Land of the Free… Home of the silent.

The early settlers came to “America” out of the need to escape Puritan England in order to gain freedom (religious), and even recently has always boasted that its citizens are awarded many freedoms, one being freedom of speech. What many have forgotten is just as with the freedom sail from England, our present day freedoms come at a price.

mendenhall
Rashard Mendenhall, a running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers is finding that out the hard way now. For those who don’t know Mendenhall has caught MAJOR flack for expressing a right that many of us take for granted; FREEDOM of SPEECH. While I understand there still are things that cannot be protected under this right (like yelling fire in a crowded room, public defamation of the President of the country and a couple of others) what Mendenhall said should have easily fallen under that protection. Below is a copy of the is the copy the statement made by Mendenhall on his personal twitter account

“What kind of person celebrating death? It’s amazing how people can hate a man whom they had never heard speak. We have only heard one side.”
“We’ll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style.”

celebration of death (were reactions like this really necessary… NO)

What many people failed to do, was break the comments down into two separate parts (they were tweeted as such.) The first part in which he questions people who celebrate death is spot on… It’s ironic that a country that was established on Christian beliefs would be so contradictory of said beliefs. Matthew 22:39 states that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. No where in the verse is there a conditional clause, saying if he does this you don’t have to and your neighor extends to other countries. While we (myself included) take great issue with what Osama Bin Ladin did, he still was a human in which God commanded us to love. I personally take issue with how the country celebrates a vigilante murder, evil or not, this man was not given the opportunity to stand trial. Now there may be some who feel that due to the fact of his actions he didn’t deserve a trial, well that’s strictly opinion based. But in this country even Charles Manson and Ted Bundy, who were viewed as heinous, were given the right to have a trial, and I am willing to bet the family of their victims would have loved to get swift justice for their lost loved ones. It seems as if America is good for having rules but being able to amend them based on need, and wasnt this the SAME man who allegedly had ties to the CIA back in the 80s (for the truth, you sometimes have to go outside of US media outlets)

In the second part of the tweet in which he brings questioning to the true source of destruction during September 11th bombings, while it is very hard to prove that, he has not been the only person that has questioned the truth in this story. I will just say that the incident was so unfortunate and I pray that there was no involvement by our own government.

After reading the tweets I expected uber-patriotic Americans to voice their displeasure of the comments made by Mendenhall. What I did not expect to hear were news reports in which team president Art Rooney II from the Pittsburgh Steelers (the team which he plays for) say this

“I have not spoken with Rashard so it is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments,” Rooney said. “The entire Steelers’ organization is very proud of the job our military personnel have done and we can only hope this leads to our troops coming home soon.”

So in the quote he says that he hadn’t talked to Rashad, which he can’t due to the NFL lockout, so why would he go as far to think that he was taking issue with the job that the military had done in regards to this situation (if he truly knew his player he would know that Mendenhall spent time at a football camp in Germany with US troops.) But it goes to show how “speak first, then think later our society is.” Ironically the most important part of the comment that isn’t related to the story is that he hopes it leads our troops home soon, and that is right there is the BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION many americans have. They think now that the big bad wolf is dead, little red riding hood can come home. If you pay attention to American government they have been giving us MANY excuses as to why our Armed Servicemen are overseas;
weapons of mass destruction none there, Saddam Hussein handled him, Osama Bin Ladin- killed him. I wonder what the next threat to american safety will be to keep our troops away from home, because unless there is a significant amount of troops sent home before the holidays, I call BULLSHIT on the american government.

But back to the subject so now we see that Mendenhall doesn’t have the support of his employer we also find out a company who he was paid to endorse, Champion Sports Apparel has now “fired” him. Here is the press release made by a spokesperson for champion

“Champion is a strong supporter of the government’s efforts to fight terrorism and is very appreciative of the dedication and commitment of the U.S. Armed Forces. Earlier this week, Rashard Mendenhall(notes), who endorses Champion products, expressed personal comments and opinions regarding Osama bin Laden and the September 11 terrorist attacks that were inconsistent with the values of the Champion brand and with which we strongly disagreed. In light of these comments, Champion was obliged to conduct a business assessment to determine whether Mr. Mendenhall could continue to effectively communicate on behalf of and represent Champion with consumers. While we respect Mr. Mendenhall’s right to express sincere thoughts regarding potentially controversial topics, we no longer believe that Mr. Mendenhall can appropriately represent Champion and we have notified Mr. Mendenhall that we are ending our business relationship. Champion has appreciated its association with Mr. Mendenhall during his early professional football career and found him to be a dedicated and conscientious young athlete. We sincerely wish him all the best.”

So essentially what I got from the release is that:
1. Champion blindly supports the actions of the US government right or wrong
2. Anyone who questions the actions of the government is unpatriotic
3. Forget a contract, we can do what we want (I wonder if there was a character clause in his contract that forbade him to have any counter-governmental outburst… probably not)

Truthfully when was the last time Champion was relevant as an apparel company when it comes to athletes marketing, so in the grand scheme of things they became relevant for 2.5 seconds only to go back into the sea of forgotten after the next Nike or Under Armor commercial airs.

While I think Mendenhall bounces back, like all things in the american media, it will take time to blow over (or bigger news story.) He has even gone as far as to blog a clarification statement in which he breaks down what he truly was trying to convey (only having 160 characters can get you in trouble if someone misinterprets your tweet) And while I always thought he was a good football player, he has earned more respect from me as a man because; he felt a certain kind a way about something, spoke on it, saw the error in how it was conveyed, brought clarity to what he said, but never backed down from his stance. How you feel may not always be received nicely but if that’s how you feel MAN UP and stand by your statement… This is the type of athlete that should be endeared not vilified.

But this whole situation speaks of a bigger social issue… are we essentially telling people and specifically the youth that your beliefs views and ideas are insignificant, subject to scrutiny, and could get you fired if they are contrary to that of popular belief. We already have athletes who refuse to stand up for social/civil/spiritual injustices out of fear of losing their cash cow, but now they can’t even voice their opinions on social networking websites. There are many who are against athletes/entertainers being on twitter and many collegiate coaches have gone as far as banning it for their players due to some of the foolishness being said, but I do believe under the right context, twitter can be a positive outlet that endears fans to an athlete. Case in point Jalen Rose is establishing a charter school in my hometown of Detroit and he took to twitter to spread awareness of the opportunity for the youth of Detroit to enroll.

