Friday, December 24, 2010

The Best of 2010 Part 3

Here it is, your next installment of the Best of 2010 from Ghetto Hippie.

Biggest Event to Happen to the Holy Game Since a Guy Name Michael Retired for the First Time : The Decision

Ok, so, if you're wondering what the holy game is, it's BASKETBALL! Don't understand? Let me put it to you like this, Basketball is to the USA what Soccer is to the rest of the world. It's the peoples sport. If you still don't get it, watch the movie He Got Game and get back to me.

Now that we've established that, if you don't know why Basketball is the Holy Game, than you might not know what The Decision is either. The Decision is the event that shocked the world of basketball. It was the day that free agent, Lebron James, decided to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and his home state of Ohio and "take his talents to South Beach." By joining the Miami Heat, Lebron joined forces with superstar Dwayne Wade and the really, really good Chris Bosh. This was an unprecedented move in the history of sports. It was the first time that top young players took it upon themselves to create a "super team". Cleveland was so sad, that people immediately started burning Lebron Jerseys.

So now what stands between Lebron, his homies, and oodles of NBA Championships? Well there's a team in Boston (cause I'm a Laker fan, I don't talk about them) and of course, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kobe and Lebron are the two most mythical figures to play the Holy Game since that guy named Michael. (If you don't know who he is, I don't know what to tell you.) The last time the NBA has seen two giant players battle it out with each other was when two guys named Larry and Magic were playing. (Seriously if you don't know what I'm talking about, just stop reading and come back tomorrow.) For the past few years basketball fans, have waited with baited breath, hoping to see Lebron and Kobe meet in the NBA Finals. But it hasn't happened. People are hoping that this is the year, now that Lebron has a super supporting cast.

So if you want to see what I'm talking about, tune in at 5pm on Christmas Day to see the Miami Heat take on the Lakers for the first time since The Decision. That's what I'll be doing.

Best of 2010 Part 2

Here it is, your second installment of the Ghetto Hippie Best of 2010.

Biggest I Should Have Lost My Job Moment, But Didn't: Regis Philbin

Did you see Nicki Minaj perform on the Regis and Kelly Show (AKA Bootygate)? You might have missed it. And if you don't know who Nicki Minaj is, it's time to do some googling.  So Nicki was on the Regis and Kelly show to promote her new album Pink Friday.  After her performance Regis and Kelly came over to share a few words with Nicki, and in the words of E! Entertainment, Regis "finally completed his transformation to a dirty old man."  After coming extremely close to touching Nicki's midsection, Regis follows through by patting her on the butt.  Yeah true story.  Kelly Ripa, his co-host, couldn't hold back her shock.  There were several news articles, and twitter posts, but in the end it wasn't much of a scandal for Regis.

So today, I will take a couple of lines on my blog to let Regis now how I feel about his antics.

Dear Regis,

What's wrong with you?  What on earth makes you think you have the right to touch anyone without their consent?  Are you aware of the concept of sexual harassment?  What you did, was inappropriate, offensive, and illegal.  Here's the thing though, if you've done this on national TV, what have you done when no one was looking?.  On top of all of this, you know what else you did?  You showed the world that a wealthy, famous man, can touch anyone's butt and suffer no real consequences.  Young girls across the country have now learned that lesson from you.  What a tremendous legacy you've left.  As soon as I saw the YouTube link (not provided here, you'll have to find it yourself) my first thought was, I'm never going to watch your show ever again.  But I immediately realized that I already never watch your show.  So I guess I won't start watching your show.  And here's to hoping that you are held accountable someday for perpetrating and condoning sexual harassment.  I won't hold my breath, but...

...anything can happen. 

That's what we've learned from you.

Ghetto Hippie

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Best of 2010 part 1

That's right it's that time of year again. It's the best of 2010. So without further ado, let's begin, shall we?

Best Impersonation of Ebenezer Scrooge: Lester Freeman

When I say Lester Freeman I'm not referring to Lester Freamon from The Wire. Now that we've cleared that up, if you aren't up on the Albany Common Council, I'm sure you're asking: "Who the hell is Lester Freeman?" Lester Freeman is the new Common Council Member for the 2nd Ward in Albany. Why I'm bestowing this honor on Lester?

Let me explain.

A couple of nights ago dozens of concerned Albany citizens packed into the Albany Common Council Meeting to voice their support for the Albany Bath House #2. My two sons were in attendance. They both explained to the council that the Bath House was important to them and implored the Common Council to save it. For those who don't know, Albany Public Bath House #2 is essentially a local indoor pool that is open to the public. It costs adults $1 and kids $.25. My boys learned to swim there. Their school, the Albany Free School, brought the kids to swim there every Friday. For the past several weeks, students at the Free School along with concerned community members, appealed to city officials to keep the Bath House open.

A couple weeks ago it appeared that the Bath House might be saved. The Common Council voted to include a plan that could keep the Bath House open for another year, offering an opportunity to devise a plan, to save it permanently. The pool is underutilized and in disrepair. The main reason it is underutilized is that it's poorly advertised. The reason it is in disrepair is because the city has failed to maintain it. And now the city is in a budget crunch and difficult decisions have to be made. The cost to keep the Bath House open would have been $200,000 out of a budget of $165 million dollars. Despite having a budget shortfall of something like 20 million dollars and serious budget cuts, there was only one budget issue that galvanized the community, the Bath House. So the council devised a way to save it
Enter our dear mayor, Mayor Jerry Jennings. He was convinced that the Bath House needed to be closed. And so he vetoed it. This was the first time that he used his veto in his 17 years in office. The kids at the Albany Free School came to visit the mayor and pleaded with him to keep it open. He wouldn't listen. So now it was up to the Common Council to override his veto.

The original measure passed with 9 votes in favor of saving the Bath House but 10 votes are needed to override a mayoral veto. To make matters worse, one of the council members who had originally voted in favor of it was in Russia visiting family. So we needed two council members to come to our side and vote to save the Bath House. The stage was set.

