30 July 2008

Mark Jenkins art

Wordless Wednesday.

Some are strange, some are funny, some are disturbing, all art. I bring you some of this work, click the link to get at some more.

Mark Jenkins: Street Installations.

29 July 2008

Pop off, that's not my son or grandson

This is just not my week for normal encounters with live beings.

I was leaving the house with Kid Sis #2. As I left, I was carrying her baby so that she could start the engine and cool the car off a bit. There was a truck sitting out side with three men standing around the truck. I had invited one of the men into the house for his opinion on how I should be hanging the cabinet I want to install (he is a carpenter/contractor). So I made sure to make eye contact with him and say goodbye and thanks for his help.

In return, this same man had some words for me as I passed by him and his buddies on the way to the car.

"Is that your grandbaby?"

It was one of those moments where you have about a million thoughts in about 2 seconds:
  • Is he talking to me?
  • What the hell?!
  • You want me to pop off, Son?!
  • Is he drunk?
  • Do I look that old?!
  • Has he been doing crack or something?
  • Do I look like I could be Kid Sis #2's mother?
  • Is he for real?!
  • Should I go off on him, or just answer the question and move on?
  • What the hell?!
  • Is this him trying to make a move on me? Perhaps he thinks if I feel more mature I will be more apt to try and talk to his 60+ year old ass?
I chose to simply answer him and walk on to the car. I don't want to start my time in this neighborhood seemingly like a big beeatch.

I got into the car. Sat for a moment and started to laugh out loud. Kid Sis #2 had not heard this exchange so I explained it to her. After rehashing it, I started to think about how this man may have been thinking logically.

After all, there are many people who have babies in their really early teens. Then those kids have kids in their early teens. You could have four generations with the oldest member being only 45 years old. So even though I am not quite close to checking the 35-45 box yet, I could indeed technically be a grandmother.

Plus, this man does not know that had I tried to have a baby at that age, I would likely not be alive at this moment, or would have suffered some severe deformities at the hands of my parents. And if I had somehow managed to birth a child that young, if it grew and decided to even try to pretend to start practicing the act that makes babies, she too word have to face more than words.

The whole thing was ridiculous. Especially because I don't look old. At the track meet this weekend I cannot even count how many people thought I was about to compete in the 17-18 age group. I cannot tell you how many times I have been with students and had someone ask where the adult was only to have to reassure them that they shouldn't feel bad once they realized that the teacher/adult was me. The other day I had someone tell me that I should not even be near the alcohol section since I was clearly not old enough to be there. I told her that I could technically be her mother.

So I guess I'll just brush my shoulders off since, in his world, he was logical in his inquiring if my nephew was my grandbaby.

And I will thank goodness that I have yet to pop out a little shorty.

28 July 2008

It finally happened, and, yes, it was as bad as I expected

It has been a long time coming. I have consistently been able to avoid the inevitable, but my time finally came. I thought I had done well by escaping the birds in Omaha (more on the trip to possibly come later). There were birds constantly over head. I found out that there were four birds nests in the bathrooms (one in each of the entrances on the West side of the track). Each had little baby birds peeking their heads out. The picture is not as clear as I would have liked it, but you can see a bit of what I saw in the corners of the entrances to the restroom that I successfully avoided for five days while attending the track meet. And I don't even think I am severely dehydrated.

The birds flew overhead continuously. Constantly looking for scavenged food they could take to their rugrats. I even witnessed one of them drop a load on an umbrella that sat two rows in front of me in the bleachers. Fortunately it missed the person and just left its mark on the umbrella. I was really happy at that moment not only for the person being saved from the bird crap, but also because I figured the bird would not let it go in the same area again.

Today I got to go shopping for some things I need for that house. I was enjoying carrying Kid Sis #2's son in the little bundle as I walked out of Target. Even eating a Snickers Bar as I walked through the parking lot back to the car. As I reached to open the wrapper of the bar a bit more to take the next bite, I felt something hit my right shirt sleeve. I thought maybe the wind had blown a piece of the Snickers bar off the wrapper and it hit me.


