Monday, December 22, 2008
A lot of people are up in arms about President-Elect Obama asking pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration on January 20th.
Pastor Rick Warren is the author of the top selling book, "The Purpose Driven Life" and is also a big supporter of the proposition 8 initiative that was passed in California in November banning gay marriage.
Gay marriage is an explosive issue in America all of a sudden, it has aligned itself with abortion as being the two issues that are the dividing line of morality in our country.
Proposition 8 was passed because people are scared of change. They are scared that their concept of marriage will change. But the throughout the years it has changed drastically. Marriage in it's original concept is a business arraignment between two families. What we know of as marriage today is a religious institution. Two people declare their love for each other before God. They stand in front of a priest or a rabbi. But If the Church doesn't recognize the marriage then you just don't get married in a church. People get married at City Hall. In fact the Mayor can marry you. In that case don't even call it a marriage then, call it a Civil Union. But that Civil Union should afford those two people the same right as any other people who marry as far as the law of the state is concerned. right?
Nope. the Church defines what marriage is. What happened to separation between Church and state you say? Well that's a wonderful concept and ideology but it isn't a law or an amendment in the constitution. It's a suggestion of a concept written in a letter penned by Thomas Jefferson referring to the first amendment.
What seems to bother me most is that people who are not gay nor can have children let alone abort one feel so threatened by these issues. I, myself fall into this category. and when someone asks me what my view is I say I don't have a view because it doesn't affect me. But I have realized that that is only partly true. I am affected in that when one persons freedoms are taken away or when one person isn't afforded the same rights as another because of their orientation then that marks the beginning of the end of our democratic way of life.
But Barack Obama is a smart man, why would he invite Rick Warren knowing their differences in opinion regarding things like abortion, and gays?
Appealing to the masses is tricky business especially in this country. I learned that a few years ago when decided to put out an album. Like Jay_Z said you dumb it down to double the dollars. Not everyone is going to get Talib Kweli. Only the "progressives" and the "elites". But shouldn't we be striving to be better, to understand more? When you are pulling double shifts to feed your family on close to minimum wages and you get a chance to relax, puff an el and listen to some tunes you don't want to be trying figure out what the emcee is saying. You just want to hear some slightly witty, silly shit over a good beat. simple. You want to know that republican means good and demorcrat means bad. or visa verse. simple. It's the same even when we go to the movies. Within the first 20 minutes of any action movie you know clearly who the good guys are and who the bad guys are and those lines never get crossed. This clean cut way of thinking cuts across many lines culturally. In religion, well, Christianity at least, God is good. Anything that is not good is of the Devil and considered evil making the clear enemy of God, the devil. simple.
In the abortion issue there are those who are pro-life and those who are pro-choice. This battle has waged on for so long that those who fight on either side actually believe that they are the opposite of the other just because they oppose each others view. But that can be no further from the truth. Someone can actually be pro-choice and pro-life- but that would be too much for the average american to understand and come to grips with. They wouldn't know who the enemy was. And we need an enemy, believe me. This is where I think the brilliance of Barack Obama is at work. Americans have to fundamentally change the way they look at issues. One of Obama's quotes that really stuck with me was when he said that no one is pro- abortion. we're not on two clean cut sides of an issue. If we listen to each other we might just get a broader understanding of where we are coming from.
Baracks choice of Rick Warren to do his invocation is a statement of grey, explaining that nothing is as black and white as it seems.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Plaxico Burress is an idiot.
I don't think too many people will disagree with that statement. Wait here's another: Michael Vick is an idiot. I bet I'm 2 for 2, right? How about this, OJ Simpson is a monumental idiot.
I find it hard not to see them and be embarrassed. Obviously it is because they are black. Each of them had careers that I could only dream of having and made piles of money. Plaxico will lose his 137 million dollar contract of which he's already received 10 million of if he goes to jail; Michael Vick has already filed for bankruptcy because he is totally broke. When he gets out in June he will be on his knees to the NFL begging for re-instatement.
I guess I wouldn't be as embarrassed if we didn't just elect the first Black President of the United States. And though it was a landslide victory I know there are people out there just waiting for him to fuck it up so they can say "ya see, can't give those ngiggers nothing". Whoa, whoa, whoa... the "N" word... yeah, I know but I'm sure in a few years if you google "Dumb Nigger" you'll see a picture of OJ Simpson.
I don't think when Elliot Spitzer was busted with that call girl, white people we're embarrassed. They said "fire his ass"! So why am I so troubled?
I remember back in 1995 when OJ was was acquitted of the murder of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. I remember the throngs of black students on campuses across America cheering. the opinion on whether or not he was guilty was split down racial lines. It was quite similar to the explosion of cheers when the news channels announced that Barack Obama had won the Presidency except it wasn't so racially split. well, at least not in NYC. But I bet if you polled those students from 1995 now asking whether they thought OJ had done it or not, I'm sure a lot would say that they think he did. But back in 1995 it wasn't about whether he had done it or not, it was about things being fair. By 1995 young people had been used to police brutality- ala Rodney King and Yusef Hawkins- and innocent black men being accused and imprisoned- ala the Susan Smith case- for things they didn't do, so much so that those who were guilty were looked past. We did little about gang violence and found reason to excuse gangster rap until it killed Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. It wasn't until 2007 when Don Imus called the Rutgers Female basketball team "a bunch of nappy headed hoes" did we really start to address the language used within the black community. But the speed in which the ban on the "N" word that Al Sharpton and Russell Simmons implimneted went out of the news and out of our minds is a clear indication of where we are as black people in 2008. Nowhere.
In fact I'll go as far as to say that I don't think there really is a "black people" anymore. What defined us as a people in the 60's and prior was a common enemy. Whether you were from the South, the North or the West, to white people all Negroes were the same. Though racism still exists in many aspects in America, there are other issues within the black community that are more pressing and don't get addressed, like the question: why do young black men have to wear so much jewelry and have so much cash in their pockets that they have to protect themselves with unregistered guns when they go to the club? huh? why?
