Sunday, December 31, 2006


- Leon Damas





I'm writing today from Excelsior, Minnesota, Carson's Bay, one of the numerous bays of Lake Minnetonka. Kristen and I just returned from dinner at a stunning Greek restaurant in Minneapolis, Gardens of Salonica, with friends Meghan Voorhees and her husband Adam Blons from Berkeley, California.

The meal was stunningly delicious; Kristen used to work here twelve years ago and had sung the joys of her former employer since first we met. Anna, co-owner and wife of the chef Lazaros, recognized Kristen, despite the years, and graced us with a platter of delectable desserts, gratis. In preparation for an early New Year's Eve ritual, I had an appetizer called Piaz: black eyed peas, tossed with greek olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, onions, and parsley. Yum!

Adam is an ordained minister in a church closely associated with UC-Berkeley. I was curious and asked him about his calling, that crucial moment in his journey, which led to a discussion of progressive interpretations of Jesus's life, floating signifiers, our own secular and sacred quests for spiritual groundings, faint biographies, parenting, devotional poetry, and Phillis Wheatley.

Afterwards, we drove to the AMC at the Southdale Center to see the last showing of Pursuit of Happyness, starring a seasoned Will Smith and his child prodigy of a son Jaden.

Let me say, I'm as starved as the next American for consistent, positive images of black men in the mainstream, and even can stomach, yet again, another Alger-like story of American uplift, and feel graced anytime Thandie Newton crosses my eyesight, and overjoyed that the vision of Reverend Cecil William and Glide Memorial's work serves central to Chris Gardner's life and the movie about him, and delighted to discover that Quincy Troupe is co-author of Chris Gardner's autobiography, and think Will Smith is one of the best evolved actors of his generation, and believe homelessness a damn shame in the wealthiest country in the history of mankind, and wondered continually in the dark about this movie of racialized corporate achievement in a time of war and seasonal gratitude, and as much as I wanted to get up and run with Will from homeless shelter to the Dean Witter elevators to the daycare center then out the Exit doors of the movie theater, I could not, for although a syrupy vat of melodrama had been poured on me, I dare not move for I'd miss another symbolic sprint that defines the life of so many well-meaning men both in the corporate world and on the streets. The quality and texture of the film felt impressively retro-seventies.

This has been a week of movies, needless to say. A couple nights ago, I saw The Good Shepherd. Entertaining and engaging, for sure, but, I guess I was expecting an even darker story of the C.I.A. to emerge, which we know exists. But, kudos to DeNiro.

I've been immersed mostly in my students' work, getting prepared for the ten day sprint at the Bennington Writing Seminars which begins next week, but also taking in little snatches of David Lehman's enchanting book The Last Avant-Garde and Juan Williams's impressive biography of Thurgood Marshall.

I'm starting to see the evident relationship between Frank O'Hara and Walt Whitman, and believe Thurgood Marshall one of top fifteen most important people in the making of America.

I'll forever live with the image of Saddam Hussein with a noose around his neck. This is typical of the kind of psychic warfare we suffer in these times. Thus, a week to ponder, no doubt, with the loss of James Brown and subsequent party in Harlem, then the grave, state parade of President Gerald Ford's casket through Washington. See?

Muriel Rukeyser's The Life of Poetry informs much my contribution in January's issue of Poetry magazine. I wish I could have quoted her opening chapters directly. As the editors could attest, I have so much to say about the topic of poetry's "social" function, as I believe so much of American poetry, that is willfully ignored by scholars and arbiters of literary taste, is born out of a conscious belief that poetry "in the guts of the living" is crucial to our democracy and makes claims on us like no other art form.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Funny how the media is going to talk about foreign policy experience when it comes to John Edwards. I remember when folks tried to hang this on Jesse Jackson. Experience? How much did Condi know about the Middle East? Have ticket will travel. That's all one needs.
On the list of great people I've met:
Archbishop Tutu.
The Wall Street Journal published a nice interview with him this weekend.
Suggested reading (his authorized biography) RABBLE-ROUSER FOR PEACE.
Brown Sounds:

Foundations of Funk: A Brand New Bag: 1964 -1969.
Funk Power: 1970: A Brand New Thang
Live at the Apollo, Volume II, Deluxe Edition
James Brown's Funky People, Parts 1-3

The 11 member James Brown Band will continue playing...look for the 2007 tour.
Quote of the day:

"When you no longer have something new to say, you disappear."
- Josephine Baker
Hanging someone in Iraq is like crying in the rain. Can you notice it? Another death to add to the number in 2006. Only history can do the math. Subtracting Saddam leaves us with what?
One more day until the end of the year. Was this one of the better days? I had a nice breakfast meeting in Silver Spring with poet Melissa Tuckey. We talked about the upcoming Poets Against The War forum on January 17th at IPS. Melissa is also coordinating the poets who will be marching on January 27th. More info will come in future E-Notes.

Later in the day Madame Gina Lewis (and small sons) took me down to Sam Gilliam's studio on U. Whew...what a wonderful place. I could have listened to Sam talk all afternoon. This was like spending time with Picasso. I learned so much...

I met my old friend Andrea at the Starbucks in Chinatown (after 3 PM). This Starbucks has the best upstairs in the city. I like it...will list it as one of Bert's places for reading newspapers and magazines. Andrea and I walked over to the Smithsonian and saw the Josephine Baker Exhibit.
If you live outside DC and can't get to Paris...come see this show. You won't be disappointed.
Baker in so many moods. Baker was the DREAM...all the others --Dreamgirls. There is so much joy in her expression and movements...the sensual winks from her nipples. One can see why a nation fell in love with her. What could a man offer?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Love & Basketball?

MICHAEL JORDAN AND WIFE, JUANITA TO DIVORCE: Papers were filed in Illinois on Friday. *News that revered basketball supernova star Michael Jordan and his wife of 17 years, Juanita, have decided to divorce, will come as a shock to some, but not to others. "Michael and Juanita Jordan mutually and amicably decided to end their 17 year marriage," the couple said in a statement issued through their lawyers. "A judgment for dissolution of their marriage was entered today. There will be no further statements." The divorce papers were filed Friday at the Lake County courthouse, where a judgment for dissolution of their marriage was entered. For MORE of this story, go to EURweb:
I treated myself to a nice lunch at Sala Thai on U Street. Before I went in to eat I had a chat with film man Halie Gerima. I listened to him explain the conflict in the horn of Africa. That's not an easy thing to do these days. I always enjoy talking to the wise Gerima.

I decided to get some videos for the weekend. Here is what I'll be watching:
- The Devil Wears Prada
- Little Miss Sunshine
- Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World
- All The King's Men
OK. Is this a joke?
NY Times (page A3) today:

"One element, traditionally linked to a counterinsurgency strategy, is to follow up any military sweep with a short-term work program that would immediately hire people in neighborhood to clear up trash or do other small civil-affairs jobs."

Someone must have lifted this idea from an old 1960s report on what to do after urban riots.
Are we talking Newark, Detroit or Baghdad?

The above idea sounds very racist too. Blow-up stuff and then let the natives clean-up.Pay them a few dollars so they can buy a beer.

Our military must do better. We have to begin seeing people as human beings.
Ask yourself - Do you want the short term clean-up job?
Where are the real plans to improve conditions in this country?
How much will that cost?
President Bush is talking about a new economic package for Iraq. What happened to the old one? Where did all the money go for Iraqi National Reconstruction? If this money had been spent well, the country would be more stable. Right? Giving money to folks right now might just help fuel the black market, organized crime and folks purchasing guns (for protection) before buying food, etc. It looks like we are getting ready to throw more money at a problem we can no longer fix.
I'm glad Adam Archuleta on the Washington Redskins went public with his feelings. We think about sports as a business and not a game anymore. How many individuals do we destroy because we want to win? No player on a "team" should feel like an outcast. This sounds like the LaVar Arrington treatment.
In the early morning hours I was reading the new anthology - FINGERNAILS ACROSS THE CHALKBOARD: POETRY AND PROSE ON HIV/AIDS FROM THE BLACK DIASPORA edited by Randall Horton, M.L. Hunter and Becky Thompson. The book brought back names and faces of people I miss: Essex Hemphill and Melvin Dixon. When Hunter mentioned the name -Umar Hasan, I remember when he was at Howard and often visted my office. It's sad when you forget a person, especially a writer. The first writer I ever met who was battling AIDS was the performance writer Chasen Gaver. What a talented guy - ahead of his time. Before he left us-- he gave me all of his literary work to take care of. Maybe in 2007, I'll create a section on my website to honor him. Chasen was not African American but he was one of those artists whose life and work crossed the lines when too many of us were afraid to look out of small windows.
Check the photo on the front page of The New York Times today. There is a picture of Bush and his advisors at his Crawford, Texas ranch. Bush looks like the Pied Piper. Is this why we're stuck in Iraq?
Look at the photo of John Edwards in the Washington Post today (page A4). It's a good shot.
I'm happy Edwards decided to kick-off his run for the presidency in New Orleans's Ninth Ward.
In the picture there are about 16 African American young kids. What's nice is that they are not looking at the camera and posing. They seem to be very excited about being around Edwards.
You can see the guy connecting with the young folks. Edwards in this picture looks like the two Cs - Carter and Clinton. This is the populist look that is needed if the US is going to connect back to its roots. Edwards has to pull together people from different backgrounds - especially among poor whites, blacks and latinos. It would be nice of Edwards to take one or two of the kids in this picture on his campaign trail for a few days. It's also important for Edwards to return to New Orleans about 5 or 6 times in 2007. You want to keep returning in order to build up the trust and follow-up. I like Edwards idea about doing something NOW and not waiting for 2008. I like how he is also making global connections to this battle against poverty.
Quote of the Day:

"One era had a Bach, another had a Beethoven, but we had Brown."
- Rev. Al Sharpton

Thursday, December 28, 2006

When it comes to understanding politics the media thinks everyone is dumb. Look at what happened to John Edwards today. The guy is running for president and the media really skips over his message. One station called it "A Second Act" because these are the ideas he was talking about in 2004. Well did poverty disappear? I hate how the media begins to talk about how Edwards just has to win Iowa or his campaign is over. Who says? Why should Iowa decide who the president of the US is going to be without other people having their say? Crazy. The media is trying to tell us who is going to win the democratic nomination for the presidency based on personalities and not ideas.
I like how Edwards simply said he would pull 40,000 troops out of Iraq and the Iraqi government would get the message. That's being a "decider."
A fun day at Busboys & Poets. I met a nice woman who worked for the Ford Foundation. She was in town visiting members of her family. I met Jessica Simon, a woman teaching English at a school in Philadelphia; also Anthony Ratcliff who is doing research on the 6PAC conference and is presently in the Afro-Am Department at the University of Mass in Amherst. Good conversations and then Ginger G arrived and Andy Shallal sat down and well-- it was another reason Busboys is the CENTER for everything good and YES in the world.

