Saturday, June 25, 2005

My Visit Home

I didn’t think I would write that much in this thing, but 1) I enjoy writing, and 2) I can write about things like this and just express myself,

Everyone called him Deacon Jack, I called him Uncle Jack, actually he was my Great Uncle. Been married 72, yes that’s seventy-two, three score and 12 years, to my great Aunt Willie Mae. He passed away on Sunday, the funeral was Friday. So I got up Friday morning to drive with my Mom up Highway 61 through the woods of Mississippi up into the North Louisiana Delta and those wavy cotton fields to the rural town of Delhi. The drive was calm and peaceful; generally it is always this way, though much more so than it seemed when I was younger, it is also a much better drive now since most of the roads are four lane highways now. I’ve always liked going home as we would call it. Although I was raised in the suburbs of a city, I’ve always enjoyed the feel and scene of country life.

So anyway went by my Aunt’s house in town, changed, then headed out to the church a little after noon on a hot, humid, summer day. The church was reminiscence of the image some would perceive as a consummate country church. Off a two line highway, turn onto a dirt road, go down a bit, to the church with the cemetery on the side. Even the name just has a certain ring to me – Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church. I hadn’t been in that particular church in 10 years, in those parts many of the rural churches don’t have service every Sunday, they rotate. I think Mt. Zion is 1st Sunday, Bellview is 3rd, Mt. Pleasant is 4th, St. John maybe 2nd, that’s how it goes. When it’s not your Sunday you can go visit someplace else. It doesn’t matter too much because everyone knows everyone and all the pastors too. By the way did I mention it was hot (mid 90’s) and dusty? I need to digress here again, as a kid I would always wonder how the old folks could wear suites in the middle of summer and go to church all day, go to like 4 different services, eat lunch outside, and still not be drenched in sweat. I have since learned the power of the white cotton undershirt and the sleeveless cotton undershirt. Those things do wonders. Getting back, it was a full house, first few rows marked off for the immediately family, we could have sat up there but we decided to sit in the back. The scene was just what I would expect, organ playing softly, a few preachers up front, the church mothers wearing white, a lot of the ladies wearing hats, men in their good suits. Digressing again, I was always amazed about this; one of the settings Hollywood seems to be able to get right is the traditional country black church setting. I don’t mean the paradoxical backdrops seen in comedies like Blues Brothers and Which Way is Up (oh ya’ll don’t know about that one), but more so what is seen in dramas and such. For some reason Hollywood seems to get that down pretty well. So you go in, sit down, talk to people you know, try to figure out who in the church you are related to which is almost everyone in some way or another. Of course this is not unusual in small rural southern towns. The funeral service, wait let me say what it really was, a Homegoing Celebration, was long but excellent. The church was packed, the choir sang many of those old hymns and songs I grew up on, “Pass Me Not”, “I’ll Fly Away”, “Soon and Very Soon”, “God Has Smiled on Me”, “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah”, and some others. I’m not trying to sound all holy but this I what I grew up on, I could sing those songs before I knew the music of artist like Tupac, Snoop Dog, or R Kelly. And those songs will stay with me, as long as I live (I digressed again, gotta stop). I like the way older people handle Homegoing Celebrations, there is always some crying, but also a lot of laughing, shouting, and singing. And even though you still maybe sad you leave uplifted.

I don’t want to sound self-righteous and but my family heritage is special to me. Those people who grew up in that time period with Uncle Jack were hard-working people. Most of them were farmers, well to be truly honest they were sharecroppers. They had big families and the kids grew up working in the fields also. In fact my parents both told me stories of missing school at times to go the fields to pick cotton (and to think of all the classes in skipped in college for no reason at all). Most of them we’re not very well educated, but they saved and worked hard to send some of their children to college, in fact my parents were among the first to attended integrated colleges in Louisiana while others attended the great institutions of Southern and Grambling. A number of the men fought for their country in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, even when they didn’t have equal rights at home. I’ve always considered myself a hard-worker, but I can’t compare to how my people worked. And I’m blessed I don’t have too. I’m the recipient of the fruits of their hard labor. A lot have lived long and fulfilled lives. My grandparents and many others of their generation lived or continue to live into their 80’s and 90’s. And they all went to church and made their kids go even if they were running around the rest of the time. I said all that to say this, I had a good time, it always feels good going home no matter what the circumstance maybe, even If I only stay for a few hours.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Top Gun Challenge