It was shit.

From a bird.

What the hell?!

I looked over and it was just sitting there -- two pieces of bird dung. Absolutely disgusting. I looked up to find the bird wishing I had a BB gun or a sling shot or something to shoot down the swarm, but only found one lone bird flying way up high and already on its way somewhere West. It had been a beautiful day -- blue skies, no clouds, not too hot, nice.

In all my years of careful avoidance of large flocks or persistent fly overs from those mo-fos... I slip one time and this is what happens.

Of course Kid Sis #2 finds this absolutely hilarious since I just wrote about my hate for them and had the previous post on my hate for the changing seasons and how they bring forth more opportunities for a defecation attack. I let her laugh for a bit. But trust that for a slight moment I wanted to wipe the white goo on her chuckling face as she laughed at me.

Fortunately for her I was too disgusted to really move too quickly. She is also fortunate the bird didn't drop it three inches to the left and hit my cute little nephew with its waste.

Fortunately for the bird I can't fly cause we would have been banging. I don't care if it has a sharp beak to peck me with. I have nails and opposable thumbs.

Fox News, Nas, Colbert

Most people realize how crappy Fox News is as a source of unbiased, unracist, untainted news. Nas wrote a song about them -- "Sly Fox". He went on The Colbert Report to talk about the station, Bill O'Reilly, and the title of his newest album.

Hilarious, and informative.
Nas on Stephen Colbert:

24 July 2008

They're BAAAAaaaack

As I prepare for day two of the USATF National Championships (which went really well for us day one with us garnering a national championship in the 4x8 young women's division), I leave you with these thoughts:

1. The ride to Omaha was quite pretty, though the two hours from KC to here were the longest, straightest most full of corn I have experienced. Seriously, I only saw one other crop growing in all the fields that we past. I guess they are really trying to push the ethanol.

2. The track facility here at Burke High School is amazing. Nebraska really knows how to support athletics. I only have one complaint. Birds. For those of you who don't know about my disdain for the flying fowl, please read this post: fear of birds.

The ones here are really getting to me. When I am sitting on the West side of the track by the finish line, which is the preferred side, they are constantly flying overhead. They don't seem to care that we are all sitting there. They don't even seem to have any regard for our need to release all the fluids we intake in order to stay hydrated.


So I am forced to either not drink fluids, or to try and hold it all until we leave the meet for the hotel or for somewhere to eat or to get a diaper like that old NASA heifer. Though I am able to pry my eyes off the sky for our athletes, when we don't have an athlete on the track, I am constantly looking out for falling poop instead of watching all the races.

3. Deuces. Off to watch the prelims of the 200m dash.

Oh, and thanks to Christine for this link to the possible identity of the artist from yesterday's post of Bansky's art from Time Magazine: Bansky: an Artist Unmasked.

23 July 2008

Art of Dave Nitsche

Before I jump into the regular post, let me tell you a little bit about the strangest dream experience I have ever had. Lots of craziness which I won't go into leading up to me being at my new job where my first principal was also there. It really sucked and I kept trying to find all the cool people I worked along side from the last job. Finally found one person who I started crying to. Then I actually, really woke up with a ton of tears streaming down my face. Strange, weird, and scary way to wake up. Plus I hate the way my nose gets stuffy when I cry and it sucked to wake up to that feeling of not being able to breathe out of my nose.

On to Wordless Wednesday.

Beautiful, (at times) shocking, crisp.


By Dave Nitsche click image for a larger view.

21 July 2008

Sharing sites: war, contraception, fisa, the n-word

Today I bring you some sites I have looked at over the past few weeks that I just keep coming back to. Powerful, thought-provoking, typically unheard in the regular media.

First up a friend of mine is back blogging after about a year off. He came back with a post about Former Army Private First Class Joseph Dwyer who died this past June. Touching story, powerful words and charge given by Olly Olly Oxen Free over at Peace Between People.

