Saturday, March 31, 2007

Cuz I said so

Go see The Host. It's billed as a monster movie, and it does have a monster in it, but it's much more of an exercise in parody of the genre and political satire. The result: you'll find yourself laughing awkwardly instead of jumping or screaming, so don't expect to go for a good scare cuz it's more hilarious than frightening. It's a little long, but throughout the 2 hours or so I was in the theatre, it was filled with snickering and giggling movie-goers. So if ur bored one night and need to do something, find where it's showing in ur hood and get to going.

In other news, my t-shirt game is vicious right now. Not as vicious as my shoe game (which, at present, has eclipsed "bird flu-sick" and is now approaching "ebola pandemic-sick"), but it's nice. The summer's gonna be lovely.

Call me... broke for spring break

Saturday, March 24, 2007

She's Back! (Praise White Jesus)

"Bird Flu"

M.I.A. is back and I couldn't be more siced. Do not sleep. I repeat: DO NOT SLEEP! This chick is one of the most vicious artists out. (Holler at me if u want her first album "Arular." It was hands down one of the best albums of 2005.)

"I'm a hard gal so I need a man for romance/Streets are makin em hard so they're selfish little roamers/Jumpin' girl to girl, make us meat like burgers/ When I get fat, I'm gon' pop me out some leaders"

"Bird Flu" indeed. sick.

Call Me... big on the underground (what's the point of knockin me down?)

Apocalypse Now

Today during PD I learned that Tilden Middle School is the school of Satan. Here's why:
  • Next year Tilden will have 6 teachers for each grade (6th, 7th, and 8th). in other words, 6,6,6.
  • There will be 6 expressive arts teachers and 6 Special Ed Teachers
  • Tilden is located on the corner of 66th and Elmwood
  • "Tilden Middle School" has 6 letters in each word. again, 6,6,6.
Far too many sixes. But at least now I can assign some type of rhyme or reason for the degree of chaos. And oh, somebody was shooting on the corner of 66th and Elmwood at about 8:15 this morning with hundreds of kids outside too. I guess somebody didn't get the "Tell them we are rising" memo. :-\

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wit never goes out of style

The caption on the "New York Robbery" tee reads "All you need is a dollar and a delusion." Both tees came out January/February, but I was bored and felt like these were hype-worthy. You'll have to go to ebay to cop the "Cousins" joint. (if u come across a large, holler).
The premise for the "Cousins" tee:
think Nas.
The premise for the "NY Robbery" Tee (taken from the designer's website):

We dont usually go too far out of our way to explain tshirt meanings but we felt like this was an important one to discuss. What we were trying to get at are the supposed benefits that state lottery systems claim to provide to society, and the actual ills they perpetuate. Without going into too much detail - state lottery systems were first instituted in 1964 (New Hampshire was the first) as a means of raising money for education. They were viewed as a better alternative to increasing taxes across the board, since participation in lotteries is voluntary. Since then, it's become startlingly clear through numerous studies that not only do lotteries fail to provide any measurable benefits to school systems, they also target the very demographics that the educational reforms are supposed to benefit the most: low-income families.

First, lets talk about the lack of benefits. In a study from Money Magazine, it's been found that states without lotteries actually spend a greater percentage of their budget on education. Further, since 1990, spending devoted to education has actually decreased in lottery states, while increasing in non-lottery states during the same period (Source). Some have suggested that lottery proceeds that are earmarked for education programs may actually just be replacing the original state-budgeted education money that has been funneled off into other mysterious programs - thus, the money is technically going towards schools but the actual dollars spent on education are not increasing.

Secondly, lotteries have been proven time and time again to target low-income families, thus negating any positive societal benefits they claim to bring. Vishal Gehrig of the University of Maryland states: "A study of lottery play among income classes in Maryland found that adults in the under $10,000 income group spent nearly three times more than those earning $50,000 or more. (In fact, twenty percent of players account for sixty-five percent of the total amounts wagered, and ten percent of players account for half.)" (Source). He's not the only one that has found this - countless other studies continually prove that because of large marketing budgets and false claims of jackpots and odds, state lottery systems target and get money from the people who need it the most, thereby cultivating gambling addictions among the poorest segment of the population.

