In My Write Mind
11.30.2004

I Know What You Did Last Week...

***Soundtrack--Do Me Right, Guy, The Future***

OK, OK...you guys have been waiting patiently to see how the saga with Cray-Z ended.

Well, first, to recap, go here...LOL

Now, what to do, what to do? Well, I'll tell ya.

Some thought I should give him the ole gas face. And I would've. Except for one thing. He was CRAY-Z!!! Do you know how many people have probably given him the gas face, in some shape or form, throughout his formative "cray-z years"? How many people he probably passed gas on while muttering to himself? How many people have probably worn gas masks when having to cross paths with him day after day?

I guess you can tell where I'm going with this--even the WORD gas probably would've driven him--OR ME--over the edge, literally. Him and the gas face probably got beef. They're most likely not boys. And plus, out of my crew, I was always the worst at imitating MC Serch when he gave the gas face in the video, so homeboy might've thought I was flirtin' with him or something...LOL

So I couldn't do that.

The statue thing...wasn't gonna work. Statues get tipped over all the time. Ask Saddam. It's funny, though. I thought back to a comedy routine I saw Reggie McFadden do on Def Comedy Jam back in the early 90s, talking about how whenever a roach gets spotted on a wall, he goes into "ninja roach" mode, staying perfectly still like nobody can see 'em.

Well, hell...like the roach, I probably would've been flattened. LOL

NEXT!!!!

Now, before I go another further, let me just state that there are women that I see everyday on that train. Cute women. Fine women. Cute, fine women that live in Harlem. Cute, fine women that live in Harlem that I might see on the street and would be quick to tell their girls that the light-skinned cat that she thought was cute...ran away from a bum on the train.

Soooooo...running was not an option. At all. You ever heard the saying 'I'd rather be a SQUARE now so I can be AROUND later'? Ummm, yeah. Me, niether. I would've rather gotten pushed like a pelvis in an old Salt N Pepa video than be the butt of a "Harlem RunninAss" story.

[SideNote: I'm sitting here listening to Mario's new CD, thanks to my girl Honey (www.honeysoul.com/blogs-- check her out when you get a minute; she's got allllll the music...lol) and er uh...this crap sucks. Aside from Let Me Love You, all of the songs sound the same...and that's never a good thing. He's gonna suffer like Tevin Campbell did if he keeps this up. Well, without the gay implications and all. But seriously, now that the voice changed, it's not lookin good. Anyway, back to the story...]

So that leaves the only option available to me at the time. That's right. I pulled a Mary Tyler Moore, inching awayyyyyy from the tracks with short, compact, natural, non-threatening steps, so as not to draw the ire of The Mutterer. (Now, I hope you know what I'm referring to when I speak of Mary Tyler Moore...you remember the last episode of the series, when they did the group hug thing after everybody got fired, and while assembled in the circle, they need some tissue and the whole pack inches over toward the desk where the tissue is...?!?!? Am I the only one who remembers this episode?!?!? Seriously...? Well, for your entertainment and reading purposes, I linked the episode guide further up. And by the by, while looking for it on www.tvtome.com, I came across something that shocked me...Did anybody know that Marsha Warfield had her own show? Yeah, Roz from Night Court!!! WTF?!?!? That's it. I'm headed to Hollywoood. I could get paid top dollar to write for a crappy show. **Hello, Cheap Tickets?**Ah well...lol)

Yup. I inched outta there with the precision of Bruce Leroy's little brother when he poplocked out of the ropes that held him in The Last Dragon! Sho'NUFF!!!! I did the one-way electric slide, creeping out of the way like a TLC song.

This way, I saved face, avoided contact with the third rail, saved my gas face for little old ladies who cut me off in traffic or for making babies laugh, and got to relive a classic Nick At Nite episode--all in one fell swoop.

Oh, and Cray-Z? I left him there...muttering, sharpening...and chewing.

So Yolie...YOU WIN! Your PostIt Pads are in the mail. Along with the pencil sharpener and the tiger pops. What about the sunflower seeds, you ask? Well, let's just say, if you see someone in Harlem muttering to themselves and spitting out foreign objects, yup! That's probably Cray-Z. Because while the Mary shuffle might've done the trick alone, let's face it, the insurance of distracting him with those sunflower seeds probably saved my life.

Cray-Z as it sounds...


scribbled by Will at 11/30/2004 04:18:00 PM
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11.29.2004

A Shot of B12

OK. I checked out KB today and was reminded that I haven't done a Baker's Dozen since the last time I did one...LOL

The idea is to come up with twelve thoughts and one pic to describe your weekend. Try using quotes, events, blog entries, whatever. Post a link to your entry when you're done. So here goes...

1. "We've come too far for us to get hung up on some corners..."--Stringer Bell to Avon Barksdale on HBO's The Wire. I love that show.

2. "She should be ashamed of herself, after what she did to that baby."--The last words of Mrs. Huber, the nosy and conniving neighbor on the hit show, Desperate Housewives, just before she's whacked, Sopranos-style by widower Paul. (this may sound confusing, but you just gotta watch the show...LOL)

3. "Intercepted...AGAIN!"--Fox announcer Joe Buck on rookie QB Eli Manning of the New York Giants getting picked moments after recovering the ball from the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. The Giants and Manning lost the game, 27-6.

4. "More...please!" No, not Oliver Twist...LOL That was me, asking my sister for a second slice of carrot cake cheesecake on Thursday evening. God bless bakers!!!

5. "I love this family!!!" Dashiell "Dash" Parr, son of Mr. Incredible & Elastigirl after his family defeated Syndrome. (Hey, don't knock it til you see it...The Incredibles was a good movie...:-) )

6. "You're killin' me, Petey!!!"--Coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) in Remember the Titans, after another fumble by the Titans running back. I watched that movie for the umpteenth time on Saturday.

7. "I'm out! It's been a great run..."--my friend Tee, who moved to Los Angeles over the weekend, after two years here at the Urban League. At least now I have a place to stay when I go out there for the Grammy's.

8. "Where's the candy?"--my little niece Kylie after being told that the orange things on her Thanksgiving dinner plate were candied yams.

9. "First, I saw some potato salad-like stuff. It was kinda taupe and I probably wouldn't have known what it was if it wasn't cold and didn't have huge chunks of celery in it."--Blogger extraordinairre Elle, describing the scene during her Thanksgiving debacle. Funny stuff!

10. "WILLIE!!!"--That was the only word I heard before I hung up on my editor, seeing as he called me the one name that I refuse to answer to. I called back...the hang-up was just reflex. LOL

11. "The cheesy stuff doesn't make it taste good."--my nephew Jay after trying the cauliflower with cheese sauce prepared by my sister for Thanksgiving.

12. "How you gonna be the writer of a song and then sing it wrong? Now everybody get outta here, we need some privacy!"--Ike Turner (Laurence Fishburne) to Anna Mae Bullock (Angela Bassett) in the movie "What's Love Got To Do With It?"

13. Here's my basic image of the weekend, which was filled with food and relaxation...and THIS...


scribbled by Will at 11/29/2004 03:26:00 PM
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11.26.2004

A Friday 5 Things...

***Soundtrack: Truth Is, Fantasia, Free Yourself***

These are things I'm extremely thankful for on this post-Turkey Day...

1. I'm thankful that there have been no fights, brawls, stabbings or murders involving black athletes/entertainers in the past 3 days. (Minnesota's Michael Olowokandi getting tazered by cops doesn't count...he went clubbing in Indiana. I repeat, CLUBBING IN INDIANA!!! By doing so, he deserved what he got...LOL)

2. This probably belongs in THE UNDERGROUND, but I'll do it here just for today...LOL I'm thankful that I didn't get killed riding the subway the other day. Guess that's what the saying means when it says that God looks out for babies and fools. 'Cause apparently I was stupid to stand where I normally stand to catch the train in the mornings. This dude, who was sitting on the bench near the wall, jumped up ranting and raving, muttering that I should've stood somewhere else, that he should kill me for standing where I was. I froze. Here I was, on a New York City subway platform, inches away from the tracks, completely vulnerable if Cray-Z decided he wanted to do a remix of LL's new song and just "Pushhhhh!" What to do,what to do...

  • Should I stand completely motionless like a statue and hope that the ole "if I don't move, he won't make one" theory holds water?
  • Should I give him the ole gas face and hope that my hairy eyebrows and crooked nose scares him back into retreat mode?
  • Should I try and step awayyyy from the tracks with small steps like I was part of a Mary Tyler Moore episode?
  • Should I run like the dickens, thus risking him chasing me around...on a subway platform...in Harlem?
(I'm gonna make this one of those old-fashioned Choose Your Own Ending joints...you can either choose an ending from above or make up what you think I should've done. Leave it all in the comments section and I will post what really happened later today. Whomever guesses correctly wins, ummm...err ahhh...looking around desk...AN UNOPENED POST-IT PAD, an antique pencil sharpener, three tiger pops and a bag of sunflower seeds.)