Going into the political realm I give you Sin's Secret Corner who discusses the atrocity that is McCain's view on contraception. Sin doesn't talk about politics a lot, but felt compelled to share what McCain has said and not said about contraception -- birth control pills, Plan B pills, condoms, pregnancy, and STDs. Read Sin's Secret Corner's post.

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Wow. What can I really say about this document signed into existence a week or so ago. First, "in passing the FISA Amendments Act, Congress gave the executive branch the power to order Google, AT&T and Yahoo to forward to the government all e-mails, phone calls and text messages where one party to the conversation is thought to be overseas." What?! The ACLU is suing because they believe the orders violate the 4th amendment to the Constitution. Their complaint alleges

"The law challenged here supplies none of the safeguards that the Constitution demands. It permits the government to monitor the communications of U.S. Citizens and residents without identifying the people to be surveilled; without specifying the facilities, places, premises, or property to be monitored; without observing meaningful limitations on the retention, analysis, and dissemination of acquired information; without obtaining individualized warrants based on criminal or foreign intelligence probable cause; and, indeed, without even making prior administrative determinations that the targets of surveillance are foreign agents or connected in any way, however tenuously, to terrorism."

Last, but not least, the N-word. Why do people still use this word. Perhaps they don't really understand where it comes from or what it has meant to people in the past. The Renaissance Gallery got me hooked on this video by mjul on YouTube. Hopefully you watch the whole video. Hopefully, if you use the word, it helps you understand where it comes from and why it is seen as derogatory and not something you should call your friend.

Now off to see if there is any more news about this shooting and fire in Maplewood. I just hope it is not anyone I know involved or injured from this stuff right across from that 7-11 on Big Bend.

19 July 2008

My will and testament - though I just wanted to know the weather

I've been calling the local time and temp number more lately than usual due to coaching summer track. Sometimes its to check the weather before I head out so I know how to dress. Sometimes it is to find out a few days in advance if it is going to rain the day of a meet/practice. Sometimes it is during the meet because I am so hot and sweaty and gritty that I just have to know if that is going to be the day when I literally fuse to the bleachers or melt into the material of the track and meet my death.

Lately when I call it is not the ad for American Equity Mortgage with the guy with the super country voice telling me to call 839.99-99.

Instead there are different ads that start like this:
  • 80 people a year die from lightning strikes in the US...
  • Taking a weekend trip without the kids? Before you get in that car or on that plane...
  • Don so-and-so was struck by lighting twice. The second time was 27 years to the day after the first strike...
  • 70% of the people that die in thunderstorms are men. Ladies if it is raining outside and your man is not home...
Each ad ends with "You should stay safe inside and plan your estate online." Followed by the website address to the company.

I know that when you get married or when you have a child you are supposed to write a will, but this is some serious shock advertising. Especially when I just want to find out if there will be any respite from the heat.

It makes me want to write a will and I don't have many possessions to will to any one. I don't have a lot of money and I'm not like the idiots who didn't realize that their money was only insured up to 100,000 dollars American and had to rush to take it out. Two reasons I am different:
  1. I took government/economics freshman year of high school and Mr. H taught me well. I remember a lot of things from that class including information on the stock market, some various aspects of how the government works, and some random facts about some friends who signed up with me for that summer school class so we would have more room in our schedule for elective classes during the upcoming regular school year. I don't know why I remembered that monetary amount after all this time, perhaps because it was a goal to eventually have to divvy out my money into multiple banks because I would have multiple hundreds of thousands.
  2. I did not reach that goal. I don't have that kind of money. The digits that make up my savings account are quite measly right now.
But, even with my nothing, I feel I should rush to my lawyer boyfriend and have him work out a will for me. It will be a simple one.
  • My couch to Kid Sis #3 because I have already given one to #2.
  • My tv to Cassandra since she gave it to me in the first place.
  • PS2, DVDs (minus SATC, The Joy Luck Club, and Finding Nemo which would go to Sisters), video games, PC, printer, iPod, CDs to my man.
  • Apple computer and accessories to Kid Sis #1 and The Brother.
  • Books and backpacks to Kid Sis #2 for my nephew so he can be educated and worldly as well as some to various former students and colleagues.
  • Clothes to sisters first, whatever they don't want would go to my former students and some charities.
  • Pictures, sculptures, and artwork to the fam and the man.
  • Clarinet to whichever person I know who can pawn it for the most money.
  • And if there happen to be any Whole Fruit Popsicles in the freezer upon my death I will those to whichever family member or friend comes upon them first.
  • Money would go to pay for funeral expenses. Still not sure if I want to be cremated or not. Any left over (yeah right) would go toward paying off my current $270.99 in credit card debt and then on to some charity I would let my brother choose.
That's it.

