T.I. & Tiny: Role Models?

"Tiny" on the left, "T.I." on the right.

I was conversing with someone last night when I asked the ever-generic question: “What are you up to?” They replied that they were lounging around and had just watched VH1 reality shows Love & Hip-Hop and T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle. They followed that by basically admitting to watching the shows despite the “ratchet” label applied to them by some and then followed that statement with the emoticon that indicates one is embarrassed; the “facepalm” emoticon. The person I was talking to is extremely intelligent, so it was a bit of a shock to learn that they had watched the two programs. Now, before I proceed, I’ll give you a brief description of what I know these shows to be about:

Love & Hip-Hop.

It’s a reality show centered around former (?) rap artist Jim Jones, his girlfriend/wifey/fiancee/wife Chrissy, her two friends/puppets, former G-Unit artist Olivia and someone else who does something, aspiring “hip-hop” artist Somaya, some other people, and how they deal with love and I guess, hip-hop. They also argue and…yeah. I think. Now, this show is in its second season, so I’m not even sure if the roles have changed or if the characters are the same, but honestly, I couldn’t care less.

T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle.

This show was created to essentially re-introduce rap artist Clifford “T.I.” Harris to mainstream society while highlighting his everyday life with wife, Tameka “Tiny” Cottle after Harris’s latest release from prison. Also featured in the show are their five children, and from what I’ve heard/read, the show is good and fairly popular. Unlike Love & Hip-Hop, I’ve never seen one nanosecond of this show, but it has more to do with me giving up on VH1 reality shows a year ago and nothing to do with any sort of disdain for either Harris or Cottle.

As I wrote before, T.I. is a convicted felon. “God, family and hustle” are the three most important things to him. While many hear “hustle” and immediately think of some low-life on the street peddling crap to suckers, I understand that for some, it’s just a word used to describe the everyday grind of life. It can be going to school, working, or volunteering. I also understand that it is extremely difficult for the average convicted felon to reintegrate himself/herself into society in order to be a productive human being. Besides not being able to exercise a simple civic liberty by voting, there are also many other restrictions they face, namely not being able to find employment at most reputable places of work. While they put themselves in that position, I find it disheartening that it is so hard for them to do something like work a normal gig and provide for not only themselves, but for their family if they have one.

T.I. is a different story. His last two incarcerations came when he was already “on”, and he has had no problems re-establishing himself upon his most recent release from prison. He didn’t end up back in prison because returning to crime was virtually the only way he could support himself since he wasn’t able to work, but because he was stupid, selfish and arrogant. And he’s rewarded this go-round with a reality show. Riiiiight. Now, the other person felt I was judging him and other convicted felons and that I feel they deserve nothing. They couldn’t have been more incorrect in their assessment. What makes this funny and slightly sad is we’ve previously had a very lengthy conversation about why the system can be ridiculously unfair to felons. Again, many revert to their criminal ways because just about every legitimate avenue is closed to them. If you have a husband/wife, kids, bills to pay, no real skills/experience outside of felonious activities and virtually no chance to get a job that would allow an adult to live, at your wit’s end, what else would you do? I didn’t even want to throw in their face that my fraternity brothers and I worked with ex-cons in the state of Michigan, doing everything from helping them with resumes, interview techniques, driving them to those interviews and even taking those willing to get fitted for suits while paying for it all out of pocket. I could’ve shut them up by telling stories of going to Cass Tech in Detroit, a high school filled with hopelessness and despair, and letting the students–some of them, felons–know that not everyone in this world sees them as nothing more than a criminal and that if they truly wanted to, they could do and be better. But, I’m not petty. It’s beneath me.

I suppose another area where I went wrong in our conversation was expressing surprise that the other person found some sort of inspiration in this show; that the show is proof that the Black family dynamic is still alive and well. Now, while I am not a fan of most reality shows, I see nothing wrong with most of them. I understand that the main purpose of these shows are to entertain, whether they’re about celebrity families, love, aspiring athletes, truckers, or some sort of Survivor-style getup. However, when it comes to learning real-life lessons from them, that’s where I tend to draw the line. I’ve seen more than enough documentaries on reality shows to know that what most think is real is to an extent, partially scripted. This is not to say that I believe every single second of every single reality show is disingenuous, but it’s hard to believe that there’s much genuineness when you just know that a director will yell, “Cut!” whenever he/she feels that a scene needs some livening up, or to take on a more somber tone. Is it impossible to draw inspiration from a reality show? Of course not. Do I think it’s a little far-fetched? Of course I do.

What I find hard to understand is why so many members of my generation look to celebrities for positive and negative examples of how to lead their lives. Does it take a celebrity family loving and cherishing each other for us to know that there’s still such a thing as love and devotion? Why do we need to see a celebrity hauled off to jail to know that the law is something to abide by and not scoff at, no matter your social or financial status? They argued that T.I. and Tiny’s show displays a loving, Black household, something that in the Black community, unfortunately, we (Blacks) don’t see nearly enough of, especially on television. I agreed without having even seen the show, but to insinuate that there are no examples around them kind of reeked of asininity. I’m very observant, and I absolutely love to see a “normal” family out and about, enjoying themselves and each other. It gives me great joy to see a father at the library with his child, helping them with their homework. Seeing a passionate mother at her child’s sporting event makes me glad to realize that there are parents who want to be involved in their children’s lives, and would rather not drop them off at practice or a game as if it’s a babysitting service. I did not once come close to saying that T.I. and Tiny’s show is bullshit; I haven’t seen the show. Didn’t even say that their drawing inspiration from the show is bullshit. I just wanted to make sure that they see the examples around them as well and to appreciate them just as much, if not more. I don’t relate to T.I., even as an urban Black male, and I probably never will. This does not bother me. I don’t aspire to be like T.I., either. What happens when people get defensive about their beliefs is they misconstrue what you really meant to say, and I believe this is what happened. No harm, no foul, not all that much love to be lost, from the tone of our conversation, I suppose.

