In My Write Mind
The best and the brightest of black entertainment. That's what we were promised. This coming from BET, home of College Hill and a group named Fatty Koo. Sigh. So needless to say, I wasn't ready. Sure I was ready to smirk, yawn and skewer the night's festivities, all from the comfort of my living room--Red Stripe in one hand, remote in the other.
However, I truly wasn't prepared for what I was about to see. I admit it. But just as with last year's VIBE Awards and this spring's Soul Train Awards shows, I had to do it. Had to take one for the blogging team. So, in case you missed it (and of course you did... I have to be the only nut who watched the entire show...lol), below is my running diary of the 2005 BET Awards. Ready... or not. LOL
7:58PM EST -- The Kodak Theater, Los Angeles, California. We've just endured a two-hour pre-show that introduced us to some rapper named Webbie and touted Diddy's latest groups as the second coming of the Jackson 5ive and the Lost Boyz, respectively. Sigh. I won't start on Puff, but I'm ready for the show to start. Bottle opener? Check. One-liners? Check. Partners-in-crime? Well, my usual partner is M.I.A., so I've recruited replacements. A nucca got a network. LOL So throughout the evening, you will hear from my Harlem comrade Sunshine (Shine) and my intern from work, who will be hereby referred to as The Intern. She loves that. LOL
Let the show begin!!!
8:00PM -- Whoa! Is this...could it be...holy crap...it's THE FUGEES!!! In their first TV performance in years. And boy did we get a show. It was like a friggin mini-concert.
Thoughts going through my head as I watched their performance: "Ready or Not"... that's my joint. Hey, there's Wyclef... he cut off his dreads since his appearance as a drug kingpin on Third Watch. Good for him. Heyyyyy...there's Pras. It's been too long since we've seen this cat. All I can think is, what has he been up to? When is his next movie? Is the reason he's still in the group because he has the only copy of a Clef-Lauryn Hill sex tape and he's blackmailing them? *smh* Wow... is that Lauryn or Helen Willis?!?!? Lauryn is, at most 85 pounds and looking winded and stressed. That wig is atrocious. Wait...I can't see her body because it's covered by that big ass bow. Damn. But it's Lauryn, right? I mean, we have to cut her some slack because she's going through some things, right? We should just be glad she's back, right? Wait, it's 8:07 and they're still on. Clearly, they're on longer than they're supposed to be. Is this three songs...in their entirety? Awww...now there's the Lauryn I know... she finally caught her breath. Killing Me Softly indeed. Go Fugees. No, I mean it. Beat it... you've been on for 12 minutes. Yeesh.
8:12 -- The announcer starts rattling off the names of those who are in attendance for tonight's show. I swear the only black people who weren't there were in New York at the NBA Draft. Seriously, if anyone wanted to take out a good chunk of the African-American population (and Teena Marie...lol), this would be the time and place. It's scary.
8:15 -- Drums, drums and more drums. I'm loving it. Hey, this looks like the wedding scene from Coming to America. LOL@ the horse and carriage with spinners. Funny stuff. Ladies and Gentlemen, Will and Jada. They look great, like a happy couple. Here's their rules for the evening:
1) no posses crowding the stage when only one person won the award. They imposed a three-posse-member minimum. LOl
2) no loud suits or gold goblets (why did they single out Bishop Don Magic Juan?)
3) Don't thank God if you can't sing your song in church (Clearly, God will NOT be thanked at all tonight...LOL)
8:21 -- The first award of the night, this one for BEST GROUP, presented by Halle Berry. She gives a speech about great actors always being professional and remembering their lines. Then she messes up on purpose... or so she says. I'm still not convinced about Halle's acting chops. But I digress. The winner for BEST GROUP is Destiny's Child. I'm sure you've heard by now that they are breaking up. They had a press conference and everything. Great.
8:24 -- First commercial break of the night. You'll be happy to know that the 2005 BET Awards are sponsored by Cadillac, G-Unit sneakers and Red Lobster. Cars, sneakers and seafood. Ahhh, they done hit the black people target with these right here. I will now shuffle off to the kitchen for a slice of watermelon. Be right back.
8:29 -- The first of four skits playing off the title "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." It shows Will & Jada sitting with a faux fireplace in the background, being interviewed by an off-camera reporter. Good stuff.
8:31 -- The obligatory Missy Elliott performance of her new song, "Lose Control." The dancers are on point as usual, with Missy, as she has with recent performances, including young kids getting their freak on, or in the case, losing control. Not bad. But then it got bad. Really bad. The performance fell off the cliff when, for no known reason, Fat Man Scoop... removed his shirt. Red Stripe everywhere. Seriously, I had to pause the TiVo so I could recover and clean up the fallen suds. The performance was over, but the trauma remains.
8:35 -- Still traumatized, trying to decipher what presenters Terrance Howard and Eva Pigford are saying. Is there anything worse than the forced banter that takes place when two people who clearly just met go on stage trying to say something slick? That has to be the worst job in the world, having to write lines for those instances. You may say harmless banter, I say I'd rather root canal. Oy. Anyway, they're presenting the award for BEST FEMALE R&B. And the winner is... Alicia Keys. Upon winning, Ms. Keys reminded the audience not to let "whitey" hold us down and control our creativity. She then went to the bank to cash her latest check from Clive Davis. Pots and kettles are dancing in my head. Sigh.
8:38 -- Wait. I must let you know that, on this year's BET Awards, even the sponsors have awards. Soooo... to be fair, the winner of the Pantene Beautiful Skin Award is Ciara. The winner of the Crest Pretty Smile Award is Christina Milian. And the winner of the Oil of Olay Flawless Skin Award is Jada Pinkett-Smith. I will now go update their resumes.
8:42 -- The Game is performing his song, "Dreams." Boring. Then he goes into the song "Hate It or Love It" featuring Mary J. Blige. Awful. Let's be clear: Mary has never been able to sing. But lately, she's like the athlete whose skills have just eroded beyond comprehension. Just horrible. You feel embarrassed for her every time she opens her mouth. Time.to.retire.the.mic.
8:51 -- Nelly and Gabrielle Union present the BEST NEW ARTIST award. The winner? John Legend. He deserved the award. But ummm...he looks terrified on the stage. Like he just feels out of place. He won the award that Kanye West won last year, and acknowledged that fact. Still, his presence is shaky when he has to speak. I'm thinking he may need a piano in front of him during interviews. Let's keep an eye on this...
8:55 -- During the second installment of "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," the Intern sends the following text message: How are you enjoying the spectacle that is the BET Awards? I can't wait to see what you write about this one... I reply that the show has had its moments and that Will & Jada have been solid thus far. I like them. Intern: How could you not enjoy them? They're the wholesome blacknesses...LOL (Yup...she just said "blacknesses." And yes...we pay her. Sigh.)
8:56 -- Destiny's Child performs their song, "Cater 2 U." This is where the show turned for me. Turned from marginally good to WOW, I'M GLAD I TiVOed THIS!!!! good. Ummm...Beyonce, Kelly and the Fall Girl went down into the audience and brought up three guys (for the record, they were Magic Johnson, Nelly and Terrance Howard) and GAVE THEM LAPDANCES!!!!! I just shed a jealous tear into my beer. Sigh. And oh yeah, I'm glad I TiVoed this. Woo hoooo!
9:02 -- Tom Cruise bounds on stage to present the BEST ACTOR award. So let's see...Tom did a movie last year with Jamie Foxx and Jada called Collateral. Tom is on BET giving out an award for Best Actor. Hmmmmm...you think maybe JAMIE FOXX is gonna win?!?!?!? Well, if you guessed Jamie, you are correct. Gold star for you.
9:08 -- Performance by John Legend, who sings "Ordinary People." Well, part of it. Because then the lights come up... and sitting across from John is Stevie Wonder... "helping" him sing the song. If that weren't enough, then they bust out into Stevie's "My Cherie Amour." I'm just gonna say this... I can feel the whole old and new concept that BET's got going, but it just feels forced. Unnecessary. This from the Intern: I just fell in love with John Legend a little bit. Me: Wait... John Legend is performing? I was still rewinding the Beyonce lapdance...oops.