Quite possibly one of the simplest wills ever.

Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

18 July 2008

Three months off? No, how about some Def Poetry instead

It is summer. I'm a teacher so that means three months vacation, right?

Not really. Three months of having to still work on curriculum, of figuring out what to teach in the fall, of looking out for supplies and books I want to use this school year, of still communicating with students I mentor (even though I am not going to be teaching at the same school - I still care about those kids and am here for them and all their issues: helping them get to college/transition to college; making sure they learn to save money and don't continue to spend all their money continuing to grow their collection of over 100 pairs of shoes, listening to relationship issues; helping them find jobs; writing letters of recommendation; helping them remember to use condoms and take care of their sexual health; helping them learn about life; being a shoulder to cry/complain/vent on).

It never ends. There is no true break.

Of course, my salary does not reflect all the work I do in the summer or throughout the regular school year.

Yet, I still do it. Because I can, because I love to help young people, because I like to believe I am good at what I do and what I share with the kiddos.

Some poetry for you all:

Taylor Mali "What Teachers Make"

Yellow Rage. Wow!

KRS-One with Doug E. Fresh. Recited this one with Travis at a school where I taught years ago. "Educate yourself make your world view bigger."

Up next, Gemini from Def Poetry. A poem called Penny For Your Thoughts. "72 eye lashes on the upper eyelid of your right eye" -- that is really something -- not sure if it is true love, or obsession, or insomnia.

16 July 2008

Nephew, paparazzi, and Bansky art

Trying my hands at a (semi-) Wordless Wednesday post.

First up my nephew, who has decided at almost three months that he is tired of the paparazzi.
Next up, some amazing graffiti from Bansky, a British artist who though famous for the drawings, has remained pretty unknown by the masses since he does not even let his true name be known for certain. Beautiful, amazing. (Heard of him through Village of Joy's blog.)

Click on an image for a bigger view.

You can see more at Bansky's site. Be sure to click next so you can see more. And also go through the all the different types of drawing style links on the far left side. Click here to get to Bansky's site.

14 July 2008

Who taught you to hate yourself?

Still on my color kick today.

This is decades old, yet still resonates. Especially with a lot of the drama going on in the media with comments/covers made about the Democratic presidential candidate.

No darker than he is??? WTF?!

Wrote this morning about the beauty of brown skin.

Just found this statement made by Young Berg (who I had never heard of until this point)

Please, please, please, click and listen to his statements about brown people I found on Young, Black, and Fabulous.

He does not want any woman who is darker than him. And makes some weird statements about what happens when you get into a pool.

Who is this guy? And what year is it again?

Brown Skin

I love the way my skin looks when it has been sun kissed.

The various shades of brown that I can produce boggles my mind.

The reddish gold undertones that somehow seem to glow when light hits it. I am not vain, but I can stare at my beautiful brown skin for a long time when it is summer time. I even love my tan lines.

Brown skin is so beautiful.

