Category Archives: Nostalgia

Friendship Is Essential To The Soul

As a child, I thought Black boys grew up and went to college and became brothers in the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated. I grew up watching my father, my Uncle that’s actually my father’s brother and other Uncles that became my father’s brothers through this fraternity reminisce about old times, discuss present times and teach us about becoming men. I was so proud of my father and uncles; so proud I used to wear a “My Dad is an Omega Man” t-shirt as often as I could.

I went to college but did not pledge Omega Psi Phi. I didn’t pledge at all actually. I missed out on having those relationships I saw my father and uncle nurture. But I did learn one thing from their experience with their fraternity that I find more value in my life now more than ever.

The motto of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. is “Friendship is essential to the soul”. The older I get, the smaller the number of “friends” I have. It took a while to recognize the true difference between a friend and an associate and life experiences teaches you these things in the strangest way. Anyone can drink a beer with you. Anyone can smile and rejoice with you during good times. Anyone can sit down and eat dinner with you. But what happens to those people in crucial moments in your life when you need them most?

Here’s a test: List those that would be present at your wedding. Now from that list, who’d come to your funeral? Now from that list, who would you trust to raise your children in your absence? Those remaining are your true friends. Those are the people who know you best and will make sure your children grow up with the necessary tools you would’ve given them had you not have passed. Your associates aren’t bad people. They just aren’t friends. An association with people is as important to your well-being as having a Pepsi in the desert. Sure that ice cold Pepsi will be refreshing to have temporarily but how beneficial will it be in the long-run in that desert?

Friendships are essential to the soul…
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A New Era

While growing up in DC, I got a chance to hear music from all walks of life. My parents mostly rocked the oldies…James Brown, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Marvin Gaye, Lena Horne, and many others. DC has its own musical culture too where Go-Go reigned supreme. I liked what my parents listened to and embraced my city’s own but I loved the music that had that techno break with heavy percussion, a lot of mixing and scratching, and was always heard blaring from car stereo speakers or huge boom boxes. Hip Hop.

I knew of the Sugar Hill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and DJ Red Alert but I had no idea what they looked like because we didn’t have cable television back then. But every now and then I’d get a visual taste of what hip hop had to offer.

My first glance was ‘Beat Street’ in the mid-80’s and after watching it I knew of two things. One, I had to learn how to break and two, I was in love with Rae Dawn Chong.

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Within the same year I saw another cult flick that was a hip hop classic. This movie was more intense with its dancing but looking back on it now, it is rather corny. Oh, and another love of mine was in this movie too, Lela Rochon.

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Today, break dancing is still around but has taken on a new spin and to be honest with you, I like it. The funny thing about it is the kids you see embracing the old art form of break dancing now weren’t even walking, let alone even born, when these two movies were in theaters. Here are a few videos I like.

First up, from Washington, DC…The Beat Your Feet Kings

Next up, from Atlanta, GA…Kenneth ‘Xclusive’ Paryo

And last but not least, from.Santa Ana, CA…David ‘Elsewhere’ Bernal (oh, I did my research and he’s 29 years old)

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Filed under Film, Movies, Music, Nostalgia, The B2 Xpress

The Secret Is Out

I may not be afraid of lions, tigers or bears but thanks to Swine Flu, Bird Flu and Mad Cow Disease I sure am scared of BLT’s, the 4 wings with fries special and Double Whoppers with cheese.

But, I gotta special treat for you this evening. A young man that you all know as Slim the Hustler from the ‘I Ain’t Snitchin’ episode of “Hood Figgas.” I want you to put your hands together and welcome him to the blog. A big round of applause, for Paradise Missionary Baptist Church’s own, Mr. Crash Cut. Yes! Give it up for Mr. Crash Cut y’all.

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Man!  Did you see the choir trying to hold back their laughter?  People in the pews were giving each other high fives and whispering sweet nothings in their neighbors ears.  Even the Pastor came in with the, “Okay brotha.  Sit yo’ ass down!” attitude, wiped his tears of laughter away and started singing another song that everyone knew and said, “Maybe y’all know this one.”

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Hallelujah!  Hashabalah!

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Filed under Film, Music, Nostalgia

I Finally Found The Meaning To A Popular Cash Money Phrase

I love music but I have a passion for hip hop culture so this time I want you to play the first video as you read…don’t worry, it’s an instrumental…sort of like theme music to get you mentally prepared to follow me through this post.

I grew up recording songs on my cassette deck from Dana Dane, Slick Rick, BDP, Big Daddy Kane, and a hosts of others and writing down the lyrics in my pad to help memorize the songs from beginning to end.  I did this so much it became easy.  But hip hop began evolving into a craft that all regions of the US began to embrace.  Years into my love for hip hop music, years after rockin’ gazelle frames and thick rope chains, years after Run DMC’s “My Adidas” and Kool Moe Dee’s “Wild, Wild West” came the new era of hip hop.  I followed along with it without missing a beat.  But I soon realized that eventhough I knew the words, I had no idea the meaning of everything I was now memorizing.  The dialect and slang terminology began switching up on me.