At the current moment, I’m not really a fan of T.I. Not so much for his recent felonious acts, but his recent subpar music. Xscape, the all-female R&B group that Tiny helped popularize was never really my thing, even in their heyday. But, I have no qualms whatsoever with people watching their show. I don’t even really have a problem with people tweeting or conversing about it. On the other hand, I implore those who do choose to watch and speak on it, to be willing to notice the more vital things in life, and I’m not just referring to politics. While I am admittedly a PoliSci nerd, I understand that it’s not for everyone. Life is more than just politics. My life is more than just politics. The same goes for entertainment, which includes sports. Fucking live, people. If I have to beg you for one thing, it’s to just live life, and not through a half-scripted reality show featuring people who you’ll most likely never come close to relating to. It’s your prerogative if you want to accept these two and the rest of their family as role models. I don’t, but I don’t mean it to be an indictment of their character. I just love the everyday people in my life–whether I know them or not–who go about their business to ensure that their families are well taken care of. No millions of dollars, fame or reality show. Just hustling. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

A rival that is now a champion…

I remember 2005 vividly. It was the year I lost Karen, and it was the last year before I became an adult “adult”. Also, the Chicago White Sox won the World Series. It was their first title in 88 years, and Sox fans could live knowing that their team won a World Series more recently than the Cubs. As a Cubs fan who lives on the south side of Chicago, I can tell you firsthand how hard it is to endure all of the trash talk and hatred for the Cubs shown by Pale Hose fans. It. Is. Terrible. The Cubs were going on 100 years without a title, and not only did the Sox win it all, they dominated for almost the entire regular season and postseason. Long-time, diehard Sox fans announced themselves at every corner, wearing a Sox cap, t-shirt, or even championship leather jacket. What made all of the newfound love of the Sox even more painful was that I knew the Cubs weren’t close to a championship. Although I had friends who could tell their children and grandchildren that they had witnessed something as large as a White Sox World Series victory, it hurt because I knew as a Cubs fan, that I would never hear the end of it.

Then, 2006 came. I finally turned 21, enjoyed the “Summer of Erik”, and did everything in my power to do nothing for most of the year. October ruined everything. It was bad enough that the Cubs had a horrible season, costing then-manager Dusty Baker his job. The Cardinals were in the World Series, playing the Detroit Tigers. I dealt with the Cards in the World Series before, but I knew the Red Sox would quickly dispose of them in 2004, and they did. I didn’t have the same faith in the Tigers, though. Of course, the Tigers failed on epic levels. The Cardinals were 2006 World Series champs. The team that I dislike even more than the Ohio St. Buckeyes were champions. Again, the Cubs weren’t. The Cubs would go on to sign Lou Piniella to be their manager and sign Alfonso Soriano to be their…um…player. I wasn’t too fond of the Piniella and Soriano signings, but a Cardinals championship infuriated me beyond belief. I despise the St. Louis Cardinals and anyone who even so much as says “St. Louis Cardinals” without following it with “suck”.

The same goes for the Packers. I loathe everything about them. Their colors. Lambeau Field. The weather in Green Bay. The fact that the Super Bowl trophy is called the Vince Lombardi, and not George S. Halas Trophy. When I was younger, Brett Favre, Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman, Dorsey Levens, Gilbert Brown and a cast of others made my life miserable twice during the regular season. I never figured the Bears would win; I just wanted the score to be reasonable.

It felt good when Lovie Smith took over as Bears head coach and said he wanted to beat the Packers first and foremost. The Bears have actually done a pretty good job in that department since Smith took over. Unfortunately, they didn’t get the job done in week 17. All the Bears had to do was win, and keep the Packers out of the playoffs. One thing “analysts” kept saying that I agreed with was that nobody would want to play the Packers in the playoffs. Right on cue, the Bears lost. The Packers were going to the playoffs. Uh-oh.

Postseason play arrived, and Bears fans on my Twitter timeline announced that they were pulling for the Packers to win their divisional round game, meaning the Bears would play the victorious Seahawks instead of the Eagles for a chance to play in the NFC Championship Game. Seriously. A Bears fan, cheering for the Packers? Suddenly, Bears fans adopted the logic of Cubs fans. “Well, we didn’t keep them out of the playoffs, so it will be fun to eliminate them” Smart. Ignore the fact that the Packers were simply a better team, why don’t you. You know the story of the NFC title game: Rodgers comes out on fire. Cutler hurts his knee. Collins sucks. Hanie rocks. 3rd and 3 end around. Ballgame.

I have an allegiance to the Bears, and not the NFC. I hoped the Steelers would win, because I just didn’t want to watch the Bears play the Super Bowl XLV champs next season. Roethlisberger’s off-field transgressions had nothing to do with who I wanted to win and lose. Ben is one of 53 Steeler players, even though I’m sure most don’t realize that.

