My twenties were fun. In fact I would not change a thing.
I do regret dropping out of school but I had to live, I had to survive I did not see the options I can now clearly see.
I was young smart and employed. AT&T the global communications giant took full advantage of my cable running and installation skills. No one can untangle a jumbled mess of cable as fast or as good as I can.
I'll also dress it up(organize and label it) and punch it down. It's one of the things I can do. I clearly remember getting in a zone and when I would look up two-three hours had passed by.
My work on display.
I was proud of my work.
I put the date I completed, my name and number on all my work in case anyone had any questions. I knew how it was to trouble shoot a problem when everything wasn't labeled well. I took extra care to do just that.
Before I was laid off for the second time I was well trained in powerplant back-up, voice/data and long distance switch installation. The alien world of fiber optics was just that, an alien concept. I remember the fiber guys working the central office, the prima donnas would set up cones and caution tape wherever they worked.
"Get away from there that stuff is sensitive"
I became a Union steward I remember clearly informing all the newhires one-by-one about the two tier payment system the union sold us out on. Informing them to the fact we will never make as much as the guys who had been there for twenty years now and where planning their escapes through buy outs and retirement.
I was suddenly on the radar, docked for coming back a minute late after break, there was no time clocks and everyone came back a minute late ; some didn't come back at all, they stayed at the bar.
They knew how it worked.
The minutae of central office contracts, billable hours, what needs to be done by when even how much AT&T got paid per hour for our labor. We (new hires )were paid between $5.78 and $10.00 in 1991, we billed the central office Baby Bells $48.00. The company invited the loyal workers to join them in this prosperous era of telecommunications and make some real money before you retire. You just have to agree on this two tier contract; this new generation doesn't care about anything anyway. The job I was hired for, associate communications equipment installer started at 12.00 an hour before the new contract.
What a shame.
I vowed to never work for a large corporation again.
Jaded and still very young I decided to go back to college. I attended Columbia College in Chicago. it happened to be right up the street from a comedy club I walked by everyday.
All Jokes Aside.
Before I knew it, I was a waiter there. I thought waiters were lowly people and I considered my needing to work there an indication of my failure in life so far. My first night, in summer of 1992 I made $300.00 for four hours work.
I thought I stole something.
My naivete was amazing then. There were many self serving situations that I routinely passed up. I think I was rather aloof and simply unaware of all the hoity toity black glitterati around me.
Cedric the Entertainer was an accountant in St. Louis and he would come up to Chicago on short notice to host for the oft absent but very talented house M.C., George Wilborn.
Cedric was a classy guy it is not an accident he has reached the top of pop culture mountain.
Bernie Mac, Chris Rock, Tommy Davidson, Dave Chappelle( Who told jokes that sailed over and above the heads of our crowd), D.L. Hughley, Steve Harvey, and many more African American talents. The jokes where real and the truth in their humor could make anyone forget about there bills, the kids, the ex-wife whatever it was in life that ate away at piece of mind.
I grew to love my job again and that is why I would not change a thing.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
My twenties were fun. In fact I would not change a thing.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
On September 22nd I attended a wedding. It was outdoors in a secluded setting nestled away in the foothills of the Adirondacks.
Nate- Nate and Aletha
They could not have picked a better day.
They could not have picked a better half.
To make whole.
I worked, debated and learned a lot from Aletha during the time we shared at the phoenix i never got the impression she was incomplete, but now she is simply more complete, like more polished or like a painting that just doesn't need any more strokes.
Nate seemed a bit detached but that is my interpretation of his well told story. I realized, after some eye contact that he is a very loving man and I got excited for my new friend(Aletha).
The world is full of choices, options; some are working simultaneously( quantam stuff), they slowed their worlds down to see each other. There is still romance , there is destiny, there is such a thing as a soulmate.
I thank them for the very healthy reminder.
They assembled a special group of people to witness their union and I was honored to be among them.
The Love flowed.
It was visible through the music.
I even got to meet the guy who invented the word 'cool'.
I really enjoyed September 22nd
Another beautiful day in my life.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I have been extremely busy writing for peanuts, but I remain humble and happy because I can eat peanuts, thus, live to write another day.
Regardless of my schedule and list of boring assignments I have made time to keep abreast of the current events, here in Utica, that may radically( I do not use this term loosely) change this city of 50,000.
For those of you that may be reading me(ha-ha), my blog, for the first time I will update you.
Two weeks ago a Utica cop got his ass kicked by three teenagers.
The incident by itself could help explain the current climate here, on the streets of Utica. I am not referring to the victim in this case- which was obviously one of the boys in blue- but the retaliatory tactics that have resulted in unwarranted arrests of honor roll students and extremely aggressive behavior on behalf of law enforcement.