What I suggest is that EVERYONE even us common folk before you hit that send button on your respective twitter app think of the potential ramifications of having your words hit cyberspace, because while John Doe may not lose millions due to an inappropriate tweet, he could lose something more important to him like his job/wife/friends…

Even in writing this, I know I am subjecting myself to scrutiny, judgement and hate, but I DONT CARE… I am tired of people abiding by the status quo because its safe or easy. It is time for someone to shake the masses so why not me… I’ll be the blog Bad Guy, but know this if you have made it this far in reading, i know I have challenged you to rethink some things in life and if so, my job is done.

-God Bless

Duke Basketball vs Black America

duke target
In the world of sports there are generally teams that are disliked or even hated simply for the fact that they are successful; The Dallas Cowboys in the NFL, the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA, the New York Yankees in professional baseball and in college basketball of recent years it has been the Duke Blue Devils…

Generally there is no in between either you love them or you dispise them… Seeing the Lions, Pistons, and Tigers beat the “hated” team in their respective sport always brought me joy. I still will always remember the 1991 season for the Lions because their only playoff win of my ere as a fan came against the more popular and favorited Cowboys team. The 2004 NBA championship for the Pistons was so much more sweeter because they were able to obtain it by beating the Lakers who many felt were the superior team. Also in 2006 to see the Tigers beat the Yankees to get back to the World Series was wonderful.
Growing up a HUGE U-M fan I usually disliked any team that gave them trouble in sports. For football it was always Ohio State and Notre Dame, and in basketball it was Duke. I can go back to my gradeschool days of watching U-M play Duke and truly hating them because it always seemed that U-M could never get past them. The 1992 season was especially frustrating because not only did U-M lose in teh regular season but they also fell to the Blue Devils in the National Championship Game. After that season I became one of the biggest Duke haters their were… there were some successes like the 2008-09 season where a young scrappy U-M team was able to beat a more talented Duke squad, but often times Duke came out on top.


Recently there was a great documentary done by ESPN on the Fab Five. And in one segment each of the players who participated gave their input on how they felt about the Duke basketball team during that infamous 1992 season. Each player had no qualms expressing their dislike and almost hatred that they had for the team at the time going as far as saying disparaging things about specific players like Bobby Hurly, Christian Laettner and more specifically Grant Hill. In talking to Jalen Rose, who grew up in innercity Detroit who was raised by a single mom and had no relationship with his son until on his deathbed, he was very candid about his issues with the type of player Duke recruited. Paraphrasing, he felt that Duke would never recruit a black athlete like him and only went after players who he described as Uncle Toms. He then went on to specifically call out Grant Hill who grew up in an affluent educated two parent home, and you could tell that even though he was reflecting on his thoughts as an 18 year old young man those thoughts still lingered in him even today.
While I do feel that his comments were VERY misguided, unfortunately they are the thoughts of many inner city blacks who ignorantly equate education/success/desire to do and be better with being an Uncle Tom. I feel that Jalen incorrectly targeted the players and would have had a greater argument being critical of the coaching staff who recruited these players. As a distant fan, I always felt that Duke and specifically Coach K, recruited a certain type of black basketball player to play at Duke. The majority of black players fit into that “safe negro” category, whether it was Trajan Langon (whose father was an Anthropology professor at the University of Alaska-Anchorage) or even super freshman Kyrie Irving (who was born in Australia while his father played professional basketball.) Even when it came to recruiting in the state of MI the three players I remember them recruiting the hardest were Chris Webber, Shane Battier, and Mike Chappelle. All three players upbringings were similar: two family household middle class, higher regarded educational background

There is only one player that comes to mind who didnt fit that typical mode of black recruit and that was Elton Brand. Brand was from Peekskill in upstate New York and grew up in a single parent household and had an upbringing that was very different from many of the black players that had previously played under Coach K . There are various accounts in which Brand speaks of not being comfortable at Duke and upon leaving after his sophomore year, experienced backlash from fans because he was the first player to ever early-declare for the NBA Draft under Coach K. A female co-ed went as far as to send him a very disrespectful email about tarnishing the Duke name in which Brand took the high road and responded in a sarcastic yet professional manner
letter from a duke “fan”
Now is it wrong for Coach K to recruit only a certain type of player, alot of people will say no. Programs all over the country do it, and generally base it systimatically (coaches look for players that can run the weave, fast break, 3-point offense) but rarely has it had as great of a socio-economic undertone as playing at Duke has. I guess what he is doing is no different than what Eastern Michigan football coach Ron English said he wanted to establish with his struggling football program, recruiting a specific type of player; one that comes from a two parent household. STORY He later adjusted the statements stating that he knew it was an unattainable due to today’s society make-up. I did see where he was going and agreed with a lot of it, too bad he wasnt allowed to stand by what he said due to pressure from the university and the court of public opinion. (IMO)
Two MAJOR differences in the comparisons is that 1) Duke wins Eastern Michigan footabll hasnt in 15+ years and 2) Coach K never publicly stated that he is purposely being selective in recruitment.

Now I know there are some that are reading and may say “well Duke is a prestigious intitution and the admissions process and standards may too high for inner city recruits.” And to that I ask is the University of Michigan not one of the most prestigious academic insititutions in America, some even consider it part of the “Ivy League of the midwest” along with Northwestern U? And even with its high academic standards, football and basketball coaches have always recruited the inner city well, a la Jalen Rose (who later one stated felt that because of his elevated social status, that his kids would be the type that Duke recruited.)

At the end of the day there is this great cultural dilemma in the black community; should we expect Coach K to deviate from his own established and very successful (I will not deny his ability to win games) process of recruiting black athletes just so he can have a couple inner city hardship cases on his resume or should we accept the fact it could all be just a demographic coincidence and he is entitled to recruit who he wants long as he stays within the scope of NCAA rules and regulations in doing so.