9:13 -- Queen Latifah and Anthony Anderson come out the present the BEST MALE R&B award. In keeping with the reunion theme (see Fugees, The), the cast from Set It Off (Vivica A. Fox, Kimberly Elise and Jada) comes on stage, accosting Anderson of his jewelry, shoes, etc. It would've been a great bit, except...well, lemme let Sunshine say it: I hate Vivica. She always gotta be so damn extra. That pretty much sums up my thoughts. Let's move on, shall we? Oh. Usher won. lol
9: 21 -- "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," Part 3. That is all.
9:22 -- T.I. performs his song, "Bring Em Out." With Sheila E. This should be categorized as "When Putting Old & New Together...Goes Wrong." It's so bad, when they take random shots of the crowd, I notice Michael Jordan's ugly pimp suit, strategically-placed hoochies that are there just to appear interested in T.I., and a dude carrying a man-purse. With matching hat. Yeah...time to go get another beer.
9:27 -- Mario, Amerie and Nick Cannon present the award for BEST MALE HIP HOP. The winner is Kanye West, who's not in attendance this evening. On another note, in keeping in true Usher-in-training mode, Mario is wearing really big shades. Nice.
9:29 -- Reunions, anyone? I swear I think the cast from Saved by the Bell is coming up next. This time, it's the Wu-Tang Clan, giving an incoherent tribute to rapper Old Dirty Bastard. The highlight of the two-minute drill is Wu-Tang #3 (who knows names after three and a half beers?) saying, "We thank y'all for y'all condolences." Burp.
9:31 -- Commercial break. Wait, here's the trailer for 50 Cent's new movie... or as the commercial put it, 50CurtisJacksonCent's new movie, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. If I had to sit through that movie, I'd be trying to get drunk or die tryin'.
9:34 -- Henry Simmons (Shine: I lubbbbbbbbbbbbbbb himmmmmmmmmmmm) and Megan Good (Me: Wait, she's legal now, right? I lubbbbbbbbbbbbb herrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) present the award for BEST ACTRESS. The winner, for her role in RAY (or was it for Miss Congeniality 2?) is Regina King. I'm beginning to wonder if there were any other movies out last year besides RAY? I mean, it was a good film but damn. I'm just sayin...
9:35 -- Mariah Carey bounces on stage singing, "We Belong Together." She did a much better job of it on the MTV Movie Awards two weeks ago. She struggled through it, like she was sick or something. She looked visibly relieved to get through it. My bladder was relieved once she was done. I know, I know...TMI. "Let it out, let it out." LOL
9:44 -- Tito Jackson. Thanking black America for supporting his family. A truly awkward moment...especially when he came out and said, Hey. It's me. Tito Jackson.
9:45 -- It's time for the BET LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT award with this year's recipient, Gladys Knight, actually in attendance. Steve Harvey, as he always does, handles this part of the show. He gave a shout out to all the black men that had on suits. LOL Gladys looks great. Lubb me some her. Faith Evans comes out for the first portion of the tribute, singing "Love Overboard." Good stuff. Then comes Toni Braxton, who LOOKS great. Her singing? Live? Nah, bro. Can't understand her to save my life. I THINK she's singing, "Don't Stay Away." Gotta go by the melody since her voice is indecipherable. Yeesh. I never knew how short Toni was until Faith came back out, all 5 foot 3 of her, and dwarfed Toni like she was a little kid. Toni will heretofore be referred to as Tini Braxton. Make a note of that. Then comes Alicia Keys to present the award. The thing I love about Alicia is that she truly sounds honored to be in the presence of greatness... she seems humble. The thing I can't stand about Alicia is that she doesn't know when to stop talking. Ever. Shut up.
Gladys Knight. I love her. For real. She can sing to me alllll day and night. Over 50 years of great music. With her. And the Pips. She's still doing her thing in Vegas. Every time I go there, she's headlining somewhere. And every chance I get, I go and see her show. Her throaty vocals get to me. So much so that I forgive her for remaking "End of the Road." See how forgiving I am? LOL Tonight, she belts out three of my favorites: "If I Were Your Woman," "Neither One of Us," and "Midnight Train to Georgia." This... is the absolute best part of the show.
10:07 -- Before going to commercial, BET promises us more Helen Willis (Lauryn Hill)! I cringe and anxiously await this at the same time...is that even possible? Clearly I need to eat something.
10:08 -- Commercial trailer for a new movie called Four Brothers. It stars Marky Mark, Tyrese and Andre 3000. As brothers. Yes, you read that right. Oh, and Terrance Howard is in this movie as well. He's also in the 50CurtisJacksonCent movie. And his own joint called Hustle and Flow. It's official. He's in every movie this summer.
10:11 -- Isiah Washington presents a tribute to the late, great Ossie Davis. Shine: Wait...that was whole tribute? Me: What, did you want dancing girls and a rap by Spike Lee?
10:17 -- Omarion performed, "O." Y?
10:22 -- Reunion alert: This time, the cast from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. With Aunt Viv #2. Upon hearing Will tell James Avery aka Uncle Phil to leave Viv alone since he has his own wife, Shine chimes in: Isn't he gay? (Yes, these are the people I hang out with. LOL) They presented the award for BEST MALE ATHLETE. The winner is Shaquille O'Neal. (sorry, Humanity Critic.)
10:26 -- Tye Tribbett and Fantasia. A whole lotta jumping around and screaming. Good times. They just did another pan of the audience. Hey look...it's Lil Mo. I now know why that name fits her so well. Because every time we see her, she seems to weigh a "lil' mo'..." Yeesh.
10:31 -- Another promo telling us that Helen is coming up soon... and that we don't want to miss it. They call it unforgettable. I call this a tease of stripper proportions.
10:35 -- Bob Johnson, chairman of the board at BET, comes on stage acting like a man who feels noooo pressure. Isn't that always the way it is when we're about to leave a job? More friendly than usual, loose, full of energy? That's how Bob was, standing there asking Beyonce for lapdances. It was a sight to behold. Tonight, Bob is handing over the reins of the company to Debra Lee, who's been his second-in-command for years. She reminds us that BET's 25th Anniversary Special will be back at the Kodak in November. I'd like to remind Debra that she should probably keep that to herself. I mean, that's a great accomplishment, but when you think about the fact that some of those years were filled by CITA'S WORLD, College Hill, reruns of Sparks and the hiring of Ray J, we need to keep it all in perspective, maybe act like THOSE years didn't happen. So ummm...Happy 18th anniversary, BET. LOL
10:40 -- The 2005 BET HUMANITARIAN AWARD goes to Denzel and Pauletta Washington for their work with various agencies and organizations throughout the years. The award was presented by Butch Lewis, who proved what type of humanitarian he is by actually wearing a shirt. Thank you, Butch.
10:49 -- In rapid succession, Serena Williams was named BEST FEMALE ATHLETE and Ciara performed. Love Serena. Not so sure about Ciara. I don't hate her, but there's something about her, during every performance, that just screams to me WACK! Even the appearance of Ludacris didn't save the performance for me. Sigh. Forgive me, brother Panama.
10:53 -- Michael Ealy and Magic Johnson present the award for BEST GOSPEL ARTIST. The winner of THAT award was Donnie McLurkin, but ummmm...I anoint CeCe Winans with the PRETTIEST GOSPEL SINGER award. I lubb that woman.
10:55 -- Judge Joe Mathis does tribute to the late, brilliant Johnnie Cochran. I think I just wiped a tear away. Oh no, wait...that was just some drool residue left over from the Beyonce portion of the show. We may now continue.
10:57 -- Coming up!!! HELEN WILLIS!!! STAY TUNED!!!
10:58 -- The umpteenth commercial for BET's fall programming, this one "Ultimate Hustler: The Blueprint to Getting Paper." Hosted (?) by Damon Dash. I will now go place a push pin in my pinky toe.
11:00 -- Fat Joe and Remy Martin present the award for BEST COLLABORATION, but not before Joe tells an excited and scantily clad Remy that she won the award for BEST FEMALE HIP HOP. Clearly that was an award that was left out of the night's script. You can just hear the producers in the control room going, OH CRAP! We missed one. WE MISSED ONE!!!!!! Shame. Oh, and Ciara featuring Missy won the COLLABO award for "1,2 Step." And ummmm...now playing the role of Edward Scissorhands is Missy Elliott. Yikes. She looks crazy. Hairdo and all.
11:04 -- Lil Jon & the Eastside Boys introduce Mike Jones. You know, the rapper. The one we're supposed to care about so much. Yeah, him. Some comments from his performance:
Me: Dude, it looks like the unemployment office up on that stage will all them knee-grows.