It was hard to watch the Super Bowl, knowing the Bears were 8 points away from being there–Cutler’s balky knee or not. When Roethlisberger threw that final incomplete pass, I admit, my heart sank. The Packers are Super Bowl champs, and I hate it with every fiber of my sports-crazed being.

P.S. I miss Karen and the Moondance Woman!!!

P.P.S. I propose the Cubs trade Matt Garza for Jay Cutler.

Tit for tat? Really?

I don’t like man-bashers and woman-bashers. Nor am I fond of people that set out to have sex with as many people as possible. I choose not to associate myself with people who perpetuate negative stereotypes and those that use racial epithets. People that prefer to “dumb it down” won’t get a piece of me, either.

What annoys me more than the people who possess those characteristics are the ones that feel it’s acceptable because others do. You know, the “Well, I only do it because they do it” people. For example, women who bash men because men bash women. Or Blacks that make racist comments about Whites because they feel “Whites did it first”. Anyone who excuses their immature, ignorant behavior because someone else does it seriously annoys me. It’s tit for tat behavior. It’s sophomoric.

If you like to sleep around, act in a childish and irresponsible manner, or make racist jokes, I can’t stop you, obviously. I have more respect for someone who genuinely acts that way, though. I’d rather know exactly where you stand and why than be exposed to a side of you that exists only because others act the same. My biggest issue with the tit for tat craze is that people who would normally be sensible resort to juvenile tactics in order to even the score, which only makes situations worse. These people have no clue how ridiculous they look and sound.

I’ll give just two of many examples of this wackness.

Many women have chosen to not only establish themselves in the workforce and on the playing field, but to also own their sexuality now. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, in my opinion. For years the legal system and society has, in its own way, placed limits on how women could express themselves. It was almost as if a woman weren’t seen as a dainty, submissive, aspiring housewife, then she wasn’t woman enough. Many men scoffed (and some lame, insecure ones still do) at the idea of a strong, independent woman. However, there is a difference between owning your sexuality and exhibiting whorish behavior. Engaging in sexual relations with as many partners as possible does not speak well for your character, whether you’re a man or woman, gay or straight. I’ve heard some women say that women shouldn’t be criticized for this because men have done it for years. Who said that we were right to do it? It’s appalling that there are men that view women as nothing more than potential sexual conquests. Yet I refuse to give a woman who sleeps around a pass just because a number of adult men act like teenage horndogs.

The Don Imus situation was definitely a scandalous one. He obviously could’ve used a better choice of words to tell his listeners what he thought of the Rutgers and Tennesse women’s basketball teams’ looks. Still, it caused me to think of how many Black men and women I’ve heard use the same words to describe Black women. As Imus stated, you can hear some of the same words in rap lyrics. In addition, Spike Lee’s “School Daze” devoted a musical number to “Jigaboos vs Wannabes”, where dark-skinned and light-skinned women squared off in a hair salon. Since when have we been the sole owners of the right to belittle and demean our own people by speaking and expressing ourselves in a way that would make most of our parents and grandparents vomit? Is it really okay for a Black comic to use “honky”or “cracker”, or stereotype Whites, Latinos, and Asians, but when the tables are turned, there’s an uproar in the Black community? If we find it so offensive to be ridiculed, then why do so many of us do the same to other races? Yes, we’ve been discriminated against and made fun of for years. But we’re no better when we do the same, and it doesn’t help matters to feel as if we need to get some sort of vengeance now. Pathetic is the word I use to describe  those Blacks that feel it’s alright to lose all common sense simply because they feel it’s our time to look down on others of a different ethnicity or cultural background.

Tit for tat didn’t work when we were children, so I’m not sure why so many think it’s plausible to suggest that it would, or should be accepted now. You might feel that you’re accomplishing something by insulting others, whoring yourself out, or carrying on like a fool, but I assure you that you’re not. People that exercise sensibility look at you and listen to you, and shake their heads in bewilderment. So many people my age don’t offer reasoning for their behavior, only excuses, and I’m starting to realize that it’s slowing our development as a people, nation, and generation. If you feel as if you’ve been forced to respond in a way that you don’t want to, or normally wouldn’t, chances are it’s wrong. Knock it off. NOW.

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. Nah, miss. Keep the sneakers on…

Respect my generation…

Let me start off by saying that I don’t have a problem with authority figures. I don’t buck authority whenever I get the chance. There have been times when I admitted to not being fond of the police, but I still have a great deal of respect for any non-corrupt man or woman that protects and serves with pride and dignity. I’ve had my fair share of battles with teachers and coaches, but I don’t feel that I’ve ever crossed a line. Yes, I’ve had plenty of arguments with Karen, but I always acknowledged how much she meant/means to me.

I’m fully aware that there are members of my generation that can have their attitudes summarized with one word: unruly. However, that is not the prerogative of all of us. We are not all hell-bent on making the lives of those around us harder. Regardless of what people of previous generations may think, most of us do not think that we are “all-knowing”, and don’t feel entitled to everything, while wanting to do nothing in the process. It’s absurd to think that we set out to screw up every opportunity given to us. Most of us are not infatuated with gangster rap, not content with moderate success, and we understand that it’s up to us, and nobody else, to make our future more than the coming hours, days, weeks, months, and years.

