't because they had to work out in the fields to help feed their families.
Aww man, you don't really know nothing about rap're just messing with me!!
That's where you got it twisted podna, I don't know WHAT you heard about me…

The 'standard' American path of success is for a person to get the most education/training as intellectually and financially possible and then apply these learned skills toward performing the functions of their job. Of course, it's a very rare occurrence, where a person is actually employed in a field that they've always dreamed of and trained in. Too often the vocation of our dreams is but a distant fantasy somewhere off on the seemingly unreachable horizon. Thousands of employed professionals spend their free time musing about what they REALLY want to be when they grow up: right this minute there are, travel agents that are really undiscovered divas or retail clothing store managers who are really fashion designers or even project engineers who really just want to win major tournaments on the professional golfers tour.

Unfortunately, the world does very little to promote and/or support chasing these dreams. Instead we are so often shuttled back and forth like a herd of cows, branded by our socio-economic conditions and expected to accept whatever employment is available. Because as much as we may dream and aspire for lofty destinations, the reality of having a place to live, food to eat and clothes to wear greatly influences our short term vision. And too often this short-term vision of immediate needs is what keeps so many of us stuck in this massive herding pattern of life. It takes a very brave and courageous soul to venture off onto the road less traveled. There's a large group of people that peer down this small path, but never summon enough courage to take that first step. Other's make those initial first steps, but the surroundings are so foreign to them and the path is so difficult to discern, that they retreat and return to the sanctity of the familiar. And then there are those who think they're walking this less traveled route, but they lack the dedication and work ethic it takes to navigate the difficult terrain and end up getting stuck in a never-ending holding pattern of compromise.

Before any education or training, we all start off with natural God given talents. Most people associate talent with entertainment, like singing, dancing, acting and the like. Since these are the talents that are so often highlighted in the media, these are the ones that most children see and dream of doing. But there are many talents, which aren't as visible to the public, but just as rewarding and essential to the community. Skills such as teaching, farming, tailoring, machining don't get all the 'hype' but they are just as important as any other human skill. The obvious task for all is to identify our strongest talent and grind at it daily to get better, stronger and tighter. As much as everyone will agree that Tiger Woods was born with a natural ability to hit a golf ball seldom seen in man, he wouldn't be the success that he is today without the thousands of hours of work he's put in to prepare for his career. 50 Cent may seem like a complete rags to riches overnight success story, but 50 has been rapping on the local NY underground scene for years, selling homemade tapes out the trunk of his car while hustling on the street. Grinding is a required constant for the equation of success and when you apply it to God given talent, that's when, as we say on the Southside, 'you get skillz to pay bills, FO-REALZ!'

Now for all those 'skim' readers, that only like to read the HIGHLIGHTS, I'm going to summarize this article with 1 formula and 3 sentences. [Natural God given skills + grinding = SKILLZ]. Everybody didn't/can't go to a place of higher learning and get some letters behind their name, but no matter your position, you can always apply that proven formula. I like Big Moe's music and I would never advise/encourage anyone to do illegal things like sell 'drank' to make money, even when your real skillz aren't paying any bills. But my favorite part of that song is "...hell yeah I'm a G, with a college degree, put the knowledge with the streets.. ain't no way they stopping ME!"

Copyright © 2003 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Please Leave a Message (beep)

David Washington at Niagra Falls

It’s funny how everybody’s personality comes out in the messages that they have on their answering machines/voice mail:

We’re not home right now, please leave a message (beep).

Yo..I ain’t in..holla! (beep)

(slow music playing in the background) Well hellooo…mmmm…I’m not able to come to the phone right now..ahhh…but if you leave me a message…I don’t know WHAT I might do!! Ohhhh…yeahhh..DO IT!! (beep)

Hello, you’ve reached the desk of Reginald Tezeno at Flowpipe Inc., Today is Thursday, August 28 and I am either on the phone or temporarily away from my desk. Please leave me a message and I will return your call as soon as possible. Thank you and have a great day! (beep)

Peace and Blessings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ..Who was crucified on the cross at Calvary, and was resurrected in the body and spirit on the 3rd day so that each and every one of us might have an opportunity to attain the gift of everlasting life. Please leave a message and I will be sure to pray that God blesses you on your journey through this valley of darkness (beep)

You already know! (beep)

My first answering machine (and first phone line) was in my freshman year at Stanford. All freshman are required to live on campus and have at least one roommate (Branner sucks!). My freshman roommate and I shared one phone line. I don’t know what it was, maybe it was my shock at my first Stanford tuition bill or being away from my family and friends..but I was a bit dazed and confused for a minute..

You’ve reached David and Phil..please leave a message so that I don’t feel like I wasted my money on this d’mn machine.(beep)

It stayed on the machine for about a week until my dad happened to call and leave a message one day.

Uhh..David?! I don’t know what the hell is going on out there, but YOU didn’t pay for that machine, I did, and you don’t need to be putting all them nasty messages on there like that!! Call me back..boy!! Bye. (click)

Of course, after I got my father’s message (which happened to amuse my roommate IMMENSELY) we changed the greeting.

Hi this is Phil, David and I are not in right now, so please leave a message. (beep)

My personal favorite as far as lyrics, style and content was one of my sophomore, Griffin 208 brother’s greeting:

(Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock‘s ‘It takes 2 to make a thing go right’ is playing in the background) I’m not in right now, its Ronnie and I went down town! I’m not internationally known, but I’m known to not be at home, cuz I get busy I mean outrageous please leave a message it will get contagious, cuz I‘m a winner no not a loser to be an MC is what I choose-the ladies love me girls adore me, I mean even the ones that never saw me, so? Let’s go!.. Leave a message…WOO! Yeah! (beep)

And then there are the messages that I receive..

Hey lil brother..its your sister. I never knew you were this serious about writing!??! Oh well, with all the love and support that you have behind you, if anybody can pull it off I KNOW you that d’mn thang!! Bye! (beep)

Hi..this message is for David Earl Washington, II..please call Capidol Two Bank..concerning your Minorcard account. My name is Janice and I can be reached at 1-888-777-9311 ext 666 between the hours of 10am and 9pm eastern. Please give me a call on this matter as soon as possible (beep)

What’s up Dave? Its Hawk! Louie told me how he spanked your az out there at Hermann Park last Friday and took all your money. Give me a call whenever you go play again, cuz I want to get some of that booty too!! Serve em on up n’ga!!! (beep)

Hi David this is Morty at the office, Brett from Professional Waterworks called and they were asking for a change order for that lift station for the County M.U.D. #73 project. They want to change from 480 volt 3phase to 230 single phase and they need pricing and leadtime. Give me a call back here at the office and let me know what to tell him. (beep)

Hi David this is Dr.Xanex, all of your test results are fine, I was just calling to check and see how your new prescription is coming along and if you needed some more. Call me back when you get this message. (beep)

Yeahhhh nuggahhhhh!!! NFL football kicks off in 7 days and I’m READDY!!! We’re all going to watch the games, drink brews and play dominoes at Willie & Kinfolk’s house…scoop me up on your way out there..gas is high mane! (beep)

What’s up Dave, its LaGette..D’mn mane!! I always knew you were funny when we were growing up..but this servinemup is on a whole different level!! I can’t wait to read the 1st book!! Holla back at me! (beep)

Hey David..its twin! You constantly amaze me by how some one can blend intelligence with the realness of the hood. I can see God working through you in your work. Keep representing Sugarvalley!! Bye! (beep)

