Monday, June 30, 2008

Marriage Confidential

Well the weather is nice, the sun is shining, and love is in the air. So that means it's that time of year again. Yes it is summer time but actually that is not what I was referring to. I'm referring to the coveted wedding season. But before you love birds jump that broom, stomp that glass, light your unity candle or whatever your tradition is, there is one piece of business you may want to have in order prior to saying your "I Dos."

Now I'm sure you may think you know where I'm going with this, but please keep reading before you assume and dismiss what I'm saying. I know you're probably thinking along the lines of what Kanye West said in his song "Gold Digger." "Shoulda' got that insured, GEICO for ya moneeey(your money) If you ain't no punk holla' we want pre-nup WE WANT PRE-NUP!, (yeah) It's something that you need to have Cause when she leave yo' ass she gon' leave with half." Okay well you partially got me, yes prenuptial agreements are vital in some marriages. But that's actually not what I'm speaking of. I personally think even more crucial than a prenup would be a Confidentiality Agreement (Or as I'll refer to it in this blog CA).

Now you're probably thinking as I did when I got married that hey I'm just a regular Joe or Jane. I work my 9-5 for a minuscule salary just to pay my bills and do a little extra, so why would I need a prenup or a CA? Well I agree that for us regular folk a prenup or a CA aren't really things we think about when we decide to get married. That is unless you think those lucky numbers in the fortune cookies may have a chance at showing up in tonight's lotto drawing. So yes pending luck the average person may not require a prenup or a CA. However, you must admit that the idea of a CA is sort of intriguing. So you may as well continue reading to find out why. Lol

Okay so unless you're working a 6 figure job, or have a position of prestige the CA may not be for you. But for people such as celebrities, athletes, and politicians well it should be mandatory. Why, do you ask? Well I'm glad you asked that question. You see we all know that in a marriage you're joined together with a person that you're supposed to be able to tell your inner most thoughts, fears, and secrets to. Well God forbid you and that person split up or divorce for any circumstances. But if by any chance you do, let's just say that the other person has no obligation or incentive to keep the things they know about you to themselves. So, what's to stop them from spreading your personal and intimate business? The answer is nothing, that is unless you have a nifty Confidentiality Agreement.

So what can the CA really do for you? Actually it's not about what it can do for you but it's about what it can prevent from happening to you. Let's look at some examples. You've probably all seen or heard of Tricia Walsh-Smith aka the Youtube Divorcee'. Well in the midst of a bitter divorce she decided that she was going to air out her soon to be ex-husband's dirty laundry and discuss their divorce. But instead of just telling his friends, family, and or co-workers she took it a little more extreme. In this technological age there is no better way to put someone on blast than by using the Internet. And not just any old Internet site, but with a video on

Now I personally feel like she was totally wrong for doing this regardless of how wrong she felt he was being in the divorce. I mean yes he may have told her he can't have sex due to high blood pressure and she may have found condoms, porn magazines, and Viagra but should that be told to the world? That's obviously something personal he didn't even want her to know, let alone the millions of Youtube subscribers. But somehow the media took a liking to this particular video and the next thing you know the video is being played on the news and shows like The Insider. So, what she may have done thinking it was seemingly harmless, has become a huge ordeal. And information that should have remained private has now been exposed on a worldwide level. She's even gone on to do 2 other videos updating the status of the divorce. I even found that she has her own website now where she is also discussing information about the divorce. So I'm sure some of you are thinking, well doesn't she have the First Amendment right to express herself as she chooses just as long as she's not saying anything that is false and defaming his character. Well based off the episodes of Judge Mathis I've seen in the past you would be correct. Although her husband was smart enough to protect his money by having her to sign a prenup, he did nothing to protect his character from being assassinated. However, if he was really smart he would have had a CA and then he wouldn't be going through what he is now. As soon as this video surfaced on Youtube the judge would have slapped her with a Gag Order quicker than a pimp slaps a hoe that's come up short with his money. Unfortunately, he did not and I'm sure his soon to be ex-wife will continue broadcasting his business and information regarding their divorce until her number of hits drastically decreases and no one cares anymore. Also, I'm sure that with her being an actress and writer that this whole exercise of free speech will land her some type of book, movie, or reality show deal in the end. So kudos to Tricia way to get around the air tight prenup her husband's lawyer drew up. I'm sure she read it and didn't see any CA in there and there we have it.

Now speaking of Book Deals our next example comes from the book "Confessions of a Video Vixen" by none other than Karrine "Superhead" Steffans. I'm sure most of you are familiar with Superhead and her book so I won't get into who all she screwed and what she said about them. I personally never read the book, however; I do recall being in a book store one day and reading an excerpt. Well what I read was pretty shocking to me. She was describing an incident that took place with her then (now ex) husband rapper Kool G. Rap. So if you haven't read the book, basically G.Rap suffered from some sort of seizures and took medication for this condition. However, as she stated he was too masculine to even take the pills and as a result on this particular occasion had a seizure while on the toilet. She then went on to explain how she had to wipe his ass so that when the paramedics came he wouldn't be embarrassed. Now as I'm reading this I'm thinking come on now of all the things to tell you had to go and tell this. I'm sure I am not the only one that had a lot of respect for Kool G. Rap. But I have to be honest that after reading this, it's sort of tainted my view of G.Rap especially his hard core rap image. So again, in the case of Kool G. Rap he could have spared himself some embarrassment had he had a CA when he married Superhead.

Other notable "tales from the ex" as I like to call them include rapper/actor Mos Def's ex-wife Alana Wyatt Smith and her tell-all book "Breaking the Code of Silence." Also, former New Jersey Governor (The Gay Governor) Jim McGreevey's ex-wife Dina Matos McGreevey has a tell-all book called "Silent Partner: A Memoir of My Marriage." Actually, come to find out that her book was only a response to Jim McGreevey's previously released book entitled "The Confession." Likewise, famous Oscar winning actor Marlon Brando's ex-wife Tarita Teriipaia released "Marlon, My Love, My Suffering." Next, there is Marc Anthony's ex-wife Dayanara Torres' book "Married to Me: How Committing to Myself Led to Triumph After Divorce." I doubt if Hollywood actor/director Clint Eastwood felt "lucky" when his ex-wife Sondra Locke wrote her book "The Good, The Bad & The Very Ugly." Former baseball slugger turned Steroid snitch Jose Canseco's ex-wife Jessica Canseco is doing some snitching of her own in her book "Juicy: Confessions of a Former Baseball Wife." R&B superstar Whitney Houston's ex-husband the infamous Bad Boy Bobby Brown is releasing "Bobby Brown: The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But." Let Bobby tell it Whitney is the one that turned him on to cocaine. Also, there is a book in the works by crooner Tony Bennett's ex-wife Sandra Grant Bennett that may destroy Bennett's good guy image. Lastly, Britney Spears first ex-husband Jason Alexander is even trying to write a book about their 55 hour marriage. This one I don't understand. How many pages can you even fill up surrounding a 2 day marriage? But as you can see if someone will buy it they will write it.

Nevertheless, there are those not fortunate enough to get a book deal. Therefore, they don't hesitate to accept magazine and television interview offers. For instance Tori Spelling's ex-husband Charlie Shanian spilled it all in an issue of Men's Monthly. Also, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's ex-wife Debra Marshall verbally body slammed Stone Cold on Fox News with allegations of physical and steroid abuse. Finally, we can't forget about the unmarried individuals that never even stood a chance when it came to being outed by their exes. Such as, rapper Nas whose ex-girlfriend/baby mama Carmen Bryan wrote a tell all book entitled “Sex, Drugs and Hip-Hop – Oh, and Did I Mention Love?” Also, P.Diddy's ex-girlfriend/baby mama Kim Porter did an interview in Essence Magazine giving details of their relationship and break up.

Now I haven't had the chance to read any of the material listed above, however; I can bet they all have a central theme. One being long ass titles, what's up with that? Lol. But beyond that I can guess the pages are filled with bitter exes telling how their relationship with (enter celebrity name here) was abusive, how they were cheated on, and how they have been caused such distress and or depression because of the past relationship. Oh and I'm sure there will be tales of alcohol and drug abuse and sexcapades mixed in there as well (You have to sell the book don't you?). Now the rest of the book, I'm sure, will be filled with boring background on the person writing it and their childhood. However, in an effort to get to the good parts about that celebrity they married you'll read the whole book as not to miss anything. If anyone has read any of the above material please let me know if I am on point or not with my assumptions. Now I'm not the one to say whether any of the allegations are true or not. But even if they are true, telling the world won't change what happened to you in the relationship. Perhaps it will give you some satisfaction by getting revenge but that's about it. If you really want to get it all off your chest so that you will feel better, wouldn't a therapist be the best person to seek? But wait oh wait! I forgot to mention the Money! Duh! Of course, silly me they're getting paid to write and publish these books. Well at least be man or woman enough to admit that is why you're doing it. So in the continued theme of exes writing tell-all books I predict that we should soon be seeing books by notable exes such as: Juanita Jordan (Michael Jordan), Shaunie Nelson (Shaquille O'Neal), Al Reynolds (Star Jones), Mary Lee Harvey (Steve Harvey), Malaak Compton-Rock (Chris Rock), and Kevin Federline (Britney Spears). That is unless a CA was signed at some point.