Shine: The sad part is that all of them are gonna get some tonight just on the strength of being on the BET Awards.
11:15 -- AJ and BET's "ultimate fan" Demetrius Jenkins present the VIEWER'S CHOICE award. Omarion wins for "O." [insert letter joke here...I'm drunk at this point. lol]
11:18 -- Teena Marie pays tribute to Rick James. Unfortunately, she's drunker than I am, up there spewing out incoherencies of Jesse Jack.son proportions. Sigh.
Me: She's higher than a pair of Prince stilettos right about now...
Shine: What the hell is she talking about?
11:21 -- A performance by Stevie Wonder. Good stuff. I was digging all the people on stage dancing in the background. Shine: I read somewhere that he just had a baby. Me: Do you see that hairline? Dude needs to have some baby HAIR. LOL Shine: Shut up. Me: What the...he's...he's...he's doing dance moves. Drunken ones, but still...dance moves. Shine: Hey, if he can make babies, he can do dance moves. Me: True. he must've been drunk then, too.
11:29 -- The fifteenth commercial of the night touting what I predict to be the greatest show in the history of unintentional comedies... *drumroll* BEING BOBBY BROWN!!! IN TWO DAYS!!! ON BRAVO!!!! I.can't.wait.
11:30 -- Will & Jada present BET's VIDEO OF THE YEAR... Kanye West, "Jesus Walks." And then they say goodnight. Stevie Wonder comes back out and sings Happy Birthday to BET. Ummmm...there was NO HELEN!!!! Wait, am I supposed to believe that Lauryn Hill FLAKED OUT and didn't want to perform?!?!? Not LAURYN. NOOOOOOOO! Damn you BET. It must be your fault, because Lauryn would never... OK, I couldn't continue with that without cracking up. She looked a mess, anyway. *shrug*
I must now go eat. I feel lightheaded and degraded after that Mike Jones performance. Feels like I've been yelled at for five minutes straight.
All in all, the show wasn't that bad. Will and Jada were actually pretty good as hosts. It dragged in spots, but mostly kept rolling along. I think I've done the awards show circuit in full as of now. Oh wait. Doesn't Essence come on later this month? Lawd. I try to get out... and they pull me back in. So I'll be forced to view it. For your sakes, of course. Because I'm a giver. LOL Heyyyy... I can't stand Black Entertainment Television. But I will always watch their awards show. You can BET on that.
scribbled by Will at 6/29/2005 07:38:00 AM
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For some reason, that song always reminds me of her. My one time love, my 'woulda-coulda-shoulda', my "if." She could be classified as the one that got away; but then I remember that song...and remember that she's really not.
Everything that happened... happened for a reason.
That Zhane song, "For A Reason," which I have burned on my hard drive here at work, takes me back to the summer of the year 2000 each time it plays. Subconsciously, I must've burned it onto my drive because it was burned onto my brain. I've always loved the song... just like I've always loved her. So when Jean and Renee belt out their heartfelt "reasonings," I sit there, enthralled, entranced...and in the past. Let me explain...
We met by chance...but for a reason. It was an after-work function that I didn't plan on attending, a networking event put together by a young professionals group. I was swamped that day (just like every day...lol) and was really too tired to meet and greet for two hours. However, the event was down here by the Seaport, and my friends expected me to attend--I actually had no real excuse since it was right down by my job--so I took the short trip to the restaurant. Got there just in time for happy hour. And the moment I met her, it turned out to be the happiest hour of my life.
Her name was Desire*. Her voice was pleasant, intriguing. She was there with her cousin, who lived in the Bronx. She was an attorney visiting from Toronto, lived there for the past few years after being brought up in Queens. Originally from the island of St. Kitt's. Her accent was beautiful, her complexion stunning. She had freckles that playfully danced across her nose, full lips that accompanied a smile that would make a grown man melt. We hit it off that night. I was very glad I showed up. Can you tell?
Her trip to New York was brief. She met me for lunch the next day. I swear it was the longest lunch I've ever taken... and that was fine with me. We made more small talk over appetizers, discussed future plans over the main course, and by dessert, I was asking how much it cost for a trip across the border.
Later that summer, I went to visit her, my Desire. Toronto was almost as breathtaking as she was. We toured the entire city, seemingly building by building, block by block. The walks, the sharing, the lunches that turned into dinners... all made me think that this woman that I'd met by chance, but for a reason... would be in my life forever. There was no other reason to think otherwise.
When I returned home, we spoke almost every day. This is hard to admit, but I was falling hard for this young lady, for my Desire. Several trips back and forth took place over the next few months, including her driving to Michigan to see me during one of my business trips. We were as inseparable as two could be that lived in different countries. I'd fallen... like a Mya song. For a reason... like Zhane. She was my equal, my friend, my Desire.
Our busy seasons coincided. Which led to infrequent visits and sporadic phone calls. Everything was wonderful when we did get to see one another, but those encounters were becoming too far and in between. We both got promotions; she was in court more, I was traveling more. Didn't get to see one another. Suddenly, Toronto seemed a world away.
I messed up. Big time. I let my job dictate my life instead of me setting the boundaries. While her caseload lessened, I foolishly took on more responsibilities, which at a non-profit is very easy to do. This is the part where I tell you that everything worked out for my Desire and me. The part where I say that I wisened up and made the necessary adjustments to my work life so that Desire and I could fulfill our destiny. The part where I say that love conquered all... and my reason for meeting her was to choose her and stay with her.
Well... if that were to happen now, if alllll of the things that happened for a reason then happened now... I would've made the right choice, the right decision. I would be with my Desire. However, sadly, I was five years younger then, five years dumber. I let my job rule my life, not because it had to, but because I did what I always did when something was going right for me. I panicked. And in the process, let my Desire slip through my trembling hands.
Sure, we kept in touch. But she knew I was scared... probably didn't know the reason. Hell, neither did I. She was upset with me for a long while. We were cordial, but she just didn't understand why something that started out so damn right, took a left turn off of a proverbial cliff. She wanted to make plans for the future... all while I was unwittingly devising an exit plan...away for her, from happiness... from my Desire. A fool who readily, constantly even, made the wrong decisions. And when it came to life-changing decsions...would rather not make them at all. It was so much easier to bury myself in my work... it was always there. And there was always more work to do. To think I chose that type of work over the work it would've taken to manifest my Desire... that I chose the easy way out, the coward's way... still haunts me to this day.
And then I hear that song... and I remember that it was all for the best.
Five years later, five years too late, my Desire and I still keep in contact. I attended her wedding a few years back. She adopted her cousin when her mother's sister passed away, opening up her love and her home. Less than two years ago, we went into business together--the three of us (her, her husband and me)--putting together poetry showcases up in Toronto. They were successful. Just like all three of us are now. It happened for a reason.
Back in February, while in Los Angeles, when I saw her on instant messenger, something just made me ask her, ask my Desire, how many months pregnant she was. We still had that connection. Shocked, and not knowing how I could possibly know, she answered, "Five." Symbolic. Five months pregnant, five years too late.
She's happily married. For a reason. I'm still single. For a reason. And in less than two weeks, she will welcome a baby boy into the world. A child that she desired for so long... and followed through on, unlike five years ago, when I let my Desire go.
I will always love her, my Desire. No one could be happier for all that she's experiencing. Every time I hear that song, I think of her. Can't help it. It's burned onto my hard drive, she's burned onto my brain. Can't help but think about the decisions I made. Makes me want to kick myself. Makes me realize that if it weren't for that lesson then, five years ago, I wouldn't be the man I am today. These days, while the workload is still heavy, I don't let it control my life. Recalling the mistake I made, coupled with listening to Jean and Renee sing from their hearts, makes me understand that it all happened that way for a reason; that while I was dumb, there is something, someone else wonderful in store for me... and now I'm ready.
Hopefully... my being ready is within reason. Hopefully... it's not too late.
*checking Zhane's discography for a song with that title*
*not her real name
scribbled by Will at 6/27/2005 09:48:00 AM
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Thirteen... in the ninth grade. A year younger than everybody else. Barely 5 foot 2. A year shorter, too. First time taking the train alone. It may have been the other side of Queens, but it felt like a world away. First time outside of the circle of friends that followed one another through elementary and middle school. First time out of the comfort zone that was the neighborhood.