David Earlllll!!!?? What’s up mane..its Joe and Nate..(welll!!)..we read your site and I passed it along to all the people in my address list. You funny mane! Holla back at us, we’re trying to put this blockbuster trade together…break him off one Nate..(Hello-GOODBYE!!) (beep)

What’s up Skull? It’s Omar..I got your message. Just get with me so we can get together and figure out what you want to do with your website and what resources you need. Holla bruh! (beep)

Wassup cousin??!!..its Fred, I read that Fingerwaves on your site…man, I was ROLLING on the floor laughing!! Anybody that’s had that done can FEEL that one! Hollaback! (beep)

Wassup Dave its Ty..I just got back in from Japan and I’m back in Brooklyn.. I got the email you sent with the link to your site..I just glanced through some of it, I didn’t have time to read it thoroughly yet, but I will. N’ga, you better make sure you don’t say the wrong thing to piss off the wrong person, you know how CRAZY you are!! Hollaback. (beep)

Wassup Super Dave? its ZB. Fati and I read your site bruh..good job! Where do you find the time to do all of this?? I’ll be in Charlotte for awhile, but I’ll call you so that we can hook up if I come to H-town next weekend. Holla back at me big daddy! Peace! (beep)

Dauda! What up boy??!! This is Kabiru..your sh’t is funny as HELL!! It’s kinda like some n’ga Wonder Years!! Holla at me if you and Tracy are rolling through the Chi this fall..boop-BOOP! (beep)

What up Dave?..its Cazale..I checked out your site, nice dialogue bruh. You need to include something with some Jewish lingo..cuz I’m running into a lot of those guys on the upper levels of business here in Atlanta and I don’t know their jargon. Holla..boop-BOOP! (beep)

Hey David, its’ Lisa..I just got back from Australia and I got the link to your website…OHMYGOD!!It is SOO cool!!! You know I’m Jewish and I STILL think its entertaining!! Call me when you get a chance, I want to tell you about my trip!! Bye! (beep)

D…what’s up dog? This Teddy…mane, that servinemup stuff…you ON to something right there mane..cuz I don’t even like to READ and I sat there and read some of your stuff. Its good need to holla at me, we can do that thang we was talking about with the county jail system, I know EVERYBODY up in that mug..we can sell them hoz and hit a lick FO-REAL!! (beep)

Hi David, its Tim..I read that ‘Hittin Licks’ you put out there, I guess white guys from Boston in their 40’s can’t understand all of it, but now I know what’s been happening to all my 100 dollar bills whenever I go out drinking with you at Woodrows!! Call me back..let’s get together and go play some golf! (beep)

Hi David..its Erika, I was just letting you know that our high school class is going to the Booker T. vs Yates football game in September for one of our 15 year reunion events. Make sure you tell all the ‘fellas’. I got the link to your site..I don’t get it? Are these supposed to be short stories or what?? Anyway..make sure ya’ll come to the game. Bye. (beep)

What’s up bruh? Its and Amb checked out your site. Its real cool man..but you know I always thought you could write ever since I read that paper you wrote in Freshman English about Richard Pryor. Keep up the good work! Peace! (beep)

Hey nephew its your auntie, we checked out your site and we think you’re doing a great job. You always were so smart. Your uncle wants to know how come you mentioned every name in the world except the Curley’s?? We’ll talk to you later..(beep)

Heyy Daddy Dave! It’s Nana and Auntie Tanya in New Jersey. We were just calling to tell you that we LOVE Servinemup!! Daddy Dave is a writer..who knew??!! (beep)

Servinemup is in its 4th week of being ‘semi-public’ and the roster of site hits is growing everyday. Thanks to all the people who are passing the site along to others..this grass-roots marketing is turning out alright! What started out as an invitation to all of my close family and friends is now over 500 hits a week and growing. Due to my ‘intimate’ way of writing, I know some are worried that their words or past episodes with me will end up in public view. I would just like to assure everyone that although personal experiences ARE an integral part of the writing process, I’m not THAT crazy to put other people’s business out there like that. Today’s post is as far as I’ll ever put people ‘out there’. Ya’ll keep riding with me baby, this is just the beginning…(beep).

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Prices At The Pump

Standing in line inside the gas station, waiting to pay for some gas and a cold beverage (that I was going to wait until I got home to drink of course), always affords me the opportunity to see some interesting characters…

Yeah homeboy…let me get a pack of Kool filter kings, a strawberry swisher and $5 of gas.
(Peering out toward the pumps) Iz dat your vee-uckle right dere?
Iz dat your veeuckle right dere?
I can’t understand you Bin Laden….WHAT??
Right dere! Right DERE!! (pointing frantically) Iz dat your carrr right dere?
Oh..yeah..that’s my car..the green Monte Carlo.
Uhkay..that’s pomp #3, my brudder.
What did you call me?
My and me..(holding out his bare arm next to the customer’s)..same thing, we are brudders.
Nawww podna..I’m from Sunnyside..I ain’t in no Taliban or nothing like that there..(he smirked as he grabbed his cigarettes & cigar and walked outside to pump his gas)
Me eider…homeboy! Next in line please..

While the guy walked out to pump his gas, I found my interest piqued by the various assortments of vitamins that they had at the counter. I was reading the ingredients for a particular one that promoted ‘hammer strength’ when the guy stormed back into the store..

Hey mane! Something must be wrong with ya’ll pumps!!
Whot??! Whot do you mean?!
Cuz I just pumped $5 worth of gas quicker than you can ring up that cash register!! Ya’ll must be rigging up the pumps!!
No! No! NO! Our pomp is good..we have good pomp!
Well how come that $5 barely moved my gas needle past the E??!!
You pay 5 get 5 dollar of gas! Now go before I call police!
You can call the police on me if you want to..I’ll call Colin Powell and tell him where your az is hiding out!!
You go now!!
That’s the problem right there! All ya’ll ragheads come over here to America and start acting like you OWN this country!! Charging all the poor black folks high prices but letting them rich white folks just make it…yeah, you my ‘brudder’ alright…

I could feel the brother’s pain..gas prices had gotten pretty steep lately. But many people are very shortsighted and only see the end result of their woes and blame who ever is closest to them. There are a lot of factors that determine our local retail gas prices and the markup that gas stations add on to the price is just a small part of the price we’re actually paying. I’m sure most of us have noticed the recent surge in gasoline prices. While some of us (like the guy in the green Monte Carlo) vent our anger and frustration on the independent gas station attendants, we all need to look at the entire process that determines the price we pay at the pump. As the pictorial breakdown below illustrates, there are 4 major factors that influence the price per gallon of gasoline:

Crude Oil: Crude oil inventories have the single biggest effect on gas prices, and the United States depends heavily on foreign oil supplies. The single largest entity impacting the crude oil prices is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), made up of a group of 11 countries (Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela). Together, these 11 nations account for 40 percent of the world's oil production and 77 percent of the world's oil reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). When OPEC wants to raise the price of crude oil, it simply reduces production. This causes gasoline prices to jump because of the short supply, but also because of the possibility of future reductions. The mere threat of oil reductions can raise gas prices. World events such as the Venezuelan labor crisis and the U.S. invasion of Iraq greatly influence the speculation and production of crude oil.

Refining: Gasoline is not a natural resource that is pumped directly from the ground. Instead, gasoline is a refined product made from crude oil. Once the crude is pumped from the ground, it’s transported (via tanker, pipeline, truck) to oil refineries. These refineries process the crude oil into several products and byproducts such as gasoline, diesel, motor oil, etc. So these refining companies sell the finished grades of gasoline at a price that includes their cost for the crude oil + labor and operating costs + profit markup.