3. I'm thankful for carrot cake cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. Lemme tell you something...if that crap wasn't already on the market, I would do commercials for it. Other than banana pudding from Virgil's, this was the best dessert I've had in a looooong time. (wiping up drool...hehehe)

4. I'm thankful for music. Sometimes we can take for granted just what role music plays in our lives. I mean, I bet all of us can hear a song and remember a situation where THAT SONG was playing, or associate a song to a person that we've crossed paths with. I try never to take music for granted, and because of that will always be an advocate for GOOD music. Today's hip-hop be damned.

5. Last but definitely not least, I'm very thankful for my family, who has been through alot this year with the death of my dad. Yesterday was very interesting, our first family gathering without him. Sure, the conversation flowed and the food was great, but it was just...different. Anyways, I'm thankful for my kin and won't hesitate to say that every time I see them. Besides, if it wasn't for family memories, what would I have to write about? LOL


scribbled by Will at 11/26/2004 01:40:00 PM
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11.24.2004

Sometimes...

**something I wrote before leaving work...**

By William I. Dawson

Sometimes, when we least expect it, something good comes along that makes us sit up and take notice.
Sometimes, we come across good things in small packages.
And whenever that 'sometimes' arrives, we smile because, not only are we happy for the good thing, we're happy for the chance.
The chance to explore something or someone new…the chance to get to know what makes a person tick, to find out what it is about that someone that we like.
We get to hear new perspectives on different issues, see sides that we would never dream of, learn new strategies on how to survive the daily grind.
We get to see a new and unique smile, a new voice of reason or debate, a new type of hug, a new sharing of experiences.
This something good—can be just what you need, but never what you expect. It comes when you least expect it…which makes it even better.
And even if it’s in a small package, it will always seem much bigger, much more important than it probably is at first…that is, until we make it the most important thing in our lives.

scribbled by Will at 11/24/2004 02:37:00 PM
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Women I'm Thankful For...

These women are my IMWM BIG WILLIES of the week. They represent the best in black women today. Today, I celebrate their positivity, their courage and their commitment to their crafts.

My Mom...she's camera shy, but there is no one, and I mean no one in my life that means more.

Jill ScottThere is just something about this woman's voice that makes me melt. She makes me feel like black men and women really can love one another. Simply Golden.

Angela BassettShe is still the standard bearer when it comes to black women in film. From Sister Betty to Tina to Stella, hers is a groove we all need to fit into.

Zora Neale HurstonTheir eyes may be watching God, but my eyes were glued to the writings of this Harlem Renassaince stalwart. She is the cream of the literary crop, as far as I'm concerned.

Billie HollidayAs she sang God Bless the Child, I considered myself blessed as a youngster being able to listen to her records from my dad's collection. Her delivery, her presence...for being able to hear her in all of her glory, I say Thank you!

Alice WalkerIf Hurston was the cream, she is the second layer of genius that resides in the crop. The Color Purple alone made her one of the 20th Century's best. She also resurrected Hurston's work, bringing a broader audience to her brilliant prose. Currently, I'm reading her 1998 novel By the Light of My Father's Smile.

Oprah WinfreySure, she caters to a white audience with her television show and subsequent magazine, but no one can deny how much she gives back to the community. Her philanthropic efforts have resulted in countless students being able to attend college and her donations to schools have provided necessary resources for schools to continue to operate. Because of that alone, she's inspired me to use whatever resources I have to give back.


Again, these are just examples of women for whom I am thankful. There are literally hundreds I could name, from my sister, who is a social worker for troubled teens right here in New York, to Ms. Frances Davis, who, after losing her three sons to street violence in a span of a year, has dedicated her life to ensuring that no other mother has to endure the same fate.

To all of these women, I say Thank You every day, not just the third Thursday of November.

With that said, enjoy your day off.

scribbled by Will at 11/24/2004 01:17:00 PM
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11.22.2004

Signed, I Miss You...

Dear Dad:

It's been a little over two months since you've been gone. I don't think I need to say it, but I will--I miss you. Well, everybody misses you.

I'm sure you know Mom is holding on, Sis and Niecey are working hard and the grandkids are growing like weeds. Kylie made honor roll again this month. She's such a gifted little girl, makes us all proud. Jay? Well, Jay's heart is in the right place...unfortunately his mind isn't. Yeah, they keep sending notes home about him acting up in class, not paying attention and talking to his neighbor instead of focusing on the teacher. They've threatened to send him home on more than one occasion. What's worrisome is that all the punishment in the world doesn't seem to faze him.

And that's why I'm writing this letter today, Dad. To ask you how. How in the world do we keep the kids' attention these days when there is so much going on around them that tells them not to listen? How do we instill good principles in them--like you did with us--if we can't even get them to respect their principals? When did school become a war zone pitting pupil against teacher?

When did it all become a joke?

The other day, Dad, when the Pacers brawled with the Piston fans, I thought of you. I saw the photos of those two little boys in the stands after the melee ended, just standing there crying and holding one another, shellshocked at such an early age by what had just taken place. That made my mind immediately race back to two different times when I was young. You remember them, don't you, Dad? My first baseball game at Yankee Stadium and the night at the gym across the street from our house when all hell broke loose.

The baseball game was great--sitting in the upper deck with a birdseye view of the whole field and the dark, clear sky above. The green grass, the hot dogs, the chance to see my hero, Willie Randolph. I will never forget the score of the game (Yankees 5, White Sox 3) or what happened in the 8th inning of that game. Yup, a brawl broke out between two men who had too much to drink, and too little sense. That was my first flash with violence (you know you sheltered us when we were little) and my heart was outside my chest when I saw the skirmish headed our way. You protected me that night, and told me that it wasn't normal for grown men to fight that way. I believed you.

I believed you a few years later, too, when we went to the gym ran by your boy Joe Davis. There I was, skinny kid with glasses, strapping on the boxing gloves and, for all intents and purposes, bouncing off the bag as I called myself punching it. It was a sight. Jumping rope, watching the amatuers during training--I loved it. Being there with you made it special.

And then--again--all hell broke loose as two wannabe pugilists took their earlier sparring match too seriously and started throwing chairs and tables at each other. I ran for cover underneath a table in a corner. And in the midst of the ruckus, I could hear you calling my name. I ran to you and we broke outta there. Once our hearts stopped racing, you again explained to me that it wasn't normal. That I shouldn't be afraid that things like that would happen all the time.

Well, Dad...today, things like that are happening all the time. It's become the norm. And while I'm not scared for me, I'm definitely scared for Jay and Kylie. Scared that something like that will happen while they're on a school trip or in the school cafeteria. Scared that stepping on someone's sneaker or accidentally bumping someone might get them hurt. I'm scared that the things they see everyday, on the news, on cartoons, at school, in the streets...I'm scared they might view it all as something that should happen. As normal.

I'm scared that they might buy into that, turn into the instigators just to avoid being the victims. They're smart enough to do that, Dad, in order to survive.

Really, Dad, if we had to go through back then what Jay and Kylie have to face daily, would we have made it? Sure, I got chased home from school more than once, people made fun of my glasses and called me names like Four Eyes and Yellow Boy. But that was nothing compared to what goes on today. Weapons in schools? Cursing kindegarteners? How do I tell them how to deal with this, Dad?

I need to know the right things to say. They're 12 and 6 and have likely seen too much in their short lifetimes to disregard whatever I tell them. They probably saw the same footage I did of the fight the other night in Auburn Hills, or the one at the Vibe Awards in Santa Monica. Maybe they saw Pedro Martinez get beaned with a baseball at the Boston parade, or they see the mounting casualties from a war that shouldn't be.

So much has changed since you've been gone, Dad. You'll be happy to know that I'm taking life one day at a time without you. But one day, Dad, I'm gonna need you to tell me what the new normal is, because things that aren't supposed to happen...are happening all the time.

You told me back then that the world wasn't totally bad, that there was good in most men and that doing the right thing always paid off. Today, I believe I'm gonna need to hear that again, so I can tell that to Jay and Kylie, to those boys in the arena Friday night...and yes, Dad, to myself.

Your son,

Will

scribbled by Will at 11/22/2004 01:40:00 PM
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11.20.2004

The latest Underground...

scribbled by Will at 11/20/2004 05:45:00 PM
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A Reason to BELIEVE!



It's Saturday, I'm at work, supposed to working on a newsletter that was due a week ago, I have various projects that are due by Wednesday and I still have to go see my mama, sooooo with that in mind, how's about we review Fantasia's debut CD? LOL

Flashback with me. For those of you who were addicted like I was, let's recall the first four months of the year, when American Idol ruled the airwaves and week after week, we were treated to raw and passionate performances from a 19-year old from North Carolina whose town's claim to fame was being the furniture capitol of the world.