Believe it or not, of all these celebrities, I was only able to find one that was smart enough to get themselves a CA. I'm sure there are plenty others that have CAs and we never hear anything about it (which is the point). But this particular celebrity made news because of her CA. So the award goes to none other than Jennifer Lopez aka J-Lo (I'll accept it on her behalf. Lol). Apparently after ending her 11 month marriage with first ex-husband Ojani Noa, Noa attempted to write a tell-all book entitled “The Unknown Truth: A Passionate Portrait of a Serial Thriller.” I guess what Noa failed to remember or attempted to get around was that he and Lopez had signed a nondisclosure, “non-disparagement” agreement during an earlier legal settlement. So, Noa attempted to black mail or extort (which ever term you want to use) J-LO into paying him $5 million in hush money for not spilling her secrets. Well J-Lo sued him for "violating a confidentiality agreement they had by circulating a manuscript that contained private information about their lives together, report news sources. It was the violation of that agreement that won Lopez the $545,000 - $200,000 in damages for breach of contract, and $348,000 in attorneys’ fees and arbitration costs - along with a permanent injunction against Noa which prohibits him from disclosing any intimate details from their relationship." You see the CA works like a charm every time. Not only were J-Lo's ex-husband's efforts to write a book telling all her secrets thwarted, but he ended up having to pay her and her legal fees in the end.

So in conclusion, let us take a lesson from all of these celebrities that have been burned by their exes. Unfortunately in today's times divorce rates are steadily increasing. Therefore, I do can easily turn into I don't, I love you can turn into I hate you, and I take this man/woman can turn to get this MF the hell outta my face. LOL. So all I'm saying is we all know car/house insurance is a rip off because on average you won't use it and you're usually paying premiums for nothing but the possibility of something happening. But just in case a natural disaster strikes your home, your brakes go out on your car, you want to be prepared and protected right? Well I say the same goes for marriage. Yes I know with being just the average Joe or Jane that having your reputation ruined may not affect you financially like those celebrities. But hell since Tricia Walsh-Smith started it, who really wants to be on the receiving end of the next Youtube divorce video? I know I wouldn't!! I'd want my skeletons to remain in the damn closet like R. Kelly. Although I've been told by my brother that I could talk Jesus out of getting married, that is not the intention of this blog. If you're confident that your future wife/husband will always keep any intimate details of you a secret, then I say do your thing. No CA needed or required, congrats and my best wishes on a lifetime of marital bliss. However, if you're even a little suspect whether or not the person you're about to walk down the aisle with will sell you out quicker than the new I-Phone then the Confidentiality Agreement may be an option for you. I'll leave you with a quote from one last celebrity that was put on blast in a movie after his divorce, Ike Turner in "What's Love got to do with it."

"Eat the cake Anna Mae"


Friday, June 27, 2008

Man Up!!! Part 2

Okay so here we go Part 2 of our weekly Man Ups, we're picking up right where we left off before and of course the same rules still apply. Remember this blog represents what we consider to be Man Up Rules. So, each week we'll add to the list just based off of our observations and perspectives. So be sure to check back weekly. Note: Most rules apply to men/boys age 13 and older (except where noted). Also, the rules are in no particular order.

Man Up Rule #9: If there are open seats available never choose to sit in the seat that is right next to another man. Come on now you see all these open damn seats why would you choose to sit right next to me?

Man Up Rule #10: Pink is rarely a fashionable color on a man, even on this "hardcore" rapper. Now spots of pink can be played off with other colors. But sorry we have to say no to solid pink ensembles such as this. However, exceptions will be made during breast cancer awareness month. Also, Pimps earn an automatic exemption from this rule.

Man Up Rule #11: I am not sure who invented these "Skinny Jeans" but I'm sorry they couldn't have been invented with a man in mind. I understand they've somehow become the desired apparel of a lot of skate boarders but please adhere to the age 13 and up rules.

Man Up Rule #12: I don't care how horrible of a freestyle rapper you are, this line should never slip into your freestyle diss when it is directed towards another man. "Tell me how my ass taste." And if you are that bad of a freestyler and slip and say it please don't continue to repeat it. So, Kobe take my advice don't even respond and you'll still have won this round. LoL.

Man Up Rule #13: When referencing another man's looks, you must always preface that statement by saying, "I ain't gay, but." This can apply whether the statement is good or bad, but must be used when it is a good statement. However, a statement such as "I aint gay, but Tyson Beckford is fine" does not qualify and is a direct violation.

To Be Continued...

Brothers' Perspective



Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Black Ice

We've all done it. Tripped, and immediately looked around to see if anyone saw us. As a guy, you pray that you won't turn around and see the most beautiful woman you've ever seen in your life.

(And to the Man that has, I feel terrible for you. Holla at me, the next round is on me).

Well, I saw the most extreme example of that today. And it got me to thinking, why do we all fall victim to what I will call:


Now surprisingly, its not contagious. Either you have it or you're immune. But I must say that finding someone without it is as rare as a gay Man with a Playboy subscription. (I guess in his case, it really is for the articles. Lol).

Here's why so many of us suffer from


(Or as I will call it for the remainder of the blog, IDWATSMFI). BAD ASS KIDS!!!!!!!!!! (Think Nelson from the Simpsons. "HaHa"). Now you may ask yourself, how do Bad ass kids factor into this? I didn't see any Bad ass kids around the last time I tripped, and I still felt my IDWATSMFI flaring up. Well those Bad ass kids that we worry about are not actual adolescents, they are a part of what exists within most of us. And they just need the right moment to emerge from within all us. Well, my inner Bad ass kid emerged yesterday.

In the interest of not snitching, some elements of the story have been changed to protect the DUMBASS!

I was driving down a freeway here in the United States that has a couple 1s in the number. Now, there may or may not have been construction going at the time. (Stop Snitchin ya'll, this is how you do it). Well, I'm on this unnamed freeway, when I happened to look to my right, and noticed a mode of transportation coming up at a high rate of speed. (Could've been a car, or a horse with a full head of steam. Again in the spirit of not snitchin, you use your imagination). Now, this mode of transportation disappeared in front of the vehicle in front of me. Next thing I know, the vehicle in front of me slams on the brakes. I too slam on the brakes. Suddenly, the unnamed mode of transportation hit what could have been a construction barrier or fence for horses to jump. (Are ya'll understanding how to not snitch yet? Vagueness). It comes back into traffic and rests on the on ramp. As we are all sitting there waiting to see if the person is alright, the mode of transportation takes off. (I guess that's why they call it horsepower).

Now this mode of transportation is showing definite signs of trauma from this impact, but this individual is going full steam ahead. I'm traveling at a reduced rate of speed, stunned by the fact that this person is still moving. And it wasn't just me, I could see the faces of many people in their vehicles. Some laughing, others with looks of settled anxiety. Well intelligent people, needless to say, that person didn't make it far. A couple miles down, there he was on the side of the road. (Either the car stopped working, or the horse needed a drink of water. You be the judge).

Well, as I passed him, my inner Bad ass kid came out. I looked at him, and had to smile. Instantly, I understood why the guy took off. He was trying to avoid having to expose himself to the very same people who saw his calamity.

So why the extreme? Why do we as grown ass adults care so much? Well, I believe that as children, we all probably fell into one of two categories. Either you were the kid who got teased, or you were the kid doing the teasing. And no matter what side of it you were on, that experience has inevitably put you on guard. Every time you trip, slip, have food that falls out of your mouth, drool, you are just hoping to not have to suffer the torment of someone's inner Bad ass kid.

I don't believe there will ever be a cure to IDWATSMFI. I'm sure that as you were reading this, your inner bad ass kid had a laugh or two. Lets just say that we just had a discussion of one of life's dirty secrets. And to the guy who I saw on that unnamed freeway, that shit was funny as
hell Man. I saw it all!


Monday, June 23, 2008

Full Clip to Pulpit???

In 1996 when first heard Mason Betha aka Mase rap on the remix to 112's "Only You" I think I kind of had a neutral reaction. In other words, I had no strong opinion of him either way, he was just sort of blah to me, nothing spectacular, but at the same time he wasn't the worst rapper either (Suga Free still holds that title). But at first, I think it wasn't a big deal because I knew Bad Boy still had the greatest of all time on their team the Notorious B.I.G. So to add a Mase to the team was like the Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan adding Pete Myers, it's not going to add to or take away from the team's ability to win. Unfortunately, the tragic death of Notorious B.I.G. took place soon after on March 9, 1997. After mourning, label owner Sean "Puffy" Combs aka Puff Daddy aka P.Diddy still had to make executive decisions. Much like Chicago Bulls GM Jerry Reinsdorf had to do when Michael Jordan retired.