Ginger G was kind enough to drive me and Andy over to his house on Kalorama for our television interview. Don't miss this interview which should air on DCTV (Humanities Profiled).
It's fun and informative and should provide a nice profile of Papa Shallal. I also loved the Shallal home; it's warm and large and you don't want to leave. Marjan - Andy's wife is just a gem of a person. Everything was so sweet - including the dates I ate. Oh...and there was Michon Michon.
How could I even think of doing another interview without her in the house. Michon was responsible for producing some of the best Humanities Profiled shows. Now Lady Grimes known as Talaya is in charge. If you want to know when the program with Andy will air - contact her at:
Your call - Should Mark McGwire be voted into the baseball Hall of Fame?
I say no. I was never a fan. Even with steriods I never thought he was a great player. What's this guy's lifetime average?

I vote for Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn. No questions here.

For the football Hall of Fame, here is my short list:

Ray Guy - Are his punts still up there? Did he invent the fair catch for punt returners?
Art Monk -Nothing but class, on and off the field. This guy should be a Redskin coach.
Ken Stabler -How many of us wanted to be left-handed after this guy came along?
Quote of the Day:

"No man should have to clean up after another man's dog."
- President Gerald Ford

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Oh, no - not again. The latest issue of POETRY (January 2007) has an exchange on --Does Poetry Have A Social Function?

How long are we going to keep discussing this ????
Is this a religious conflict?

What's going to be in the next issue?
Is Black poetry universal?
CONVERSION by Remica Bingham is out. This book of poetry won the 2007 Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award. Here is what Lucille Clifton said about the book:

"With this book Remica Bingham joins the list of poets we have hoped for."

Other poets praising this first collection of poems include Ed Ochester, Natasha Trethewey, Kwame Dawes, Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, Patricia Smith and Tim Seibles.

For orders go to:
I just received the latest issue of Peacework magazine (December 2006/January 2007, Vol.33, Issue 371) in the mail. My friend Susannah Heschel has written an article about her father, Abraham Joshua Heschel and his friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr. Heschel is a man whose work and life is admired by many. It was Heschel who said, "The opposite of good is not evil, the opposite of good is indifference." He also reminded us that we do not pray in order to be saved, we pray so that we might be worthy of being saved. Heschel words can be found in the book MORAL GRANDEUR AND SPIRITUAL AUDACITY. The title of the book comes from the telegraph message Heschel sent to President John Kennedy when he accepted his invitation to come to a meeting of religious leaders at the White House. The purpose of the gathering was to discuss the Civil Rights Movement.
The next E-Note will be # 3000. I started the E-Notes back in 2004. If the E-Notes have been important to you, please send a note back to my email address:

Let me know what you find interesting. Thanks. Happy New Year!
John Edwards will announce his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination tomorrow. He will begin in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. I think this is the right move.
I'm supporting Edwards. I think he has the best chance of getting elected in 2008. One should always measure a politician by his/her ability to grow. I think Edwards can build some new bridges between different communities.
Quote of the Day:

"I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our government, but civilization itself."
- Gerald R. Ford (1913-2006), 38th president of the United States.
Maybe the problem with our Iraq policy comes from people like Bush and Rice being sports fans. They must win. They hate to lose. But this is the real world. The world needs more diplomacy. It's difficult to win the "war of ideas" on the battlefield. Radical Islam is not going to disappear. One can travel around the US South today and still find people who want to wear Confederate uniforms. I can't change that. I can only tell them - no slavery this time.
War in Somalia? We are going to enter 2007 with things being very crazy. I think Bush wants to send more troops to Iraq before the hanging of Saddam Hussein. So look for an increase the first or second week of the New Year. The rationale will be for security purposes and the expectation of a militant response to Hussein's death. So we send over 25,000 troops straight to Baghdad. The Democrats complain but then around March ( the anniversary of the war) we reduce the troops by 25,000. We have troop reduction right? You do the math.
Well it's a good thing we didn't invade Cuba looking for Fidel's cancer. The Spanish doctor who is treating him says the Cuban leader does not have cancer. Does this mean our intelligence community has problems reading x-rays too? Maybe it gets back to all those photos the Cubans were releasing. Some folks want Fidel dead so bad that they will use any excuse to invade a country. But Cuba already has excellent healthcare - so how do we explain the invasion? Cuba Si, Cancer No? None of this makes sense to me but then all of it does.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Be sure to read "My Father's Suitcase" the Nobel Lecture, 2006 by Orhan Pamuk. You can find it in The New Yorker (December 25, 2006 & January 1, 2007). This is just beautiful in capturing what it means to be a writer; it's another excellent father/son story. Here is an excerpt that I related to very much:

" So this was what was driving me when I first opened my father's suitcase: Did my father have a secret, an unhappiness in his life that I knew nothing about, something that he could endure only by pouring it into his writing? "
How many balls did TO drop this season? He should talk less and catch more.

Hey - what ever happened to all those steroid rumors about The Rocket?

Is there going to be another "Rocky Garcia" making it to the SuperBowl. What if it comes down to Philadelphia against New Orleans for the NFC title?

McGrady has those back problems again. This looks like Larry Birdjavu all over again.
Oh Yao - out after playing so well.
Hey whatever happend to Latrell?

You have to love those NY Jets. But please can we talk about them without making reference to Namath this year?
Follow the push for health-care change in such states as Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont.
We must begin to reduce the number of uninsured in our society. We can't keep waiting for the federal government to do something.
John Mellencamp's FREEDOM'S ROAD goes on sale next month. It contains his hit "Our Country." The song can also be heard on the Chevrolet Silverado SUV ad.
The expanding conflict in the Horn of Africa is not a good thing. Around the world religious conflicts are pushing everyone back into the past. Are we living in the Middle Ages? Religion should be a very personal and private matter. Tolerance and kindness toward others is the only rule we need to practice. Why say your prayers five times a day if you're going to kill someone? Why must everyone believe in Jesus. Can't we simply believe in his teachings? Is the protection (or interpretation) of a holy book more important than a human life? Consider how the trees and flowers worship. Is ever river a Muslim? Is every lake a Christian?

I saw Dreamgirls last night. I enjoyed it. This is Jennifer Hudson's film. The audience in the movie theater (Silver Spring) was into her. It has been a very long time since I've caught the opening day of a black film. Remember when folks talked back to the screen? We still do that.
One person sitting next to my daughter wanted to sing along with Jennifer. I guess we all want to be dreamgirls - isn't that the message here? Eddie Murphy is good but not great. I can't see him getting an Oscar for this film. Haven't we seen Eddie in this role before? Can't critics tell the difference between Saturday Night and Oscar Night? Eddie is still playing the same roles - he's just good at it. He does steal the screen when he's on it. Should I talk about Jamie Foxx? I can grow to boycott this guy's movies. Oh Ray, I can't see any more of them. I did love Foxx when he was just playing a cab driver and taking flowers to his mom in the hospital.
Foxx is a guy who wants to be an actor when he's acting. This is pure vice outside of Miami. We should all watch ourselves and don't let Foxx into our house and get into our DVD collectons.

Now Beyonce - I don't know her. I was never into her career. Not my destiny. I haven't seen the Dixie Chicks perform either. I did like the one Audrey Hepburn look Beyonce had near the end of the picture. This woman looks fine in hats. She did have some nice Diana Ross moves but standing next to Jennifer Hudson was like singing with Aretha.
Beyonce will get bounced everytime. Dreamgirls is sure to find an audience for the African American women who are large in size. How many times are the large sisters pushed aside for the skinny ones? The blues keep reminding us that some women are built for comfort and others are built for just speed.