It truly hurts me to hear people still in this day and age talk about they won't go outside in the summer or when it is sunny for fear of getting darker. I cannot count on 1000 foot-long paper how many times I have had to have conversations with students and grown-ass people about why they feel brown skin should not be darkened. The internalized racism is alive and ticking. It is pathetic, and it is detrimental to the acceptance of the beauty that is within all of us.

There is just so much beauty in brown skin.

Only thing I don't like about getting darker is that regardless of how much time I spend in the sun, my feet still seem to remain light. I remember in high school someone saw just my feet under a table and was shocked to see the rest of the colors of my body.

At least I go through the foot thing with all my sisters and brother. We all have my father's fairer feet.

Check India Arie and John Legend.

Oh, and I am also not my hair. I missed my one year nappiversary, but am still loving my short hair. Over a year since the last relaxer, almost a year since the clippers came to my head. I went almost completely shaved a couple weeks ago and am loving it. It is weird how many people have complimented me on it saying how my head is the perfect shape for it, how not many people can pull it off like I can. I hope I can convince others to just go natural or cut it all off. If I can't, hopefully they just recognize the beauty that is them beyond what their hair looks like.

So much easier to manage, also. It's like this is how I was supposed to look all along. People I haven't seen in years and people I just meet say they can't even imagine me looking otherwise any more.

12 July 2008

Signs of a non-drug free city

There is something about this town that screams of drug use.

Perhaps it is the signs as you come closer to the town of Tulsa that read something along the lines of "Be careful of hitchhikers, they may be running from the law, or may be escaped inmates."

Or it could be the multiple anti-meth bill boards that are sporadically placed throughout the town.

Or it could be the woman who awaited us at our motel. She was scantily dressed in a scanky silver tank top and had the skin, jaw line, and teeth of a chronic meth user. She also was, at the time, escorting one man out of her room and a few minutes later welcoming what appeared to be her pimp into her room. After we showered and got ready to go to dinner, she had about 5 more "gentle" men in the room and at the doorway.

Or maybe it was the woman we saw on the way to the track who was on the sidewalk accompanied by two police officers, her tall bottle of vodka, and the "meth look".

Or maybe it was the waiter we had at dinner. He had the trademark sunken cheeks and was missing ALL of his front teeth. Toward the end of our long dinner, two elderly people came in and waved him down. I have never in my life seen a woman look as pale white as her -- and I have seen some WHITE people. Not only was she really white, but she had a couple gold front teeth, and the super sunken cheeks. By the way she greeted our waiter, I figured that she must be either his mother who introduced him to the product, or possibly his former piano teacher who rewarded him for his perfect recital with some perfect shots of that perfectly deadly drug. He was super friendly and despite a few times where after saying what we wanted he immediately forgot, and despite him being gone for his "smoke break", and despite the so obvious hicky/rope burn marks on his lower neck, he was really good. Probably some of the best service I have received at that chain. Garnered him almost an 80% tip. Yes, he was that good. Plus I felt that maybe, just maybe, by treating him well and praising him for the good work he was doing (verbally and monetarily) maybe he would turn a new leaf.


Or maybe it was the the three boys who repeatedly popped in and out of the restaurant. They would alternate between skateboarding outside on the sidewalk, walking in and going over to talk with someone at the bar, and walking to the hostess stand and strongly sniffing the various colored markers that were left on the stand. Since it was really late, the hostesses were not at the station so they got some serious sniffage each time.

Two more days of this environment as we handle ours at this track meet.

Hopefully this is all a good lesson for the kiddos about why they should not use hard drugs.

09 July 2008

Killer pain, killer rifts

I have experienced few things worse than the back spasm I am enduring now. From just below my scapula all the way down to the hip bones. Hurts to stay in any position too long. Last night it was so bad that I wished for massive amounts of drugs. Unfortunately at the current time I have no insurance, so the thought of acquiring some (at least legally) had to pass just as the idea of sleep had to be let go. Instead I was awake. I continued reading What is the What? I played around on the internet. I tried to eat. I started to pack for the big move. I watched season three of Weeds. I tried to figure out what color to paint the kitchen of the house. All while taking breaks every 20 minutes or so to try and stretch my back and to lay down. I felt like the guy who was on Clean House's Messiest Home in America 2. Not because I am a slob -- because of the back issues.