There were a lot of firsts that fall... my first semester in high school. A lot of changes, a lot of adjustments, a lot of experiences that have made my book worth writing. A new slew of teachers and characters that would be a part of my world for the next four years. It was the "Wonder Years" before the sitcom. It was Doogie Howser-like in that I was the youngest, the most out of place, considered pretty smart since I was a year ahead... but not really sure if I'd fit in. If I'd be accepted. For real, I was greener than X's blog background. Just an awkward teenager in every sense of the word.
So, to be sure, there were changes that would occur. There were adjustments to be made. To say I'd be experiencing a host of firsts would be an understatement.
And then... there was that first.
It started out innocently enough. It was October of my freshman year. I had stumbled my way through the first month of school relatively undetected, befriended by a few guys in my homeroom. We were but a handful of the black students at the school, which was made up predominately of Asians and Latinos. And when I say handful, I mean it...there were no more than twenty black students in the entire school. So we stuck together. My crew, they immediately took to calling me "Shorty." (Hey, nobody said kids were original. LOL) And that name stuck for four years. So did my height. But what could I do? Soooooo "Shorty" it was.
My homeroom was made up of a mixed bag of races and personalities. There was Dennis, whose face full of freckles screamed caucasian features, hair whispered black entanglement, and last name denoted latino heritage. There was Marisol, a 14-year-old goddess-in-her-own-mind, whose figure should've been illegal for the ninth grade; she was wayyyy ahead of her time. And she knew it. Her evil persona jutted out more than her butt, rendering her less pleasing to the eye. Over in the corner was Andre (yes, he was black), the kind of kid who was good at every sport. He would make the varsity baseball team as a freshman; always made good grades; and was extremely quiet and focused.
And then...there was Natalie. *sigh* At 4 foot 11, she was the only person in the homeroom shorter than me. Like Andre and Marisol, she was sure of herself and her heritage. She had a very nice frame, consisting of slight curves; hair down to her lower back; lips that, when they said hello, I swore were saying 'Come see me'.
Can you tell I thought she was cute? LOL I was so awkward, so not ready for prime time. But I secretly crushed on Natalie. Every day, in homeroom, I would purposely walk by her desk, smiling in true geek form. Not saying a word. *shaking my head*
One day, that day in October, I guess she couldn't take it anymore. So in the midst of my daily stroll that consisted of reticent glances and puddles of drool, she stopped me and said, "Hey Shorty." LOL The fact that she called me Shorty didn't phase me one bit. The irony escaped me like the runaway bride escaped indictment. The fact that she spoke to me at all sent me to Cloud Nine. But then, there was my response to her greeting...*sigh* H-h-hey. And then I just stood there, waiting for either her to carry the conversation, or someone to come carry me away. She started asking me questions, about what I liked, where I was from, why I came to this high school. I must've answered to her satisfaction, because from that day on, me and Natalie were cool.
She knew I was crushing on her. And that I may have been physically taller than her, but emotionally, she dwarfed me. Yeah, my answers must've given that away. Clearly, she couldn't tell by just looking at my Buster Browned ass. Did I mention I was a mess? And it didn't matter to Natalie. One day, after school, she asked me to walk her home. I agreed, knowing full well that my commute back to St. Albans was two hours long, consisting of two trains and a bus. But it was Natalie. And I was crushing hard.
We get to her house, which was only four blocks from the school, and she invites me inside. I go. Of course I go. She said she had a craving for franks and beans. I asked for water. But before I could put the cup to my lips, Natalie kissed me. And while I was green, I wasn't that green. But was no match for Natalie. Before I knew it, the water was on the ground, we were on her bed, rolling around and makng all sorts of noise. She got up, I looked up, and Natalie undressed in front of me. My barely-a-teenager libido was rising, uncontrollably I might add. This was all new to me, the feelings, the peep show, the kissing... I didn't want to look silly. So I let her take control.
And she did. Expertly. She removed my clothes, piece by piece. My 13-year old frame quivered with what was not so much anticipation as it was fear of what was to come. She laid me down... and went to work. Kissing me, rubbing me, touching me. It was all I could do not to jump up and run the hell out of there, naked as the day is long. I was damn near convulsing at this point. But she didn't let the fact that I couldn't handle it stop her. Natalie was on a mission. To educate me, to show me her skills, to make her my first.
And she did. Before I knew it, there was some pumping going on (all her...I laid there like a dope and the greenie that I was...LOL)... and then, before I knew it... it was over. Yeah, it ended prematurely, if you know what I mean. I remember feeling neither violated nor vindicated. Neither virile nor victimized. I was just there... in Natalie's bed... half-smiling, still shaking... not understanding exactly what just happened, but somewhat relieved that it did.
I was a little less green when I left that afternoon, ready to tell any and everybody about my experience with the lovely Natalie. Of course, then I remembered that, not only was my nickname Shorty, but ummm...that day I came up short. So I didn't breathe a word of it. Well, except to my boy Johnny, the one who gave me the nickname while we helplessly searched for the school on our first day. I looked up to him... literally. He's the one that told me that the franks and beans Natalie wanted were mine, that I shouldn't be ashamed for not being any good and that skills come over time.
I've learned since then. Thinking back, I was too young to grasp the meaning of or the appreciation for sex. Although you'll be happy to know that I've gotten much better. Taller, too. And like my height, the experience came with the years.
But that time with Natalie taught a Shorty a lot, makes me laugh when I reminisce. Because out of all the things I went through that year, all the coming up short on so many fronts... the memory of that first is the one that will undoubtedly last forever.
scribbled by Will at 6/24/2005 03:35:00 PM
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If this were a sitcom, after the first four episodes, it would've been in danger of being cancelled. That's how brutal and unfunny, how random and sporadic it was. The ratings said so. But then, like Seinfeld, it seemed the sitcom found its legs in Episode 5, hitting on all cylinders, pulling in fans and settling in for a long run.
And just like Seinfeld--which was funny because it was a "show about nothing", a show we could all relate to and thus never had to win any awards to keep viewers, just as long as it stayed entertaining. Just as long as it kept us interested. Seinfeld went out on top, in its prime. And that was very necessary.
Tonight is another finale, where whoever wins goes out on top. Based on the last two games, episodes 5 & 6, we've all been winners. They have our attention. The cast of characters have become ingrained on our brains. We can relate.
Look in the mirror and you'll see Tim Duncan, the low-key superstar that belies his Texas spotlight, who's more dowdy than 'Howdy!', who's more substance than style. Look at the way he's struggled, as the media likes to put it, putting up just extra numbers, not extraordinary like they've become accustomed. Look at how he misses free throws, how he blows tip-ins. Look at how human he is. Tonight's finale, for him, is very necessary. He's just like the rest of us now, always having something to prove to someone, always having to be the best at our jobs in order to get any semblance of recognition. He, like us, is considered an expert at what he does, but until he sways everyone to believing he's "The Man," he'll just be another face in the crowd. Unfair, but true. On some levels, we can relate.
Look at that reflection again. Do you see Rasheed Wallace? Do you recall all the Motown misery when he blew that assignment in Game 5? Did you empathize with him, seeing that that could've been you at some point, messing up a presentation or being late to a meeting? Maybe you saw him calling a timeout his team didn't have in the closing seconds. He wasn't caught or punished for doing so. Just like we're not caught or punished for coming in a few minutes late or taking a little bit longer at lunch. He got away with it. But not away from it. We're most likely not under as much pressure as Sheed was, but it's relatable. Tonight's game, to defend his honor and his crown, is very necessary.
We all get sick. Not sick enough to stay home, but sick enough to not be our best. We can't make the excuses we want to if the job is subpar. Because we were there. We did it. We were responsible. That's the plight of Man-UP Ginobili (copyright, M.Elle, 2005) tonight, sore calf and all. He was lights out in the first few games, the first couple of boring games that nearly drove the masses insane. But if there were any highlights, they were of his electrifying dunk in Game 1 and his long-range bombs in Game 2. And just like the charged-up newbie that starts off ablaze and then inevitably trails off, Ginobili has been less than stellar since he got hurt. But he's still there. Trying to help his team succeed. So tonight, as he continues to heal, he knows that it's very necessary for him to be out there...giving it a go. Trying. I'm sure we can relate.