Think about it--she wasn't the best singer. LaToya London was. She wasn't the best looking. Again, LaToya. She wasn't the most polished when it came to stage presence. Helllooo, LaToya.

But week after week, the name, performance and voice you always remembered was that of Fantasia Barrino. She never fed into the media's fueling of a "Three Divas" fire, which supposedly pitted Barrino, London and fellow AIer Jennifer Hudson against one another. In fact, she was always the first one crying when ANYONE got voted off the show, including the tone deaf Hawaiian chicks and chewed up Big Red (who lasted on the show much longer than the cinnamon taste from the actual gum, by the way...LOL). You can't fake that. Each week, it seemed she was genuinely happy to be there.

Alas, the energetic gospel singer with the 3-year old daughter named Zion had what all the other contestants wished they'd had--belief. Sure, they thought they could, or even should, be the next American Idol. But nobody, not even judge Simon Cowell or the pathetic, paunchy putrid-piped poster boy William Hung, believed in themselves as much as 'Tasia.

Every week another challenge, every week another challenge met.

The constant energy during her 2-minute sets, her voice as raw as a young Mary J., made you feel what she was singing. And each week, she found a way to include her trademark "yeah-yeahs". No song was too much. Her sparkling rendition of one of my father's favorite songs, Summertime, from the play Porgy & Bess, led the nation to give her a standing ovation. And then, the next week, after another solid performance, she received the second least amount of votes. Even with that ebb & flow, that up and down, Barrino's belief never wavered. It helped her maintain a mental balance that helped her outlast the 16-year old from Georgia to take the coveted AI crown, becoming the second African American in a row to win.

Her final song, I Believe, seemed more than just a victory lap. Even then, especially then, you BELIEVED along with her that she belonged in the winner's circle. She took your emotions on a ride with each crescendo, made you strive a little bit harder to make your dreams a reality (if not a reality show), and in the words of the late, great Tupac Shakur, she "had you feeling like black was the thing to be."

With the release of her debut CD, Free Yourself, Fantasia does what Year 2 winner Ruben Studdard couldn't, which is put together a solid catalog of songs. Sure, Ruben was Sorry for 2004 for ummm, most of 2004. You kept waiting...and waiting for Rube to put out another single. ANYTHING but that song again. Lawd. And the truth is, he couldn't. There weren't any more singles. Let's put it this way--if Sorry 2004 was like the velvet teddy bear's face and smile, the rest of the CD was like pure stuffing--insignificant filler.

You won't say that after listening to Free Yourself. Filled with 13 tracks, Fantasia chose songs that fit her voice, while still taking the chances that made her the buzz of the most watched reality show of the year.

The title track finds Barrino telling a lover not to worry about her, she's gonna be OK. Her current single, Truth Is, is getting steady radio rotation and is a classic R&B song. Blend the simple structure with her raspy-sultry-country chords and you get the truth. The song Selfish, a collaboration with Missy Elliott, who said she would've signed Barrino herself if she hadn't won on the show, is a winner, as it touches on the Hindi-style beat that Jay-Z used to great success in 2003, and proves that taking chances is what separates her from her fellow AI champs. The track Baby Mama provides an infectous chorus and a shout out to the multitudes of women who are saddled with that title, giving them something to embrace. As Fantasia says in the first verse, "it's about time we have a song of our own."

The CD sags a bit in the middle when Barrino does a cover of the classic You Were Always On My Mind, proving that not every song will be a hit. Her covers of Summertime and the tailor-made I Believe also appear on the disc, and just as when we first heard them, they prove to be timeless and perfect for her.

Overall, the CD is excellent. The next single should be Selfish, with Good Lovin waiting in the wings. It's chock full of real R&B, a CD you can play from start to finish...and then start again.

I actually enjoyed it. And I recommend it. And guarantee that, after a listen or two, you, like me and 'Tasia, will believe!

scribbled by Will at 11/20/2004 02:36:00 PM
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11.19.2004

My New Spot

First things first, click here to ready my first entry into The UNDERGROUND, the Homeboy Journal. I figured I would give it it's own space separate from my regular stuff.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program...LOL

Last night, I attended a New York Urban League Young Professionals event up in Harlem. They convened at the soon-to-be-opened Harlem Grill, which rests on 7th Avenue between 132nd and 133rd Streets--directly across the street from where I live. Directly across the street. IT'S GREAT!!!!!

I christened it as my new spot to hang. I picked out my personal bar stool and everything. LOL The owner, a cool dude by the name of Allen West, will be opening the spot formerly known as Wells in mid-January, and I promise, it will be a great place to go to chill. I can't wait.

Anyways, last night, the NYUL YPs held an event there celebrating what they called the FAB 5, entreprenuers that are doing their thing in Harlem. The roster was an impressive one, and included Jai Jai Ramsey, co-owner of Harlem's first black-owned wine shop, Harlem Vintage; Ran Toby, proprietor of 4 Ladies Eyes Only, specializing in relaxation tools for women; Kysha Harris, owner of SCHOP!, a personalized shopping service for those who just don't have the time or inclination; Celeste Beatty, owner of Harlem Brew, which produces Sugar Hill beer (they were giving out free beers last night...I was in heaven); and West, owner of Harlem Grill and former owner of Kwanzaa, which was located downtown.

They shared their insights on what it takes to start and succeed with your own business, tips on overcoming self-doubt and obstacles such as rejection and pessimism. It was a great session. Glad I went.

I not only learned more about doing my own thing, I think just maybe, I may have found my new spot...Priceless.

scribbled by Will at 11/19/2004 05:37:00 PM
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11.18.2004


Preppin for the Underground--Is Will Dawson gonna have to cut a b*tch?!?!? STAY TUNED...
Posted by Hello

scribbled by Will at 11/18/2004 05:11:00 PM
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The Underground

**Soundtrack--Cold, Cold World, Carl Thomas, Emotional**

Working here at National Urban League headquarters, every once in a while you come upon fascinating documents from the annals of Black History that define how far we've come since the 18th Century. Since I began here, I've come across such gems as black and white photos of a young Mary McLeod Bethune, wonderful poetry written back in the early '40s by Langston Hughes for the Urban League pub Opportunity Journal, speeches written by former League presidents Whitney M. Young and Vernon Jordan...it's a wealth of history, as overwhelming as it is important.

Today, actually while faxing something, I came across a book called The Journal of Joshua Loper, A Black Cowboy. Inside, author Walter Dean Myers chronicles the April to September 1871, day-by-day journey of Loper while on the Chisholm Trail from Texas to Kansas. It was sorta like his personal blog, only before electricity and stuff. LOL

Well, with Loper in mind--and book in hand, I've decided that if he could write something every single day about his trials and tribulations while trying to reach his destination, why can't I do the same?

I can. And I will.

So here we go. In honor of all Black cowboys that rode the rough terrains in search of..., I present to you all my similar daily trials and tribulations on the NYC subway system as I head from 135th Street in Harlem to Wall Street in downtown Manhattan. Borrowing ever so slightly from the original title, I will be calling these entries The Journal of Will Dawson, A Black Homeboy--The Underground.

The first entry will be tomorrow because, like Loper did, I must ensure I have the tools necessary to complete and chronicle such a journey. Alas, this might mean I must abandon the traditional reading of the newspaper on my daily commute and actually observe my surroundings. It may even mean that I must exhale instead of the tradtional "see-how-long-I-can-hold-my-breath-before-I-pass-out" thing I usually do when a vagrant passes me by, so that I'm able to relay that situation in all of its smelly splendor. Me crammed between two fat people in a space meant for just me, I will let it be known (as soon as the feeling comes back to my extremities, of course...). Every rude sneezer, pole-hogger, bag-bumper, smoker (yup, its happened on my train before), non-showerer, loud talker...they will all be written about, if not knocked the f* out.

That's right...for the sake of history, I will do just so.

One day, long after I'm gone, when underground trains go the way of the Volkswagen Beetle van, someone will find my blog, my Homeboy journals, and make them into a book--a book that will tell a story about train rides to and fro, about the ramifications of morning breath, about the struggles of African Americans as they attempt to get a seat before reaching 96th Street. It will have it all.

This will be my story. My contribution to history. Stay tuned for more of...The Underground.

TO BE CONTINUED...

scribbled by Will at 11/18/2004 03:45:00 PM
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11.17.2004

Black Sports The Magazine

For all those sports fans in the DC area, a friend of mine (Melvin Bell) has a new local magazine coming out on November 30th called BLACK SPORTS THE MAGAZINE. I encourage you all to pick up a copy, as I am one of the pub's regularly featured writers. Below is my contribution to the November issue. (This one's for free...next month I'm gonna ask you to financially support the mag. LOL)
BLACK SPORTS 2004
NBA CO-ROOKIES LEBRON JAMES & CARMELO ANTHONY


Pay attention, Black America—not since Russell & Wilt in their primes has there been such a healthy rivalry between two black athletes in the NBA. A look at their numbers show the two teens as almost equal. A closer look shows that the two franchise players are equally responsible for the future of the Association.


