Why Most Ideas Never Happen

Ideas are the foundation of the capitalist society. Actually ideas are the foundation of all society. Someone had an idea to take the teachings of various leaders and the world now has religion. One guy sat down and had an idea about placing dough in the oven with cheese and we now have pizza. Some guy looked at a woman and figured out that the thing between his legs could fit inside the thing between her legs, and pow, children. Seriously though, ideas are born and they give rise to great companies and even better philosophies. What is great about ideas is that anyone can get an idea. The poor, rich, middle class, old people, young people, teens and babies, doctors and homeless guys with golden voices all have ideas. Although everyone awakens at night with an epiphany, this does not mean that we are all capable of actually bringing these ideas to fruition. Very often we will think and think about an idea we have, and we will even go as far as talking with other people about these thoughts. We toss ideas around at bars, during the game, at the mall, in schools and at business meetings. These ideas become the root of discussion for some and the basis for argument for others, but very often ideas, like dreams simply fade away. Why is it that ideas are not taken seriously? What happens from the moment a person writes down a few notes to when they take that sheet of paper, ball it up, and toss it in the trash can? Why do most ideas just go away?

read more

Read more

Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 3

Chapter 3 The easiest way to present what I’m trying to disclose here is to simply show rather than tell. I know, as smooth as I am, even a brother that’s got his stuff together can get on your nerves. I wouldn’t want that to happen because what I’m saying here is important. It’s as serious as someone sitting on your new couch, jheri curl smearing on the material leaving a stain that, if not cleaned immediately, leaves a hole in the linen, woven cloth couch that you recently bought after you had just enough money to pay off the layaway on the rest of your living room set. It’s serious. When a man has reached the point where he wants to call it quits from the race, he quits sometimes because of meeting the right woman. I believe there is something that will cause a brother to change more often than the right woman, frustration. The fun in being with more than one woman kind of plays itself out really fast, but you wouldn’t know that because of how most men live. The whole dating scene is a pain, the riding around looking cool, saying the right things, hoping that a woman will accept what you’re saying so you can hook her, it’s all a big pain. So why do we do it? Ego, maybe, fear, maybe. Mostly it’s the idea that we can have whatever we want, whenever we want, selfishness. Frustration is a constant for a Stage One or Two man. It is this frustration that is the precursor for most men who settle down.

My boy Flip is a perfect representation of this. I’ve known Flip for a few years and as far as I’m concerned that gives him a much higher status than just an associate, he’s like family. We met at work. Being the only two brothers in the department we instantly bonded and became good friends. He asked a lot of questions his first day, which is normal. Usually I avoided new people cause I didn’t want to play twenty questions with them. But because Flip was a brother, or close to being a brother, I felt that I had to be there for him. “How long have you been working here?” “Bout three years,” I said. “Are you an engineer?” “Nah just a QA analyst. I repair what the engineers mess up before we ship the stuff out of here.” He laughed and continued with the questions. “Do you like it?” he asked. “You’re an inquisitive brother ain’t you? What are you supposed to be doing and how old are you?” “I’m not quite an engineer but we do the same thing.” “Oh, you run programs and print out old schematics without having a clue of what you’re doing?” I said. “Yeah, something like that.” “Terrence Matthews,” I said holding out my hand which he shook with a firm grip. I pulled my hand away. “Easy, easy umm?” “Felipe’ Mendoza. You can call me Flip though.” “You Part Rican or something?” “I’m Puerto Rican, but I was raised by a Black family.” “Too much information, let’s get back to work.” Flip and I walked back towards the assembly line and ran into Mr. Samuels. His suit was tight, snug tight, not nice looking tight, as usual but at least it was clean today. “What’s up Mr. Sams.” “Hey Tee, I see you’re showing around our rookie engineer,” he said chuckling, his chin shaking with every giggle. “Yeah I got him before you guys ruined him. If I let him get in cahoots with you office boys he’ll be sending down bad schematics in three or four days.” “As long as you’re down here to catch those bad drafts we’re okay.” “Thanks Mr. Sams. You want him back now.” “No, no, no, keep him with you. Maybe we’ll make him the floor engineer.” “Yeah maybe.” Anytime the office boys hired another brother I always thought that something was up. Most of the brothers worked on the line. The only other minority engineer they hired was whitewashed and never came down to the floor. After time passed I realized that nothing at all was going on. Flip was just a damn smart brother, with a great personality. I considered it to be a minor blessing having him there. And it’s been pretty good having him down on the floor. I thought for a while that they didn’t want him up in the offices anyway, but who cares the young brother was getting paid. “I’m twenty-three, and they decided that they would take me on at an engineers pay. I didn’t mean to say I wasn’t an engineer. I’m actually a computer science-” “Don’t worry bout it man. Us brothers have to stick together. This ain’t the street, where you have to look out for yourself to an extreme, and I ain’t the jealous type. I may be hourly but at twenty four-bucks per-” “Too much information Terrence,” he said cutting me off. “Let’s get to work like you said. I think I might like being the floor engineer.” From that point on Flip and I were tight. Two high powered brothers in a small focus facility for Motor Control Centers Inc. in fantastic San Diego. I could’ve easily been an ignorant brother with Flip and gotten jealous that he made the same amount that I did starting out. But I’m doing fine, if another brother is doing okay there ain’t no reason to clown. As a matter of fact I think that’s reason to celebrate. Flip had a place in La Jolla and I stayed in Mission Valley. Neither one of us was wanted in the areas we stayed. I assumed getting away from the South, would free me from ignorant folks. I realized in the matter of a year how biased San Diego is. This buried racism made me more conscious. I knew that whenever you had a chance to meet another brother who wasn’t phony, in other words a bother who isn’t trying to keep up with the Joneses, that you had to do right by that brother. I guess that’s why Flip and I became friends so quickly. I think he could feel the city’s tension, he just couldn’t place it into words. With me in his corner and him in mine, it was like having a younger brother. What impressed me about Flip was his patience. For a younger cat he didn’t allow anything to get to him. At least not at first. We ran through San Diego with a vengeance. Every club, every bar, White, Black, Filipino, Mexican, we didn’t give a damn. We just kicked it, me and him at Stage One. Buy Stages now if you want to read it at your own pace.

Read more

Part 2: Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 23

Chapter 23 I’m still trying to figure out a few things. If a relationship can be as good as it was with me and Janice why in the hell was I so afraid to try it before? I know the trauma from the first girlfriend thing was my excuse, but it was just that, an excuse. I should’ve done this relationship thing a long time ago. I’ve done things with Janice that you only do with a girl that you know and trust. Everything we do seems to be more fulfilling. There are things that she does to keep our relationship fresh. She sits down on certain days and maintains a book, kinda like a log of all we do. The log has pictures, silly letters and other little things that we could look at and laugh at. That seemed so small to me when she started the book. Now that book is like an intricate part of who we are, it grew. All of the little stuff like catching a movie or walking and talking about things that we want and have dreamed about is something that I obviously hadn’t done with anybody else, except maybe Laney. I once thought that settling down meant you run out of things to talk about in a year or two. That can happen if you stop doing things. But the hobbies that we have always gives Janice and I some kinda conversational pieces. She reads a lot of books, which always gives her something to say and it’s not just meaningless little words to fill quiet space. Each word is meaningful, unless we’re just trippin. Janice is a dream come true for me, and Tina is a dream woman for Flip. The closer it came for me to propose though, the more nervous I got. I started feeling like I was doing this proposal thing more for myself than I was for her. Maybe it was a new experience that I wanted to have. I didn’t know. I just started feeling uncomfortable. During lunch three days before the 24th, one day before we got a week off for Christmas and New Year’s I talked to Flip about my doubts. “Man have you had any second thoughts?” “Nope.” “Come on man, I know you’ve had one thought.” “Nope, not one. If you asked me if I’m scared, I’d say hell yeah, but having second thoughts, nope.” I sat for a second and processed what he said. “I guess they are two separate things. I haven’t really had second thoughts. I guess I’ve been afraid also.” “That’s all it is. Fear is a trip. It’ll have you thinking some crazy shit.” “No doubt. So you’re afraid also? But what the hell are we afraid of?” “Losing our freedom.” “Yeah, I guess you’re right. That’s what I’m afraid of for sure,” I said. “Think about it though, when was the last time you’ve wanted for anything mentally? Or for that case physically?” Flip asked. “I haven’t thought about it.” “I haven’t wanted for anything since that day we went to the club and met the girls. Don’t get me wrong I wanted more from her for a long time, but I knew it was worth waiting, but now, it’s all good.” “I feel you.” “In a way, when we bought those rings we became liberated.” “What are you saying Flip?” “Think about it. We don’t have to live everyday thinking about how we’re gonna find new women. We don’t have to buy shit to impress anybody anymore. It’s perfect, we can be ourselves, without worrying about how we look every second.” “So you ain’t getting your hair cut anymore?” “I didn’t say that. I’m saying we don’t have to sweat nobody ever again. We don’t have to wait on pages, second dates, none of that.” “I feel you, I feel you. I hadn’t ever thought of that. Besides we haven’t been out there bad for over a year,” I said. “Nope. So stop worrying and start making up what you’re gonna say.” “What I’m going to say? Oh damn, I haven’t made up a damn thing yet.” “Tee, I got an idea.” “Speak.” “How about we do it at the same time?” “I don’t know man. We boys, but don’t you think that’s a bit much?” “Maybe, but it would be different.” “What would we do?” I asked. We sat down and put our heads together and came up with the bomb idea. *** Buy Stages: a handbook on men and relationships if you want to read it at your own pace, or just check back to keep reading it here.