Now, to the Pursuit of Happyness. Black fathers are in vogue now. You knew it was going to happen. There is money to be made here - you don't even have to father any words or plots.
Will Smith and his son are good in Pursuit of Happyness. I found this movie to be very political; especially with some of the background action. Picture of Reagan on the television, Magic Johnson smiling from a wall, etc. Now, don't be knocked over because this is a true story. It has an agenda and a message. Ignore Will Smith for a moment and just look at how the hippies in this movie are portrayed. They are either dishonest or crazy. They really don't want to work.
This movie kicks the 1960s in the gut in a very subtle way. It's not about finding alternative values, it's about embracing capitalism and individualism. It's every "man" out there for themselves. It's your family against mine. Of course we all just need a chance or we have to be lucky. I liked the woman who plays Will Smith's wife in the Pursuit...
This is a film without domestic violence. We see Will's neighbor beating his rugs, not his wife. The bad guy in this movie is the IRS. Reaching into people's accounts and just taking their money is just cruel. I never understood this. What's the difference between a levy and a levee?
Why punch a hole in someone's life, and flood them with despair? Where folks might want to hear Jennifer Hudson sing in Dreamgirls - I think Will Smith crying while being forced to seek shelter in a public bathroom with his son -is just very moving. A key moment in Smith's film career.

So I catch a couple of good movies -Now, how can I look at Leonardo DiCaprio without laughing? Do I depart from here? Yes I depart from here.

Brando might have been the Godfather
but James Brown was the Godfather of Soul.

Maceo, Maceo, I want you to blow!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas is the time of cold air
and loud parties and big expense,
but in our hearts flames flicker
answeringly, as on old-fashioned
trees. I would rather the house
burn down than our flames go out.

- Frank O'Hara
"Christmas Card To Grace Hartigan"

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Remind me to go downtown and see the Josephine Baker exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. Once again that master of words - journalist Wil Haygood has a great piece in the newspaper. See his story on Baker in today's Washington Post (Arts Section). What I like about Haygood's articles are the opening paragraphs. Almost everything he writes begins with a Lou Brock, Ricky Henderson leadoff first few lines. Look at what he did today as he writes about Josephine Baker. I wish I could steal this opening:

"She was limber. She was wicked. She had the gift of looking just this side of muscular, and yet quite feminine. Dancing onstage, she could be a blur. It's as if there were mercury in her shoulders, something that could lift her up and spin her around. Her act was a taunt and a tease. It also was a celebration of herself. She knew sex, and she knew the lit and unlit dreams of men.
And she played with those dreams as the lioness does the fawn."
Quote of the Day:

"All the same, I can't understand why so many white American couples go overseas to adopt, ignoring the plight of black children in the United States, such as the hundreds in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia awaiting adoption."

- David Nicholson, Washington Post (12/24/06)
What do sanctions against nations do? Do poor people in these places become poorer? A leader is sent to his room because of not behaving? Who do we really punish? How much does this help the criminal/black market?
I remember when a few of us in the St. Mary's Projects (Bronx) decided to use sanctions against Eddie on the 3rd floor. It didn't work. It was Eddie's ball and his mother didn't want us playing with him in the first place. Hmmm.
Well watch how the news media tries to shape the 2008 race for president. We have to avoid entertainment politics. Where are the new ideas? How are we going to end the war? Who would these folks select to be in their cabinet? We really don't know but we what to put our nation at risk. Just yesterday there was a knock on my door. A woman running for the Ward 4 seat( left vacate because F-Man is going to be mayor) - is standing outside asking me to vote for her. I don't know her. Her flyer with her face on it tells me nothing. She does not resemble anyone I dated in college. I'm taking a political flyer from her without using a condom. I'm not being a safe voter. I have no idea where this woman has been and what she has been doing in my community. It's the same with Obama and Clinton. What have they really been doing in the Senate? Let's check their records before we give them a new job.
Well no E-MAG today. I was hoping to pull together a nice Chirstmas Eve edition. I'll have to think of something special for the New Year.

The party last night was at the 2941 - that's a nice place located over in Falls Church,VA.
I would like to see it in the daytime. It must be very pretty. They have large goldfish in an outdoor pond, waterfalls, the works. A really sweet woman was working at the door escorting folks to their tables and special suites. When you leave they give you french bread...

EveDay. I'll watch a football game - take the family out to dinner and maybe a movie. Folks want to see the Will Smith flick. I can be happy with that.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A good day to do chores. Nice weather. Many cards in the mail. Thanks everyone. I received a copy of OUR ROOTS ARE DEEP WITH PASSION edited by Lee Gutkind and Joanna Herman.
New essays by Italian American Writers.

I'm rushing off to a birthday party in VA. More E-Notes before Chirstmas Eve. Don't open until I get nothin' until you hear from me.
Listening to Ziggy Marley's "Shalom Salaam" on his Dragonfly CD.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Quote of the Day?

"You do not show your girlfriend to your wives."

Jim Gama, Radio talk-show host in Swaziland
Council of the District of Columbia
Office of Chairman-elect Vincent C. Gray
The John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,
Washington, D.C. 20004

December 21, 2006 office: 202-741-5259

cell: 202-262-6956

Chairman-elect Vincent C. Gray Announces Committee Chairmanships for
Council Period XVII

WASHINGTON, DC----Today, D.C. Council Chairman-elect Vincent C. Gray
announced the composition of committee chairmanships for Council
Period XVII, which commences on January 2, 2007. Gray, who is
currently the Ward 7 representative, is planning for a very
aggressive agenda as he takes the helm as Chairman. "With these
announcements today, we will all be ready to roll up our sleeves and
hit the ground running in January," said Gray. "We have many
challenges facing us, including the future of public education and
ensuring housing for all economic levels," Gray further stated.

Following are the committee assignments:

Economic Development - Kwame Brown, Chairperson

Finance and Revenue - Jack Evans, Chairperson

Workforce & Government Operations - Carol Schwartz, Chairperson

Health - David Catania, Chairperson

Housing and Urban Affairs - Marion Barry, Chairperson

Human Services - Tommy Wells, Chairperson

Libraries, Parks and Recreation - Harry Thomas, Jr., Chairperson

Public Safety and the Judiciary - Phil Mendelson, Chairperson

Public Services and Consumer Affairs - Mary Cheh, Chairperson

Public Works and the Environment - Jim Graham, Chairperson

Gray will move jurisdiction of the District of Columbia Public
Schools, the University of the District of Columbia and the State
Education Office into the Committee of the Whole, giving all
Councilmembers an opportunity to directly participate in the reform
of public education.

On January 2, 2007, an organizational meeting will be held in order
to adopt the Council Period XVII rules, which includes committee
chairmanships and members, as well as appoint the officers of the
Council-Secretary to the Council, Budget Director and General
Nice profile of NBA Ref- Violet Palmer in the back of ESPN magazine (January).
Ichiro Watch:
Next year is Ichiro's last year of a four-year $44M deal.

Will he stay in Seattle?

Ichiro should get to play in the World Series. Where?
Ugh! The guy got into the E-Notes again. :-(
The next thing you know he will be posting his poems. Yipes!
So I went to Ethelbert's office yesterday and showed him some of my poems. He was upset that I cracked into his E-Notes. I told him I was sorry. He only looked at two things I wrote. He didn't like them. I don't know where the guy is coming from. It took me a couple of hours to get over the feedback and negative comments he gave me. I'm trying to think about it being Friday and the Christmas weekend ahead, but I thought what Ethelbert did to me was cruel. He could have found something positive to say. One of my poems was dedicated to Maya Angelou, the other was a haiku dealing with global warming. I'm going to work on my book and CD and have a few things ready for Black History Month. Maybe I'll go down to Busboys for the open mic. I'm going to show my stuff to Derrick down there. He's a positive and supportive brother, like Fred and Alan. I like those guys. I think Ethelbert is too aloof and maybe out of touch with the new things. He should be happy I'm sticking this note in his shit.
I might keep doing it. He can't stop me. I can't wait to see his face when he reads this today. Word.
Turkmenistan you say?
Just go North of Iran. Another country to talk about. They control the world fifth-largest natural-gas reserves.
A war to watch - Ethiopia and Somalia. More headaches for the world.
Where's the Gray matter?
Keep an eye on the new DC City Council (under Vincent Gray) and the shaping of council committees. With all the concern about education - folks want to shift libraries over to the committee dealing with parks and recreation. All I can say is grab a basketball and read a book. How can one discuss public education and not the state and conditions of public libraries? No wonder we don't have strong advocates for a new downtown public library. Notice the concern for bringing baseball back to the city, but not books to a special site. The leadership in this city simply follows trends. Education is nothing but a buzz word right now. It's a major issue because "new/young" families are moving into the area. With the cost of education, expecially on the college level, look for young families to save money at the elementary and middle school level. It's difficult to pay the tuition of what a good private school costs and then have a few "cookies" in the jar for college. So this education push is not for folks who have kids in high school right now. It's for new parents. No way schools are going to improve in 6 months,one year or maybe even five.
We are talking about another generation of kids being given good educational fundamentals. How long will that take? It's best to talk to Mr. Sperm right now. Maybe his kids will get to go to the schools that will be repaired and improved.
Education is not the major issue in DC right now. It's housing and crime. We also need a cleaner city. Why all the trash? We need folks to have a tree plan. So many trees are dead; so many limbs need cutting. We also need to focus on race relations in this city. The weather might be warm but the coldness you can experience on public transportation is amazing. It reminds me of when the Boers were in power and I needed to carry a passbook. Do you think Jimmy Carter's next book should be about DC? Possible title - DC GO GO GONE APARTHEID? Hmmm.
Quote of the Day:

"Fidel cannot be replaced unless all of us replace him together, each in his or her own place, carrying out his or her concrete task."
- Raul Castro - Interim President of Cuba
The 22nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Program. "From Civil Rights to Black Power" featuring the Last Poets on Thursday, January 11, 2007. 7 PM.
National Museum of Natural History. Baird Auditorium
10th Street at Constitution Avenue, NW
Special Guest: Amiri Baraka, DC Writers Corp and Laini Mataka.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Quote of the Day:

"Whatever you've heard about New Orleans, the reality is much worse. Think of it as a vast open wound, this once-great American city that is still largely in ruins, with many of its people still writhing in agony more than a year after the catastrophic flood that followed Hurricane Katrina."
- Bob Herbert

Thanks to Bob Herbert for his series of essays on New Orleans in the New York Times the last few days.

