Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Eye Sore

Sorry I haven't been around lately. That pesky little eye infection I mentioned earlier took a turn for the worse and turned into a double-eye, crimson, pus-bath that left me virtually blind at the end of the day. However, last night I took a hot, hard-boiled egg, wrapped it in a pillow case, and pressed it against my eyes all last night. I woke up to the clearest eyes I've had in a month. Hopefully, this lasts and I'll be around again soon enough.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Good Luck, Aunt Elaine!

My aunt has been suffering from sarcoidosis for years now. It has been attacking her eyes steadily for the last few, and she's been going blind. Her doctors in BFE, PA, have been wringing their hands, and it took herculean efforts of persuasion from the fam to finally convince her to go into Pittsburgh to get checked out. The fine docs at UPMC said they can cure her, and she goes under the knife today.

Good luck, Aunt Elaine.

Who knows? Maybe one day we'll see you back riding your motorcycle (she took me on my first bike ride when I was about a month old--still a bone of contention between her and my mom).

We love you!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

R.I.P. Michael Jackson?!

OK, I admit that I haven't been much of a fan since Off the Wall. I mean, I loved Michael as a kid, loved The Wiz and Off the Wall. Thriller was way too ubiquitous (all right, I'll admit, I moonwalked with the worst of 'em and I would've killed to have MTV so I could watch the "Thriller" video--but damn, that album sold tens of thousands behind the Iron Curtain) and the brother just kept getting weirder and weirder--and whiter and whiter. However, oddly enough, just this morning I was thinking about how Thriller was the perfect pop album. He was crazy as hell--but, damn, at one point, there was no star brighter, was there?

It's hard to believe the freak show has ended.


The Mark Sanford Video of the Day

To the "Family Values," "true Conservative," voter for Clinton's impeachment governor, who saw fit to leave his wife and four children on Father's Day weekend to go get him some in Argentina, this one goes out to you:


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

F*ck American!

In these troubling economic times when so many American institutions and multinational corporations are failing or are on the brink of disaster, we Americans have been called upon by our government to scrimp, save, and sacrifice in order to save our country. Hundreds of billions of our tax dollars have gone into saving American International Group, Inc., Bank of America, and other strong, red-white-and-blue companies. Tens of billions of gone into American stalwarts, General Motors and Chrysler. In return, we are being asked not to horde our riches in off-shore bank accounts, to abandon our dreams of a Toyota Prius and buy GM's new K(rap) car. We are being asked to no longer get our funky furniture at Ikea and spend our dollars at Wal-Mart. And our telemarketers are asking to no longer set up shop in India and Vietnam and hire good, hard-working American prisoners like they used to do in the '90s.

In other words, we are all being asked to sacrifice our convenience, common sense, and general good taste in order to save what is left of the grand, old U.S. of A! In order to save our country, we must invest in our country! We must all BUY AMERICAN!!!

That is why it is such a disappointment to find out that the Republican governor of South Carolina (an American state if ever there was one), Mark Sanford, not only left his wife and four children on Father's Day weekend to carry on with an affair, but he also left the country and the whole damned continent of North America!

Why, Mark? Why?

We already know with your turning down the part of the stimulus money that would've extended unemployment benefits, that you are perfectly willing to screw your fellow South Carolinians. You couldn't find it in your heart to take it to one of those fine, southern belles down in Charleston?

No, you had to go bonin' in Buenos Aires. I've heard they've got some of the best beef in the world down there, and the tango is pretty cool; but we've got some mighty fine heifers here in the States, and we're the home of the (ironically enough) Charleston, the Twist, and the motherfuckin' Superman Dance! You couldn't crank that?!

You couldn't have lied about Argentina and gone hiking in Appalachia instead? Are you telling me you couldn't do your patriotic duty and find a tawny, dark-haired beauty in the foothills of West Virginia? Sure, she might've gotten all Faye Dunaway/Chinatown on you--"She's my daughter! She's my sister!"--but hey, the rest of us are bailing out AIG!

And if Faye wouldn't have been to your liking, I'm sure there was some fine McCoy who would've complimented your "purdy mouth" and lovingly asked you to squeal like a pig.

Look, these are hard times. We need every man, woman, and child to sacrifice, to tighten their belts, and drop their pants for America! Why go down for some Argentinian tart when good ole American pie comes in every flavor a man can truly desire?!

Mark Sanford, you failed in your patriotic duty! And for that, we cannot forgive you! John Edwards did his! So did Elliot Spitzer! Even your fellow Republican John Ensign wrecked his political career on domestic shores!

So, listen here, all you philandering, so-called American politicians! No more fellatio in the Philippines! No more sodomy in Salzburg! No more bondage in Bandung! No more tea-bagging in Timbuktu! No more threesomes in Thrace! And absolutely, positively no, no, NO molestation in Managua!!!

From now on, you will do what is right for you, your family, and your country, and ...



Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Favorite Stanley Cup Photo


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Name That Sample 3

All right, Patton smashed that last softball I tossed out of the park. So, I've decided to throw a little curve ball for the next one (besides I still love this song after all these years). The first one to sample this gem may surprise you.

And the answer to the last Name That Sample is ...


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Oh Lord, May I Never Get Sick

A few years ago, I had a bulging disc in my neck that pinched a nerve. I was in a hell of a lot of pain, and my left arm was rendered fairly useless for a couple weeks. I knew there was nothing to do but wait it out, but my wife convinced me to go to a doctor. In the world of PPO/HMO, I had no clue what doctor to go to. I ended up going to the one closest to the abode. He ended up being a quack.

Since that son of a bitch got paid for every son-of-a-bitch service he provided, that son of a bitch had me going through every son-of-a-bitch test and treatment imaginable. I got an MRI, I got electric shock, I got a friggin' AIDS test. And every time I got a new test, the technician would ask, "What are you doing here?"

I'd respond, exasperated, "I have no fucking clue."

When it was all said and done, I still had a bulging disc, I was still in a lot of pain, and, only through my self-diagnosis of repeatedly, painfully moving my left arm, did that limb return to normal. That son of a bitch had me in tears--not because of the pain (though that electric shock thing sucked ass)--but because of all the frustration I went through, and all I kept thinking was, "What if I were really sick? What kind of son-of-a-bitch bullshit would I be going through?"

Well today, for the second time in as many months, I have paid another outrageous amount for a prescription. The first one was for that smoking cessation drug. Today was for an antibiotic. I have an eye infection. I was just going to ride it out; but it's lasted about three weeks now, and it's pretty hard reading for a living with a pus-filled eye. So, I just dropped 68 son-of-a-bitch dollars for an eye dropper I'm only going to be using for the next five days.

I mean, I've dropped hundreds of dollars for two prescriptions for non-chronic/non-life-threatening conditions. Yeah, in the grand scheme of things, that's nothing at all. And that's what pisses me off. I can't help thinking, "What if I were really sick? What kind of son-of-a-bitch bullshit would I be going through?"

But hey, there's hope on the horizon. Our government's finally going to a single-payer health system, right?


Oh well, on the bright side, my next-door neighbor's screaming "Feelings" in Spanish at the top of his lungs. Life can't be all bad.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Soul Sista Saturday: Monie Love


Gotta Love It!!!


Friday, June 12, 2009

The Marc-Andre Fleury Video of the Day

You were absolutely exquisite Tuesday night, Flower. Keep it up and you may be sipping from the cup tonight.

Here's to you!

PS. We love you, too, Scuds. Way to save the series!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A New Normal

Yesterday evening, I left work and picked Poohbutt up from daycare as I do every weekday. We chatted through traffic while she snacked on pretzels. We settled in at home rather quickly, and my 19-month-old daughter began "reading" Newsweek to me. When she moved onto Say Goodnight and Baby's Day, I realized that a new Normal has finally settled in on our household.

As many of you know, the old Normal was my watching Pooh all day and going to work at night. It was supposed to only last nine months--until she turned one--but went on until she was 18 months. I was reluctant to let that Normal go, but it couldn't last forever. Finally, I took her to her first day of daycare just a few days after my birthday.

It was one of those bitterly ironic, bright and sunny spring mornings. Pooh bounded enthusiastically out of the house, racing her Ma and Da to the car. You wanted to laugh (ain't nothin' cuter than a running toddler), but I was choking back the tears. I fought the crying jag the entire way--from the Metro station to drop off Ma, through the rush hour traffic, all the way into the daycare center. I didn't want my baby girl to think anything was wrong. That is my duty.

It worked. She was confused and apprehensive being dropped off that first day. But she didn't cry. Not in my presence, anyway. And I didn't in hers. Afterwards, though, I was a mess. A zombie, mostly, trying to figure out why the hell I was at work in the daylight. Once, bumming a cigarette from a co-worker, trying to talk about daycare, I finally succumbed. I had to scurry off to my car and let the tears flow.

Caring for a child, day in and day out, for those really long hours, is pretty intense. It's so joyful and exhilarating, so exhausting and enervating, it can simply overwhelm your identity if you let it. Somewhere in the muddle of the soup I call myself, I know that I am a husband and a son and a friend, an employee, a co-worker, and a colleague, and a writer. There are other things, as well. But they all seemed to be buried somewhere as I became a father.

There was never a moment my daughter wasn't on my mind during the day. I never lost sight of her. My head was filled with Pooh. What was I going to feed her? When was I going to put her down for her nap? What can I teach her today? What will I learn from her? Where will we go today? Will she please eat something other than these damned French fries?!

I had never been so wrapped up in another human being's well-being. Never so concerned with the mercurial, little tyke's moment-to-moment happiness. Never so personally invested in anybody else. And I'd never been closer to anyone than I was with my little Poohbutt for those 15 months. And she'll never know. She'll never know how hard that was to give up.