LeBron James

A Matter of “Act”

Some might say it was on Opening Night last year, when he stepped onto the Sacramento Kings’ home floor and erupted for 25 points, nine assists and six boards. Some would argue that it was the first time he topped 40 points, torching Richard Jefferson and New Jersey for 41 on March 27th. Some may point to that night against Memphis when he logged 55 minutes and went for 33 and 16. Or maybe it was the battle with T-Mac on Christmas Day when, in a losing effort, he went mano-a-mano with the Orlando All-Star, posting 34 points in front of a national audience.

It’s true, all of these events were highlights in what was ultimately an award-winning debut season for an 18-year old out of Akron, OH. All of them served notice to the Association that he was here to play—and here to stay. But were any of these turning points? Hardly. That happened well before that first official game, before all the hype and promise that is LeBron James. And even with all of the superlatives that came his way, incredibly, all it managed to do was add to his legend.

You see, LeBron James of the Cleveland Caviliers, and out of St. Vincent-St. Mary high school in Akron, is a walking highlight. And not just due to his basketball prowess. True, that makes him spectacular. However, how he’s handled himself off the court is what makes him special.

Think about all the pressure that was put upon LeBron—at 18 years old—to deliver for his home state team. Think about all the hype that surrounded him even before his rookie season. His high school games were televised on ESPN2. His daily life—from the clothes he purchased to the cars he drove--was dissected for the nation to see. He was anointed the next savior of the NBA based on his play as a “man” among boys half his size while at St. Vincent-St. Mary. To think the level of his play would rise so quickly was optimistic at best. To think his demeanor and personality wouldn’t change was just plain foolhardy.

Put yourself in his $90 million shoes. We’ve seen child actors grow up in the public eye, unable to handle the pressure that celebrity brings, and buckle from the weight. So with LeBron, you just kept waiting for something to happen. Kept waiting for his shoe contract with Nike, or his status as the #1 overall draft pick to go to his head, for him to start acting like, well, a teenager. And he never did. Even though this time he was the boy playing amongst men. Never before has a teenager gone straight from prom to prominence with such maturity. This, during an era in the NBA where players older than him (Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant & Shaquille O’Neal are just a few) continuously make headlines for all the wrong reasons.

James just kept getting bigger and better, remaining poised and oozing cool. He never dropped off mentally or physically, never really ran into the “rookie wall” that so often emaciates young players when they get past the 40-game mark of the regular season. LeBron was the ultimate team player, leading his team in points (20.9), assists (5.9) and steals (1.9), with his high of six steals coming two days before the Christmas game.

Another highlight in a season filled with them. And although the Cavs just missed the playoffs due to a late season swoon, their franchise is in great hands with King James. His legend continues to grow with his own three-coin Highland mint set, his own Powerade flavor (FLAVA23), his Sprite and Nike commercials. Add to that his experience on the USA Olympic basketball team this past summer and the pressure of putting Cleveland back on the basketball map, and you wouldn’t deny LeBron the occasional diva-like outburst or tantrum. That’s not likely, according to those in his close circles. In fact, says his head coach Paul Silas, James has “been groomed for this.”

Indeed, after all the hype, after all the pressure, came the results—being named NBA Rookie of the Year. After seeing how LeBron the player handled the NBA, after handling so much before that, it may be viewed as just a matter of fact. After seeing how LeBron the person handled himself, it’s more like a matter of “act.”

Carmelo Anthony

Sweet & melo’

Twenty points. Ten rebounds. Most Outstanding Player Award. An NCAA championship for Syracuse University. That’s the resume that accompanied Carmelo Anthony into the 2003 NBA draft. Anthony, born in New York City and raised in Baltimore, is the first freshman to lead the Orange to the basketball title. In fact, it’s the first Division I title ever for the school. He was the symbol of all that was right in college sports. His game was silky smooth, almost playing with an aloofness that belied his rough and tumble upbringing. He didn’t talk trash. He validated Jim Boehiem’s coaching legacy. To upstate New York, he was a savior. And even with all of that, people were skeptical as to whether his sweet game would be effective in the NBA. Well, at least two teams were, as they bypassed the College Player of the Year, who was selected third by the Denver. Nuggets.

Not many could argue with Cleveland taking hometown product LeBron James at #1. (In fact, the bigger story would’ve been if the Cavs failed to select James.) However, Detroit, owners of the second overall pick, looked past Anthony as well, selecting Serbian Darko Milicic. That could’ve been perceived as a sign of disrespect to Carmelo. If so, he didn’t let on. His inaugural season saw him capture six Rookie of the Month awards while putting up NBA rookie highs by averaging 21 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, shooting 32% from three-point range and leading his class in field goal accuracy at 43%. His sparkling, sweet play proved his college success was no fluke, and had to have at least one NBA exec kicking himself for passing him by.

His numbers were so good, coupled with the fact that the Nuggets made the playoffs for the first time since 1999, he would’ve won Rookie of the Year honors in any other year—except this was the Year of LeBron.

His relationship with James is strong, as evidenced by the show they combined to put on during the February All-Star Game. Their time in the game together on the Rookie squad was filled with high-flying dunks, crisp passes, and a natural camaraderie. Some view Anthony as the anti-LeBron, a claim that must stem from an isolated incident that took place in March during a Nuggets home game. It was during that game that Anthony, apparently peeved by teammates’ comments that he shot too much, refused to play the final six minutes of the 94-75 loss. He apologized to the organization the next day, and ten days later torched Seattle for 41 points in a 124-119 win. He led his team to a 4-2 April, clinching a spot as the number eight seed in the Western Conference playoffs. In Denver’s lone win against Minnesota, Anthony scored a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds.

Fans adore Carmelo, as they see him as one of them—the achiever who always has a lot to prove. His #15 jerseys rank second only to James in NBA player jersey sales and memorabilia dealers have sought to buy every shoe and headband he wears on the court this season.

No one can ever question Anthony’s business savvy. He’s made sound financial decisions, aligning himself with Nike for his sneaker collection that will be out in December 2004. That synergy with Nike also led to his becoming spokesman for his new mentor, Michael Jordan, and his Jordan signature brand.

After a highly successful rookie campaign, selection to the USA Olympic squad and a spot in the NBA playoffs, thus adding to his resume, Carmelo, along with James, is without a doubt the future of the league. And just like Wilt and Russell, who battled year after year for the distinction of best big man ever, ‘Melo and ‘Bron will be battling for the next decade and beyond to establish themselves as the league’s best.

One season down. And it’s almost November. Let the rivalry commence.


scribbled by Will at 11/17/2004 04:18:00 PM
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A VIBE 5 Things...

Well...I think I watch too much television. LOL Maybe so, and because of that, I got issues today. And most of them stem from the VIBE Awards that aired last night on UPN. Sure, there were stabbings and Dre got punched in the face (how could he not see the dude coming up to him? Or maybe he just thought there was NO WAY he would punch him DURING THE TAPING OF THE SHOW!!! WITH QUINCY JONES ON STAGE!!!! Boy, was he wrong. And if you thought that was the biggest thing that happened during the taping, you'd be wrong, too. It was just one of the many things that make me continually shake my head in disgust regarding today's recording industry.

1. What...in da hell...is going on with LL Cool J? He is turning into a buff version of Michael Jackson right before our eyes. Definition, my ass. And his NOSE. Optimus Prime didn't transform as much as that thing. Seriously, I'm scared for him. Seems like he's trying to "fit in" with Hollywood. All I'm gonna LL Cool Say is keep your photos of LL's face for future reference...the saga might continue. Lawd.

2. There was a point in last night's show where I said, Hmmm...this is on TiVo. Maybe I should do a running diary. Just post some of my views of the performances and things like that. Then I saw the Jordan/Nike commercial with Carmelo Anthony and Tommy Davidson...and lost all train of thought. Was it me...or did Tommy look ridiculous? He had a shag. A SHAG!!!! Slash Jheri Curl, it looks like. I will now say a prayer for another black man who's seemingly lost their way. (See: J, LL Cool.)

3. Dear Ashanti:

I hope this note finds you well. I wrote to thank you for your performance on last night's VIBE Awards show. I hope that your new CD sells millions of copies and that your role in the upcoming COACH CARTER with Rob Brown and Samuel L. Jackson is a smash success. In fact, maybe...and I haven't seen the movie, so don't hold me to this...maybe you should concentrate on a career in film. Or hire a singing coach, just for kicks.
Why do I say this? Well, I feel I need to be direct with you. So I will. Your stage performance sucks. No. I mean it. Its HORRIBLE. You look mechanical at best (although, for the record, if we're looking for positives, you can wear that outfit ANYTIME!!!!!! It was nice!), and at worst, the performance last night looked like a Beyonce retread circa 2002.
I guess what I'm laboring to say is this: Stop. Before you hurt yourself. You can't dance. Or sing. And last night...you tried to do both at the same time. Even Janet Jackson, who CAN dance, doesn't try to do both at once. She knows her limitations. Apparently, you don't. So I think I speak for most of sane Black America when I respectfully request you to...STOP.