Still, we are labeled as rebellious, reckless, uneducated, thugs, promiscuous, carefree, brash, et cetera, et cetera. Talk to enough people that are 40 and older, and eventually you’ll hear “When I was younger…”, “These young people nowadays…”, or “I swear this generation…”. We are not held in high regards in those statements, most often. This unnerves me to no end, and is truly disheartening. It’s sad because these are people that should aim to mentor us, guide us down a better path, and be there for us in whatever way they can, rather than cut us down at every turn.

One example of this can be found in sports. You will often hear older and retired players make disparaging remarks about the current generation of players. They opine that current young players are only in it for the money, don’t respect the game or their predecessors, don’t work at their craft, and totally disregard their fans. Obviously, this is true when it comes to a few athletes, who have been criticized for their behavior recently.

We’ve seen the Allen Iverson press conference in which he openly mocked anyone who feels that he should attend practice everyday. We’ve heard Latrell Sprewell say that he would not play for the Minnesota Timberwolves because he didn’t like their contract offer of $30 million over 3 years. Due to make almost $15 million for the upcoming season, he backed up his stance with the reasoning, “I got my family to feed.” Anquan Boldin, now a wide receiver on the Baltimore Ravens, demanded a trade…because he wanted a contract extension that his previous team, the Arizona Cardinals, wasn’t ready to give him. Chris Andersen, a power forward for the Denver Nuggets, was suspended by the NBA for two years for violating its substance abuse policy. Other athletes in other sports(especially baseball)have been suspended for the same offense. We’ve seen Zinedine Zidane(an Algerian playing for the French national team)headbutt Marco Materazzi(Italian)during a soccer match, after Materazzi allegedly called him a terrorist. Those that watch hockey either saw or heard of Marty McSorley hitting Donald Brashear over the head with his stick, or Todd Bertuzzi blindsiding Steve Moore, causing him serious injuries. Although these are individual cases, it seems as if older, former players and even older sports fans attribute this behavior to the fact that this is a part of our generation’s way of living.

It’s very easy to say that you didn’t play the game for money when there wasn’t much to be made. It’s easy to put down an athlete that demands a trade when trades were unheard of decades ago. The same goes for free agency, signing bonuses, and endorsement deals. Include violence, to an extent. Conveniently, many of these older people leave out the fact that Ty Cobb was a racist, Wilt Chamberlain and Babe Ruth were womanizers, the 1919 White Sox threw the World Series for money, Pete Rose gambled, committing baseball’s cardinal sin, Mickey Mantle was a drunk during his playing days, and Jim Brown and Ted Williams weren’t the nicest people around.

One claim that I have huge problem with is the notion that we’re spoiled. I’ve never understood how older adults could complain about how today’s youth is spoiled when they’re the ones that made us this way. I vividly remember seeing many of my elementary, junior high, and high school classmates wearing the latest pair of Jordans, $250 Coogi sweaters, girls with $300 Coach bags, and guys with $600 leather jackets. Of course, we asked for them, but if we heard “no”, I’m sure that it wouldn’t have killed us. Say what you want, but if somebody agrees to buy you something that you want(especially when you’re in high school, and think popularity is everything), most times, you’ll accept it.

In addition, most of these “marketing execs” aren’t 20-25 years old. The people that spend hour after hour trying to figure out how to sell their product at inflated prices sure don’t have a moral compass, yet we’re the ones that are ridiculed and insulted because we happen to be the chief consumers. I understand that superficiality and materalism seem to run rampant now, but the only thing we’ve been spoiled by are a plethora of ways to express ourselves. Don’t be upset with us because we’re not living in the monotonous 60s and 70s.

As for implications that my generation doesn’t value ourselves or society, I’m afraid I have to call bullshit. Really? Are you serious? Granted, we didn’t have to deal with Jim Crow, or the civil rights issues of the 60s and 70s. Yes, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are what many people my age will tell our grandchildren about when we’re of that age, but they pale in comparison to World War I and II, and the Vietnam War. Men aren’t losing their lives in coal mines, and women have every opportunity to be successful, unlike the obstacles that men and women faced in the US many years ago. For the most part, we have it slightly easier than our parents and grandparents did.

Yet, at the same time, I feel that it’s harder than ever to simply survive. In what is supposed to be the greatest nation on Earth, we are struggling to get jobs, pay for college, and clear debt. Gangs populate neighborhoods, we’re losing friends everyday, and(due to our own irresponsibility, for the most part), are bringing children into this world when we’re still, honestly, children ourselves. Consider the political climate of this country, and you have a recipe for a rough future.

If we stand up for something, we’re seen as rebels and disrespectful. I know more than a few 40-, 50- something people that have gushed about “free love”. How easy it is to be a whore when you don’t have to worry about the ramifications of your actions. We don’t enjoy the same luxury. With the STDs present, we can’t afford to give ourselves to anyone that’s available. Penicillin doesn’t cure any serious ailment besides strep throat, to my knowledge. Neither can we afford to melt our minds with hardcore drugs. It is a “kill or be killed” world now, from sports to corporate settings, and we simply can’t waste years of our lives being intoxicated, inebriated, or incapacitated. I know that this doesn’t apply to every person twice my age, but again, it’s amazing how these things can be glorified, depending on who you speak to. How do you think a 2010 Woodstock would be perceived?