Read more

Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson

(Written in 2011) What is Rework? Rework is a book on rethinking what it is to be a small business person. The book was written by the founders of 37signals. Real quick, what I just did by inserting their link into this blog post has helped to increase their SEO. Why is this important in a book review? Well not really a book review… but a thank you to the writers of Rework. SEO is search engine optimization. In the world of the internet in order for your business to be found in the search results of Google people have to share your link. This is placed in some funky program in Google’s search engine and the more links to your site, the higher your site is listed when someone searches for certain information. This is important to me because I have found that through research and all kinds of stuff, my site ranks very low. Damn you people who don’t understand this! Okay sorry about that, but as most of you know who follow my shoe company blog/store I’m going through a transitional period right now. If you want to read about that visit http://www.arch-usa.com/ and you can’t miss my current attack on ebay. How is this book review getting so far off topic? It isn’t, bare with me and everything will come together. I recently read Just Do It by Donald Katz. This is an insider’s look at Nike from 89-94. Another turbulent period for Nike. This book was a different more business based approach than Swoosh: Unauthorized Story of Nike and the Men Who Played There, which read like fiction. I guess that’s because Rob Strasser’s, a former Nike Man from the early days, wife wrote the book. Once again I deviate. Just Do It gives this incredible insight into the culture of Nike and how the company has come to so thoroughly dominate the sportswear market. This is relevant to my small business because I am working on ARCH. So what does Rework have to do with this and why isn’t this turning into a book review? Rework is the book I just wrote. Let me rephrase that. I’ve been working on my book since 2008 and I finally finished it this summer. The book is called One Hour To Wealth: Your Great Idea is Valuable…Get Up and Write It Down! and Wealth really isn’t what the book is about. It is, but not in that way. This isn’t about me, this is about Rework. I read Rework in about 3 hours.Why so fast? Because I am going to read it again. It’s that type of book. There is so much great advice in the pages that it becomes overwhelming, but it’s not overwhelming. Paradox? Yep, but no. The book is/was written in a way that makes it accessible. It doesn’t sound like the advice of a millionaire who is a millionaire giving advice to a thousandaire on the verge of becoming a millionaire. Wait a minute, let me make that clear. Fried and Hansson have written a book that is for any person aspiring to work on their ideas for business. They don’t give a framework and a step by step manual; they look at the excuses, the obstacles, the lies that a person tells themselves when approaching the start or the continuing of a business, and they explain why you have to rethink, redo, revise a lot of the ideas you have about business. Rework captures the essence of Just Do It, and well, tells you to stay motivated. Okay you caught me with that one. Stay motivated is the slogan for ARCH. I had to throw that in there, along with one more link to Rework. If you are in a business funk, rut, hole, slowdown or if you are booming and your biz is doing well, I recommend this book because no business person should remain in the same place. You have to constantly change and rework your plan… sorry actually don’t rework the plan, “stop guessing and start doing,” or something like that. Read the book, thank me later and do what I did. Write them and thank them.

Read more

Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 16

Chapter 16 A reflection can be found anywhere, or it can come at anytime. Two of the most important reflections I’ve had in my adulthood happened because of a conversation with a brother three years younger than myself. Flip, like he said about Tina, was brought into my life for a reason. People coming into your life can happen guy to guy, just as it does with men and women. I knew it and I thanked God for bringing me a brother. What I didn’t appreciate was his Stage Three whining. I just wasn’t in the mood for it. But he was my boy so I had to listen. Do you recall when I said that this book wasn’t going to change me, and that it was just a handbook? I guess by now you realize it’s more than that. It’s therapy. I’ve been listening to myself and actually paying attention to everything that’s going on around me. And for once, I’m willing to say that I would like to find a little peace. It would be nice to wake up next to someone, without saying, “Damn, Damn, Damn,” like Florida Evans. It would be nice to know who’s calling when the phone rings and it would be nice to have consecutive birthday’s with the same woman. But there is always some unfinished business to take care of, so until I finish I won’t make that move. I’ll continue with what I’m doing.

After Flip and I spoke about Tina, he had the bright idea to take another risk. He was about to move down to Kensington into that four bedroom house we went to look at. “Tee have you lived with a woman?” “No and neither should you until you both decide on getting engaged. That’s it. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I’m telling you as a friend, sorry, asking you, not to do it. Don’t do it, don’t do it. That’s it, I’m through, next question.” I nipped that shit in the bud real quick. I didn’t want to discuss it with him at all. Everytime I had a discussion with Flip it always ended with him formulating his own fantastic reasons to do the opposite of what I said. That’s not funny either. I’m right sometimes. Like I was saying earlier, before I started running my mouth, Janice had invited me to her place for Sunday afternoon brunch. Once I got there she decided that she wanted to take another ride. We took off in my car this time and I asked where she wanted to go. “So where we headed?” I asked. “I don’t know, I just wanted to get out of the house.” “You don’t know? I don’t wanna just drive around aimlessly.” “We had a good time before didn’t we?” “Yeah we did.” I felt compelled to ask her what was on her mind, but I didn’t for fear that it might lead to something I didn’t want to hear. “Just drive and talk. I want to hear about you. Who you really are. Not the music, not the job or about Flip, I want to hear from you what you want.” “That’s a heavy question and it’s hard to answer. Could you be more specific?” “I know where I want to go. Sunset Cliffs.” “I don’t know where that is.” “It’s at the end of the continent.” “What?” “It’s where the continent becomes the ocean. I know that sounds weird, but if you haven’t noticed the last place we went to was a cliff overlooking the ocean. There’s something glorious about that.” “I guess you’re right.” “Maybe you should start looking more closely at the places you go instead of worrying about things you can’t control.” “Like what?” “Racism. You always have something awkward to say. I haven’t told you this because I’m bothered by the way you respond to White people.” “What haven’t you told me?” I asked. Oh damn, she had tricked me into heavy conversation and it was smooth. From the cliffs, to the seashore to ‘There’s something I haven’t told you.’ I fell right into that one, then again maybe I didn’t fall into anything. I listened. “My mother is White.” I looked at her instantly and thought, “Not as Black as you are.” “My stepmother you idiot,” she said noticing the puzzled look on my face. “What do you think about that? Does that bother you?” “No it doesn’t bother me at all. I never said I disliked White folks.” “You didn’t say it, but your words. You have to watch what you say.” “No I don’t. I only say what I’m thinking.” “You don’t do that all the time.” “How do you know?” “Because you wanted to tell me the other night to come upstairs, but you didn’t cause you thought it might make you look good. You would be a brother that was respectful. It was a calculating move.” “Come on now what kind of talk is that?” “You know I’m right. Instead of making you look good, it made me become wary of you. See men play the same games that women play.” “Do they?” “They do. I used to play them until something happened to a friend of mine that made me reconsider.” I knew where she was going and I didn’t want to follow, but I had to. She continued, “Things can go wrong when you mess with people’s heads. They can even go wrong when you don’t,” she said looking out the window. I followed the signs that directed me to the cliffs as we drove down the street. I could feel the tension build. She hadn’t mentioned Tina’s name, but it was implied. She just didn’t know I knew what she was saying. As we rounded the curve over looking the cliffs I rolled down the windows and turned the music off. I could hear the waves crashing against the rocks. I pulled into a parking space and grabbed a blanket from the back of the trunk. The air, as usual at the beach, brought a chill to both of us. I held my hand out for her to take a hold of. She seemed to take my hand cautiously, as if taking my hand was accepting my soul. I tucked the blanket under my arm and walked to a clear space on a grassy part of the cliffs. We walked over a few rocks to reach a spot. I placed the blanket on the ground and sat down. She stood for a moment, looking out over the ocean. “Look at that ship floating into the clouds.” It did look as if the ship was being swallowed by a huge cloud. The waves turned over creating a white foam at the top of each roll of the water. It was like a painting. Janice finally sat down beside me. “Tee, what do you want?” “I don’t know.” “Me either and I’m afraid now,” she said. “I’ve been afraid for a while, but sometimes you have to be strong for your friends and you never get a chance to sit and cry for yourself.” The wind picked up over the cliffs. I wrapped the blanket over both of us and we sat beside each other. The blanket was split in the middle and the wind cut right through it. She moved forward a bit and I slid behind her. She sat between my legs and I pulled the blanket over us. The wind bumped the outside of the blanket. The chill eventually took its defeat and moved on. I held her as she sat in front of me. She tilted her head back to look into my eyes. I was speechless. Her eyes lay the whole story out there without her lips parting to say one word. “I want to be happy,” she said. “I want to be happy.” “I know.” She lay on me a little longer before she spoke. I wanted to kiss her and declare that I was a changed man. I wanted to tell her about everything I’d done. I needed to be honest with her, but I couldn’t. “Terrence, I’m not being dramatic to trap you or confuse you. I just wanted to talk and although you seem as if you’re going through some things, I thought you would listen. I don’t want anything from you. I’ll wait for you to make up your mind.” “What do you mean?” “You aren’t ready for anything right now. There is a confusion to you, an indecisiveness, that speaks louder than you know. Some things you can’t hide, they just come out.” “I know some things you can’t hide, but I’m not hiding anything. I don’t have anything to hide.” She turned to look at me. The blanket fell off of her shoulder. I felt the wind coming on again. The sky had a twilight look to it, the moment where it’s not quite dark but it definitely isn’t light out. My mom use to call it the hiding time. The time when people who lied told the perfect lie. “If I tell you this, don’t take it the wrong way,” she said. “I won’t.” “That night at the club when you came to the table. I told Tina something. Flip hasn’t told you anything has he?” “No, about what?” “I told Tina that… you seemed like a man that I could fall in love with.” “I don’t …know what to say.” “Don’t say anything Terrence. I’m not looking for a reply of any kind. I just wanted you to know that. I felt like I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I knew saying this would make you think you had me and that you could get away with anything on me, but sometimes you have to put it out there and have faith.” “I’m not gonna play you. I won’t do that Janice. I honestly don’t know how to respond to you although I want to-” “But you don’t want to open up, right? I figured that. Let’s go.” She stood up and walked to the car. I opened the door for her and threw the blanket in the trunk. I stood and looked at the cliffs and the water for a moment before I climbed in the car. I knew there was something that I was feeling. I knew what I wanted to say. But I chose to remain on the same level. I kept quiet. In the car I turned the radio on. She looked out the window without saying anything to me. There wasn’t anyway that I could run anything down on her. I had to move on, I kept thinking to myself as I drove. She turned the radio down for a second and then she turned it back up, without speaking. “What’s up?” I asked. “I don’t want you to call me anymore. When you drop me off that’s it, lose my number.” “But-” “Terrence, I know your type. Serious relationship, time to tuck the tail and leave. You always want the easy way out, but this time you won’t get what you want and get out easy. You’ll remember what I’ve said today and I pray to God that you change, or something will happen to you.” “Are you wishing bad shit on me? If so, that’s fucked up. I haven’t said a word, I’ve just been quiet. I wasn’t the one who said all that stuff back there.” I figured if I wasn’t going to be able to get anything I might as well save face. How ignorant is that? She didn’t respond. She didn’t say a word. I turned the radio off. “So what do you have to say?” I asked. “I feel sorry for you, that’s all I have to say.” “Sorry for me? I’m straight, you don’t need to feel sorry for me,” I said. She didn’t say anything at all. I was hot. I wanted to kick her out of the car at that point, when it all hit me. God does give you moments to make a decision. Usually they come at a time where you are so preoccupied with you, you fail to see that moment occurring. I didn’t see it until after she said she was sorry. I knew at that moment I had to make a decision. “Janice, I know you’re not going to respond to anything I’m saying right now, but-” I paused for a second to park the car. She opened the door and got out. I called her and she stopped in front of her door. “Can we please talk about this now? If we both leave and have this out in the air, then we’ll think too much and everything will be fucked up.” She agreed and we began walking. “I was talking to Flip the other day and he told me something about myself. He didn’t even intend to do it, it just came out.” She still didn’t say anything. “I want to try and do this thing.” “What thing? You can’t even say it. You don’t need to do anything except grow up.” “Can I talk without being scolded, please?” What happens most of the time when a man is about to come clean to a woman, is the woman will say something that messes with the man’s concentration. It will distract him just enough to make him punk out. He’ll change his mind and just say, “Fuck it.” Remember that if a guy is trying to get serious, even when you’re arguing, let him. If you don’t he will freeze up and he’ll never tell you what’s on his mind. She quieted down and let me continue. “This is not some kind of game I’m trying to run on you. I felt something between us that night also. I just thought that you had,” I changed my words. “I thought I had to be who I was for a while longer. I didn’t want to try a relationship.” “What was Laney to you then?” I hadn’t thought about that coming up. Oh well. “I liked Laney, but I never had any intentions on really being with her.” “So you were playing the role when you met me?” “Yeah I was, but-” “You were going to do the same thing to me?” “Yeah I was, but-” She raised her hand up as if she was about to hit me. Then she put her hands up to her eyes and covered them. She turned around and began walking back towards her apartment. I ran after her and grabbed her on her shoulder. “Janice, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what you want to hear. I’m trying to be honest with you. If all you’re going to do-” She pulled her shoulder away from me and kept walking. I shouted. “If all you’re going to do is walk away when I finally tell the truth then what’s the point in me being honest?” She stopped and turned towards me. I ran to her and held my hands out to plea. “I’m not sure of what to say, I just don’t know these words. You understand?” I asked her. I held her hands and rubbed them gently. “I want you to give me time to learn. I want you to teach me.” “I can’t teach you anything Tee. I don’t know the way. I just know how I felt about you.” “How you felt?” “You scare me. You are so unsure of yourself that it just plain scares me. What do you expect?” “I expected you to say that you would be the person that I can count on.” “Count on for what? Talk to me Tee I need to hear it as much as you do.” “Flip said something to me,” I said letting her hands go to walk beside her. We had been walking down the street holding hands in an awkward walking dance. “He told me that he was tired of waking up in the morning and questioning what he had done the night before. I don’t want to question anymore.” “But are you doing this for you or because you think we can make this work?” “I don’t know.” “Then I can’t be the one Tee. I can’t.” She walked up the stairs and into her apartment. I climbed into the car and drove home. Buy Stages: a handbook on men and relationships now if you want to read it at your own pace, or just check back to keep reading it here.