Maybe there just isn't a black community anymore. I do remember when I was growing up, if I was to act up when my parents weren't around, there was always an adult to straighten me out. But now when I ride the train during after school hours and the kids are out in full force, acting up, I look over and see that some of the adults are dressed just like them, quiet.
Hey this is my opinion and what I have witnessed in my city. This is a blog, not professional journalism so feel free to disagree with me. But maybe it's just a latent instinctual reaction left over from the civil rights era that makes me cringe when I see someone like Plaxico Burress throw away such a promising career over something so stupid or when I see the surveillance footage of a brother punch an old woman in an elevator to steal her purse or when I see OJ, who might have gotten away with murder, not move out of the U.S. and just keep a low profile.
Monday, October 6, 2008
The battle of Science (Evolution) vs. Religion (Creationism) is heating up faster than a cup of water on a bonfire.
It is really hard for me to remain unbiased in this debate. I guess I am no journalist.
I find it hard to believe that after all of what science has given us in this world, there are some that would really want an alternative to evolution taught in schools.
I am by far no Atheist. I have a fundamental issue with Atheism as much as I do with conventional Religiosity. Is there a divine creator? I just don't know, plain and simple. And there is no one on this planet that can, without a doubt, prove to me that there is or there isn't. So we are left with speculation and faith, basically what organized Religion (specifically Christianity, Judaism and Islam) is comprised of. While on the other hand Science, defined in the dictionary as "The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena", is based on trial and error experimentation.
A religious person will say, "I have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow", while a scientist will say "based on the frequency of previous sunrises, I am 99% sure the sun will rise tomorrow".
Of course there are things that the science cannot prove away. But Science is ok with admitting that. Our perception of the world is taken in only by five senses and a brain that functions on maybe 10-12 percent capacity. But I am a little skeptical of replacing science with an ideology that was used to explain why the sun rose thousands of years ago. It also baffles me that we are even having this conversation in 2008.
In Matthew Alpers book, "The God part of the Brain", he states that "our concepts of spirit and God are derived from the mechanics of our brain" and that is shown in the fact that every civilization on earth since the beginning of man has had some concept of a God or gods.
In other words the human brain isn't happy with things it cannot understand so we find reason either through science or religion.
In this age of information at our finger tips there seems to me at last a shift in how people are thinking. The heating up of this debate is in kind due to the information evolution we seem to be in. There is a desire to seek out the truth in every instance. Ones opinion doesn't count for much anymore. If your father says, "this is the way this works" you can quickly go on the internet, find some facts and refute it.
This excerpt from Waking Life describes this evolution maybe a little less clearer but extremely thorough:
Regarding the presence of an intelligent designer or God, all I have is my opinion and I'll share it with you. But it is just MY opinion.
I grew up going to church quite often, sometime 3-4 days/nights a week. Also I went to an all boys Catholic Junior High and High School. I've been in passion plays and the subject of God and belief is scattered throughout my work. Therefore I think I know the bible pretty well.
Like a lot of people in my age group, I now have a problem with organized religion and unrelenting faith. I feel it does more harm in the world than good. There is something fatalistic and unrealistic about there needing to be an ultimate good and an ultimate evil and a final battle between the two at the end. Every action movie is based on that ideal and even our political process and policy decisions are based on that. Heroes and Villains. I think the world is much more complicated than that. The problem with religion is that it limits God. Whatever religious fundamentalists don't stand for or dislike is explained away as not coming from God. The God I would understand there to be is more infinite than math, wider than the entire universe. For me God is everything's connection to everything else, a quilt so to speak and each microbe of us a stitch within that quilt. But hey, whatever you need to get through the day right?
Let's just not hinder ours or our children's ability to search for truth.
This is an excerpt from a speech by the late Carl Sagan:
"We have a theology that is Earth-centered and involves a tiny piece of space, and when we step back, when we attain a broader cosmic perspective, some of it seems very small in scale. And in fact a general problem with much of Western theology in my view is that the God portrayed is too small. It is a god of a tiny world and not a god of a galaxy, much less of a universe.
Now, we can say, "Well, that's just because the right words weren't available back when the first Jewish or Christian or Islamic holy books were written." But clearly that's not the problem; it is certainly possible in the beautiful metaphors in these books to describe something like the galaxy and the universe, and it isn't there. It is a god of one small world, a problem, I believe, that theologians have not adequately addressed.
I don't propose that it is a virtue to revel in our limitations. But it is important to understand how much we do not know; there is a tiny amount that we do. But what we do understand brings us face to face with an awesome cosmos that is simply different from the cosmos of our pious ancestors.
Does trying to understand the universe at all betray a lock of humility? I believe it is true that humility is the only just response in a confrontation with the universe, but not a humility that prevents us from seeking the nature of the universe we are admiring. If we seek that nature, then love can be informed by truth instead of being based on ignorance or self-deception. If a Creator God exists, would He or She or It or whatever the appropriate pronoun is, prefer a kind of sodden blockhead who worships while understanding nothing? Or would He prefer His votaries to admire the real universe in all its intricacy? I would suggest that science is, at least in part, informed worship. My deeply held belief is that if a god of anything like the traditional sort exists, then our curiosity and intelligence are provided by such a god. We would be unappreciative of those gifts if we suppressed our passion to explore the universe and ourselves. On the other hand, if such a traditional god does not exist , then our curiosity and our intelligence are the essential tools for managing our survival in an extremely dangerous time. In either case the enterprise of knowledge is consistent surely with science; it should be with religion, and it is essential for the welfare of the human species."
time stops for no one so gorealer to the future
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Forget the Freedom Tower.
Judging by the state of the economy right now by the time the new tower is erected there won't be any banks left to occupy it.
If they really wanted to honor the dead they'd turn that entire space into a park and let the lights forever shine.
And don't parade the families out there every year to read off the over 3000 names of the dead.
It is very bad taste.
Just my opinion.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
ONE NIGHT ONLY!
Saturday, October 4th@ 7pm
The Hip-Hop Theater Festival presents a workshop reading of The Paradox of the Urban Cliche
Written and Performed by Craig "muMs" Grant
Directed by Sarah Sidman
Augustus Jefferson Caesar, his block proper name Ceez,
almost unseen, learns the hard way,
the disciplines of love and responsibility
amongst the broken glass and white tees
of his known universe: the block.