Then there's Chauncey. No, not the lame duck remaining member of BLACKStreet. The point guard for Detroit. Tonight is his finale as well. What he's done leading up to tonight has been nothing short of amazing. What it takes to coax a team full of hotheads and introverts, all wayward personalities in need of directon, to lead them from up against the wall in the last two series...what that takes, is special talent. He has it. And has shown it. He's been like the ultimate supervisor, delegating assignments and taking responsibility. He's done his job and, like last year when he was named Most Valuable Player, is looking for a very necessary promotion. Oh yeah, we can definitely relate to that.
This series has finally found its legs. It's rolling. Tonight is the finale. And if the cast of characters do their jobs, it should be one hell of an ending. We've been waiting eleven years for a Game 7 in the NBA Finals. It's also been some years since the last great sitcom. Just like Seinfeld, this series has the potential to go out on top. Now that everything's in place, it should. It's Motown Vs. The Alamo. Pistons-Spurs. No more cliffhangers. Tonight, it could be redemption for poor performance or poor health; making strong cases for promotions or recognition. It's all related. But whatever the intangibles, the tangible is tonight. And we all get to watch it play out. Yup, this episode, this finale...is very necessary.
scribbled by Will at 6/23/2005 10:24:00 AM
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YOU KNOW YOU'RE FROM NEW YORK WHEN...
YOU'RE 35 YEARS OLD AND DON'T HAVE A DRIVER'S LICENSE.
YOU RIDE IN A SUBWAY CAR WITH NO AIR CONDITIONING JUST BECAUSE THERE ARE SEATS AVAILABLE.
YOU TAKE THE TRAIN HOME AND YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHERE ON THE PLATFORM THE DOORS WILL OPEN THAT WILL LEAVE YOU RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE EXIT STAIRWAY.
YOU KNOW WHAT A "REGULAR" COFFEE IS.
IT'S NOT MANHATTAN; IT'S THE "CITY." THERE IS NO NORTH AND SOUTH. IT'S "UPTOWN" OR "DOWNTOWN." IF YOU'RE REALLY FROM NEW YORK YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO CONCEPT OF WHERE NORTH AND SOUTH ARE.... AND EAST OR WEST IS "CROSS-TOWN."
YOU CROSS THE STREET ANYWHERE BUT ON THE CORNERS AND YOU YELL AT CARS FOR NOT RESPECTING YOUR RIGHT TO DO IT.
YOU MOVE 3,000 MILES AWAY, SPEND 10 YEARS LEARNING THE LOCAL LANGUAGE AND PEOPLE STILL KNOW YOU'RE FROM BROOKLYN THE MINUTE YOU OPEN YOUR MOUTH.
YOU RETURN AFTER 10 YEARS AND THE FIRST FOODS YOU WANT ARE A "REAL" PIZZA AND A "REAL" BAGEL.
A 500 SQUARE FOOT APARTMENT IS LARGE.
YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ALL THE DIFFERENT RAY'S PIZZAS.
YOU ARE NOT UNDER THE MISTAKEN IMPRESSION THAT ANY HUMAN BEING WOULD BE ABLE TO ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND A P.A. ANNOUNCEMENT ON THE SUBWAY.
YOU WOULDN'T BOTHER ORDERING PIZZA IN ANY OTHER CITY.
YOU GET READY TO ORDER DINNER EVERY NIGHT AND MUST CHOOSE FROM THE MAJOR FOOD GROUPS WHICH ARE: CHINESE, ITALIAN, MEXICAN OR INDIAN.
YOU'RE NOT THE LEAST BIT INTERESTED IN GOING TO TIMES SQUARE ON NEW YEAR'S EVE.
YOUR INTERNAL CLOCK IS PERMANENTLY SET TO KNOW WHEN ALTERNATE SIDE OF THE STREET PARKING REGULATIONS ARE IN EFFECT.
YOU KNOW WHAT A BODEGA IS.
SOMEONE BUMPS INTO YOU, AND YOU CHECK FOR YOUR WALLET.
YOU DON'T EVEN NOTICE THE LADY WALKING DOWN THE ROAD HAVING A PERFECTLY NORMAL CONVERSATION WITH HERSELF.
YOU PAY "ONLY" $230 A MONTH TO PARK YOUR CAR.
YOU CRINGE AT HEARING PEOPLE PRONOUNCE HOUSTON ST. LIKE THE CITY IN TEXAS.
THE PRESIDENTIAL VISIT IS A MAJOR TRAFFIC JAM, NOT AN HONOR.
YOU CAN NAP ON THE SUBWAY AND NEVER MISS YOUR STOP.
THE DELI GUY GIVES YOU A STRAW WITH ANY BEVERAGE YOU BUY, EVEN IF IT'S A BEER.
THAT'S NEW YORK, BABY! YA GOTTA LOVE IT.
scribbled by Will at 6/21/2005 12:48:00 PM
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A special-ed teacher, an FBI agent, and a UFO? That's right, you've guessed it------- The Greatest American Hero. This show was first aired in 1981, and was both a comedy and a drama. A special "power suit" that only works on him is given to the teacher by the aliens, and he is paired up with the gumshoe FBI agent who keeps them both busy with his scenarios. The suit of "unearthly powers" gives the power of strength, flight, invisibilty, flames, telekenesis, vision of events without being there, protection from bullets and fire (if he remembers to cover his head!), and some others that he must figure out as well because; HE LOST THE INSTRUCTIONS THAT CAME WITH THE SUIT!
And would you believe I actually watched this show faithfully?!?!? I swear, it's a wonder I've done anything with my life, what with the junk I've filled my brain with over the years. LOL And then, of course, there's the theme song, which inexplicably was in my head this morning...of course, now's the part where I provide the lyrics in order to keep everybody with me:
Look at what's happened to me
I can't believe it myself
Suddenly I'm up on top of the world
It should have been somebody else
Believe it or not I'm walking on air
I never thought I could feel so free
Flying away on a wing and a prayer
Who could it be?
Believe it or not it's just me
Just like the light of a new day
It hit me from out of the blue
Breaking me out of the spell I was in
Making all of my wishes come true
Believe it or not I'm walking on air
I never thought I could feel so free
Flying away on a wing and a prayer
Who could it be?
Believe it or not it's just me
Who could it be?
Believe it or not it's just me
Ahhh...the bad ole days of television. This is the kind of show that makes reality TV seem palatable. Lawd. It IS a catchy song, though.
Anyway, with all of that said, we go on to my wrap-up of my trip to Miami...done in "I Believe" style.
I believe that I love Miami Beach, even if it's home to more fake breasts than your neighborhood KFC.
I believe that the Eden Roc, as lovely as it is, leaks like a baby's diaper when it rains.
I believe that Miami is definitely a city I would consider moving to...when I'm 55.
I believe that my best friend and I are even closer now than before I went to this conference, thank.you.very.much. (LOL@the haters)
I believe that Destiny's Child did the right thing by breaking up. *dodging tomatoes*
I believe that Ms. Tee is one of the sweetest individuals you will ever be blessed to meet, and she has wayyyyy more energy in her left pinkie than I ever will have again during my lifetime. (Translation: I'm old.)
I believe that it's not a great idea to go to a darkened comedy club after working 18 hours a day for an entire week...I'm just saying that you could be sleepy and doze off during the comedian's set. *whistling*
I believe that next year's conference should still be in Miami, but wayyyyyyy closer to some shopping outlets, or even a Walgreen's. Yeesh.
I believe in midnight swimming.
I believe in the mighty, mighty Roll Call.
I believe in super raffles, even if I did only win a leather jacket that's too small for me. *kicking rocks and heading over to Ebay*
I believe that while Sony puts out some great CDs, the fact that they've put out a Mystikal's Greatest Hits CD troubles me immensely.
I believe that, with Michael getting acquitted and Phil re-emerging on the scene, California has had its fill of Jackson's monopolizing the headlines for quite a while.
I believe that grouper should be the official fish of Florida. STAT!
I believe that, with no offense to Mrs. Jones, me and Aquatica will always have a thing going on.
I believe in passing showers, but ummmm...Miami, whassup with the passing monsoons?!?!?
I believe that everyone, at some point in their lives, should have an intern that they can boss around for a few months one summer, just to make themselves feel important.
I believe in Robert Horry.
I believe in Chauncey Billups.
I believe in fatherhood.
I believe in friendships that span years...and decades.