Distribution and Marketing: After the crude oil is transported to refineries, the gasoline is shipped from the refineries to distribution points and then to gas stations. The price of transporting the gasoline is then passed along to the consumer along with marketing costs for each oil company’s brand of gas. Included in this is the price markup that individual gas stations get on each gallon of gas. There’s no set standard for how much gas stations add on to the price. Some may add just a couple of cents, while others may add as much as a dime or more. The best thing to do is keep your eyes open as you drive around town and make price comparisons for future note. Some people will drive 20 miles out of their way to save 4 cents/gallon, go figure.

Taxes: Just like with any other business transaction in America, Uncle Sam is going to get his! Federal taxes are excised on each gallon of gas sold, as well as state, local and city taxes, which vary by region.

The regional differences in gas prices have a lot to do with various environmental standards of quality mandated by individual areas. California, for example, has its own reformulated gasoline rules that are stricter than the federally mandated clean-gas laws. This is why Californians pay a higher price for gas, because fuel has to be refined to a cleaner level and only certain refineries have the capability to achieve this higher standard. Or consider the recent gas crisis in Arizona that was spurred by a major distribution pipeline break feeding into Phoenix, once the supply is diminished, the prices increase. The standard unit of measure for crude oil is in barrels and one barrel is the equivalent to 42 gallons. A barrell of sweet crude oil is trading for about $32 today and dropping, but the price of gasoline has spiked higher due to several other reasons, such as the aforementioned pipeline breaks, the major power blackout in the NorthEast and Midwest 2 weeks ago that shut down several major refineries for up to 2 days and the peak summer vacation season that ends Labor Day weekend. In the end, gas prices are driven by demand, and everyone knows that America is addicted to oil. With our big SUV's and wide body cars we're a country of gas guzzling fiends. There are methods we can all practice to reduce this addiction, like walking, riding a bike, public transportation or even commuting with a friend in a green Monte Carlo. I'm sure if you'll put $5 on the gas, he'd be happy to let you ride.

Copyright © 2003 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Free Will

Say mane..what do you think about free will?
Free Will?! They done put Willie Jankins back in jail AGAIN??!!
No..not Will Jenkins, ‘free will’. that that movie with that white boy and the whale?
No, I’m talking about free know, how much man controls his own life versus how much is predetermined by fate.
Oh..I ain’t got time to be getting in all that ‘deep’ stuff.
Well, you don’t have to listen..its your free will to leave if you so choose.
This ain’t like one of them thangs that try to brainwash you like they did Rerun in the ‘Boom-shaka-laka’ episode of What’s Happening, is it?
(laughing) Naw man..its nothing like that…

The controversy of fate versus free will has been debated since the beginning of philosophy and organized religion. How much of our destiny is determined by the choices we make, versus what is already decided by fate before we’re even born? It’s a question that will make each person examine his or her beliefs and understanding of the omnipotent (all-powerful) God. It’s also a question that will mandate introspection into the actual choices that we have to make in life, as compared to occurrences that are going to happen no matter what we do. I believe that God’s will cannot be stopped, but I also believe that God has granted each of us the power to choose our own path in life. From the original temptation of Eve in the garden of Eden, to the sins being committed at this very second, God already knows what we all have done, are doing and are going to do in the future. So for that, I believe that the term ‘free will’ is an oxymoron that is better described as ‘free choice’. Divine fate refers to the omniscience (all-knowing) of God, His knowledge of eternity past and eternity future. I guess it just freaks some people out to hear that God already knows what they’re going to do before they even do it.

A great example of God’s will interacting with man’s choice is the Biblical story of Jonah. God called Jonah (an Israeli prophet) to go to Nineveh, a great city located along the Tigris River in what is now modern day Iraq, and preach the word of God to this city of Gentiles (non-Jews). Instead of hastening to do what God specifically told him to do, Jonah took a boat ride heading in the opposite direction from where God told him to go. While on the boat, Jonah fell fast asleep, and a great storm came up that caused such a tempest, that the lives of all the people on the boat were threatened. Everybody’s praying to their various gods and throwing cargo overboard to lighten the load; in hopes of appeasing whatever god that was punishing them. When they saw Jonah asleep, they went and woke him up and told him he needs to start praying to whatever God it is that he serves. Jonah already knew that the storm was a result of God’s displeasure with him in obeying his command. So he had the men throw him into the raging sea so that God would bring calm to the waters. God already knew the choice Jonah was going to make at this point, and he prepared a great fish that swallowed Jonah up and held him in his belly for 3 days and 3 nights before depositing him back to shore. Jonah’s time in the belly of the fish gave him a change of heart and once safely back on shore, he went ahead and did what God told him to do in the first place. Jonah made his initial choice of disobedience, but God’s will reigns supreme in the end, as it always will.

I always imagine that popular scene of having an important choice to make and an angel is speaking to us in one ear and a devil speaking to us in the other. Too often the devil’s suggestions tugs at the desires of the flesh and immediate gratification, while the angel’s advice is ‘square’ and less appealing. Sometimes what we think is an angel talking on the other side is actually another devil in disguise. There’s been many tragic incidents of people getting confused by the ‘voices’ they hear in their heads, such as the case of the Clear Lake mom who murdered all 5 of her children ‘because God told her to release them from this sinful world.’ It’s a lot of people that get confused by the power they have available to wield and that which was destined to be by Divine fate. The reality is that God’s will sometimes allows bad things to happen to good people as well as good things to happen to bad people. In all actuality, we must all stay prayerful and mindful of God’s Word and will when we make our choices in life. Because no matter what appearances may seem, God will NEVER come at you with wrongness and evil.

Unfortunately, the choices that we have to make on a daily basis are rarely as clearly defined as Jonah’s. What outfit to wear today? What should I eat for breakfast? What route should I take to work? What class should I take this semester? Is this the person I should marry? Should I buy a bigger house? These are the types of choices that most of us have to deal with everyday. It’s very convenient and ‘non-controversial’ to focus on these physical decisions and not address the spiritual decisions. Some people are completely ignorant and unprepared to deal with their spiritual being. They walk through life with blinded eyes never attempting to acknowledge or grow closer to the Divine. Some have been turned off by one of the many false prophets and hypocritical religious leaders that are so prevalent today. Others just want to have as much fun as they can now and worry about that ‘spiritual’ stuff when they get older and closer to death. Even if you don’t read or believe in the Bible, you can see the thousands of deaths that happen each day from homicides, traffic accidents, illness and disease of both young and old and realize, tomorrow is promised to no man. God’s will WILL be done, no matter what choices man makes. I just try to focus and make my choices based on what I know is right in the eyes of God, because like most others, I wouldn't want to be swallowed up by a big fish named Willie.

Copyright © 2003 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 21, 2003


I’m sure all those who’ve read ‘Save The Children’ (7/15) have figured out by now, ‘I LUV da kids’. Not just mine either, I love all children, even the hard heads! Unfortunately, all kids don’t receive the proper love and support that they so direly need. And I’m not talking about the orphans, abused and abducted children, I’m specifically referring to the children who have 2 able bodied, sound minded parents who don’t give the minimal effort of care to their kids. The original title wasn’t ‘Deadbeats’ instead it was ‘Deadbeat Dads’, but the more I reflected on my experiences and knowledge of sorry men with neglected children, the more I realized that although deadbeat dad’s are more popular in conversation, deadbeat mom’s are a reality in the community also.