It's important that the people of New Orleans and parts of Mississippi don't become invisible. Keep a light on in your heart.

I still think a "March of Saints" to Washington DC is what is needed. So much money wasted or lost within the bureaucracy of the federal government. What would King do?
Gandhi would lead a march down to the Gulf - wouldn't he? We are living in a time of no great men or women. Another indication of why everyone on American Idol can't sing as good as Aretha.
This can't be Eldridge Cleaver ---
A serial rapist has attacked 5 men in Baytown, Texas, outside of Houston. The victims have all been white men. The attacker is described as a black man in his mid-20s, 6 feet tall and 200 pounds.
The sad thing about this story is that it has a Hollywood script feel to it. Who is this guy? Another soul who should be on ice?
I found this story strange. It's in the NY Times today on page A22. Rape is rape. Crimes are crimes. Let's hope they catch this guy soon.
Not Goode.
Follow the nonsense coming out of the mouth of Rep. Virgil Goode of Virginia. The Republican is upset that Representative Keith Ellison (the first Muslim elected to Congress) is going to use a Koran instead of a Bible during the January swearing-in ceremony.
Goode says Americans need to wake up or else more Muslims will be elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. Goode must be a member of a sleeper cell for people who think the US is just a Christian nation. What would Goode think if an African American woman was elected to Congress and wanted to take her oath while holding a copy of THIER EYES WERE WATCHING GOD?

Here is some more Goode nonsense:

"I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped."

Goode God! Hey baby - Keith Ellison is African American. He was born here! He can trace his American ancestors back to 1742! Tell me more about these traditional beliefs - what color are they?

Hey- check the history books Goode. Some folks took an oath to serve without using any holy book. The devil you say? Is he bad or just playing Goode?
So who is going to open that Christmas package and find a Denver Nugget Iverson jersey? I remember when my son had the first D Wade shirt in the neighborhood. Look for the new Iverson shirts to takeoff in the Inner City.

Poor Philadelphia Sixers season ticket holders. Look for the new face of this team to be either a future hot player from Europe (with game) or a guy with a strange name but a working man's image - Rocky on the court? This city is hungry for a winner. Might it be Garcia taking them to the Super Bowl? A nice story. The media is hungry for a success story that can play against the images coming out of the Middle East. Can we find a horse that can win a Triple Crown? Something - the Bush is burning.
When was there a boxing match to look forward to? Well, it might be next year.
On May 5th in Las Vegas, Oscar De La Hoya (38-4) will fight Floyd Mayweather (37-0).
Get Ready - January is now GET ORGANIZED MONTH.
Check with the National Association of Professional Organizers.

Read today's New York Times article about "Saying Yes To Mess" on page D1.
I can't buy into this. Organization for me please. Files for everyone. I just wasn't raised to be messy and throw stuff all around a room. Geez...the next thing you know the State and Governments begin to work the same way. Look at the mess we made in Iraq - look at life after Katrina. Do you still want to say Yes to Mess? I don't think so...years ago I knew that spray painting on the face of property was wrong too. Hmmmm.
It's all about the language. Here are some new words from our President that need to be examined:

Sustained commitment

What does this mean?
Speak these words to your partner while making love. What do they mean in that context? Are we going to be in bed for a long time? The President is talking about how his successor will have to deal with the war. Let's be real. The US is going to be in Iraq for decades.

Let's look at another new vocabulary word being used lately - surge.
It means sending more troops to Iraq. Why hide the fact?

Remember when you were young and there was a "surge" maybe of power or something and it knocked your butt on the ground?

Of course today "surge" sounds a bit like an energy drink or powerbar. Surge might mean the same thing as Red Bull. Maybe that's what folks have been drinking too much of these days. It could mean too many Iraqi Study Groups around and not enough time to study. I bet Condi thinks the exam is going to be multiple choice. I bet the VP thinks he has a sheet with the answers.
So who is this guy who sneaked into my E-Notes and started posting his stuff? Hey - who are you?
I was sitting in Sala Thai on U - late Wednesday afternoon. It's important to find quiet time. I was eating alone. I wonder what the other poets are doing these days?
The end of the year, and I try to eat something before everything turns cold. Funny how life paints its own picture, so many things lack color these days. I look out the window of Sala Thai and catch a glimpse of Ethelbert Miller walking down the street. I guess he was heading home or going either to the Mocha Hut or Busboys.I need to show him the manuscript I'm working on. I need to tell him about my blog. I need to catch him alone one day.
End of the year correspondence and filing. It's amazing looking back at all the projects folks were working on that were never completed. I'm closing out as much stuff as possible. 007 is almost here.
Maybe we are winning the fight against terrorism after all. Al Qaeda just released another video tape. These guys have yet to move to that's a good sign.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I left my heart in San Francisco...

Writer’s Remembered
A Bay Area literary tribute

Join us as the Bay Area literary community gathers to honor the creative minds that passed away in 2006.

Friends, relatives and colleagues of such beloved writers as William Styron, Octavia Butler, J.S. Holliday and Jade Snow Wong will celebrate their work and lives with readings, personal stories and reflections.

Scheduled to appear are such notables as Richard Boyle, Tom Barbash, Suzanne Finnamore, Inez Shor Cohen, among many others.

Jewelle Gomez and Gerry Nicosia will emcee.

January 27, 2007
1:00 PM
Koret Auditorium
Main Library
Quote of the Day:

We are either contributing to the fictions or retraining those fictions.
- Claudia Rankine

If I could see you more I would love you more
Then I would be more in love than before
But before I love you more let me not love you less
I think yesterday I might have done that before
But that was before I said I love you which is before
I wanted to love you which is now
or maybe that was before

- E. Ethelbert Miller
Historians might look back and compare Bush to Rocky Balboa. Getting out of the ring might be just as difficult as getting out of Iraq.
Yo Poets and Friends!

A note from Poets & Writers Inc.

December 2006

Dear Friend:

I am writing to ask for your support of our Readings/Workshops program. Each
year, we provide more than $200,000 through this program to hundreds of writers
who give readings or teach workshops. Many of the literary events Poets &
Writers helps make possible- on average four per day- take place in venues like
senior centers, hospitals, shelters, and prisons.

Last year, one of these events was a poetry workshop for seniors in New York
City led by writer Carol Dixon. The participants focused on writing in different
forms (haiku, sonnets, and villanelles). "The group developed its own
personality and it was a pleasure to watch their voices blossom. The support
they gave each other was a great thing to witness," said Ms. Dixon.

In 2006, Poets & Writers expanded the Readings/Workshops program to include
writers participating in events taking place in Atlanta and Seattle. We were
pleased to hear from Marian X, who gave a reading in Atlanta that was funded by
P&W. She wrote: "Being a relative newcomer to the Atlanta arts scene, I felt
privileged being invited to participate in a reading series. What better way is
there to generate interest in a writer's work than by providing the opportunity
for her to present it personally?"

Last year, P&W provided $239,000 to 790 writers from 35 states who participated
in events that reached over 100,000 individuals in California and New York, as
well as in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, and Seattle. The R/W program will again
expand in 2007 to include events taking place in Houston and Washington, D.C.

Our Readings/Workshops program, the only such program of its kind in the
country, is made possible in part by the generous support of the Friends of
Poets & Writers. Each year we receive many more requests than we have funds to
support. This holiday season, please consider an additional gift to help keep
this important program growing. To make a contribution, please visit

Thank you in advance for making a special contribution.


Elliot Figman
Executive Director
Headbands in Denver. Is Iverson the answer? A team can have 2 scorers, they just can't have 3.
Pitcher Larry Sherry, dead at 71.
Hero of the 1959 World Series.
I was nine and had his baseball card.
COMING NEXT IN THE E-MAG---E-Notes from Major Jackson.
This Sunday. Don't miss.
New biography of Prophet Muhammad is out:

by Karen Armstrong
I received a copy of JUBILAT this morning. The magazine is published twice yearly at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Editors are Jen Bervin and Terrance "Mohawk" Hayes. I'm going to skip breakfast and go straight to their interview with Claudia Rankine on page 14.
If you want to submit to JUBILAT here is a link:
Let's look at President Bush's quote; maybe it comes from the Gen. Peter Pace the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. To me it smells like "Rice" on the stove. Considering Condi's love for sports maybe this is where we can trace the source of the President's comments. "We're not winning. We're not losing." Does the quote mean the "game" is tied? Is the score 0-0?

Are we going into overtime or simply the next Administration? OK...let's be nice to the Prez and say it's only halftime. Could we be in Iraq for another 50 years? The best NFL coaches make changes during halftime or they try to get back to basics and what their teams are good at. More Air Force bombing in the future? Should America play more offense or defense? No easy answers. In the old days we could just take our ball and go home.
Quote of the Year:

"We're not winning. We're not losing."
- President George Bush

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I'm 56 and going uphill and downhill:

Physical therapists, Marilyn Moffat and Carole B. Lewis have released AGE-DEFYING FITNESS (Peachtree Publishers).

Take this little quiz:

Are you not standing as straight and tall as you once did?

Is walking up a flight of stars a strain at times?

Are you getting up from a chair more slowly than you used to?

Is it getting harder to look to the left and right while backing up?

Do you get stiff sitting through a long movie?

Is standing on one leg to put on your shoe difficult or impossible?