I believe this conference was an unmitigated success.
I believe I need a few days off to recover.
I believe I'm going to take those days.
I believe...that believe it or not, it's just me.
scribbled by Will at 6/20/2005 11:51:00 AM
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"BLOGS FROM THE BEACH"--DAY FOUR, WEDNESDAY 9:28PM
Opening Night at the 2005 BEEP Leadership Conference.
The Cotillion Ballroom inside the Eden Roc is abuzz. For just as Sammy and Frank and Dean and Lucy and Ricky carried on traditions here at the hotel, here we are...ready to carry on a BEEP tradition that's been in existence for the past 36 years. Ready to "roll out" the welcome mat to all first-timers and to officially re-acquaint ourselves with one another.
We're ready to say "Hello" the BEEP way...by performing the mighty, mighty Roll Call.
Let's give a little background, shall we? It all takes place during the conference's opening session, right after all the dignataries give their remarks, after all the "Welcome to [insert host city here]" takes place. In past years, all the conferees would get signs with their company logos on them, and it would resemble the floor of the political conventions, with delegates standing near their signs, ready to hear their state name called. Recently, though, technology has reared its head, and Powerpoint has taken over, displacing the signs and the convention feel of the event. (Technology...gift and a curse, I tell ya.)
The Roll Call master has the hardest job, pronouncing all the difficult names and keeping the crowd into it as the session goes past the one hour mark. To compare the Roll Call master to a circus ringmaster wouldn't be too much of a stretch...they both have a lot going on around them and have to keep things moving.
With that said, there are no real tricks to this. It's fairly simple. Just wait for your company's name to be called, and you stand up and represent. It could be a quick name, rank and serial number-type deal, or you could drum up a skit to really let people know you're in the house. And ummmm...BEEP stands for BLACK Executive Exchange Program, so yeah...you know how WE do. LOL
The most creative call came from the fine folks over at the CIA, whom I adore (in case they're reading this, and really...can we ever be sure? LOL). They are one of BEEP's major new sponsors, providing financial and physcial backing to the program the whole year round. And man, do they know how to have fun. Some of my best times on campus this past semester came when I was hanging out with some of the agents. I feel like they've got my back now. I...just...won't...ever...know...it. Anyway, like I was saying, they like to have fun. And the Roll Call was no exception. When their names were called, Their contingent stood up--caps and dark shades covering their faces--and belted out a rendition of "Secret Agent Man." It was self-mocking, it was fun...it's what the Roll Call is all about.
That's just a taste of what went down about an hour ago. The conference is officially open and the crowd looks great. This year's event is jam packed with workshops, plenaries, breakfasts and luncheons, giving every single conferee options and the information they need to become more effective leaders. LOL...as if coming to Miami Beach wasn't enough of a draw.
Tonight, we have a BBQ with a live DJ and a drawing for airline tickets anywhere Southwest Airlines flies. Ummm, yeah...I'm gonna have to go now, get some ribs, and make sure those students stay out of trouble. Sigh.
Yup, the work day is never over. But now that the opening session is done and in the books, the 2005 BEEP Leadership Conference is officially set to roll.
scribbled by Will at 6/15/2005 09:34:00 PM
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"BLOGS FROM THE BEACH"--DAY THREE, TUESDAY 11:41PM
Here we go. It's conference time. Everything is prepared, signed, sealed, and delivered to Miami Beach and ready to get started. The actual conference begins on Wednesday, but people have begun to arrive on Tuesday night.
And they put me in charge of the students. Oy.
And this is no easy task. I'd rather be in charge of changing diapers at a retirement home. Seriously. These students are no joke. And so are the schools. Aside from the schools replacing or adding students and only telling us at the last minute, this making it more difficult to find them rooms at the hotel...there are no chaperones for these kids. And I call them kids because they're younger than me...and away from home...and on SOUTH BEACH WITHOUT CHAPERONES!!!
Which makes me--since I'm in charge of making sure they're OK--feel responsible. And hate the task. "But Will, WHYYYYYY?, you may ask. They're semi-adults. If they're old enough to go to college, they should be responsible." OK, I would give you that. Except that most of these kids go to school in their hometowns...and haven't been out of the state they grew up in since they were born, let alone to friggin' SOUTH BEACH WITHOUT A CHAPERONE!!!
And that's where I come in...making sure they're at every session, not wandering off to go shopping, or to the pool when we have sponsors who expect these kids in the seats at their workshops. Not oversleeping or eating breakfast while they should be in attendance. They should be at least acting like they're trying to hear what these folks came here to say. I know it can be boring at times, but ummmmm...did I mention that THESE STUDENTS ARE HERE FOR FREE?!?!?! From their hotel accommodations to their stipends (YES...STIPENDS!!!), they are here to learn, to network and to try and secure internships and jobs...NOT to be out on the beach with their homies, or flirting with men/women, or to shop or just sleep in their comfortable hotel room beds. NOPE!!! Not with me on the watch.
Tuesday, I made sure that all the students were present and accounted for. Even called some rooms to make sure they got in and that they weren't out "exploring" Miami Beach the night before their 9am sessions. The way I figure it is this...when they get older, and pay their way to Miami for a conference, THEN they can have the choice as to whether they want to attend the sessions assigned them. Until then, they will do as they are told and do what is expected of them. And realize that it is all for their benefit.
Or they can hate me. I'm absolutely fine with that.
So, sure there were the students who weren't in their rooms when I called. Sure I had to check down in the lobby and in the restaurants and out by the pool to make sure they were on the premises. I did it because I care. Ummm, about the sponsors. Oh yeah, and the students, too. LOL
Hey, I've been there. So I know how it is to be away from home for the first time. But now that I'm on the other side, all that empathy goes out the window. Now, I'm a slave to the corporate and government agencies that pay my salary and support the program for which I work. The students should realize this...and for the most part, they do.
But there's always a few...and I love them. But I love my job even more.
Now that I got that off my chest, let the conference begin!
scribbled by Will at 6/14/2005 11:41:00 PM
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"BLOGS FROM THE BEACH"--DAY TWO, MONDAY 8:56PM
Aquatica. No, she's not my around the way girl. But over the past eighteen months, she's been my haven, my oasis, my retreat...my source of many a Red Stripe and mojito. Yup, that's right, Aquatica is all that and a plate of bread. She's the kind that makes you tear up when it's time for you to leave. She knows, without a doubt, the best way to a man's heart--through his stomach. Can you tell I loves me some Aquatica? I think it's time for you all to meet her.
Picture it. Miami Beach, February 1, 2004. A group of co-workers are down for a site visit, trying to determine which hotel should be used for their spring conference. And there she was, standing tall, with the ocean as her backdrop. The smells, the sounds, the vibe...yup, Aquatica had me at "This way to the bar."
She was the perfect hostess, allowing us to view the Super Bowl on one of her many televisions. And she was also a part of history, as this was the infamous Janet Jackson halftime show...and yes, I was right there, with my new homegirl, not believing what I'd just seen. The fact that Aquatica fed me and supplied me with ample alcohol, and then STILL had enough left in her to make sure I saw every replay possible...I think that's the night I fell in love.
It was back then, but not just then. I saw her again last June, anxious to enjoy more of her. I swear it's like a little middle school crush, knocking people over to get to my girl. And there she was, waiting for me, beer at the ready, the same perfect backdrop...and many memories yet to be made. I didn't see her much on that trip, more my fault than hers. Something called work got in the way of our seeing one another. She tempted me to come over and watch my Lakers get stomped by the Pistons, but I was just too tired. Too worn out to enjoy her company while loathing that thorough thrashing.
Oh, Aquatica. So this June, upon my return to the Beach, I made it my business to "trip the day fantastic" with my girl. Actually, due to my room snafu, I really had no choice. She was the only option I had. And my peoples, let me tell you...she welcomed my with open arms, supplying some of the best grouper this side of the Atlantic, freshly brewed Red Stripe (well, it tasted like it, anyway...lol), live entertainment (I mean seriously, does it get any better than a Mexican guy doing his version of Kool & the Gang's classic, "Get Down On It?" Does it?!?!?)...and that gorgeous backdrop. I'm getting emotional just talking about it. Yes, my friends, Aquatica has been there for me time and time again--no questions asked. I love her. Have come to count on her. *in Peter Brady voice* She's, she's...my Miami queen. And nothing short of construction, or health code violations, can take her away from me.