In today’s world of laboratory conceptions and cloning, I want to make sure to clarify, that I’m focusing on conceptions where two consenting adults willingly ‘get together’ and produce a child. I’ve had friends that met a ‘hottie’ in a club or a ‘cutie’ in a bar and the heat of the moment, combining sexual desires and alcohol, led them to a night of indiscretion. A lot of guys would turn their back on the woman and the baby with a cold heart and a resentful attitude..”Mane..she set me UP!! She was TRYING to get pregnant! I don’t even think its mine! I ain’t claiming NUTHIN” For the sake of time, we’re even going to discount all second guessing, the baby has been born, blood work has been done, the DNA results are in, that’s YOUR biological child mane..anybody that looks at the boy’s eyes or the way the girl smiles already can tell that its what?

$$$: There are laws written that set minimal financial requirements for parents that don’t have custody of their child. Child support laws are enforced by the Attorney General’s office in each state. Getting the AG-Child Support Division involved is what those on the Southside call, ‘puttin them white folks in ya life.’ If all possible, I honestly believe that two rationale responsible adults should put their personal differences aside and make arrangements to avoid any third party governing of funds. But in the case where you have a baby daddy that’s not fulfilling the most minimal financial support for the child..or a baby mama that’s pocketing all funds meant for the child toward one of her ‘habits’ (whether that be a substance or shopping for shoes) then I definitely recommend eliminating the confusion and second guessing and getting a legal agreement. The problem is, some people don’t abide by the law. Deadbeat dad laws in Texas now make it possible for parents extremely delinquent in their child support to be unable to do necessary things like getting their driver’s license renewed, all the way up to imprisonment. Some guys have so MANY children, that whatever financial support is received each month can barely buy a pair of shoes. Others reach the point of apathy due to unemployment, bad habits, financial hardship, depression, jealous & crazy new wife/gal, etc. that they stop even attempting to provide for the child. “Them white folks just go have to FIND me!” Once again, this is a situation where a person is allowing an outside entity to dictate when, where and how they take care of their own responsibility. You’ve got to handle your business mane. Even if its tight on you financially, do whatever you can, just do SOMEthing. I find it ridiculous to see kids walking around in too tight clothes and worn out shoes heading to school, while their parents are walking around in some FRESH new Prada outfit or some TIGHT new Jordan’s. Financial hardships hit us all, but I think all caring parents should go without for themselves first, before they let their kids suffer.

Time: A lot of people allow their feelings toward their child’s mother/father dictate how they actually treat/love the child. One extreme is completely ignoring the child and the whole situation as if they don’t exist. Others do whatever is minimally required to maintain ‘appearance’, getting the child and spending time with him or her only when they absolutely have to. Some guys act like they’re around their child a lot, when in actuality whenever they do pick the kid up, they drop them off at their mama’s or grandma’s house, while they go off and do their own thing. Some mother’s spend most of their time chasing after their next baby-daddy and never find the time to even sit down and read a book with their child. Of all the deficiencies that so many of our kids have today, I think parental guidance is the most glaring. Because when you don’t take the time to be around your with them, ride with them, talk to them, play with them, and show them how to be a responsible adult, then this creates a snowball effect of problems. It’s easy to throw the kids in front of Cartoon Network or Play station and let them just be zombied for a couple of hours. But real love is shown with quality time spent with them and it’s an investment that will payback with compounded interest over the years. Young kids are easily fixated with the ‘other’ parent..the ‘weekend’ parent…the one that just swoops in one afternoon and takes them to the movies and buys them what they want, only to bring them right back the next day so that they can go on with their lives. Too often the custodial parent is looked on with derision and resentment because they are the one’s that have to perform the ‘hard’ discipline and the day to day grind of doing all the things required to take care of a child, the washing and cleaning, cooking, bathing, helping with homework, nursing them when they’re sick, the list is never-ending. One thing I’ve learned though, is that no matter how much kids worship the ground the ‘other’ parent walks on, as they grow older, and really experience life, they’ll be able to look back and really appreciate and KNOW who was really down for them.

Parenting is one of the most difficult things in the world. There are no ‘set’ rules, where some children need a firmer hand of discipline, others just need more hugs and kisses. But the bottom line is that all kids need love and support. We live in a real world that requires money to get things done, so the financial part of parenting IS a necessity. But of an even greater necessity is the quality time spent. I’ve been around millionaire kids who rarely saw their parents as well as kids living in extreme poverty but WITH a loving family..and the ones with the family structure of love are the happiest. Money can lighten a lot of loads, but love is definitely the most required staple for our children.

Copyright © 2003 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Candy Red Turns Heads

I ran into one of my close buddies from the Southside the other day at the gas station…

S: Wassup D??

D: Heyyy…what’s up!? (smiling and exchanging the strong grip with the one armed hug…the standard ‘macho’ man embrace)

S: Mane…n***s been checking you out!! You all on the internet and sh*t!!

D: (smiling) Yeah..I’ve put myself ‘out there’ a little bit.

S: That's what you GOT to do if you want to blow up on the scene.

D: That’s what they tell me..have you checked out the website?

S: Yeah! We were all over to P-Dub’s house looking at some of them butt nekkid pictures on the internet and he pulled up your page.

D: Did you READ it?

S: I read that one you had about ‘Hittin Licks’..mane..that sh*t was WILD!! And you KNOW it must have been good, cuz I don’t even like to read!!

D: Well…I’m glad ya’ll checked me out.

S: Yeah..we was thinking that you need to put some pictures of some h*z bending over a car or know..spice it up a bit!

D: What?? Mane..I can’t do that!! It’s not that kinda party!

S: So? If you’re trying to get more ‘customers’ you need to put some ‘eye candy’ out there for all the people that don’t really like to read. H*ll..if I didn’t KNOW you, I wouldn’t have even bothered to stop and look at the page.

D: You’ve got a point.

S: Your content is good, but your presentation is kinda boring and bland…an orange background?? What the h*ll is up with that??!!

D: I publish the website myself, the page layout, or ‘template’ , is just a standard one that I picked out. My focus right now is strictly on content, but I’ll eventually upgrade to a professional website design.

S: Whateva n*ga…if you’re trying to draw in a large group of people, you need to focus your marketing on people who don’t normally read. Cuz all your ‘college’ friends are going to read it anyway..but most of these people in the hood are just going to look for some pictures that catch their eye.

D: Eye candy huh?

S: Allready!! No matter what you do, if you want to be big, you’ve got to be KNOWN baby.

D: Hmmm..I guess photos DO attract a larger audience..

S: You gotta have that VISUAL presentation as bait, once you get them IN, your sh*t is good enough to sell itself!

D: do have a good point.

S: And I ain’t even no COLLEGE boy like you..but I know what it takes to attract customers!

D: I’ll have to work on upgrading my website.

S: Well..even if you don’t put some skin shots on there, put something that will make people just browsing through stop and look.

D: Like what??