Read more

Get To Know: In Honor of Gil Scott Heron

I wrote this paper while I was enrolled as an undergrad at San Diego State University. I did not edit this in any way. I felt compelled to post this because people will allow Gil Scott’s death to go uncelebrated, and unrecognized. I hope they won’t. I won’t because his death diminshes my creative world, but in his own words of Guan Guanco, we are born to discover ourselves and in doing so we have our rebirth and regeneration. Gil Scott is now among the ancestors and within all of us we carry his spirit and by sharing we keep him alive. This is long so come back to it if you have to. Chris B. The Words of a Modern-Day Jali (Gil Scott-Heron’s Influences, Social Commentary and his Affect on the Hip-Hop and Spoken Word Community) I stood with the others along the shimmering coast as waves pushed loose sand from troughs and carried rocks onto the shore. We had awaited the call of the Atumpan for several days waited for the master drummer to tell of us any impending danger. Each day seemed longer than before. Our chieftain had informed us that we did not have the weapons to match the gunpowder that the British men carried. To calm us he asked everyone to listen to the sound of the talking drum. After listening he then told us that this was our advantage. I failed to understand. The Atumpan gives us notice, we see the enemy through the words of the drum, he explained. After waiting for close to five days for the White men to arrive the warriors began to finish the tasks of moving baskets of yams too heavy for the women and children to carry. It was early, quiet. The sun made long shadows of trees on the shore. The waves echoed the warning from the Atumpan that the White men had returned and would be arriving with guns and various weapons, I felt my chest tighten. The women and children ran to safety. I prepared along with the others for what was about to occur. The speed of the drumming carried over the water faster, with more urgency. I felt fear. I asked my chieftain if the drums were wrong. In his heavy raspy words he informed me that the drums were never wrong. We all moved from the shore in accordance with the call from Atsimewu and prepared for battle. Atsimewu sounded They are here, they are here.