I have a new goal for the summer, to go undefeated playing darts on Top Gun Challenge. Normally we’ll play Cricket. I was undefeated until last Monday, but I was upset by Matt. Well not only did I lose to Ceasar in tennis on Monday, still trying to figure that out, but then while playing teams Tuesday night Jeremy and Ceasar whipped me and Matt (Sonja and Samantha were 3rd, they did pretty well when they actually hit the board). And of course they were talking s..t (like I would ever do that when I win). Even Sonja got in her cracks (I’m still mad about that spades game at FAOP in 1999 when she and Coco got lucky), she is too cool to compete against, I can never rattle her. I do have one secret weapon I can use against her, a certain female name that begins with a Br…., but I won’t go there. I did rebound to win a game of 501 (including a monster 3 bullseye round) against Ceaser, Jeremy, and Alan. Now I need to go undefeated the rest of the summer.

And I need to get one of these machines. dargalaxytopgun.html We were talking about how much fun it would be for tailgating (less than 3 months away). If I find one cheap on ebay or something, its mine. In fact I haven’t played my Playstation 2 in months, I’ll trade it to anyone for a working Top Gun Challenge dart machine. Of course I could also spend $30 and buy a regular dart board and chalk board to keep score manually, you would think after sitting through 17 hours of Calculus and Differential Equations dart math would be pretty simple. But the machine has sound and flashy stuff. I wonder if you could program different sounds effects, oh the possibilities.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Confederacy of Dances

I attended this dance performance Friday (; it was very enjoyable and entertaining. The program was in the Contemporary Arts Center (very nice building, good art collection, will have to go back sometime) on Camp St. in the warehouse district. Generally I relate more to the musical arts and I really enjoyed the musical performances in the program, but surprisingly I followed the dance and backgrounds really well. Margaret, you were awesome, thanks for the invitation, the entire event was amazing. Good luck back in KC.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Fathers Day Picture, my brother, Dad, Mom, Me, after lunch after church Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Random Thoughts

Today was devastatingly hot. It had to be the hottest day of the summer so far. I played tennis on the purple and gold courts at the Rec Center this morning before work with CR about 9:30 am or so, we only played an hour but it was brutal. We hit around, then played one set, I won 6-3, although my stats probably looked something like this; Aces – 3, Double Faults – 1, Winners – 6 or 7, Unforced Errors – 132. But the errors weren’t all my fault, my opponent didn’t hit a lot of winners, but he was able to run down just about every shot I hit no matter how good, it must have been his Honduran footballer (soccer for the unrefined) skills coming out. Of course after the 3rd time this would happen on each point I would invariably launch a forehand that was out by about 10 feet. I like tennis, its pretty low impact (as opposed to basketball, football, or ultimate fighting championship) but you can still get a good workout. I’m not very good but I’m getting better.

I know most people don’t follow track unless its Olympic time or new headlines come out about BALCO grand jury testimony that athletes are sticking big needles in their butts to run faster, but if you didn’t hear, Asafa Powell from Jamaica ran the 100M dash in 9.77 seconds, a new world record. Here is a link to the race - In case you’re not sure that’s pretty fast. And it’s good for the sport. On the same note LSU’s 4x400M relay won the NCAA title and set and college record – 2:59.59. The anchor leg, Xavier Carter, a freshman, ran a 44.0 split. In case you’re not sure again that’s pretty fast. A reply of the meet will be on TV this Saturday (6/18) on CBS at 1:30 pm CST.

If you’re gonna be in New Orleans this weekend go check this out: I have it on record from my sources that this show will be very entertaining. If I can fit it in the schedule I’ll go.

Pictures From IAF

Most of these didn't come out that well, I apologize for that. But take a look if you want.

Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick Show

According to the rules of Fred, a great hip-hop show should have some of the following to be considereto be considered a great show:
a group who’s music is well know by the crowd in attendance – check here - I think most of the crowd was older speaking relatively, probably between 23-35. Generally speaking, a younger crowd may not have been as familiar with their music
artist who can get the crowd involved either through lyrics or dance or props (think 2 Live Crew here) – check here – Doug’s MC’ing and old school dance moves and Slick Rick’s persona and lyrical delivery knocked this one out
a venue well suited for the event - check here – a music festival, the crowd already heard some traditional music, reggae, dancehall, old-school R&B, everyone was in the mood to really get down to some hip-hop, and in the front I saw a few “cigarettes” that emit a definitive odor being passed around.