S: (smiling to reveal his all platinum grill) Girls, guns, money, candy red cars...whateva turns heads n*ga…

After we parted, I couldn’t help but smile and shake my head. Of all the marketing and sales solutions seminars and presentations that I have sat through in my life, it took a high school dropout to make me fully understand the ultimate goal of marketing. One of the basic truths about a free capitalistic economy, is that the consumers have a choice on where and when they spend their time and money. In most industries, there are at least 2 or more companies pitching the same product or service. Advertising (signs, commercials, flyers, free giveaways, etc.) is the core attraction for new customers. The quality of the product is what attracts REPEAT customers. All this time, I had been thinking that the hustlers driving those ‘candy’ colored cars with the chrome ‘shoes’ and booming sound system was just about looking good. In actuality, a lot of people who ride candy are really just advertising themselves or their product or service. “You gotta be KNOWN” is a marketing truth, and in most black neighborhoods, people definitely identify you with the vehicle that you drive. The sparkling candy painted cars attract the most attention and it makes people look and see who’s driving..every time.

The gray areas of advertising can easily lead to exaggeration or in some cases, just flat out lying. I’ve been duped many times by advertised pictures of mouth watering juicy burgers, with the meat patties just hanging out the sides of the bun, loaded with fresh tomatoes and lettuce. Then when I order what I see on the picture, I end up getting a dried out piece of meat that I had to remove the bun just to SEE the patty. These are those ‘one hitta quitta’ type operations who really don’t care about repeat customers, they just want to mesmerize the masses at least one time and move on to the next sucker. We all have our choices on how we advertise ourselves. Even if you don’t have your own business or product to sell, you’re trying to sell your skills to a potential employer. Resumes are a great example of advertising yourself. Some people take ‘liberties’ in describing their background and experience, with the sole intent of attracting the right manager’s attention. Other’s just flat out lie and make up stuff on their resumes because they realize that they really haven’t learned or accomplished anything since high school. Either way, everybody should be trying to ‘turn heads’ with the material they put out concerning themselves.

So many want success in their field of choice, but so few are willing to pay the price for this success. Exposure into the public’s eye can be a daunting experience. Everybody isn’t ready to handle all eyes focusing on them in a crowded room. Everybody isn’t ready to handle the examination and public critique of their labor. Because for every positive response, there’s always a negative one to go with it. Personally, I encourage ALL responses of my work, whether they’re negative or positive, because they both make me better. With the family and friends that I have grown up with, its practically impossible to embarrass me. If I’ve got a booger hanging out of my nose or my zipper is open, they’ll let me know. And I appreciate them for it, because that’s the only way to keep it real. I’m not riding in a candy red car nor do I have women in thongs displayed on my website, instead I‘ll continue to use my words to turn heads. (smile)

Saturday, August 16, 2003


I can recall numerous childhood occasions of sitting on the floor in a dark room with my sister and cousins. Our great-grandmother would make this a mandatory drill whenever a thunderstorm was passing through the area. We’d have to turn off all appliances, lights, radios, etc. and just sit in a room and look at each other. We couldn’t even talk or joke with each other without facing a stern reprimand from Grandma..

“Ya’ll hursh now!!” she’d say with a menacing scowl..”God is talking”.

I would always make sure to listen intently as the thunder rolled through and the lightening crackled in the background. I didn’t understand the language that God was speaking in, but I definitely felt His power.

Thursday’s rolling blackouts that hit the Northeastern region of the United States and some parts of Canada brought those days of sitting in a darkened room to my mind. From as cities far west as Detroit, to as far east as New Jersey, millions of people were without electrical service. Subways came to a screeching halt, street lights turned off, traffic lights were disabled and the electrical ‘connected’ world of air conditioners, refrigerators, computer networks and microwaves were disabled. The most disturbing part about all of it is that they have yet to isolate a reason why this occurred. While some places are STILL without electrical service, a closer inspection of the power system, which supplies our modern day conveniences, is mandated.

Most American’s reality is that as long as they pay their light bill, they will be able to plug their TV’s, blenders, air conditioners, etc. into their 120-volt electrical sockets and the power will be available for use. Those sockets are not a power source; they are just a power outlet. To understand where the power actually comes from, we have to track the transmission all the way back to the source. Each of those sockets and light fixtures in your house is wired into what’s called a circuit breaker box. Each room or zone has its own dedicated circuit breaker that ‘trips’ whenever there is an overload of power in that particular zone. If your compressor in you’re A/C goes out or your old toaster shorts out, instead of damaging the whole system, the breakers are meant to trip off to protect all the other zones, thus isolating the problem. After the breaker box you have a meter, which is installed somewhere along the perimeter of the house or facility. This is a measuring device that the service companies like Reliant Energy use to charge their customers. These meters are fed 240 volts from a transformer, which is usually located up on a pole behind the residence or facility. These drum shaped transformers actually step down or ‘transform’ the distribution voltage (usually around 7,200 volts) found on the power lines, down to the 240 volts required for most residences and commercial facilities.

The power lines that supply these transformers are connected to power substations. These power substations have larger transformers that step transmission voltages (usually in the tens or hundreds of thousands of volts range) down to the distribution voltage level (usually around 7200 volts). These substations also have a ‘bus’ that can split the distribution power off in multiple directions as well as a myriad of circuit breakers and switches so that the substation can be disconnected from the transmission grid or separate distribution lines when necessary. Now the question most people would ask is, “ this where the power comes from??” and the simple answer is no. These substations are still only transforming a larger power and distributing it out to individual customers, they aren’t creating power.

Electrical power starts at a power plant in almost all cases. The power plants consist of a spinning electrical generator. Something has to spin that generator, like the water wheel in a hydroelectric dam, a large diesel engine or a gas turbine. But in most cases, the thing spinning the generator is a steam turbine. Burning coal, oil or natural gas might create the steam. That is the common link between fuel costs and energy costs. As the energy companies have to pay more for oil and gas to generate their electrical power, these cost increases are passed along to the end using electrical consumer.

The combination of these power plants, high voltage transmission lines, power substations, distribution lines and transformers are what make up the ‘power grid’. Most of these power grids were initially designed and built back in the 50’s and 60’s and they were not meant to handle the enormous load that us power gorging Americans are demanding from it today. By world standards, the United States is an electricity glutton, using over 25% of the entire power consumed globally. From people running hot water when they’re not even in the shower, to those who keep their A/C’s on 68 all day long so that they can come home to a ‘cool’ house, we all need to start being more conscience of our power consumption.

Being stuck in an elevator in Buffalo,NY for 30 minutes magnified my reality of the largest blackout in American history. Fortunately it wasn’t crowded and I’m not claustrophobic, but just that short time of confinement made me think about how much our lives are controlled by our power distribution system. Some people laugh and make fun of ‘un-enlightened’ cultures such as the Amish who strive to function completely independent of modern technology. Instead, I’ve found a whole new level of appreciation for the ‘basic’ ways of life. Being able to grow a garden for food or build a windmill to generate your own electricity and/or running water is an antiquated practice in America today. Suffering through a total blackout for a couple of days will make you realize how these skills and talents associated with rural independent living are timeless survival techniques. My grandmother made sure we respected God’s definitive power during storms, and our growing energy crisis will make us all redefine the power of man.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

The Last Major

The Wanamaker Trophy

Every professional sport has an event which determines the season’s champion. Baseball has the World Series, football has the Superbowl, basketball has the NBA Finals and golf has the Majors. Unlike other sports, golf’s Majors aren’t a singular event. Instead, its 4 different events that brings the best golfers in the world together to challenge for golf’s most prestigious award. Golf’s four majors are entirely independent events hosted by four different entities. The Master’s is the first major, played every year at Augusta National golf club in Augusta, GA. Next comes the U.S. Open, hosted at various courses determined by the United States Golf Association. Third is the Open championship, which most Americans call the British Open. It’s the oldest of all the majors and takes place in England or Scotland, on a rotation of courses determined by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club. The final major of the year is the PGA Championship and it is run by the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, and it starts today at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York.