And when you come down to Miami Beach, make sure you check her out. Because even when your room isn't guaranteed, a good time with Aquatica, the restaurant by the sea, is always on the menu.
scribbled by Will at 6/13/2005 08:58:00 PM
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As I get settled in, I will let the photos speak for me. LOL
The view from my room...
The first of many...lol
Look for me!
scribbled by Will at 6/13/2005 08:05:00 AM
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"BLOGS FROM THE BEACH"--DAY ONE, SUNDAY 3PM
It's soooo good to be back. It feels like it's just like I left it last year. Like seriously, nothing has changed. Same hot weather. Same gorgeous hotel. Same thankless job. (And yes, I love it.) Back on Miami Beach for this year's BEEP conference, held at the splendiferous Eden Roc Resort & Spa (seriously, if you're EVER on Miami Beach, you need to check this place out).
Flew in on Delta Song--home of the personal TVs--once again. On a Sunday. Which really sucks if you're a BET fan because there's no videos playing on Sunday with which to annoy your fellow passengers. I mean, who really gets annoyed seeing Yolanda Adams sing about shelter and grace? LOL And not much else to choose from, for that matter. There were back-to-back E! True Hollywood Stories, the making of a mean meatloaf on The Food Network, and infomercials galore.
I know what you're thinking. But Will, what about the infamous Game Show Network where The Match Game featured drunken revelry that you gushed on and on about last year? Well, I have sad news to report, my friends. GSN is no longer on the Delta Song menu. Bit the dust in favor of BBC America. Sigh. Not that there's anything wrong with our British brothers getting some love on this side of the Atlantic. I'm just saying, though...NOTHING beats Charles Nelson Reilly showing off a man-purse on TV while nursing a vodka tonic. Nothing!
So the plane ride was uneventful, except for...IT'S NBA FINALS WEEK ON ESPN CLASSIC!!! Woo hooo! Yesterday, I got to see Knicks vs. Rockets, Game 6 from 1994 (I was hoping they showed Game 4, the infamous OJ and AC Bronco on the freeway game, but nope). That's the game where the Knicks were one shot away from winning it all and Hakeem Olajuwon came out and tipped John Starks' last second three-point attempt. Can't say I was thrilled about watching the Knicks lose again...which leads me to ask why people would want to watch old sports events where they already know the negative outcome? Hell, sometimes I TiVo a game or fight and, if I hear who won, I just can't bring myself to watch it. It will sit in the coffer until it automatically deletes itself. Sad, but true.
Got to the Eden Roc around 11:30am, a little early for check-in but, I figured, these are my peoples. I come here every year for this conference. They.know.me. So I swagger on up to the counter (learned my swagger from Panama...just ask him) and tell them who I am and what organization I'm with. Hit them with my Marriott Rewards number and waited for the magic to happen.
*Ahem* Yeah. They knew me, alright. They KNEW that I would have to wait TWO HOURS TO GET A ROOM. They KNEW that I wasn't on the master account listing and they KNEW that I would have to pay for my room with my credit card or else be escorted off of the premises.
I'ma let that sink in for a minute.
Yeah. So I KNEW what I had to do. What any other self-respecting brother would do in said situation. I punked out and paid for my room and waited the two hours for them to prepare it for me. They didn't know who they were messing with. AND I got my Marriott points. WHATTTT!!!!!
So as you can see, this trip to Miami Beach is off to a great start. How can you beat the sun, the sand, the surf and the sucker that is Will Dawson?!?!? Tell me...how?!?!? And over the next week, I will regale you with tales of greatness that will let you know just how much on the "come up" I am. Oh, yeah, and stories about the conference, too.
Stay tuned...you won't wanna miss this. Like I missed the Game Show Network. Sigh.
Ahhhh...Miami. How I missed thee.
scribbled by Will at 6/12/2005 02:56:00 PM
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A little over a month ago, I took a supposed break a.k.a. "hiatus" from blogging. I was still around, lurking as only I can do (LOL), but wasn't able to give my best due to a conference I've been prepping for. As all of you know, I couldn't stay away and was soon back. My shit still wasn't tight, but it was just too hard to stay away from my one true love--writing.
Well, tomorrow, I'm off to Miami Beach for the conference. Putting it together was a beyotch, but then again maybe not, since I still managed to make it to Atlanta and DC for blogger meetups, and even to the one in New York.
Anyways, I will be there, and through the power of the laptop, so will you. I will be submitting daily "blogs from the beach"--from my arrival on Sunday to my departure the following Sunday. So you won't miss me...bitches. LOL
Who knows, maybe a brotha might could try out for the upcoming Miami Vice sequel (yes, I know the original isn't even out yet) as Drug Dealer #4? Of course that means I have to brush up on my Columbian accent...*practicing in front of a mirror* "C'mon, Crockett...this coke is pure, bro."
How was that? *taking bows and looking up Dade County agents*
Have a great week, e'rybody. Hopefully, I will. Unless, of course, Tropical Storm Arlene decides to turn the corner and bring her wet, windy ass back to Florida. Which would mean I may have to use the little umbrellas from the fruity drinks to cover my head. Damn. Stupid Arlene. They shoulda never gave you nuccas crosswinds. Sigh.
If someone would've told me that blogging was this addictive, I would've bought a patch or some shit to prevent me from falling prey to its power. Too.damn.late.now. Sooooooooo...in the words of the piano player from the club scene in The Color Purple, when Oprah was about to pummel Harpo's new old lady..."Uh oh...Time ta go."
AND I SEE YOU, Ms. Tee! (Well, I WILL see you on Monday....awww, you knew what I meant...lol)
scribbled by Will at 6/11/2005 03:47:00 PM
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That was his meal. No matter where we went, the cooler would be full of sardines and Yoo-hoo. For him. I couldn't stand the smell, let alone the taste of those small fish that came lined up for the slaughter in a small can, opened with a key. The whole ritual reminded me on some sort of Death Row for fish.
But that meal was, in fact, the key to our relationship. It meant we were headed out to bond, coming together to do something fun. It could've been boarding a fishing boat to Cape Cod; or crossing the Triboro to a Yankee game at the Stadium; or on a road trip to visit family in Pittsburgh.
Whatever the experience, it all began with sardines and Yoo-hoo. Well, it didn't really begin there. But that was the proverbial "meat" of it.
The ritual actually began with the trip to Gouz (rhymes with cows) in Elmont, NY. This discount store had everything! Eggs, flavored juice (wild cherry was my absolute favorite of the store-themed concoctions), lunchmeat, sixty kinds of mustard...and those sardines and Yoo-hoo. The outdoor barn replete with chickens and goats was just a bonus. Hell, this was the best supermarket in the world to a young kid from Queens who never saw animals outside of the stray dog pack on the block.
It was after purchasing that signature meal, along with other groceries for the house, that I drove the 1983 Ford Fairmont for the first time. Fresh off getting my license, my dad handed me the keys to take us home. Needless to say that adrenaline was pumping while I should've been pumping the brakes. Yep. There was a smackdown of Rock proportions in the parking lot that day, me hitting a parked car.
But my dad never hit the roof.
After checking to make sure the eggs didn't break, he calmly told me to back up off the bumper of the 1985 Caddy I had just kissed, and to get out of the parking lot. He stopped my syncopated heartbeat on the way home, telling me that I didn't damage the car and relating to me his first driving experience, which included a learner's permit and a pet gerbil.
Yes, a gerbil.
Maybe he made that story up. In fact, looking back, he probably did. But whatever the case, he turned what could've been a disastrous maiden voyage into a lesson on keeping perspective. His soothing words carried us home from Gouz that afternoon; in fact, carried us throughout my teenage years without incident outside of a kissed bumper and the usual growing pains.
It is his example that I still try to apply in life today. Ten years ago, when my brother passed, he showed me a type of strength that could never be taught, being strong for my mother, my sister, my niece and my nephew. No doubt he cried. In fact, I know he did. But the lesson to be there for family was still learned.
He taught me to like who or what I like, with no excuses. Sure the Mets were virtually around the corner from our house in Queens, but I favored the Yankees..and he supported that.
There were times years later, when my dad fell ill, that I would think back on some horrible New York teams. I'd be keeping score, cheering as if they could hear me while my dad sat there--after working hard all day--content with his son being content, and with his sardines and Yoo-hoo.