Do you trip or lose your balance more easily?

Does walking or jogging a distance take longer than it used to?
Are we talking rap? Ike's Rap as in Isaac Hayes? Stax is back. Stax: A 50th Anniversary Collection; two-CD, 50 track anthology. I can't wait to hear the sound.
Remember when?
Interesting new book out and reviewed in today's New York Times. Check - LINCOLN'S SWORD: THE PRESIDENCY AND THE POWER OF WORDS by Douglas L. Wilson
Knopf -$26.95

Monday, December 18, 2006

Well the NBA fight between Denver and New York was a big thing on the evening news.
Why? It's not Baghdad...not even a European soccer match. Finger pointing at Isiah Thomas - so you know he's gone unless the Knicks win some games and not just fights.
Poor Anthony was just getting good PR - now he will become another Artest for sucker punching a guy. Oh, and T.O spitting on someone with a helmet on. What's up with that? I bet the guy probably "dropped" his spit. T.O. should use his hands as much as he uses his mouth. How many games did this guy lose for the Cowboys this year? So Garcia takes Philadelphia to a Super Bowl and wins. Is Donovan a back-up in 2007?
Becky Thompson sent me a copy of the new book she edited with Randall Horton and M.L. Hunter - FINGERNAILS ACROSS THE CHALKBOARD: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS FROM THE BLACK DIASPORA. The publisher is Third World Press.

I spent tonight meeting with Jody Bolz and selecting poems for Poet Lore magazine.

Tomorrow night I'll be doing a radio program at 11 PM on WPFW.

My next television program (Humanities Profiled) will be a profile of Andy Shallal, the owner/founder of Busboys & Poets. We shoot the last week of December at Andy's home.
The poetry man cometh.

Karibu Books (Bowie Town Center) Presents:

Wednesday, January 10, 2007
6:30 p.m. Bowie Town Center

Cave Canem poet RANDALL HORTON will read from and sign his new book The Definition of Place.
Looking beyond the Bush.
So who might run for President on the Republican ticket?


Not an exciting group of guys. The Republicans need more names - women and colored people? Hee Hee.
Was that Judith Regan in the white bronco? Was OJ the driver this time?
Quote of the Day:

"The big story in the immediate aftermath of Katrina was the way the government failed to rush to the aid of people who were obviously in desperate trouble. What we're witnessing now is an extended slow-motion replay of that initial failed response. Thousands of people remain in trouble, but instead of clinging to roofs and waving signs at TV cameras in helicopters flying overhead, they are suffering in silence, out of the sight of most Americans."
- Bob Herbert, OP-ED in The New York Times (December 18, 2006)
New man in the news to watch: Umaru Yar'Adua. Mr. Yar'Adua might be the next president of Nigeria. He is a muslim and from northern Nigeria.
In a few weeks Jack Bauer will be back. Look for 24 to be a commentary on torture and secret camps. Jack will be released but his body and mind will have the scars.
What's the message here? Other folks torture people,so we should too. Right? Hmmm.
Someone is going to pay for Jack being caught. How many months or years will 24 let pass, before giving Jack a new 24 hours. Superman came back to Lois Lane with a baby, what will Jack come back to? The report by the Iraqi Study Group? The Democrats in Power? Who is going to be the president on the next 24? If you think it's ---you don't know Jack!
Just like "Washington" not to give New Orleans any help yesterday. The Saints made the Redskins look like a SuperBowl team. How can you not blitz a young QB??
Betts is running well, but you won't know how good the guy is until he plays a team like Baltimore. Well I hope 2006 made the Redskins a little humble. Oh - please no talk of making the playoffs next year. This team won't go far with a "conservative" coaching staff, no serious pass rushers, and a secondary that might be getting physical but was never born smart. Oh...and a QB who still must learn to throw the short pass and might be good but not great. Now if Campbell was playing for the Raiders - he might be a west coast star and Randy Moss would have some new commercials.
The best essay I read this year is in the current issue of AARP magazine (January/February 2007). I strongly suggest you read "Nursing Home Undercover" by Barry Corbet. Corbet died in 2004 at the age of 68. Many people who are in nursing homes are not there because of age but actually disabilities. Corbet's writing will make you think of all your love ones who might be isolated and living alone. I read this essay and thought of my Mom. When I was last in New York I saw how difficult it was for her to just open a bottle of water. Still she is happy to be in her own space and not a nursing home. That's a blessing, so is Corbet's essay.
No Cocaine?
5 students of law at Cleveland State University College of Law filed their opposition to the naming of the new energy drink. Students felt the naming of the drink was immoral and scandalous. It's also "deceptively misdescriptive" since there is no cocaine in the drink. The stuff does contain 280 milligrams of caffeine, more than twice the amount in a cup of coffee.
You have to laugh when you see Russell Simmons supporting the Diamond market in Africa. I wrote a letter to the editor of The Nation when I saw him reading that publication. Which Nation is he supporting? Do you remember when the old South African government would give African Americans money? Bling. Bling. I knew something was up when Simmons was pushing a Black Republican candidate on Maryland. Was he trying to "Steele" votes? BTW...what's a Hip Hop Mogul? Is that a guy whose pants are falling down from all the money in his pockets?
I've always liked Colin Powell but yesterday on Face The Nation he reminded me of a former NFL coach in a Coors beer commercial. Look at the footage and look at the ads and you can't help but laugh. I need a cold one about now...

Isiah Thomas will probably be gone by the NBA All-Star game. If he is behind the recent NBA brawl, Stern will try to nail him. Poor I, remember when everyone loved his smile? Somewhere someone is trying to encourage Bill Bradley to coach the Knicks.
Any Phil Jackson rumors lately? Really - I think the new coach should be Spike Lee, Woody Allen or Whoopi Goldberg.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Treve de blues
- Leon Damas




It has been an interesting week here in Los Angeles, for reasons both good and bad. The good is that the Clippers are still serious contenders to win the Allen Iverson sweepstakes. The Answer has been my favorite player in the NBA since he arrived out of Georgetown.

Back when Shaq made the “him or me” ultimatum to Lakers owner Jerry Buss regarding Kobe Bryant, I was verbally assaulted in my local barber shop for suggesting the team trade Kobe for Iverson. Contrary to the sports “experts,” who love holding Iverson responsible for all of the league’s problems, I think he’s one of the few true throwback players in the league (along with Kevin Garnett). A consummate pro who puts it all on the floor. Pray for us Ethelbert. We need him here to make basketball fun again.

This week’s other news was much more somber. It was widely reported that hate crimes in Los Angeles were up 26% this year. This is a sad reality unto itself. Sadder still is that the jump was fueled primarily by incidents between blacks and Latinos. This includes school-based hate crimes taking a 111% jump. The overwhelming majority of crimes against blacks were committed by Latinos, and the overwhelming majority of crimes against Latinos were committed by blacks.

Coming from New York City, where blacks, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans lived alongside one another happily in neighborhoods from Brooklyn to the Bronx, it was a very rude awakening to arrive in Los Angeles four years ago and discover the hatred and animosity between blacks and Mexicans. I often experienced it firsthand, and it’s a real problem that no one here seems ready to address. Much of this hatred was born in the California prisons, but in the past year those prison disputes have spilled onto the streets, and the entire city has suffered because of it.

As much as I continue to love New York, I have also really come to love Los Angeles, and not only for its lifestyle accoutrements, such as weather (not as perfect as one thinks), beaches (getting more polluted by the moment), or wide open spaces (choked by smog). I love Los Angeles because it feels like the future. Like it or not, the world is no longer developing based on the old world European model set by popular cities like Vienna, Paris, London and others. There are no grand plans to create tomorrow’s cities. There are no more Manhattans, Bostons, or Philadelphias in the future. Future cities are growing like viruses. And while LA has been called a “city of suburbs,” it is in fact the only city in America that resembles cities in the fastest-growing parts of the world. Go to Sao Paulo. Go to Mexico City. Go to Hong Kong (or virtually any major city in Asia), and you will find cities that have simply overwhelmed their surroundings and sprawled for miles in every direction, just like LA.

It’s a terrible thing, but if Americans are ever going to truly learn how to tackle global issues ranging from smart urban growth to pollution to public transit to homelessness to hyper racial diversity, Los Angeles will be the city where the solutions have to be discovered. Lagos will never be like Munich. Cairo will never be like Paris. Mumbai will never be like Manhattan. But those places all have problems just like the ones we are battling daily here in LA.

All is not doom and gloom. It gave me hope to recently encounter a unique program at Chino prison (which I was covering for Reuters). Rather than having convicts press license plates or wash laundry to busy themselves, this program trained the men in deep-see diving techniques for careers in underwater construction. The prisoners I interviewed were a diverse representation of the LA mosaic, and they were all genuinely excited to know that they'd be leaving prison to begin real careers. When I asked one of them about how the racial animosity of prison carried over to the program, they all chimed in, rather matter of factly, “we leave all of the racial stuff on the yard. Underwater, we all have to depend on one another”.

The recidivism rate of the program is about 6-10 percent, versus the average 50 percent rate throughout the California prison system. A pity that story wasn’t picked up the way the hate crimes story was. If we don’t learn to depend on one another like those incarcerated men, we’re all just as likely to drown.

Kemp Powers is a journalist and screenwriter. He contributes to Reuters, Vibe, West (The Los Angeles Times Magazine) and others. His memoir, The Shooting, was published in 2005 by Thunder’s Mouth Press. He was recently hired to write American Caesar, a Julius Caesar-inspired screenplay set in the world of modern hip-hop.