For those that are completely western New York geographical ignorant (like I was until I arrived here this week), Pittsford is a suburb community of Rochester, located about 60 miles east of Buffalo. Historically, Rochester played an important role in the Underground Railroad system, which provided a means for slaves to migrate north to Canada and become free. Famed abolitionist Frederick Douglas resided in this area as well as optical lens pioneers John Jacob Bausch and Henry Lomb, and of course Eastman Co., founded in 1889 by George Eastman after his invention of the Kodak camera. The city of Buffalo, birthplace of the bar room favorite ‘Buffalo Wings’ is just a short drive away, as is the Canadian border and the breathtaking Niagara Falls.

This year is the 85th PGA Championship tournament and it promises drama and excitement at Oak Hill C.C. A wonderful, historic golf course, Oak Hill was originally designed by the famed golf course architect Donald Ross. Tiger Woods is trying to extend his streak of consecutive years of winning at least one major, Rich Beem is trying to become a repeat PGA champion and hometown candidate Jeff Sluman has the most electric crowd energy behind him being the local favorite. For those that have played or at least attempted the game of golf, you know that it is a game that demands concentration, consistency and being able to control your emotions and nerves when the pressure is on. The best golfers aren’t necessarily the longest hitters, or even the richest people. The best golfers are the ones most dedicated and most consistent. And it is only through a rigid regimen of training, practice and more practice that this consistency is gained.

Even if you aren’t in to the sport of golf, the business of golf has its own attraction. From land acquisition and development, to maintenance equipment and apparel, the golf industry is a multi-billion dollar operation. Today, the PGA of America is the largest working sports organization in the world with more than 27,000 men and women golf pros. These golf pros aren’t the touring professionals like Tiger Woods or Vijay Singh, these are the pros that actually work at golf courses, mostly teaching the golf swing to members and students as well as performing a myriad of duties and responsibilities in the day to day operation of a golf course. The tournament itself has touring pros as well as PGA pros entered in the event, which is why some people refer to it as ‘the working man’s Major’.

Oak Hill will be a solid test of golf for all the participants, and the player who’s able to best control his ball will eventually win the Wanamaker trophy. Named after the department store magnate Robert Wanamaker, who put up a trophy and an initial purse of $2,580 for the tournament back in 1916. Over the years, the expansion of golf along with media contracts and sponsors, has dramatically increased the amount of money these guys are playing for. Last year’s PGA purse was $5.5 million, with the overall winner receiving $990,000. It doesn’t matter if you like golf or not, just the size of the potential ‘licks’ that can be gained in just 4 days of golf should make you want to pay closer attention to the year's last major. If you want to see golf at its finest, grab a nice beverage and a bucket of Buffalo Wings and check out the intensity on the back 9 this Sunday on CBS…you might even see a Tiger on the prowl.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Day to Day Grinding

One of the things that I enjoy the most about and the whole writing experience, is when I’m able to transform a thought, or feeling, or experience into words. It’s the most fulfilling when a person who has no idea who I am, can still FEEL what I’m writing about. Last Tuesday’s ‘Hittin Licks’ post generated a lot of positive feedback from readers via comments and emails that I received after it posted.

It seems the general consensus was able to discern the humor amidst the reality, and for that I’m pleased. But what pleases me even more, is when I’m able to draw in people who aren’t traditional ‘readers’. Not just readers, but people who don’t normally read at all unless they absolutely have to. People who only pick up a newspaper when they’re looking for the movie listings, or people who only pick up a book because its required for school or work. People who’s only source of information to what’s going on in the world is what they happen to hear on their local radio DJ announce between their favorite songs. These are the people that I always try to leave a trail of breadcrumbs for them to follow. Because my ultimate goal is to teach all that I know, to those that don’t know.

A lot of my family and friends know that I have an engineering degree from Stanford and they think that I’m ‘smart’. Likewise, a lot of my Stanford friends have sat next to me in a Western Culture class and they think I’m a complete idiot. I don’t have a photographic memory or any supernatural speed reading powers. Most of the things I read, I have to read at least 2 or 3 times to make sure I understand what’s going on. Too many times people become ‘lazy’ readers..skimming through until they happen upon a keyword that catches their attention. FREE. Or maybe they come upon a word that they don’t know how to pronounce or know its meaning..and instead of getting a dictionary to look it up, or figuring it out by the context clues, they just go on without even attempting to expand their vocabulary. Ignorance is not when you don’t know something, ignorance is when you know you don’t know something and you make no attempt to learn.

Of all the things I’ve learned in classrooms, corporate training and just plain ol life experiences, I know hard work is a staple ingredient to being successful. Because of all the different schemes and scandals involved in ‘hitting licks’, the most time-proven method of making money is hard work. It’s this consistent pattern of daily labor that separates the have’s from the have nots.

Sean ‘P-Diddy’ Combs, Mark Cuban, Oprah, Tiger Woods, all of these successful people share a common trait of what we on the Southside call ‘grinding’. Most people want to just hit the jackpot on the Powerball Lotto and not have to worry about money the rest of their lives. Truly successful people don’t have a monetary limit or goal, their focus is on their function. Whether its engineering, teaching, truck driving, real estate investment, whatever it is that their talents and opportunities lie, they make a dedicated commitment toward achieving. Grinding. And the most rewarding grind of all is the grind for knowledge. Because knowledge is an investment that will continue to pay dividends over the course of a lifetime and as we say on the Southside, “You’ve got to grind to shine.”

Welcome Houston Community College-Clear Lake Campus and Southeast Barber College..consider yourself served.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Adam & Eve Were Iraqis

There’s a growing anti-American sentiment across the globe. From the Middle East, to Southeast Asia, to Africa and even in Europe, reports of demonstrations in other countries where American flags are being burned and protesters scream insults , lambasting America’s leaders, capitalistic agendas and people. Likewise, when the name ‘Iraq’ or ‘Iraqi’ is mentioned in conversation here IN America, the usual tone is of resentment & disgust toward Saddam Hussein, the Persian Gulf War and the current Iraq conflict. Too often, I think the general consensus of opinion wrongly associates the morals and ethics of a people, with those of its leaders. Throughout history, the people and culture in the land we now know as Iraq have been subjected to invading empires and oppressive regimes. But what most people don’t know, is that Iraqis have been at the forefront of technology and cultural advances since the beginning of man. The boundaries of modern Iraq is almost equivalent to Mesopotamia., the region which is commonly referred to as the Cradle of Civilization.

From a Biblical perspective, this is the land in which God placed Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden:

8 The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 10 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon, it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gibon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Hiddekel (Tigris); it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.

Noah (the guy who built the ark) was from the city Fara which is in Iraq. Abraham, a central figure in Judaism, Christianity and Islam was from Ur of the Chaldees which is in Iraq and the famous city of Babylon ‘meaning Gate of God’ is in Iraq. This region was the birthplace of the varied civilizations that moved us from prehistory to history. An advanced civilization flourished in this region long before that of Egypt, Greece and Rome, for it was here in about 4000 BC that the Sumerian culture flourished.

The ancient Sumerians, using the fertile land and the abundant water supply of the area, developed sophisticated irrigation systems and created what was probably the first cereal agriculture as well as the earliest writing form, cuneiform - a way of arranging impression stamped on clay by the wedge-like section of chopped off reed stylus into wet clay. Through writing, the Sumerians were able to pass on complex agricultural techniques to successive generations. By 3000 BC the script involved into a full syllabic alphabet. The commerce of the times is recorded in great depth. Double entry accounting practices were found to be a part of the records. This remarkable innovation has been used to this day, as a standard for record keeping. Sumerians invented the wheel and the first plow in 3700 BC. Sumerians developed a math system based on the numeral 60, which is the basis of time in the modern world.