Yes, there are members of my generation that cause me to shake my head in bewilderment. I find myself dumbfounded at what some of my peers stand for. Gucci Mane, Tyler Perry, gang warfare, illiteracy, dishonesty, and irresponsibility are just a few of the things that have me feeling like we don’t understand as a generation that we’re capable of so much more than perpetuating negative stereotypes. That doesn’t give anyone the right to make a blanket statement about my generation, though. It seriously pains me to hear older people constantly make generalizations about my generation from their self-righteous thrones. After all, they were our age once, and their beliefs and actions were called into question by their parents and grandparents. So I’m a little confused by all of the shock about our decision to live life the way we choose to. And for some reason, some don’t believe me when I say the generation gap is steadily widening…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. If you were offended by this post, you might want to reevaluate your way of thinking…

I guess John Mayer has your attention now…

John, you got some splainin' to do!!!

I’m going to assume that unless you don’t have a Twitter or Facebook page, tv, access to the internet, or friends, you’ve heard of John Mayer’s interview with Playboy. In it he made a few controversial comments. He revealed that he was a zit-faced, insecure teenager. When he was 19, 20 years old, he was very arrogant, actually refusing to give demos to record label presidents. He prefers to masturbate to thoughts of ex-girlfriends and not going out, meeting someone new, and having sex with her. He called a hood pass a “nigger pass”. And the doozy: He believes that his penis is a white supremacist. “I don’t think I open myself to it [dating Black women]. My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock. I’m going to start dating separately from my dick.” That did it for a good number of Black people, especially Black women on Twitter. Here are a few tweets (names left out):

So apparently John Mayer gets an erection when he sees a lynching.

Black women are too much for john mayer anyways, he would come home to get his head bashed in with his guitar fucking wit a sister

John Mayer saying he wouldn’t have sex w/ a black women.. I can’t wait til’ the day a rich black man say they wldnt sleep w./ a white women.

John Mayer is honestly one of those over confident punk ass white boys that I always so desperately wanna smack in the face

Fortunately, a good number of Black people didn’t see his comments as racist, just moronic. After all, we ALL have preferences. I know I don’t find myself attracted to women that are grossly overweight, and of course, stupid and ignorant. That’s my personal preference. Some men actually prefer women that are seriously overweight, and then there are some that want women that lack intelligence. I’ve heard from more than a few Black women that they’re not attracted to White men (even my girlfriend has confessed that her mother told her not to bring home a White man unless he’s rich, which is horrible), so I’m not completely sure what all the fuss was about.

Could Mayer have worded his choice of women differently? Of course, he would’ve made the situation better by carefully choosing his words. But he does have a reputation as an asshole, and he seems to fully embrace it. It’s why some people are fans of his, because he doesn’t take himself very seriously. I wasn’t totally shocked at most of his comments, but I do have a few questions, though.

Did anyone find this comment troubling?: “I am a very…I’m just very. V-E-R-Y. And if you can’t handle very, then I’m a douche bag. But I think the world needs a little very. That’s why black people love me.” Now, I have always been a very good reader. Not just because I could pronounce large words at a very young age, but because I could read passages and actually comprehend what I had just read. I understood that “Mayerism” as: “I’m an asshole, and I can be a little too much at times. If you don’t get that, just call me ignorant. But the world needs a little ignorance. And that, is why I have so many Black fans.” I initially read an excerpt of his interview, containing 10 of the more controversial Mayerisms. When I saw this one, I have to say that I was appalled. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the average Black person isn’t a fan of John Mayer (although a good number of Whites, Hispanics, Asians, etc aren’t either). The ones that are fans are often considered “uppity” “bourgeois”, or they’re often said to be (my personal favorite) “acting White”. I am a John Mayer fan. I think “Continuum” is dope and liked “Heavier Things” after hearing it a few times. Mayer is an excellent guitarist, but not the greatest songwriter and singer. I compare his comment to one a former friend (Black) of mine made about the lack of Black baseball fans. “Blacks don’t watch baseball because it’s not flashy enough. If there were more players that did wild and crazy shit, more Blacks would watch.” Again, he is a former friend.

Why wasn’t more made of his comment that a hood pass is basically a nigger pass? First, I want to say that I don’t think he was calling Blacks niggers. I believe that he was insinuating that he didn’t understand how he could get a hood pass when he’s never experienced some of the hardships that so many Blacks have. Moving on… I, for one, don’t equivocate hood to black, and I think it’s safe to say that despite the proper definition, when most of us hear the word “nigger” we immediately think of ignorant Black people, which would explain the outrage among Black people. I think hood has to do more with an urban upbringing and attitude. Black people aren’t the only ones that grow up in urban areas, use urban dialect, and carry themselves in an urban way. I have White, Hispanic, European, and Asian friends that I consider hood, or urban. Not because I feel they’re “acting black” but because of their mannerisms, the way they dress, and some of the things that they’re interested in. When Mayer stated, “I can’t really have a hood pass. I’ve never walked into a restaurant, asked for a table and been told, ‘We’re full.’”, I had to think of my experiences in various restaurants in which I felt I was wrongly treated. I’ve never seen empty tables and been told that there was no seating available because I’m Black. To be honest, I’ve been kicked out of (and banned from several) establishments when I was with White friends, and that was because we were unruly, and abused our rights as patrons. I’m not saying that this doesn’t happen to Blacks; being told a blatant lie. However, it’s not the “typical Black experience”, regardless of what some Blacks may say.