@ New York Theater Workshop's 4th Street Theater, 83 East 4th Street
Hurricane IKE smacked Texas around like her name was Tina.
Ok I know that was in bad taste. That's why I waited over a week to say it. It's funny though.
I was watching Bill Maher last night and he held up a picture similar to this and said that if this were a terrorist act we would be losing our collective American shit. I agree. the point he was making is that we are obsessed with needing to protect ourselves from some man hiding in a cave half way around the world but there still are people who don't believe in global warming.
Then the whole deal with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Merrill Lynch, AIG, Bear Sterns and Leman Brothers... Not sure what all this means except for the economy is in the shitter. I've heard it said that this all the fault of a lot of people who took sub- prime loans and couldn't pay their mortgages. I've heard it's George Bush's fault for his "Ownership Society" program. And I've also heard it was Alan Greenspan's fault. Who knows. But that is an American trait. There always has to be someone to blame. From every American movie ever made to Christianity, there always needs to be the bad guy to absorb the blame for all the evil in the world.
But maybe it's nature trying to tell us something. Last Thursday a Bull was spotted running loose in Queens. The Police have no idea where it came from. LOL.
After the War on Terror, which is predicted to cost us 2.4 trillion over the next 10 years (that's over 21g's per American household) a bailout for Wall Street of 700 billion kind of blows my mind. There are still people in New Orleans waiting in the their FEMA trailers for checks to pay for the repairs on their houses.
Check out our National Debt nearing 10 trillion dollars.
But Barack Obama is a muslim and Sarah Palin has Foreign Affairs experience because she can see Russia from her house. Stupid!
"Why is this race even close?" A man of intellect might ask himself. This country is made up of idiots. Yeah I said it. People like Ann Coulter and James David Manning and the fools who listen to these nuts comparing Barack Obama to Hitler.
The Republicans demonize Barack Obama for his intellect by calling him elite, while Sarah Palin is felt sorry for because she can't handle herself when asked hard questions. The people buy it, hook line and sinker. We, as a country have a problem.
Forget the War on Drugs and the War on Terror. There needs to be a War on Stupidity. But that war would cause a financial crisis for the top 10% that feed on the bottom 90%. That is why there are less and less books in schools and teacher salaries rival the salaries of the guys who brings you hot dogs at Yankee games.
Intelligent people would ask how is it that a man in a cave could orchestrate such a bold and tragic operation like 9/11 on the greatest country on earth. Stupid people just sit back and accept what they were told.
It is clear that, as a people, we are NOT encouraged to think. Between texting, television, ipods and so on, the wool can be pulled over our eyes so easily and the moment anybody questions anything he/she is called crazy. So I don't blame the Republicans for their tactics in trying to get John McCain elected. They know, and have accepted the fact that the American People as a whole are not that bright and, intellect-forbid, they will be smiling all the way to the White House.
eh, I'll be in Paris
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Ok I'm not going to act like I don't switch from MSNBC to CNN to FOX news and back every time I sit down to relax in front of the T.V. I love sports but in the middle of a game or a tennis match I'll switch over to Olbermann or O'rielly to see who said what. When I'm out I over hear people in restaurants and bars and on the street, talking Barack this and McCain that.... It's ceaseless.
For the past three weeks, since the lead up to the Democratic Convention, we, the American public, have been inundated with political rhetoric from every media angle. I watch it all. I am hooked I tell you. It is the best theater. I have my favorites and the ones I love to hate, not that I love any of them really.
I am a big fan of-the Conservatives are the worst people in the world- Countdown show with Keith Olbermann. I also like Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough. Complete talking out of both sides of their mouth idiots. And of course you cannot have any type of Punditry without the likes of Hannity and Colmes (or shall I say The Hannity and Pussy show) and the man himself, Bill O'reilly. Don't worry about hating Bill O'reilly because he already hates your liberal whacko ass. oooh I love to hate him the most. I kinda get off on watching Fox news because it is a reminder of how intellectually shrimpish a big portion of America is.
I have to admit that, while I am a supporter of Barack Obama (I just think he's exactly what the times needs as an American President and the brother in me is overjoyed) I was a little annoyed by the pageantry of the Democratic Convention.
"Does he really need the Greek Columns"? I said quietly to myself as I watched his electrifying and brilliant speech. It just seemed a bit much. But what the hell if all his speeches are like that when he becomes president, he can have all the greek columns he wants.
The Clintons, for as much as they were praised for getting behind the party, both seemed just a wee bit bitter. Understandable though. I'm not sure Hillary wants to wait until 2016 get a chance at being president again.
But my utter disgust of all this political shmutz came with the Republican Convention. I felt as if I had swallowed year old milk. The taste in my mouth was that bad. Rudolph Giuliani is a self-serving buffoon trying to get himself a cabinet position in the McCain/ Palin administration. He is about as transparent as air. He's going to wake up one day to a gaggle of community organizers ready to organize an ass-kick in. And I love John Stewart's comparison of Fred Thomspon and Joseph Lieberman with Foghorn Leghorn and Droopy-dog. Funny as hell.
check it out:
Daily Show 9.3
Just watching that Convention gave me chills. Now this might not describe all Republicans but the fact that people who have such a narrowminded idea of religion and a desperate need for guns might run our country scares me into a one way ticket to Paris for the next four years. (and why do the Republicans hate the French so much so that they are the butt of their jokes? didn't the French give us the statue of Liberty?)
Smart people know it is all a show. Politicians will say just about anything to get elected. But who were these people in the crowd with their strange hats and American Flags and McCain/Palin and Obama/Biden signs? Who are these political fanatics? It's just not that deep for me. I mean I'll donate some dough and pull the lever in November. That is all I can do. I don't really see the purpose of getting arrested outside of the RNC because you lost it on some close-minded right to lifer.