Just as in life, sports will never be able to fully escape the racial and cultural undertones, so it may just be up to those who watch, support and play them, to perhaps change how we see things.
To many the ONLY color that matters in college hoops is the orange of the ball, the jersey of the last team standing in April and the green of the dollars being made off the backs of these “amateur” atheletes, oops did i say that…

UPDATE:
I can add another notch to the “I hate Duke” meter with them eliminating my beloved Wolverines in this years NCAA tournament, it was a hardfought game and the team showed alot of heart to be so young… NEXT TIME DOOKIES… NEXT TIME…

CIAA 2011 Recap

For those who don’t know the CIAA is a HBCU conference composed of schools in NC/VA/MD/PA and at the end of their mens & womens basketball season there is a Conference Tournament that decides who goes onto the Division II tournament. There are various events that coincide with the playing of the games. From concerts, to job fairs to parties (which is why so many people come into town). The tournament originally was based in Virginia for a long period of time but transitioned to Raleigh NC (that was where I first attended in 2005) and in 2006 transitioned to the city of Charlotte where it will be until 2014…

In past years I had the pleasure of covering the games as an on floor photographer and also going to a couple of the non-party related events (steve Harvey show, the fan experience) this year due to scheduling I focused on just the social aspect of the CI (as many call it)

and all I can say is that it was the truest essence of the GOOD BAD AND UGLY….

Good:

the one thing of the CIAA I truly love seeing are the older couples 50+ who still come into town and support their respective colleges by going to the games and some of the mature alumni events. On my way to a day party Friday I saw three separate couples around my grandparents age walking to Time Warner Arena to watch game. Also Saturday during the CIAA Championship Brunch sponsored by the charlotte alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, I had the pleasure of interacting with a lot of 40+ crowd and just to overhear the stories of how long they had been coming to the CIAA and participating in events similar to ours was great…

I also think this year was the year of the Cougar. I saw so many woman between the ages of 35-45+ that were on top of their games. They were appropriately dressed handled themselves in a great way and just looked good. I know a couple of my boys went to events (mainly the AKA Pink Groove event) where they dominated the scene even over some of their younger sorors. They also are not afraid to get out there and enjoy themselves on the dancefloor. Bernadette Standis (Thelma from Good Times) was at the Saturday Night Party I covered for Six Figure Entertainment, and for someone who is 58 not only did she still look good but she was not afraid to get out on the floor and dance…
Yes there were and have always been men who come out in that same age range but being a guy I don’t pay that much attention to them. One of the hostesses at a party I was shooting said that a “sugar daddy” she met two years ago still calls her every CIAA to see what she has up.

Also this year at all the events I covered people, for the most part, were willing to take photos. Usually you find someone who is standoffish by the camera or being on the internet… It’s still hilarious to see the few people who don’t wanna be photo’d how they run to the other side of the room, uh ma’am I know what I am doing I can crop the photo to where you aren’t seen.

Shout out to all the Promoters; IV Horseman Entertainment, Six Figure Entertainment, Kappas of Charlotte whose events I covered from my vantige point all were successes, no issues or problems. The DJs were great and people looked to be enjoying themselves. Also talking to people who attended other parties they really enjoyed themselves once they got to a party

BAD:
Traffic: That’s all I kept hearing about on twitter, how traffic was so bad and things were gridlocked downtown in the epi-center. You see I said others, after finally figuring out how to maneuver through the city and being fortunate that the parties I covered friday and saturday night were on the outer part of downtown, I was able to circumvent most of it. The combination of charlotte’s funny structure of downtown (one way streets and traffic lights) in addition to people holding up traffic trying to see and be seen (the candy-painted rides were out again… the Coors, yes coors light beer, Cutlass and the lime green Charger were the highlights.

Hurt feet: That’s all I kept hearing from women “oh my feet hurt” Its funny what you women will subject yourself to for the sake of beauty. Even as a man I will say there were some shoes that were nice looking but was it worth it (and i can hear all my lady readers yell YES) By the end of the night with many of women i saw those shoes were in hand or they had the wobble legs… Ladies in the future what you may want to do is carry one of those knapsack backpacks with a pair of flip-flops/flats check it into coat check and at the end of the night switch into those, because walking the street (because for a lot of people it was a major hike due to lack of close parking) barefoot is not safe nor is it sexy… Speaking of coat check, next year ladies PLEASE make that your BFF. For those who have come to CIAA the past 3 years, we know the weather has not been at its best and we know you are determined to still wear your “get-em girl outfit” so when you buy the dress find a nice jacket/shall that you can put over it and check it… Nothing is worse than leaving out the club after sweating and having to shiver your way back to your car, its bad enough your feet will hurt don’t compound it with pneumonia of the breast because you had to be cute…

VIP: I heard so many people had issues with venues VIP set up, they paid an extra amount for admission but really didn’t get much with it. Next year do your research and find out what you get with that before you pay $80 for a party just to standing in a crowded room with other people away from the party. I will give my boy Kirk Brown from Six Figure Entertainment credit, Saturday night Good Times event, not only did you get a separate DJ, you got a full course meal (pasta/roast/3 types of chicken/veggie tray/cupcakes) but you also got an OPEN BAR… how many promoters are willing to do that… well keep them in mind for CIAA 2012… Everyone I talked to enjoyed themselves and it was as if it was a separate party.

Weather: I joked early saturday that the weatherman lied because they were calling for rain Friday but it never showed. I guess the joke was on me because it rained and poured most of saturday… I did notice that unlike with most social weekends in Charlotte people were not afraid to still come out. I did talk to a couple of people who said the malls were on jam during the afternoon and a couple were reminiscent of freaknik (not much clothing a lot of loitering) I guess God knew if the day was clear the people wouldn’t know how to act so it rained enough during the day to keep those without plans from downtown, cleared up to allow people to get to their respective parties that night and then started pouring again around 2am, I guess to tell people GO HOME…

UGLY

Dress: Dont wanna be sexist but most men keep their attire for these types of events simple: either you have the sweater/sports coat or Graphic T look which is pretty simple you can’t mess that up, but LADIES LADIES LADIES a lot of the stuff I saw this week, some of you don’t have friends who care about you… A lot of you went for the “whatever looks the craziest” look. I saw some color combinations that should be outlawed. Yes I understand many of you are trying to be fashion forward but its 2011 not 2035 some looks should be left to the video chick because they can take it off and leave it with the stylist.