After the collapse of the Sumerian civilization in 1700 BC, the region went through numerous invasions and conquerors, from King Hammurabi, to the Cassites, The Assyrians, Nebuchadnezzar I & II (who built the Hanging Gardens, one of the 7 wonders of the world), Cyrus the Great, Alexander the Great (who died in Iraq in 323 BC), the Persian Empire, Arab Muslims, Genghis Kahn and the Mongol invasion all subjected the Iraqi people to their own rules, codes and agendas.

Some people may wonder, “How did a culture so rich and advanced get into the hands of Saddam Hussein?” Saddam is just one man along a long line of oppressors over the people of Iraq. Saddam was chosen successor to the president, Ahmed Hasan Al-Bakr in 1979. Being a shrewd and ruthless politician, he immediately purged all of his political rivals to assure his position. Almost immediately after assuming his leadership position, Saddam instigated the Iran-Iraq war, which lasted over 8 years with an estimated 1 million lives lost. Saddam’s name didn’t appear on the forefront of American awareness until Iraq’s 1991 invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent Gulf War which followed.

Our American forces are currently in Iraq, doing their best to rebuild the country’s infrastructure (politically and structurally), while the hunt is on for Saddam and his controversial ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’. My prayers go out to the Iraqi people. For they are the ones that had to cower in fear under the ruthless hand of Saddam and his regime. They are the ones who had to seek refuge and shelter when the bombs started dropping over Baghdad. They are the ones who have to struggle everyday to find means of commerce and employment. They are the ones who have to search daily for clean water and shelter after the bombings crippled their water purification system and facilities. Let’s all hope the American powers that be remember, that the rebuilding of Iraq should first and foremost be focused on the Iraqi people and not the Iraqi oil.

Kedourie, Elie. "Continuity and Change in Modern Iraqi History,"
Asian Affairs [London], June 1975, 140-146.
Roux, George. Ancient Iraq. Cleveland: World Publishing,
Longrigg, Stephen Hemsley. Four Centuries of Modern
Iraq. London: Oxford University Press, 1925.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

The Oiler-Texan Connection

(David Washington and WR Jabar Gaffney)

Football time is here, and I’m READY!! The sport that initially drew me in by way of the huge heart of Earl Campbell and the whole Luv Ya Blue Crew, has strengthened its mesmerizing hold of my attention over the years. I liked the Oilers, I still root for Steve McNair and the Titans and I’m very excited to watch the development of the young gun QB David Carr and our 2nd year team, the Houston Texans. Bob McNair (owner), Charlie Casserly (general manager) and Dom Capers (head coach) need to be commended for the great job that they’ve done putting together a first class organization with an obvious commitment toward long term excellence. As I watched the players practice, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to the aforementioned Oiler’s team of the late 70’s:

QB: David Carr is a bright young QB with a rifle for an arm and a thirst to learn. The Oilers had another QB with a canon for an arm by the name of Dante Pastorini. I just hope Carr doesn’t become as familiar with the number of lights on the ceiling of Reliant Stadium as Pastorini was with the Astrodome’s. If they don’t find a way to keep Carr on his feet and off his back, he will eventually surpass Pastorini’s record of most time spent looking up at the ceiling.

O-line: Carl Mauck anchored a line of bruising blockers that paved the way for big Earl to run. The Texans line is relatively young and inexperienced, coming off a dismal season of run & pass blocking that was magnified by the absence of their 1st round expansion draft selection, left tackle Tony Boselli. Boselli has since announced his retirement from the game due chronic shoulder problems, but somewhere, somehow the line is going to have to become a stronger cohesive unit for the offense to click and for Carr to survive.

Running Back: Its unfair to try and compare anybody to the Houston icon that we know as Big Earl. But the Texan’s off season signing of Stacey Mack from the Jacksonville Jaguars gives them an experienced physical ball carrier that doesn’t shy away from contact.

Receivers: The Oilers had a great speed-hands combo of Kenny Burrough and Mike Renfro. Most Houstonians still flinch and grit our teeth when we see highlights of Renfro’s TD catch in the AFC divisional playoff game against the Steelers that was whistled out of bounds. We should all look forward to a day of redemption for that call, but the trio of receivers that the Texans have assembled will make this one of their strongest positions. Corey Bradford, 2nd year player Jabar Gafney and rookie Andre Johnson possess a combination of speed, quickness and size never before seen on a Houston WR corps. They are sure to delight the fans for years to come.

Defense: The Oilers defense, headed by the likes of Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea and my favorite, linebacker Robert ‘Dr. Doom’ Brazile exemplified a never say die determination that showed every time they stepped on the field. The Texans have a nice group of defenders, led by lineman Gary Walker and All-Pro cornerback Aaron Glenn that are committed to the 3-4 scheme and poised for another strong season.

Coach: Dom Capers isn’t as folksy and endearing as Bum Phillips, but the respect he commands from his players and the level of commitment he demands of his team would definitely make Bum proud.

Being on the practice field on level ground with these modern day gladiators gave me a whole new respect for the sport. Its so easy for us as spectators to overlook all of the hard work and high risk involved with being an NFL player. Its not until you actually see with your bare eyes how fast these big, agile guys are flying around that field, that you realize that they’re definitely earning their money. Because every time they step on that field, they’re potentially one play away from a career ending injury. And the thing about football, unlike all the other professional sports, none of their contracts are guaranteed. So of course the media prints all the ’ridiculous’ amounts of money that players are demanding, but that’s just for the high draft picks and the star veteran players. The vast majority of football players, the backups and the backups to the backups, the practice players and the ones just trying to hang on are nowhere near that 7 figure range. Of all the professional sports, football players get paid the least, have the highest injury rate and the lowest expected career span. When you consider the high risk positions they suspect their bodies to everytime they step on the field , you can have a larger sense of appreciation for what football players actually DO for a living.

Bud Adams and the Houston Oilers left a sour taste on the mouths of many Houston football fans when they packed up and moved to Tennessee. We were fortunate to have a dedicated and relentless owner in Bob McNair to bring a franchise back to Houston. Now that the Texans are here, there’s a lot of betrayed fans that are still reluctant to jump on the bandwagon of another football franchise. The Texans are a new organization that have repeatedly shown a first class commitment toward excellence. From the coaching staff, to the players, to the practice facilities to the acclaimed Reliant Stadium, Houston is a place where NFL players WANT to play. Hopefully, the city and surrounding area will shed their past ‘issues’ with football and give full support to the new home team. GO TEXANS!

Copyright © 2003 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Hittin' Licks

Hittin’ Licks: (verb phrase; ebonic contraction of the verb ‘hitting’ in this form meaning 'acquiring' and the ebonic noun ‘licks’ meaning significant amounts of money/capital)

‘Hittin Licks’ on the Southside can mean a variety of means to an end. More often than not, it usually means ‘jacking’ somebody, catching somebody ‘slipping’ or pulling a ‘stunt’. Because as most of us in the working world know..the legal methods of making the ‘quick & easy’ dollar are few and far in between. Christians have even fewer opportunities (or so it seems) of ‘hittin licks’ because they don’t steal or lie or kill. Practically EVERYONE has this inner urge to ‘hit a lick’..color or race hasn’t a thing to do with it. What separates the animals from the civilized , is the code of ethics they adhere to on this paper-chasing adventure.