But seriously...you can wear the outfit anytime.

WILL

4. When G-Unit won the award for Best Group, 50 Cent came up to the stage with a shirt that read, "I got a gun KELLY You betta run..." I could guess at what the meaning of the shirt was, but I won't. Just thought I'd mention that. hehehe Then G-Unit performed. I really can't remember the song. It was all noise. In fact, I think I was fast-forwarding through it when I saw...homeboy's underwear. Yes, his jeans sagged so low that his draws were showing. And while I was personally turned off, I chuckled it off before I remembered...THIS.SHOW.WAS.TAPED. Executives actually sat around, watched the footage and decided that this was OK to include. I know, I know...if they would've removed that footage, it would've messed up the performance. I get that. What I don't get is...they KNEW it was going to be on tape. They HAD to see the boy on stage in his draws. They HAD to see the other stuff that was horrible, like EVERY presenter coming out and fumbling their lines, including Quincy Jones, who I really can't blame, seeing that he's in his 70s, had a crutch with him, and had to be shaken up due to the BRAWL that took place directly in front of him...the entire Nelly and St. Lunatic performance, where NOT ONE WORD was legible...and Tyra Banks, who's going into the annals in a tie with Vivica Fox as Worst Show Host Ever. The producers and directors saw all of this. And deemed it OK to air. There goes my head shaking again...

5. I hate today's music. No, I don't hate it. I hum it sometimes. But then I catch myself. So thats not hate. I do, however, strongly dislike it. Save for a few artists, I think the industry sucks and should be shut down and started over from scratch. I knew it was bad when I started listening to the radio and thinking that I could make a better song that so-and-so. Me. The man with the iron vocal cords. Yup, it's that bad.
With that said, I'm positive I would like all of these alleged artists as people. I could see myself chillin at a strip club with Usher, holding Beyonce's bags as she shopped (with her credit card, of course), bowling and eatin chicken wangs with Ludacris or watching kung fu movies and drankin with the St. Lunatics. (And you gotta know that if and when I do have interviews with ANY of these people, I will be focusing on their lives AWAY from the studio...Lawd knows!!!) I see them on television and think that they're just like me...or not. Either way, they all have issues. Just like I do. With their music. Yup, I guess I have issues today. With the show and with the industry.

I just can't VIBE to it...at all. Sigh.

scribbled by Will at 11/17/2004 08:28:00 AM
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11.12.2004

The Beat Goes On...(from 2001)

**She was on my mind since last weekend, so I thought I'd share something I wrote the night I heard she was gone...R.I.P.***

**Soundtrack: "Back & Forth," Aaliyah, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number**

THE BEAT GOES ON…

By William I. Dawson


It was the beat that was married to my voice. You see, as an aspiring radio personality back in 1994, you had to have your specific beat that you could talk over. Everyone has one. Don’t believe me? Check it out next time you listen to your favorite jock before they throw to commercial. It’s that beat that lets you know that what you’re saying is being heard; what you’re reading has impact; what you’re playing is hot.

And that was my beat. Anytime anyone who listened to my daily show from Long Island to the L.E.S. heard that beat, they knew the original Wet Biscuit (that’s my alias) was on the air. The song was spanking new, as was the artist. A young girl who was born in Bed Stuy but grew up in Detroit had hooked up with R. Kelly, fresh off his Public Announcement fame, to do her first album. The first single, my beat, was Back & Forth.

The artist, of course, was Aaliyah.

That’s how I’ll have to remember her. Not just for that beat. No, for much more--but especially for that. Over this past weekend, Aaliyah Dana Houghton and eight other crew members boarded a plane in the Bahamas after shooting a video from her latest, self-titled LP. Soon after takeoff, the plane crashed off the coast. The cause of the crash is ultimately unknown, but reports are circulating that the plane was overloaded with baggage for the flight from Marsh Harbor to Opa-Locka, FL.

The platinum-selling artist and acting ingenue’s life was cut short at the ripe age of 22.

When I heard it, I couldn’t believe it. My mind raced through my mental rolodex of Aaliyah items, i.e., where I had seen her last (on BET’s 106 & Park giving away a Cadillac Escalade to a corn-rowed college student); her latest song (Rock the Boat, the song for which she made her last video); and my fondest memory of the young entertainer (in the One In A Million video, where she and an equally young partner waltzed as if they were Fred and Ginger).

I also recalled that she graced the cover of the August 2001 edition of Vibe magazine, in all of her illustrative glory. In that article, written brilliantly by Hyun Kim, the singer/actress (the infamous “slash” that accompanies more and more entertainment industry do-it-all’s) says of herself,
“People feel like they own you in this business, and to a certain degree, they
do. But there’s a part of me that will always be just for me.”

Good for her--as long as I can have that beat.

It was the first single from her debut Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. The first time I heard R. bellow, “Let me see you go back…,” I was in love with this little girl. On her next single, At Your Best (You Are Love), when she shrieked, “Let me know…,” it was a wrap. I was head over heels.

Her next CD, One In A Million, followed in 1996 and I was on that beat-wagon as well. With the title cut and the mesmerizing Four-Page Letter and seductive Hot Like Fire, this home girl from D-town showed that she was here to stay.

Entrees on the Dr. Doolittle Soundtrack as well as on the soundtrack of her movie debut, Romeo Must Die, kept her fans’ appetites whetted for what has turned into an Aaliyah main course, her first studio album in five years. Already, the song We Need A Resolution has given the LP gold status, with her next singles undoubtedly pushing it into its predecessor’s platinum stratosphere. Indeed, whether it was Mr. Kelly or Timbaland producing the wunderkind of the slight stature and voice, it all fit.

Some would say that her life was just beginning. Maybe so, although with the allegations of an underage marriage at age 15 and a personal life as elusive as Marion Jones in a 100-meter race, it seems the 22-year old had led a full life already.

"We find it devastating and most unfortunate that afterhaving this world-famous star Aaliyah and her crew select theBahamas as their choice location for her latest video, the projecthas climaxed on such a tragic note,'' Bahamian Minister of Tourism Tommy Turnquest, told the AP.

Tragic indeed. Aaliyah is gone now and has left behind a music and film catalogue (she is to star in the Anne Rice novel turned movie Queen of the Damned) as full and vibrant as her eyes and as rich as her personality. We’ll always have that.

And I’ll have my beat, even if it has my eyes swollen with tears for the moment, my head racing back & forth as I digest her tragic demise. That beat—my beat—will keep me sane. And even though I’ll miss her and her music and all of the promise she showed, I’ll keep going…

Because...the beat goes on.



scribbled by Will at 11/12/2004 04:00:00 PM
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11.11.2004


Me and my tux after black tie dinner Posted by Hello

scribbled by Will at 11/11/2004 12:44:00 PM
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5 Things...

**Soundtrack: "Baby-Baby-Baby", TLC, Oooh, On the TLC Tip**

1. Toccara is gone from ANTM, and once again I feel like I've been a jinx (just like with the Lakers) and thusly, will NOT reveal in this space who I want to win the competition. Suffice it to say, though, her name rhymes with LaLa. *whistlin*

2. Now, I know this cat is from NYC and all, and I try to go a lil easier on my own folks since I know that growing up here is not all peaches and cream, but umm...this dude, I dunno anymore. Check this nonsense out:

Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest said Wednesday that he asked coach Rick Carlisle for time off because of a busy schedule that included promoting a soon-to-be released rap album, which led to his two-game benching. Artest said that he asked Carlisle for as much as a month off to heal his aching body and recover from a particularly busy schedule.
"They probably expected a little more; expected me to play every game. Everybody's different. It's early in the season, so I feel like I could take some time off early and be ready for the long stretch." The 24-year-old is scheduled to release his debut rap album later this month and has been spending a lot of time making promotional appearances.

"I've been doing a little bit too much music, just needed the rest," Artest said. "I've still got my album coming out Nov. 23. After the album comes out I'm going to make sure all of my time is focused on winning a championship."

I need a moment after that...Lemme think. It's THREE games into the season...you had ALL SUMMER to drop this "diamond in the rap rough"...your team is already missing Reggie Miller and Jermaine O'Neal is playing on one leg...your coach asked you to reconsider...you're NOT INJURED...

I can't do it. Lawd knows I tried. I can't give him a pass on this one. The defense would like to enter an insanity plea, Your Honor. All I have to say is, this CD better drop like it's hot and you better be the next coming of Big Daddy Kane in his prime, HomeSlice.