Today I have been trying to deal with the pain. Trying to run the errands that need to be run, watch episodes from season four, and catch up on sleep, and move as slowly and as gracefully as possible so as not to agitate this here back.

Wednesday on many radio stations is Way Back Wednesday. Now it seems that some of the songs they consider way back aren't that old -- or maybe I am just getting that old, who knows.

Anyway my way back hit of the day is Prince's "Diamonds and Pearls". I tried to find a video I could embed, but I guess he has blocked the sound from the videos that are on YouTube. You can see it on this person's site, though.

There is just something about him that is so wonderful to me. Even as a small child I was amazed by him. What an amazing artist.

I wouldn't even need him to give me diamonds or pearls. I'm not materialistic. I wouldn't need him to do anything sexual to me. I just want (a little) of his extra time. I just want for him to serenade me with his falsetto, followed by talking to me with that deep voice that doesn't match his body. I want to be able to look at him dance in his cool/interesting wardrobe. I wish for him to play some awesome, awesome guitar rifts for me. I wouldn't even bring up Purple Rain or the assless pants.

I just want to be blessed with his presence.

Just let me look at him for a bit.

I would even move to Minnesota for the chance to hang with him and see him in a studio. I wouldn't even be mad at him for not performing his songs in his old manner at the last concert I saw him at. It doesn't matter that I wanted to see him grind with his guitar. I can't be mad at him for finding religion.

If I can't get Prince, then let me at least get Dave Chappelle and Charlie Murphy doing their impression of him. That was hilarious. Almost as funny as the Rick James bits.

Humor makes the pain fade into the background -- until a huge guffaw is released.

Can someone tell me what happened to Lauryn Hill? I've been bumping some of her old Fugees stuff (and solo stuff) and really wish she was still around.

Just a sampling:

08 July 2008

Planning G-Dubb's future presidential library and pet owners of America

Since 01.20.09 is fast approaching, people are already starting to think about the presidential library that will be made for G-Dubb.

The Worse Blog writer posted a list of things that will be included in the library. Hilarious. You may have gotten this in your email as well. It seems to be going around.

A couple examples from the list:
5. The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don’t let you out.
7. The Iraq War Room. After you complete your first tour, they make you go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth tour.

In other presidential news, this morning I woke to a headline on Yahoo's homepage: "Obama leads McCain among people who don't own pets". Couldn't even bring myself to read or even skim the article.

Is there really that little news going on in the world that they have time to find out that kind of information?

Apparently, the G-8, the environment, the issues with Zimbabwe's election, the US economy, the deaths in the Middle East, the actual real issues with this US election, the drama with China and the Olympics, the Olympic qualifiers, and the fact that I have been experiencing the craziest dreams for at least 4 nights, as though I was on Larium, are all less important than the voting habits of people who own pets.

07 July 2008

It's not just in Kansas anymore, Dorothy

What is really going on with people in this country? Is it really that ridiculous a notion for people not to be racist pricks? Is it really that impossible to raise children who are not blatantly racist in their actions?

I'm not saying that I would prefer a nation full of covert racists (which is what a lot of people are), but this is just plain crazy.

These are teenagers and young adults who are just plain crazy. You can read the full story of these people in Kansas who tied up and taunted an African American student through this link. The incident took place about a year ago, but the case is just winding down now. Here are some excerpts from the story.

In their pleas, Endsley and Clark admitted that by their actions and their words they sought to drive J.L., an African-American juvenile, from the community of Waterville and Blue Rapids, Kan., because of his race...