Basically the crowd was great, the weather had cooled down, and I had a great time.
This show was probably the best hip-hop show I’ve attended. The crowd wasn’t really huge, maybe a thousand or more with a few hundred up front near the stage. First Doug E Fresh came out with their two DJ’s. He was great at working the crowd; he did some of his early stuff, including “Greatest Entertainer” and “I’m Gettin Ready”. Then it just got hotter. He freestyled with ease and played homage to groups like Earth, Wind, and Fire and Gap Band by playing samples from their songs. And then he spent about 5-10 minutes playing old TV themes, Fat Albert, The Jeffersons, Good Times, etc, even Cheers, and the crowd ate it up. I enjoyed that he kept everything old school. He also did some beatbox which was unbelievable; he had a reggae artist whose name I do not remember come out to sing with only Doug’s beatbox as background. Then Slick Rick came out about halfway through, just like you would imagine, wearing a Kango, eye patch, big chains and rings, the whole deal. They broke into “The Show” and “La-Di-Da-Di” with no music other than Doug beatboxing (by the way Snoops version pales in comparison to the original). They did another song or two then Slick Rick ended with another classic “Children’s Story”-- He was only seventeen, in a madman's dream, the cops shot the kid, I still hear him scream, This ain't funny so don't ya dare laugh, just another case 'bout the wrong path, Straight 'n narrow or yo' soul gets cast(?) Good Night.--

I know I probably enjoyed this show more than most people would, but it brought me back to day when I first heard hip-hop as a young kid. Hip-Hop doesn’t carry my affections the same way it once did, in fact I don’t even refer to myself as a hip-hop fan anymore to be brutally honest, but for an hour or so on Saturday, I was back.

Monday, June 13, 2005

International Arts Fesitval in New Orleans

I consider myself a music lover and I have been exposed to a wide variety of music. And I have always been fascinated by Afro-Caribbean music. I will admit I’m familiar with very little of this music, but that’s the first of two reasons why I wanted to go to the International Arts Festival in N.O. at Marconi Meadows in City Park this weekend. I had a great time. It was hot outside as usual, but that didn’t stop me or the people who attended from having a good time. I saw many cool things including:

- A dance performance by the Dance Company. of Costa Rica, which was absolutely breathtaking. If only I could learn how to dance like they were …..

- I also saw the International Garifuna Band. I was not aware of the Garifuna people, they are people African descent who settled in parts of the Caribbean. Here is a website if you want to find more information about these people (, the website is really interesting, I knew basically nothing about them beforehand. And the band was really good, they played mainly Punta music.

- I also saw an artist named Rupee; he said his music was mainly Soco music (soul + calypso). He was also very entertaining; it kinda reminded me of combination of dancehall, go-go, and reggae music.

- Ernie Smith, a South African jazz musician. He played with a local band instead of bringing his own band, so he only played a few songs, but it was still good music.

- A group of children and young adults performing traditional African dance with drums.

- They also had DJ’s spinning Reggae, hip-hop, and especially old American soul and R&B hits between acts. I can always get down to that, especially the old R&B hits.

- Black Sheep, hip-hop fans may remember them from the early 90’s, they basically had two hits from the 90’s, “The Choice is Yours” and “Flavor of the Month”. They have a new CD coming out this year, they still had a really good flow, I enjoyed their short set.

- And, the second reason I wanted to go, to see the Original Human Beatbox, Doug E. Fresh, and the Story Teller, Slick Rick. This is going to be another post, they were that good. I got my boogie on.

I also sat through part of a seminar entitled, “The Congo-Creole Cultural Connection put on by SUNO (Southern University – New Orleans). This was very enjoyable and I learned a lot. I also had the privilege of conversating with Mrs. Linda Hill, the curator of the school’s collection of African art and artifacts. In fact I have a standing invitation to visit their archives when I have a chance. So if any of you are ever in New Orleans and want to check this out I would be more than happy to try and come down.