I know this stuff is weightier than what we usually write about.. but given our "new royalty" campaign which focuses on hard work and diligence, we thought it was important to discuss the lottery and its false "get rich quick" appearances, as well as its negative effect on the poor and disenfranchised population that it claims to

Call Me... [sicker/smarter/flyer] than ur average

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Curse of Ham

Rap sales plummeted 21% in 2006. In a slow year for music overall, no Rap album sold enough to make the Top 10 list for the year. This was a first in a very, very long time.

"the game's [effed] up. nigga's beats is banging, nigga ur hooks did it. ur lyrics didn't, ya gangsta look did it. so i would write it, if yall could get it. being intricate, will get u wood, critic. on the internet, they like 'u should spit it.' i'm like 'u should buy it'--nigga that's good business."

Sorry Hov, I can't go with u on this one. During a routine bit of procrastination, I watched a 4-part video online: "Confessions of a BET Producer." Without going into an analysis of everything said, I'll just say that black music has successfully been pimped again. They did it to every other secular form of black music, and now we have sold ourselves back into bondage.

"I dumbed down for my audience and doubled my dollars. They criticize me for it, but they all yell 'Holla!'"

Thus is the double edged sword. Jay is currently an executive. The big wig. The swinging "appendage" at the world's most storied Hip-Hop label. What has he done to reestablish integrity into the music? Nothing more than a sub-par "comeback" album. There's something to be said about the oppressed who find their ways through an oppressive system only to become themselves reincarnations of those same oppressors. For all the disgust I have for Jim Jones, there was some truth in his indictment of Jay for selling out to the "Doug Morrises" and "Jimmy Iovines" of big business (and don't be fooled, that's really what it is).

Yes, stupidity sells, but it doesn't get u the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammy's (though it may earn you an Oscar). Nas's "Can't Forget About You" is an infinitely better song than Jeezy's "Go Getta" for a number of reasons: better production, better hook, and umm... better lyrics. But the few times I turn on the TV, I keep on seeing that child molester and Jeezy dancing with a room full of women. There was a time when it was hot, but that was 10 years ago. Booty in videos peaked around the time "Dolly" and "No Panties On the Dance Floor" were BET Uncut hits.

My love for rap has not wavered, but my frustration with it has come to a point where I must bid it adieu by and large. I can't watch BET or MTV without throwing up in my mouth at how stupid we look. There was a time when I used to sit and read lyrics for songs. There was a time when a hot line could give me chills. It doesn't happen anymore.

Who's to blame? We are. We sold our music (and therefore our souls--music has always been the core of our ethnic identity) to white suburbia. Jay was right, we "brought the suburbs to the hood" and they cleaned us out of everything worth anything. They took the fun out our music. And no, I don't mean the leaning and rocking. There was a time--there has always been a time--where black music was fun, not too serious, but still said something. All I can think about is Justin Timberlake's latest album. Futuresex/Lovesound was a fun album, but it wasn't frothy like D4L or even Jim Jones. It broke ground without taking itself too seriously. It was music. Good music. It was art. Remember when Hip Hop was art? Today it's more "paint by numbers." Insert cocaine reference here. Insert sex reference here. Insert money reference here. Insert alcohol reference here. Promote new clothing line here. I mean cot durn!

And since I fiend for good music even more so than I fiend for exclusive Nikes, the past 5 years have sent me more and more to white artists for what black artists used to be renowned. You know, above, I said "they" took the fun out our music. I'm unfairly passing the buck. "We" took the fun out our music. We allowed for it to become okay to pass off laziness as mediocrity and labelled mediocrity genius. When white America bought into us, we bought into their conception of us, as an ignorant monolith of gun-toting, drug-slinging, whore-mongering buffoons.