In our past, in every African society there were people known as Dagomba. Dagomba was a griot and a master drummer who knew, completely, the past and the present history of his people. This tradition of historic storytelling presented by elders such as a Dagomba, has been an integral part of African-American music and history. In particular this form of storytelling influenced an artform which ‘began’ in the 1970’s, Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop, a form of music from the inner city, began as party music. A DJ would play songs and rap, or talk, over the instrumental parts of records, in order to keep the crowd moving during the fade in and fade out of a record. As people began to listen more and more to what the DJ would say, the DJ’s rap became more sophisticated and the lyrics, storytelling, became more focused. The lyrics reported on the events taking place in neighborhoods and in society. Similar to the Dagomba, and the playing of the Atumpan, Hip-Hop consisted of spoken words in conjunction with a heavy drumbeat. The words of the deejay/ emcee began to give references and warnings of societal problems affecting African-Americans. For instance, Grandmaster Flash wrote a song titled, White Lines: Don’t Do It. This was a reference to the cocaine addiction problem that exploded in New York and other parts of the country. The line, “Don’t Do It,” is an obvious precursor to the very flawed, “Just Say No,” campaign pushed forth by Nancy Reagan and the government years later. Hip Hop, as documented by Nelson George, began in New York with a DJ whose stage name was Kool Herc. However, just as the lineage of jazz and blues is rooted in the rhythms of African music, so is Hip-Hop. But, as the following information will detail, there was a more immediate precursor, a founder, and a prophet for the culture of Hip-Hop, not unlike the griot. This creator and torchbearer of social-consciousness storytelling began by shouting to the world that, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (Heron 1), and he never looked back. His messages of hope, desperation, and family focused on the concept of ‘Us’ instead of ‘I’. Heron was quoted as saying, “Black Americans do a lot of singing about ‘I’…We were singing ‘us’ songs…because we didn’t love ourselves at the time” (Saunders pg. 2). In the turn of a phrase he had the biting wit of a confident satirist who condemned the government for pushing human rights from the public spectrum. While others declined to comment on society in their art, his views can be found in all of his music and writings. Gil Scott-Heron arrived on the music scene in 1970 with music that was thought provoking and representative of the times. In the following pages, a picture will be painted that will cover the landscape of Gil Scott Heron’s influences, his passion for the written word, his admiration of the beauty of music created from the African culture and how he has influenced the Hip-Hop movement. Throughout African-American history our music symbolized the struggles of our past, the happiness in our lives and the situations that created the happiness or sadness. Sorrow songs, the field songs, cries, hollers and hymns named by W.E.B. DuBois were sung during the time when African-Americans were enslaved. The songs were often coded messages that gave slaves directions of escape and a means of communication with others in the field. This ability to use music as a tool for the dissemination of information continued through the works of Gil Scott-Heron. Gil Scott-Heron was born in Chicago, April 1, 1949 (Contemporary pg. 189), at a time when civil rights struggles were reaching a new level of importance in African-American politics. This racial and confrontational backdrop would become fodder for the music of Gil Scott. The fifties and sixties introduced leaders and groups who had the experience, motivation and ability to organize Blacks and fight segregation, unlike any other time. It was this racially charged era that bore poets such as Nikki Giovanni, Stanley Crouch and Angela Davis (SonicNet pg. 2). These poets came along at a time when the non-violent ideas of Dr. King had been obliterated by the bullet fired in Memphis, TN. These poets along with the heavy influence of The Last Poets set the tone for Gil Scott’s arrival. Like all Blacks, as a child, Heron had no choice in understanding, accepting and overcoming racism. He learned at an early age how vicious the sting of prejudice comments could be. As a child he lived with his grandmother in Jackson, Tennessee where he, “[H]ad the nerve to be one of three Black kids who integrated a Jackson elementary school” (Maycock pg. 1). As traumatizing a situation as this was, it is reasonable to understand why in this southern state he was, “[U]nable to tolerate the abuse ladled out by his White schoolmates” (Bourgoin pg. 189). Many African- Americans believed that salvation could be found in cities of the north. Heron’s grandmother, who continued to fight for Civil Rights, believed this. She sent him to live with his mother in the Bronx, New York, after she realized his inability to cope with the constant abuse by his White peers (pg. 189). However, the melting pot of diversity that awaited Gil Scott, was not a haven that kept him from segregation and racism. New York was exemplary of the broad spectrum of cultural frustration that existed in America. New York also made available to Heron the different and numerous forms of African-American culture. Although he was not immediately attracted to music, his attraction to writing became stronger. Heron began writing at an early age, “[H]e was writing detective stories by the time he was in fifth grade” (Clark pg. 307). Heron’s early writings were a precursor to the diverse outspoken topics that became a standard for him. His ability to capture his thoughts and place them onto paper was a definite sign of the inherent talent of a young Black man who would carry the torch of storytelling. His storytelling would be in correlation with the way Black society was represented, or misrepresented. Just as the Jali, or griot, was educated from birth to know his history, Scott was nurtured and continued to write into his formative high school years. In one of New York’s more prestigious schools, “Fieldston School in the Bronx, he began to absorb modern black poetry by men like Langston Hughes” (Clark Jr. pg. 307). Absorbing the aura of one of African-America’s cultural and spiritual meccas, Harlem, Gil Scott found himself so attracted to the work of Langston Hughes that he decided to continue his education at Langston Hughes’ alma mater, Lincoln University in rural Pennsylvania (Clark Jr. pg. 308). As a student at Lincoln he was awarded the, “Langston Hughes Creative Writing Award in 1968” (pg. 308). The time he spent at Lincoln was the springboard for his journey into music, but his writing was the vehicle he would use to maneuver into the musical realm. Heron’s poetry, although heavily influenced by the Harlem renaissance poets, was similar to the spoken word work of the Last Poets, in it’s brash, in your face presentation. One of his influences occurred through contact with Gylan Kain, a member of the Last Poets, who was on the faculty at Lincoln University for a short time (pg. 308). Heron, during his time at Lincoln accomplished things that are amazing considering he worked, attended school full time and at times was a member of the university basketball team. He completed two novels. The first book was The Vulture, which he completed at the age of nineteen. The Vulture was a novel that presented the problem of drugs and gangs in American society. The plot of Heron’s book continues to be addressed in movies of the Hip-Hop era such as, Boyz in The Hood and New Jack City. His second novel, The Nigger Factory, was a story partially based on a student strike Heron led as a student at Lincoln University. The book dealt with, “[P]olitical unrest and….the history of campus discord” (Bourgoin pg. 189), this book could have likely been the foundation for another movie of the Hip-Hop era, Higher Learning. Both of his novels have the feel of hopelessness and desperation. It wasn’t until his second book; that his personal growth would give hints of a slight change in his ideas about the oppressive state of America. That book was a collection of poetry, which was to become the basis for his first recording, Small Talk at 125th & Lenox. “The poems in Small Talk fall into two types: the free verse street rap, and the shorter rhymed poems…close to the blues in… folksy tones” (Clark Jr. pg. 309). Heron’s constant desire to become a better writer led him to use colloquial tones, which gave a familiarity to his writing. The rhythm his words and speech carried were similar, of course, to his muse Langston Hughes. For example, this is a section of a poem by Hughes named I, Too: …. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen But I laugh/ And eat well/ And grow strong. Tomorrow…Nobody’ll dare Say to me, “Eat in the kitchen.” (Sherman pg. 74) Although Heron’s earlier writings all dealt with topics that lacked the usual ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ he did become more optimistic about the possible changes in American society. The words in Small Talk were still harsh and straight to the point, but his inspiration becomes evident in his poem, Enough: There is no promised land! There is only the promise! ….. look over your shoulder motherfucker I AM COMING! (pg. 309) These volatile words, as angry as they seem, stated that we could make a change once we realized that the ‘Promised Land’ was what we made it to be. Similar to Hughes’ I, Too the message of Enough is the same, if you continue to ignore me I will surpass you and find my own way in this world. Unlike the desperate nature and outcome of Heron’s two books, in Small Talk he began to tackle the problems of African-American neighborhoods with maturity. The hopeless ideas had been replaced with his notion that we had to make our Promised Land by working and challenging the norms of the greater society. The words in the poem, Enough resounds throughout positive messages found in Hip-Hop recordings such as Public Enemy’s, “It takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.” Conscious songs like Arrested Developments’, “Raining Revolution,” almost every thing that Tupac attempted to accomplish and the passion of every record by Common also reflects Heron’s transmission. As was mentioned earlier, Heron’s book of poetry was the catalyst for his mix into the music business, “[A]ged 21 in 1970, Record producer Bob Thiele recorded a first album…the same…as the poetry book…to conga beats and percussion” (Maycock pg. 2). Being reborn and baptized into another artform at such an early age is in itself a fantastic accomplishment, but this recording was only the beginning. His articulation of what he was doing, singing poetry over jazz and blues music was given the name ‘Bluesology’. This term he described in terms similar to what people stated about the rhythms of African music, the sound is a structured feeling, What bluesology is supposed to say is how it feels. [It’s] not melodic, exotic or erotic; it ain’t none of those things. It’s that they all come together and relate what it feels like. I play what it feels like (Bourgoin pg.191). Soon his music overtook his writing and decreased the attention that was given to his books. But this was not of any concern to him, his sole intent as he stated was to, “[R]ecognize the “spirits” of [B]lack ancestors and the history of the struggle…to share ‘gifts” (Bourgoin pg.191). With this first album of poetry the ground had been set to take his outspoken expression to a new level. His outlet would allow him the opportunity to reach millions, and the songs would lay the groundwork for, “[C]onscious rap and poetry slams [and] acid jazz” (Harrington pg. 1). Small Talk was recorded on the Flying Dutchman record label. This label had set a number of poets’ and ‘political agitators’ works to music, such as the aforementioned Angela Davis. Heron recorded for Dutchman records from 1970- 1974 (Bourgoin pg. 190). The recordings are a collaboration with a fellow Lincoln University friend, and co-founder of their “Midnight Band,” Brian Jackson. Others in the band included, “[B]assist Ron Carter and flutist Hubert Laws” (Saunders pg. 2). While Jackson was the musical talent of the two, Heron wrote the lyrics and also composed a number of songs. During his stint on Dutchman he recorded three albums with songs titled, Whitey on the Moon, “[A] satirical look at American socio-economic values” (Bourgoin pg. 190), Lady Day and Coltrane, and A Sign of the Ages (Heron). Each song complemented his growth. They either recognized African-American heritage, or dealt with society issues. He also created a piece which many consider the first Hip-Hop recording, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Just as he did early in his college career, Heron was burning the candle at both ends. He completed his degree in English, creative writing, and went on to finish his master’s degree, all while he continued to perform and make new music (Bordowitz pg. 2). He began teaching creative writing at Federal City College in Washington D.C. while pursuing his artistic expression, but he stopped, “I didn’t think I was doing a good enough job as a teacher and that’s what I was there for” (pg. 2). Heron walked away from teaching and from the Flying Dutchman to become the first artist signed to Arista Records in 1975 (Saunders pg. 2). But before he was signed to Arista, he recorded an album that would bring him to the attention of Arista’s label owner Clive Davis. The name of the album was Winter in America. The song which gained the attention of Davis was titled, The Bottle, “[A] powerful single lamenting the mind-numbing influence of alcohol in the [B]lack community” (Saunders pg. 2). Winter in America, was a return to the roots. The album featured Heron, Jackson, Danny Bowens and Bob Adams, who both drove up on the last day of recording to participate in the record’s completion (Heron 2). In Heron’s liner notes, he states what the metaphor of Winter is, “Mrs. Peggy Harris…contributed the collage…[she] continued to urge me to write a song called Winter in America… Winter is a metaphor for the period in our lives through which we are traveling” (Heron 2). The collage to which Heron is referring is a part of the cover on this album. It is a multifaceted picture of Vietnam veterans, slaves toiling as an overseer watches, children playing, and hustler’s hanging and rapping on a street corner. The collage also has a Black couple hugging each other in a park, a statue of Abraham Lincoln, a silhouette of an African-American man in prison and continuous images that can be described in detail. As an understatement this album is a visual and musical work of art. One of the songs on this record, contains another reference that has been considered a precursor to Hip-Hop, “H2Ogate Blues”, “H20gate Blues is a freestyle ‘70s-style, a partially extemporaneous blues-rap featuring caustic sociopolitical commentary that still stings 25 years later” (Harrington pg. 1). The song title is an obvious reference to Watergate. But it’s the style in which the song was made that ties it more so into Hip-Hop. In the Hip-Hop culture an emcee is respected when he is able to ‘kick a lyric from the top of his dome’, or create a rhyme from inspiration. This ability to freestyle obviously comes from the gospel era, or even the slave songs, where a singer was expected to use heterophony, which is usually performed when one is inspired (Southern pg. 198). H2Ogate was recorded, “[O]ff the top of his head” (Heron 2). Upon closer inspection of Heron’s music we find that nearly all of his songs, books and styles, have been sampled and reproduced by people of the Hip-Hop/spoken word era. For example, the use of percussion, to set the tone of the record, was one of Heron’s trademarks. In Hip-Hop the emcee raps over break beats created by a deejay on a turntable, or in the case of live Hip-Hop bands such as Stetsosonic (mid eighties) and The Roots (current), the bands use classically trained percussionists. Hip-Hop has transferred urban poetry into music, placing political and social commentary into songs, like the KRS-ONE project record, Self-Destruction, which was inspired by the early eighties anti-apartheid album Sun City. Heron was a part of the Sun City record; he recorded a song with Miles Davis and rapper, Melle Mel (Bourgoin pg.190). The last album Heron created was titled Spirits. Spirits arrived after Heron’s turbulent eighties, he had parted ways with the Midnight Band and created his new band the Amnesia Express in 1980. He continued to attack politics with songs about the, “Ray-Gun era…[where he] ferociously spoke about the Reagan era’s demolition of the social policies that had been in place for twenty years, and what that did to the black working class” (Maycock pg. 2). Heron had not recorded for over twelve years when he made Spirits. People wondered where he had been. The answer could be found on one of the tracks he recorded for Spirits, “I need to go home. Mama could change it, Daddy could help me…Mama don’t need to see me this way…I can’t go on” (Maycock pg. 2-3). Heron had been fighting a drug addiction problem and this song he had written earlier, Home Is Where The Hatred Is, came to be his, ‘personal testimony’. With a career that has spanned three decades, Heron’s dedication, to writing and his influence on the Hip-Hop culture has covered miles. From South Africa to South Carolina, the title of his 1975 release, Gil Scott-Heron has maintained the link from the history lessons of Dagomba, to Sorrow songs, to gospel, to the creation of Hip-Hop. Although he won’t say that he is the founder of the Hip-Hop/Spoken Word culture, “I ain’t saying I didn’t invent rapping, I just cannot recall the circumstances” (Bourgoin pg. 191). The evidence is overwhelming in stating that he is truly the grandfather of the Hip-Hop and spoken word artform. Gil Scott’s Message Baritone words of revolution, hidden messages of dreams, Us Black folk done fell asleep. Wake yo ass up and realize, the fields is still callin, invitin you back. Yet you gloat and brag lookin like retired pimps from SuperFly, thinkin that’s cool, fool, find yo spirit. Speak of heritage, there is much more to this world than you believe. Open yo eyes and realize things ain’t changed that much, brother. (Burns) Gil Scott did not officially accept the badge that this culture placed upon him. But in his own words on a song from Spirits, he told the messengers of Hip Hop to beware because their words hold power, like the Jali, the misuse of one word can reshape history forever. End Note: I spoke to Reg E Gaines, who has performed with Heron and is a co-writer of Bring in Da Noize, Bring in Da Funk on Friday, March 10, 2000 at an Open Mic in San Diego. He signed an autograph for me and informed me that Gil Scott is still dealing with his drug problem.

Discover the music of Gil Scott Heron by clicking here and buying work by one of the greatest poets in American Literature.

Read more

PR & Marketing for the little guy

screenshot of my recent Facebook Ad campaign

PR or Public Relations as defined by Howstuffworks.com is, “A basic definition of public relations is to shape and maintain the image of a company, organization or individual in the eyes of the client’s various “publics.” What is a “public” exactly? A public, in PR terms, is anyone who ever has or ever will form an opinion about the client.”