It was a relatively typical week for me.
It started out on Monday with a couple of auditions in Manhattan. I'm retired in
the screen actors union, but I still do voice-overs. They were early enough that
I could take the train back to New Jersey on time to be at my apartment when my
nine-year-old son got out of public school. I share custody with his mother.

He turned me on to some new bands on one of the seemingly millions of MTV
channels, then we headed for the skateboard park where new graffiti had shown
up overnight and he was convinced slowed down his skating. He and my grandson,
who are about the same age, came in second and third in a recent skateboarding
contest for "beginners" not long ago, and already he's learned several new moves
since then.

I caught up on some reading—the last few sections of the Sunday New York Times,
The New Yorker, that Beatles biography from a few years ago, the more recent
Selected Letters of Marth Gellhorn, etc.—took some notes for some writing
projects and walked for thirty minutes around the parking lot where the skate
park is set up.

Tuesday I went into the city to meet up with Roy Robinson, an old friend from
Los Angeles, who still lives there but works in the garment industry and was in New York on business. When we were teenagers back in the 1950s, he was in a doo wop group from Brooklyn that actually had a couple of local hits. So it always knocks me
out to remember listening to him and his buddies late at night on a little
homemade tube radio (from pieces of various discarded ones). We help each other make it through aging and it was a delight to see him.

That night I didn't have my boy, and took advantage of that to meet a magazine
editor at a coffee house called Van Gogh's Ear in a nearby town, where we sipped
tea, ate various Middle Eastern appetizers and American desserts and she grilled
me on what it was like to be a single dad starting back in the 1970s with
my two oldest children.

The magazine is a local one about "motherhood" but was preparing a special issue on "fatherhood." When I got home i caught John Stewart and had a few great laughs.
On Wednesday, I managed to write more on the second volume of a three volume
memoir I'm working on, the first book centering around my early adult life when I was identified mostly as a "jazz musician," the second around my being seen mostly
as "a poet," and the third as "an actor." I've been doing all three things since
I was a boy, but stopped making any money on music in my mid-20s when I devoted
my main energies to poetry, which was always, and still is, my main identity for

I also began thinking about a talk I'm supposed to give Sunday at the
local Ethical Culture Society on "Poetry, Politics, and Passion" and answered
e-mails and regular mail, worked on a blog that a poet friend set up for me a
few weeks ago and which I'm enjoying like crazy, and did a workout for my back I
was taught in physical therapy after a back operation several years ago.
And I went for a series of blood tests I have to take regularly, for which I
have to fast beforehand, so that the heart docs can keep an eye on my
medications and the medicated stent I have in one of my arteries that's been in
the news a lot lately as causing a small number of deaths among recipients.

I had my son after school again, and that was more of the same, meaning
skatepark,dinner, homework, and a trip to the video store around the corner for "Rocky" which I wanted him to see.

I usually have a poetry workshop I run in my apartment Wednesday nights, but
because a couple of people couldn't make it this week we postponed it until next
week and I had the night off to watch "Rocky" with my boy.

Thursday I had more auditions in the city but was back in time to meet my son as
he came down the street to our apartment. It's always a thrill to see him
bouncing and skipping and running down the street toward me. He was excited
about a jump rope contest he and his classmates were having during recess and
which he won that day.

We went to Home depot and bought a small enough Christmas tree to fit in the
apartment, along with the cheapest wreath for our door (Home Depot had the
cheapest trees, and the skinniets ones for the space we have), and then we
decorated it, while listening to cds of "swing" and "jazz" Christmas songs. I
let my son do most of it, as I always let my older kids do too when they were
little. He was thrilled when we were done. He's sentimental like me about these

I made us some soup for dinner with a few other things, ("made", I mean heated
up) and finished doing the laundry while he played and later I wrote more on my
book, my blog, and correspondence. then finished up the day as always with some
reading, this time the recent (a few years ago) translation of the epic
poem/novel by the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet, Human Landscapes from My Country.

Friday I didn't have to go into the city, so I got a lot of work done around
the apartment, some cleaning etc., and on my writing and my blog—where I
finished three entries about three women I admire and identify with—the novelist and war journalist Martha Gellhorn, the photographer and writer Lee Miller and the novelist and short-story writer Jean Rhys—while my boy was in
school; afterward we did the skate park again, where i caught up on Time
magazine, Poets & Writers and some other publications.

On the way home we stopped at the new skateboard shop, or rather the old one in
its new digs, where we ran into kids my son plays with and their mother. I
caught up on some local news with her, while my son watched a friend of mine
get his first board and then we all went back to the park, where it was now dark but there's a light from a building next to it that makes it almost possible to see.

I let them skate for awhile, made a deal with the mom to take
the other boys back to my place and bring them home later. We got pizza again. I
left them in the pizza place while I did some shopping nearby for laundry stuff
and other household needs, then went back to the apartment where the boys went
outside and played "tag hide and seek" while I ate some dinner I bought earlier
in the day.

Later we met up with some other parents and their kids for our weekly Friday
night stop at the local ice cream shop. Then I brought the other boys back to
their homes and my son to his mother for the night.

Today, Saturday, I'll have my son again, as his mother is busy working for the
holidays, and later we're going into the city to see the window displays at
Macy's, and catch a writers guild screening of "Rocky Balboa" at which Stallone
will be present to answer questions, in an attempt to sway some members to vote
for his screenplay and therefore give a lift to Oscar possibilities.

I usually skip these events, but I thought my little boy would get a kick out of meeting Stallone. Only it turns out he and his friends have no idea who Stallone is nor do they care. But at least he watched enough of "Rocky" to get the background
for this new version.

I'm actually looking forward to it. Though I still haven't settled on what I'm
going to read and say tomorrow morning at the Ethical Culture society.

Bio Note for Michael Lally:

Born in New Jersey in 1942, large Irish-Catholic family of priests and cops
etc., started writing poetry as a boy and never stopped, as well as playing
music and acting. First published in 1960, first book in 1970, twenty-seven
since, the latest from Libellum/Charta called MARCH 18, 2003. Made a living as a
musician in late teens and early twenties, and as an actor in late thirties
until now, with a brief stint as screenwriter in 1980s and script "doctor"
thereafter. Main achievement: my kids and grandkids.

Lally's blog is called "Lally's Alley" and is at:

Saturday, December 16, 2006

How long will the Melody Shop be on Connecticut Avenue?
I love the place. A Saturday afternoon just looking for music. Who wants to download when you can walk around and see other music lovers? I left the store with Ms. Mary J. Blige. So now it's me Mary and Wyclef.

"Is this the kind love old folks use to warn me about?"

Someone please call 911.
Nice weather again. Morning walk. I started grading my Mason papers. Afternoon meeting with my friend Andrea. We went to the Childe Harold. Gosh when was the last time I was in that place. Andrea is an old friend from back in the days when I would see Barbara Berman and we would be working on Anemone Press projects. On the way over to DuPont Circle, my daughter and I ran into Ralph Nader. I told him I was serving as board chair of IPS. He said he had tried to coordinate a class with IPS but it fell through...

Talking politics, I see where John Edwards is going to run for president. This guy is my candidate. He has ideas - one is placing poverty back on the US agenda. This is very important. Folks say he will throw his hat into the ring with a first speech in New Orleans. Where best to begin to confront the domestic problems facing this nation. Edwards is from the right state. The Dems have to win the south in a national election. We can't have the US divided into silly red and blue states.
This isn't the 1860s. Funny how the media won't consider this guy the frontrunner even thought he was on the ticket last time. Go figure. Don't believe all the hype about the other two candidates - everything isn't just black, white or female.
READ THE E-MAG tomorrow. My guest will be Michael Lally.
Global Warming?

The warm weather might feel good, but the climate changes can destroy certain industries. Do you really feel like decorating the Christmas tree while wearing shorts? Who wants to sit on the lap of a sweaty, funky, Santa Claus? In Austria the warm weather is creating a threat to the ski resorts.
The alps have not been as warm as it is this year, since the 8th Century.

People are predicting the real warming trend to hit around 2020.
Keep an eye on developments in Bolivia. In Santa Cruz folks are marching and asking for autonomy from the central government. One can see this as simply a refusal to accept the new conditons being advocated by the indigenous population that live in the western part of the country. Folks don't want to share the land or the wealth.
A case of historical racism?

In Haiti people are kidnapping children and then demanding ransom from their parents.
This sounds like a bad video game. This is so sad when you consider how poor people are. Where is a mother or father going to find the money to save a love one? From a relative in the States?
When the State fails to protect its citizens, chaos rules. Chaos is one evil MF.
Quote of the Day:

"We need to get our country on the map so that peopele will know that we, too, need help. We cannot let ourselves be forgotten."
- Dr. Bernard Lala
Bangui, Central African Republic
Reading about Rice not wanting to talk to Iran and Syria is another reason why we need poets in the world. We all know that the US is going to talk to these countries sooner or later. We talk to Libya now. We will talk to Cuba in the future...
It's important that people around the world maintain people to people contact as our governments continue to grow-up. Do you remember when your parents told you not to talk to strangers? Well, our world is too small and it doesn't operate this way.
Failure to talk just leads to wars and conflicts. Our countries are playing with weapons like children with toys...destruction everywhere. Poets, artists, musicians around the world must maintain the vision of the new world - borderless with our commitment to international friendship and human rights.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Check John Murillo's profile of Martin Espada in the latest issue of THE BLOOMSBURY REVIEW
(Vol. 26/Issue 6, November/December 2006)

Poetry books by Espada:


Murillo is a cool guy in the NYU Graduate Program for Creative Writing.
We miss him in DC.
If the Wall Street Journal ever decides to publish a page of funnies, I know where they can begin. Reading the work by Mary Anastasia O'Grady is always good for a chuckle. What would she do without Hugo and Fidel as bad guys? In her most recent newspaper article she makes reference to a paper to a person associated with the Cato Institute. Maybe that's a clue...
Whatever happened to objective journalism? If Hugo is so bad for Venezuela why did he win the last election? Talking about corruption, what's Mary going to say next year when we remove our own veils?
The next new area of research to watch is neuroscience. Do you know how your brain works? Can you read the waves I'm sending out right now? Hey YOU! Listen to me!
Turn your brain on. Click.
It's very possible that the New Orlean Saints will clinch a playoff berth this weekend. What might this mean? Of course it's good news for the city and business.
Drinks will flow all night in the French Quarter. De mayor Nagin will party like a clown. But what about the FEMA folks? So many people still in trailers, so much of the city still in ruins. Crime back like another broken levee.