Summing this up, I had a great time despite my sore throat, braved the heat, met some cool people like Margaret and Adam, ate some good food, and I actually learned a lot too which is good for me considering I can be so hard-headed at times. I took some pictures; I’ll put them up when I get a change. Plus more on Slick Rick and Doug E Fresh later.

Friday, June 10, 2005

More Tyson

Not to turn this into a Tyson forum, but here is a really good article (albeit by a sports writer I do not care for at all) about Tyson.

“No, it's not Tyson's fault that he came along at a time when teenage athletes started realizing that even football is safer than boxing. No, it isn't his fault that he hasn't had much competition, or that the heavyweight division remains so weak and boring that he's still by far its biggest draw.

But after a pudgy and lazy Tyson suffered a 10th-round shock-out by somebody named Buster Douglas in 1990, and then did his prison stint, he lost his rage to win, and gradually realized he was more entertainer than fighter.”

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Iron Mike

Mike Tyson was on Sportscenter this morning being interviewed about his upcoming fight:

I like Mike, well let me qualify that, I know he is all of the following: convicted rapist, somewhat overrated boxer, almost unbeatable video game boxer, still kinda crazy, and really broke, but there is something about him I just like. Especially now, he seems to have chilled out slightly and the man knows how to play it up in front of the camera. When asked a question by the host about seeing his opponent at the press conference but having to hold back till the fight, Mike said something to this effect: ….. I’m like a pit bull ready to attack but I have rationality unlike a pit bull so I have to hold back …….and …. Losing is a form of winning but we never have losing in our mind…… and...... i'm gonna gut him like fish..........

I wish I had a clip, you have to hear it in the Mike Tyson voice, has anyone in history ever had a voice less complementary of their persona? Actually I gotta give Mike credit, not only is rationality a real word, but he happened to us it kinda successfully in a sentence.

Lovers and Friends Sample

I’m not really up on new music that much, but this had been bothering me for awhile, that song by Ludacris, Usher, Lil John – Lovers and Friends, I know I have heard the background piano sample on that song before. But for the life of me I couldn’t think of the song.

Well I found out today, kinda by accident, I just happened to be switching through the radio on the way to work and I heard this song on the radio with that piano track. Well luckily the song was almost over and at the end of the song the DJ said it was Bonnie Raitt – I Can’t Make You Love Me. This is the song they sampled for Lovers and Friends. Now I can sleep well tonight. Although I do have 2 more thoughts about it:

1) On that new Mariah Carey song it sounds like she uses the same background piano sample from Raitt’s song, I may be wrong but I don’t think so, and

2) I swear there was some 90’s R&B song that also sampled Raitt’s song. But I cannot thing of it for the world. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Need Schedule

I hate when I see things like this. I really want to go down to New Orleans to check out this festival this weekend, but I want to see a schedule first so I know what’s going on. They got pictures and sound and fancy stuff on the website but no schedule of events, makes you wonder a bit. But anyway it looks like very educational and informative. Plus Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh, that should be wild.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Krispy Kreme

This is for you LSU people. Last night I was over on Siegen Lane getting some good but probably unhealthy food from Whataburger when I noticed the relatively new Krispy Kreme across the street. I think from midnight till 6 am you can buy one dozen and get another dozen donuts free. Sounds like a good deal. But…..

Does anyone remember when there was only one Krispy Kreme in town, the one in the ghetto? Well it wasn’t actually in the ghetto, but it was over in that general area. Basically it was located in the type of place where if you were not from around there you really shouldn’t be out there late at night. One night down the road you might have seen a couple of junkies, some prostitutes, a few deals going down, but getting hot Krispy Kreme donuts late at night made up for any perceived or actual risk for many students (at least some of the ones I knew). At least once a semester I would get the urge and find someone to roll out to Plank Rd. with me. I remember once while working summer orientation we had probably seven people going out one night about 1 AM in either my old 86 blue Buick Century or KP’s old vehicle (a 88 Ford Taurus or something). But now I would imagine a late night Krispy Kreme run isn’t nearly the adventure it once was although the new one is just as far from campus as the old one. You can see the new one from the interstate and it is located by a well lit shopping center on a major thoroughfare. But I know if someone would happen to ask me where to go get some fresh Krispy Kreme, I probably wouldn’t hesitate to send them out to Plank Rd.