I recently decided to actually work as a writer again. The interesting thing about this is that, I already had a number of projects completed, from a writing career that started in 1995. I was pretty young at that time and knew I needed to learn my craft so I went to school and studied. I practiced and continued writing producing several books in a number of genres. Somewhere along the way, life interrupted me and I never really promoted any of the work and eventually I stopped thinking about being a writer as a job. This year though I was inspired by an associate of mine (Jay Norfolk owner of Urban Expressions bookstore),  too begin placing some time into the work I’ve created.

read more

Read more

You Should Read This: Archie’s Psalm

Authored by Christopher D. Burns

Archie’s Psalm is a glimpse into the life of a latchkey kid who is encountering situations that force him to learn about the changing world around him. A coming of age story with a carefully crafted narrative and subplot, Archie’s Psalm shows the transitioning world of a neighborhood in Memphis, TN ten years after Dr. King’s death. Through the setting, vivid character descriptions and moving storytelling a hot and humid southern neighborhood comes to life. Through the use of dialect and song the shifting tone and sound of the south reminds the reader of Zora Neale Hurstons’ novels. A work of literature that is artistic, powerful and important. A book that could become as relevant as Ann Petry’s The Street.

read more

Read more

A Father’s Day Poem

This is not your traditional Father’s Day poem. This poem is for those who grew up in a single parent household without their fathers. It is not a celebration of mom as father. It is not condemnation of the father who was not there. It is a letter that I had to write to myself. I had to learn to reach out although everything inside of me says that this is not for me to do, it’s for him. This is for all of those who are trying to figure this out.

At this point,

I’m beginning to open.

I can’t bring certain questions

read more

Read more

Winter In Hip-Hop: Track – 3: And It Goes A Little Something Like This

Here I am, a man frustrated with the state, status, complacency of Hip-Hop, listening to an R& B album, ‘Neo Soul’ CD that is almost replacing my desire for finding Rap music that sounds ‘different’. Hip-Hop doesn’t create in me the same emotions it used to. Maybe once or twice, or a few more times I found myself completely in awe of an emcee’s ability to move beyond simplistic weed smoke, drinking anthems and hood stories on wax. But due to the insistence of the media the vast amount of rap music pushed to the public and the youth (who are unaware of more sonically, lyrically challenging rap that exists) distorts the image of Hip-Hop so the artform is suffering. Along with these media representations not only is the image of Blacks in America crumbling, but the actual fiber is being broken down like metamucil in water.

America consumes the negative aspects of rap with an indifferent and damaging ear. Ironically, it isn’t Black America that supports the majority of the negative rap music. It is also not the majority of Blacks who support the positive acts in Hip-Hop. White America is the major consumer of rap music period. We can not however expect Whites to state, “This negative Hip-Hop music is damning to the images of Blacks let’s stop purchasing this.” The artists who capitalize have to become more aware of the affects of the music and stop. But the argument stands, “Does the artist have a responsibility to the consumer, or does the artist have a responsibility to create art?” White people have always encroached upon Black art. There is nothing wrong with that. The problem lies in the Black artists catering to the stereotypes presented for profit. My belief in the learning process tells me that the unconscious, and conscious, mind learns and acts on those things it has consistently heard. In other words, even the strongest person learns through repetition. When a person is listening they are learning. Even the strong, who can supposedly differentiate between right or wrong, hears certain things over and over and those things become habits that are innate. An abused child is continuously told they are ugly. The child eventually has self-esteem problems. Regardless of how handsome or beautiful, the child carries that repetitious refrain of ugliness inside and their appearance/ life is skewed. Something is not quite right and the child has problems that manifest because of this. How is it that a person, ‘mature’ people included, can listen to music so destructive and repetitious in its desire to be ‘hard’, hear this music without carrying ill effects in their soul? A person rides the bus 2 hours a day. Through headphones the hook of the latest popular rap song repeats, “You ain’t no friend of mine, you ain’t no kin of mine, I’ll get you with a nine.” Is it any wonder why students, young men and women act out this attitude in the classroom? This identity that reflects ‘cool’ in the song is mimicked, whether the emcee is justified in creating the lyric is irrelevant. I will state that great Hip-Hop albums speak to the heart of the individual creating the song. But I state this with one caveat, only the first Hip-Hop album from an artist is true to that state of existence. After an artist has become successful the murderous hood narrative, becomes exploitation and deceit in an attempt to remain relevant and rich. The lyrics of the song floating through the headphones are seductively sung and richly produced to a point that the style of the song covers the content and the ignorance within the track. The song betrays the listener and makes the buyer accept ideas such as suicide, rape, drug abuse, and misogyny, as cool in the context of the song. When, if those words are printed in a book and read by a man to a woman, or parent to a child, the person writing would be thought of as a threat to any positive movement. However, because the track has a bangin beat and is considered the shit, an emcee can literally say whatever the ‘fuck’ he wants, holla. Stupid and asinine lyrics are so accepted that Hip-Hop outlets have allowed the conscious lyricists little access to the mainstream. The listener is entranced, hypnotized by straight up foolishness and ignorance. How does one learn? Repetition. The simplest method of control for a person in a dominant position is the constant reinforcement of rules and punishment for the subordinate. 1. You don’t go to work on time you’re fired. 2. You make a mistake at practice you are required to practice longer and harder. 3. You don’t make curfew… You get the picture. These things are laid out before all people as a matter of defacto and dejure laws. They are understood and engrained; therefore we try our best to adhere. Even rules we have never heard from a direct source become embedded in our subconscious. So what makes a listener believe that hearing, “Bitches ain’t shit but ho’s and tricks,” isn’t detrimental to one’s well being? “I’m a mothafuckin gangsta,” “I got girls,” over and over again. How does one learn? People who seek out Hip-Hop beyond capitalist rap are not an elite and small number of people. We are not a distinguished group who should be revered and private in our music choices. We should try our best to spread the word about ‘empowering’ Hip-Hop music to battle against the ill effects of rap. If you were to check when the decline of Blacks began (I’m speaking of the lack of a nationalist movement to continue gaining access to social, political, and financial arenas) one only has to check the year rap music began to make an impression on the U.S. economy. This era, the mid eighties, coincides with Reaganomics and the placement of crack cocaine in poor neighborhoods. Hip-Hop began to change, and of course it would. As Tupac said he was ‘reporting’ on life in the inner city. A year before the 1992 Los Angeles uprising, Tupac, on his album 2pacalypse Now, consistently prophesized the potential for this event to occur, “One day I’m gonna bust/ Blow up on this society/ Why did you lie to me/ I couldn’t find a trace of equality.” Ice Cube in 1992 followed up this sentiment in the song, “We Had to Tear This Muthafucka Up,” from his album The Predator. In a rush to report the problems with America, artists like Paris attempted to create a more conscious music beyond the New Jack Swing/Gangsta Hip-Hop of the time. The misstep by Hip-Hop was embarrassing. Only two years removed from the King incident, and the LA uprising, the West Coast rap invasion and the movie industry decided to capitalize on this moment by introducing some of the most destructive material of our time under the guise of reality. Dr. Dre released The Chronic and the Hughes Brothers introduced probably the most influential gangsta in movie industry history O Dawg from Menace to Society. These two moves were pivotal. It is not that there wasn’t any violence or problems before this movie and cd, but the image of weed and an extremely charismatic and attractive psychotic gangbanger was overwhelming to a generation of kids and adults looking for a Black icon to latch onto. In relation to movements (civil rights, BPP, NOI) Hip Hop has come up as short as a pair of 1979 NBA game shorts. Instead of maintaining and supporting the Human Education Against Lies/ Stop the Violence Movement, New BPP, the L.A. Peace Treaty or taking aim at displaying the injustices of the legal system, we create The Chronic and Ready to Die as ‘classic’ Hip-Hop records. Yet albums like Blowout Comb or records by Spearhead, Souls of Mischief and Freestyle Fellowship, and artists like Organized Konfusion, were pushed to the side. The Chronic did have the song “Little Ghetto Boy,” but one positive song on an album does not give you the right to condemn a whole culture. Am I being a little hypocritical here, yes, but the duality of emceeing is that when it is done well, it can consume you. However there has to be a point where you say ‘wait a minute’. Our culture has rarely addressed war or conflicts central to the problems in Black America (education, joblessness, single parent households) beyond words to fill in blanks for a rhyme to be completed, or as metaphor. At what moment did Hip-Hop lose its power? How did this artform’s failure to foster Black upliftment destroy everything Blacks have worked for? The world is so vast. There are so many problems that to read of every issue becomes overwhelming. How do you fix the world when your house is not in order? Indeed the greatest threat to Blacks remains the structural makeup of capitalism which requires segments of the population to remain impoverished, but where is the moral fiber of our people and our culture? Winter In Hip-Hop:  A collection of essays
Read more

Stages: a handbook on men & relationships

There are four stages men go through before settling down with one woman, according to Terrence Matthews. If a man hasn’t encountered each stage he will never be ready for marriage. Terrence relays his Stages theory to the reader as he tells of his own movement through these phases.

 Buy Stages: a handbook on men and relationships now
if you want to read it at your own pace.

Also available on Kindle

Read more

You Should Read This: A Man’s State of Mind by Christopher D. Burns

It only takes one time for a man to be hurt before he turns bad.  Unlike women, men… Well, let’s say men don’t have the recovery capabilities that women own.  Darryl Cartier no longer wants to be wrong, but the choices made in the past force him into a new sense of understanding how it all works. As funny as it seems the one thing that can make a man ‘get right’ could be the one thing that prevents true happiness.