The instrumental you just heard is from one of the most popular of the new era of hip hop I love, and still love until this day.  But I must admit that I am just now finding the meaning to it’s popular catch phrase.

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Now after you back it up, then stop
Now, drop-drop, drop
Drop it like it’s hot
Now drop It like it’s hot
Drop-drop it like it’s hot
C-M-B make you drop it like it’s hot
Drop it like it’s hot
Drop-drop it like it’s hot
Drop it like it’s hot
Drop-drop it like it’s hot

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Now right before the song fades out they leave you with the most important part of the song.  This is the part grown men, women, boys and girls, even little babies recited.

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Now, wobbledy wobbledy, wa
wobbledy wobbledy, wa
wobbledy wobbledy
Drop-drop it like it’s hot

Now this is where they had me a little confused.  I loved to say it, just like everyone else, but I had no idea what in the hell the Cash Money Millionaires were talking about…until now.  In this next clip, 28 seconds in, these newscasters played a video in slow motion over, and over, and over so that no one else will live with the confusion of what “Wobbledy wobbledy, wa, drop it like it’s hot” means again. Enjoy, and thank me later  🙂

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Filed under Film, Music, Nostalgia

So, you don’t want to cuddle?

“B, what type of man just wants to cuddle?”

The question startled the hell out of me.  Many of my friends have come to me for my thoughts on situations they were going through but what makes this friend think I’d know why her partner wanted to just cuddle with her?  I think I was initially thrown off because I was deeply engaged with a plate of buffalo wings inside one of DC’s most Republican bars on Capitol Hill.  So the irony of all things around me and the question being asked of me caused a raised brow.

I answered the question – after wiping my mouth and taking a swig of my drink – with a swift, “What in the hell are you talking about?”

Turns out, her male friend of 13 years – often noted as her “best friend” who sometimes doubles as the “asshole” but never the “boyfriend”, “significant other” or “husband” – decided that this time around, in the intimate hours of the night, that he just wanted to hold her.  At this point I’m becoming furious with this woman.  Not only is she keeping me from my 25 cent buffalo wings and the first of quite a few half priced Jack and Coke’s with this nonsense, but she’s choosing to do this by asking me what I thought HIS problem was.  His problem?

It’s funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same.  I’m going to use another musical selection that chronologically breaks down how women have warped the brains of men causing us to burden the blame eventhough we were trying to please them.

For me and most other men my age, it all began with the songs from our parents past.  Our fathers’ admired this individual and tried their best to mirror all that they could that resembled his music.  He’s known as “The Godfather of Soul”, “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business”, and “Soul Brother Number One.”  He’s James Brown.

James Brown set the standard for what a man should be in the 60’s.  He sang lyrics that honored hardworking men who provided for their families.  James Brown also talked about “Living in America” and cultural issues while dancing like no one had ever seen before.  Back then, if you couldn’t sing or play an instrument, you better be a superb dancer and know how to fight.  Just being a smart man in a woman’s eyes wasn’t man enough.  But when the news hit the fan about Mr. Brown’s run in with police, women turned on him quicker than Judas did Jesus Christ.  So we cut the perms out, stopped processing our hair, and supported the Civil Rights Movement.  We would become smooth brothers with a purpose, a cause and waiting for a reason to fight.

Then the bras and panties started to be thrown on stage when the smooth, yet mean, Teddy Pendegrass yelled at his women to “Close the Door” and “Turn Off the Lights.”

Women would scream for him, cry for him, even take his hand and go on stage with him – leaving their dates behind who’d purchased the tickets to see the man perform.  Trying to be all James Brown got your women stolen by Teddy P.  But Mr. Pendergrass would never be the same after a near fatal car accident paralyzed him from the waist down.  Those demonstrative songs where he barked his sexual commands to his women were left limp.  The site of him in a wheelchair ruined the sexual fantasies of women wanting to be taken by such a macho man.  So we adapted – again – and changed things up.  This time – just like the last time and the time before that – we thought we had it all figured out.  Since the stand-up guy thing was long gone and the smooth, macho man had had it’s stay, we figured it was time to soften it up a little bit and fulfill the needs of women.  Instead of inflicting our wills upon them, let’s try listening to them and doing what they tell us to do.  Yes, that’s it!

Ralph Tresvant picked up on this new movement quickly and was praised by women for being a man with “Sensitivity.”

Men across the nation adopted the silky, but not too silky, vibe.  We embraced our sensitivities and opened up our hearts for all women to see.  We cleaned up our acts so that a “Tenderoni” or “PYT” would notice us.  A “Smooth Criminal” was a force to be reckoned with until March 3, 1991 when several LAPD oficers beat the living snot out of a man named Rodney King.