Or how excruciating it was those first, few days giving her up to the folks at daycare. It didn't take her long to figure out what was up. And that she didn't like it. On that second day, she screamed and wailed and had to be pried off of me. I could hear her screams as I climbed the stairs and left the building.

A lot of you know the cloud that hangs over your head when you leave your baby and she screams like you just put her on the last train to Auschwitz. Rationally, I knew it was for the best. She just reached a stage in her development where she needed more engagement than I felt I could offer. Besides, I had to earn money. As I heard one mother say, "Do you rather want to be around for your baby's seventh tooth coming in or be able to provide for her future?"

I also knew that I wasn't anyone special. Ma had to go through this when Pooh was only three months old, and our girl was receiving her very sustenance from her mother's body. That has got to be the deepest bond one must surrender. I know, my poor wife really did suffer when she had to go back to work. But even her suffering isn't unique. There is hardly a parent in this country who hasn't gone through what I went through this past month. I knew that. Rationally. But when your kid starts crying--even within the hands of paid professionals--who, in many ways, can care for her better than you can--you best believe you want to get all Action Jackson, kick down some doors, and save your baby from all that pain.

But Pooh didn't want to be saved--not by me. I was the man who betrayed her on a daily basis. She was relieved to be rescued from daycare at the end of the day, but she was absolutely ecstatic to see Ma. Not me. She could no longer count on her Da to protect her.

Ma was the one she ran to when she was hungry, when she was happy, when she fell down. She had no need for me, anymore. One night, when she woke up screaming in her crib, instead of crying, "Da! Da! Da!" as she usually did, she screeched, "Ma! Ma! Ma!" When I went into her room to pick her up as I usually did, she ran away from me, tripped, and fell in her crib, and refused to be picked up.

"Well, she wants her Ma now," my wife ventured, "because Mommies are the nurturing ones."

Now, I don't ever want to dog mothers--my best friend is a mother--or rather, the mother of my child. And yall know about black men and they mommas. However, one thing that bugs me about this recent Cult of Motherhood is the either/or false dichotomy our culture foists on us when it comes to parenthood. It seems we can have either good fathers or good mothers. But we can never have both.

That "Father Knows Best" myth that countless generations before us grew up with was complete and utter bullshit--as though the mother was just some cooking, cleaning, perfumed uterus that deferred to the "real" parent when he got home. But why replace that myth of a father with the bubbling, bumbling oaf we have today who impedes real parent at every turn or who, at his best, can only be considered "helpful"?

I was there at the conception of our daughter. I was there for the doctor visits. I was there breathing along, walking the corridors, massaging, holding hands, and coaching and coaxing. I was there ready to slug the doctors when they gave my wife the epidural and she was in complete agony. I was there to stop the overly eager resident from giving her a C-section. After 22 hours of labor, my wife became my hero that day. And I was there with tears in my eyes as little Pooh came into the world and I cut the umbilical cord.

I was there because that is what fathers do. And those of us who give a shit would do a lot more if it were physically possible.

When I took my wife and daughter home, I actually knew what to do (having much younger siblings and cousins came in handy for once--ha!). So yes, I changed diapers and burped and swaddled. I even tried skin time until my daughter started ripping the hairs from my chest. I was up late at night and early in the morning. I heated up the donated meals, entertained visitors, ran errands, dealt with grandparents while my ladies slept. And I went to work.

That is what we fathers do.

And, for the last 15 months, I woke up with Pooh, changed her diapers, fumbled around with that damned Butt Paste, clothed her, fed her, and bathed her, and played with her, and put her to sleep.

When she was hungry, she tugged on my sleeve. When she was tired, she lay her head on my chest. And when she was scared or hurt, she ran into my arms, and I lifted her up and rocked her gently and hushed and hummed and sang and I showered her pain with Daddy kisses.

It's what I thought a father should do. While I'll admit I really fell down on the housekeeping, I was not the bubbling, bumbling idiot I always here about. I was an equal partner in raising our child. And I know I'm not anything special here. I know there are tons of fathers out there just like me. I just wonder why I never see him in the popular discourse. I wonder where he is.

A little over a week ago, I was at the daycare dealing with a brand new pang. I was just coming to grips with Poohbutt's histrionics with my leaving every day when she totally surprised me. Instead of clinging to me, begging me not to leave, she was actually wriggling out of my grasp, wanting to get down to play with her friends. I suddenly didn't know which was worse. Of course, I hated her screaming bloody murder every time I left, but this ...? Her first little step towards independence. "Da, you cool and all, but look at my girl Shanice over there with all those crayons."

It wasn't too overly dramatic, no gnashing of teeth, but I did feel it. I now knew that the old Normal was being replaced. But this is what being a parent is, right? The slow, incremental process of letting go. It hurts a little, but you can't help but feel a little proud. There my baby girl was, laughing and playing with other kids.

But I can't lie. There was something quite glorious in that old Normal. Having your daughter running at you, laughing, "Da! Da!" and waking you up in the morning with a kiss. Playing dolls with Campbell Camel and Baby Rose. Going to the Chinese buffet and downing sushi together. Playing in the sand. And that overriding feeling of pride I got doing my damnedest to be a good father.