The Leggins/designer tights look is a gift and a curse… while I saw a couple of women correctly pull them off and made me do a double take, I saw too many that didn’t. I even saw a grandma (50+s) out there trying to rock them… Ma’am not to be rude but leggings should NOT sag in your backside, give them back to your granddaughter.
Make sure the outfit you wear to the party is size appropriate you should not spend the entire night pulling it down on your legs or pulling it up in your breast area… It’s funny how chicks will walk around the party the entire night with the top part of their dress hanging low then when I take the picture get all critical and fuss at me. Or this is the funny one, girls take the photo look at it and then say “I look fat”, uh boo you knew that when you bought the outfit, tried it on at home, packed it, and put it on in the room but you didn’t care so why get all conscious now… I guess because the world will see the chunkiness that your girls were too shady to tell you about before. And if your girl is pregnant (well with a stomach like that I HOPE she was) either leave her home or tell her wearing a white skin-tight shirt is NOT the business

Speaking about home girls and the people you hang with… Ladies if they leave you in front of a restaurant incoherent throwing up THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS… if you are a friend of someone in this state at least take them back to the car, don’t leave them out in the public to be clowned or even worse taken advantage of by thirsty men. And if she is that gone you may have to take an L on your fun to help her out, IF she is truly your friend.

And speaking of that it leads to my last and perhaps my BIGGEST peeve of the weekend. It’s what I will call CIAA Wasted. Its bad when guys get sloppy drunk and barely know whats going on but its a damn shame when women get to that level. Know your limits… If you are regularly a one glass of wine drinker what sense does it make to come to CIAA and have 3 drinks before leaving your hotel room then get to the party and have 3 more drinks… I do know some women who can drink men under the table but that was an acquired skillset. Not to mention by Saturday night your body is probably so dehydrated from all the alcohol consumed Thursday night Friday day and Friday night. You probably have had no water and werent eating right if at all… Pointblank ladies especially if you are over 25 that ish is not cute, and truthfully what is the purpose of drinking that much?
These women irk me because as a photographer I have to personally deal with them, a guy in the party can just ignore you, but it seems like the more drunk women get the more they want to take pictures and become touchy feely. I wanted to mush at least 10 women in their face, over the course of this weekend because they; invaded my personal space their breath was horrid and they were just acting horribly. You don’t have to touch me for me to take a photo of you, and yes you do look drunk in the photo BECAUSE YOU ARE

Overall it was a decent CIAA and considering my move, this will be my last CIAA… people ask would I come back to shoot, probably not. It’s not financially worth it considering all the stress/tired moments. My body is just now recovering and I had to take today off to allow for that.

For those who want to see what I saw through my lens goto Crush Charlotte

CIAA Blog: Wednesday Part I

A couple of years back I played with the idea of doing a blog during the CIAA for all the events I covered but it never came to pass so this year I really took the proper steps to do and follow through with the blog idea…

My first stop tonight was to Velocity Shoe Boutique for the 9th wonder in store appearance…
As usual my boy Dj Dexter Dynamite showing love… While it’s a thick crowd not as interactive as last year. I think part of it is cuz 9th wonder dj’ing from the red bull monster truck so its split the crowd. More of the hip hop heads outside. Being that its a sneaker boutique I’m always checking the kicks of everyone in here, there were a Couple of foamposits and a couple of jordans (including my red/black 11s) but I was still looking for that ill pair of kicks. When I find them *click*… Found them… (Insert pic) I have always been a fan of creative recs (got 3 pair myself) the colorway is simple yet effective.

The new trend is the wood “bling” plenty of woodville apparel in the building. Been debating about copping a crush one just for promo purposes…

Surprise of the night big remo of the Its a Wonderful World Music group IWWM was shooting a video for his new mixtape for LRG so u may see your boy in a scene or two. Most of the crew was in the building; Thee Tom Hardy, Rapsody (one of the hottest female rappers), Actual Proof, TP, The Away Team, Halo…
One artist he showcased that wasn’t here was Heather Victoria. I was following her on twitter but hadn’t heard any of her work… As I thought better than most of the female singers out now…check her out

Talk about a capitalizing spirit, they were already selling charlie sheen shirts here is one of them

See this is what gets me in trouble. I stick around at a venue too long I know I need to head back to the crib to get ready for IV horseman party but I’m enjoying the good music since they only play crack on the radio (9th quote) and he is so true…

See he just set off by playing some Slum Village detroit stand up!!!

Finally got up out of there. Truly hope all the artist get their just due musically. Big ups to darryl from velocity for hosting another good event. Looked like he re-uped in time to see it fly off the shelves.

Dinner shower and hit the streets up next Lavecchias for the Tip Off… Swish
Speaking of tip-off shouts out to whatsnextlex for the mixtape I will be bumping the entire weekend…

Chef Q

lions apron

Due to my hectic schedule and sometimes me just being lazy, I don’t cook often… Now you may be thinking how do you eat then? Unfortunately lately ive been a slave to fast foods and when i want to fake it I warm up processed foods in the microwave. I know I have to do better but it’s just hard, and with me on the flipside of 30 it seems as if the junk in the food sticks to me more than it used to…

Sunday I decided I was going to finally prepare something to eat. For some reason I had been having a craving for Macaroni & Cheese and other than going to “The Chicken Box” soul food restaurant I havent had it often living down here. I REFUSE and ill say it again REFUSE to make that box mac knock off mess. So I decided to call the one person I trust in regards to cooking and recipes, MY MOM… So prior to calling her I just knew she had some grand ol super secretive recipe for making Mac & Cheese… NOOOOO all she says is look on the back of the box, that’s where i get my recipe from… DUH so are you telling me I deprived myself from home made mac & cheese unnecessarily and could have been had this ooohey ghooey cheesey delight. So after reading the directions I decided to make some modifications which included taking away the onions (I LOVE onions but not in MAC & Cheese), not using bread crumbs as topping and substituting regular milk for soy milk. I will be honest that last edit of milk gave it a different taste so ill be using whole milk next time… So as I am prepping to make it I consult another respected outlet TWITTER, to find out how people make their Mac & Cheese. One thing that stood out in regards to variations was the fact that some people used eggs instead of flour as a thickening agent… The recipe called for flour so that’s what I went with. I didn’t want to risk ruining my first time making it trying to be too daring… So i finally got everything together and it looked like how my mom makes hers so i was pretty confident it would be ok…