So when executive decision time came Diddy went ahead and ran with what he had which was Biggie's "Life After Death" album, Mase, himself and some no name acts currently riding the bench at the bottom of the roster. The Life After Death album dropped approximately 3 weeks after Big's death (Keep this fact in mind). Of course I was one of the first in line to buy my copy of what would be Big's last studio album. Well when I looked at the song list on the back I noticed something that seemed strange. There were 3 songs that featured Puff Daddy including a song called "Mo' Money Mo' Problems" which also featured Mase. Now it was never unusual to see Puff Daddy sharing part of Biggie's limelight (go back and watch any Biggie Video). However, to hear Puff rapping was very abnormal in my eye. Even though there was a single that I had heard from Puffy and Mase it was still not the norm. Now producing, doing ad libs (Take That!), and dancing in videos that was Puff's M.O. all day. But rapping just seemed out of the norm at that time to me. Well later down the line after Puff's solo career took off he explained that he had Biggie's blessing and that Big always encouraged him to go ahead and rap. So I guess with "Big's blessing" he chose to explore this part of his career on Big's Life After Death album.

Well to again refer to the Chicago Bulls analogy with Pete Meyers, it's easier to run with or behind the greatest than to take over for the greatest. Although Meyers was at one time hyped to be the next Michael Jordan when he had to prove it all by himself...well you get the point. I'm not sure if Puff's next decision was an experiment or what but as mentioned above he released "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down" which was Puffy Daddy Featuring Mase. The song sampled Grand Master Flash's "The Message" and the chorus had an interpolation of another old song "Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder. Well I was trying to remember the exact time when this song was released and couldn't quite remember. So after doing some research I found out that this single was actually released prior to the Life After Death Album and its first single "Hypnotize." However, in my opinion it was a flop and a very lack luster effort and first single for Mase or Puffy. But this somehow flew far under the Bad Boy Radar because don't forget Big's Album release date was quickly approaching so we all somehow let Puffy and Mase off of the hook for this one. Ironically, the single would go on to appear on Puffy Daddy's first solo album "No Way Out" which would actually end up dropping prior to Mase's first album. For some reason Puffy's album dropped only 3 months after Biggie's album. I'm not sure how Puff found the time to mourn the loss of his closest friend all while finishing recording his solo CD, do promotional touring for it, and still run a successful record label; however, I guess we all mourn differently and don't forget as they say "the show must go on." Well go on it did No Way Out went on to spawn 4 successful singles including "All About the Benjamins," "Been Around the World," and "Victory" all which conveniently featured the Notorious B.I.G. And who can forget Puffy's dedication to Big "I'll Be Missing You."

Well it was apparent that Mase nor Puff were able to hold their own on their own so what was the next logical move to make? Well let's just say that Mo' Money Mo Problems just so happen to be the 2nd single selected off the "Life After Death" album. Now keep in mind that Life After Death was a double CD so it had a total of 24 tracks (22 full songs minus the 2 interludes). So, this was a solid album that had many songs with single potential, but I always wondered why Mo' Money Mo' Problems was picked as the follow up single to Hypnotize. Well I say if you want to know why a puppet makes certain moves look to see who's pulling the strings. So next up was Mo' Money Mo' Problems which sampled the Dianna Ross song "I'm Coming Out." Then, add a million dollar video directed by Hype Williams, a couple of "shiny suits," some old video footage of B.I.G., some horrible acting by Mase and Puff and BAM! you've got your next 2 platinum selling Bad Boy artists.

After one more single from B.I.G.'s album ("Sky's the Limit" featuring 112), it was time for Mase to take his place as Bad Boy's new lead act. By this time Mase had made plenty of guest appearances not only on Puff's album but on remixes for other artist such as Brian Mcknight and Mariah Carey. Therefore, it was time for "Harlem World" Mase's debut album. Honestly, after the "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down" and "Mo Money Mo Problems" I had already decided I was not a fan of Mase. So when I heard the first single from his album "Feels So Good" it was to no surprise that it was heavily influenced by Puffy. Once again an old song was sampled, this time it was "Hollywood Swinging" by Kool & The Gang. Also, once again a lot of bright lights and shiny suits were in the video. His next single, "What You Want" Featuring Total had another sample from Curtis Mayfield's "right on for the darkness." I would go on to say this song and the single to follow "Lookin at me" somehow made Mase more appealing to the ladies. Well that and I'm sure the baby face and the dimples helped them to overlook his oddly shaped head (trust me I'm not hating. lol). But on the flip side of that his single "24 Hours to Live" Featuring Black Rob, DMX, The Lox, and Puff Daddy, was probably the song that to me to finally gave him a little street credibility. Prior to hearing this song I sort of felt like Mase was just a better version of Puffy. So when I heard him say "I'd even look for my dad that I never knew And show him how I look and my Beretta too," I was shocked yet intrigued since I had heard that Mase's nickname used to be "Murder Mase." Well Regardless of what you thought about Mase, no one could deny the success of Mase's debut which sold over 270,000 in his first week and later went on to go multi-platinum (4x).

With much hype surrounding Mase's 2nd release "Double Up" many had high expectations especially after going quadruple platinum on his first effort. However, skeptics such as myself questioned whether the sophomore jinx would somehow affect Mase. With Double Up's release date set for summer 1999, not even Miss Cleo or Syliva Brown could have predicted what would happen next. About one month before his 2nd album was to drop Mase announces that he's become a born-again Christian and is retiring from Music. In a Bad Boy press release he states
"I'm grateful for all the blessings bestowed on me that were a result of my music career, now it's time for me to serve God in His way. The Lord sends you messages when He's ready and not necessarily when we are." In a separate interview with Jet Magazine, he went on to say "I said the first day I walked into music that I'm not here to be a 30-year-old rapper. I wouldn't be intelligent to think that I would be ... It just so happens that I'm pursuing God, and that's shocking for some people because that's not every body's idea of what I'm like." Even more shocking, his new commitment to God apparently would only allow Mase to make spoken word engagements for the promotion of the Double Up album. Needless to say, the album sales suffered due to this decision, only selling 107,000 in it's first week and only going on to acheive gold status. According to Wikipedia, Mase later ended up moving down south to "Atlanta, GA where he would study at Clark Atlanta University. Mase received an honorary Th.D from St. Paul's Bible Institute in New York and began to address himself as Dr. Mason Betha. He became the founder and pastor of both S.A.N.E. (Saving a Nation Endangered) Church International and Mason Betha Ministries in Atlanta."

Although there were many rumors surrounding Mase's sudden retirement, I think that many believed he would eventually come back to the rap game. I myself (being the skeptic that I am) also remember saying that he will come back. I felt that no one that is this young and making this much money would just walk away from it without valid enough reason. Being a rapper myself I can admit that I would never walk away from it unless I had a good reason. I mean everyone's dream in life is to be able do what you love doing and make money doing it. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying religion and dedicating your life to God isn't a good enough reason to quit because it's more than enough. However, for me personally his reasoning didn't help my suspicions at all. So I too came up with my own conspiracy theories as to what may have prompted Mase's early retirement. I will only share one those theories as to avoid any defamation of character lawsuits.

Theory: Despite what they may want us as believe, rappers are not "Ballin!" So although we may saw Mase wearing all kind of diamonds and "bling" in his videos, we can't immediately assume that he was rich because of the success of his one album. Yes Mase did go quadruple platinum and IF he was able to pay back his label aka Puff Daddy he may have had a decent amount of money in his bank account. But in the game of music that's a big IF. Let us not forget that I previously mentioned how some of Mase's singles had some pretty well known samples in them. Keep in mind that all of that money that was paid out by the label for those sample rights have to be paid back by the artist. It's called recouping. Plus, don't about forget the videos, hope that you didn't expect the "shiny suit man" to pay for those suits. So basically, one of my theories is that after going 4x platinum Mase like most rappers probably thought that he was "ballin!" I'm sure that got him a much bigger advance check to hit the studio and work on the next album. Oh yeah and advances have to be paid back as well, so whatever he was advanced for the first album also had to be paid back. However, after those royalty checks began rolling in and the amount he was getting was cut up 5 and 6 ways I'm sure it was a shocker. So, the theory is that he quit because he wasn't seeing the money he expected or was probably promised and thought he could just quit just like that and be out of his contract. (Later we'll see that it doesn't quite work that way). As biggie himself said "that's why my money never funny And you still recoupin, stupid!!"

So, after about a year of retirement, most people (myself included) figured we were wrong about Mase coming back, and the rumors died down. We accepted that Mase was now Pastor Mason Betha and that Murder Mase was gone for good as he now dedicated his life to serving the Lord. Now personally after the first year I pretty much forgot all about Mase. If it weren't for the few reminders given by other rappers who threw Mase in their rhymes, I may have completely forgotten. For instance, Common stated "You better goin to God like Mase did" and Kanye West exclaimed "If you could feel how my face felt you would know how Mase felt." Other than that I personally had no second thoughts about Mase, his retirement and his new occupation as a Pastor. If that was his calling then who am I to say anything about it. God Bless him, his congregation, and his calling. Actually, I remember reading some magazine articles that had interviews with Puffy and he basically said the same thing and wished Mase his best. But as we know Business is never personal, so eventually even Diddy moved on focusing on other rap acts on the label, The Lox and Black Rob. Another determining factor in this decision was that Mase's 2nd album had done nothing close to it's anticipated numbers. I know there had to be one but I personally can't even recall a single from the Double Up album.