The aggressive behavior from law enforcement when it comes to black folks is nothing new. But some of us thought-golly gee- we earned the right to vote, maybe we will be treated fairly in the courts too.
What a Joke.
on April 12, 2007 they , we, lost a young cop. He was murdered execution style.
Immediately after it happened Our Chief of Police, who doesn't even live in the city and is already collecting a pension from the STATE, blamed the crime on a "young black male wearing a white hoody". This irresponsible allegation was made after absolutely no substantial evidence was even collected- not even shell casings.
Then state, local law enforcement and the FBI swarmed in to this little city and tore our neighborhood apart. There were kids being sequestered on corners by shotgun weilding cops. There were single mothers waking up to a gun barrel in the middle of the night while their children screamed, their houses 'searched' from top to bottom by our 'occupying force' following unsubstantiated 'leads' (rumors).
Oh Yeah they had K-9 on duty as well; just in case we got uppity.
In the wake of the war in Iraq with war veterans trickling back into the system, I am sure they found something for some of these vets to do; they were used to this stuff in Baghdad.
The primarily African American populace in this part of the city(Cornhill) stood by; perhaps feeling a bit empathetic, taken aback by the brutality and coldness of the crime these poor cops were trying to solve.
A lot of the black leadership(the all powerful Utica Coalition) agreed many steps would have to be taken to capture the monster that commited the horrific crime. There were many in private that admitted rights might even get violated.
The Police saw it as the green light they have been waiting for.
"These people are out of control" is a common sentiment when reffering to the population of Cornhill(the hood). Even news reports unfairly target this area as particularly bad, a place where you can get killed, robbed and score a lot of drugs.
They forgot to mention the rest of Utica.
Utica the city where the people down at city hall don't even live here , Utica the City where Walter Washington, an unarmed black man, was shot dead by a cop His excuse? "It was dark".
Utica the city where the police make the charges not the D.A..
Utica a city where they make it up as they go along.
This brings us to the current events. On Friday sept. 14 2007 James Scutchins Jr was arrested. He was charged with disorderly conduct or some other petty offense. He was part of a large group of teens on their way home from school on a warm fall day.
The Observer Dispatch incorrectly reported a group of one hundred and fifty kids were refusing to get out of the street and let traffic pass. Anyone who lives in Utica or Cornhill for that matter knows that half the population walk in the street , actually it is a good way to tell if someone is from Utica.
If you grew up here you walk in the street.
The cars that have to navigate through these usually small crowds do so without much trouble. The kids are a permeable membrane that will not challenge one ton of steel moving thirty miles per hour.
What really happened- according to corroborated testimony that I gathered on my own- was a single officer ordered the kids to get out of the street.
They did not comply .
The officer continued to follow the group of thirty to forty kids and without back up threatened them.
We all know how this ends
Some brave soul in the group chucks an object at the Police car and all hell , once again, breaks loose. She finally calls for back up. The tactical squad is the first on the scene. Every one knows tac squad cops play a whole different ballgame than their uniformed counterparts, James is a tall kid they singled him out and he was on his ass before he even knew what happened.
James is fifteen he is also a good kid I can personally attest to that. I took him and a school bus of forty excited, impulsive, growing and smart kids to Hamilton College twice a month all last year.
James giggles when he swears.
When ever I needed to correct his behavior he was always respectful. His father, James Sr. was always on speed dial quick to discipline him for any misdeed or associatoon with those who perform them. I do not wear a badge so I assume he would be even more respectful to a cop. The police said he swore at them and resisted arrest.
Not Fucking Possible
If he did, puberty brought on a rapid change in this young man.
Needless top say the black community is shocked. On 9/18 federally funded Weed and Seed held a Town Hall meeting with police representatives to answer questions and alleviate any concerns. they did a great job of rolling their eyes and calling us children. I'll admit some people came off a bit ignorant, but these people full of pent up emotions, were not privy to the structured protocol of spin doctors.
The bullshit factor was smelling up the room the condescending, patronizing attitude was exemplified with this response from the police rep " Excuse me ma'am but... ah.... you are being a bit vague. Do you actually have a question"? she was detailing how her fourteen year old son had a weapon pulled on him. The woman stammered, said "Fuck this " and left.
Most of the concerns revolved around incidents like that and The typical response? "Ma'am , sir do you actually have a question"?
I got my chance
I asked him if he would take the concerns, that were so clearly pointed out, back with him to the station and relay what we communicated to his superiors. He answered "Is that a question"?
I persponally do not think they give a fuck. One of their official spokesemen, Officer Tuarisano exemplified their position in response to a planned press conference.
"This is America. If they believe in something, they have their right to freedom of speech, don't they?"
He didn't say- don't we? - as Americans
He chooses words for a living.
Don't they? Don't they?
Not we, not us.