What would King do? Looking back at his last year we saw him organizing poor people for a march on Washington. His death in Memphis prevented Resurrection City from being the important historical event it could have been. The coming together of people around issues of poverty; the building of bridges beyond color. It seems obvious that what's needed today is "A March of Saints." A grassroot movement that would consist of folks from FEMAtowns walking from New Orleans to Washington, in order to demand that certain conditions be improved; that hearings be held to see what happened to money that simply disappeared before it was spent. Who dat- who took dat? We need to know. "A March of Saints" would bring together people who would be committed to stay on the grounds of the Mall until Congress and the President make improvements and not just promises. This is King's legacy if we wish to uphold it. Be a Saint. Don't just cheer for one. Help others who are still in need.
Good news on a Friday:



Danny Glover, Chairman, and the Board of Directors of TransAfrica Forum, the oldest African-American advocacy organization for justice for Africa and the Diaspora, today announce the appointment of Nicole Lee as its new Executive Director. Mr. Glover praised the first woman leader of the organization as consistent with the growing leadership role of women worldwide in the struggle for justice. Commenting further, Mr. Glover observed that, “the Board and staff are energized by the new appointment and stand ready to collaborate with Ms. Lee as she guides TransAfrica Forum’s vision and work during this new period of international solidarity and advocacy. Nicole brings a professional and personal commitment to the work of TransAfrica and new vision and energy. Nicole will take TransAfrica into the 21st century’s issues facing Africa and its Diaspora with vigor and strength.”

Nicole Lee has gained a unique understanding of the challenges of international human rights while she worked in domestic politics, as a local and international legal activist, and in development and advocacy projects overseas. In Haiti, South Africa and the U.S., Ms. Lee researched and defended the rights of women, children and the poor. In Haiti, she worked for the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, an organization dedicated to the prosecution of serious human rights violations and the rule of law. She also served as the Managing Director of Global Justice, a national non-profit constituent lobbying organization advocating for international human rights and social justice. At the time of her selection for the post Ms. Lee was serving as the Director of Operations of TransAfrica Forum. She holds a Juris Doctor degree and has done extensive graduate work in women’s studies.

As Executive Director, Ms. Lee is responsible for overseeing the human rights and advocacy work with civil society in Africa and the Diaspora. In addition, she is responsible for the administration, fundraising, and financial management of the organization. Ms. Lee stated that, “I welcome this new challenge to serve TransAfrica Forum and African people. I look forward to collaborating with the Board of Directors, staff, and policy advocates in Africa and throughout the Diaspora to continue TransAfrica’s tradition of progressive and cutting edge advocacy on behalf of the African continent and the worldwide Diaspora. As we chart a course of action for this 30 year old institution, we will emphasize our alliances with civil society in Africa, the Caribbean, South America and Europe by linking the domestic battles with the international struggle for justice. We will begin 2007 with new initiatives and commitment.”

TransAfrica Forum is the oldest Africa-American human rights advocacy organization promoting justice and progress for the African World. It serves as an educational and organizational center that influences U.S. foreign policy concerning Africa and other countries where people of African descent reside. TransAfrica promotes African American solidarity with oppressed groups in those regions and supports human rights, democracy and sustainable economic development.

For more information, please contact Joia Jefferson Nuri, 202-223-1960 ext 131/cell 240-603-7905/ email

CONGRATS! Nicole. Wishing you the best in your new job.
North Country Institute and Retreat for Writers of Color

The North Country Institute and Retreat for Writers of Color invites applications for its Fourth Annual Summer Writers’ Institute and Retreat, to be held July 8-14, 2007, at the Valcour Education and Conference Center on the shores of Lake Champlain.

Residents will work with faculty mentors:

Chris Abani (fiction)

Kimiko Hahn (poetry)

Jimmy Santiago Baca (memoir)

Applicants’ materials must include: the application form, a cover letter expressing reasons for wanting to participate, two letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with their writing, and a sample of writing. A non-refundable application fee of $25, payable to SUNY Plattsburgh, should accompany the application. Applications will be reviewed as received until all spaces have been filled.

Tuition for the North Country Institute and Retreat at Valcour is $1,000 and includes workshops, lodging and meals. Need-based scholarships available.

Send application materials to:

Dr. Jose L. Torres-Padilla

Dept. of English

SUNY Plattsburgh

101 Broad Street

Plattsburgh, NY 12901

Or email to

For application form and more information check our website:

This is a very nice retreat. I taught the memoir workshop during the last session.
Back from Chester, PA. I watched my son play his 10th game of the season. Widener is 6-4 this year. 2-0 in the Commonwealth Conference. In 10 games Nyere's average is 10 pts a game. Third best on the squad. He has 100 points so far this season. He leads his team with 18 steals. He has 21 assists and 19 3-pointers. The next game is January 3rd.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Is Eddy Curry that good or is Isiah Thomas just lucky?
Player to watch: Jared Jeffries.
Another Wizard that got away.
Oh...Magic Johnson said the Knicks could make some noise this year if Marbury could get out of his funk and have fun.
What's a Marbury without funk?
The Mike Webster Case is an important one to follow. Webster who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers had filed a disability claim with the NFL. His family just won the ruling yesterday against the league's pension plan. The NFL had denied Webster an active football disability and paid him a lesser benefit.
Webster died of a heart attack in 2002 at the age of 50.
The recent ruling will result in an award of 1.5 million to $2 million to Webster's four children and former wife.
Webster suffered brain injury from playing football.
The average high-school girl in Japan sends about 200 cellphone text messages a day.
Fun doing the Jo Reed radio show this morning on WPFW. We talked about books folks might want to give as gifts. Here were a few I mentioned:

OUT OF IRAQ by George McGovern & William R. Polk

Minister Z. Pallo Jordan’s Speech at Inauguration of K.W. Kgositsile as
Poet Laureate.

08 December 2006

The poet whom we are honouring tonight is among a generation of African
writers, poets and scholars who came into their own in exile. Though he
regularly boasts about his age, we consider each other contemporaries.
Our generation had the good fortune to have experienced our adolescence
during a decade when the crisis of colonialism in Africa and Asia was
fast maturing. In both our own country and in the rest of the colonized
world the oppressed peoples were asserting themselves through mass
struggles of an unprecedented scale. In a number of instances these
culminated in wars of liberation – in Malaya, in Vietnam, in Kenya, and
in Algeria.

South Africa was no exception to this trend. Over a ten year period,
commencing with the adoption of the Programme of Action by the ANC in
1949, the liberation movement mounted successive waves of mass struggles
– the defiance Campaign of 1952; the Congress of the People in 1955; the
Stay-at-Home strikes that came virtually every year; the bus boycotts in
Evaton and Alexandra; the Women’s Anti-Pass Campaign; the Pound-a-day
strike; and others with a lower profile.

The leavening of this upsurge was the growing self-confidence of the
oppressed peoples, “The Wretched of the Earth “ as Franz Fanon termed
us, were visibly casting off the subservience of ages and taking their
destiny into their own hands. No intelligent young person worth his/her
salt could stay aloof from such momentous events. Willie joined the ANCYL
during these stirring years.

On leaving high school he found employment as a journalist with “New
Age”, a weekly that had been serially banned by the racist regime. It had
first been known as “The Guardian”, until it was banned in 1952. It
re-appeared as “The Clarion”, retained that title till 1953 when it was
banned, only to re-emerge as “Advance” which was published until mid
1955, giving way to “New Age” when it was again banned.

Under a superb editorial team that included Brian Bunting, Ruth First,
Govan Mbeki and M.P. Naicker, working alongside names that would become
legendary – Joe Gqabi, and Robert Resha – and rubbing shoulders with the
likes of Can Themba, Bloke Modisane, Lewis Nkosi and other emergent
African writers, Willie Kgositsile was initiated into the craft of
journalism in Johannesburg. I have no doubt that it was that rigourous
apprenticeship that moulded him into the gifted wordsmith he matured into
in later years.

Kgositsile left South Africa in 1961, traveling through Botswana to what
was then Tanganyika where he was drawn into the external mission of the
ANC under Oliver Tambo. In Dar-es-salaam he was among the fortunate few
who was able to find employment, working as a journalist for the
newsletter, “Spearhead”, edited by Frene Ginwhala. It is testimony to the
prescience and foresight of the editor and her team that many of the
issues – an African Renaissance. African economic independence and
political unity – that on the continent’s current agenda, were flagged in
“Spearhead” as early as 1962 and ’63.

From Dar-es-salaam Kgositsile traveled to the USA on a scholarship. That
is where I first encountered him.