A multi-racial, multi-generational group of concerned citizens came to the Common Council meeting. You could not have written a more heartwarming scene. One woman explained that she started swimming at the Bath House as a kid and lived in Albany her whole life; she graduated high school in 1950. Another senior mentioned that she had learned about the Bath House and started using it as a form of physical therapy. Several people explained how an indoor pool like the Bath House, is an excellent place to address the health issues facing lower income communities. Others explained the importance of preserving historic buildings in an old city like Albany. While others explained that it's the little amenities, like a walkable cheap indoor pool, that make a big difference in maintaining residents in a city like ours.

The outcry was impassioned and the unity was inspiring. As I said my sons, along with other school mates, explained to the Common Council that the Bath House was important to them. Aurora, the six year old school mate of my boys and star of the Halloween Night Video, explained that the Bath House is "awesome" and if you take away things like the Bath House than we won't have any more "awesome things".  For some reason, I convinced myself that the council would listen to reason.

Council person Barbara Smith (More on her in a minute.) must have known that the votes weren't going to be there. She made a point to echo Charles Dickens and likened the upcoming vote against the Bath House to the acts of Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. Several other council members voiced their unwavering support.

Enter Lester Freeman.

He happens to be the council person of the 2nd Ward, home of Albany Bath House #2. He grabbed the microphone and came to the center of the gallery and gave a spirited denunciation of the Bath House. With the passion of a preacher he went off about how the South End "needs jobs not a bath house", as if he was creating jobs by cutting the Bath House (it won't save a single job). He mentioned how the city might have to cut more jobs next year, including the summer youth employment program. (This was also irrelevant - no one was saying "yeah cut the youth employment program to save the Bath House.") He also said that when he campaigned for his council seat no one mentioned the Bath House. (Yeah, no one knew you he was trying to close it.)  And then he said two things that pissed me off.  He said, "people have tried to pull the race card tonight" and then Lester said "only one black member (Barbara Smith ) of this council is voting for the Bath House". Yeah that pissed me off.  As John Stewart would say: two things.

1. The people who pulled "the race card" were black people that use the pool, some of whom live in your ward.
2. When you said "only one black member...” what you should have said was: "Only one seminal, black feminist author, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, and individual partially responsible for the reprinting of Their Eyes Were Watching God, on this council, voted to save the Bath House."  (See - Barbara Smith

Lester you could have saved the pool that my kids learned to swim at.  The pool was affordable and open to the public.  You clearly displayed that you work for the mayor, not your constituents, and that's too bad.  It's politicians like you, that make people like me think the political system is broken beyond repair.  You made my kids cry and I will never forget it, neither will they.  I hope you're happy.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Hey y'all.  Here is an interview I did the other day for Live on Lark St. at Ben and Jerry's.  They just started doing this webstream tv show.  Two of my friends, Mike Sperduto and Musa Zwana are involved with this.  Their still ironing out the kinks but check it out.  FYI: I don't show up until the twenty minute mark but there are several interesting people being interviewed that you can check out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Why I didn't vote for Barack Obama part 730 - Lame Duck Edition

So if you've never read my blog before, the first thing you need to know is that this commentary is NOT a pro-Sarah Palin, pro-Tea Party treatise on the Obama Administration's evil plans to turn the United States into a socialist state. The second thing you should know is that I explained why I wasn't planning on voting for Obama here and here.  I also wrote why I didn't vote for him here and here.

Consider this my Lame Duck 2010 re-affirmation of why I didn't vote for Obama. 

So, I hate to say I told you so, but...

I told you so. I told you so. I told you so.  I told you so. I told you so. I told you so.

Wow that was fun.  I think I'll do it again...

I told you so. I told you so. I told you so. I told you so. I told you so. I told you so.

Ok.  I think I got that out of my system.  What exactly did I tell you?  I told you that we would still be mired in these awful wars in the middle east.  I told you that Corporations were more powerful than political leaders (If you don't agree go see Inside Job) and I told you that we were on a never-ending seesaw.  Do you disagree?

The country is still at War.  One of the important reasons to vote for Obama was the suggestion that we needed to cast this vote for peace.  Not all of his supporters subscribed to this idea but there was certainly a vocal mass of  people in the peace community claiming that a vote for Obama was a vote for peace.  The idea was that the Bush Administration, took us down this ugly road and that we desperately needed a "progressive" voice to get us out of these wars.  The idea was that, there are children dying because of the wars in the Middle East and regardless of political leanings, it was our duty to vote for Obama because he would save the lives of thousands of civilians by bringing the wars to an end.  The problem with that philosophy was that it was dead wrong.

Obama was opposed to the War in Iraq but never said he wouldn't complete the mission over there.  Yes the combat operations have officially been concluded  but the war was moving in this direction at the end of the Bush Presidency.  Iraq is still unstable.  For nearly eight months the country went without a coalition government.  The possibility of a civil war in Iraq still exists.

And of course there is Afghanistan.  The conflict was escalated under the Obama Administration. The U.S. government just deployed tanks to the conflict for the first time.  My definition of peace does not involve sending tanks to a 9 year old conflict that's never seen them before.  The craziest part of all of this is that Obama said all along that he would do this and some people just ignored that.  So I was right about the wars in Middle East.  One point for me!

And how about those corporations?

Remember when I said corporations have more power than politicians.  If you remember in January, the Supreme Court ruled that Corporations should not be regulated for their political spending.  Corporations are still limited in direct contributions but can spend whatever they want on indirect costs.  So if you see a commercial that says paid for by Citizens That Think Barack Obama is a Socialist (CTTBOS -Not a real organization as far as I know.) make sure you note that Exxon Mobil or Morgan Stanely can contribute whatever they want to CTTBOS. In case you were wondering, this past election, 83.7 million dollars was spent by these groups.  Some of you might be thinking... "How can you blame Obama for that? He blasted the Supreme Court for this decision".  My response to you is to quote the Old Jewish Man played by Eddie Murphy in Coming to America: "AHAH!"  MY point exactly.  It is not Obamas fault that the Supreme Court made this election altering decision but it does highlight my point that corporations are more powerful than presidents.