And why not? I mean, it was profitable. We saw Jay and Diddy make money and thought that we were making money too. Problem was, we weren't. They were. But still, we followed like sheep. We burned our throwbacks. We bought shirts with collars. We started calling ourselves "grown and sexy." We didn't have a pot to piss in nor a window to throw it out of.

Meanwhile, we forgot what it was like to be vulnerable. Our music became the moat and brick walls for an empty city. We dug deeper ditches, filled it with more unsavory creatures, gilded our gates, blinged out the bricks, tricked out the drawbridge, and for what? A city with nothing in it. (Was that a lil too abstract for u?) Basically, we created an image of invincibility. The super-thug. The super-thug got his coke straight off the boat from the Columbians. The super-thug took 41 shots and sodomy-by-plunger and lived to record a platinum-plus album about it. The super-thug always won.

I mean dang, even R&B couldn't escape it. I think Robin Thicke's "Lost Without You" is the first song in a VERY long time to get play and be popular that showcased a man's emotional vulnerability unapologetically. (And he's white. Point proven.) The Child Molester keeps thuggin even tho he got ran off stage in Madison Square Garden. Outside of Thicke, the biggest R&B hit that exhibited a bit of emotional vulnerability was prolly T-Pain's ode to the STD-laden working women in "I'm In Love With a Stripper."

I know what you're thinking. My point exactly.

So I'm sure ur like, "dang, jonathan. where is all this coming from?" Well, it's coming from the fact that I've been listening to Amy Winehouse for the past 2 weeks non-stop and my frustration with the fact that 1) Back to Black is, as ?uestlove stated, the album Lauryn Hill wanted to make, and 2) that nobody black makes good music worth listening to anymore. I got a lotta ethnic pride and it really irks me to hear a white british girl do soul (Aretha/Ella Fitzgerald soul, not elevator-soul like Corinne) better than anybody else in the game right now. It bothers me when I'm looking up lyrics to Citizen Cope, The Fray, Jamie Cullum, and all these other white folks cuz they're actually saying something and nobody black says anything worth repeating outside of meaningless, catchy phrases (BALLIN, and all other DipSet ad libs apply).

Now that's not to say I hate white ppl. Some of my closest friends are white :-). And it's not to say I don't like the fact that they are making good music by peicing together remnants of the black musical heritage with HipHop sensibilities. I love it and I respect it. I just wish black people would do it (and respect it). Part of the problem is that if anyone outside of Prince would have made Futuresex/Lovesound, no DJ would've ever played it. Negroes woulda passed on it like it was the bird flu. The same with Amy Winehouse. I mean really, if Lupe was white, he wouldn'ta went platinum, he woulda went friggin diamond. We as a people have become so enamored of the image created for us (by us) that it's like we're standing "in the mirror pointing at [our] reflection, killing [ourselves]" unconsciously.

I still have hope for hip hop though. The game is lacking in bonafide talent, but those who have it, have it. Wayne is a monster. He needs to go through some stuff and use that raw ability to get some points across or at least tell us a good story like Biggie. He has the potential. Lupe's Food and Liquor was, in my eyes, the best Rap album of 2006. He scares me though. I could see him falling off like Nas did after It Was Written. The Clipse and Ghostface are the only ppl I feel that are worthy to do cocaine rap. If you ain't them, leave it alone. (That includes u, Weezy.) If it wasn't for The Clipse's Lord Willin' cocaine rap wouldn't even exist in its present level of mainstream popularity. I hope Jeezy pays royalties to Pusha and Malice. I think Andre 3000 is the best in the game right now as far as breadth goes. He's one of the very few rappers that makes me rewind a song to catch a line. Jay gets an Honorable Mention cuz he's Jay. I mean Kingdom Come was lazy, but there's something to be said for a lazy album being better lyrically than 90% of everything else. And I think he's in the process of rediscovering himself. I expect him to be the first real Republican rapper. I'm not joking. He's slowly but surely moving in that direction. Unless the Democrats cryogenically infuse themselves with a sturdy backbone, I see the Jiggaman playing the coon at a Republican National Convention within the next 10 years.