After letting it cook the allotted 30 minutes and letting it sit to cool, then came the big test HOW DOES IT TASTE… all it took was one bite and I was in heaven. I don’t know if it was more because it was the best i had ever had or i was just so excited that it turned out right. Interesting enough beyond the small amount of a taste, dinner was nowhere near done. And for the rest I had to wait til the next day to begin to prepare

Now I know people are like why couldn’t you prepare the entire meal in one night eat it and be done. Well the meat of my dinner was one of my favorites. Smoked Turkey Necks… Many people use them as a flavor adding agent for their greens but I enjoy them so much I can eat them as a main dish. I ended up having to wait to cook those the next day, because I was fixing them in my crock pot. *sidenote* for all my foodies and dinner makers PLEASE make sure you have a crock pot in your kitchen it is a lifesaver. I decided to slow cook my turkey necks while I was at work. The key to great turkey necks is making sure that you have just enough water in the pot so they don’t dry out but also not OVER-SEASONING (which is one of my biggest fears as a novice chef) With them being in cook mode while at work they had roughly 10 hours to cook and by the time I got home they were fall off the bone tasty.

The last part of the dish was a simple side of green beans that I added ONIONS too (see told you I loved them) But instead of just using the juice from the can I also took some of the juice from the smoke turkey necks to cook them in… talk about the best usage MAAAN it was so on point during the taste test…

Since it was a lot of food I decided to take some to a co-worker of mine, and talk about BIG HATER, the entire time she was eating she kept saying “so who made this for you or tell the girl who cooked this, good job” (as she licked her fingers and cleaned the plate) It was so funny hearing her say this because she swore up and down that I didn’t make it and I can’t cook… It’s always a great feeling proving people wrong

while everyone who reads this wont have the pleasure of tasting it I did take a photo of the leftovers to show you how good it looked. (the mac & cheese had just come out the fridge and is un-warmed)

King in You…

I had been going back and forth with doing this blog for a long time, but now I realize not because of uncertainty but because it wasn’t time. If I would have done it weeks ago, it may not have had the same impact that it will today.

dr king

In celebration of one of the greatest men to ever walk the earth Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I have a double entendre posting. Many see the title and reflect on if their life is truly living up to the dream that Dr. King had, but also it is to ask if we are living as if another King is within, The King of all King, Jesus Christ. I have had a gospel song resonating in my spirit for the past couple of days “There is a King in you” by Donald Lawrence. We all have been created with greatness within, made in the image of God, but sadly not enough of us embrace it and live it out. As many know I am a social media junkie and between Facebook, twitter and other blog sites I frequent you would be amazed the level of hate the world has. Yes pop culture has bought into this false theory of the term “haters” and that there are people out there who take joy in making your life journey difficult. While on a small scale that is true, what I have seen the most lately is SELF HATE. People are now sabotaging their own lives in order to have a reason to complain and wrongfully attach blame to others, when in fact their biggest enemy is themselves. Look at the status updates/tweets of those you know and I bet it will shock you to see how many people on a daily basis speak negativity into their own lives (life and death are in the power of the tongue; what you think you shall become), and in doing that it makes it that much easier to “hate” or bring down others, as the saying goes misery loves company… I know personally I dealt with this affliction for many years; depression, doubt, envy, and hate dominated my psyche until I realized and embraced the fact that I was never created with those feelings I adopted them along the way. God created us for LOVE, because that is what He is and being created in His image we are naturally lovable and able to give love. But not enough of us truly believe that. We think what happened to us, where we are, and what we do define our destiny. But it doesn’t, the song says we come from royalty and that the number one goal of the enemy is to keep us from knowing who we are. They do that by placing doubt/despair/uncertainty/false sense of hate within us and once we begin to focus on those things it becomes so much harder to see the good in life let alone yourself. Yes you have been hurt, yes you have been disappointed but those things are what happened to you, NOT who you are. Realize you do have a say in your happiness, or would you rather wallow in the pain/rejection/negativity because that is easy. Realize this if NO ONE else in this world loves you, God does and that is the greatest love ever. How many people would, in spite of what you do to them, still embrace you, give you numerous chances fix your relationship with them daily?

\”There is a King in you\” by Donald Lawrence    (Audio link)

You come from Royalty
An aristocratic dynasty.
The goal of the enemy,
Is that you don’t know who you are.
There’s power when you speak.
Be mindful of words you release.
I know that life has challenged you,
But the King in me speaks to the King in you.
You were born to rule.
There is a king in you. [Repeat]

[Bridge:]
Is there no King in you,
Then why do you speak, speak with such defeat.
Is there no King in you,
Then why do you speak, speak with such low esteem.

I know life has challenged you,
But the King in me speaks to the king in you.
You were born to rule.

There is a King in you [repeat]

 

This song is so appropriate especially for this day because we are celebrating a man that stood for so many great things and that many in the world give high reverence to. Sadly beyond this weekend I believe not enough of us have a desire to live out the dream he spoke of so eloquently on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. Please do not get it twisted as much as I am pointing this out to others I too am accountable for not doing all that I can to ensure that the speech that I recited as a young boy to the congregation of True Faith Baptist Church in Detroit MI is more than just words.

What is a dream? Webster defines it as

“A series of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations occurring involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep”

What will it take for us to wake up from our slumber? What was spoken by God in this moment of rest that is supposed to change the world? But as long as we fail to recognize that King in us it’s easy to be distracted by things that really don’t matter thus keeping us away from recognizing the dreams… We are better than what we have allowed ourselves to become, but does it even matter that we are not realizing our own personal dreams let alone the dreams to change the world, if not you are doing Dr. King a great disservice and he probably would rather you not even waste your time acknowledging him for one day only to go back to the life of despair for the other 364 days of the year.