So there you have it Mase retires and goes on to serve the Lord, end of story right? Well needless to say, if that was the end of the story then there would be no point in me writing this blog. So of course not! My skepticism served me right to begin with. In 2004, after a five year hiatus from the rap game, Pastor Mase comes back to rapping. Mase's new single and album were ironically titled "Welcome Back." The song sampled the theme song from the 1970's television series "Welcome Back, Kotter." Well when I first heard the news, just like most of you I was somewhat shocked. Then I said to myself "I knew it!!" But finally I thought about why Mase said he originally left the rap game. He said that "the music business was incompatible with the way he wanted to live his life." So now I'm thinking how is rap music now compatible with his new found way of life? What had really changed in 5 years to make the game compatible? Well those questions were simply rhetorical because the answer was nothing had changed. And after hearing the single nothing had really changed about Mase's rapping either. Oh and before I forget to mention it, you better believe that the album was released on Bad Boy Records. As I mentioned before in my conspiracy theory, if Mase thought he was getting out of his contract he should have thought again. Yes five years later and P.Diddy is still waiting to collect on that contract he signed. Now back to the song, to me the beat/sample is what made the song more than anything. All Mase needed to do what come up with two 16 bar verses saying anything and he could have gotten the same response from me. Add a subpar chorus partially sung by Mase, some female and some exploited kids and there you have it a new single by Mase. The video had all the familiar faces from Bad Boy P.Diddy of course, Loon, Ness, Babs, and then Mase doing his signature dances in the video. Seems like the same old Mase right? Well not quite. Don't forget he's a Minister now so he's cleaned up his lyrics. "I'm just a bad boy gone clean, I'm the diamond chain choker, always remain sober don't drink liquor and all the games over." Also, he goes on to state "See I rep the most high, still I'm the most fly I win so much, they wanna know who I'm coached by." And finally, "I make my money man without the coca Livin' la vida without the loca." Wow could it really be that Mase had really changed and planned on bringing a new image to Hip Hop?

In an attempt to not judge Mase I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and not immediately call him a hypocrite for coming back to rap. I mean hey you listened to the lyrics he's changed so, maybe he would be a breath of fresh air to the Hip Hop game. I read some articles that had interviews with Mase and he discussed why he returned to the Rap Game. In fact, during an interview on when specifically asked what compelled him to return to the industry Mase responded "I felt like I could be a huge asset to the hip-hop community. It is a genre where everybody is expressing themselves. I felt like I had something else to express that hasn't already been expressed." Also, he was asked how he reconciled doing music and being a minister he stated "What makes it so powerful is that I may not be the first one, but I am the first one doing it the way I am doing it. My situation is different than the ones previously. Most people go to God because they have to. Everything I have ever done is because I wanted to and not because I have to." Finally when asked what to expect on the new album Mase answered "What makes it similar is because I am pretty much talking about the same things, but what makes it different is that I am doing it from a different perspective and from a different mindset." I later heard that the new album would also have no cursing and also no misogynistic lyrics degrading women. Well that's definitely a change and a new Mase. So maybe his calling to God was the spawn of not only a change in Mase but a change in Hip Hop Music with Mase leading the way. As Mase himself stated in the 3rd person "After a soul stirring vision from God, [where I saw] Mase leading souls to hell, the ex-rapper now returns as Pastor Mason Betha, leading souls to Christ."

Well I never purchased or listened to any of the "Welcome Back" album except for the lead single. So, I can't tell you what was on the album nor can I judge it. However, as research shows the single and album did go gold. Well at some point during the promotion of the Welcome Back album I recall hearing rumors that Mase was signing to G-Unit. Yes that would be the same G-Unit that houses such acts as 50 Cent, Young Buck, Lloyd Banks, M.O.P., Mobb Deep, Tony Yayo, and formerly The Game. Now I'm sure you're thinking as I was when I heard this rumor. Why on earth would Pastor Mase be looking to sign to a record label such as G-Unit? Don't they go against everything that he now stood for when it comes to his music and lyrics? The answer is yes of course they do. However, at the time these were only rumors at best. That was until I got to hear a song entitled "300 Shots" which featured all of the artists on G-Unit including none other than (yep you guessed it) our very own Pastor Mase. Now when I heard these lyrics I was just as surprised as most of you were. From the onset Mase starts his verse "You know you messin' with a nigga that do this for a livin' Put two in the street while theres two in the kitchen Put guns in niggaz mouth like "Who's u dissin'?" We give for they knew who u was missin, nigga You can either have a gun at the chain, or one at the brain I have hoes back of the church, hummin' ya name. Even then I feel it's like cheat my men Watch God leave the sky to come and greet my men I pop niggas in the chest they never breathe again." O-M-G this just can't be!! Mase Is back to the old Murder Mase. Speechless yet? Well trust this is pure sarcasm because I definitely was not surprised one bit. I read in an interview from 50 Cent on where 50 stated "The new Mase music is going to sound like the old Mase music — the real old Mase music, pre-Bad Boy, when he was named Mase Murda (or Murder Mase)." My question is what happen to the clean lyrics he sold us on when he returned to rapping? I would almost go as far as to call his lyrics blaphemous when he mentions "watch God leave the sky to come and greet my men." Especially when the next line says "I pop niggas in the chest they never breathe again." And we can't forget "I have hoes in the back of the church hummin' ya name." Well if these are the words of a reverand I need not go to church but simply pop in the latest G-Unit release to get my daily bread.

G-Unit - 300 Shots (Mase is 3rd to rap)

So let's quickly recap we go from Rapper to Pastor and back to Rapper. So is this the final chapter for Mase? Well I too assumed that it was. Although I hadn't heard any new material from Mase or G-Unit I didn't think too much of it especially since 50 Cent's "Curtis" album was the last to be released on the label. Well that was until recently during a late night of channel surfing I come across none other than Pastor Mase on tv preaching. Utterly appalled, I was so intrigued that I just had to watch and make sure this wasn't an old sermon that I was watching. So I sat watching Pastor Mase preach. Unfortunately, much like with Mase's music his preaching didn't move me much either. I couldn't help but to picture him as the preacher formerly known as Murder Mase trying to tell me and other's about God. I can't lie I also awaited for him to catch the Holy Ghost and do his signature 2-step. So, as I sat and watched for about 30 minutes it got to the end of the sermon and there I saw Mase and his wife telling people about their ministry and televangalizing. I couldn't believe it. I wanted to call the number on the screen and recite the lyrics from "300 Shots" and ask if this rang a bell? Well after I finished watching the program I called my brother and told him about it and he said he too had seen one of Mase's sermons recently. With that confirmed I guess Mase was back to preaching. So to total the score that would make it tied [Rapping-2 and Preaching-2]. I wonder if Vegas has odds on which will break the tie. But who knows what Mase will do next, maybe acting because he seems to play the role of a rapper turned preacher, turned rapper, turned preacher again pretty damn well.

I know in the end we are all God's children and that he has a purpose for all of us. I also know that we all backslide and fall short of his will. And you better believe I'll be the first to admit that I am no saint and have done my share of bad and good. But I would never take on the role of calling myself a preacher as Mase did and then not live up to what I was called upon to do. Although we all have a responsiblity to ourselves and one another, I feel like in the role of a preacher/minister it is a little greater responsiblity, in that you essentially bare some of the responsibility for the souls of others. So, the words and actions that you say and do are weighed much heavier than the average person. Therefore, I pray that this time Mase will stick with his decision to return to preaching and doing God's work from the Pulpit as opposed to his Murder Mase alter ego with a full clip. However, if you want to know my deep down honest opinion on it all well it rhymes with both full clip and pulpit.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Man Up!!

There are certain unwritten rules and laws that although they are not regulated should be a given. We would like to dedicate this blog to what we consider to be Man Up Rules. Each week we'll add to the list just based off of our observations and perspectives. So be sure to check back weekly. Note: Most rules apply to men/boys age 13 and older (except where noted). Also, the rules are in no particular order.

Man UP Rule #1: Two men can not share the same bed even if they are related. Whether you kickbox, arm wrestle, or play rock/paper/scisscors to see who gets the bed is up to you. But if there is a couch, chair, cot, hammock, lawn chair, or space on the floor available one must take the alternative.

Man Up Rule #2: A Man is not to ride on the back of a motorcycle or scooter ever whether a man or woman is driving, but especially not when a man is driving.