It is us...and them
Monday, September 17, 2007
The Jena six saga continues. Among the injustices committed daily in our crowded world we must pick our battles. As a student of history and an armchair sociologist I find it particularly disturbing that this is still being dragged out.
Mychal Bell the sixteen year old initially charged with attempted murder had his charges reduced. He was convicted of the lesser charges and sentenced to 22 years for a brawl that resulted in minor injuries. The resulting outcry surprised the kangaroo court in Louisiana; to save face, the charges were eventually dropped.
Two of the remaining five also face lesser charges while three remain charged with attempted murder.
It was wrong for those boys to beat down the white student.
It was wrong and inflammatory for the white students to hang nooses on a tree in school colors, it was wrong for the superintendent of the schools to overturn their expulsion.
The fact they were expelled shows there are some white people in Jena with common sense, but like usual they have no real power.
Big Oil, Big tobbacco(Labushanostra)
Planter Class, Slavery
Equals unfair, stupid and unfortunately , powerful.
Their influence touches every aspect of American society.
They are one percenters.
We ain't having it; I pray for America if these boys are convicted, our morale as a nation is low enough.
War weary troops returning home to foreclosures and bullshit.
O.K. enough of that back to the point.
Sometimes, in the face of incredible frustration and a history of wanton violence- that conjure up images of men swinging in front of a crowd- we have no alternative. The boys knew they were wrong they also knew there would be no way to get these people off their backs without striking back.
I have provided a link that details some of the events in Jena, Judge for yourself and also take time to ask why The Duke Lacrosse case could captivate a Nation but this case is edited out of our lives.
Today I am picking this battle
Saturday, September 15, 2007
The recent events regarding the Jena six have proven how activism works. The conversation in the black community regarding this injustice is loud, proud, consistent and growing.
We started with a quiet murmur of dissent, a simple dissection of events. When all the evidence was poured over. The only conclusion was gross injustice based on race.
The current interest is growing.
The National media still ignores this issue just like they ignore the conspiracy theorist who have piled up evidence about the WTC. The powers that be, wherever they are will have to deal with the realization that the great numbers can , make a change.
What profit is there in a cover up?
Fuck That , Stand up
Even if it seems as pointless or as frustrating as mowing a lawn one blade of grass at a time.
We each have a voice.
During a heart to heart about the world and frustration my father offered this solution
"Just think for a moment"
"What if we all flushed the toilet at the same time"?
"What if we all yelled at the top of our lungs at the same time"?
I stayed with that thought I have always played with that thought.
If we whisper at the same time the murmur will shake the earth and tremble the foundations of power waking our dazed leaders out of the oxy nod they must surely get from intoxicating omnipotence. Over time it will be a mighty roar warning anyone we direct it to.
The world is mine, your's and our's.
From the sister(black woman) in downtown Chicago doing data entry to the scholarly professor teaching history. To the technocrat thinking about voting for Obama.
I have a voice you have a voice.
Use it in the world, use it at work. Do not be afraid of people thinking you might be in 'left field' (I'm in center field, the world is in left field). You will be surprised how many morally upright people are just waiting for some one to stand with them.
Don't be part of a herd unless you are on a stampede
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Look around you
What do see?
Dead congressmen, demo'ed levee
Conspiracy , Conspiracy
Bob Dole, John McCain
Its all The Same
Its all the same
George appointed to office
What a shame What a shame What a shame
House of Windsor
Sub Prime Lending
Old sharecroppers paying rent
pay back twenty for one cent
I cant deny i'm getting pissed off
been holding on so long i lost my claws
just another old lion ready to die
waiting for aqaurious to light the sky
the dying breed
the game is afoot
the time is now
we don't know when but we surely know how
will you have water when the river runs dry?
will they leave the hedgefund king in the desert to fry?
sit in front of the tube
prepare to die.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Can civil disobedience ever be justified?
I was looking at security video surveillance of the cop beating incident in Utica it was available at . http://www.uticaod.com/multimedia/x2136193502The video speaks for itself . The cop approached these kids like he has done a hundred times.
Hands on his hips an authoritative posture.
You know how they do "Hey You, get over here"
He began to question them.
Although you cannot hear what is being said it is clear these kids did not want to cooperate with his impromptu investigation. One of them attempts to walk away or to get away; he grabs the young man by the arm, the young man yanks his arm away.
Wait one second.
He grabs the young man by the arm. Tries to grab him again.
All hell breaks loose.
Lesson number one; don't try to grab people even if they are unarmed kids twice as small as you are . Not everyone feels compelled to cooperate with the police all the time especially if they just committed an act of malicious mischief. The police also need to keep things in perspective. If the kid had shot someone with a bb gun or something like that I feel he may have been justified. This was decidedly a petty situation the guy that waved them down went back to his business, he didn't even stick around to complain more like most victims of a serious crime would do.