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore–

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over–

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

 

What has happened to the dreams you deferred?

-God Love

MICHIGAN BLUES…

u-m football

Many who know me personally, know that I am one of the biggest U-M fans there is. I can remember watching games as early as 1987 but my allegiance was cemented when I went to U-M stadium in 1990 to see my beloved Wolverines play MSU in the infamous Desmond Howard trip play… I was fortunate to also celebrate in the 1997 Championship (which coincided with my freshman year at Eastern michigan University down the street) year where they would win every Saturday morning and party with the players that night…

Many of my friend ask me consistently why I didn’t attend U-M since I am such a fan of their sports programs. I never allow my allegiance to a sports team to skew my academic goals and I considered U-M as a child but got deterred by the mystic of the university pressures…

I say all this because of the recent turn of events with my fabled U-M football squad. It all began 3 years ago when Lloyd Carr stepped down as coach and opened up the university for a new change. When they hired Rich Rodriguez I was excited because I saw the success he had at WVU and figured he could do the same with a more prestigious program in U-M… Fast forward 3 years and three of the WORST seasons in U-M history. I tried to be a supporter and give excuse after excuse for as to why they never reached their potential. But after watching them lose to MSU/PSU/Wisconsin and OSU again this year I began to be fed up with the direction of the program and started to sway my feelings of him needing to leave.

Well I got my wish after the bowl game massacre and the Athletic Director David Brandon relieved him of his coaching duties. But in doing so Brandon opened a door to even more of a two great issues; 1. who would be the next coach 2. How many players would we lose due to recruiting.

Names were thrown out left and right Jim Harbaugh being the most repeated one… and truthfully I wasnt sold on him in the beginning due to how he took jabs at the program a couple of years ago in regards to their academic standards. He basically said that U-M steers its players into easier degree programs. I think that was more of a scorned person not being considered for a job he really wanted when they hired Rich Rod. But as I thought about it more, he had the potential to recruit the right players (because he had success doing it in spite of Stanford stringent academic standards) and he could unify a broken U-M faction that I believe was the major undoing to Rich Rod not being a success. My other problem stemmed from the fact he was entertaining offers from the NFL (which he ultimately took) so what would have stopped him even after being hired at U-M to still want to be like his brother John and bolt to the big leagues thus leaving U-M in a similar situation it is in now… As we see he ended up taking the money and riding off into the San Francisco sunset to coach the 49ers so off the list he went…

next up was Brady Hoke… many of you say WHO and you are not alone… Brady Hoke was a former coordinator with U-M and moved on to Ball State and San Diego State and had some success. I liked him for the fact that he brought some success to programs who had been struggling for a while and he has the ability to adapt his scheme to what he has on the roster (went from the 4-3 at BSU to the 3-3-5 at SDSU due to the caliber of player he had). He unlike Harbaugh if offered the job would be there for a loooong time because this was a desired dream destination. My ONLY issue is the fact is the question of his ability to recruit the players needed to make U-M a national power again. Would he be able to go toe to toe with someone like Tressel, Brian Kelly hell even Mike D’Antonio up at MSU; the jury is still out. So while he would be a good consolation job he wasnt my first choice.

And more recently Les Miles has resurfaced back on the radar. Initially there were overtures that he was a candidate 3 years ago but many refute it. I still believe if there would have been more serious talks he would have been the coach then and none of these problems would be around but anyways… Les has shown the ability to coach in two major conferences the vaunted SEC and the Big 12 (at oklahoma St.) he has shown the ability to recruit nationally, even though some people around this area feel he is dirty for how he negatively recruited against Lloyd Carr, but that the nature of the beast. He has the formula to beat OSU and he will unite the fractured fan base of U-M by being not only an MICHIGAN MAN but a man of success

Now there were other names quietly mentioned like Gary Patterson (my personal choice) but never had any serious consideration but going by the two candidates of Les Miles and Brady Hoke right now my mind is saying Les Miles even though I do believe Hoke will be a great coach as well (just hope he doesn’t come back to bite U-M)

At the end of the day all I want is for U-M football to be relevant again on the National landscape, beat little brother and kick the bucknuts out of O$U…

UPDATED:
Looks like Les Miles will be staying at LSU and thus bringing the coaching options down to only Brady Hoke… like i said he is a good guy and could work I am just ready for this nightmare to be over so they can salvage recruiting
#EPICFAIL on the part of David Brandon especially if the rumor about Les being interested if they offered him the job

Hail to the Victors

-God Bless

Did you go to school for that…

I tend to hear that question asked a lot when it comes to a couple of my giftings…

First it’s usually when people see me out with my camera… They are normally shocked when I tell them I havent had any formal training in photography. In 2007 I bought a camera off eBay and decided to become a photographer…I just feel it is a gift that in a lot of ways has been nurtured enough for me to be somewhat good at it… Through a series of divine relationships I met people who were willing to let me shoot their events (mostly for free) and through MAJOR trial and error I was able to improve. I look back at some of the events I have covered and have met, it was nothing but God that placed me in those RELATIONSHIPS (more on that word in a minute) because there were probably better photographers, but I was chosen. So the more I worked the better I got and the better I got the more I worked…I now look back at some of my beginning works with disdain because it’s so technically bad that its laughable. And in recognizing that there were some aspects that I needed to tight up, there are aspects of photography that I have taken the time to do some reading. Most of this occurs in the post-shot editing. When i first got my camera I was so Photoshop phobic that it was pretty sad actually. But after taking a class through my job and doing some trial and error I began to see how vitally important helpful it can be. I never would want to become so dependant on editing software that I become a lazy photographer. That perhaps is my biggest pet peeve in the industry now. You have plenty of people who have the money to afford high-end cameras, really don’t know how to use them but because they are graphic artist are able to manipulate their work to appear better than what it actually is… One thing that did help me through my growing pains of shooting on automatic was asking questions… I was blessed to know a couple of guys (my business partners) who went through their own trial and errors prior to me but was still willing to aid me in any way possible… I And just like with life, Photography is an ever-growing and changing art form, and it is ESSENTIAL to be able to adapt your craft to be successful (because you can never shoot one venue/person the way you shot something else)