If for some insane reason you still believe that the President is more powerful that the CEO's of the wealthiest corporations than do as I said earlier and watch the movie Inside Job.  You will be introduced to many slimy financial wizards like Larry Summers.  Who's he?  The former president of Harvard, the former Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton, and Obama's chief economic adviser.  He also, once confused a spoken word album by Cornell West as a "rap" album and called it an "embarrassment" to Harvard.  He also once hypothesized that the reason women are underrepresented in high end science and engineering jobs because they naturally have a "lower aptitude".  If that wasn't enough, he also received a vote of no-confidence from the faculty of Harvard but I digress (See Wikipedia).  I'm not an economist but if you do watch the movie Inside Job, you will see the case be made that people like Summers were directly responsible for the financial collapse of 2008.  Please tell me, where is the change?  I want to know.  What is so damn different?  Obama's financial team, are some of the same players that got us into this economic mess.  Watch the movie and tell me that Corporations aren't the ones running this country.  Two points for me!

Lastly and ultimately, we are on a never-ending seesaw.  The democrats are in power, the republicans are in power.  Over and over.  If you get super excited because the Dems win, just remember that the Repubs will be back.  The system works well that way.  We are made to believe that we have a choice.  That we are empowered and have say in the power structure.  The primary problem with this is the premise that the Republicans and Democrats are so different.  I do not, accept the idea that because they differ in certain ways that this stands as proof that they are vastly different.  If I own a Black Range Rover and you own a Pink Lexus we might believe that our cars are completely different.  But they are both motor vehicles and they both cost over 40 G's brand new.  The vast majority of people can't afford either.  There is a world of political ideas and I don't believe in the entire spectrum of political thought, that Dems and Repubs represent the exact opposite sides.  I believe they are in a partnership that runs the country together and never challenges the power of the wealthy.  If you can buy my idea that the two parties are in partnership, you might see my point that we will never really make change by voting for either of them.  This is why I don't vote for either party.
Never Ending Seesaw, three points for me!

I'm not judging people who vote, I'm critiquing people that believe we will be able to achieve a radical transformation in our society by electing any candidate.  I believe that fundamental change has only happened in this country when people demanded it, not through the ballot box but in spite of it.  The Civil Rights struggle has nothing to do with LBJ.  Civil Rights is the result of the blood sweat and tears of millions of people demanding a different nation.  The political system, fought this change tooth and nail and eventually caved because it had no choice.  Women's right to vote, the ending of slavery, and the organizing of labor, only came to pass because of the committed individuals that insisted and never accepted less.  The system eventually acquiesced not because of votes, because of unbeatable human energy that made resistance futile.  (Yes I just quoted The Borg from Star Trek)  I do not believe that Queer rights today are a result of any legislation.  In fact I believe that LGBTQ people have struggled against the political system for decades and now find opportunistic politicians willing to capitalize on "Gay Marriage" or "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in hopes of maintaining power.  Any political vote or signed bill that promotes any progressive  ideal exist only as a formality when people are unwilling to accept less.  At this point, the votes are almost irrelevant.

So in closing, most of you are scared to death of Sarah Palin, I am too.  And just the thought of a Sarah Palin Presidency is enough to get you do dust off those "Hope" signs.  I don't blame you.  All I'm saying is there will eventually be a conservative republican that scares you, back in the Oval Office.  The partnership the Dems have with the Repubs demands it.  I'm not saying that you shouldn't go out and cast a vote for the lesser of two evils, I'm saying that the BILLION DOLLARS (I Still feel like Dr. Evil when I say that) and MILLIONS OF HOURS that it takes to elect the lesser evil, could be better spent working on a grassroots level to insist on the changes we want to see.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Update re: Lolita

What's up everybody?  You may remember a little while back I wrote a poem about the death of the great Puerto Rican Heroine, Lolita Lebron entitled Attempting to Grieve. Anyway I got a lot of good feedback on the poem so I decided to email it to some people that are organizing a commemoration for Lolita at Hunter College in NYC.  To make a long story short, they've invited me to read my poem at the event.  So the commemoration is tonight at Hunter College.  The event is free but the word on the street is come early because the only have 500 seats and people are flying in from Puerto Rico just to be there.  So, I hope to see you there.  The flyer is below.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Halloween night!

Check out this amazing video from my friend.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Around this time last year I wrote a post entitled Community.  I had attended the commitment ceremony of my dear family members G and T.  They chose to call it a "commitment ceremony" to avoid the patriarchal, homophobic connotations of a wedding.  I was asked to read a poem before they exchanged their vows to each other.  In honor of their one year anniversary, I've decided to share the poem I wrote for them, with all of you...


We met him on a crowded city street in a non-descript city.
I can’t remember the day or year.
I just know that it was an autumn afternoon.

He said
“My name is Happiness, Happiness Santiago…
And the pleasure is all mine.”
He was half-Cuban, half Domican,
and was raised by Puerto Ricans in an Italian Neighborhood.
His smile was infectious, almost intoxicating.

“Yo Happiness, what’s good homie?”
A passerby yelled.
“Everything’s good my man.  I’m about to read a poem to my new friends” he said with a smile.

All of us laughed a little.
We had already been hooked.

“This poem is entitled the Auto-Biographical, Biography of Happiness Santiago.  It’s a love story for the most part. 

(And he screamed)


It was one of those days, where everything lines up in the city.
The music from cars driving by move in step with
young people bopping their heads. 
The sun bounces from window to window
brightening the shade while the smells from
the various nearby eateries chose not to compete,
instead opting
to unify in the name of…

“I was born like y’all”
he continued. 
“I don’t think I need to explain, and everything else is history.  Like the essays of a wanderer with a full heart and warm mind. 
Breathing has been a pleasure from day one. From this very action
I’ve been brought to you. My purpose, to clarify the feelings that you’ve always understood in the far reaches of your sub-conscious, sub-zero recesses of the subway’s of the forgotten corners of your mind.  My heart’s been lifted to share the opportunity of your hopes and dreams.  Mine have been remembered in the reflections of the crystal ball’s you call your eyes.  I am a child playing on a jungle gym, running carelessly in the afternoon shade, not afraid to keep going until I collapse from the joy of satisfactory exhausted-ness.  And it’s obvious to me that you are no different.  In fact I can hear your heartbeats skipping double Dutch as we speak. 