3. I woke up Wednesday night to the news that Pan Pan had burnt down, insides gutted out by a two-alarm fire. Best known as the backdrop to Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name" video, it also served as my Saturday morning breakfast spot now that I live in Harlem. I also used to go there when i would venture uptown to do some research at the Schomburg, which is diagonally across the street.
**Aside: Was it wrong for me, not so much to be thinking about the owners when I heard the news, but of my dress shirts, that were in the cleaners two stores down? Just asking...**
They will rebuild. Pan Pan will be back. And so will I. Hell, I'll even be their first customer for their re-opening if they'll have me. Can somebody set that up?
4. Tuesday night at the New York Marriott Marquis, the National Urban League honored stalwarts in the areas of community service, corporate leadership and the humanities. The honorees included Andrew Taylor of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Ingrid Saunders Jones of The Coca Cola Company and Patti LaBelle, Grammy-winning music artist. It was a black tie affair and annually serves as the League's biggest fundraiser. This year, thanks to corporate and private donations, the organization raised $1.5 million. (Yes, this means that I still have a job...LOL)
The National Urban League, who's tagline is "Empowering Communities. Changing Lives." will be celebrating its 95th anniversary in 2005.
5. I got a lot of great feedback about my NE blog from Monday. I'm gonna do more of that in the future as time permits. Dig up old artists and break down their hits. Should be fun.
Also, in case you missed it, last week's IMWM BIG WILLIE OF THE WEEK was none other than Willie Randolph, new manager of the New York Mets. Congrats again to him and I wish him the best.
This week's IMWM BIG WILLIE OF THE WEEK recognition goes to The West Wing. After a season and a half of floundering due to the departure of series creator and head writer Aaron Sorkin, the WING is back, babeeee!!! If you're not a fan, borrow someone's DVD sets of the first few seasons and get hooked. Or check out Bravo weeknights at 7 for the repeats. Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda join the cast in the coming weeks. Congrats to the West Wing for "writing" their wrongs and putting their creative train back on track.



scribbled by Will at 11/11/2004 11:13:00 AM
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11.08.2004

My Weekend In...

So, this weekend, I was home. I ventured out Sunday morning to the Bronx to help cheer on some marathoners, but otherwise, it was just me and the brownstone. Chillin. Going through old files, researching stories I'll be writing about in the next few weeks, rearranging furniture. Home. And I saw some weird stuff on television.

Like on Steve Harvey's Big Time, where not only did I see a guy kick HIMSELF IN THE GROIN (yes, you read that correctly), but I also saw a Hasidic Jew singing reggae. And do a good job!

Over on HBO, the movie Something's Gotta Give was on. Not a bad flick, and surprisingly, Keanu Reeves was less cardboard than in recent memory. Probably because he was just a supporting player, or that he was in the midst of such heavyweights as Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. Nonetheless, not a bad movie. Although, I could've done with out the scenes showing Jack's ass and Diane's breasts. It wasn't funny. I get it...they're older and still human and they can be sexy, too. NO!

On BET, where you know it had to be a boring day if I'm clicking over that way, there was New Edition, touting their new CD, One Love, which hits stores tomorrow. They were hosting the Top 25 Countdown while relaxing in a house in DC. Now, I've grown up with these guys and definitely respect them and love their music. That being said, I don't think I've come across a cornier group of guys in my life. I mean, their ad-libbing and throwing-to-video-skills were atrocious. Brutal to watch. But I did, partly to see how many of their songs they would put in the 25 and partly to see just how corny they could be.

Well, I wasn't disappointed on either end. They were corny as hell (lol) and I still love their music. Below is a running commentary of what I saw during the countdown.

*2:00PM--There I sat, watching Ronnie, Ricky, Ralph, Mike and Johnny mug for the camera and try to act hard. It was like watching characters on Sesame Street try to do raps by NWA. Yeah, yeah, I know they've all dabbled in drugs and probably have been in trouble at some point in their lives, but hell, it's NEW EDITION. All I see are jheri curls and lock steps. No hardness.
*2:03--After a few minutes of "yo's" and "what-ups" and a roll call that sounded like a military hit list, they go into Video #25--not surprisingly, their very first, Candy Girl. Love that song just like I love the group. Here's a "did you know" worth noting, and I dare not lie. Did you know that during that video, Michael Bivins was the tallest member of the group? Shocking, but true.
*2:07--The #24 video--Hold On, by En Vogue. I miss the original group. Not just for their sexiness, either. The girls could blow! Their four-part harmony was seamless. And yeah...they were sexy as hell in this video. And I always got a kick out of the dancers who were stuck on fast-forward. Doing that at parties killed...guess you have to trust me on that.
*2:50--#19, Still In Love by New Edition. This song is from the Home Again CD put out in 1996. They had a few bangers on that one--Hit Me Off, You Don't Have to Worry and this song. They were almost 30 when this CD came out, which means that on this song, they should've known better than to come up with lyrics like, "What would I do without your love?/Girl it's heaven sent from above..." HUH?!?!? Redundant alert!!! I still chuckle when I hear that. Hehehe See?
*2:54--This is where the telecast started going in the wrong direction. Obviously the guys have been sippin'. How else do you explain Ronnie zippin' in front of the camera like Gumby and Ralph talking on the phone while Mike tries to introduce a video. Ricky and Johnny? Yup, they're in the cut playing pool. With their hands. Nice.
*3:00--#17 video, "Candy Rain", Soul IV Real. Um, if Flavor Flav and Da Brat can make it onto VH1, shouldn't this be the network that does the Where Are They Now? special on this group? I swear, once the young one's voice changed, they seemed to disappear. For real. Er, Soul IV Real. Aww, you know what I mean...sheesh. (Oh, and while we're on the subject, can we put out an all points bulletin on Monifah, too?!?!?!?)
*3:12--We've officially reached the point of no return. Mike and Ronnie are drunk. How else would you explain Ron taking a digital photo of the NE CD he has in his hand...and then the two of them gathering their coats and walking off the set...to go to the store?!?!?! Can anyone say, MUNCHIES?!?!?!
*3:15--#15, Spread My Wings, Troop. A good choice by the group, giving props to another fivesome with dancing skills. I love this song. The line, "...relax my mind and feel at ease/And let this journey set me free..." Always loved it. Although, now, seeing this video as an adult, I'm a lil disturbed by the group's inane amount of jheri curls and wacky haircuts. There's spreading your wings, and then there's this...Yeesh.
*3:22--#14, Try Again, Aaliyah. I miss her.
*3:46--I've completely tuned them out now. They're all sitting around a piano and Ricky is singing...blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I was just thinking, What IS my favorite New Edition song of all time? And I really don't know off the top of my head. Let's break down the golden oldies:

  • Cool It Now (which hasn't cracked the Top 25, by the way. Oh, I said crack. Sorry, Bobby.)

It was the first song me and my cousin could harmonize on when we were kids. So that made it special. And the quasi-rap? Priceless stuff. And when Ralph basically answers them with a middle-finger response? Come on. Puppy love at its best.