I spoke to someone in law enforcement; suffice it to say they are not on the local level. He felt that the cop was justified.
The cop never would have been assaulted had he not tried to strongarm the kid; we all agree things could have gotten very ugly there easily could have been a couple of dead delinquents.
The law enforcement official said "I think these kids need to understand that they can't win". I replied "this not a game ; these kids are not keeping score they do not like the idea of Tommy Gun Officer coming up , talking shit, threatening them with jail or the group home and basically throwing their weight around a hood they know nothing about" he reiterrated "But Dave they can't win" I replied "True, but the people run this and unless they want to be chased out every time they come down the street they better start meeting parents and really talking to these kids with some respect.
What a novel concept...Respect... from the cops no less.
They better do some serious public relations and start to make attempts at mending the broken fence they routinely jump over. They better start to serve and protect in our neighborhoods not just do police work( you are welcome Loretta) you know, investigate people who are shooting and killing each other.
Don't get me wrong, some officers do serve the general public; with indictments, warrants ect. From what I know about this particular cop, he did not deserve it he just got surprised. Cops do their work and a lot of times it is percieved as harrasment
"Here they come ready to fuck with somebody" can be overheard when they come cruising down the street.
I bet they watch who they grab from now on.
We ain't scared and the kids aren't either.
Son of a Panther.
Friday, September 7, 2007
On Sept.5 a Utica cop got beat up. The suspects were all under 18.
April 12 an officer in this city of 50,000 was shot execution style by a twenty-one year old petty criminal.
It depends on what side of the law you are on. It also depends on ones perspective of authority and the desire for freedom. I know it is a stretch to compare the delinquent actions of these children to anti-war apathy but I have to. The frustration in the black community of
is palpable, you can taste it.
The anger has very little to do with Iraq, Iran, North Korea or any other target of our government. It has everything to do with the consistent lack of opportunity in our communities. Black folks live in little fallujahs all over America; we have gotten used to the Police as an occupying force. The new revolutionary cycle is starting to spin; the children of 'crack' outlaws are getting older. The total lack of respect for their enemy, the Police, is starting to materialize through their behavior.
I know the kids involved, they don't hate anyone but they know the police took their father away from them. A father who took good care of them. How he did it is not the issue( selling illegal drugs to suburbanites) they were to young to understand.
The furrowed brows, clenched fists and unruly behavior is a symptom of their pain. They miss him. The teachers who don't understand or take the time to even try to understand just excarcerbate the situation. Young, brilliant, black children who act out are put into special -ed, they are culturally retarded because they do not conform to the bullshit ideals that are sold to them. They are told to shut up and sit down when they really just want to cry.
They remember the security they had in a father figure. What about the security they lost when he was taken away?
Within their hearts and minds a big void is filled by MTV BET and the seemingly successful techno thugs that took over the streets. The frustration festers, an understanding , unspoken about the nature of their world.
Us against them.
This feeling is nation wide, disenfranchised children in cities all over America are braver than ninety nine percent of the techno revolutiuonaries that claim they want to save a shattered world. Believe me Bush is more afraid of them than he is of you or me. We are thoughtful full of lofty ideals and apathetic plans; when it all falls down I want those kids on my team.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
I got freelance assignment to interview A HIP-HOP ARTIST
I use the term loosely; the last time I saw this group peform it was a lot of rapping with a chorus at the end of each VERSE. The lyrics were cliche at best. I sat and watched, trying not to show my disgust actually I try to be indifferent about groups that SUCK. (the capitals represent the chorus).
I am not indicting(If you are a member of the group and you are reading this, it is pronounced indite-ing not indicked-ing) these guys; they are following a simple formula they have seen a million times on BET and MTV where the scientific product placement and music marketing gurus make their good LIVINGS.
Lyricist are a thing of the past . I know a few good ones but they rap about BULLSHIT. Everyone from D-block (The Lox - Sheik Louch) has made me cringe and laugh at their brilliance but they need to stop telling the feds how we apply the real science out here.
Except for J-Hood
"The cops got apartments in the hood with binoculars- but they know- that we know -that they know- that they watchin us"
It is none of their business. Stop making it hard for real gangsters. Stop snitching (stop rapping). The streets take care of themselves, rap about the dreams the dirty money fulfills instead of rapping about the dirty money.
Real hustlers back in the day when brothers could not even vote, get real jobs or go to the library tried to dress up , aspired too live up to a standard that was denied to them . Suits, houses big cars. We can get that. Its no secret.
Now lets buy some property ( with cash while its real cheap).
I long for the generation of wordsmiths that reject the whole gangster vibe.
That shit is old it is time for something new I know guys out there who talk about the real pain out here in these streets and their lives.
They should be platinum.
Where you at Bennie Slums?