“It’s important to note that I am not hiding.  That although I find it my personal mission to run through the wind while the river is running beside me, I am not running from anything.  I am flying towards my future and fully apart of the present.  As I look at what appears to be a tear building up in the outside corner of your left eye, I want to be clear. Make no mistake my brothers and sisters; I’ve seen some of the darkest moments that pupils could possibly bring into focus.  I never pretend differently.  I’m not frozen into submission by events that have already passed, implanting them, with my invitation, squarely in the center of my tomorrow.  I will have none of that.  And this is the only thing in life that I can control.  My lung capacity is temporary but my ability to carve a new path remains infinite as long as my name remains Happiness.”

We all soaked it in mesmerized by the words of a stranger, slightly embarrassed at our obvious vulnerability.

“I love all of you”

He said with enough conviction that it felt completely sincere.

“I love men and women and the more the merrier”

Each of us blushed at his clear lack of inhibition.

“I’m here right now with you my friends, aware of all of the complexities that make up the human existence.  Or at least as many aspects as I’ve been introduced to thus far. If I had only one sentence to say, merely a handful of words to share, I would say remember me.  I apologize if my thoughts come across as arrogant.  That is certainly not my intention.  It’s just that I am very certain that I am you.  And if my intuition is true than you will never forget yourself.  And you will cherish each other.  And if I never see you again, it won’t matter because I will be remembered in the beat of your heart, your reflection in the mirror, in the reaction of your cells as you raise your hand to touch your cheek.  Don’t worry anymore.  Because tomorrow is alive in this unique second and you are alive.  The same way you have always been.  I expect that it feels different but the difference lays in the possibilities, not in your present smiles.  Your light-heartedness is the consecutive addition of a million separate moments and they’ve convened with us on this afternoon at this intersection of concrete and flesh.  And we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Each of us looked at each other and we realized the moment was about to end.  Our conditioning compelled us to try to hold on but our collective identity had already discarded expectations as afterthoughts.  It was if we were standing in front of a fire, except the flames were the mingling of identities on a city street corner. 

It took a second for us to notice that Happiness was already on his way.   He began to run and he yelled:

“Remember Happiness Santiago” as he jumped and gently kicked a concrete wall that propelled him towards the distance.  His light feet and curly hair were tattooed to the portraits in front of us, long after his presence was beyond our site…

I remember that day.  The day we met Happiness on a non-descript city street corner on a random autumn afternoon.  And I remind you to remember him too, not that you could have possibly forgotten.  It’s just that we have a handful of moments when time stands still and waits for us to choose our destination.  And I ask you to run through the wind and fly towards the future while fully involved in the present. 

And don’t forget Happiness because Happiness remembers you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

some quick hits

I know, I know I haven't written in a while.

Here is what I have for now.

Joe Manchin, the Democratic governor of West Virginia, is running to fill the U.S. Senate Seat of the late, former KKK member, Robert Byrd.  Considering the shoes Manchin's filling, I guess we shouldn't be surprised by his new TV Ad.

As a Puerto Rican, it feels amazing to watch Rosie Perez call out Ruben Diaz (Our Homophobic Puerto Rican NYS Senator).  As Rosie points out, not all Latinos are Homophobes.  If straight people can marry than gay people should be able to as well.  (Or as Chris Rock would say, "Gay people have the right to be miserable too.")  Go Rosie!

The infamous and illusive grafitti artist, Banksy was commisioned to do the opening spot for the Simpsons where he basically destroys Fox.  He calls them out for their sweat shop abuses regarding The Simpsons Merchandise.  Unfortunately the link I just provided will probably be shut down by the time you click on it due to copyright infringement claims by FOX.  So just do some googling and you'll find it eventually. 

Finally check out this video from legendary folk musician Ryan Harvey about the Tea Party.  And if you live anywhere near Albany, you should come to his show @ The Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave, Albany, NY on October 22nd at 8pm.  You can check out the Facebook event page here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Attempting to Grieve

I don’t think anyone can comprehend what you meant to me as a child.
You were a Superhero.
In retrospect, it makes sense.
You were released from prison around the time
I started having coherent thoughts. 

My mother had an old chair and the back had fallen off.
It had an hour glass shape and I decided to use it as a canvass.
I remember drawing a picture of you wearing Adidas sneakers.
My mom must have gotten a chuckle out of my attempt.
I was never much of a visual artist. 
I don’t expect my drawing of you to
appear in a museum or gallery anytime soon.
But it wasn’t supposed to matter…

Because you were suppose to live forever.

When I received the text message,
I felt like a six year old.
I didn’t understand the words.
I asked for clarification.
Your death was confirmed.  

You see Lolita,
I’ve never once imagined a world that you weren’t living in.
I laid two parents to rest in my early twenties.
They were both admirers of you.
As difficult as it was to let them go,
it was something that I knew was inevitable,
even if it was earlier than expected.
As much as I loved my parents,
I knew they were mortals
and would eventually be forced 
to succumb to the same fate
as the rest of us.

You walked into congress with a gun and said
“I did not come here to kill,
I came here to die for Puerto Rico.”
You did not die that day because
you couldn’t be killed.
This became evident when you were released thirty years ago.
You roamed the island of Puerto Rico
 for most of my life,

a free woman.  

Who else could have accomplished such a feat?

Only a Superhero.