I guess a lot of my melancholy was because I also got caught up in the Either/Or. Either I could be this loving, caring nurturer or I could be that rock-solid, good provider I've been hearing so much about. But life isn't really either/or, is it? It's these infinite possibilities of And, if we let it. I can be loving and caring and a good provider and a father and a husband and son and friend and, who knows, maybe even a writer.

Later in the evening, after we all sat down and had dinner together, the three of us played catch on the dining room floor. Pooh sat on Da's lap and we caught the ball and threw it back to Ma together. God, it was fun.

I'll probably always miss the old Normal, and there are some kinks still to be worked out (how does a lazy, no-good bum of a writer finally become a good provider, and, oh yeah, what about that housework?); but I've got to say, I'm really loving this new Normal, too. And I'm really looking forward to all the new Normals yet to come.


Jackass du Jour

It's really not hard to believe that a Supreme Court "Justice," who was ridiculous enough to rule against Lilly Ledbetter in her discrimination suit, would also be ass enough to rule in favor of the Massey Coal Co., who basically paid out $3 million in campaign financing to get a judge on West Virginia's Supreme Court just to avoid paying $50 million in damages to a former competitor. Of course, it makes total sense to buy your own judge to rule in your favor. That is capitalism! That's the American way!

What chaffs my chaps is Assinine Scalia's "dissent":

"The court today continues its quixotic quest to right all wrongs and repair all imperfections through the Constitution"

Yeah, those silly liberals on the Court. Who are they to even think that someone might go to court to "right a wrong"? What would that poor slob be thinking of, filing a law suit like that? What the hell could he expect?

I know it's asking too much, but maybe Scalia should pull his ideology out his ass and look up what the hell his job title means!


The colossal Pen meltdown we saw Saturday night reminds me a lot of the 1998 NBA Finals. The Utah Jazz came in as equals to the dynastic Michael Jordan and Bulls. Some even thought that the Stockton-Malone-led team might pull it off and end the Jordanaires' reign. Even though they played them tough, at some point (and I can't remember the exact moment), you could actually see the Jazz's defeat playing out in their heads.

"Hey, we can beat these guys! ... Wait a second, we can't beat these guys. They're the friggin' Bulls! The friggin' Michael Jordan and the Bulls!"

And the Utah Jazz simply crumbled in six games.

I think that's what happened to the Pens on Saturday. They'd played D-Town tough the first two games and lost, played a fairly sloppy third game and won, and then really dominated for the fourth game. They had tied the series against the legendary Detroit Red Wings.

They came out tough on Saturday. The skating and passing were crisp, and the Malkin and Staal lines were going strong. Then Detroit killed that first penalty. Then Detroit scored. You could see the passing suddenly getting a little shaky. There were turnovers. The defense was suddenly looking very diffident on the ice.

After the Red Wings scored that second goal on that disastrous line change, you could see it was over. The stupid penalties started flying, the power play goals.

I think our lovely Pens suddenly thought, "Hey, we can beat these guys! Wait a second, we can't beat these guys. They're the friggin' Red Wings! The friggin' Pavel Datsyuk and the Red Wings!"

I hope that ass-kicking jarred their heads a little and knocked those stupid thoughts out of their skulls. After all, while Detroit is still the better team, they're not so much better that the Pens can't pull this one out. However, if they are still thinking like that, even if they win tonight, I can't see how a team can beat a team they know in their heart of hearts they're supposed to lose to.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

"Not Since the Nazis ..."

Vladimir Malkin's aging frame is racked with rage as he stares at his son. He breathes in, breathes out, inhales, exhales, all in a vain attempt to calm the fires burning within. He knows it is useless, knows he is going to "blow his top"--as the Americans say. He sits down beside the boy at their kitchen table, anyway. Natalia's borscht is smelling especially delicious today. Perhaps, that will soothe his mood.

He stares down at the boy who is staring down at his bowl of stew. Neither wants to look at the other. They both know what is to come. Vladimir decides to speak, despite himself.

"Do you know what happened on 22 June 1941, boy?"

"Yes, father," the boy sighs, refusing to look his father in the eye.

To put it simply, Yevgeniy Vladimirovich Malkin (22), is an international hockey star. Drafted second overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2004 NHL entry draft, Malkin joined the team two years later. In that short time, he has already helped lead his team to the Stanley Cup Finals two years in a row, has won the Calder Memorial Trophy for the rookie of the year, was runner-up for the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2008, and has won the Art Ross Trophy this year for the league's top scorer. He has also won six medals for his native Russia in international competition. Earlier this week, with his Penguins down two games to none in the Stanley Cup Finals, he personally led the Penguins to even the series with five points of his own.

However, last night, the Pens were shut out by the Detroit Red Wings, 5-0. The Malkins all feel that poor Evgeni was largely responsible for the debacle. This afternoon, Yevgeniy Vladimirovich Malkin is no longer an international hockey star. Today, he is a chastened, little boy.

