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Friday, July 27, 2007

Understand the Misunderstood

Michael Vick is misunderstood

I know I am certainly going to raise a few eyebrows. After all, defending popular culture's latest villian will put me in the same territory as O.J. fans.

Its o.k.

I feel if I thoroughly explain my position you can at least identify with some key points.

For one, Mike Vick is an athlete that engages in the most brutal team sport in the history of man not counting the gladiators and war. It is not a stretch for him to have a little less pity for those engaged in battle. If you have ever played football beyond the sandlot you can attest to the violence of the game. Actually there are some pretty brutal injuries on the sandlot too.

Football is a fight without weapons, a gang rumble with pads and whistles. It is also a multi-billion dollar enterprise at its height in popularity in a country fighting a war. Once again the ongoing theme here is brutality; football is a bloodsport played by noble men pitfighting is also a bloodsport and the dogs in the pit are no less noble.

That is the view of the warrior. Fight to win.

The dogs thrown on the scrapheap, dead, half dead or suffering are terrible casualties. In my mundane world it is unfathomable to even think about a regular dog disposal method.

How do you think an NFL general manager decides what to do with a useless player who sacrificed his body and future health to win a few extra games and play a few extra snaps. They are discarded,symbolically, in the same way. There are plenty of guys who played football that probably would have lived a lot longer had they not played the game.

I won't even get into the growing popularity of mixed martial arts. When the UFC first came out it was equal in brutality to any pitbull fight. They had to pass legislation to prevent death.

These are people fighting!! Two men , eager to get it on. The first one to lose consiousness or tap out loses. Sounds just like a pitbull fight.

Boxing has the same rules, two men ,eager to fight, the loser taps out or loses conscience.

Pitbulls, like or not, have been bred for a few hundred years to do what they do: pull down cattle and fight. They like to do both. They actually like it. I have seen dogs after a fight with a light in their eyes that can only be triumph.They gain a wisdom through victory, answers to problems you never would want to solve.

It is the same for the forty year old boxer who relies on his wits more than his speed, all his knowledge acquired at the expense of his lower left jaw. Then he loses. Its over.

Over for good.

Vick sees himself in everyone one of those losses; he knows some day he will be thrown on the scrap heap. When he can't run as fast when he can't throw as far they will throw him away just like a pitbull that's to old to scratch(fight).

I'm pretty sure Mike has one or two dogs that he has retired.

Now they are studs.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Unemployed and Loving It?

I was informed last week that my current job is being eliminated. I just got back from vacation; before I left my boss threatened to suspend me for a week for taking a long lunch and being insubordinate(I live right down the street from the office).

The fact is I am underpaid, I have been for years but I do not have a leg to stand on because I should be grateful to have a job. Suspending me was ridiculous especially if you can't pay me anyway, that is the way things turned out- no vacation pay- they got their free hours out of me and I should be grateful to hang around and use the computer. I don't want to even get into advertising commissions and the upcoming storm developing around that. All I know if anyone is getting paid and I'm not, it is criminal.

I am valuable to my organization because of my low wage. If I had a degree I would have more market value; I would also be a financial burden. It is a catch 22. I would rather just volunteer, come in when I want, not be obligated to do anything; then I would not complain.

Because of all the promises I can be justified in my frustration; I could wallow in the truth of MY story. I like what I do regardless of money. What I don't like is being taken for granted and I cannot help but feel that way. I have watched other people step in and make more than I do with half the responsibility after I was promised a raise multiple times.

It went from "Hell, we'll take out a mortgage on our building ,you are going to get your raise" to "Guys I don't know how we are going to pay you" in seven days.

All the while daycare just increased to $145.00 per week. It is no secret why people turn to crime. My rent is due and I have no vacation or regular paycheck. Oh yeah, I got an 'advance'? on my commission. That translates to you are getting no more money. It will be a MIRACLE if i get paid.

For some of you this may be TMI but I have to vent or I will snap.

Two years ago I took the responsibility to help facilitate The Study Buddy Club. At the time it was sixty kids, some not even in school or chronic truants. The program was in disarray, in fact, I am sure if it would have continued without some sort of intervention the program would have been cut short. Study Buddy would surely be gone.

I got rid of the riff-raff; I was riff-raff so I am qualified to make that assessment. We set some standards for grades and behavior.The framework, was there-the program was in its third year- but the manpower wasn't; that is where my value comes in. I basically did it for free. I was liberated as a result and found myself enrolled in a powerful idea.

My needs have been lost in that idea I am becoming the very charity case that we deal with. People that need jobs, education, help paying their rent.

It is sad. I am now a charity case.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Barry's Day

It's Barry's birthday!!!! His first birthday. I am beside myself with joy. The first year of his life has been the most important year of my life.

Despite being flat broke we have been able to keep him warm, clean and happy. My primary job is to keep the world at bay until he is ready for it. So far so good.

His mother, God bless her, has been there to clear an obstacle free path to his toddler stage of development. I play it by ear I know he is going to fall on his butt more times than I can count but his mother is determined to minimize that number.

No matter what, he soldiers on, stumbling through the living room with his favorite dumptruck as support; a sort of 'child walker'. He gives us a blow by blow commentary on his activities
as he expertly positions his feet to deftly lower himself and maybe pick something up.

I know a lot of kids his age are already walking. Barry is different, he knows he can get assistance and will vocally request any time he feels the need. In fact, I have left him standing in the middle of the room- out of his mothers view of course- he would look at me , frown up, then make a bee line straight to my legs laughing the whole way. You know, the guffaw laughs only kids can do. I am sure he is smarter than I was.

I sang happy birthday to him this morning and he knew what day it was. I am happy for him.

My son.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Family Reunions

I love family reunions, I have been going to them all my life. Back in 70's we traveled thousands of miles during peak summer with no air conditioning to go to reunions.

To me, at the time, enduring these extreme conditions was more a reflection of my fathers need to be macho. I was wrong, my father new our history as black folks in America; enduring a few hot summer days to connect with family was something we HAD to do.

I know other ethnic groups in America have family reunions but with Black America it is a phenomenon.

Some of my European(white) friends can trace their family roots back five generations or more. Due to historical circumstances we can't even get an accurate birth certificate for my Grandmother. The challenge of keeping family together during slavery was also impossible. My father was always disturbed about not really knowing where we came from. The family reunion provided a means for him to stay in touch, to keep the blood bonds strong.

I saw it as another situation where cute girls were untouchable. As an adult I can appreciate the importance. I did not fully realize how important until I learned our shared history as slaves, slaveowners, victims and victimizers.

We have made it, we are stronger today than we were yesterday. Despite all the grim statistics about black health and achievement I have examples right in front of me that we are here to stay and the world is a better place.

I hate when people talk about 'the good ol days' you will never here that talk at a family reunion. Today is 'the good ol' days' we celebrate that journey that we have made as Americans . We will spend billions annually to hold our reunions in places that would not even let us work thirty years ago. Many of us have enjoyed a couple of generations of prosperity
and the level of preparation has improved. The macaroni salad and accompanying upset stomachs of the past have been replaced with catered events leaving out the possibility of salmonella. The cooking wasn't that bad but you know what I mean.

We are networking with each other and are establishing new lines of communication. The growth curve is getting steeper and future generations are going to benefit. We have been part of something good, we are part of something good and it is getting better.

I know where I am going because I know where I am from.