Rumor has it that RFK Jr once begged to meet you.
To think the progeny of the former Attorney General
would desire to meet you, 
when most politicians make a living these days
trying to scare us about people like you.
The truth is that most political leaders can’t understand true patriotism.
They can throw the names of George Washington 
and Thomas Payne around.
But they would never have the courage and conviction to defend this nation
the way you’ve fought for our little island. 
And that’s the problem.

Who is supposed to protect us now?

The capitalists have grown their
tentacles across our enchanted home.
But you were there to fight for us.
To stare them down,
daring them to take one more step,
to lay one more brick.
I assumed you would always be there. 

You would never abandon us and leave us mortals to defend ourselves.

Please come back to life Lolita. 
Please! This is not a funny prank.
What are we suppose to do?
Words can’t express the power
of the tears trapped behind my eyes at this very moment.
There is no way to explain the feeling inside me to
a stranger that has never heard of you,
but strike me dead if what I am about to say is wrong.
There are thousands of Puerto Ricans that feel exactly as I do,
who understand that you breathe rarefied air,
that know you could come back to life if you wanted to.
Perdóneme Doña  but I don’t know if we can go on without you.
I’m serious.
I might kill myself right now
if you don’t come back to us.
Please Doña
I’m begging you.

…Lo siento Lolita.
Please excuse my self-centered arrogance. 
I know that I’ve been way out of line.
I just never imagined that you wouldn’t be in this world,
standing as a shining example of grace,
strength and Puerto Rican Sovereignty.
Your loss is almost too much to bear. 
I understand that the struggle for liberation is in our hands now.
I realize that you’ve entrusted us with the mission to free Puerto Rico.

The first step in that journey will be protecting your legacy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Customer Service

Well the service industry is having an interesting week don't you think?

First and foremost there is the incident of Steven Slater.  What did you say?  You've been under a rock for the last few days and just came up for air and have no idea who Steven Slater is? No he's not Christian Slater's brother, though he looks like he could be.  He is the Jet Blue flight attendant that made possibly the best "take this job and shove it" move ever! Those of you who have worked in customer service, especially in the food industry (flight attendants have it even worse), you've fantasized about a dramatic exit from your horrible job.  In fact, co-workers typically fantasize about this type of thing together.  And this is why Steven Slater is the new Great American Hero, because he actually did it, the fantastic exit.  And his was even better than the one you imagined.  Basically he was told off by a passenger who apparently hit him in the head with the luggage compartment door.  He ran to the intercom, told the passenger to "f*&$" herself and said it's been a good 28 years (as a flight attendant) and grabbed a beer or two and hopped out the emergency door and slid down the inflatable chute.   I've gotta be honest, I'm down with Steven Slater.  Sometime enough is enough.  By the accounts I've been reading he was trying to refrain from arguing with the passenger and finally lost it.  Who hasn't wanted to do this at one point in their life?  The bad news he's been arrested and is currently being held at Rikers Island.  Ouch!  That's a heck of a price to pay for telling the job to go "f*&$ itself".  If you watch this video you can see Steven smiling from ear to ear.  That my friends is the smile of a liberated man.  It would be a little ironic if he had to pay for his liberation by being incarcerated (for up to seven years).  Hopefully cooler heads prevail, no pun intended, and Slater get's a slap on the wrist and finds a new career as a Game Show host or something.  In the meantime you should check out the Free Steven Slater Facebook Page.  There are already 17,000 fans of the page.  Don't worry Steve; we've got your back.  Tell corporate America to shove its wage slavery and tell the puppet consumers who thrive on oppressing the workers to "f*&$ off!"  You've made our week!

And if this wasn't enough, a woman named Melodi Dushane was just sentenced to sixty days for a fight at McDonald's.  What was the fight about you ask?  Melodi was going through the drive thru and hoped to order some chicken McNuggets.  She was very disappointed to find out that Mickey D's was only serving breakfast.  After some time she responds by climbing out of the car and fighting the cashier through the window, eventually she throws something at the window and breaks it.  Watch the video, my favorite part is after she drives away and the cashier gives the next customer their food.  It's priceless.  And Melodi, I'm sorry but I don't have your back on this one. 

Next time I'll have a little more substance, I promise.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The USDA, K'NAAN and M.I.A.

Reverse racism is back, sort of.  If you don't spend a lot of time watching the news, you might have missed the major messup made by the White House, the NAACP, the USDA, and FOX News.  What do all of these groups have in common, besides the fact that they are all run by men in suits?  (You thought I was gonna say white men didn't you?)  They all decided to take the word of a conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.  Breitbart was pissed that the NAACP was condemning the Tea Party for racist elements within their movement.  So he posted this video of Shirley Sherrod (An employee of the USDA) on his site.  He was trying to make the case that the NAACP is racist.  Well FOX News got a hold of it and ran.  And the USDA saw it and asked Sherrod to resign.  The White House heard about it all and supported the decision of Tom Vilsack, the Agriculture Secretary.  And oh yeah, the NAACP immediately condemned Sherrod.  What was on the video that was so racist?  Sherrod was discussing her reluctance to help a white farmer at an NAACP meeting.  It was assumed she was suggesting that she used her position in the USDA to deny access to this farmer.  The problem is that the clip was only a small part of the video.  Breitbart had never seen the rest of the video.  When watching the entire video, it becomes clear that Sherrod is explaining a story about how everyone can learn to understand each other.  The circumstance she was speaking of, happened many years before she ever worked for the USDA.  And if that wasn't enough, the white farmer (Roger Spooner) and his wife (Eloise) came forward to say that Sherrod helped them save their farm.  Oops!  Well now a lot of people look stupid.  Ironically, Breitbart and FOX don't look nearly as bad as the NAACP, the USDA and the White House.  After all what do you expect from a conservative blogger and FOX news?  We certainly expect the White House and the NAACP, to know not to take FOX for their word.  And oh yeah what prompted the NAACP to call members of the Tea Party Express racist in the first place?  Nothing really, just this letter written by Mark Williams, chairman of the Tea Party Express.  Williams satirizes Black America in a mock letter to Abraham Lincoln where Black People essentially ask to become slaves again because we don't really want to work.  You can't make this stuff up.