Man Up Rule #3: When using a public restroom urinal, your eyes are to remain either straight ahead staring at the wall or up at the ceiling above. But your eyes should never wander, and once you've handled your business quickly zip up, turn around and proceed to wash your hands.

Man Up Rule #4: If your wife or girlfriend drives a car that has vanity license plates that read something similar to the image below you are not to drive that car unless it is a dire emergency. Other examples of vanity plates:

Man Up Rule #4: Under no circumstances are you to wear these shoes with the holes in them. It doesn't matter how comfortable these shoes may be, nor does it matter what your chosen occupation is; i.e. hospital doctors.

Man Up Rule #5: If by any chance you are looking across a crowded room and make direct eye contact with another man your only 2 options are to either look away quickly or give the universal "brotha man" head-nod.

Man Up Rule #6: The fanny pack never was and never will be an acceptable fashion statement!

Man up Rule #7: The banana is a fruit that should only be eaten when you break it up or slice it. It is never to be eaten whole! This rule also applies to lollipops, Popsicles, and anything that can resemble... Well you get the point.

Man Up Rule #8: As Tom Hanks said in A League of their Own "There's no crying in Baseball." Well this rule also applies to all other sports. Especially when you lose. The only tolerable crying would be tears of joy for a hard fought victory. Below are 2 examples of crying violations and 2 examples of acceptable tears.

Brothers' Perspective


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Generation "Next"

Dear Lil Cory and Javon,

Nephews, I want to start by saying, of course, that I Love you tremendously. There's a lot that I know you will never understand about me as your uncle, but I write this to you so that I do my job as an uncle. And so that one day, you will be able to do the same for your nieces and nephews.

The responsibility of being an uncle is tremendous. A lot of aunts and uncles either shirk their responsibilities or don't fully comprehend just how important they are in the development of their nieces and nephews. And to this point, it took me entirely too long to begin to live up to mine. So this little letter is to make sure that no matter what happens, you'll always have a lasting image of the lessons that I hope to impart to the both of you.

First, drugs are bad! I know it sounds cliche, but they are. There is absolutely no excuse for you to live your life addicted to them in any way. If you do start down that path, please do all that you can to ween yourself from them. (Ask any of us for help. We will not judge you, and will do all in our power to assist you). I know that there are a lot of negative forces in this world that may try and draw you down that path, but I guarantee you that your life will always be better served by confronting your problems head on. It won't be easy, but you will be a better Man for it.
Second, and along the same lines, don't deal drugs. As young black men, don't give the system the opportunity to throw your black asses in jail. I know that the allure of the fast money and women that being a drug dealer brings may seem appealing at first. But in the long run, you only expose yourself to more negativity and despair. And trust me, from what I know, you only wind in 2 places from it: jail, or the cemetary. (Watch Scarface or New Jack City for a visual reference). And I don't want to see you in either place. Anything in this life worth having is worth working for!

Third, white people will pay you to do some of anything for them. All you have to do is humble yourself, and not live your life saying what you won't do. Too often, our people are heard saying I would NEVER. And that's fine if we're talking about truly compromising yourself and your principles. But there's no shame in an honest living. NONE! And don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

Fourth, if at all possible, go to college. Not just for the education, college will provide you the opportunity to expose yourself to all different walks of life. Don't live your life inside a bubble. Some of my greatest experiences have been when I stepped outside of what would be considered my norm. And besides, you will never have more of an opportunity to meet women as you will while you're in college. Oh, and if you can, stay in the dorms for at least a year. Trust me, you'll love it. Which brings me to #5.

Fifth, do not settle down before your time. Nephews, this is one of the most important lessons that I learned the hard way. Love is wonderful. But just because you discover love at 17, 18, 19, does not mean that the love endures until you're 21, 22, 23. If she's the one for you, you'll truly know. But please do not feel as though because the two of you like Mexican food, or that you are both scorpios, that somehow that girl is the perfect girl for you. I know you will hear it a million times, but know your Uncle Dre said it first, you will meet tons of girls. And you will find great qualities in many of them. That doesn't mean that you need to settle down with any of them. As I was told that my Grandfather John said to my father, get all the gusto you can. (Gusto meaning P. And by the time you understand this, you'll know what P is).

But sixth, if you make a baby, take care of it! Being a real man has nothing to do with the number of babies you can make. Being a real man has everything to do with living up to your responsibilities. If you and a young lady make a baby, you are OBLIGATED to help her raise that child. Both financially and emotionally. And on this one, like no other rule, I will physically kick your asses if you try to dodge this responsibility. (So I don't wanna hear any shit when I start swinging on you, you'll already know why).

And last, for now, family is the most important thing in life. (Next to God). Let me tell you that no people in this world will ever piss you off like your family. However, no other people in this world will ever have your back like your family. Always make sure that you reciprocate. Spending time with friends is cool, but in the end, blood is thicker than water. (Sorry, but you will hear that one a million times too). And the time spent with your family will always stand out in your mind. No matter what.

I hope to have the opportunity to update this list as time goes on. I know you cats are just 4, but I don't ever want the chance to impart wisdom into your lives to ever slip past me. And just know that as long as I'm here, I will always be available to you guys for anything. And even if you don't feel like your parents will understand, I will. Live life to the fullest! (Again, expect another million times).

I Love You,

Uncle Dre

I D.A.R.E. You

I can recall back to being in 4th grade when I was first introduced to something that was brand new to me in so many ways. Somehow my parents had managed to basically never expose me to the knowledge that such a thing even existed up until this point. What is it that I'm speaking of you ask? Well the answer would be Drugs. Well I know that it seems odd in today's times that a 10 year old not know anything about drugs. But I can honestly say I don't ever recall knowing or hearing about them until this point in my life (However, alcohol I knew very well growing up with my Grandfather John). Well that was until my teacher 4th Grade Teacher Ms. Bernier (I had a crush on her. lol) announced that we would be having a D.A.R.E. assembly later that day. My young mind immediately began to wonder what is D.A.R.E.?

Well later that day an L.A.P.D. officer quickly explained what D.A.R.E. was to myself and an auditorium full of other 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. I don't recall what exactly what happen specifically next but I'm sure I ran home with all kinds of questions for my parents. Also, I remember later being selected as a finalist to read my speech I wrote about D.A.R.E. during the D.A.R.E. graduation program. Ironically, I can remember my father sitting up the night before helping me to write this speech. If you knew my father's history you would also appreciate the irony. Well I went on to deliver my speech and graduate from the D.A.R.E. program with my dad in the audience to congratulate me. I received my D.A.R.E. t-shirt, button, hat, bumper sticker, key chain and knowledge about drugs and gangs that I supposed helped to keep me somewhat on the straight path.

So good job ex LAPD Police Chief Darryl Gates on your D.A.R.E. Program, and good job President Reagan on your diligence on the "War on Drugs."

However, I decided to do just a little history on D.A.R.E. beyond what I learned from the officers in the 4th grade. Well in case you've been reading D.A.R.E. and either don't remember or are wondering what the acronym stands for it's Drug Abuse Resistance Education. Well according to Wikipedia D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983 and "Students who enter the program sign a pledge not to use drugs or join gangs and are taught by local law enforcement about the dangers of drug use in an interactive in-school curriculum which lasts ten weeks. DARE is popular and well-funded, at least in the United States. However, numerous scientific studies of the program report that D.A.R.E. does not actually decrease drug use among graduates. Some studies have even indicated that there is an increased rate of drug use among D.A.R.E. graduates. In 2001, the Surgeon General of the United States placed the D.A.R.E. program in the category of "Does Not Work".

Well when I read this I was truly in shock. So you mean to tell me that all those weeks of studying about drugs and drug awareness and prevention was all for nothing? You mean I stayed up late wrote that speech delivered it to an audience full of my peers for nothing? I walked around wearing a t-shirt and hat promoting D.A.R.E. all for nothing? Well how DARE you waste my precious time!! I could have been at recess or some other 4th grade activity instead of hour long assemblies. LOL. J/k. But of course it was not a total waste of time because I did believe in what I was learning at the time and again I am a successful product of the D.A.R.E. campaign and although many have taken the pledge and broken their word I'm sure there are many other success stories that came/come from D.A.R.E.

In fact, Wiki reports that "According to the D.A.R.E. website, 36 million children around the world — 26 million in the U.S. — are part of the program. The program is implemented in 80% of the nation's school districts, and 54 countries around the world. D.A.R.E. was one of the first national programs promoting zero tolerance. The D.A.R.E. program has received numerous accolades and awards for delivering the message to keep "kids off drugs" and remains widely popular and well funded, receiving over $1 billion per year in the United States alone."

Well while we're on the subject of the supposed war on drugs I was curious to know how far we've come in this fight. According to the trusty Wiki "This total was estimated by the federal U.S. government's cost report on drug control to be roughly $12 billion in 2005. Additionally, in a separate report, the U.S. government reports that the cost of incarcerating drug law offenders was $30.1 billion—$9.1 billion for police protection, $4.5 billion for legal adjudication, and $11.0 billion for state and federal corrections. In total, roughly $45.5 billion was spent in 2005 for these factors." Now I am sure that there are many tactics implemented by the DEA to stop drugs from entering the country and hitting the inner city streets. And I'm not here to knock the DEA by any means because I know their job is not an easy task.