That may not be the only meal we ever shared, but it was always around--just like my dad. A portly man with wavy hair, a killer smile and a singing voice that could light up any room, my father has always loved his wife, his kids, his God--and his favorite meal. I've always loved being around him.
I miss him.
It was on my trips out to see my dad on weekends that I would wrap myself in all of those life lessons and memories (as opposed to wrapping my car around another fender). And as Father's Day approaches next week, I raise one of America's favorite chocolate drinks to my favorite person--the man who not only guided me through a Gouz parking lot, but through a lifetime of experiences that have molded me into a competent and somewhat successful man.
My dad's favorite saying has always been "How sweet it is!" Thank you for everything, Albert Dawson. And to borrow from a 60s soul group, "Indeed, how sweet it's been to be loved by you."
This Father's Day, my first one without you, the sardines are still on me...
I love you.
scribbled by Will at 6/09/2005 02:16:00 PM
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The back and forth, the clear cut delineation between winner and loser, the action, the camaraderie, the strategy, the adjustments, the speed, the passion, the precision, the concentration, the rhythm, the sweet science of it all. It's the resason we keep watching. It's why we try our hand at it whenever we get the chance. It's why we emulate and imitate, why we practice, why we care about getting it right.
It's the reason that we care, one way or the other. Makes us want to cheer and root and boo and hiss. It's a connector of sorts--to your neighbor, your mate, your childhood friends and your college buddies. It helps fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, helps families to bond. It's all about merchandising. It makes some people millionaires while others go broke.
It's an escape from the everyday. Competition at the highest level. The best of the best. The creme de la creme. Even folks that couldn't care less can get sucked in, if only for a moment, and become believers. That's the glory of it. The marvel of it. The reason for it. So many choices, so many ways, so many reasons to get sucked in.
Some live vicariously through it, view it as poetry in motion, music to the eyes and ears. Some enjoy it as passive, mindless entertainment. Whichever way you view it, you WILL view at least some of it, at some point. Whether it be through video golf (LOL), pick-up games at the park or at the Y, flag or tackle on the high school field, free tickets to the ballpark or arena, our siblings, offspring, best friends or colleagues...all of our lives are affected by, and touched by, sports.
It could be the Final Four, the World Series, the U.S. Open, the Masters, the Super Bowl or the NBA Finals. All huge events that make us watch, even if just for a moment. Make us root for the better team, the underdog, the team with the better uniforms, the black golfer, our alma mater. It could be the Pistons or Spurs. The Yankees or Red Sox. Venus or Serena. Your favorite boxer or football team. We all have our favorites for life...or for this instant.
And THAT'S the reason why sports is what it is. It gives us what we need, what we crave--an outlet, an excuse, a reason. It's why we keep watching even when our team sucks. There are hard and fast rules, but never hard and fast outcomes. The best team or athlete on paper doesn't always win. That's why they play the games. That's why it matters. Why we keep cheering or rooting or booing. It's the reason why.
And it is why we will keep watching, in some way, shape, form or fashion. Doesn't matter why or when. We'll do it just because.
And isn't THAT is the best reason of all?
scribbled by Will at 6/08/2005 08:24:00 AM
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A Friday Face-to-Face...with Myself
After living with myself for 34 years, I've finally figured out that I'm THAT guy...lemme explain.
I'm the guy who seemingly has it all together, when in reality, life scares me just as much as the next person... I'm that guy that sometimes has communication issues, due mostly to growing up in a home with a tremendous generation gap and siblings that were grown and gone... I'm that guy that women call harmless, although some would subconsciously disagree... I'm that guy that is definitely a team player and works hard, learning all that I can along the way...
I'm the guy that will get in trouble for both what I say and what I don't say *smh* because my facial expressions give me away every time... I'm that guy that older black people look to on the subway when "our people" start to act a fool, giving me that "can you believe this shit?" look... I'm that guy that occasionally has self-confidence issues (often confused with being shy) due to a lifetime of being afraid that people would abandon him, starting with my birth father on up tnrough relationships and often sabotages them before the other party gets the chance (DING! Clearly that explains why I'm still single...lol)...
I'm that guy that people come up to on the streets asking for directions...in different languages... I'm that guy that wears his heart on his sleeve... I'm that guy that's been scared of success his entire life... I'm that guy who communicates much better via the written word, thus causing annoyance and frustration for those I should be communicating with vocally... I'm that guy you'll find on the subway either with a book up to my nose or just observing random things, mind racing with thoughts and ideas...
I'm that guy that loves women, and music, and kissing, and movies, and sports, and family...not necessarily in that order... I'm that guy who would rather crack a joke than break a heart... I'm that guy that you don't want to cross, because once my anger surfaces, fuggetaboudit... I'm that guy that doesn't need to be the center of attention (ducking tomatoes from fellow Leos) and would rather observe than draw undue attention to himself...
I'm that guy that will give you the world and ask for nothing in return but your respect... I'm that guy who you will read about someday and say, "damn, don't I know him from somewhere?"... I'm that guy who can become extremely selfish with those who I deem important and special, wanting, no, craving THEIR attention more than usual... I'm that guy who has made some questionable decisions, but has learned valuable lessons from each and every one...
I'm that guy...that average guy...a black man trying to make things happen...who is grateful for all of the support, the resistance, the lessons, the positive, the negative, the love, the loves lost, the ebbs and the flows...not the strongest guy, not the weakest guy, not the most entertaining, but I do's my thang (LOL), not the most verbose, but no slouch when it comes to linguistics, not the best, not the worst...
But dude, best believe...I'm.THAT.guy.
scribbled by Will at 6/03/2005 09:12:00 AM
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I believe that humbleness is NOT a word, no matter what my good friend Nikki and her wedding planners say. *smh*
I believe that, like the old Naughty by Nature song, DC bloggers are the craziest!!! (have you SEEN those pics?!?!? Oh wait...no...no, you haven't...LOL)
I believe that, with all due respect to EJ Da DJ, OSWs should be renamed OXWs in honor of blogs' first lady of uploads.
I believe that phrases such as "hellus nous", "HOB" and "Patron Swigging Partna" should really be copywritten. *calling lawyer friend*
I believe that no one cares anymore about whether Jacko goes to jail or not.
I believe, without a doubt, that there is a song for every occasion.
I believe that the person who took the time to call my job yesterday, address me as "nigger" and hang up, may have issues, but I'm grateful that I was the "nigger" on their mind.
I believe that whomever made up the phrase "in a perfect world..." should be paid a tremendous amount of money...and then drawn and quartered.
I believe that there is no fuggin way Eva should be a model for AppleBottom jeans.
I believe that Detroit vs. San Antonio may not be the most glitzy NBA Finals matchup, but it may just be one of the best in the history of the Association.
I believe that Red Stripe may be one of the best beers ever made (I see you, Ms. Thing...lol). IT'S BEER!!!
I believe that blogging is an outlet that causes people to filter what they let in.
I believe that my book is almost done and that it will be published before the end of the year.
I believe that this will be THE SUMMER OF WILL!
I believe that I could listen to Mariah Carey sing all damn day...I just don't need to see any more of her videos. Ever.
I believe in Floetry.
I believe in Crash.
I believe in Common's BE.
I believe that the meal I enjoyed last Saturday...and Sunday...and Monday...is the best I've had in a long, long time.
I believe that the new TLC reality show will be horrible. Unwatchable even.
I believe that when this conference is finally over, I will be taking more than a few days off.
I believe that some of our black "leaders" have become a joke and that no one has let them in on it just yet.
I believe that going to Harlem Grill will never.be.the.same.again.
I believe that the upcoming Jill Scott/Erykah Badu concert is gonna be off the chain.
I believe that blogging, not much unlike your job, has its great moments and its not-so-great ones. And with both, sometimes you need a break.
I believe in the written word.
I believe in perfect melodies.
I believe in Kelvin's ability to capture the best of my city on film (those pics were awesome).
I believe that it's almost Friday.
I believe in starting over and doing things the correct way.
I believe in happy endings...(well, or at least civil ones. LOL)
I believe I could say more, but the more I sit here and type, the more work piles up on my desk.
I believe I'm OUT!
scribbled by Will at 6/01/2005 07:49:00 PM
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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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THE FLOW MAGAZINE
NYC BLOGGER MEETUP: LABOR DAY
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