JACKERS: If you’re at a gas station alone late at night..and you happen to notice some thugged out looking youngsters glaring in your direction while they talk amongst themselves..never taking their eyes off you..and their body language and facial expressions show nothing but hardness and aggression..and you happen to overhear the phrase..’we bout to hit this lick on this fool!’, you will probably be best served to get in your car as quickly as you can and drive off. Making sure to check your rear view mirror to make sure you’re not being followed home. Because of all the personal prosperity that has been gained through the aforementioned phrase, more often than naught, it was at the expense of an unsuspecting target..or ‘mark’ as they say in South Central L.A. Some people visualize the worst kind of jackers with dark faces and dark hair, that are pushing old ladies down in dark parking lots. I think they’re just as bad as the ones who pull those ‘investment of a lifetime’ scandals and swindle those same old ladies out of their life savings. Either way, they’re both jackers, one’s just doing it with a gun and the other with a pen.

‘SLIPPING’: If you’re at a club one night..and you run across an older, accomplished, sloppy drunk gentleman, who just needs somebody to talk to. And during the course of the conversation he INSISTS on buying you a drink, and he proceeds to pull out this HUGE wad of 100 dollar bills, and he’s so drunk, that when he thinks he’s putting his money back in his pocket, it all falls neatly on the floor under his seat..out of everyone’s eyesight but’ll know just how bad you want to ‘hit a quick lick’. Especially if you KNOW it’s a guy who a) obviously has more money than he can spend, b)won’t ever remember if he lost the money or spent it, c)will probably end up getting shook down by someone ELSE if you don‘t take it anyway. Of course, no matter how you look at it..its stealing (or prostitution, depending on what you end up DOING with the elderly gentleman later). But everyone doesn’t have that reality..some people just think of it as a ‘blessing’. That's a face-face example of catching somebody slipping, but there are numerous less intimate examples i.e. identity thieves and slick accountants skimming off the top of the books. Once again we can ask the question, 'Which is most damaging to society'?

PULLING A STUNT’: One of my favorite physical comedians is Lucille Ball . Some of the stunts she’s pulled on camera can just make you laugh out loud even if the sound is on mute. There’s a lot of people today pulling stunts for a living, but not for the TV cameras. They’re going down to the mall and they’re shopping…not for clothes, but rather for wet spots on the floor. If they find a good one, with obvious hazards and no warning signs? They’ll d’mn near dive down on the floor and yell out like Fred Sanford, “Oh my back!!” Cuz they’re trying to ‘hit that lick’ on the insurance claim. Go to the doctor, spend a couple of weeks in physical therapy and wait for their lawyer to cut them their portion of the settlement check.

C’mon now…don’t have your mouth wide open acting like you didn’t know this type of stuff was going on by the SECOND??! Why do you think your insurance is so high? Why do you think healthcare costs are soaring out of control?? A lot of people are just out for self, and they’re paying no heed to what’s best for the group. Some people are naïve enough to believe the ‘trickle down’ theory and other elitists paradigms that advocate helping the rich first, which in turn will ‘trickle down’ to the poor masses. What history teaches us, is that as long as we have an entire class of folks whose economic opportunities are slim and none? We will always have a group of folks who are ready to ‘hit licks’ with no holds barred. And that’s not even including the already rich folks ‘hitting licks’, because their licks hit the hardest. If you want to find out about one of the biggest ‘licks’ of all times, research how the Pilgrims 'acquired' this land that we now call the United States from the Native Americans. and tell THAT!

Copyright © 2003 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 02, 2003

In God We Trust

Today, every American is feeling the consequences of wars being fought abroad, rising unemployment, global pollution, skyrocketing healthcare costs, soaring crime and corruption and the steady decline of the ‘traditional’ family structure as outlined and defined in the Bible. We’re living in times where ‘legal’ is a relative term as several fronts challenge our nations selective enforcement of separation of church and state. Students aren’t allowed to pray in public schools, the pledge of allegiance is under attack for being ‘unconstitutional’ because it cites a submission to God and gay rights activists are rigorously seeking equal acceptance and protection within the laws of the land. So often we glance at these headlines on the news and just glaze over them and resolve that those are issues for those government and political ‘bigshots’ to figure out. But for those of us who sincerely care about the society that we live in and the environment that we’re raising our kids in, a closer look at the issues at hand is required.

Back in 1998, here in Houston, a disgruntled neighbor of John Geddes Lawrence called the police with a fake distress call, saying there was a man ‘going crazy’ in Lawrence’s apartment. When the police arrived on the scene, they pushed open the door to find Lawrence and his partner, Tyron Garner, engaged in anal sex. Both men were arrested on a misdemeanor sodomy charge, spent one night in jail and had to pay a $200 fine. Texas’s long-standing sodomy laws made it illegal for gay people (and not heterosexuals) to engage in anal or oral sex. Instead of accepting the charges, the two men appealed the decision..all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Their legal fight was not alone; a long list of legal and medical groups joined gay rights and human rights supporters in backing these Texas men. This past June, in a major victory for gay rights activists, the Court struck down this Texas sodomy statute (6-3), ruling that the law was an unconstitutional violation of privacy.

Personally, I felt that this decision by the court was an inevitable progression of our society. What consenting adults do within the confines of their own homes is a private matter. But from my understanding of the Bible, homosexual relations is NOT a union endorsed but rather condemned by God:

If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. Leviticus 20:13 (NKJV)

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. I Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV)

Today’s ‘church’ and Bible thumpers are so quick to point out the sinful ways of groups that they’re not a part of, but they tend to turn their back and ignore the ‘accepted’ sins such as heterosexual fornication and adultery. Now that the next push for gay rights is the acknowledgement and validation of same-sex marriages, the rubber is about to meet the road. This past Thursday, the Vatican released a 12-page document in seven different languages entitled, ‘Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.’ The document calls on Roman Catholic lawmakers to block legislation granting legal rights to homosexuals in Europe and North America. It campaigns against same-sex marriages and same-sex couples adoption of children, both of which it sees as ‘gravely immoral’. Coming from an entity that was conspicuously silent and evasive concerning its own rampant incidents of child molestation (mostly homosexual) within its ranks of clergy and priests..the decree reeks of hypocrisy and selective morality.

America today is engaged in an ever-growing civil war of morality. Everybody doesn’t adhere and abide to the same religion. A large group of folks don’t even believe in God at all, as is their Constitutional right. But now that we’re all here, driving the same streets, working in the same workplaces, enjoying the same freedoms as tax-paying Americans, where is the line drawn in this separation of church and state? I respect any person for standing up and fighting for what they believe in, it shows energy, drive and a thirst for what they feel is a better life. But at the same time, I would like for others to respect MY beliefs and understand why I cannot endorse laws that are against the will of the God that I serve. I’m not trying to throw stones at anyone, or expounding that the ways in which I sin are better than the ways in which they sin, because we’ve ALL come short of the Glory. But these are the types of moral issues that if left unattended, will continue to grow toward a state completely devoid of the presence and will of God. America’s founding father’s made it a point to acknowledge God, even so much that the slogan, “In God We Trust” is printed on every piece of legal tender (money) that’s printed. Too often the squeakiest wheel gets the oil, its time for the people of God to raise their voices and be heard. If we don’t, America can easily follow the same fate that beset Sodom and Gomorrah.