"And what happened on 22 June 1941, Evgeni?" his father asks again.

"Operation Barbarossa, father," the son huffs. "The day the Germans invaded the Soviet Uni--"

"Russia!" Vladimir shouts.

Natalia gasps at her husband's rage and sits down between her boys with her own bowl of borscht.

"Russia," the boy concedes.

"The Heer, the Luftwaffe, the entire Wehrmacht laid waste to our great country," Vladimir continues, turning red. "They slaughtered millions! Men and women, boys and girls, little babies! We all suffered terribly under the Nazis' reign of terror!"

"But father, you were born in 1958," Evgeni meekly protests.

"All Russians--dead, alive, yet to be born--suffered and died that day."

"It was the greatest tragedy the Slavic race has ever known," Natalia adds. "And we Slavs know our tragedy."

"But that would mean--" Evgeni stammers "--what's the logic in that?"

"What was the logic in elbowing that boy in the face, getting that penalty, depriving your team of your talent, leaving them a man short, and your team giving up a power play goal?!" Vladimir roars.

"Yes, father," Evgeni whimpers.

"What was the logic in your hooking and cross-checking penalties?"

"Yes, father."

"Twelve penalties?! Twelve penalties your team had! Three power play goals you gave up!"

"Yes, father."

"And that friend of yours, Kuntz!"

"Kunitz, father. Chris Kunitz."

"You call that a fight?! One, measly punch in the belly, and he barely pulls the boy's shirt off?! Disgusting! That boy is clearly not from Russia!"

"No, Regina, father."

"He is a vagina!"


"Sorry, Natalia." Vladimir pats his wife's hand reassuringly and smiles. He quickly turns back to his son, eyes ablaze. "Now, your team is down 3-2 to the reigning Stanley Cup champions. Men even more experienced than your Aunt Minet!"


"Please, Natalia. I am making a point here." He turns back to his son. "Now, Detroit only has to win one more game, and you have to win two. All because of sloppy puck handling, horrible defense, and all those stupid, stupid penalties! Tell me where the logic is in all of that!"

"There is none, OK, father!" Evgeni cries. "There is none!"

Vladimir sighs. "Not since the Nazis have I seen such wanton self-destruction."

"Oh, father!!!"

Natalia produces a handkerchief and dabs at her son's wet eyes. He takes it, blows his nose, and gives it back to her. She continues to wipe tears as her husband speaks.

"During the war," Vladimir continues, hotly. "We, Russians, burned down everything. We razed entire villages, towns, cities! We burned down every single farm, every single tree, every single crop we could put a torch to in the Nazis' path. Your grandmother's village, Pizdet'?"

"Gone," Natalia adds, tearfully.

"Phht! Burned to the ground!" Vladimir continues. "We wanted to starve the Nazis out of our country. You see, son, all that self-destruction, all the suffering we inflicted on ourselves, we had a plan."

"Yes, father."

"And it worked. We may have starved ourselves. But we starved the Nazis, too, and ran them out of the Fatherland. Do you understand what I'm saying to you, boy?"

Evgeni looks up at his father, his eyes rimmed red. He sniffles one last time and nods.

"Now, tell me, Geno," his father commands, "what is your plan?"


6/7/58 -- The Greatest Day in Music History

That's right, Prince Rogers Nelson turns 51 today. Crank up your iPod and celebrate this, the greatest day in music history!

For those who haven't read this, yet, please enjoy my old tribute to His Royal Oldness, Prince & Eye: What's This Strange Relationship?

Also, you've got to give it up for the Summer of '58. Prince (June 7), Madonna (August 16), Michael Jackson (August 29), and, for you Brits, Kate Bush (July 30) were all born that season. I don't know what the hell was in the water in Fall '57 (aside from maybe DDT), but whatever it was, bring that crap back!

Now please, sit back, relax, and enjoy my favorite Prince joint, "When Doves Cry."


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Whatever Happened to Loving?

The older I get, I realize, the less I know, and there are simply some things I just don't understand. For example, I just don't understand all the controversy over gay marriage. Don't get me wrong, yet again, I'm not some naif fresh out the womb who needs to suckle on the teat of "civic" discourse. It's just something I don't get.

I don't understand why people feel the need to mask their morbid curiosity, dread, and hatred over what goes on in other people's bedrooms in such dramatically indignant, "moralistic" tones, using the Bible, Koran, Torah, or McDonald's Dollar Menu to justify their aversion to homosexuality. Let's face it, people: you either hate gays, kinda wanna be gay (or at least have an "experience"), or they just creep you out. Why mask this with such high-falutin', florid, religious language (you know, like "God Hates Fags")? I'm not saying, "Get over it." Some of you will. Most of you won't. Just admit it and leave God out of it!