Black women, did you even notice that Mayer spoke about a stereotype of White women that, unfortunately, many Black people share with him? “And Kerry Washington. She’s superhot, and she’s also white-girl crazy. Kerry Washington would break your heart like a white girl. Just all of a sudden she’d be like, “Yeah, I sucked his dick. Whatever.” And you’d be like, “What? We weren’t talking about that.” During my first year of college, I had a White girlfriend. I didn’t catch flack from anyone but Black people for it (even though I’m sure there were a few White people who weren’t too fond of our relationship). Some of my Black friends would tell me things  like “Man, you better not do her wrong. White chicks are crazy.” or “There’s something wrong with White girls in the head”. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about. Sure, she was a little crazy. But I also was with a Black, English, and Greek girl who I would’ve suggested some sort of counseling to. Ask enough Black people about their opinions of White women, however, and you’re pretty likely to hear something like what Mayer and my “friends” said: White women are a different kind of crazy. I’m not for stereotypes of anyone. I don’t think they’re funny, and I think it’s wrong that Blacks tend to ignore stereotypes about people besides themselves. It seemed that some Black women were so consumed by the fact that John Mayer isn’t attracted to them (kind of a contradiction when he started naming Black women that he found attractive, like Hillary Banks from “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”) that they didn’t even realize that he put down White women, who share some of the same struggles in society that they do. I won’t even write about my love of Kerry Washington, and the fact that I lost a little bit of respect for Mayer because he dissed her.

I find it very alarming that on various social networking sites and blogs, Blacks were in an uproar about Mayer’s interview. Where the hell was all of this disgust when R. Kelly was on trial for not only urinating on, but having sex with an underage girl? Why were there so many outside of the courtroom with “Free Robert” and “R. Kelly Is Innocent” signs? If that girl in the tape (regardless of whether it was consensual or not) were your sister, cousin, niece, or daughter, would you still have rallied behind him? The fact that a Black man degraded a young Black woman should’ve made him more enemies, but it seems that he gained even more fan support because of the case. I hear from people who say they’re sad that Lil’ Wayne will be sent to prison. Praying for TI, Gucci Mane, and Lil’ Boosie’s safety. People tweeting that they hope Waka Flocka gets better after being shot, but not taking the time to acknowledge the death and destruction in Haiti. Worried about the beef between Beanie Sigel and Jay-Z (which I don’t buy for one second), but seemingly oblivious to the fact that the US is at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, losing brave soldiers everyday. That saddens me way more than Mayer’s interview with…wait for it…Playboy. I doubt that if Newsweek or TIME were interviewing Mayer, he would’ve answered those questions in that way. And if you’re remotely familiar with Mayer the man and not the musician, you’d know that most of what he does and says is for shock value. That doesn’t excuse his stupidity and ignorance, but this isn’t the first time that he’s put his foot in his mouth.

Did Mayer say anything racist? In my opinion, no. Obviously there were people that misconstrued his comments as racist. As a celebrity, he should understand that everything he says and does will be scrutinized heavily, which I think is absolute bullshit. I’m pretty sure some of the Black women that were upset about his comments aren’t attracted to White men themselves, which slightly reeks of hypocrisy. In a country with a shaky federal government, unemployment at an all-time high, children having children, sickness, obesity, racial gentrification, too many of us (speaking mostly to Blacks now) choose to use our voices to opine about how offended we are that John Mayer chooses not to get his rocks off with Black women. Two words, one question: WHO CARES???

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. Leave Kerry alone, John, or you’ll lose your biggest fan on the south side of Chicago, capeesh?

I’m SICK of you Milton Bradley-haters…

I’m really annoyed by all the hatred that still remains for Milton Bradley. First, I want to clear something up. Milton Bradley is a jackass. He’s sarcastic, is not a “social” guy, and has a quick temper. Add a “me against the world” attitude, and you know why he’s playing for his 8th team in 9 seasons even though he’s a fairly talented baseball player. Yet, it unnerves me to know that there are so many Cubs fans and bloggers and Chicago sportswriters that seem to blame the Cubs mediocrity last season squarely on Milton Bradley.

I found myself booing him the way I once booed Todd Hundley. He couldn’t do anything right by my standards. I was disgusted by the sight of the guy that somehow stole a 3yr/$30mil contract from the dumbass aka Jim Hendry. I knew the Cubs were still in contention, but I kept imagining Bobby Abreu or Raul Ibanez in his position, and kept thinking that the Cubs would be atop the Central instead of trying to gain ground on the Deadbirds.

July and August come around, and suddenly, besides DLee, Bradley was the Cubs best hitter(check his numbers). It seemed like the summer would be saved, and then he popped off in late August about hatred. Racial epithets directed towards him, which a good number of people shrugged off, and some even insinuated that he used as an excuse for his poor numbers. I can only think of one fanbase off the top of my head that is more vanilla, and that is Boston’s. Watching home Yankees games gives you a glimpse at just how diverse New York City is. The same can be said for Dodgers and Angels games. The sad thing is that Chicago is just as diverse, but you wouldn’t know it by watching games at Wrigley, or even The Cell for the most part. Now the animosity between Bradley and everybody else increased. Once again, he vented to a reporter that Chicago is a negative place to play and he wasn’t surprised that the Cubs hadn’t won a World Series in 100 years. A couple doses of sarcasm to a reporter in September and finally, Jim Hendry pulled the plug on the Milton Bradley Experiment. Bradley finished the season hitting .257, with 12 homers and 57 RBI. His .OBP was .378 and his slugging percentage was a disappointing .397. He was ejected, threw mini-tantrums, made baserunning, fielding, and mental errors, struck out looking too often, and just simply didn’t produce.