And as far as up and coming, I'd be remissed if I didn't shine the spotlight on Wale. All I've listened to for the past two weeks has been Wale and Amy Winehouse. I put all their music in the media player and just shuffle that jawn.

Now, in case u missed it, what I spent the last umpteen hours lamenting was the shallow state of black music and its narrow scope of artistry and message. Really, I don't mind the leaning and rocking. I even don't mind the cocaine rap. I'm not a HipHop Fascist. I just think black music has narrowed itself to the point that is become a black hole, a house fallen in on itself as the walls came closer together. Cocaine rap, when done right (and by "right," I mean by The Clipse and Ghostface--not Rich Boy), is hot. It speaks not only to an experience, to a voice often silenced and villainized, but gives that voice flesh, bones, and spirit through its multiplicity. (I'm not pulling ur chain. Lord Willin' and Hell Hath No Fury are unabashedly drug-ridden, but equally conscious and intelligent.) It humanizes the drug dealer without allowing him to become a caricature. Think "Nightmares." Good party music makes u wanna dance without making u look ridiculous on Kidz Bop. Consumerism has always been a part of HipHop. I won't bash it. Shoot, Wale's lyrics are steeped in consumerism. But there was a time when it was okay to say "I Need Love."

The fact of the matter is, contrary to what Jay-Z says, "being intricate" will not get u "wood." I have a feeling that, if Wayne doesn't get lazy on us, The Carter 3 will be his best selling album ever. Why? Because people want to hear what he has to say. And even more than that, they want to hear how he's gonna say it. There's a reason rap sales plummeted, and it's not cuz of the internet. It's cuz nobody pays for the "image." If we like the beat, we'll download a ringtone, no need to buy a crappy album. We've always wanted to hear what ppl have to say. Why else do u think DipSet is so popular? They always have something to say.

Field of Dreams is famous for the line "If you build it, they will come." The inverse is also true. Niggas leave if u don't take care of ish. So while the House of HipHop has decayed into dilapidation, I and an alarming number of others of the African-American persuasion have jumped ship and bought the Amy Winehouse album, paid to go to a Robin Thicke concert, and brought "SexyBack" while staving off a "Maneater" or two.

Ask them. If you spit it, we will buy it. Cuz that's good business.

Call Me... sleep deprived in the morning.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Mommy wow! I'm a big boy now...

So most ppl who know me also know that i've dreaded growing up since around the time I turned 20. The notion of being "mature" and having "responsibilities" and bills (i can't put that in quotes, them jawns are no joke!) has been something I thought I could avoid like bird flu. But alas, though I enjoyed the nest and never really desired to fly, time has necessitated that I take the big step and become a completely independent being.

So today I opened my 403 (b) retirement account. I'm gonna be saving a considerable amount over the next year and investing in some good funds. It's really weird to talk about a retirement plan when u've only been in the work force for barely 6 months. Still, if "Jim Jones has equity," then so should I, or at least take the steps to get there some day. Plus, I need to find a way to stop spending every piece of loose change I can find on limited edition Nikes. If Nikes were illegal drugs, The East Coast would be Hamsterdam (not a typo... get up on The Wire) and I'd be some strung-out junkie in an abandoned building somewhere (I mean, I played one in BA... lol). So I'm taking the dough I would normally squelch on the Red Nike Supreme Blazers I've been searching for for the past 2 months and putting it away for the next, say.... 40 or so years. Then I can buy Nike Air Orthopedics (limited edition ones of course).

On top of that, I found my health care card in my wallet today. Something about looking at the co-pay on the card and opening up my retirement account made it click that I am an actual adult. It was bittersweet. I felt a sense of accomplishment on one hand and a sense of dread on the other. This isn't monopoly money. It's my REAL money. And i HATE spending it. I know ur thinking, "Then why all the gear?" The gear justifies itself to my sick mind cuz i get to look at it everyday. I have it right in my face. Plus, I take care of it so I keep it forever. But a doctor's visit? I don't leave there with much more than my health. I mean, can I get a free t-shirt at least? A gift certificate to a restaurant? Just my health? That's it?