You used to say He was down with slavery and stoning adulterous women. He seems to have gotten over those little disappointments. Maybe He'll get over this little gay marriage thing, too. But, until I see you conversing with a burning bush or bringing down a plague of locusts, shut the hell up and let God speak for Himself.

I also don't understand why our government listens to this vitriolic, hyperbolic, pseudo-religious hate speech and allow this claptrap to dictate the law. Now, if these different "God-fearing," "Bible-believing" churches want to ban marriage ceremonies in their own "houses of God," that's one matter. But how does that dictate what goes on in the State House?

The last I checked, the religious ceremony was all pomp and circumstance signifying nothing in the eyes of the State. The real marriage happens when two people sign that paper and file it with you.

And I could've sworn that, in the eyes of the State, marriage was not some mystical, magical, holy union to unite man and wife. I thought, to them, it was a straight-up property rights issue: who can sign for whom; who can speak for whom; who gets whose stuff when somebody dies. I mean, aren't there thousands of rights conveyed to a married couple that single folks don't have? And let's face it: nobody looks into my moral character when I buy a house (though it is a rather invasive procedure), and nobody seems to care who I diddle when I hit the Dollar Menu. Those are not the issue when it comes to property rights. Now, is it?

I'm simply baffled as to why these same states allow the gay marriage issue up for referenda, too. Since when has granting Civil Rights been up for popular vote? Could you imagine the campaign speeches back in 1860?

"Now, my glorious, urbane, civilized, Christian, white people! Let us take this filthy, barbaric, lazy, son of Ham, heathen nigger and raise him up from slavery! Let us unshackle this beast of burden! Let us give him full and equal rights with us, the civilized, master race of Caucasia! Let him live among us! Let him compete with us for the same jobs...

"Yeah, yeah, I know. Funny, right? But I'm on a roll here.

"Let this dusky brute marry our pure, virginal-white daughters! Let him father our mulatto grandchildren! Let him vote! Let him hold political office! Hell, let him run for President of these here United States of America! What say you, my glorious, urbane, civilized,
Christian, white people?!!!"

"Hoorah!!! Hoorah!!! Hoorah!!!"

"You gonna let them niggers

"Hush now, Susan B. Anthony!"


Civil Rights have never been granted at the ballot box. American Civil Rights have been won in the streets, on the battlefield, through judicial rulings, Constitutional Amendments, and hard-fought legislation. But never have the people voted on the rights of a despised minority and granted them. Anybody serious about the issue ought to know this by now.

But what I really don't understand about the gay marriage debate is whatever happened to Loving v. Virginia? I mean, haven't we had this fight already?

For those not in the know, Loving v. Virginia was the landmark, 1967 Supreme Court decision that forever struck down anti-miscegenation laws and bans on interracial marriage. Mildred (black) and Richard Perry Loving (white) were Virginia residents who moved to DC in order to get married. When they returned to VA, the local police raided their home, hoping to catch them doing the Mandingo (interracial sex being a crime), and arrested them in their bed. When the Lovings produced their marriage license, the cops hauled them in (interracial marriage being an even bigger crime). The couple was sentenced to one year in prison, but the sentence was commuted to 25 years probation if they promised to never return to the commonwealth. They moved back to DC and later sued with the help of the ACLU.

The Supreme Court decided that Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and stated:

"Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State."

They also stated that these laws were racist and perpetuated white supremacy:

"There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy."

Now, I ain't no lawyer and definitely no legal scholar or nuthin' like dat, but it is absolutely beyond me as to how this does not apply to homosexuals and their right to marry. Substitute "black" for "gay" and "white supremacy" for I don't know, "hetero homodoxy," and you pretty much got your answer to this entire debate.

I know a lot of my fellow African-Americans don't like equating our Civil Rights struggles with others and think that our hard-won rights should not be expanded. However, the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses have already been expanded to other groups.

Due Process has been used to protect the "freedom of contract," so employers and employees could negotiate wages without state interference. And it's been used to interfere in said contract in setting maximum hours for workers. It's also been used to uphold states' prohibition laws and federal drug laws as well as the right to privacy and parental rights.

Equal Protection expanded to protect Chinese-Americans in 1886 and all other racial groups in 1954. It's also been expanded to protect women and illegitimate children. Hell, it's even been used to regulate voter redistricting.

How so far-reaching an Amendment and a Supreme Court decision incorporating said Amendment does not apply to gays and their right to marry is utterly incomprehensible (I'm almost certain that it applies to all other facets of their lives). And how any law or court ruling that does not utilize the Fourteenth Amendment and rules against gay marriage is not deemed unconstitutional just boggles the mind.

Marriage is a Constitutional right. Plain and simple. Any legislator or judge who believes otherwise is simply neglecting their duty as protectors of the Constitution and playing with people's lives under some false pretense of morality. Morals are for individuals to grapple with. Your jobs are to uphold the Constitution. Start doing it.

"Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."