The next thing I usually get asked that question for is when it comes down to conversations about relationships… Interesting enough during a conversation I had during my chapter’s monthly networking event, a couple of women within this group I was conversing, with after had taken their picture (multi-tasking is pretty cool), asked me was I a psychologist or did I goto school to be a therapist. I was truly flattered and honored to have my point of view during the conversation be that highly thought of. But no I don’t have a psychology degree or nor do I claim to be “Love Dr.” shout out to those who do it legit or as a game… I just simply consider myself a conversationalist and I tend to speak on things I am passionate about and one of those things just happens to be the topic of male/female relational interactions (the other being sports). Pieces of my knowledge comes from books/articles i read but the majority of it comes from experience, as they say “life is your best teacher sometimes”. I guess because for so long I didn’t have success in interactions with the opposite sex I made it a point of one bettering myself in it, then helping others navigate through their testimonial opportunities. (Ironically that is how i met my fiance; I used to write notes on Myspace, yeah I know it was that long ago, and she stumbled upon one of my rants on the opposite sex. She left a comment, I responded to hers and there ensued an internet friendship which led to a chance meeting at the airport which led to me finding the GREATEST woman in life) I call them that because everything we endure in life, good or bad, allows for you to be able to help someone else later on in life. Now we often times dont see it that way and miss out on our blessings and cause others to miss out on knowledge that would offer revelation for what binds them. As you can see I am using many spiritual keywords because I wholeheartedly believe my gift of gab in this arena comes from God and I refuse to dishonor him by not speaking of things He has processed me in.
The one thing I have had to learn to overcome is the frustration of people not being receptive of things given within my conversations/tweets/blogs. Initially I would be frustrated if someone misunderstood my point or got defensive about me trying to help; but I have learned being a vessel in this capacity isn’t about receiving accolades or pats on the back it’s simply about making sure that they now have the information. God will work out the judgement in how they handle His word, I just had to be sure to do my part in passing the word on.
Last night conversation was also a lot easier to have because half of the group was dating or married to someone, so I didn’t have to worry about my information didn’t have to be misinterpreted as “game” Ironically one of you women happened to have a conversation with her Beau while there and then ran up to me and let me know she told him about our conversation and how it made her feel that much more confident/secure/happy in their interaction; and at the end of the day that’s all I strive for… helping people be able to help themselves.

So the next time you feel a desire to do something healthy like draw, write, take a picture; TRY IT OUT, you never know that may be your predetermined giftings that while you don’t have the technical schooling for God has given you the provision to do it well.
-God Love

Play another slow jam…

LOVE SONG
black love

I love music… it is a big part of my life, it encourages me, soothes me and helps me through my life. Everything from rap to some rock music, I can say that i appreciate GOOD music. Since my taste in music always varied I was always one to make “mix tapes” of my favorite songs. Many of my mix tapes were genre specific; generally rap, R&B, and lately gospel. As technology evolved so did the way I constructed my musical masterpieces. As a youth most of the songs came through listening to the radio at night and popping a tape cassette (a true relic) and recording directly from there. Now I must say the quality was HORRIBLE and you always ran the risk of the song being cut off or a radio personalty talking over it, but i made due. Ill never forget going on a trip with my parents and the nights leading up to leaving listing to 96.3 in Detroit (when it still played urban music) and dubbing songs like kriss kross “Jump” and Vanessa Williams “save the best for last” (weird combo, i know LOL) I listened to that tape the whole trip over and over…

Once I got to college, me and my boys at EMU evolved to the wonderful world of burning CDs and the pioneer of music file sharing; NAPSTER… Due to not having the resources ourselves we would make up lists of the current popular songs and give it to an indian guy down the hall and he would make us whatever we wanted… thinking about it, not even sure if we paid him for his services … then as each of us got computers we took turns flooding our hard drives with music (and plenty of viruses that came along with them) that would be the source of our many mix cds… I was heavy into rap music back then but every so often i would make a slow jam CD to try to impress a girl; some times it worked often it didn’t they just ended up wanting their own copy to play for a guy they were into LOL… Even after college I would make cds and give them titles based on the purpose of them, Generally named after a trip I was taking and would listen to the cd…

Recently I got the itch to try my hand at making another slow jam cd. For days I pondered over the songs I would use and how I would organize them. Then it hit me, do a story line and have the songs tell a story. When that idea first hit me I wondered if I had enough songs in my collection to make a flowing cd, little did I realize that not only did I have enough songs for ONE CD but I ended up having enough material for TWO. The more and more I listened to the songs I began to get a mental visual that played out like a movie and my songs were the soundtrack…

Chocolate Goodness Vol. 1: The Set up
1. Mrs Sexy- Robin Thicke
2. Okay- Usher
3. Here with you- Rudy Currence
4. Sobeautiful- Musiq
5. Here I am- Monica
6. Bad Habits- Maxwell
7. Friends dont let Friends Sleep Alone- Joe
8. Spending Time with you- Janet Jackson
9. Slow Dance- Keri Hilson
10. House- Kevin Cossom
11. Truly- Janet Jackson
12. Pany Droppin- Trey Songz
13. Sex Therapy- Robin Thicke

Chocolate Goodness Vol 2: The Close
1. Ready to make love- Trey Songz
2. So Good- Day 26
3. Bed- J Holiday
4. Can U handle it- Usher
5. Say it- Ne Yo
6. Storm- Jamie Foxx
7. Moist- Janet Jackson
8. Jupiter Love- Trey Songz
9. Freakin me- Jamie Foxx
10. Mirro- Ne Yo
11. Making Love (into the night)- Usher
12. She- Eric Roberson
13. Overdose- Jamie Foxx
14. In a Sentimental Mood- JohnCoultrain

Yes i know there are a couple of artist like Jamie Foxx, Usher, Ne Yo and Robin Thicke that had multiple tracks on the cd but at the time of conception their songs flowed the best. I also tried to showcase a couple of artist that many casual R&B fans aren’t aware of like Kevin Cossom (talented songwriter and soon to be the next big thing in R&B), Eric Roberson (one of the best neo-soul artist out, great performer MUST SEE) and Rudy Currence ( my frat brother from the charlotte area who was recently signed to Ludacris DTP label, another GREAT live performer) Now I have since found other artist that have songs that fit just as well and have toyed with replacing a couple of songs, but you never want to mess with an original creation. What may end up happening is a Vol 3 may be created, if it flows with the first two.