*sigh* I'm a writer, but I wouldn't mind taking a bite outta somebody else's paycheck.

Call me... if ur interested in donating.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Visual theatre

Do urself a favor and go see "300". Don't expect much in the lines of plot. The storyline is (loosely) based on history so read a Social Studies book if you want that. But if u want a lot of real cool (said like a white computer nerd) visuals, this is the one to see. And it has some witty dialogue between the crazy battle scenes.

Now while I thought the movie was great--I think i'm gonna try and see it again, but at an IMAX--i have one complaint. Why were the bad guys (i.e. the Persians) all ppl of color? But not just ppl of color, they were outright BLACK, like blue-black, "my-name-has-18-letters-and-2-vowels" black. While i understand that the color contrast helped to accentuate the visual effects, I just have a problem with 1) the historical inaccuracy and 2) the representation of blacks. I mean dang, if the movie was about Egypt, they woulda cast all the puerto ricans they could find before they would get someone as black as the "Persians" in "300". That said, I did thoroughly enjoy the movie.

Amy Winehouse. Heard of her? If u haven't, u need to. Thanks to the beauty that is Vh1 Soul, I heard her video playing while I was doing something else around the apartment. I immediately started downloading anything I could find by her. She's a British "jazz" singer. I say "jazz" in quotes cuz she's like a female Jamie Cullum. She's a jazz singer, but that's too small a box to put her in. She's really a soul singer. Yes, a white british soul singer... kinda like that other one, uh, Joss Stone? I never really like that chick. This one, I like tho. And, increasingly, it seems that "soul" has been exorcised from black music and put into these strange white bodies, often from foreign, melanin-deficient lands. I mean, I knew the apocalypse was coming when I first heard Christina Aguilera belt out an Aretha Franklin song in the 90s, but I never thought I'd get to a point where names like Justin Timberlake, Jamie Cullum, Citizen Cope (shoutout to young Taylor, Jr), Maroon 5, and now Amy Winehouse would have more bonafide soul than their black contemporaries. The hiphop gangsta has killed black soul. Sensitive thugs, go get some hugs and bring me back my soul.

but since i'm not holding my breath, I'll put on some Amy Winehouse and wait.

Call me... please.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Two posts in one day? That bored, huh?

Considering I haven't specifically written about what takes up the vast majority of my life, (i.e. teaching), I figured I'd drop something so as to ground the blog in its roots (does anyone else find that funny like me?)

Well, progress has been made in Room 401. A LOT of progress. Mr. Garr no longer screams and yells. He still wacks kids, but he does it with a 2.5 ft pole that he twirls around in class and the halls like a billy club ("kappa style" as one teacher said). So I guess u can say I embody the saying "Speak softly and carry a big stick." I've learned a lot of the nuances of managing a classroom of kids. I am much more laid back with my kids. Seriously, I spend most the day sitting in my barstool at the front of the classroom and give responsibilties to students. "James, get that off my desk and pass it out." "Mabintu, take attendance for me." "Rugei, erase the board for me." "Derrick pass out the Math books." I've realized that as a teacher, I don't have to do every single thing in the classroom. In fact, things go a lot smoother when u start delegating those responsibilities to students. Grading papers, writing on the board, reading a problem--I forgot that kids love to do that.

And the funny thing is, my class is much more like a family now than it was 4 months ago. A (very) dysfunctional one, yes, but a family nonetheless. I am (finally) the ultimate authority in the classroom, evidenced by my ability to wack one of them without anyone threatening to tell their parents or calling the police. They know that I only wack em when they deserve it and that's only when they've refused to listen to repeated warnings. It's the unspoken consequence on my consequence chart (lol). And most times, I don't even have to hit them. I just grip it tightly like I'm about to wack them (which I am usually about to do if they don't stop) and they straighten up. "Aight Mr. Garr! Dang!" as their eyes get huge and they run back to their seats.