It's not like these people are really going to stop for a second and consider the others ideology, like yes it is a horrible thing when abortion is used as birth control and girls are having 3 and 4 and 5 abortions in their lifetime or that telling a woman what to do with her body is taking away the personal freedom and responsibility that defines our country. It's not like if you demonstrate outside the DNC you'll get across the message that one can believe in God and the Big Bang theory both at the same time.
you just live your life the way you see it and don't impose your shit on others. easy.
But somebody has to be in charge. So the politicians fit us all into little voting blocks to craft perfectly specific lines in speeches that capture our attention and votes. We're either Libral or Conservative. But it goes way deeper than that. Maybe you're a social conservative and are pro-life even in the case of incest or rape like the Republican nominee for Vice President Sarah Palin; Or maybe you're a Cultural Conservative and think that we should teach Creationism in the schools, silence Britney Spears and rid our libraries and Barnes and Nobles of every copy of Tropic of Cancer in existence. Maybe you're a Conservative Liberal and believe every man should have rights except for illegal aliens from Mexico. Or you're a Liberal Conservative who is pro-life except for when your daughter gets knocked-up by Malik. There are Moderate liberals, radical moderates, ultraconservatives, ultraliberals, Reagan democrats, Clinton Republicans, blacks, gays, hispanics... the list of boxes we all seem to fit in is endless.
I know that every time the Grand Ole Party (GOP) and John McCain speak about earmarks or pork-belly spending more than half of the American population has no clue what he's talking about. Hell, I glanced past some dumb MTV reality show yesterday and there was teenage kid on who couldn't count past one thousand nine. He get there and say, "ten thousand? what? I don't know why do I need to know"? This might be elitist but there are some really fucking dumb people in this country.
Barack Obama graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law. This might be leading a little left on my part but it would be nice to have a politician in office that comedians would have a hard time making fun of.
It would be nice to have a president who not only understands the internet but uses it like I do. It's not a lot to ask for.
Don't get me wrong I like john McCain. I think he is a true American Hero and a nice gentleman. I stopped laughing at his stiffness when I realized it was because he couldn't raise his arms above his shoulders due to the treatment he received in Vietnam. we all know the story I guess by now. His plane was shot down by the North Vietnamese and he was held captive by them for five years. When offered to be released he refused because there were other who had been there longer. wow. what a story. give that man a medal. President Obama give that man a medal, please.
Yes, McCain has been through some difficult times. But when Michele Obama was attacked for saying that this the first as an adult she has ever felt proud of her country, she could have fought back and given her example of hard times that all black people born before 1980 have felt.
I read an article about Michelle Obama in her first year at Princeton about how her roommate's mother was up in arms and irate because her daughter would have to room with a black person. Mrs. Obama could have brought this story up as an example of what she meant when she made that statement but instead she played the political game, tell the people what they want to hear and don't frighten them. The perfect model laid down for back people by Will Smith for the last 10 years.
yes that is the political game. they will say anything that will make us stop and listen and then vote. lies? who really knows. all I know is watching Barack Obama speak I feel that this is a man who is trying his best within this political game to be honest with me. I feel he has the intelligence to make the right decision or seek out the right counsel. I think because he is young and has young daughters that he has a progressive outlook for the future of this country. I think the world will not just like him but respect him and in turn us.
I am not Liberal nor Conservative or maybe I am both. I do know that I am a futurist and like my friend Julian's father puts it an Obamista!!
gorealer to the Future
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Ok, I know I have NOT blogged in a while. I was writing. I tricked myself into finishing a one-man play that I started writing 10 years ago with no idea of what it was going to be. I submitted it to my theater company's Intensive without giving it too much thought. When it was picked to be presented I got worried. I would have to finish it and well, I did, and presented it. I got some great feedback and notes on how to polish it up and clarify some points. So yeah, the play is called the Paradox of the Urban Cliche. I'm having a reading at the Hip-Hop Theater Festival on Oct 4th @7:30p and then if I am diligent enough in February it will be housed at Lincoln Center and after that we'll see.
Oh and I had a crazy beautiful time up in Vermont for two weeks with the Labyrinth Theater Company watching 40 wonderful plays, drinking, smoking, flirting with beautiful women and looking up at the stars... oh and playing volleyball. a time to be had for sure. especially for an artist. it was an emotional cleanse. plus I presented two plays.
The day I got back from Vermont I had audition for L&O and I booked that f***ker! excuse my french but decent paying acting gigs have been quite elusive as of late.
My good friend and dope photographer Monique Carboni had an extra ticket for me to see Fela this past Friday night at 37 arts. I almost didn't make it with all that crazy hurricane force rain that was coming down but I'm glad I did because the show was frickin amazing! If you're on facebook check out some of her pics from the show here. I grew up listening to Fela just like a lot of my readers and friends but I never knew his life story, his relationship with his mother, his struggles with the Nigerian military.
I was mesmerized by this show, the storytelling was incredible. and of course the music, the sound design blew me away! I don't want to give anything away but at one point during the play where you think the music is at the level it's supposed to be, it just gets louder and you are almost forced out of your seat. and the voice of the mother is near angelic. The brilliant Bill T. Jones directed and the lead who played Fela, Sahr Ngaujah, will make you think that you just got great seats to a real Fela concert. Plus it's brought to you by the people who brouhgt you Passing Strange on Bway.
They're in previews right now but the show is only running through Sept. 21st so make sure you see it before then. It might go to Broadway but by then the prices will be through the roof and it already isn't cheap.
say, yeah yeah
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I fell in love with Poker because it's more than just a game of chance. There is real skill involved in it. It falls in line with what it takes to be a really good actor as well and I mean a lot more than just having to pretend you have a hand when you don't. It involves memory, calculation, emotion control, perception AND pretending to have a good hand when you don't.
I think, no I'm sure I want to be a professional poker player. Yes I said it. I know, I know. I love acting. I really do. But poker? Poker is like mistress who keeps dancing on the bed naked singing, "don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me". While acting is my wife who seems to have a headache every night lately. Now don't get me wrong. Poker has hurt me more than few times. Im pretty deep in on my downtown game. So much so I had to back off it for a while. In my Chelsea game, however, Im up and really look forward to it. Online, well, I've won a few tournaments and am feeling pretty confident. My main rule online though is to play freeroll or with fake money only.