  • Mr. Telephone Man
Bobby's showcase. His chance to shine in the NE spotlight. And shine he did. These are some of the most recognizable lyrics EVER, with this song being sung almost every time you say the name New Edition. And when they say, "I try dialing information (Mr. Telephone Man)/Can't get no cooperation," aren't they speaking for every heartbroken teenaged boy who probably did something wrong to their lady and got relegated to busy signals?!?!?! Definitely one of their classics.
  • Lost In Love
One of the most underrated songs from back in the day. Ralph does his thizzle with the lead vocals, and the lyrics are on point.
"Would you love me, give me one more chance
Would you love me, try and understand
Would you share my life and its music
Show me in your eyes that you’ll stay with me tonight"
Seriously, that's some good stuff. Maybe I'm just a fan. So I digress.
  • If It Isn't Love
Alright. Act like you know. Sure, they were wearing stirrup pants in the video and never really explained where Johnny Gill came from, but you have to admit that this was one of the group's best songs. Again, it was Ralph on leads (thank goodness! At this point, Ricky's voice had changed and it was nothing nice, as evidenced on every future BBD track), and the vid showed the group reuniting for the first time after a long layoff, trying to get their moves down pat.
Except...Johnny Gill was there now. And couldn't dance. I'm watching this now saying, boy, if they had only done to JG what BoyzIIMen did to Mike McCary and just made him stand there and sing, the group would've saved themselves valuable rehearsal time.
But again, back to the matter at hand.
  • Can You Stand the Rain?
This...is a classic song. And finally made us realize what JG brought to the table. He crossed NE over from bubble gum-popsters to bona fide R&B veterans. He not only gave them a bass lead, he gave them weight. After hearing him croon on this song, fans could care less that he couldn't dance or that he made that annoying noise that was a cross between condor and car horn on the NE Heartbreak track. There's no doubt that this song propelled them to greater heights.
With that said, it's probably my favorite NE song as well. Bringing in JG represented a change in their style, helped them not to rely on Ricky for vocals (see Deaf, Tone.) and put the world on notice that they were still in effect mode. On da strength, boyyyyy. LOL
Now, back to the countdown...
*4:02--The #7 video was Steppin' to the AM by 3rd Bass. MC Serch and Pete Nice. Jew-Z & LL Cool Jew. LOL Was it ironic that I saw a reggae-singing Hasidic Jew and these guys in the same weekend? You betcha. At least I couldn't understand most of what Reggae Jew was saying, so I could concentrate on the beats behind him. With 3rd Bass, who blessed us with classics like The Gas Face and Brooklyn Queens, I found myself cringing when I heard lyrics like, "You ain't my nucca" and "How you livin', Hobbs?" I will now peel the skin off my right leg. Just horrible. Oy.
*4:06--THIS is when Janet Jackson grew up in my eyes. The tight jeans, the big hair, the moves...the PLEASURE PRINCIPLE indeed!!!! **drool**
*4:30--Mike Bivins is sitting next to JG by the piano, almost wistful as he intros the #4 video. He goes into a long monologue about how important, how influential, how grateful he is to be a part of the success of the supergroup BoyzIIMen, citing how they broke Elvis' record for most weeks on top of the charts and how they are like his sons. And you know what? For that five minute time period that he went on and on...and on, I was with him.
We did watch BoyzIIMen grow out of the BBD/NE shadow and stand on their own--not because of their flash and flair, definitely not because of their looks or sex appeal--because of their TALENT. Their four part harmony made En Vogue's sound like nails on a blackboard. Call 'em corny, call 'em sappy, whatever. BoyzIIMen can sing their asses off and deserve every bit of recognition and adulation they receive.
The defense rests, Your Honor.
Oh, and the song, by the way, was End of the Road. LOL
*4:50--Mercifully, they're winding down now. Ricky is still tryna sing while JG plays the piano, Ralph is still on the phone, either ordering pizza or making crank calls to Moe's Tavern, while Ronnie and Mike are doing what Ronnie and Mike do...being annoying while mugging for the camera. Thankfully, this is almost over, as the group has quickly slipped into the dreaded "People You Would Never Hang Out With If They Weren't Famous" category. Lawd.
The #2 video is one of theirs, and one I didn't include in the favorite NE song group but, looking back, maybe I should've--Is This The End? Looking back on these videos, this was CLEARLY Ralph's group. Even when the other guys had singing parts, they had to sing them from their background positions. If you see the vid again, check out how Bobby has to crane his head around Ronnie's and Ralph's to sing hs part. Comical.
*4:55--FINALLY, the countdown has come to its end. And not surprisingly, it's one of their own. In fact, it's their new joint, Hot Tonite. Not my choice for #1 video, but hey, they're selling CDs here, people. All in all, their choices were OK, while their behavior was, well, basically like a bunch of corny thirtysomethings chillin in a rented house.
However, don't let the fact that I would never hang out with them lead you to believe that I don't respect them and their legacy. New Edition broke new ground in R&B TWICE, once with their first album and then with their second coming with JG on board. They spawned the Rhythm & Blues Bobby Brown (as opposed to the Rocks & Blunts B.Brown), as well as BellBivDeVoe (hey, Poison was the shiz-nit!) and Ralph's solo act. They sold out tours, sold millions of records, gave little girls crushes and most importantly, they entertained.
And what else can you ask for on a weekend in? Actually, not much more.
Long live NE! Just don't come by to visit...



scribbled by Will at 11/08/2004 09:51:00 AM
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11.06.2004

More Archivals...

Something else I wrote three years ago...Thought I lost this one.

Here it is...

A GRAY MATTER

By William I. Dawson


Oh, they’re there. In fact, sometimes, in the middle of the night, I swear I can feel them carousing with one another, playing the blues while smoking tiny cigarettes perched up to a tiny bar, exchanging stories about their midlife crises, their rites of passage.

No. 1: “Yep, that was me…all black and curly, in the prime of my life when, in ’95, that dude named Reggie scored eight points in ten seconds…changed my life forever.”

No. 16: “Huh, you think that’s something…that was me in the fall of ’99, fresh off a trim, feeling good, nice and svelte, appreciating the chill in the air, when here comes Kenny Rogers walking in the winning run to end the season. I was no good after that.”

Those are the stories of a select few of New York’s Bravest—strands of hair, that is. They were once vibrant, colorful members of society, only to turn old and gray in a matter of moments, now limited to telling tales of teams fallin’ like an Alicia Keys song. They are barely alive, not so much on top of their game as they are on top of my head. Never has “rooting” for the home team taken on such literal meaning.

Each time a New York sports team—and they know who they are--prematurely and unexplainably ends its season, a premature, unexplainable gray hair pops up on my disbelieving scalp. And I swear I can count them all, and trace them to an ugly episode involving one New York team or another. Like when John Starks went 1-18 in Game 7 of the Finals in ’94. Or when the Jets went to Denver and found a way to lose to the vulnerable Broncos in the AFC championship game a few years back. Heck, I think I got four this past spring for each foul Allan Houston amassed in the atrocious Game 5 loss to the Raptors at the Garden. If only the hairs could be as invisible as Houston was that night.

True, the Yankees have been winning everything in sight--NOW. But that wasn’t always the case. Remember when the Bombers literally bombed by losing a two game advantage to the Seattle Mariners in ’95. Back in 1993, two words caused ten grays—Charles Smith.

Or how about when Patrick Ewing did the electric slide to the basket against the Pacers, only to attempt a FINGER ROLL instead of dunking the ball in that infamous Game 7 in 1996??? My pain is deep. Can’t you hear the blues? And you know what? Along with all of that disappointment, that betrayal by attrition comes this promise:

It will not happen again.

That’s right, you heard it here first. No longer will I put pressure on myself for New York to win. No longer will “I Still Believe!” be accompanied by “I Need Aleve!” No more headaches. No more stress. No more gray. Que será será! Whatever happens, happens. No more worrying about the Mets not being able to climb Braves’ Mountain. No more cringing each time Kurt Thomas commits a foul. No more wincing when Vinny from Elmont throws another interception.

I will focus on the positives, such as enjoying each Michael Strahan sack, or appreciating the domination of Mariano Rivera (see…I didn’t even mention last night). I will crystallize every fancy Mark Jackson assist, and sit in awe at the distance of each Mike Piazza home run. But that’s it. No more gray hair for me. I’m barely 30 and my hair has done enough aging…well, for the ages. With that said, don’t worry, I’ll still be a New York fan until the day I die.

I just hope my hair doesn’t beat me to it.

scribbled by Will at 11/06/2004 06:14:00 PM
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From the Archives...

Sometimes it's fun to see how far you've come with your skills. Below is something I wrote over three years ago for the now-defunct Netnoir.com.

See what cleaning out your folders can do? LOL

Commercial Review

FREESTYLE
www.nikebasketball.com
by William I. Dawson

Take a hot beat by rap stalwart Afrikaa Bambaatta, the best athletes the hardwood and blacktop have to offer, and a one-camera shot and what do you get?

Perhaps the best television commercial ever made.

Nike’s new offering, “Freestyle”, has it all: it marries an addictive beat with male and female basketball players at their best, performing tricks with a basketball that rivals anything ever seen at a Harlem Globetrotters event. Forget NBC--THIS is “must-see TV.”

Combining NBA Generation Y with playground Generation Y-Not, this commercial embraces and showcases all that is hip-hop while subtly selling shoes. In fact, Freestyle has already crossed over like a young Tim Hardaway, producing a full-length video of the commercial that’s currently running on BET and MTV. A compilation CD, with beats also provided by Bambaata, will be in stores this summer.

And it’s not just the basketball; it’s the fun they seem to be having. The creativity shown by this collection of athletes no doubt far surpassed anything that Nike was shooting for with this ad. From the group break-dancing to Darius Miles’ “Crip Walk” to Sheryl Swoopes doing “The Snake” to the synchronized dribbling, this commercial transfixes audiences and makes you stay in your seat awaiting what will come next.

So whether you enjoy it behind the back, through the legs, over the head or spinning on the finger, after watching this spot, I’m sure you’ll agree that Nike has, with “Freestyle”, provided a creative slam dunk for the ages.

scribbled by Will at 11/06/2004 05:49:00 PM
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11.05.2004

50 Sense

***Soundtrack--"We Gon' Make It", Jadakiss, Kiss The Game Goodbye***

Yesterday, everything made sense. Two days after the disappointment and resignation and fear, yesterday, why I love America and why I need to believe in America, made perfect sense. Indeed, if Tuesday and Wednesday was a sickness, yesterday was the cure.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) held its dinner last night at the midtown Hilton Hotel and Towers. The LDF, founded in 1940, honored the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. And I was there. In the presence of the honorees, ones who laid the smack down in front of the U.S. Supreme Court so that black children would have an equal chance to succeed. There I was, shaking hands with Mrs. Thurgood Marshall, or Cecilia, and her son; the Honorable Robert L. Carter, an attorney who argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the families in Topeka, KN; the Honorable Constance Baker Motley, who was Thurgood's right hand and oversaw most of the cases that took place during that landmark era; attorney Adrian W. DeWind, who successfully defended the LDF's tax extempt status against the IRS just months after the Brown ruling; and Professor Jack Greenberg, who, at 27, was another one of the lawyers who went before the Supreme Court in the Brown case.