It was a long, arduous road to get to this point, and honestly, I've yet to "arrive". It's just that my class has improved immensely from the constant chaos of September, October, and November. I've reached a comfort zone (maybe too comfortable since I sometimes don't show up to school until 8:30. School starts at 8:15). And on top of all that, my kids are learning. Really, they are. Granted, I haven't touched a science book since December, but my kids are airtight in Math and know a good bit about Ancient Egypt (they can't pronounce "hieroglyphics" tho).

This past week has been especially chill. Next week we take the PSSA's. These are the state-wide tests that test students in Math and Reading as mandated by No Child Left Behind. Tilden has some of the lowest scores in Philadelphia and has failed to meet annual goals for YEARS. They even failed to meet the lower goals that are set for schools that fail to meet the regular statewide goals. It's that bad.

But since next week is PSSA time, I took this week as an opportunity to test the buhjesus out of my kids. I had a few mock PSSA tests in a crate so I made copies of them jokers and passed em out to the class. Aside from the fact that it prepares them for the format and work needed for the real PSSA's, it also guarantees 2+ hours of complete silence from my kids (another piece of evidence that we've made progress in Room 401). So I can chill, visit other teachers, stare out the window and marinate. It's been great. And after they finish, we go over the test. If they start talking, I stop, sit down, and wait for them to shut up. I look at the clock like I'm keeping time of how long they talk (even tho i don't) cuz they know whatever time they take from me I take from them by making them stay after school. Eventually they shut up after yelling at each other to stop talking and I continue. This was seriously my week. Very chill.

And tomorrow, we have the PSSA Pep Rally. Yes, a pep rally for standardized tests. There are 3 different shows, one for each grade. (It'd be chaos to try and have the whole school at once). But since I'm performing in the pep rally, I have to go to all 3, which means my class gets to go to all 3. (Which means ya boy teaches nothing tomorrow and just chills in the auditorium with his kids all day). I hung this fact over my kids' heads all week, letting them know that if they acted up all week, then I would do what I gotta do at the pep rally and march my class up 4 stories of steps to the classroom and work them like a group of recaptured runaway slaves. Since they know I'm crazy enough to do such a thing, they took it to heart and kept themselves in line (for the most part).

I still haven't told them what I'm doing at the pep rally. I didn't even let them know I was performing. I think most of them think that I'm just in charge of some part of it. It'll be funny to see how they react tomorrow.

But what will be funnier is seeing whether or not I'll be able to even talk tomorrow. Somewhere between Tuesday and Wednesday, my whole body started rebelling against itself. My glands are extra swollen, it hurts like heck to swallow (two terrible things for a singer), my body feels super weak, and i have a serious headache. (Pre-med's? Med School students? Ideas?) I usually don't get sick, and I've done pretty well to keep from getting sick from my kids. I take a multi-vitamin everyday, and load up on Vitamin C but something snuck through my immune system and got me good. Let's hope that whatever it is waits to deliver the final blow AFTER tomorrow. Either that or just leave tonight.

Yeah, that'd be great.

Now that i've filled the void in school posts for the past 4 months, I can go back to music, gear, and random quotes and poems till May/June.... sike nah. (you hype!)

The Art of War

So for those who don't know, my lifelong dream has been to bridge my passions for music (especially hip hop) and English Lit and Language (along with my deep interest in social politics) and become a "Hip Hop Scholar." The notion was once a novel one but is now just atypical as there is a small but respected league of 20- and 30-somethings with big name BAs and PhDs who do just that.

That said, I was listening to the new Timbo track featuring Nelly Furtado and J.T. (the one where Timbo goes at Scott Storch and Timberlake goes at Prince) and wondered: wouldn't it be vicious if someone were to approach hip hop beef from a scholarly perspective? From the roots of old school hip hop beef and battling through 30-something years to MySpace, YouTube, and Street DVD disses. Don't frown, it's a microcosm of so much going on in popular culture, black culture and American culture. I mean really, Justin Timberlake just dissed Prince. Who'da thunk that sentence would ever exist? Definitely not me (for many reasons).