A Man’s State of Mind is a book that was written before its time. The author created the novella without realizing the book would be so relevant ten years later. The original goal was to simply write a book that dealt with Black women and their relationships with Black men. It is not the typical relationship novel that deals with, ‘he say, she say.’ The book tackles issues with enough tact and care to make the storyline lighthearted and subtle in its approach to a serious topic. This is an important book that deserves attention and discussion.

read more

Read more

25 Key Points: Key Point 6 – Grassroots Marketing Is Vital

Key Point 6: Grassroots Marketing is Vital – I have been involved in basketball for the last 16 years. I was a college student/athlete, a head coach, assistant athletic director, recruiter for a JUCO, camp coordinator, basketball website developer, point of contact for college coaches seeking players, and finally as an NBA/NCAA blogger. All of these things are basically considered a part of Grassroots basketball. Grassroots is a term that has been around for a very long time. In regard to basketball, it typically refers to a marketing strategy by a shoe company looking to promote their brand by developing relationships with athletes by selling or giving them gear that will create brand awareness.

read more

Read more

25 Key Points: Key Point 5 – Learn To Do Some Things Yourself

Key Point 5: Learn To Do Some Things Yourself – Let’s say you have decided to start your own photography service. You have gone to school as an art major and you learned to shoot videos and film as an elective. You really enjoy photography and it has become a passion. Photography is one of the fastest changing forms of media around. Every week a new product arrives that can take a picture and make the picture better, brighter, and clearer. The knowledge that you learned a month ago can be obsolete within two months after learning that material.

read more

Read more

Kindle Release of One Hour To Wealth

The Amazon Kindle is one of the best e-readers on the market. However a lot of people don’t realize that you don’t need a Kindle to actually purchase books. There is an app that is made for your PC, your Smart Phone, the iPad, let me just give you the link. The great thing about the Kindle App is that it is free. This means that you don’t have to worry about paying money for an app and then paying for the book. You can simply download the App to your device of choice and in a few minutes you can download my new book One Hour To Wealth and begin reading. Shameless plug? Yeah Buddy! One Hour To Wealth is the first book that actually gives you a definition of wealth and then takes it a step further than simply restating mantras and facts.  The book gives you a plan of action to either copy or develop your own plan. Grab a copy, read it and let me know what you think, or ask me questions. Of course you could wait for me to continue posting the Key Points here on the site, but why not use the five that you were going to grab some momentary Mickey D’s with to improve your life? Here is the link. One Hour To Wealth
Read more

25 Key Points: Key Point 4 – You Need A Business Plan

Key Point 4: You Need a Business Plan – While I have failed to cover business plans, I am adamant about the importance of organization. The reason I made the mistakes I made with my first business is because I failed to analyze my market and understand terminology and create projections that would enable me to generate a better path through the wilderness of small business. When I began developing my sneaker business, the second time around I took one year to develop contacts and the ideas to establish ARCH. I included in that plan the fact that I would have to grow slowly because I did not want to create debt. I also added an expanded plan which included creating a sneakershop that carried more than just my brand. My business plan is over 40 pages in length and it includes, Purchase Forecast, Sales Forecast, Marketing Strategies, and of course Mission Statements and my personal story (developed after reading Primal Branding). If you are talking to someone about business and you ask them if they have a business plan, and they don’t…Get the hell away from them as quickly and nicely as you can. Oh, run away also if the person tells you that they don’t revise and add to their plan every now and then. I would like to add that spending too much time on a biz plan can prevent you from ever actually starting your biz.

Buy One Hour To Wealth

Read more

25 Key Points: Key Point 3 – Stay In Your Lane

Key Point 3: Stay In Your Lane – Once you’ve decided to try one of your ideas, it will be tempting to try other things that look like they are working for others. You may see a friend or associate selling flowers and making pretty good money, so you start thinking that you can do that as well. The thing about doing this is taking this kind of action leads you off of the path. Your business may be mobile detailing for vehicles which is a good business. You could add selling air fresheners to your job but deciding to sell tamales and do mobile detailing would be way out of your lane. Stay focused on the idea that you believe in and learn as much as you can about it. Then place the time and effort into that idea. Don’t weave in traffic unless you want the idea cops to pull you over for drunk thinking.

Introduction: 25 Key Points to Stay Motivated in Business

Key Point 1: Be Creative
Key Point 2: Capitalize on Opportunities
Key Point 3: Stay In Your Lane
Key Point 4: You Need A Business Plan
Key Point 5: Learn To Do Some Things Yourself
Key Point 6: Grassroots Marketing is Vital
Key Point 7: Change Is Inevitable
Key Point 8: Daily Dedication & Consistency
Key Point 9: Do Not Swim Upstream
Key Point 10: Develop A Plan of Action
Key Point 11: Social Media is Grassroots
Key Point 12: Find Out About Resources
Key Point 13: Research Your Chosen Market
Key Point 14: Use A Blog To Launch Your Ideas
Key Point 15: Blogs Are Easy To Use vs WYSIWYG or Dreamweaver
Key Point 16: Blogs Are Easier To Monetize
Key Point 17: Ad Revenue is Real
Key Point 18: Conquer Your Region First
Key Point 19: You Have Great Ideas
Key Point 20: Stay Away From Dream Killers
Key Point 21: Remember The Blog is a great way to launch an idea
Key Point 22: The Perfect Time Is Now
Key Point 23: Get Up and Write it Down

read more

Read more

A Few Thoughts on Obama and Presidents in General

Wait a minute, you really think this is my fault?
I am not going to go into detail about the US losing its AAA credit rating with S&P. Although the fact that it happened on a Black President’s watch is pretty darn funny, in the funniest unfunny way that I can approach it. (Insert random Black person and credit joke here.) When President Obama was elected I told a close friend that this was the only time in history that a Black man could get the job. The country was losing trillions on wars abroad, the home loan industry, which had become the backbone of the economy since the 90s was in the dumps and the crisis America faced/faces was paramount to walking in front of a firing range at Marine base Camp Pendleton. In other words, the country was literally going to hell in a handbasket with the devils singing Brittany Spears (Ooops I did it again) and eating copious amounts of gas inducing beans, blasting a stench that would linger for at least 4 years into the next presidency. In other words, if there was anytime to let a Black man take the fall for a country that has been falling for 30 years, why not now? With that said let’s get to my primary point for writing this short post: Obama and Black People. Just a quick thought on Obama’s presidency: Has any president ever made good on his campaign promises? Has any president in the last 40 years placed an emphasis on improving the quality of life for Blacks? Okay, I’ll wait while you search the internet for facts that show how Presidents have tackled the Black agenda… I’m waiting. Nothing huh? Let’s think about it: President Reagan was on watch when crack and cocaine literally destroyed the area around the White House and the rest of the country. His foreign policy literally opened the flood gates for the drug trade to blossom. Who did that hurt? Black people. The first Black President, Bill Clinton, ended educational programs in prison that increased the recidivism rate of Black men who were already being imprisoned at a higher rate than their counterparts who had drugs like cocaine and heroin. The drug laws, three strikes, etc. targeted Black men; let’s not act as if they didn’t. Clinton removed the education programs that could have brought some balance to men who had been institionalized. Clinton also oversaw a government that actually created many of the tax breaks and regulation issues that President Bush increased during his presidency. In short, there really hasn’t ever been a President that has placed the Black agenda at the forefront. Our President is now expected to act on behalf of the lower-middle class, just because he is Black? Talking heads all over the place are calling for the President to remain true to his Campaign promises. By my count the President said he would try to fight for universal health care. He did that, while it won’t ever really be implemented, he did that. Under his watch Gay Americans are now being married and it has yet to be repealed, kind of… He did that. Drawing down of troops has been taking place, although he has taken the country into another war. Let’s be serious though… Had he not sent troops to Afghanistan, or assisted with Khadafi, he would have been considered a coward President who was afraid of confrontation. The President has continued to bail out big business, and extended the tax cuts. Alright he could have done a better job of this, but when has the President ever had the ability to pass legislation? That belongs to the House and Senate which is controlled by? The most important thing that this President did is prevent a complete crash of the economy. But simply because the President is Black, Black folks are doing what we have grown accustomed to doing in the last 40 years, asking for a hook-up. Prior to the Civil Rights movement these are things that were better for Blacks: 1. More Black men were enrolled in college than were in jail. 2. More Black families existed 3. Blacks showed the greatest growth for any race in the country as far as improving their status in life. 4. There were more Black owned businesses 5. Neighborhoods existed where people didn’t have to fear for their life from other Blacks. In other words Blacks have never required assistance from the government or the President to make themselves better people. President Obama is being held to a completely different standard than any President has. White people hate whoever is in office, so their mistreatment of the President is status quo. Sorry White people. Black people though, if you are going to complain about this President because he hasn’t given you a hook up, take a few minutes to write the people who can actually make a difference in your life: Your local councilperson, your local government, your mayor and state reps. Those are the people who will have to get the President’s ear. I really don’t want to end this post with something that sounds so simple, but I will: Ask not what your President can do for you, ask what you can do for your own damn self. That is all.
Read more

Writing is Just Different for a Black Man

Who will be the next Ralph Ellison?
A writer wakes up each morning, or at the end of the day, and begins crafting narratives. This is what writer’s do. Traditionally, a writer would complete a manucript and purchase Writer’s Market, or some other publication and begin looking for agents. I did this before and during graduate school. In graduate school I was told by my professors that I had what it took to become a “writer”. What I failed to understand is that although they had christened me and given me all of the motivation I needed, my writing program failed to explain the realities involved in writing. They specifically failed to explain to me that a Black man writing is unlike any other person creating narratives. The publishing industry used to be veiled in secrecy. A group of old White men decided the fate of a manuscript: slush pile or publication. Today, self publishing is as accessible as television stations to viewers. Basically anyone with a bit of savvy and computer literacy can put out a publication. I have had the “honor” of being signed by an agent, and having books “sold” under the premise that I rewrite. My problem was I didn’t understand publishing and my MFA program did not explain to me that the writer makes concessions. I didn’t want to change anything in the story. The editing I was okay with, but changing what happened with a character? Out of the question. Needless to say, my writing career with an agent, went south very fast and I did what most people do today, I self published.

Self-publishing is beautiful. It provides anyone with the chance to create a writing career. Many self-published authors have moved on to successful traditional careers, where the agent submits their work, and a publishing company prints and releases the book. Self publishing works and has generated new companies, technologies and opportunities. It has also generated so much information that like the internet the problem becomes where and how do you find information? It has also created the situation where there are so many “bad” books being produced, that sell because of persistence, “good” books get lost in the shuffle. While traditional publishing does not guarantee a “great” book, it does tend to make the best effort at producing books that have the potential to be great. Self Publishing has this capacity as well, but due to a lack of professional editing, randomly designed book covers and a rush to publish, many stories with potential fail to reach that potential.
What does being a Black male writer have to do with this? While writers create and should not have to consider audience or where they will be marketed, the simple fact is all writers are faced with the problem of how they will be promoted and who they will be promoted amongst. There is also the inherent “fact” that people who look alike, tend to shop and buy from who they look like in literature. Most Black writer’s create for Black people. Even if they don’t create for Black people, they are placed in the Black literature section and marketed to Black people. Most Black men, realizing that Black men don’t read as much as women, write like Black women. They cater to this audience because in order to sell books, well, they have to. The problem then becomes, if you are a Black male writer, and you write a book that does not utilize a particular set of rules: overindulgence in sex, no good men, superwoman, then that book fails to gain a following. The Black Male Writer is a role that is difficult to take on because finding an audience is difficult.

read more

Read more

Section 4 Business and Entrepreneurship

Watch Section 1
Watch Section 2
Watch Section 3
Watch Section 4

This was originally posted in 2011 to the site and is a little dated, but is still very relevant. I eventually captured all of these points and place them into One Hour To Wealth: Your Great Idea is Valuable…Get Up and Write It Down!Excuse the baggy gym shorts, lol.