When I first started I played with real money (very little indeed) and the rush was just a little too intense for me. In true Poker parlayance (parlayance? wtf? is this even a word? not sure, but it sounds cool and you know what I mean right? right) the term tilt refers to the mental frustration one might go through after a run of bad luck at the tables. But online this takes on a whole different meaning as one particular article in the NY-times points out, describing online Poker's influence on college campuses. Hmm... let me try to explain this tilt feeling: Let's see, I guess I can say it was quite similar to the feeling I got after trying a certain unmentionable drug back in the 80's that made me reach for it when the high was gone. I resisted that feeling and never picked it up again. I will never play with real money online again and I only lost 50 dollars.
The name "Poker" is likely descended from the Irish "Poca", pronounced "Pokah" meaning "Pocket" or the French "Poque", which descended from the German word "Pochen" meaning "to brag as a bluff" literally. (who knows, this is what the internet tells me). Some say the original American version of Poker, similar to 5-card stud, has its roots tied to a 16th Century Persia game called "As Nas". haha... Nas, deep.
Speaking about my man Nas; he's got a new album dropping next week called, "Untitled" or like how I like to call it, "the album formally titled 'Nigger' until Nas' creative expression, albeit a bit misguided, was stepped on by his record label and old school black activists who wouldn't understand his music anyway". Eh, I heard leaked track. It was alright, but it didn't really blow me away. There isn't much in hip-hop that does anymore anyway. But I'll cop it because with Nas you know what you get, hot beats and intricate, thought provoking lyrics. There's no gamble there. Get it, "gamble". Haha... I crack me up...
As I segue back to Poker!!!
So after I decided I wasn't going to play with real money online anymore I found that playing with fake money was kinda corny except for when I was preparing for a live game.
I love the live game. I play mostly with friends and the money I spend for the game is ok. We're paying to have good time. It's usually less than I would spend for dinner on a date. And a good time is guaranteed win or lose. Can't say that much for dating.
But online, I've discovered that, in the tournaments, I can win real money if I'm good enough. I can make my way onto tables that can get me onto other tables that can eventually lead me to (cue cliche angelic heavenly music now) The WSOP. That's the World Series of Poker for some of you that don't know. Woo wee... Ten thousand dollar entry fee and the top prize is somewhere around 9 million. Out of around six thousand entries about 300 or so get into "the money" meaning they walk away with at least double the entry fee. I likey those odds baby. I watched a six hour marathon of the 2007 WSOP on ESPN2 the other night. whew I f'n love acting but the drama doesn't get any better than a pair of aces going all in against a pair of queens and then watching two queens land on the flop. Talk about stunned bullets baby. Poker, I'm like a moth to a flame who aint trying to get burned.
haha... wish me luck.
P.S. I changed my comments settings. anyone can leave comments now. you don't have to sign up. you can leave them anonymous if you'd like but don't sleep, I'll find you.
Monday, June 30, 2008
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
II Amendment, the Constitution of the United States of America
Translation: there is a constitutional right to keep a loaded handgun at home for self-defense.
Really? Is that what that Amendment says? I know I didn't go to law school but...
In DC vs Heller, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 4 decision in favor repealing Washington DC's restriction on handguns: the toughest in the nation in a city that was once the murder capital of the world. It ruled that the restriction violated the Second Amendment, which some believe, protects an individual right to own a gun for personal use.
No I didn't go to Law School so I guess I don't have any argument for the interpretation of the amendment which sounds like, to me, that if there needs to be a militia- like there needed to be back in 1791 when this amendment was drafted- they can have some guns. I don't think the framers of the constitution ever envisioned the type of guns we have today nor the illegal gun problem we have in this country. But once again I'm not qualified to interpret an amendment to the constitution of the United States. That is the job of Supreme Court justices like Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr and the rest who spilt their allegiance and votes down party lines.
Guns are Pussy
That was going to be the original title of my blog. It kind of gets to my point a lot quicker.
I'm going to approach this whole gun issue thing from a different perspective, from the streets. I'm talking strictly from a thuggish street point of view where guns are revered. I grew up in the Bronx in the 70's and 80's. There weren't a lot of guns on the streets back then. I could hear my older brother, who was recruited by a lot of gangs back then, tell of broken bottled and knives. And back then if you pulled out a knife at a fight it was because you were losing and had to save face. It's the same today, false bravado and bruised ego's has caused the murder rate to skyrocket because that broken bottle has turned into a gun. Anybody with a gun, no matter how small, soft, weak, can threaten or kill another person. So the kid who gets bullied at school goes home to his father's cabinet, finds his loaded gun- that is kept in the house for safety reasons- and takes it to school.
We're never going to be a violence-free society. And if we're not going to fix the problems of why kids pick up guns in the first place, which has its origin in the home and in the school, then we as adults can at least make the sacrifice of giving up our need to shoot something, like a little furry rabbit or a turkey, for the sake of our children. But what am I saying? People couldn't even sacrifice their SUV's when clearly we entered a war over oil.
There used to be a certain quality to being able to walk up on someone, who did you wrong, talked about your mother, disrespected your girl or maybe just even stepped on your shoe, and punch them square in the face without the fear of that person going and getting a gun. The both of you would fall on the ground afterward, tussle a bit and then someone would pull you apart and a winner would be declared. It's not like that anymore.
Once again I must say I'm speaking strictly from a street perspective but I think all can admit that if it wasn't for guns and lawyers a lot of deserving people would get punched in the face daily. So maybe that is a way that guns prevent violence.
On an aside, there is really a softening of society going on lately. The hot girls, when I was growing up, were into the men who seemed dangerous, men whom they felt could protect them. That pretty much falls in line with natural selection. But nowadays a woman can just buy a gun for protection and date a man who wears his hair over his left eye and borrows clothes from her wardrobe. I'm at that point in my adulthood where I'm starting to reminisce about the good old days.
But do we really need guns? really?
Matt Welch and Megan McArdle debate the DC vs. Heller decision on bloggingheads.tv in a segment called Megan Get your Gun. You decide.