Unfortunately, it's not working too well at least from what my eyes detect. I've been throughout the "hood" sections of Chicago and needless to say you won't drive too far before someone throws up the universal "I got weed sign." For those of you unfamiliar it's simply putting your fingers to your mouth as if imitating you're smoking. So just in case you ever find yourself lost and driving through the "hood" if you see someone doing this don't worry it's not a gang sign. They just want you to know that if you're looking to buy weed, marijuana, green or whatever clever nickname you want to call it they got it. Funny thing is that I work and live in the suburbs but I was recently walking home from work and I walked past a Caucasian young man and heard him yelling "Hey!" Not knowing who he was talking to I kept walking he then yelled louder and I looked back and noticed he was talking to me. So I stopped and asked "what's up?" The guy then proceeds to ask if I have or know where he can get weed from? I quickly answered no to both and proceeded to take my black ass home. Well the black ass part was I'm sure part of why he chose to assume I had weed or knew where he could get some. I could go deeper into this stereotyping but that's probably best fit for another blog all by itself. But just goes to show you that you don't have to be in the heart of the ghetto to be confronted with drugs and drug use.

So back to the war on drugs, that's where we were. Well there's one tactic that I've discussed with my brother and a few others that I don't believe the DEA has used in their efforts to keep drugs off the streets. What I continue to say is we need to find out who makes and supplies the "baggies." Yes those small bags that fit only a nickel or dimes worth of drugs in them is exactly what I'm referring to. I'm no drug expert so please don't take what I'm saying as evidence I deal or use drugs because I don't. But being young and black and having lived in the inner city and still knowing people that do you get exposed to some things. Therefore, I know that to make certain drugs there are certain products you can use such as a scale, baking soda, razor blades. Well those are common items that you can basically pick up at any grocery store. However, I've never seen the little "baggies" in aisle 3 of the grocery store along with the sandwich bags and foil. Or maybe it's just me they are pretty small so maybe I've just missed them, but I doubt it. I just have never seen them used for anything else ever, so if they had another practical use then I could understand them being produced but I just don't have one. Then some even dare to have the marijuana leaf symbol on the outside of the bag. Come on now you can't tell me there is another use for such a bag. I mean it's bad enough that drug users are getting swindled as is. Well so I've heard, my parents have occasionally mention how a nickel bag back in the day was a sandwich bag full of weed now they're reduced to this small ass "baggy." Talk about inflation LOL.

But basically my theory is wherever dealers are getting these baggies from can lead to someone that has a connection with a lot of dealers. Now will it work or not I don't know, but to me if you haven't at least tried it then hell it's worth a try. But perhaps they have and figured the baggies were irrelevant to stopping the war on drugs. Now yes I'm positive that if they eliminate the suppliers of the little "baggies" that the dealers will use something else to package their drugs in. Anything from sandwich bags, to foil, to paper, plastic wrap, to tissue, bubble gum wrappers, etc. By no means am I saying it will solve the war on drugs single handedly but I think it would maybe give them inside access to some of the low level people and perhaps give them a chance to move their way up the ladder.

Well all in all I feel that drugs will always be in our society no matter how many billions the Government spends on the war on drugs. So ultimately there is nothing D.A.R.E. or removing little baggies can or will do to stop drugs and drug usage. However, when my child is as of age I do hope that programs like D.A.R.E. still exist. Although I don't expect them to my job as a parent, but I think it's a great way to begin the prevention and awareness especially in school where I won't be. But as a parent I will do the best I can to keep him as far away from drugs as I can.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Plural Familes??

Well after I watched the Celtics win the NBA Finals last night and watched all the highlights and interviews, I found myself flipping through channels. I happen to come across Oprah which I never watch except on rare occasions. Well this quickly became one of those occasions as I learned the topic being discussed was polygamy aka Plural families (the new PC term). So I sat intrigued watching Oprah interview three wives and one husband.

Needless to say, that this got me to thinking on the whole subject of polygamist and had to add my two cents to the pot. First off, and I believe Oprah touched on the same point, but I've been married before (thankfully to only one woman). However, I found it difficult to keep this one woman happy, pleased, and satisfied all of the time (as I'm sure most husbands do). Therefore, my question is how in the HELL is it possible for this man to keep 3 wives happy and pleased even some of the time? As they say "Happy Wife Happy Life. " But maybe this guy only goes for 2 out of 3 when it comes to that rule. And when I say happy and satisfied I don't only mean sexually. In fact, we all know it takes so much more than sex to keep a woman pleased and happy sex is a very small part of the equation.

I just think that as much as guys want to fantasize about three-somes and having more than one woman, it takes a special man to take it to this level. "When asked who sleeps where he said I have my room and they all have their own rooms." So I'm wondering is this like some type of reality show or something, where these women compete in some sort of game or event to see who gets to sleep with the husband that night (i.e. Flavor of Love)? Or do they have a calendar and pick days? I'm just curious because it just doesn't seem as simple as they attempted to make it seem.

Moving on, there is something else I've yet to mention. Well this particular family had a total of about 22 kids (yes 22 that's not a typo). Now I have one child, and my one child is much more than a handful all by himself. So I can't even imagine having a house full of 22 kids. I don't even think 3 mothers is enough for 22 kids. That is still an average of 7.3333333 kids per mother. I'm sure they all range in ages so perhaps some of the older children pitch in to help with the younger. But my next question was obviously how in the HELL does this man support all of these kids? I mean God forbid one of the women ever leaves because I'm sure his whole damn check will go to child support. LoL. Don't get me wrong children are a wonderful blessing and all but I don't know any woman that would still be willing to marry a man knowing she would have to pop out 7.33 children. Then, I don't know how but all 3 of these women were all of reasonable weight and proportion. Now I know that every woman's body reacts differently after pregnancy but man 7 kids and still slim I'm sure many women would like to know the secret (or would they?).

Well the family on the show painted such a pretty picture of their "Plural" family. Of course insuring that there were no type of abuse going on in his household. However, Oprah of course had someone else that escaped a polygamist sect that spoke out stating that there was abuse and that she was forced to marry at age 18. I mean I can't personally prove or disprove either of these families allegations. However, all I know is that something isn't right. I know they use the basis of religious beliefs as their reasoning for having multiple wives and the wives having to dress and wear their hair as they do but it's not on sale so I'm not buying it.

Of course we've yet to address the illegal aspect of the whole polygamy story. Yes it is against the law to marry more than one person at the same time. Therefore, as Oprah stated many of the men don't come forward to speak out about their practice. However, this particular man chose to come out and talk about it. I guess Oprah was offering enough for him to risk it. Don't forget he's got 22 kids to feed. But overall I don't see risking going to jail to marry more than one woman worth it to me. It seems as if they feel that as long as they're not hurting anyone by this practice they should be able to marry as many women as possible. But to that I say well I'm sure prostitutes feel the same way they're not hurting anyone by performing their service but yet and still it's illegal. So the bottom line is just as they risk going to jail for their actions so should you for yours. Well inquiring minds would like to know this, why are there never wives with multiple husbands in these polygamist sects? Well the fact there is no answer for that question pretty much proves my feelings towards polygamists.

Finally in speaking on polygamist, I recall pop singer Akon was rumored to be a polygamist and to actually be coming out with a reality show centered around his family life.

However, I'm sure the production was quickly halted after the stunt Akon pulled with the under age girl on stage. I highly doubt that would help to put to rest any of the rumors surrounding polygamist at all. Well speaking of celebrities, I guess if I was into the multiple women thing I think I'd more go the Hugh Hefner route and have 3 "girlfriends" as he calls them. Not only does he get to enjoy the same lifestyle but he is also safe from prosecution.

C-Recks Out!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Back In the Day

It's Father's Day 2008. This would be my 5th (6th if you count when the time in the womb) official Father's Day. So far I've spent it having brunch with my son (yes a 4 year old took me out) and taking him on a bike ride to the park. As I'm watching him play on the slides and swings with the other children I'm reminded of a song. "Back in the Day" by Ahmad. In this song Ahmad reflects on the days of his childhood stating in his chorus "Back in the days when I was young I'm not a kid any more but some days I sit and wish I was a kid again."

(Ahmad - Back in the Days)

Well I guess one of the joys of parenthood is being able to sort of relive your childhood through your child. I can't personally go back and relive my childhood; however, every day I spend with or talking to my son is somehow just as good.