--Mildred Loving, 2007


Soul Sista Saturday: Skunk Anansie


Friday, June 5, 2009

The Pittsburgh Penguins Song of the Day No. 2

I, too, can be counted amongst Sportsdom's Superstitious Spectators. On Tuesday, to counteract the hoodoo the Red Wings' goalie, Chris Osgood, had on the puck, rendering it impossible to go in for the Penguins (either that, or the bastard had a magnet implanted in his ass), I decided to use some of Detroit's own magic against it. So, I blasted Madlib and D-Town's own J-Dilla's album, Champion Sound, just before the game. It worked so well, I did it again last night. Now, the Penguins have tied the series and looked absolutely dominating last night. Therefore, I urge all you Penguins fans to share the voodoo, pick up/download Champion Sound, and blast that shit before each game!


PS. I know a bunch of you are probably wondering when the hell Tome became a sports blog. I would like to apologize to my readers for all the mindless sports banter that's been occurring on this site, but I can't! Go Pens!!!

PPS. Am I the only one who's noticed that, since the refs have decided to call penalties more tightly, that the Wings have been just a little off their game?

PPPS. Against any other team, I think last night's devastating Penguins performance would sound the death knell. However, these are the Red Wings. I'm thinking they're coming back harder than ever. If the Pens don't win tomorrow night, I can't possibly see them winning the series.

PPPPS. I'm glad to see that I was right about Malkin's taking over the team. The man is on fire! Let's just hope he burns down Joe Louis Arena tomorrow night.

PPPPPS. Thanks Dabalou, Triple P, and Basque for coming out last night to the Pour House. Our little Afro-Asian boat in the alabaster sea of Penguins fans sure did rock!

... And Justice from All

Wednesday night, The Field Negro posted this disturbing story about Jose Carrasquillo, a Philadelphian accused of brutally raping an 11-year-old girl, leaving her "crying and bleeding" in the street. Apparently, the Philadelphia police began circulating his picture around the city, describing him as a "person of interest," and the local FOP offered a $10,000 for his immediate arrest. As Field put it, they put a bounty on his head. Subsequently, a group of teens found Carrasquillo and beat him within an inch of his life, egged on by a growing mob.

At the time I quipped that if I caught someone who harmed my family, I'd make the poor bastard call 911 and tell the authorities, "My body can be found at..." I was trying to be funny (a bad habit I too often indulge--with very limited results), but only so funny.

I've always found the concept of vengeance understandable. If someone hurts you or your family, I can understand why you would go after that person. If I were found on a jury in such a case, I'd completely sympathize with the vigilante. I would most definitely convict, but I would sympathize.

I feel even stronger about that nowadays. As soon as my wife became pregnant, that sentiment grew exponentially within my breast. When Pooh was born, I think that feeling became seismic. I simply feel more viscerally now that I have a child. As I confessed before, when Joe Biden choked up talking about the loss of his wife and daughter during last year's VP debate, I choked up. The very idea of losing one's loved ones simply tore me up. For that reason, I can barely watch the local news, which always try to terrify us parents with the latest threat, disease, chemical, drug, toy. I can't even watch movies with sick kids in it. I simply cannot stomach the very notion of my family's coming to harm. So, if that poor, raped girl's family somehow got their hands on Carrasquillo (whether guilty or not) and castrated him (as her grandmother claimed she'd do) or worse, I could definitely sympathize. I don't even want to think about it, but I think I could do the same.

However, mob violence is a completely different thing. Now, I've never seen the mob first hand. The closest I came was a weird incident in a night market in Taiwan, where a bunch of guys decided to beat one of their fellow merchants. It was utterly bizarre. They took turns beating on the poor bastard one at a time, just like a kung fu flick, while we all just watched. It was weird but nothing as brutal as what I hear from some of my more traveled friends who have witnessed it. Nothing as brutal as the attack that put Carrasquillo in the hospital earlier this week.

For roughly 100 years (from the end of the Civil War to the end of the Civil Rights era), America's South was ravaged by mob violence and vigilante justice. There were periods within that time frame when hundreds of black men were barbarically lynched a year. In the beginning years of the South's "Redemption", thousands of black men (and some white Republicans) went missing. No one was spared the wrath of the white mob. Towns like Rosewood, Florida, and entire counties like Rockdale County, Georgia, were ethnically cleansed of their black populations. Blacks were lynched for being accused of sexually assaulting white women, for being "uppity," for having the audacity to run for political office or even voting. They were lynched over labor disputes, property disputes, or simply looking at someone the wrong way. Blacks were held in abject terror for over a century because there was no rule of law--only the caprices of the mob.

The Carrasquillo case does not seem to be racially motivated. This is simply a case of someone accused of raping a child and getting what many feel he deserved. I'm not saying I don't feel the same way. I don't exactly know how I feel because it's not about that. This beatdown is about America's justice system. And we Americans have decided that we are not a mob, that we have gone beyond that.

We are a country of laws, and we cannot condone what those teenagers did to Carrasquillo. What is even more inexcusable is what Philly's Fraternal Order of Police did to promote such a beatdown to happen. Not only did they put a bounty on the man's head, but, apparently, a city camera caught the beating on video and, when the police arrived, the video mysteriously cut off. There's absolutely no telling how many times they put in their two cents in the fracas (I'm guessing at least $1.98).