The argument for having a gun if someone breaks into your house: that I sort of understand. If someone broke into my house I'd want to shoot them as well. But if someone is breaking into your house and has a gun, it's pretty likely he stole it from the last house he broke into. For me, too many accidents, stolen guns, and tragedies like the one at Virginia Tech negate any and all arguments for the need to repeal DC's restriction on handguns or any others state's for that matter.
Do we really need a machine gun to shoot a deer? A real man would just go up to it and punch it square in the face.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Don Imus, John McWhorter, Neil LaBute, Rodney King and Laurence Olivier. Man this blog must be about race, huh?
So it seems Don Imus is at it again. He's in hot water for some comments he made about the Dallas Cowboy's recently signed defensive back Adam "Pacman" Jones. In a conversation about Jones' extensive criminal record, Imus says, "What color is he?" When given the answer, which is African American, He then said, "Well, there you go. Now we know."
That got me to thinking about the whole issue of race and being Black in America. I can already see a lot of my friends rolling their eyes at this blog. There goes muMs race baiting again. I can understand their annoyance with the issue of race in this country. I'm annoyed by it. Shit, the John Singleton directed Rosewood where Ving Rhames plays basically a black slave super-hero, came out the same day as Booty Call in 1997. Take a wild guess which movie made more money that weekend.
Race, and slavery aren't the issues that people want to talk about at all, Black or White.
For as long as I can remember, growing up in New York City, there hasn't been a summer where there wasn't some issue about race in the news from Eleanor Bumpurs to Amadou Dialllo to Michael Stewart, Yusef Hawkins, Abner Louima, Larry Davis, Bernard Goetz and Rodney King.
Oh and who can forget O.J. Simpson. I can remember wondering what would be the new controversy as the summer rolled around. Last year it was nappy-headed hoes and this year, well, it's Barack Obama.
Though the possibility of Barack Obama becoming the President of the United States is a great thing, the fact that the color of his skin is an issue at all is a distraction.
I guess- and this is from pure speculation, not any researched factual journalist whatchumacallit- humans are tribal. We are comfortable around our own kind. But the like kind is really based on social commonalities like what songs you listen to, what foods you eat, what you do for a living, etc... The color of the skin is an easy way to infer things about people. The mind searches for the simplest ways to make it's judgments. Unt viola, Stereotypes! That is why a woman walking down the street at night might hold her purse a little tighter as she is passed but some young African American men. She has learned, particularly from the news, that Black and Hispanic men make up a very high percentage of the petty crimes in the city. Do I blame her? No. She's just being cautious. I don't view that a racism.
And neither does John McWhorter, the Manhattan Institue academic who thinks Hip-Hop (all forms) is bad for the brain. His latest book "All about the Beat: Why Hip Hop Can't Save Black America" explains that even conscious Hip Hop is all part of the misconception that Hip Hop will save Black people and pull poor Black people out of the Ghetto. And Damn this guy hated 8 Mile. Do I agree with him? Hmmmm... I don't know. I do have my problems with Hip Hop. But there is still so much potential to the music form of Hip Hop all over the world that I just can't throw the baby out with the bath water. But I'll give his book a good perusal. It should be good for a few talking points.
Check out John McWhorter and Glenn Loury of Brown University debate the worth of Hip Hop and Barack Obama's Father's Day speech on Bloggingheads.TV called Higher Moral Sound. Interesting.
Anyway back to Don Imus...
The main problem is in the broad sweeping blame that happens when a woman does get punched in the face by some young shameless thug. The idea that if one Black man commits a crime, then all Black people are prone to criminal activity.
I was talking with a friend the other day about whether or not I was going to go see Neil LaBute's play Reasons to Be Pretty. I was debating going because though Mr. LaBute is a wonderful, albeit controversial, playwright, an article he penned last year in the L.A. Times called "Casting for the stage should be color-blind" made me question his sanity. In it he speaks about how today Laurence Olivier wouldn't be able to play Othello in blackface because of unfair casting making it unable for White's to play Black roles. He goes on to say, "Now this probably won't stop somebody from having the bright idea of casting Beyoncé in the role, but Liev Schreiber — as fine a Shakespearean actor as this country has at the moment — will never have a shot at the part (of Othello. he was making a joke suggesting Beyonce play Othello, I guess). For most white actors today, roles of color — from the classics to some of the sensational writing that is currently being done for the theater — are not even an option for them, and I'm not sure why."
I laughed my ass off. As if there aren't enough roles written for white men. Wow.
I spoke with another actor friend who knows LaBute personally and after reading the article she just chalked it up to his need to push societal buttons, which is his m.o.. His plays are all about making you feel very uncomfortable. So I wasn't really offended by the article until I got to this part, "I understand about slavery and all that, but that was a generally unpleasant time in our national history and it's firmly in the past. No one but a few folks who own "The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete First Season" continue to think that slavery brought this country anything but shame and heartache. So we should all get over it, say we're sorry — I'm happy to do that to anybody who stops me at the Grove — and move on."
I f'n hate that. We should all get over it, huh? I don't go around blaming racism for every injustice done to a person of color or myself for that matter. Not even jokingly. But when people say that preachers like Rev. Wright- even though he was dead wrong- need to get over slavery because it happened a long time ago, my come back isn't in comparing slavery to the holocaust because I don't want to get into that battle of human tragedies and which were worse. I compare the African American holocaust to the homeless Vietnam Veteran who still wakes shaking from the nightmares in a cardboard box on the streets of the country he gave his life for. Now spread that across generations. Less than 50 years ago I still would have had to drink from a separate water fountain from a lot of my friends and just because some 25 year olds nowadays can't understand how that happened, don't tell me to get over it.
If triangular trade, slavery, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights era was war than the Post-traumatic Stress disorder is Nihilism. And Nihilism is the cause of all the ills that make up some of the worst stereotypes of African Americans, crime, drugs, broken families, etc...