Read more

Section 3 Business and Entrepreneurship

Watch Section 1
Watch Section 2
Watch Section 3
Watch Section 4

This was originally posted in 2011 to the site and is a little dated, but is still very relevant. I eventually captured all of these points and place them into One Hour To Wealth: Your Great Idea is Valuable…Get Up and Write It Down!Excuse the baggy gym shorts, lol.

Read more

Stages: A Handbook On Men and Relationships Chapter Breakdown with Links

I had a friend who recently said he wanted to read Stages, but he couldn’t find the first chapter easily. I am remedying that problem by setting up this post. Here you can click on each chapter and read the book from beginning to end. If you decide to buy the e-book or the actual book just click here. If you want to connect with me on Facebook Click Here. Thanks for the support and enjoy.

Part 1 Stages: A Handbook On Men and Relationships – Introduction Part 1 Stages: A Handbook On Men and Relationships – Chapter 1 Part 1 Stages: A Handbook On Men and Relationships – Chapter 2 Part 1 Stages: A Handbook On Men and Relationships – Chapter 3 Part 1 Stages: A Handbook On Men and Relationships – Chapter 4 Part 1 Stages: A Handbook On Men and Relationships – Chapter 5 Part 1 Stages: A Handbook On Men and Relationships – Chapter 6 Part 1 Stages: A Handbook On Men and Relationships – Chapter 7

read more

Read more

Who says we’re not reading?

Speaking of reading, some organization polled America that revealed the latest statistics about the decline of readers. They developed this poll by researching how many people checked out library books and the sales of books in closing stores such as Barnes-n-Noble. People still go to library? If I had the tools, I would do a follow up research on how many people now read from Kindles, Nooks, iPads, download books from mobile apps, and other electronic devices that they didn’t include in that poll. Don’t let them start making us feel like our intelligence is on decline because of the rise of technology. After all, I make it a point to read my newsfeed on facebook every single day.

read more

Read more

Part 2: Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 22

Chapter 22 Life becomes a habit if you don’t start doing something in your spare time to keep you sane. I had continued with my music, but I’d picked up another trade in my spare time, something I’d come to enjoy thoroughly, writing. Flip had added more speakers to his house and bought a new amp for his system. He even bought a four track machine to record some stuff he and Tina had started doing. She played the piano and sang. Flip played the guitar, not well, but he was getting there. We would spend our Saturdays going to the beach or barbecuing in Flip’s backyard. Oh, Janice learned how to shop more efficiently and less over the course of the year, which was a really good thing for her. I guess clothes had become her hobby. She had even begun designing some skirts and other things. She hadn’t done anything with the designs, but she really got into it. Some of her stuff was really flyy. Anyway December 3rd, Flip and I went to the mall to start looking for Christmas gifts. He had to buy things for his folks and I was looking for another gift for my sister and something for my mom who has everything already, except me at home. “How much money you plan on spending this year?” he asked me. “Not much, I’m looking at a house.” “Get the hell outta here. Are you looking at a house or are you both looking at a house?” “We’re looking for a house.” “That’s alright man. Oh snap let’s go look at those.” I don’t know if it’s human nature or just plain ol guy stuff, but we could never go to the mall without hitting the sneaker store and checking out the new stuff. It wasn’t that I minded, but I had a budget and hell, Flip was still bringing his lunch to work. We stopped anyway and I walked out with another pair of gym shoes I didn’t need. I knew I had to hide them though. Janice was already complaining that I had almost as many shoes as she did. “Man I shouldn’t have bought these,” I said. “Why come you always let me do that man?” “It ain’t my fault. I didn’t put a gun to your head and walk you to the counter to spend a hundred and fifteen dollars. You know Janice is gonna trip.” “What, I’m the man. She ain’t gonna say a word.” “That’s cause you’re gonna hide them,” Flip said. We laughed and continued walking around the mall. “So where do you wanna look first?” he asked. “Let’s run down and put these shoes in the car.” After walking back up the ramp we went to a couple of lingerie stores. I saw this sheer bodysuit that had a hole in the crotch area. “I should buy this for Janice. What do you think?” I asked poking my finger through the hole. Flip pushed me to the side. “You a hot ass.” “Like you wouldn’t want to see your girl in this.” “Already have.” I felt compelled to ask him how the whole thing with Tina was going. “Flip, how is Tina really doing man?” I asked as we walked towards another woman’s store. “What do you mean?” “You know I ain’t prying, I’m just wondering.” “She still talks about it sometimes. I listen mainly though. I know she’s happy now. That’s all that matters. Every now and then she’ll wake up sweating.” “It’s like post traumatic stress or something huh?” “I guess.” “I don’t blame her though. She’s lucky to have met you a Stage Three brother.” “Tee, for a while now you’ve been talking about this stage stuff, what the hell are you talking about?” “I’ll show it to you one day. I’m still working on it.” “Whatever. Let’s go down to the jewelry store.” “For what,” I asked. “Earrings. Women love earrings, you can’t go wrong.” “I guess.” Inside of the store I looked for something simple my mom and my sister could wear at any time. I didn’t want to overdo it with some humongous hoops or those ones that look like doorknockers. Flip bought his mom and dad matching watches. It took me a little longer cause I was trying to be cheap. I stopped at the thirty-nine dollar earring section, but that’s where the doorknockers were. Flip walked over with his bag in his hand, “You just spent over one hundred dollars on your sneakers, but you’re in the cheap ass section in a nice jewelry store?” “Shut up, I’m trying to pick something here.” “I’ma call your mama. I ain’t lying. I’ma call her and tell you bought a pair of kicks that cost more than both of their Christmas gifts.” I didn’t acknowledge him. I just walked over to the more expensive jewelry. I wasn’t gonna let Flip call my mom and get me in trouble. Ain’t nothing worse than being a grown man and getting argued at by your mom. I bought my sister a small tennis bracelet with three small diamonds in it and I got my mom a pair of white and yellow gold, diamond cut earrings. The woman behind the counter wrapped the gifts as we stood and continued to look around. There was a section for wedding rings towards the front of the store. I grabbed Flip by the sleeve and took him up to the case. There were matching his and her wedding bands and separate engagement rings inside of the sparkling case. A little Asian woman walked up. “Double marriage or double engagement?” she asked. “Neither,” Flip and I both answered. “We’re just looking,” I said. “If you’re looking then must be thinking about it,” she replied. “Maybe,” Flip said looking at her name tag. “Ahn may I see that one?” he asked. I was thinking about getting engaged. We looked at each other and began really looking at the rings. I spotted a beautiful carat and a half ring with two sapphires around it set into a braided white gold band. Flip picked up a two carat, traditional gold ring. “You two have very good taste,” Ahn said. She pulled out the rings and let us hold them. We laughed and just stared at the rings. “What do you think bro?” I asked. “I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I mean we talked about marriage once or twice, but Tina didn’t want to seem pushy about it.” “I tried to talk about it with Janice but I punked out. I figured what’s the point in messing up something that doesn’t have any problems?” “I think maybe.” “You think?” “What do you think?” “It doesn’t matter what I think.” “It does.” “Look, if you’re gonna do it, then do it. I personally don’t know,” I said. “Then why’d you drag me over here?” Flip asked. Ahn was looking at us, back and forth, like she was watching a tennis match. She interrupted us. “How long have you boys been with your ladies?” she asked. “Bout a year and a half,” Flip answered. “You guys met them at same time?” she asked. “Yeah,” I said. “There is something called destiny. You heard of it right? Don’t answer, let me finish. You met them at same time, been together for the same amount of time-” “Well, not exactly-” “Ah tut tut,” she said holding her hand up, damn near making me speak to the hand. “Perfect thing would be to propose at same time. That’s very romantic. You two think about that,” she said taking the rings from us. We walked back to pick up our packages. We left the store with what we came for, but we also left with a sensible suggestion that really made sense. As we walked down the ramp towards the cars we talked about the whole thing. “Flip, I kinda, wanna, maybe, you know?” “Me too, but if neither one of us can say it then you think we’re ready?” “I wanna get engaged to Janice. Now, I said it.” I pushed the button on my keychain to open the doors and we climbed inside the car. We pulled out of our space and I stopped. “I really wanna get engaged man,” I said. “Me too, but I don’t wanna do it just cause you’re doing it.” “That’s not what we’re doing. I love her and you love Tina so I say we get the rings.” I’d backed halfway out into the driving lane and was blocking traffic. People started blowing their horns and shouting. I sat for a second longer before pulling back into my spot. “You better hope they don’t key your car,” Flip said. “It’s just a car.” “Hold up, did you just say that it’s just a car? I thought it was a Legend?” “Just a car man. It’s a nice one I will admit, but if somebody messes with it I got full coverage,” I said climbing out of the car. Flip sat inside and didn’t move. I looked down and mouthed the words, “You coming?” He climbed out and walked beside me without talking for a while. Then finally he spoke. “Looking at an engagement ring, not caring about the car, thinking about buying a house, damn, my boy done got X Filed.” “What?” “You ain’t Tee, you’re an alien. Where’s my boy, what did you do with him?” he said looking in my ears. “Stop buggin man.” “I’m just surprised that’s all. Just surprised. My man done finally grew up.” “I know, it’s strange huh?” “You didn’t see it coming,” Flip said as we laughed. That was like our little inside joke. We didn’t see it coming came from this incident that occurred when we went to the park one day to shoot ball. Check this out right: Flip and I were just shooting around, playing a little ball. When this big muscular brother walked up with this pit bull. He tied the dog up to the fence that surrounded the basketball court. Then he walked over to us and asked, “What’s up cuz, can I hoop with yaw’ll?” I looked at his big ass and then at Flip. “Yeah man,” I said. I sure in the hell wasn’t gonna say no to this San Diego Charger disguised as a crip. I threw the ball to him and let him shoot first. Flip just stood looking. This brother had C’s and street numbers tattooed on him and what looked like a long knife wound on his back, that might not’ve been too old. “How long yaw’ll been hoopin homey?” he asked his voice husky and rough. “Not long,” Flip said. I guess Flip didn’t want to say that we wanted to leave. Homeboy probably would’ve kicked our asses. So we kept shooting and playing with, “Lil C.” Why big dudes always wanna be called ‘Lil Something?’ So, we kept playing, although we were tired as hell from being out there for about an hour by ourselves. The sun was starting to come out and I was beginning to get what felt like a heat stroke, but I wasn’t leaving until this brother got enough shooting in. About ten minutes into playing a game of 21, his dog started barking. We turned around to look at what was coming. It was this sister with a nice looking Labrador retriever. She let the dog go and the first thing the lab did was walk towards the pit bull. I knew this was gonna be bad. Lil C walked over in front of his dog to stop the lab from getting ate the hell up. So there was Lil C hovering over the Labrador. This sister walked up behind her dog. I guess she didn’t know much about pit bull’s. “Let them dogs play,” she said to Lil C. Lil C knew what would happen if the lab got closer. The goofy Labrador was jumping back and forth as if Lil C was playing with him. “Lady, get yo dawg away from my dog,” Lil C said once. “Let them dogs play.” The lady said. I kept trying to play ball, I didn’t want any part of it. Flip kept being nosy. Lil C requested once more, “Lady, get yo dawg, away from my dog,” he then pushed her dog away. The lab thinking that this big ass dude was playing, kept jumping back and forth darting in between Lil C’s legs. He continued to push the dog away. The lab continued to play. “Stop pushing my dog. This is a park, let the dog’s play,” she said. Lil C raised his arms up like he was about to box and told the lady, “Lady, get yo dog, or on my mama, I’ma bomb on him.” I stopped shooting and looked at Flip. “Bomb on him?” I asked Flip. I thought to myself hell no, he won’t do it. “You ain’t gonna do nothing. Let them dogs play,” the lady said. Lil C lifted his arms up higher and said it one last time, “Lady get yo dog away from my dog, or I’ma bomb on him.” The dog, still thinking Lil C was playing, kept darting between his legs. The whole time the pit is trying to get off of the fence to rip the silly little lab apart. I looked at Flip, we both looked over at the scene. Before you could say, “Move little doggy,” Lil C pulled his hand back and caught the dog smack dab on the side of his face. The dog stopped bouncing and dropped. The lady screamed, “You motherfucker you crazy.” Lil C looked at her and said, “I tooold you, I was gon bomb on him, I toooold you.” I dropped the ball and watched the dog lying still on the ground. About ten seconds later, the dog tried to stand up. The dog propped his front legs up, then the back, then he just fell to the side again. The dog finally stood up and started running sideways. The sister shouted, “You crazy bastard, I’m gonna get my husband.” Lil C untied his dog and walked away. The lady held her dog and walked him back to the car. Flip and I stood in disbelief. “The dog never saw it coming,” Flip said. I repeated, “Never saw it coming.” We walked to his car and drove home. Every since then we always said that phrase, “He never saw it coming,” like if a brother got smacked or someone tripped up on something. Here was Flip applying the phrase to me and all I could do was laugh. It was funny though, I was a self-proclaimed bachelor, like Ginuwine, and I was the one rushing to pick a ring. Go figure. We made it back to the store and asked the lady to engrave something on the rings. As we stood in front of the counter, I heard a voice that sounded familiar. It was Manny, he was in the ring section getting a small ring for Hilda. He saw Flip and I, and walked up. “Boss, I didn’t see a thing,” he said laughing and patting me on my back. “Damn Manny can’t we go anywhere without you being there?” Flip asked. “I don’t know, can you?” he said laughing. “You guys shopping for rings huh?” “Yeah,” I said. “Bout time, I’m tired of catching you two hugging all the time. That was starting to get gross.” “Whatever Manny,” Flip said. “Just kidding boss. I’m just buying a little something for the Mrs. Excuse me sir,” he said speaking to Flip. “I never thanked you for what you did.” “What did I do?” Flip asked. “You don’t have to say, but I know what you did, gracias, vaya con Dios.” “God be with you also Manny,” Flip said extending his hand. Manny shook it and walked back towards the saleslady. “You are blessed man,” I said to Flip. I felt like I was in the presence of one of the chosen. Flip definitely had Air, and as usual he seemed to be wise beyond his years. I broke the peace by asking him what he was going to have placed inside of his ring. “I don’t know. Let me think, what about December 3rd?” “I guess.” I had December 24th and Janice placed inside. Flip wrote December 3rd inside of his as a personal statement towards when he decided to make the jump to Stage Four. My date represented the date that I would propose.