And its amazing how political hip hop has become within the last decade. I mean dang, a rapper can't say anything about another person without it being disected. And on the other end, everybody else is goin for dolo to try to reach the throne and proclaim themselves the illest. That, along with a new group of verbs, "youtubed" "myspaced" and "DVD'd" (thanks to Jim Jones aka Young Capo aka One-Eyed Willy aka LL Cool J cuz the "Ladies Love Cool James" aka Tru Life, Who are youuuuuuu?"... Jimmy has contributed immeasurably to the English Language:-/) begs to be analyzed by someone. And by "someone," I mean "me".

Oh and just in case you didn't understand those 3 vocab words, how bout some meaningful sentences (always the teacher):

1. I'm sure when 50 cent saw that Killa Cam had youtubed their phone convo for millions to see on the internet, he was ready to go at Killa.

2. I can't believe they myspaced Tru Life when they hacked into his myspace page and changed all his friends and pics.

3. I heard that Bleek had DVD'd Jim Jones by talking trash about Jimmy and the whole DipSet on a recent street DVD.

I only posted this cuz i'm about to make some spaghetti and didn't wanna forget it. Don't steal my idea. And let's hope i get over whatever sickness my body is currently trying to contract.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

It's been a long time...

Its been over 3 weeks since my last post. not like u ppl are fiending for me to update this or anything, but i felt like i should drop a lil sumthin. The past 3 weeks have been the most uneventfully eventful (or is that eventfully uneventful?) weeks since I've been in philly. Took a quick road trip to dc to holler at the ole heads giles and obinna. shoutout to Jim Jones for making that weekend fantastical. I'm hiding from UPenn since I am probably the worst grad student ever. And school is winding down as my kids are preparing for the big statewide tests next week. This is what we prep the kids for all year and what they usually fail with outstanding levels of success.

Speaking of which, I'll be giving my first public performance since i've come to philly on friday. Where? No, it's not a talent show or some hip, neo-soul, doobie wrapped hipster open mic night. It's at Tilden's PSSA pep rally. Yes, we have a pep rally for our federal/state-mandated standardized tests (i never had a pep rally for Iowa tests or and yes I'm singing. No I did not volunteer, nor was I asked. I was not even around when the decision was made. In fact, I was in the air on my way to St. Louis to see Black Anthology when the Staff and Administration of my dear place of employment whored me for the pep rally. I really don't mind tho. Really, I don't.

It's funny tho for a few reasons. One reason: teaching has destroyed my voice. Something about speaking loudly aka yelling for 7 hours a day 5 days a week has an uncanny ability of damaging one's vocal chords. Another reason: I'm singing "The Greatest Love of All". Yes, the song that begins with "I believe the children are the future," made famous by the free-basing (we know it was crack), "is that Brandy's brother?" singer, Whitney Houston. (that went over some of yall's heads). And another reason: I'm nervous. For some reason, performing for an auditorium of hoodrat pubescents is a bit more nerve-wracking than talent shows or open mics or [insert past performance here]. No real room for error here. I'd rather do the Apollo with no fingers and a banjo. (That, class, is what we call "hyperbole")

Other than that, I've been stewing on a lot lately. Thinking. (I know, don't hurt urself, Jonathan... too late.) The saying goes that Life (with a capital L) and payback are both female dogs (hmm... are they sisters? mother and daughter? jus girlfriends that hang out on the weekends... ok, i took that one too far). So it's like i'm being dragged by two horribly vindictive canines (again. slight hyperbole. with a dash of melodrama.) But, as my nigga shakespeare said, philosophy is the sweet milk of adversity and i'm sittin on all this until the proper time. Good thing I'm not lactose intolerant.

i hope this is all as vague as i wanted it to be, so as to not compromise my own cancerian need for personal security while satiating my narcisistic desires to keep the blog afloat. (if u can't tell, my sense of humor is, as always, still in tact) :-p

-Call me...? No, don't call me. I'll call u.