And being called 'Black' fuels that Nihilism. To most people, regardless of their heritage or color, the terms White and Black are synonymous with Good and Bad no matter how much black pride we try to instill. It works on a subconscious level. So like my friend Julian's father who is Puerto Rican said, "there is no place called Hispania, therefore how can I be Hispanic. I am Puerto Rican." For me there is no place called Black that I am from and I realized from my recent trip to Ghana in February that the only thing African Americans have in common now with Africans is the color of skin. So therefore I'm not even African American. I am an American period. a Bronxonian, New Yorker if you need specifics. And I'm not mad at Don Imus. He's an idiot and it's not his fault. I don't think he should be fired. I believe he should be able to exercise his first amendment rights. I have faith in people. Eventually only the ignorant will listen to Imus and that will be very few. Plus he's really old, he's going to die soon anyway.
But all of this is, like I say, a distraction. the real news is they discovered water on Mars, nice.
Monday, June 16, 2008
I guess the death of Tim Russert- moderator of Meet the Press- from a sudden heart attack, is the biggest thing to happen this past week. I felt very sad at the news of his demise. I'm a big fan of Meet to Press. It wont be the same without him. The fact that he died at such a relatively young age- 58-years old- has caused a bit of alarm within me. All year up until this point I have been thinking about the fact that I will turn 40 at the end of the year. It has been a big concern of mine. I feel I am, in essence, leaving my childhood way behind and the superman that I thought I once was at 25 is long gone. Heart disease, diabetes, and my cholesterol levels have become issues in my head. But much more than that has been the though of what I have accomplished from birth until now. I won't bore you with details but I feel a sense of urgency creeping on me. My friend Andre and I had this disucssion one nght. He turns 40 this year as well. We came to the conclusion that we only have about 40 years left, God willing, and that last 20 years should not be stressful at all. I feel when I'm 60 I should be chilling some where on a beach or a by a lake not worrying where the next dollar is going to come from. So for real I have about 20 years to make things happen, buy a house, meet a girl, start a family... the whole american dream thing. It's a little daunting when you really think about it. Oh well. I'm not going to let it stress me out. We only have one life to live as far as we know so why not go all out huh? I've made a list of the things I want to accomplish in my life and are at work making them happen. I'm already pretty proud of what I've done up until this point. No need to fret, just live until living is no more. As they say, when death smiles at you all you can do is smile back, right? We're sad about the sudden death of Tim Russert but I bet he can look down from wherever he is at and be proud of his life and that is what it's all about given what we know.
until the end, be blessed,
Monday, June 9, 2008
PROGESSION TO A BEAUTIFUL TIME: Mos Def, Barack Obama and an Island of Garbage the size of Texas in the middle of the Pacific Ocean
There is this certain motivation that came over me while I watched Barack Obama's legendary speech on race.
It reminded me of when I heard Rapper's Delight for the first time back in 1979. I remember clearly the moment I put that record on. It spoke not just for me but in a way was speaking from me, saying the things I wanted to say and the way I had wanted to say them but hadn't known how. At the moment I- as I would realize later it was my entire generation- had a voice. I felt the exact same feeling as I watched Barack give his speech nearly 30 years later.
There is a certain complacency that comes with watching history happen right before your eyes on the TV and computer screen nowadays. I remember watching something hit one of the Twin Towers live on my TV when I thought I was turning on the Today show back in 2001 and then later that day going out to dinner with my then girlfriend and commenting on how beautiful and serene an evening it was in NYC with the bridges and tunnels closed off. I believe that one day people will look back at the first decade of this new century and know that these ten years have changed our perspective on the world. I say all this to say that I'd be lying if said tears fell from my eyes during Barack's speech. But there was a moment that I remember, clear as a sunny day, that I felt finally there is a politician/ human representative that clearly was thinking and saying what I had thought and wanted to say.
So Now that Sen. Barack Obama has won the Democratic Nomination, or more pointedly Hillary Clinton had dropped out and endorsed him, the reality of the first black President is starting to take form. This is an email conversation with a female friend regarding whether or not he'd be willing to take Hillary as his running mate:
mums-yeah it's seeming more and more like a bad idea but I just feel that he might have a hard time with a lot of people if he doesn't take her. in either case its obvious she wants it. I got really frustrated with all those people who were saying that they'd vote for anybody else other than Obama, including McCain, if Hillary doesn't get the nomination. I just think that is crazy. 18 million people did vote for her. he can't just sneeze at that. But I am convinced she is Crazy though.
FF-yeah.... i know what you mean. crazy but true: my own mother said she’d vote for mccain if obama was the democratic nominee. i was appalled. my liberal dad said he’d vote for obama but didn’t like him (and when i said obama’s the kennedy of our generation, and that kennedy was equally ‘inexperienced’ when he ran, he said there was a big difference because ‘kennedy had a lot of state government experience when he ran for president’ !!!??!)
i just worry that a lot of people dislike hillary so much that they’d be really disappointed in obama if he picks her. because, conversely, i spoke to A LOT of people (more obama supporters than hillary supporters) who said they’d refuse to vote for hillary if she was the nominee. will they then think obama’s full of shit for saying she doesn’t represent ‘change’ if he picks her as vp? i think he’d do better to choose strickland... or someone equally experienced but who doesn’t already have as big a negativity rating as clinton...
anyway, if i remember correctly the bet had to do both with obama picking her but also with my contention that she wouldn’t accept and wasn’t interested... and you said she would and was. so i think if he DOESN’T pick her but she already said she wants it, it’s a tie. what do you think?
mums-ahhh... a tie, yes... anyway I can get some Sasabune, I'll take it. :)
I watched some youtube clips from West Virginia about people saying they'd never vote for Obama. some are clearly racist but there is something else going on I think. My own black mother said she refuses to vote for him. Other than obvious racism, I think there is a thing that the older generation has against him. I've watched every speech, every debate and listened to pundit after pundit from CNN to MSNBC to the Huffington Post to Politco to the New York times and even Fox news! There aren't many who know more about what is going on in this race than me and I still cannot see what is unlikable about Barack Obama. But last week there was a string debate in the opinion section of the daily news of whether he was the anti-christ or not. I understand my mother not voting for him because she is a conservative and is Christian and pro-life. so McCain represents her issues but she was ready to vote for Hillary now it's McCain. But for any pro-choice people to switch to McCain just because they hate Obama is just ridiculous. and visa verse for Obama Supporters even though you can explain away the distaste in the mouth for Hillary Clinton a lot better. I really believe for People over 55 Obama represents Culture passing them by. I can understand it a bit. I had a brief moment where I was mad because I couldn't learn the new dances the kids were doing. silly.