Buy Stages now if you want to read it at your own pace, or just check back to keep reading it here.

Read more

Part 2: Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 21

Chapter 21 I was on top of the world after that night. My life seemed so perfect. We shared our first week with each other talking and feeling excited about us. It all seemed like a dream. I never expected to be this happy. The second week passed and Flip and I had talked about everything. About how I had adjusted and how he and Tina were doing. I knew that the day we went to church together that everything had changed in Tina and Flip’s lives. I could see it in her confidence and in the way he said her name everytime he had a chance. For the first time since Flip and I had been boys we shared the same thoughts about women and relationships. I remember saying that if there were three men, one would be Stage Four, one would be Stage Three and the other Stage Two. In all honesty I’m not sure how that one works. But I can confirm how Flip and I were, Stage Three all the way, the right way. The wrong way would’ve been decisions to be with the ladies strictly for our own personal reasons. We laughed and joked at work and it made the days fly by. Our spirits seemed to affect everyone. The guys on the line seemed to be pushing out the equipment just as fast as we could inspect it. Even the engineers upstairs were coming down to the floor and inspecting stuff, at least trying to inspect stuff. Work was good and life was great, life is great. “Flip, I know that we said we’d talk about this a while back, but I guess it just slipped our minds.” “What is it?” He grabbed his empty lunch bag from the office refrigerator. Tina had been making lunch for him to bring so he could start budgeting. I still paid for my lunch, Janice wasn’t that motherly, which wasn’t bad. I liked the way she was. I would cook sometimes and she would cook sometimes, but mainly we ate pizza. We walked towards the front of the building to my car. We had started carpooling. The increase in production had enabled Flip to keep regular hours for almost a month. We got in the car and headed down I-5. “At dinner that Sunday you tried to tell me something,” I said. “Tina and I consummated the relationship.” Flip didn’t like saying, “Hit it or got the skins,” cause that’s what you said when you didn’t care about the woman. “Belated congratulations.” I put my fist out for him to give me a pound. He dropped his fist on mine and continued to drive. “It was perfect. As scared as she was, it still turned out perfect, you feel me?” I did feel him. I knew exactly how he felt. “We got it good man. You know?” I said. “You know what I feel best about, other than having Tina in my life?” “Your conscious is clear?” “I guess that’s good too, but I’m glad me and you don’t fit into that category anymore.” “Which one the dog category?” “Yep,” Flip replied. “You think there are any other brothers out there like us?” I asked. “Of course, we ain’t obsolete.” I suppose he was right but you wouldn’t know it from how brothers act at the clubs, hell how I acted at the clubs and in the streets. I liked where I was in life. A handbook can pull someone’s life together if he lives the handbook. I know that now. I suppose that I could easily place some silly statement in here to add to the first three stages, but it wouldn’t make any sense. I think you have a grasp of what I’ve been trying to detail. If you don’t I can outline them and show you more directly. I just didn’t think it made sense to just give out the rules without explaining how I developed the philosophy. I wanted you to get an understanding that I actually thought about this and took some time to pass it on in the best way I know how. But if you can bear with me a little longer, I’ll give you the final stage, but here we go with the first three in a summation, I hope you don’t mind. Stage One: Life follows a set pattern. It can twist and turn in accordance with how you respond to a certain action. If a man has been hurt he develops a thick skin instantly. Some instances he develops this skin because it looks like it’s cool to his boys. This skin allows him to go out and literally take advantage of women in any way he chooses. Because of this outer surface he has built, he can no longer tell his outer appearance from his true self. He loses his soul and his conscience. A woman becomes like a cheap pair of shoes, something to slide in and out of for a short time, and then thrown away. Sometimes a brother will even say he loves the woman during this phase, Stage One is a living lie that changes day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute and every second that he breathes. In this phase he could care less about his partners, he’s reckless and sad. Life becomes about the conquest and how much you can run the board. Like a game of Monopoly, it’s all about how much property you get in the shortest amount of time. A boy in a candy store will remain a boy in the store until he learns that too much is bad for him. Stage Two: The candy store has caused a cavity and now the boy has learned that too much of a good thing can be harmful. But he hasn’t learned to respect women. He only knows that he can’t make the mistake of choosing the wrong women because there are consequences. Life is still about the conquest, but now the conquest has to be made with someone that has a little potential. Enough potential, that if anything came up and the brother has found that he will be bonded to this person for life, he won’t mind. It won’t make him feel as if he made a huge mistake. There aren’t any benefits in either of the stages for the woman. It is a self-centered time for a man and can last as long as he can deal with shattering dreams. As long as he can stand finding out all he can about a woman and then dropping her like a hot potato. Usually a brother doesn’t sit at this stage for too long because it eventually wears him down. Stage Three: Oddly enough, the stress and wear and tear of knowing too much about a woman drives a man to a point in his life where he decides that from now on he won’t use a woman anymore. He decides to settle down. This is the only stage that has advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that he’s willing to work through problems instead of saying forget it and leaving. He wants everything to work out. The disadvantage is, that often he settles down with the first woman that catches him going into this stage. He isn’t really being honest with himself about how he feels about his lady. He just knows that it’s time to quit the race. In some cases, a guy at this point in his life is settling down for all the right reasons. In many cases this happens and the man moves on to Stage four. When he chooses to be with a woman for the former reason it results typically in a break-up and in the case of the man who marries in this stage, it ends in divorce. That’s it. The whole setup laid out in a way that you can apply to everyday life. Oh, I guess I forgot a stage didn’t I. Take a trip with me to December the 3rd 1998. Flip and I had been with our ladies for over a year and everything was still going well. Tina and Flip had moved in together after weighing all of the pros and cons. Janice had a key to my crib and we were actually looking at houses. I had no intention on moving in with her yet. I still felt a little insecure about some things. I’m not afraid to say that. Flip and I were still working at MCC and eating lunch together and talking shit on the line. Buy Stages now if you want to read it at your own pace, or just check back to keep reading it here.
Read more
Page 2 of 3123