It was clear that Bradley would be traded in the offseason. There was no way the Cubs could bring back a guy that had caused so much controversy on and off the field, on top of not producing. A matter of the team and players involved in the trade for Bradley was all that needed to be resolved. December, 19, 2009, Jim Hendry gave many Cubs fans an early Christmas present with a trade sending Bradley to the Seattle Mariners for underachieving pitcher Carlos Silva. Most Cubs fans prematurely penciled in another 10-15 wins for the Cubs next year, mainly due to the departure of Bradley. The clubhouse would be a lot better, and there wouldn’t be a moody presence in the dugout, either.

Yeah right. It’s funny how fans have no problem with an asshole as long as that asshole is producing. Cubs fans, remember Sammy Sosa? The guy who struck out 150+ times a season, mostly on pitches that were nowhere near the strike zone? The guy, who early in his career routinely overthrew cutoff men and attempted steals like a madman no matter the situation late in the season to reach the 30HR/30SB plateau? How many times did he wind up with only a single because he did a premature “Sammy hop”? I do believe it was Sosa who was the owner of the boombox that blasted salsa music in the clubhouse. While most other guys hit a homerun and went back to the clubhouse to be congratulated by teammates, Sosa made a production of it. The hop. Touching home and throwing two fingers to the sky. Coming back to the dugout and finding the camera and sending his own form of a shoutout to whoever the recipient was. When he was hitting 40HRs and winning ballgames by himself for the Cubs, no one had a problem with his ways. When he tailed off, we were ecstatic to trade him to Baltimore, virtually for Scary Hairston, Jr. Granted, he didn’t help his cause by leaving the ballpark early on what was Fan Appreciation Day, but Cubs fans lost all love for Sosa long before that. When you’re hitting .250 and striking out more than twice as much as you walk, you don’t have much leeway with any fans, let alone Cubs fans.

I do not point the finger only at Cubs fans. Ty Cobb was a well-known racist. Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Albert Belle, Jim Rice, and Barry Bonds were not known for being great guys either, but all of them were elite players that for the most part, were given passes by fans for being assholes. There are examples in football, basketball, hockey, and soccer as well(which I won’t get to now).

If Bradley were hitting .321 with 22HRs and a .436 OBP(he posted those numbers in 2008 with Texas in 126 games, only two more than he played with the Cubs in 2009)on September 20, 2009, I guarantee no one would have called for his head. Face it, we(because I am a Cubs fan, too)are not exactly an optimistic bunch. I’m only 24, and have had my heart broken by the Cubs more than I care to remember. We’re basically waiting for the dream to end every season. Some seasons it ends very early, and others we are driven(1984, 1989, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2008)to the point of self-destruction. And if you don’t believe that out of all of those drunk white guys in the outfield bleachers on a summer day at Wrigley, that not one would have the beer guts to shout something racist at an underperforming, already sour Bradley, you’re delusional.

The Cubs 2009 season was a disappointment, and not just because of Milton Bradley. It’s obvious that Bradley had a bad year. So did Alfonso Soriano, Mike Fontenot, Aaron Miles, Geovany Soto, ARam(I include him only because of his injury, from which I don’t think he ever fully recovered), Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Aaron Heilman, Kevin Gregg, and Carlos Marmol(until he was named the closer). Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Theriot were both average, so I tend to ignore their contributions. I don’t understand how Cubs fans have forgotten Sori’s huge contract and low production to this point, or that Zambrano is one of the highest-paid pitchers in the majors even though he’s the ace by default. Hendry missed out on a chance to add a proven ace in Jake Peavy to re-sign his buddy and clubhouse comedian, Ryan Dempster. Dempster is a good pitcher, but not a 4yr/$52 mil pitcher. Hell, add Lou Piniella and his weird management of the bullpen and lineup to that list, too.

There’s no way that Bradley’s bad performance stood out more than Soriano posting his worst season since his rookie year in the majors. Soto smoked pot, got fat, and proved that for some players, there is such a thing as a sophomore slump. Everyone is waiting for Zambrano to finally pitch more like an ace and not an overhyped #3. Gregg blew saves left and right while Marmol couldn’t throw more than one strike at a time, and it seemed like most fans were waiting for a Bradley strikeout or error.

Milton Bradley and Larry Vanover having a friendly conversation...

Bradley was wrong to speak so badly about Cubs fans, simply because we pay his bloated salary. I’m sure a lot more athletes feel that way about their home cities, but they’re “smart” enough to keep those thoughts to themselves. Also, it wouldn’t have hurt him to be nicer to members of the Chicago media, seeing as how they’re the ones that paint the final picture of him. Still, Cubs fans should’ve known that we were getting an ill-tempered, sometimes volatile, outspoken, injury-prone right fielder. Even though Bradley himself admitted that he had a bad year, his numbers weren’t that far from his career averages. When I read that Bradley wanted to be here, and that he told Byrd to enjoy it and not do the same things that he did to earn fans’ ire, I believe it. The guy’s a ballplayer. He’s just a different type of ballplayer. He’s not Mark Grace or Eddie Banks, guys that you would like to have a beer with. He didn’t produce like Sosa, allowing you to see past his ornery ways. He, along with many other Cubs, had a bad 2009 season. Bradley was just the most convenient whipping boy. Despite subpar performances from so many, the Cubs were still in playoff contention with several weeks left to play in the regular season.