According to the plea agreement, on May 19, 2007, Endsley and his parents hosted a large high school graduation party at their residence in Waterville, Kan., which is part of the Waterville/Blue Rapids community. Most of the people at the party, including the defendants and the victim, consumed alcohol.
About 2 a.m., the defendants found J.L. asleep on the ground and put him in a lawn chair.
Endsley said that he was going to "tie the n****r up." While the victim was tied, the defendants directed racial slurs at him and urinated on him. They used a can of spray paint to paint the victim's arms and legs white. They told the victim he should "go back home" and go back where he came from before he moved to the Waterville and Blue Rapids area.
I've written about racial injustices and racial hatred before here, here, here, here, here, but it seems that these issues never end and there is no limit to the locations of what I will call the criminals.

Some have tried to defend these boys by saying that the victim was acting drunk and belligerent and that he is lucky he didn't get his ass beat.

Ummm... even if a person is acting an ass, that is not an excuse to dehumanize him, to humiliate him, and to just treat him worse than an animal.

Oh, and think about and recognize the Norfolk 17. If you don't know -- read and learn. Things have changed.


05 July 2008

Snoop - getting his country medicine

I'm not a fan of a whole lot of country music. I never have understood how every country singer has a southern accent -- even Shania Twain who came from Canada rocks a country accent when she sings. Why can't they sing to the music without that twang?

I remember sitting in the training room before or after track practice waiting to get treatment back in college. That was when I first came to hear some decent country music. Some that wasn't all depressing, or super twangy, or just plain cheesy. It still wasn't what I would want to hear on my free time, but I came to appreciate some of the music.

And I have to appreciate a man of Snoop's status for going out and making a country song. It is probably just a ploy to work with (and get high with) Willie Nelson -- after all, the song is about going to "buy [his] medicine". But I can't hate him for that.

Again, it's not something I would listen to at home on my own, but I have to give Snoop props for doing something different. It doesn't even make me respect him less (that honor goes to almost all the stuff he has done since Doggystyle).

What do you think of this?

04 July 2008

The Onion kills me

Also check out the other video links. The How to Pretend You Give A Shit About the Election, the McCain, and the Supreme Court Rules the Death Penalty is Badass bits are funny, too.

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency

The 4th of July is yours, not mine

Since I was a kid and started reading about the history of this country (on my own of course, since the schools didn't teach the truth -- just the apple pies, George Washington, Lincoln BS) I have not really been down with celebrating July 4 as any sort of independence day.

There are too many groups in this nation that are not free, too many people who continue to struggle due to the incredible injustices perpetuated by the government (national, local, and state).

I love these words by Langston Hughes and Frederick Douglass.

Douglass' words can STILL apply to basically any minority group in this nation (not just ethnic minorities, either -- sexual, economic (though the poor are the majority), displaced, etc). This comes from a speech he gave 5 July 1852. It was an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
"This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn." And he asked them, "Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?"
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.
Two pieces from Langston Hughes, the first from 1938:
Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be. Let it be the pioneer on the plain Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed-- Let it be that great strong land of love Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, But opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There's never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars. I am the red man driven from the land, I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek-- And finding only the same old stupid plan Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope, Tangled in that ancient endless chain Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land! Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need! Of work the men! Of take the pay! Of owning everything for one's own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil. I am the worker sold to the machine. I am the Negro, servant to you all. I am the people, humble, hungry, mean-- Hungry yet today despite the dream. Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers! I am the man who never got ahead, The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream In the Old World while still a serf of kings, Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true, That even yet its mighty daring sings In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned That's made America the land it has become. O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas In search of what I meant to be my home-- For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore, And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea, And torn from Black Africa's strand I came To build a "homeland of the free."
The free?
Who said the free? Not me? Surely not me? The millions on relief today? The millions shot down when we strike? The millions who have nothing for our pay? For all the dreams we've dreamed And all the songs we've sung And all the hopes we've held And all the flags we've hung, The millions who have nothing for our pay-- Except the dream that's almost dead today.
O, let America be America again-- The land that never has been yet-- And yet must be--the land where every man is free. The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME-- Who made America, Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain, Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain, Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose-- The steel of freedom does not stain. From those who live like leeches on the people's lives, We must take back our land again, America!
O, yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath-- America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death, The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies, We, the people, must redeem The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers. The mountains and the endless plain-- All, all the stretch of these great green states-- And make America again!
This poem was written by Hughes in 1925:
I, Too, Sing America

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed --

I, too, am America.
Be careful with the fireworks and explosive devises -- don't blow your hands off. Have a sober driver. Don't eat so much that you have to undo the button on your pants.