BP is still trying to plug up that oil spill.  Watch that clip and listen to Anderson Cooper say "we have a right to know" 353 times, in his scathing condemnations of BP.  You go Anderson!

I finally watched the M.I.A. video, Born Free.  Wow.  I recommend watching the Alicia Keys video Un-Thinkable immediately afterward.     It's like watching a gory horror movie and than watching an after-school special, it's trippy.

And if you never saw M.I.A.'s performance at the grammy's in 2009, than you've missed a whole lot in your life.  She is about 9 1/2 months pregant in the performance of Swagga Like Us with T.I., Lil' Wayne, Kanye, and Jay-Z.  I mean Super Wow.
     ...Going to the club to listen to Jay-Z sing "get that dirt of off your shoulder"... $10.  Watching pregnant M.I.A. brush "that dirt off" Jay-Z's shoulder... priceless!

Also big ups to Z for putting me on to this K'NAAN Video.  Can we please start listening to more Hip Hop like this!

Finally in case I haven't mentioned this before... I love Periwinkle Manifesto!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

West Virginia

Today Carte Goodwin was sworn in as the 59th Democratic US Senator.  Within fifteen minutes of holding the position, he ended a filibuster, extending jobless benefits to the unemployed.  Why am I mentioning this? Because Mr. Goodwin succeeded the late Robert Byrd.  I didn't get a chance to write about his recent death, so I figured today was as a good a day as any. Byrd was eulogized by none other than President Obama.  Former President Bill Clinton as well as Vicki Kennedy (wife of the late Ted Kennnedy) spoke at his memorial.  By many accounts, Byrd became a changed man.  Regretting his earlier days as a racist, turning into possibly the most revered senator in United States History.

And in case you didn't know, Robert Byrd was a former member of the Ku Klux Klan.  A while back I posted this quote of his that is published on Wikipedia:

I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side... Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.

All of this brings up an interesting question.  Should a former KKK member be treated with such reverence?  I think that question was missing from the dialogue around his death.  Sure people mentioned his former membership in the KKK but only as an afterthought.  The vast majority of ink written about Byrd after his death has been about his astute knowledge of the constitution, his countless adoring supporters, and his incredible electoral endurance. 

I think if you say "Byrd was in the KKK, BUT he changed and became a beacon of light for the common man", you've glossed over a very important part of this sentence.  You should be saying "Robert Byrd was the longest standing US Senator and was a member of the KKK, WOW the motherfuckin' KK goddamn K!"  You should talk about the hate that he spewed for years as he recruited dozens of people to join the Klan and mention that he was elected to the US House of Representatives in a district that had no problem voting for a (recently) former KKK member.  You might also want to mention that Mr. Byrd became a US Senator by defeating a Senator (William Chapman Revercomb) that was famous for supporting Civil Rights in a racially charged election. You should definitely mention that he voted against The Civil Rights Act, the most important piece of legislation for Black Americans since Reconstruction, some twenty years after he quit the motherfuckin' KK goddamn K. Finally make sure you mention that he told the New York Times in 1997 that this would be the advice he would give aspiring politicians: "Be sure you avoid the Ku Klux Klan. Don't get that albatross around your neck. Once you've made that mistake, you inhibit your operations in the political arena."  To me those sound like the words of someone who was more concerned with the what his membership in the KKK cost him, than what it may have meant to others. 

After all of that you should probably ask one more question.  How many lynchings was Robert Byrd involved in directly or indirectly?

I think it is important to ask the appropriate questions.  And in response to my original question, Should a former KKK member be treated with such reverence? I think no.  But if you think otherwise, that's fine as long as you tell the whole story.  If you gloss over his membership in the motherfuckin' KK goddamn K, than I think you are a coward and a failure. 

But that's just me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mistake and some other thoughts

First off I made a mistake in my post yesterday regarding the exchange between Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.  In short, someone posed as Gilbert and proclaimed that he would win the NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award before Jackson.  I've made a correction in the original posting.

There is a chance that the oil leak could be stopped.  They are doing integrity tests as we speak. I think they should conduct integrity tests for the CEO's of BP and the other major oil companies, but that's just me.

Finally if you don't know about Oscar Grant, today is a good day to find out.  Google his name and you will found out that he was killed by police officer Johannes Mehserle.  Even though Grant was handcuffed, face down on the ground, Mehserle shot him at close range.  Mehserle went on trial for 2nd degree murder and was convicted of involuntary manslaugher.  People are outraged as well they should be.  It is possible that Mehserle could receive probation without jail time. If you have seen the video (I haven't posted a link because I try to refrain from linking to extremely violent videos.) than you've seen that there is no shred of a legitmate reason for shooting Grant.  The claim that the officer did it by accident is the basis for the light sentence.  Now if I shot someone, at close range, on videotape, and claimed it was on accident does anyone think I would be given the benefit of the doubt?  That's why people are pissed off. As with the case of of the officers who killed Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo, the light conviction of Johannes Mehserle stands as another example of the unique set of standards for violent police officers.

Coincidentally, the decision in the case came down the same day as Lebron James "Decision". Columnist LZ Granderson from ESPN wrote an interesting article connecting the two events. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Getting back in the groove.

One last parting note from Germany (I've been back for a month now).  I'm not typically one for potty humor but I can't help but share this with the rest of the world.  On our last night in Germany, my partner LJ and I were walking around Berlin.  Happy and sad at the same time.  As we walked to our hostel we looked up at the name of the street we were passing.  (In case you don't know, the German the word for street is strasse.)
And what was the name you ask?  It was:


True story.  I'll leave it at that.

I never thought I would say this but I  think I might be an Eminem fan.

Lebron, Lebron, Lebron...