Bradley will be the left fielder/right fielder/DH for the Seattle Mariners(who are my pick to win the 2010 AL West, by the way). The Cubs have signed center fielder Marlon Byrd, and Fukudome will move back to right field. Byrd will hit fifth, and a lot of people are counting on new hitting coach Rudy Jamarillo to help Cubs hitters rebound from a horrible 2009. The pitching is solid, but Lilly won’t bring his stale face to the bump every 5 days until around May, hopefully. So that means that we’ll have to pray that Randy Wells can work some more of his beginners magic. Speaking of “hopefully”, Marmol has finally found his place as a closer. I wouldn’t mind it if Piniella would resign as manager, and Ryan Sandberg(with Mark Grace as his bench coach)would take over.

In conclusion, GET OVER MILTON BRADLEY. He’s not even in the same league anymore. Be aware: If you see a guy at Wrigley in a Cubs Milton Bradley jersey, it’s me.

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. #shoutout to everyone that doesn’t blame the 2009 Cubs season on Milt…

You want to what?

First, “conversate” is not a word. It never has been, and never will be. I admit, it irks me when I hear a guy tell a woman “I just wanna conversate with you”. It irks me when a woman pleads with me to “conversate”. Anyone who knows me knows they don’t have to plead with me to converse. I’m willing to talk about pretty much anything, from which Power Ranger was the best and why, to Obama’s potential positive influence on political reform. I just need stimulation. I get bored VERY easily, and I’m not ashamed to let it be known. My biggest pet peeve: A person with nothing to say. I’m not interested in talking to, texting, e-mailing, writing, BBMing, or tweeting someone that doesn’t have anything to contribute to a conversation. What’s worse: Someone that doesn’t know how to initiate a conversation. Nothing irritates me more than someone who is seemingly waiting for me to bring up a topic to discuss. What compounds that frustration is my lack of patience. It doesn’t take long for me to realize that a person isn’t going to add anything meaningful to my current lifestyle. I’d much rather absorb than teach. And frankly, there are too many “conversators” out here… P.S. I miss Karen! P.P.S. #shoutout to Martina and J. Earl. This Cubs season has sucked, royally, but been memorable nonetheless because of you 2. Good times…

5 Types of People That I Can’t Stand

1. The Ignoramus: I HATE ignorant people. Whether it’s a White person that thinks all Black people live in the ghetto, or a Black person that thinks Mexicans are good for nothing but selling oranges and cutting grass. It could be a Black person that does everything they can to perpetuate a stereotype, or a group of people that sets out to degrade or harm another group…because of differences. Most likely, ignoramuses are for whatever reason proud to be known as ignorant. It’s similar to people that are proud to be characterized as “ghetto” or prejudiced. These are people that don’t care to enlighten themselves in any area, except those that help keep them inside of their very own, personal box. Ignoramuses are usually unaware of their ignorance, mostly citing a lack of knowledge or flat-out denying it. The worst part of acknowledging an ignoramus is that it can sometimes be a family member of friend.
2. The Conceited Person: The conceited person is totally oblivious to what’s going on around him/her. They are consumed with everything that can benefit them, first and foremost. A conceited person will always interrupt your story with a story of their own. Something semi-funny about conceited people is that sometimes, the most conceited, are the wackest. We sometimes get fooled into believing that a person that’s so sure of themselves must be on top of things–wrong. A conceited person can’t be trusted to be a good friend, because they don’t know how to look out for anyone’s interests but their own.
3. The Person With Delusions of Grandeur: This usually is the dude that drives the Honda Accord, but swears up and down he’ll be in a Bentley by the end of the week. The chick that looks only halfway decent, but figures she’ll be the next big thing in the modeling industry. People with delusions of grandeur oft end up in debt, in trouble with the law, or in trouble with people that they never wanted trouble with. The sad part: Because of their delusions, most fail to realize the severity of their mistakes, and continue to repeat them.
4. The Hater: ‘Nuff said.
5. The Loser: The loser is low on this list because it’s not always a person’s fault that they have to play a shitty hand. For some people, it’s the luck of the draw. Still, I must focus on those who do seemingly everything they can to ruin any chance they have of being successful. The loser can vary from the college student that decides to party knowing studying for an exam should be a higher priority, to a woman that uses her child support money to slightly pamper herself. The loser is clearly and obviously a loser; but so many around him/her are afraid to call it like it is. Possibly, for fear of hurting a relationship or jeopardizing certain gets and haves. The loser can also be someone that is, for all intents and purposes, a chick that sends “What you doing” text messages. No obvious need to acquire that information, but a meaningless desire nonetheless. This chick is a LOSER because she most likely proclaims that she doesn’t need a man, yet manages to act like Kathy Bates from Misery even when simply talking to one on a phone. These texts are a method of keeping tabs on a guy. While most guys simply respond, I choose to make my displeasure well-known.
These are 5 of the many types of people that I’m not a fan of. Please, don’t add yourself to the list. I’m out like Air Force Ones after 2006…