As I recall it was a Saturday afternoon during the Easter vacation in
1964. I had driven from Madison, Wisconsin where I was studying, to New
York. The focal point for virtually all South African students in the USA
was a basement flat, which may one day deserve a blue plaque as some sort
of heritage site, 310 West 87th Street, in Manhattan. I rang the bell and
out came am elfine figure, with a wisp of a beard:

“So, who are you?” he enquired.

Recognising him immediately as a South African, I responded: “Heyt daar
brikeid, ek soek ou Gwangwa.”

And thus began a relationship which has endured more than four decades.

We still have to record those decades we spent in exile in various parts
of the world. The chapters covering the United States could well be
amongst the most colourful. The contingent who arrived in the US as
students during the early to mid-sixties were probably the first large
group of South Africans to arrive in the US. And there is no doubt about
it, we took the US by storm! Scattered among a number of universities and
colleges, most of them clustered along the east coast, wherever we were,
the South Africans left an indelible impression. Assertive, some would
even say pushy, politically engaged and with a fierce sense of identity,
we inserted ourselves into various facets of the US cultural and
political scene with the primary purpose of mobilizing solidarity with
the struggle at home.

I am not about to divulge any of the truths that will emerge when we
finally write the definitive account of the exile years. Suffice it to
say that Willie Kgositsile, what he said, wrote and did during those
years in the US, will feature very prominently both for the mirth it
occasion and as a record of the growth of one of South Africa’s leading

The 1960s in the US and in other parts of the world were years of
political ferment. The struggle of the African-Americans for their basic
human rights was reaching a crescendo, the struggle for world peace had
become particularly acute following the Cuban Missile crisis and in the
midst of the American war of aggression in South East Asia. The
universities we were attending were the sites of much of this activity.
These movements in turn stimulated complimentary cultural movements,
affecting music, theatre and especially literature. It was the sort of
fecund environment that encouraged budding talent to blossom.

Kgositsile found a niche among a throng of African-American literary and
cultural figures who were wrestling with the strategic and aesthetic
dilemmas thrown up by the struggles raging all around us in the Americas
and the third world. Among them were figures such as the poet and critic,
Leroi Jones, who later took the name Amira Baraka; the cultural activist,
Norman Kelley; the writer, Lawrence Neal; the jazz aficionado and
historian, A.B. Spellman and many others. It was in that literary milieu
that the poet who had been struggling to come out first showed his head.
In poetry readings, literature workshops and the interminable discussions
so loved by young intellectuals, he honed his skills and produced his
first anthology, “Afrika is my Name” in the late 1960s.

From then on, the ever active mind and open of Kgositsile was regularly
visited by the muse, inspiring a stream of poetic eloquence that has
earned him laurels not only in the USA, but in Africa, Asia, Latin
America as well as Europe.

But Willie Kgositsile was not only a poet. He was also a political
activist of long standing. To say that his poetry was always highly
political is not to suggest that he sacrificed aesthestics for politics.
All too often the quest to express oneself politically has tempted
writers and musicians to descend to the level of the political
propagandist. Kgositsile, sarcastically, dismissed a few such efforts of
the late seventies as “MK, AK bullshit!” He could afford to say so
because after his return to Afrika after 1976, he was probably one of the
best examples of a truly engaged poet who, like Mao Zhedong and Pablo
Neruda, had mastered the art of producing politically inspired poetry
that did not compromise poetics to make a political statement.

Willie’s return to the continent coincided with the rising tide of mass
mobilization here at home. He arrived in Dar-es-salaam shortly after the
Soweto uprising, which produced a stream of young people in search of
education and or the political and military skills required to overthrow
the apartheid regime. He was immediately drawn into the nascent Arts and
Culture department of the ANC.It was that department, working in close
cooperation with the Internal Reconstruction unit of the
Politico-Military Commission (PMC), that later had him posted to Botswana
having secured him a post at the university there.

It was in the latter location that Willie was able to creatively combine
his varied talents – as political activist, poet, professor of
literature, and under-ground organizer. He was central to both the
trend-setting Gaberone and CASA conferences that the ANC organized in
1982 and 1987 respectively. We shall be marking the twentieth anniversary
of the latter, Culture in Another South Africa, in Amsterdam next year.

The title, poet laureate, has an ancient lineage in African society. This
is a title its recipient earned not solely by poetic excellence, but also
by his/her public spirited contribution to society at large. I have
regularly had occasion to wince when hearing reference by the un-informed
to “praise poets” – the incorrect and culturally charged mistranslation
of the term “imbongi”. I find this particularly disturbing when committed
by Africans themselves, who seldom weigh the hidden meanings in such
mistranslated terms. The traditional “imbongi” was anything but a
praise-singer. True, poets would heap praises and laurels on the historic
figures whose actions they thought praise-worthy. But an imbongi could be
more scathing and denigratory than even the sharpest modern political
cartoonist! The examples of this are legion, and for the life of me I
cannot understand why African literary critics appear to have missed it.
An imbongi had the unquestioned license to employ every known literary
and poetic device to mock, jeer, castigate and criticize anyone in his
community, from the king, down to the lowliest subject. Pre-colonial
African societies accepted this as one of numerous checks on the power of
rulers. An imbongi who shirked that responsibility would be regarded as
either weak or lacking in public spirit.

Willie Kgositsile has more than earned the title we bestow on him today.
Like the traditional bard he has been unsparingly, and rigorously
critical , when it was necessary, about the performance of Africa’s
leadership and statesmen. Thanks to that sharp tongue he has often been
characterized as an “unguided missile”. But he is at the same time one of
the most enthusiatic advocates and defenders of political tolerance,
rooted in an appreciation that truth is elusive and that it can only be
sought in an environment of untrammeled contestation and debate among
differing opinions. Like any sensible twentieth century intellectual he
is also a secularist who nonetheless values pluralism for its intrinsic

Speaking at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, two years ago, amongs other
things I remarked that:

“Many modern African writers have portrayed the dilemma posed by
modernity as tragic. But the most far-sighted among the generation of
writers, artists, poets and playwrights who came into their own
immediately before and after the Second World War, demonstrated how to
resolve this contemporary riddle of the sphinx. Rather than wallowing in
their alienation or seeking refuge in the past, they reintegrated
themselves with the common people by active engagementin political and
social struggles for freedom, independence and progress.

As we march into the third millennium, that is the object lesson that
African intellectuals must derive from our 20th century experience.”

Keorapatse Willie Kgositsile is firmly rooted in that tradition. He has
dedicated himself to the struggle for freedom and his poetry to the
creation of a better world. Such a man deserves the title Poet Laureate.

Z. Pallo Jordan.
Tonight I need to finish reading THE ART AND THE SEDIMENT by Christine Allen-Yazzie.
It's her new novel -soon to be published. I met Christine many years ago in Utah.
Her work is interesting and I'm enjoying. Hopefully, I'll be able to get my blurb back to her by the end of the week. Congrats Christine.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I spent the afternoon talking with Frederick Gooding in the African American Resource Center. Frederick is the person behind The Minority Reporter. Check it out.
Knowing the power of film in our lives, it's good to see someone monitoring the various images that surround us.
Here is a link:

In the evening I met my friend Pam at Teaism. I don't eat there often; maybe I'm not healthy enough - who knows. I did have some good lentil soup. Pam surprised me with a gift. She called it a double: A late birthday/Christmas gift. She gave me a copy of THE ARCHITECTURE OF HAPPINESS by Alain de Botton. This book looks very seductive.
Book information:
Man of the Year Award?
- Hugo Chavez
- Tiger Woods
Quote of the Day:

"Senator Obama glides between the black and white political worlds. In New Hampshire on Sunday, speaking to nearly all-white audiences, the Harvard-educated lawyer looked utterly at home, dressing like a Wall Street banker on casual Friday and sounding as white as Lou Dobbs."
- Maureen Dowd
I was reading about the problems of the California prison system. A timebomb waiting to explode? Serious overcrowding. Cellblocks teeming with violence. Seven of 10 inmates released from prison return. No rehabilitation programs. Do we have to wait for another Attica? Do we have to wait for race riots between Latino and Black gangs to spill over into the rest of society, before we act? What's Schwarzenegger going to do about this? Look for some sad prison incident to make the headlines in 2007.
Some tab mag or newspaper will call it "Breeding grounds for the new terrorism."
Go figure. A reality show showing how someone is forced to survived in prison for three weeks? Nah. What about a prison American Idol? Guys sing well, they get early release and sentence reductions. Hmmm. That's crazy and possible. Who's listening.
We could call the show - Riot Acts or Prisoners Go Free.
I don't start following the NBA until Christmas and the NFL is entering the playoffs.
But looking at the sports page there seem to be a few teams to watch this season.
First would have to be the Lakers. Phil Jackson probably has Kobe in an MJ mode. The team is now built around him with Odom as Scottie P. I haven't seen them play yet but I just need to look at the play of Kwame Brown and who is coming off the bench.
The Lakers always had a good bench when they were big winners. Nothing should change here.

Utah and Orlando seem to be the other nice surprises, so far this year. Detroit seem to be holding their own without Big Ben.

Good to see the old basketball coming back. What can Stern tinker with next? Someone needs to do a 60 minute special or a big biography on this guy. What type of music does he listen to at home? Bert needs to know.

Poor Iverson. Where can the guy go without joining a losing team? He will put fans in the stands but he can't carry a franchise. A coach would have to change his entire team to fit AI. That's not the answer in December. AI should sit out a season, get his body in top shape and select a team that fails to advance in the playoffs. He would be in a better position to win a ring next year, than joining a basement team going nowhere. Why move to hell when the doors of purgatory are open?