For instance, my son's favorite toy is a car. Not any specific car but any car. Yep if it has 4 wheels he'll basically play with it, and the more cars the merrier. Well I'm an "80's Baby" so when I think back I recall my favorite toys of choice were anything He-Man, Voltron, or Transformers (the original not the re-make). I mean my brother and I would fiend for more and more of these action figures. Recently my son was telling my brother about a toy he left at the park and wasn't there when he went back. Well let him tell it someone stole it and he was going to call the police 9-1-1. Lol. Likewise, my brother proceeded to tell him about how one time he left his He-Man toy (Skelator specifically) on the bus when he was a little boy. I actually recall when it happen and my older brother being all broken up over it. I think I may have even offered him my He-Man toy in replacement but it wasn't good enough. Lol.

Now when it came to Voltron, well if you're old enough to remember them the goal was to collect all 5 of the Voltron characters that connected to form Voltron. There was the head/torso, the 2 arms and the 2 legs. Well I remember when my brother and I finally had all 5 we were as happy as can be. Well that was until one of cousins (we still don't have enough evidence to name a culprit) broke one of the legs off the Voltron. Unfortunately, we were never able to form Voltron again. And yes I'm still holding a little animosity towards one of my cousins. (Whoever you are feel free to confess your sins at any time. Lol).

Well moving on, as I watch my son I realize that a child's only job as they see it at least is to play. There's honestly nothing else on their agenda. When I call my son nightly and ask what he did today I get the same answer "I played." And trust me I've seen him get his "play on" and you better believe it's hard work. I've seen him play so much all day that when it's late at night and he's still trying to play he's damn near falling asleep. Lol. But one of the main activities my son loves to do is go out and ride his bike. Unfortunately, he's still on training wheels so I don't ride with him yet; however you can usually find me either running besides or behind him (Kanye work out plan my ass!).

Well when I reflect on my bike riding days there are 2 things that immediately come to memory. Well first is when I was trying to learn how to ride without training wheels. Now I'm certain that teaching your child to ride with no training wheels is a very joyous occasion in both a child and a parents life (probably more so the parent). However, when I think back to my days of learning to ride I doubt my dad would call those days joyous. I specifically recall the day when my dad decided it was time to pull off the training wheels and show me how to ride like the big boys (mainly my older brother). Keep in mind that in those days we either couldn't afford helmets and knee and elbow pads, or kids were just made tougher back then. Lol.

Well all I remember is that it was one of the hardest days of my young life to that point at least. I remember "fallin' " so much Alicia Keys would get jealous. Also, I remember the last fall being the one that made me probably hate my dad for the first time in my life. My grandparents stayed right off of the Dan Ryan express way on the South Side. So to get back to Lafayette we had to cross over the bridge that stretched over the Dan Ryan. Well the bridge was an arch. So you start going up hill and ended down hill. So as my dad held the seat of my bike up the hill with confidence he let the seat go as I descended down hill. I believe he chased after me as my bike road down the hill on 2 wheels. And I'm sure I felt like I was flying and finally got the hang of riding with no training wheels. Well that was until I saw the approaching intersection and began to try to apply the brakes to stop this rolling contraption. Unfortunately as I applied the brakes I yet knew how to stop the bike and keep it from tipping over. Well as the visual probably depicts as I stopped I flipped off of the bike Dominique Dawes (the gymnist) style with the pavement as my only landing pad. Well good people needless to say my arms, knees, feelings, and pride were hurt all with the same fall. I of course cried as my dad attempted to console me, but it was to no avail. At that particular point I came to realize that my father was not superman and could not forever protect me from injury and harms way. I remember breaking away from him and running into the house to be consoled by my mom and grandmother and vowing to never ride again. I'm sure my father felt even worse than I did for all the scrapes, scratches, and falls I took. But I do recall him continuing to tell me with each fall "don't worry son if you fall just get back up and try again." Well needless to say I did just that and eventually learned to ride with no training wheels. In fact, despite the current relationship my father and I have, I can say those words definitely began my preparation for life at an early age. In other words, life is nothing more than a "get back up and try again" roller coaster that you continue ride until you get it right. So for that advice I thank you dad.

Now, I would attempt to add a moral to such a story but unfortunately there is none. All I can say is that in the next year or 2 the only thing I can be assured of is that I'm sure teaching my son to ride his bike without training wheels will be no easy task. Fortunately, I can learn from my father and buy protective gear for the falls and provide encouragement for when he wants to give up. Likewise, there are probably hundreds of stories I can provide of bike riding adventures including my brother and I riding our bikes at a local sand dunes as we called it (but it could've been a landfill now that I think of it. Lol) but this particular story stuck out in my memory.

Now I don't know how many of you have children between the age of say 2 and 11 but if you do well let's just say that it's safe to say that the Disney channel is something we share in common. All I know is that if Walt Disney from the grave wanted to brain wash children and form some sort of evil army he's definitely got the platform to do so. Anytime Hannah Montana can sell out a concert arena quicker than I can chug a beer there is something definitely wrong. Lol. However, all I know is that my son watches the Disney Channel religiously. And when I way "religiously" I mean even more than my grandmother watches/listens to church. And if you have a religious grandmother you know that's a whole hell of a lot. Unfortunately, as a parent there are times I'm forced to watch the channel as well even when I don't necessarily want to. In fact, so much I even start to like certain shows. I will keep them nameless as to not violate any Man Laws. But as long as I don't turn into those of you that watch even when your kid(s) aren't around (you know who you are) I think I'm good.

Well when Disney channel originally hit the scene I remember not having cable except at my grandmother's house. Also I recall feeling like I was too old for Disney. Besides, I liked Warner Brothers (WB) better than Disney anyway. However, just as my son has his beloved Disney channel we had certain cartoons we loved and wouldn't miss for anything in the world. For instance, Voltron, He-Man, Transformers (as previously mentioned), G.I. Joe, Thunder Cats, Ducktales, Darkwing Duck, Tom and Jerry, The Smurfs, Anamaniacs, and all the Warner Bros. Classics. Basically, cartoons were a way of escaping reality in our child like lives. Ironically, when you think about violence on television I don't know how cartoons still receive the G or TV Y ratings. But I guess even back then we as kids somehow knew Wile E. Coyote using an umbrella to stop a ton anvil was fake and never attempted it. Lol.

Finally, my son recently got introduced to the exciting world of video games. He began with his own game system of V-Smile which produces games geared towards education, but still have some of their favorite characters. However, after I purchased GTA IV on PS3 he quickly graduated from his V-Smile to the PS3 and wanted to play GTA (because of the ability to drive real cars). Don't worry he does nothing more than drive the cars as a responsible parent I turn down the volume and make sure he avoids any violence except the occasional breaking of a window to get into a car (I tell him he lost the keys) Lol.

However, in this new era of PS3 and XBox 360 I'm reminded of "back in the day." You know when the original Nintendo first came out (Sorry I wasn't old enough for Atari and "ColecoVision I was an "80's Baby" remember). But after Nintendo (not in order of appearance) then came Sega Genesis, Atari Jaguar, Super Nintendo, Sega CD, Neo-Geo, Sega Saturn, Sega Dream Cast, Nintendo 64, Nintendo Game Cube, Nintendo 360, Nintendo Wii, Playstation, PS1, 2 and 3, Xbox, Xbox 360, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advanced, Nintendo DS, PSP etc.

Well needless to say our parents went through plenty of dollars trying to upgrade me and my brother's game systems year by year as the video game industry advanced. However, this particular memory stands out in my video game history. Gameboy was one of the game systems I mentioned that I just had to have. I remember convincing my grandmother during the course of an entire summer in Chicago to get me one right before going back home to California.

Unfortunately, not too long after going back home to Cali I remember being at the park with my brother and Grandfather John (as mentioned in the blog "The Grandadiest of Them All" June 13, 2008). For some reason I chose to bring my Gameboy, which I had begged and pleaded my grandmother for, to the park with me. And instead of giving it to my grandfather to hold I chose I chose to sit it down for what I thought was nothing more than a minute to 5 minutes at max. And as I went back for it, of course it was gone. As my son said "someone stole it." I'm sure just as he did, I wanted to call the police 9-1-1. But after looking all over the park with my brother and finding nothing I recall going to my grandfather John. Well in true grandfather John fashion he said something similar to this "well Cory (Curry as he could me) if you sat your shit down what did you expect? That's why you gotta keep up with your shit." Well with that statement I knew I need not search anymore and that my beloved Gameboy was forever gone. Having been hurt and upset I simply left with a lesson of "don't sit your shit down." And don't ask me how but I guess it somehow still holds true to this day. Lol. Although that's the one major video game story that comes to mind, believe me there are plenty others. Ask me later to estimate how much money I believe was spent playing Street Fighter II in arcades (but that's another story in itself).

In closing, I believe the innocence of child hood is one of the greatest feelings in the world. I mean to be able to learn, discover, and grow in life on a daily basis is extraordinary. Even greater than that, is to know that if you get it wrong you still have an opportunity to figure it out. Honestly, there are so many aspects to my childhood that I can reflect upon, but these particular points come to mind at the moment. So, make sure you check back there could be a part 2 coming soon.