Look, I have absolutely no sympathy for child molesters/rapists. I hope they rot in hell with every fiber of my being. However, as much as I hate to admit it, they, too, deserve the protection of the law. This incident smacks too much of frontier justice, those Southern lynchings, too much of vengeance.

I am against the death penalty because I feel it's more about satisfying a family's need for vengeance than it has anything to do with the concept of justice. And I don't feel that it is the State's responsibility to seek vengeance. Theirs is to mete out justice. Whether Jose Carrasquillo is guilty or not of beating and raping that 11-year-old girl, he did not receive justice at the end of those teenagers' bats this week. It was vengeance pure and simple, aided and abetted by the Philadelphia Police Department. And there's no way I can be for that.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

RIP Koko Taylor

Koko Taylor was the meanest interview I'd ever conducted in my life. She was incredibly hostile, didn't want to answer any questions, put me on hold while conducting other interviews, hung up on me, and called me back only to refuse to answer any more questions. I wanted to scream, "Look, woman, I'm promoting your album here!"

But hey, Koko passed today, and she still sang one of my favorite songs of all-time.

So, Rest in Peace, Koko Taylor.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lead On, Geno!

All right, while I cannot in good conscience, condone spearing the opposing goalie ... oh, who am I kidding? I know exactly why Max Talbot took a stab at Chris "Flopper" Osgood. Chris is a brilliant goalie. But when he's not brilliantly stifling my beloved Pens, he's busy being the luckiest bastard to ever put on the goalie pads. I mean, every time we beat him, the puck hits the post and takes a weird bounce out of the net. And what was that crap with the puck skating all the way across the friggin' goal line?! Jesus!

I know good teams make their own luck, but damn, people!

So, yeah, I understand why Talbot took his shot! This crap is frustrating to watch as a fan. I couldn't imagine what it must be like as a player.

But what really impressed me with the ruckus at the end of Game Two was how Evgeni ("Geno"--why we Americans must Anglicize everything is just beyond me) Malkin went after Henrik Zetterberg.

Look, under any other circumstances, I would absolutely love Zetterberg and the Detroit Red Wings. I mean, they play the best, most balanced hockey I think I've ever seen. But these are my Pens we're talking about here. And for two years in a row! I'm sick of these bastards! They gotta go down!!!

So, thank you, Geno, for taking it upon yourself to show these jackholes that the Pens aren't going to just take it all lying down. Thanks for fighting for your team!

And not a bad fight, either. I mean, I feel bad for the ref who had to stand between you guys and take the brunt of Zetterberg's wrath in his gut. But way to chase that ass down and give it the whoopin' it deserves! He's really taking it to El Sid, and someone needs to take it to him. And since we no longer have Laraque ...

I'm glad it was you.

But now it's up to you, Geno. You've thrown down the gauntlet.

The Pens are playing Awesome Hockey right now. But the Red Wings are playing Awesome Hockey + 1 (and they're getting every lucky bounce ever created on ice). So, you've got to take that Killer Instinct I was talking about a couple posts down and lead this team to the Cup!

I know you can do it, braht man!

Get to it!

Boy, how I'd love to see this again

Interesting Side Note:
All right, I generally think that Blaming the Ref is the last refuge of a scoundrel(ly) sore loser (yeah, I'm talkin' to you, Mike Holmgren). I mean, a team is supposed to win--whether the refs suck or not. I actually like how the refs are not calling the first two games. Just let 'em play. OK, the non-call against Hossa as he broke Dupuis' stick and scored the assist was a bunch of bullshit, but other than that, I'm pretty content.

However, I'm not surprised that there are grumblings about the refs not calling stuff during this Stanley Cup final. What I am surprised with is the source. Here's an interesting gripe against the Men in Zebra by none other than The Detroit Free Press?!

I guess this Age of Obama has got everybody twisted.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Now, That Takes Balls

Reading stories like the one below (courtesy of Yahoo News) makes me realize that I just might not know what love is.

CAIRO – A 25-year-old Egyptian man cut off his own penis to spite his family after he was refused permission to marry a girl from a lower class family, police reported Sunday.

After unsuccessfully petitioning his father for two years to marry the girl, the man heated up a knife and sliced off his reproductive organ, said a police official.

The young man came from a prominent family in the southern Egyptian province of Qena, one of Egypt's poorest and most conservative areas that is also home to the famed ancient Egyptian ruins of Luxor.

The man was rushed to the hospital but doctors were unable to reattach the severed member, the official added citing the police report filed after the incident.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the press, added that the man was still recovering in the hospital.

Traditionally, marriages in these conservative part of southern Egypt are between similar social classes and often within the same extended families — and are rarely for love.

Do you think the English phrase, "Cut off your nose to spite your face," was simply mistranslated in the Arabic?