All of them were honored last night, along with a posthumous honor for Justice Marshall.

All of them were members of the LDF team that sacrificed their time, energy and careers going against the Jim Crow laws of the south. And they won. What they did back then makes sense to me and still does today because their efforts gave us all a chance to receive the tools necessary for success. We should know that before integration, all-white schools received the "quality" books and teachers while the Negro schools were shortchanged, to say the least. That decision 50 years ago led to all children being given an equal chance to succeed. And in the next decade, even more progress was made as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, ensuring that all citizens of the United States would be able to vote.

And although it may not seem that progress has been made, what will all the below-board education and disinterest in voting that is taking place right before our eyes, it has. There are more black people in college today than at any time in history, and this year alone, almost a million people registered to vote for the first time. We know there's still work to do in many high schools in our nation, from New York to Los Angeles, from Detroit to Chicago. That part is disheartening, some 50 years later. But its a job that's easier to do because the groundwork was laid out by hard-working, determined people.

That, to me, makes sense. It made my yesterday seem OK. Just like the hiring of my boyhood hero, the former second baseman of the New York Yankees, Willie Randolph, being hired as manager of the New York Mets. Randolph, straight outta Brownsville, Brooklyn, USA, is the very FIRST African American baseball manager in New York. Randolph, almost not so coincidentally, was born the same year as the Brown decision. That I emulated him growing up on the playgrounds of Queens made me proud yesterday. That he's qualified to handle the assignment after years of playing the game and learning the game and teaching the game makes me happy. That he was given a chance in his hometown makes sense.

It makes me believe that even though we've been through a lot this week, and will for the forseeable future, to be sure--there are still some things that let you exhale. That serve as a cure for a week-long sickness.

There were decisions that were celebrated yesterday, both 50 years old, both within miles of one another, that should've been a cure. Things that make you proud to be who you are and live where you do.

Things that still make sense...

scribbled by Will at 11/05/2004 01:27:00 PM
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11.04.2004

5 THINGS FOR THURSDAY...

***Soundtrack: Get By, Talib Kweli, Quality***


1. If anyone has Toccara's phone number, please...gimme.
2. Was it just me, or did it seem like the nation was in mourning yesterday? It was eerily quiet in New York, anyway.
3. I will never, ever talk about the Lakers again in this space. Apparently, I jinxed them since they got blown out last night.
4. Does watching every episode of the first two seasons of CHAPPELLE'S SHOW and IN LIVING COLOR qualify as an exciting weekend? I'm about to find out...
5. LOST is becoming one of my favorite TV shows. Although my friend Tee thinks it's a cross between Gilligan's Island and Lost in Space. *shrug*


scribbled by Will at 11/04/2004 08:41:00 AM
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11.03.2004

HAPPY BASKETBALL NEW YEAR...


I can see it now. Me, ready for my close-up, being fitted for my costume as a giant basketball in the R&B version of the Association’s “Happy Basketball New Year” commercial. I’d be surrounded by the Knicks City Dancers (all of ‘em, it is a union gig, after all), two of my favorite Laker Girls (to add some East-West balance) and one of the Miami Heat Dancers (can it really be a party if Miami is not involved?).

The advertisement, of course, would be touting the new NBA regular season, and would feature cameos from all of my future cohorts, including Jack Nicholson in L.A., Shaq’s bodyguard in Miami, Dr. J in Orlando and fans disguised as an empty arena in Jersey. And me. I’ll be the common denominator, cheesing it up with all of those celebs (except the costumed arena fans, of course, for obvious reasons) at all of their teams’ venues. Hell, even if they aren’t there, I will be. Every night. All season long. You can count on it like a Chris Webber early season injury.

Now, before you start thinking that I’m quitting my job and heading out on the road collecting bumper stickers and accumulating credit card receipts from all these cities, aimlessly following around a basketball team for the next six months like some sort of crazed fan, nope. Please. Not gonna happen. What, do I look crazy to you? I don’t have to quit my job to do that. In fact, I don’t have to leave my house. The sad part is…I probably won’t.

And that’s because, thanks to digital television and the NBA, I’ve been exposed to the greatest invention this side of the breath strip. It’s called NBA LEAGUE PASS, and it allows me to peer into up to ten different arenas at the same time watching the league’s best (and worst) ply their craft. For the past five days during its free preview week, it’s been more addictive than Red Bull, calling me like an ex who wants a second chance.

And I can’t see it stopping anytime soon.

I’ve always loved the NBA. However, now, I can literally “love it live.” Sure, there’ll be plenty of games on ESPN, ABC and TNT--the marquee games that feature the Pacers and T-Wolves, the Spurs and Heat. But what about the other “off-Broadway” games, the classic match ups between the Clippers and Wiz on a Monday night in DC? What about Dwight Howard’s jump to the “bigs” straight from high school? Will he be able to play in front of more than 1,000 fans every night without peeing his pants? Can I miss finding out for myself? I think not. And what can be said about the hometown announcers that openly root for their teams? This is Master Card commercial-priceless.

I wanna follow the rookie seasons of Sebastian Telfair (Portland) and Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia) just to see how many people mispronounce their names; to see if Grant Hill can walk again, let alone play again for Orlando; if Derrick Coleman and Antonio McDyess can actually help the Pistons or just take up space next to Darko on the bench up in Detroit. And oh, Emeka? You betcha!

I’ll be there for every LeBron James press conference, every Shaquille O’Neal hamstring pull, every addition to a Portland Trail Blazer’s rap sheet, every Brothers Van Gundy match up (yes, I know there will be only two). And wait…there’s a black owner in the NBA now?!?!? Sure, next thing you’re gonna tell me is that Kerry couldn’t carry the South even with John “Carolina” Edwards as his running mate. Yeah, right.

(Wait…skip that last part.)

Of course, this will require more flipping than a high school cheerleading squad, more schedule adjustments than Fox’ fall lineup during the baseball playoffs—and I’m willing to make those sacrifices. Maybe I’ll have to tape Third Watch while I’m at the Garden with the Knicks for a Friday night tilt with the Sixers. I’ll VC-“ER” while on the road in Phoenix with the Hawks. This can work.

So as I plop down my $159--a virtual steal for six months of airplane-free travel--I can’t help but yell out HAPPY NEW YEAR! I know, I know…it’s only November, but hey…the NBA is starting up again. And after the meltdown that was the Yankees, at least now I have 30 teams that I can cheer for. And the good news? One of ‘em has to win. How cool is that?

Yep. I love this game. Every night. Live. Who could “pass” that up?

scribbled by Will at 11/03/2004 08:45:00 PM
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Hump Day Randomness...

HIGH 5IVES

Top 5 Songs on My Mind Today...

1. Cross My Mind
Jill Scott, Beautifully Human, Words & Sounds, Vol. 2
2. Going Back To Cali
Notorious B.I.G., Life After Death, Disc 2
3. Come See Me
112, 112
4. Sex, Love & Money
Mos Def, The New Danger
5. Whoknows
Musiq, Soulstar

All of these songs must mean I need a release...on hump day...hmmmmm. Must investigate. lol

5 Things on My Mind Today...

1. Can Tussin cure this election-induced headache I've got?
2. This has to be said: How can John Edwards not carry ONE SOUTHERN STATE?!?!? Damn pretty boys...lol
3. I really wonder how people who voted for Bush are celebrating today...I would say I'd like to be a fly on the wall in Middle and Southern America...but that would probably mean I'd be Republican dinner, so never mind...Sigh.
4. ***How to get out of praying in front of fellow staff members when the company president, seeing that you're zoning out, calls on you to do so: You go up in the front of the room, spout off some mumbo-jumbo that applies only to your department and that no one can understand, thank the president for selecting you and then, thinking on your feet and having no idea what to ask God for, you say: "And now, let's have a moment of silence..." This really happened to a co-worker today...and it was BRILLIANT!!! (I'm patenting that, by the way...hehehe)***
5. I know it was only one game, but damn! Kobe and his new posse looked pretty good last night. Only 81 more games to go without Shaq! (Cryin' inside but outside I'm lookin' fearless)




scribbled by Will at 11/03/2004 03:47:00 PM
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Mind Droppings

I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. (Joan Didion)



The Write One


Will. Lefty. Since Summer 1971.
Over the next six months, I'll be saying some hellos, some goodbyes. Living, laughing, growing. Don't.miss.a.word.
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