By the way we had a bet about an Obama/Hillary ticket. I said she's wants the VP slot and would take it. She said that Hillary wouldn't want it and wouldn't take it if offered. The prize is a sushi dinner at Sasabune which is hands down some of the best sushi I've had in my life. It's melt in your mouth good. I think I won but It's up in the air. I think she's trying to sneak a 'tie' past me.
So now I'm inspired by the progress of Barack Obama. The reality has always been I can be anything I want to be if only I just put my mind to it. But being a Black man in this country has furnished me with a shit load of valid excuses I'm pretty dependent upon for not living up to my potential. That's right I said it. I think it can be said for a lot of us that there is a certain comfort in that dependance. "Why should I do anything, I ain't allowed to be nothing in this country no how". But now forty years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther (The, like a lot of white politicians like to mistakingly say) King, a man of African Heritage is the Democratic Nominee for President of The United States. I can do anything.
And now that I'm sure I can do anything I'm realizing that the getting up to do it is the hardest part. A good friend passed on a book to me called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Once I opened the front cover to read it I finished it that day, jogging around the block in between. I haven't jogged again since but I DO think about it everyday. Maybe I'll go in the morning.
And Barack has become the topic of conversation with all kinds of people on many different levels. I ran into my old friend
The Mighty Mos Def
He was chilling in the village out front a popular health food store drinking a smoothy, listening to some tunes, this past weekend. We spoke for a good hour, maybe more. The conversation started with the traditional, "what up man how you been? Chilln Chilln, right". But it took a sharp turn towards some sensibility once Barack was mentioned. After the, "yo son did you EVER believe we'd see it in our lifetime" wordless look we gave each other the conversation turned to the environment, health and self-worth issues in the black community, how our gifts as artists can really make a change in the world. I even found myself confessing something I've wanted to say to him for some time now. In brief, I told him about the depression I had fell into as an artist a while ago watching his success along with Jill Scott's, Erykah's, Talib's, Saul William's, Alicia Keys and many others whom I came up with in the most invigorating part of my artistic life, and not having it truly realized it on my own. It was a pleasure to have my friend MosDef aka Dante Smith that I've known for over 15 years, remind me of my strength and worth in between saying hello to random fans. "Just keep doing you muMs. keep pushing, grinding. Right now is a beautiful time. It's a beautiful time". He kept saying that. "It's a beautiful time". It is. It is a historic and beautiful time.
In some more inspired time, I found myself surfing the net. I came across this documentary about a floating Island of garbage in the Pacific Ocean the size of Texas. We may have already signed our death warrant as humans. We make plastic that isn't degradable. We throw it away. It gets in the ocean. The fish ingest it, We eat the fish. hahaha... oh shit!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
This the third "slip" made by people in this campaign threatening or wishing death on Barack Obama. First it was Mike Huckabee joking at an NRA event about Senator Obama being shot. Then Hillary with the infamous reference to RFK as being the reason she should stay in the race, clearly meaning, 'you never know what could happen'. Then this sad attempt at humor by journalist Liz Trotta on Fox News. All these slips appear to be quite Freudian is you ask me. Then when they do apologize, it is some broad sweeping apology to "whomever I might have been offended by what I had said" rather than a direct apology to Senator Obama and his family.
There seems to be a certain disdain for Sen. Barack Obama coming from some people in this country that is staggering. From the people who say they will switch parties and vote for McCain if Hillary doesn't get the nomination regardless of the issues to the 11 percent who still believe that Obama is a Musilm, God forbid. There are many that just don't like the man. But that is okay. Even if race is the reason, people are entitled to there own opinion. But to suggest that he be killed or to joke about it is bordering criminal. Granted this has been a long campaign and many people are not getting their proper sleep. Even Mr. Obama himself has made the occasional verbal goof but I doubt he would ever threaten Sen. Hillary Clinton's life by accident referencing Robert F. Kennedy then turn and apologize just to the Kennedy family.
I was a supporter of Hillary Clinton coming into this race. I supported her because I liked her, period. I liked that she stood her ground after the scandal with her husband. I liked her dedication to her health plan. I liked that she was going to be the first woman in office. I liked her up until she started complaining about how everyone was ganging up on her. Then the lies and the obvious "do anything, say anything to get elected" mode she is still in. I officially moved over to Barack Obama after his historic speech on race. In that speech his verbalized things that I had been thinking for a long time but wish that I had the courage to say.
So maybe I take these attacks on Sen Obama personally because I too am a black man and these attacks reming me of how we are devalued as humans by some in this country only worth being killed and tossed out with the garbage. I am quickly coming to the conclusion that this country might not deserve a man like Sen. Barack Obama to lead them which in turn just makes me sad.
Friday, May 23, 2008
This nest is pretty intricate. It’s made of mostly twigs and leaves and is pretty sturdy. Where did they get the idea to be able to do that? I mean I did pay attention in science back in elementary school and I do understand a little bit about nature and evolution and stuff like that but to think about it at it's very basic... it's kind of fascinating. At the very least they put their little bird minds to it and figured it out. And judging from the frustration my mother was having, they were pretty determined as well. I bet neither of these birds complained when they came to see that their work had been destroyed and had to start from twig one again. It was just something they were born to do, this is the place they chose to do it and by golly it was going to get done. I pray for that type of will power. Now when I sit at my desk and think of all the other things I could be doing other than writing, like watching the View or Law and Order or sleeping or just complaining that I don’t have any inspiration, I take a look at this nest and suck it up. You go little birdies, thank you.
The birds are growing. I see the Robins bringing them worms every morning. One of them didn't make it though. Early one morning my mother found one of the babies dead on our front stoop. It gave her quite a shock. Evidently it had fallen from the nest. I only see one chick in the nest now. There were three eggs. I don't know what happened to the third but I have high hopes for the survivor.