Be safe.

Try to think about what this day really means for all the people in this nation.

Remember that everyone is not free.

I leave you with possibly the most awesome version of this country's anthem EVER! Along with another great little song after the anthem. I love the commentary in the beginning and the end.

03 July 2008

Internet hopping

Random sites I have been looking at and being entertained/educated by:
A few sites Stuff Black People Hate linked to (see his link in my blogroll):

Even Niecy has never seen such foolishness

If you have never seen the show Clean House, this is the time to start watching. They just showed the Messiest House in America. I saw Niecy actually begin to get angry. I thought she was going to get hood on them. I thought she was ready to grab the man's cane and smack the husband.

I am speechless. I am not sure whether to laugh or to cry or to just drive where ever these two people are and smack them in the head about 16 times or force some Pine Sol into their hands along with a sponge.

This house was beyond clutter, beyond dirty. A sample picture is here (I believe this was the kitchen, but you can also see a slide show here of their house -- before and after.

These people had no inch of space that was not full of clutter. There were rotten eggs, supremely dirty dishes, boxes, some kind of fly collecting contraption, animal hair, and just more dirt and grime than I can imagine or describe. The walls were full of grime, the door borders -- gross. Even their toilet was atrocious. Atrocious. I have never seen anything like it.

And the woman had the nerve to say that she wants to bring a kid into the house. That really got me laughing out loud. If she even thought about adopting a child I would hope that child services would laugh in her face and tell her to move on to another vision.

The fact that they have the messiest home in the country competition is disturbing, but not as much as this show and this particular home.

You've got to watch this show. Style Channel - be warned if you have a light stomach.

01 July 2008

The death toll is not down - it is ever increasing

I know that some people say that they were never good at math, but help me understand the math in this (and many other) articles.

Throughout this "war on terrah" we have been fed statistics on the death toll of the civilians in the region as well as of the soldiers from this country and other countries that have sent troops to "help out".

This morning I was driving in the car listening to NPR (I am often a nerd -- plus, without a CD player NPR is WAY better than almost every song on the radio). I heard this story read during the news update:

U.S. Troop Deaths Up In June, Civilian Deaths Drop

The number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq rose in June, but the civilian death toll fell slightly, reports showed.
The statistics come at a time when the U.S. military is close to completing a drawdown of more than 20,000 combat troops sent to Iraq in early 2007 to control sectarian violence.
U.S. troop deaths in Iraq rose to 29 in June from 19 in May, according to the independent Web site icasualties.org, which tracks American casualty figures. The May number was the lowest since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. In June 2007, 101 U.S. troops were killed.
Iraq's Health Ministry released statistics showing that 448 civilians were killed in violence in June, down from 505 the month before.
That's despite several deadly attacks, including a truck bomb that killed 63 people in Baghdad on June 17. Several recent high-profile attacks have targeted local council meetings where Americans were present.
Despite the overall drop in violence, U.S. officials warn that the country is still vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
Civilian Deaths Drop.

Civilian death toll fell slightly.

The title and the information on the civilian deaths is what gets me. How can civilian deaths truly be down if more people are constantly and consistently dying? Yes, there were less civilians killed in June than in May, but there were still deaths.

And 440+ killed is not an improvement. That's more people than in the whole school where I used to teach (including teachers and faculty).

Until the killing stops and there are more people being born in the region than dying (of, hopefully one day, natural or typical causes instead of mortars and bullets and bombs) there is no improvement in the conditions over there.