What can I say besides that I'm nervous about what the new Miami Heat Triumvirate might do to my Lakers next year. (For the record I still think we can take them.)  If you haven't read the response by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to Lebron's exodus than you have missed one of the biggest billionaire temper tantrums in recent memory.   He personally guarantees a Cleveland championship before Benedict Arnold (AKA Lebron James) wins one in Miami. Jesse Jackson issued a response to Gilbert's response acusing him of having a slave master mentality.  Gilbert responded back to Jackson's response via twitter by personally guaranteeing that he will win an NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award before Jesse Jackson.  (This turned out to be untrue and was a posting by someone posing as Dan Gilbert) Which begs an intriguing question for Las Vegas Oddsmakers.  Which is more likely to happen White Billionaire Dan Gilbert beating out Jesse Jackson for an NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award or the Lebron-less Cavs winning an NBA championship before Lebron/DWade and Chris Bosh win one in Miami?  I think that is a tough bet.  But realistically speaking, I think Gilbert is much more likely to win the NAACP Award.

Don't get mad at me, I just speak the truth.

Finally and most importantly I have a new favorite blog. That's right its the Periwinkle Manifesto! So far there has only been one post but I know a lot about blogging. I know a rising star when I see one.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More from Germany

Several observations about Germany...

1.  We were told that one would never say I will miss you to a friend, unless said friend was leaving for at least a year.  You might say, "I will miss you" to your partner if they were leaving for a little while BUT the operative word is might.

2.  The typical breakfast is random cheeses, so-so coffee, extremely good bread, salami, and various spreads ranging from cream cheese to Nutella.

3.  The sun seems to present itself about once every 3 days, give or take.

4.  If you are in a band and have never toured Germany before, if our experience is a legitimate example, every venue provides several cases of beer, a couple bottles of wine, a case of water, and a case of juice.  Crepes are also provided fairly frequently.  Also dinner and a place to sleep with mattresses and pillows.

5.  Your typical liter of gas is $1.50.  That's right I said liter.  You do the math.

6.  I just looked up while I was writing this and noticed that a half naked man was lying about two feet away from me.  I asked him to go to the other room and he did.  (We are in a club, that has a guest room for bands, this dude wandered in here)

7.  FYI if you are headed to Europe and you are bringing a hair dryer, first you will have to bring a northern European electrical adapter (this applies to all electronic devices) and second there is something about the currents through the adapter that might cause your hair dryer to go on fire.  So, use the low setting, it will be as hot as the high setting.  Or use the high setting and catch on fire.  Your call.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


So we went to Prague for a couple of days just to chill.

Three Primary Thoughts:

1. There are a lot of rude people in Prague.  I watched a barista in a museum yell at an old lady with no hesitation.  Cihuatl-Ce, the L.A. MC we are touring with (check out her stuff), asked a woman for French Fries, apparently they were out of them, and the woman behind the counter responded by saying "NOOO!!!".  Also when we first arrived, we all went to a restaurant for dinner and drinks.  Our waitress dropped our drinks, spilled wine all over us and broken glass all over the table.  She didn't apologize and walked away, as if it was somehow our fault. 

I do not believe that it is wise to make judgements about an entire people based on a handful of interactions, that said the moments I've highlighted were only the most egregious ones.  Ultimately I would have to say that there is certainly a cultural trend here that suggests that rudeness is more acceptable from servers in Prague than anywhere I've been in the USA.  No judgments, just sayin'.

2.  I've never had a harder time crossing the street in my life.  I can't really explain it, it's just really challenging to cross the street.

3. Despite points 2 and 3, Prague is a beautiful old city.  It's somewhat creepy but and amazing place.  I would go back in a heart beat.  I highly recommend visiting, if you can. (Seriously, I'm not being sarcastic.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Germany part 1

Some observations.
I've seen two people of color the whole time I've been here.  Considering there are three of us on this trip, that's a population increase of 150%.

If you ever wonder what a Curry Wurst is, it is a hot dog, chopped up, drenched in Ketchup, with Curry Powder sprinkled on top.

Beer is pretty popular here.

Lots of people live in tiny cottages the size of a shed you would see at Home Depot.

More tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Scott Brown, Health Care, and why I didn't vote for Baracka Obama part 63

Alright y'all, I know what you're thinking, I just mailed in the month of January.  I posted three times.  What can I say?  January is a good month to take a break.  Crisan Bakery is one of the coolest bakeries on the planet, and yes it’s located in Albany, NY (I know you non-Albanians are jealous).  Anyway they close for the entire month of January because they can.  On February 1st everyone is there gorging themselves with feta-puff pastries, Nutella croissants, and marzipan figurines.  And hopefully that’s what’s going to happen here.  I’ll re-open my doors and y’all will forget I ever closed.  Granted I provide nothing edible or drinkable for that matter. (Crisan’s homemade hot chocolate is absolutely ridiculous) So if you don’t find my writing to be the equivalent of a delicious baked good than…

Fine I’ve been unpacking all month!!!  Give a guy a break.

And on to Scott Brown:  Scott Brown was a naked model, he bought a truck, and ran for U.S. Senate and won.  Wow that’s interesting. 

Health Care: I still don’t have any.

Why I didn’t vote for Barack Obama part 63:


Don’t you see it?  I’m talking to the rationale members of the left that vote (not the rational members of the left that don't).  The ones that would like to see a single payer health care system, gay marriage, a reconfiguration of the criminal justice system, real environmental protection and so on. If you are the type of person that would probably vote for the Green Party but you see it as a wasted vote than you’re the person I’m talking to. 

Within the current electoral system when do you expect the left political spectrum to have more power than they do now?  Don’t you feel like you’re watching a seesaw before your eyes?  What happens next in this movie?  Do the Republicans take back the house? Or the senate?  Perhaps the presidency on 2012?  Here is what I do know; the Republicans will take back some house of congress and the presidency eventually.  And what will have been accomplished?  If the Democrats can’t pass a Health Care Bill with a 60 seat majority in the Senate and a 40 seat majority in the house, and one of the most inspiring presidents in the past 50 years, when will they accomplish the long list of goals that we all hope to see in our lifetimes?  When will the democrats lead us to a more just, fair, and egalitarian society? It will probably happen on an icy-cold night in Hell. 