As you can see and hopefully hear (surprise later) the first CD has more of a structured storyline flow, whereas the second CD is straight to the point about what took place… In making the CD, I reflected on my dating history and it coincided, usually more work is put into the winning the girls attention and many details are lost during KEY acts of affection.

Now some people may wonder why Chocolate Goodness, well its two-fold. Those who know me understand and joke me for my affinity for darker skinned women, I LOVE CHOCOLATE 🙂 and the Goodness part comes from the feeling that you get if you are lucky enough to experience what each track embodies. The goodness of a new love interest, having the feelings reciprocated and the culmination of the physical union of both.

As I said I have a surprise, I found a website that hosts music files and uploaded the CD for those who may want to hear it for themselves… Please leave comments if you download, all criticism is appreciated

*DISCLAIMER* I cannot be held accountable for the feelings/emotions/desires that may evolve from listening to these CD so listen with caution and alone if possible LOL…

Chocolate Goodness Vol 1
Chocolate Goodness Vol 2

DEAR GOD 2.0

First I would like to say Happy Holidays; where did 2010 go??? ‘Tis the season for family and friends and Love not necessarily about things bought in store…

Anyways I had been considering doing a blog for a while on one of my favorite songs but the utterance to post letter from a broke brother took precedent in my heart. The song is Dear God 2.0 by the Roots from their latest release “How I got over” Over the years I can say that I have always appreciated The Roots and their talents as musicians/hip hop pioneers, but it wasnt until I heard their latest release, this song in particular, that I fell in love with their music.
There have been many who have argued the theory that Hip Hop is nothing more than the devils portal to our community and that nothing good comes of it. But never, not even in some “gospel” songs, have I seen a true display of personal worship as I saw within the lyrics of this song. As my growth in spirituality has increased, I have gotten a greater level of understanding in the different types of Christian music, (it also helps having one of the greatest praise leaders in the world in Minister Corey Bradley, I love that man for his willingness to and obedience to hear God and create a great atmosphere to usher in Gods presence) The most important thing I’ve learned is that, every song sung in church or on your local christian station isn’t a song TO God. Next time you listen to a song does it sound like a personal conversation of thanks that the artist is having with God or is it just a song that has God sprinkled in it. Praise and worship music is just that; Songs that send praise and adoration to God for His spot in your life. Artist like Israel Houghton and William McDowell have done well in creating music in this category. And not to take anything away from their music or their calling from God, BeBe and CeCe Winans is a duo where you sometimes have to ask yourself is this a gospel song or a love song to your significant other. They have had a couple of songs out that if I wasnt able to recognize their voice I would wonder if this was a new R&B duo… I say all that to say that all praise and worship songs can be considered gospel but not all gospel music can be considered praise and worship… but let me get back to The Roots song.

[Intro:]
Dear God, I’m trying hard to reach you
Dear God, I see your face in all I do
Sometimes, it’s so hard to believe it…
But God, I know you have your reasons
(Uh huh)

[Verse 1:]
They said he’s busy hold the line please
Call me crazy, I thought maybe he could mind read
Who does the blind lead?
Show me a sign please
If everything is made in China, are we Chinese?
And why do haters separate us like we siamese?
Technology turning the planet into zombies
Everybody all in everybody’s dirty laundry
Acid rain, earthquakes, hurricane, tsunamis
Terrorist, crime sprees, assaults, and robberies
Cops yellin’ stop, freeze
Shoot him before he try to leave
Air quality so foul, I gotta try to breath
Endangered species
And we runnin’ out of trees
If I could hold the world in the palm of these
Hands, I would probably do away with these anomalies
Everybody checkin’ for the new award nominee
Wars and atrocities
Look at all the poverty
Ignoring the prophecies
More beef than broccoli
Corporate monopoly
Weak world economy
Stock market topplin’
Mad marijuana oxycotton and klonopin
Everybody out of it?

[Hook:]
Well I’ve been thinkin’ about
And I’ve been breakin’ it down
Without an answer
I know I’m thinking out loud
But if you’re lost and around
Why do we suffer?
Why do we suffer?
(Uh huh)

[Verse 2:]
Yeah… It’s still me, one of your biggest fans
I get off work
Right back to work again
I probably need to go ahead and have my head exam
Look at how they got me on the Def Jam payment plan
Well, I’m in the world of entertainment and
Trying to keep a singing man sane for the paying fans
If I don’t make it through the night, slight change of plans
Harp strings, angel wings, and praying hands
Lord, forgive me for my shortcomings
For going on tour and ignoring the court summons
All I’m trying to do is live life to the fullest
They sent my daddy to you in a barrage of bullets
Why is the world ugly when you made it in your image?
And why is livin’ life such a fight to the finish?
For this high percentage
When the sky’s the limit
A second is a minute, every hour’s infinite

[Outro:]
Dear God, I’m trying hard to reach you
Dear God, I see your face in all I do
Sometimes, it’s so hard to believe it…

Black Thought did a masterful job in grasping that aforementioned differentiation of the two styles of music even while being under the controversal title of rap artists. I believe that even in his questioning of the happenings of the world he is doing it not show doubt in God but to bring more understanding and awareness of circumstances. I think if we all as believers sought understanding from God and not worldly “experts” life would be so much more easier to deal with. The transparency spoken in the chorus is so powerful because from my own personal experience I feel the same way… I have such a great desire to be closer to him but sometimes its just hard even if you know He is the One who has a hand in things.

Remember everything isnt what it always appears to be, sometimes you have to dig a little deeper and in doing so you may get a great revelation for your life…

-God Love