C-Recks Out!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Grandadiest of them All

With Father's Day on the horizon, I want to tell you about two men that had a profound impact on my life. Unfortunately, neither of which is my actual father. Now don't get me wrong, I honor Curtis Williams as the man that helped raise me, helped to provide for me, and until recently, was the man that I looked up to the most. But in recent years, I've reflected heavily on the things and people that have made me who I am today. And in hind sight, these 2 individuals have played a tremendous role in my life. And for this Father's Day blog, I would like to honor them. My Grandfathers, John B. Williams, and the Grandfather, Porter D. Campbell.

Grandfather John, or as some like to call him, Hundred Cuss word Johnny, was an amazing Man, and not always in a good way. See, my grandfather was an alcoholic. And growing up, I judged him for that. Partly because of things I heard other people say about him. Things that as a kid, I never should have heard. And because of some of those things, I struggled in my relationship with him for a long time. (I'm sorry about that grandfather). But in 1994, we moved back to Chicago from L.A., and I came back a snot nosed 16 year old who thought he new it all and had seen it all. Oh, not to mention that I was in love. Perfect for living with Mr. dose of reality himself.

I will tell you that almost nothing could have been better for my life at the time. See, what I didn't know at the time was that my grandfather less than 5 years left on this Earth. And in his own unique way, my Grandfather proceeded to impart to me many of the lessons that have helped me through some of my toughest times to date.

In June of '95, I spent part of the summer helping my Grandfather do some paint jobs. Lets just say that I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into, but I quickly learned. Lets just say that it was a baptism by fire. And it was a fire fueled by Seagram's Gin, paint thinner, and the hottest summer in recorded Chicago history! I was miserable waking up around 6am or so every morning. And then had to carry ladders, drop cloths and 5 gallon buckets of paint in 100+ degree temperatures. Brutal. But you know what, I did it. I toughed it out, and we finished the job. And what did I get for my trouble? About $50 from a $500 paint job. So was it worth it? Absolutely! I can say that the experience helped me to have the work ethic that I have today. And when a job seems a little tough for me, I know that I worked with the toughest boss I could imagine, and I came through it with flying colors. Chalk another one up for Johnny.

We went to his hometown of Starkville, Mississippi in July of '95, and other than viewing him at his funeral, it was the most at peace I ever saw him. That was the first time I ever realized that my Grandfather was a really great person, and it was just some of the circumstances and situations that made him the ornery person that he could be.

In September of, '95, I needed to take my driving test. My Grandfather John said that I could take the test in his car. I was so nervous heading to the DMV on 99th and King Drive. And my Grandfather knew it! So as I'm driving the five miles over there, my grandfather says to me "now Herky, you ain't got nothing to be nervous about. You know what you're doing boss. Just go up in there, and do what you gotta do, and lets go on home." And you know what, that's exactly what I did! And to this day, I remember pulling into the DMV parking lot, and seeing my grandfather standing in the parking lot, smoking one of his cigars with the biggest look of both worry and hope on his face. And I also remember the Cheshire cat smile that hit him when I told him that I passed. Now some of you might believe that since grandfather let me take the test in his car, he would let me borrow the car as needed. Well my friends, you abviously don't know John B. One of the rites of passage when it comes came to my Grandfather is that he had to tell you that his car was in for the night. I know what you're thinking, cars don't have curfews. Well any car owned by my Grandfather did. And other than my Uncle Phillip, every Williams Man, and some of the women, were told that his car was in for the night. I remember my dad hearing it when I was a kid, and I got my fair share of it when I was of age. Its ok Grandfather, it wasn't anything that I needed to be out there doing anyway. Lol

Now there are many more stories that I can share with you about my Grandfather. The time my brother and I made it to where he put salt in his morning coffe instead of sugar,(talk about being salty LOL), the night my Grandfather was drunk and told my brother and I about how he used to run with a gang back in St. Louis called the Compton Hill Angels (a hilarious story for another time) and his Golden Gloves boxing days or his brief stint in the military (hello Section 8). But the last story I want to share has been probably the most endearing to me.

In 1997, I had my heart broken by my first love. I don't recall the circumstances, but my Grandfather somehow brought the subject of it up to me one day. And he said to me "that girl in California broke your heart huh Herky." All I could respond with was yeah Grandfather. Honestly, that is the end of the story. Now I know that might not seem like much, but coming from my Grandfather, that spoke volumes. See, my Grandfather was not the type to have a heart to heart with you. (Unless he was drunk, and in such cases, he loved you like Richard Simmons loves fat white women). Though his words lasted all of 3-5 seconds, I know that my Grandfather, in his own special way, was saying I know you're hurting right now, but its gonna be ok. And the best part about all of it, he was stone cold sober when he did it. I've had many more heartaches with that very same woman over the past 11 years. And everytime, I've thought back on my grandfather's words, and you know what Grandfather, IT IS gonna be ok. And I Love You for letting me know that.

When my Grandfather passed away, I wasn't ready for him to go. I was just beginning to discover and understand who he was. Yet in another life lesson, his death taught me to cherish the time we have with those loved ones who are still with us. And with that, let me tell you about my GRANDFATHER.

See, it might seem strange for you to see grandfather in all caps, but trust me, that script can't even begin to accurately describe the man. I know you all have grandfathers, but Porter D. Campbell is the kind of grandfather that you all would want your grandfathers to take a class from (call it grandfathering 101 & amp;102). Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he's perfect. However I will say that he's perfect for me. (And Cory, Courtney, Britt, Brandon, Kenny, Lizzy and lil Cory).

Now I didn't always know this. As a matter of fact, there were times in which I used to ask God, myself and of course my mom, "where did ya'll get him from?"

See, my Grandfather is well versed in, well, everything. And much to our benefit now, but not so much in my teen years, he's more than willing to share that with you. And it used to bother me, until I realized that in many ways, I am the exact same way. (My knowledge is not even close to being as vast as his). So growing up, saying something like: Jesus was a black Man, or the Bulls need to get rid of Ron Harper, or even less controversial statements like I hate cucumbers could start a diatribe that could last, if he decided, until the next day. (Oh, and don't think sleep would save you. My Grandfather hasn't slept since the 60s. Every closed eye ain't sleep).

Now I'm 29, and I understand. My Grandfather only knows one way to be, and that's the way his father raised him. And what was wrong with our relationship when I was younger had nothing to do with who my grandfather is, and everything to do with who I was. I wanted my grandfather to conform to me, and what I wanted.

Silly me, there was as much of a chance of that happening as there was that Grandfather john would give up cursing. For a day. (What can I say, he was addicted, don't judge him).

The fact that my Grandfather didn't conform to me was the best thing possible. I can think back on all those many conversations and, now that I'm old enough, confirm that my Grandfather was absolutely right. And he was speaking to me not what I wanted to hear, but what I needed to hear. And that's just how much he loved me.

I have many stories that I could tell you about my Grandfather, but you need only hear one to understand our relationship. My brother and I used to come and stay with our grandparents for a few summers. Well, my grandfather used to work ALL the time. And when he got home, he pretty much ate, and closed his eyes. (Remember, he doesn't sleep).

So this particular night, my grandfather came home, and cooked dinner for my granny, and my brother and me. I don't know exactly what he called the dish, but all you need to know is that it was doused with ginger.

Well, my brother and I tried. I promise you we did, but we couldn't take it. It wasn't our style. However, we were still young enough to hear the term "finish your food". So my brother and I sat at that table for what I'd say was about an hour or more. I remember trying to first talk my brother into, and then intimidating him into asking grandfather could we have something else to eat. Well, Grandfather was having none of that. He said "if you guys are done, wrap your plates, and they'll be there when you're ready for them".

Well we thought we were golden. Plates are on the back porch fridge, we're done with that. (Plus we grew up with the King of Leftovers, Curtis Williams, so in our minds, those plates wouldn't be in there long. Grandfather would probably finish that up for us).

So late that night, my brother and I started gettin hungry. (We ate very little of the ginger dish). Well I tried to get my brother to go get us something to eat. He was having none of that. So I said fine, lets both go get it. So we went downstairs and tried to gather the necessary items for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Not 2 minutes into making these sandwiches, I looked over my shoulder, and who's standing there? Yeah, Grandfather. (At that moment in time, I didn't realize Grandfather didn't sleep).

The Man said nothing to us!

My brother and I proceeded to put all the items back. Once that was done, we marched back upstairs, stomachs still rumbling. So what was the lesson in that? Well, I still don't know. All I have been able to take from that is that I need to check if there will be ginger in the dish that I'm ordering and that my Grandfather means what he says. Not just when it comes to punishments, but in everything. He is a Man who will always honor his word. And I have to admit, the man has absolutely never let me down. I didn't say he hasn't upset me at times, but he's always done what he said he would.

So to my Grandfathers, I Love You both tremendously. I thank you for all that you have taught me. I thank you for standing in the gap for my own father. I pray that I have made you proud. And don't worry, when the time is right, I know I will be a great Grandfather. There's no way I couldn't be. I had the 2 best teachers ever.

Happy Father's Day to all the Fathers out there. To those of you who just have kids, its time to step up and be their fathers!