Think about how much effort it took to get them in power.  How many hours and dollars went in to the elections of 2008?  What have they done for us?  I actually believe that Barack Obama means well (at least in comparison to most people that have occupied that position).  I just don’t think he actually has enough power to make lasting substantive change in this country.  As I’ve said before, it’s the wealthy corporations that have the most power and it has never been clearer.  

I truly believe that we could accomplish more tangible change in this country with grassroots community efforts, not grassroots campaigns.  The most substantive change in this nation has always come from community members getting together to make free breakfast programs, create health centers, and justice organizations.  Look at the issue of Gay and Lesbian rights.  Politicians are not responsible for the rights GLBTQ people are earning every day.  It’s the tireless work of gay, lesbian, and Trans activists that have put the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity on the map.  And it wasn’t politicians that were responsible for the rights earned by Black Americans or women.  We can thank groups like The Black Panther Party, The Gay Activist Alliance and the Women’s Liberation Front for some of the privileges that we enjoy today not LBJ or Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton.

I understand if you are still holding out hope that Barack can pull this together.   The man has a pretty spineless crew to work with but hope is hope.  I can respect hope.  However if the Democrats fall flat on their faces and accomplish nothing over the next 4-8 years can we please stop supporting them and start supporting each other.  That’s all I ask.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Peace everybody.

As you probably know, I haven't posted in a while.  At first it was because I've been unpacking, something that I thought was a miserable task.  Than, a week ago, the earth quake happened in Haiti.  It reminded me that I am extraordinarily fortunate to have a roof to unpack under.  After the quake happened I realized that my next post would have to be about Haiti (In my head it is pronounced "High Tee", which is how it is pronounced in Spanish Speaking countries.) but I wasn't sure what to write.  This is clearly one of the most devastating human catastrophes of my lifetime.  Only the 2004 Tsunami seems to have reached the same level of intensity since I've been around.  (Check out this article that compares the Tsunami releif effort to the current Haiti releif effort and offers an optomistic outlook for the future.)

There is so much to discuss that I don't know where to begin. I feel tongue tied.  I will say that everyone should donate something, even five dollars. I have no idea what the best organizations are to donate towards but I believe that any money earmarked for Haiti is well spent at this point.

I will say that I am extraordinarily sad and don't know what to do with these feelings. I feel silly, considering how much I have, and how much others have lost. I'm personally wary of hollow tears and worry that mine are tears of guilt and privilege. I think an event like this can shine a magnifying glass on the social institutions of privilege in our society. Few of us are immune to critiques that can come about as a result.

It's with this in mind that I will analyze a particular fact that I just learned that can shed light on the concept of privilege and how it is obtained.

After the slaves successfully expelled the French and created the independent nation of Haiti and repelled all French attempts to re-colonize it, the Haitian government was facing a crippling blockade from the Spanish, French and British governments. France agreed to lift the blockade and recognize Haiti as an independent nation in return for "reparations" in the sum of 90 million Francs (or 21 billion US dollars today). The reparations, of course, were to pay back the French for its loss of resources during the Haitian Revolution, primarily the loss of commodities, i.e. slaves. So the Haitian Government slowly paid these debts by securing high interest loans from countries like the United States and completed these payments in 1948.

Here are my thoughts on this:

Are you F*&%ING KIDDING ME?!

Who in the hell do these governments think they are by applauding themselves for giving $100 million hear, $200 million there? I have an idea; how about the French Government pays Haiti $21 Billion Dollars and the US and other governments pay back Haiti for the interest it collected on their despicable loans. After these repayments, said governments can than kick in additional millions out of the kindness of their hearts to address the current catastrophe, after having paid for the original tragedy. This of course would only be the beginning of the repayment for the: reprehensible acts perpetrated on African people and the Diaspora and compensation for the privileges bestowed upon the ancestors of their colonizers.

So tonight when you go to sleep in your comfortable bed and think about the Haitian People. Please don't stop there. Think about the dollar bills in your pocket. Ask yourself about the lineage of this currency. I want you to picture the interest paid to the United States. Envision how some of those dollars found their way to your pocket as you lay your head on your Martha Stewart Pillow. As you prepare to dream, remember how you've gotten the privileges you have and the death and misery of those on the other end of your subconscious. I promise you, I will do the same.

Next: The Massachusetts Senate Race (AKA Why I didn't vote for Barack Obama part 25)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Best of Decade part 10

Here it is.  The long awaited #10.  Are you ready? Personally I think that it's worth the wait.  I hope you all do to...

Best Thing to Happen to Me This Decade:  The Birth of My Two Boys

Before this decade began, I had no kids, which was a good thing. I cannot say that life for me has been a utopia since they joined this world that would be like saying "Iraq has weapons of mass destruction" (You know, a lie). Kids make life more difficult.  Like when it's the middle of the night and you are walking to the bathroom and you step on a miniature Han Solo: "Goddamn you Harrison Ford, how did you get under my foot at 2am!" Than you remember the little angels that are sleeping in the other room and you think: "Boys, if you leave Harrison Ford in this hallway one more time I'm going to turn into an evil monster and eat you!" To which they would respond by saying: "Dad who is Harrison Ford? And can you really turn into an evil monster?"

So the moral of the story is, don't have kids unless you are prepared to be thoroughly frustrated very often.  But if you're like me and you can handle a little frustration, than you will probably feel like the luckiest person in the universe.  That's how I feel, every time I look at one of their beautiful faces.  If I am a good father to them, than I feel like I'm succeeding at life.  I often have moments of insecurity when I feel like I can't do anything right but they remind me otherwise.  I'm not saying my life is all about my kids, I do lot's of interesting things that are not about them.  I am saying that they are beautiful and they make me feel so fortunate that it's difficult to put into words.

If you still can't understand how I came to the conclusion that my boys are the best thing to happen to me this decade, than watch this.

If you don't understand why that video is so special, than let David Chappele explain it to you.