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Rodney King was a pioneer in this new transformation of men.  He embraced the decades before him.  The 60’s in him are evident from the plastic covered couches he had in his house.  The representation of the 70’s were shown through his flare and dancing in the streets while the cops had their guns drawn on him.  The 80’s – well, he was drinking 40 ounce malt liquor beverages and had a wave nouveau.  But when he opened his mouth, the 90’s began.

After the subsequent acquittal of the LAPD officers involved in the beating of Rodney king, riots from Los Angeles to Atlanta were the focus of the media’s attention.  Of course we were upset with the results of what should have been a simple traffic stop.  Of course we were appauled by the lack of common sense the jurors possessed who ruled over the case.   But what hurt us most of all was that we had to admit that the sensitive, smooth, I’m-a-lover-not-a-fighter attitude was our third and final strike against our women.  Especially when he said, “Can’t we all just get along?”

The love ballads were dead.  Any dude caught singing without a baritone voice or dancing like a Fly Girl from ‘In Living Color’ was banished from the new era of black men.  If you weren’t a gangster and going around telling everyone that you were then the ladies looked at you as soft and a doormat.  Even the kids caught on to this. 

Today, it’s even worse.  After all the changes we’ve endured in the past we now have men that sing sexually explicit songs and use women as their subjects but I’m not too convinced it’s their intended audience.  Catch my drift?

So in conclusion, this poor woman is torturing herself by trying to understand the complexities of our significant others.  But, how many heterosexual men have been told by their significant other, “Baby, can we just cuddle tonight?”  When I asked my friend how many times she’d denied his sexual wishes in the past she answered, “Several.”  When I asked her how many times he’d done the same she answered, “That’s not the point.”  I’m getting much better at convincing myself that everyone else in this world is crazy but me.  We have men telling women to think like men and women telling men how to be a man.  For Steve Harvey – a self proclaimed, born again player – to write a book about the lies men tell is perposterous to me.  Is Steve a little upset that his days of running the streets and being with multiple women are over, so therefore, he’s going to ruin it for every other man wanting those experiences?  If someone needs reforming then they should buy a Bible, not Mr. Harvey’s book on what he did when he played with women’s emotions.  And I’ve never been a woman – thank God – so I’ll never assume that I know what it’s like to be one.  So ladies, do yourselves a favor and cut it out with the “a real man is…” this and that.  If you’re so good at being a man then you be responsible for the manual labor around the house and let us take care of the domestic duties.  Boy, I wonder what kind of punks we’d be then?

A joke was told to me once that said a man’s wife walks up to him and says, “Why would God make you so handsome and so stupid at the same time?”  The man looks at his wife and says, “Well, He made me handsome so you’d be attracted to me.  But He made me stupid so I’d be attracted to you.”

The Laws of Attraction haven’t changed but the people sure have.  Pleasing someone has never been an easy thing to do but blaming it on the other person for it turning sour seems to be a typical course of action.  Call me crazy for saying no one is in a relationship alone.  Who am I to think that compromise, communication and respect for others is imperative for any relationship to succeed?  You may never believe this, but some of you have lost your damned minds!

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I’d like my $10.50 back, please

Film has always been a passion of mine.  What I love most about going to the theater is the anticipation of seeing pictures in motion that tell a story I ultimately appreciate, even if the topic doesn’t resonate within my personal life experiences.  But lately I’ve felt a little disappointed in some of the films that I’d anticipated most and surprised by the one’s that were below my radar.  In this post, I’ll share a few reasons as to why I became a fan of film in the past and what has lead me to be disappointed in a few films recently.

I can distinctly remember my mother dragging the entire family out to the $1 theater (I truly miss those) to see “The Last Emperor”

It was only a ten minute drive from our house to the theater but my mother gave us all – four kids and my Dad – enough background on the film and the history of China during the moment in time where the film takes place that I was extremely excited to see the story of a kid becoming ruler of China at birth. I thought Pu Yi – the Emperor – was the coolest kid ever upon arrival to the theater. But after sitting through 3+ hours of a movie at 9 years old, waking up and falling back to sleep at least three times and numerous trips to the restroom, I do remember feeling sorry for the emperor. I remember feeling blessed to have my own childhood and being able to play outside with friends, something Pu Yi couldn’t afford because of his responsibilities to his country. As my dad drove us back home I toyed with the thought of giving up my childhood to live like an emperor.  The scene where he was breast fed by a much older woman surely made my decision difficult to make (I’m not quite sure my mother was aware of this scene before viewing either…she was awfully quiet in the car going home). Nevertheless, at 9 years old I understood sayings like “The grass is always greener on the other side” and “God has a plan for us all, no matter how unfair you may think yours is” all too well due to this film.

To see Pu Yi go from being ruler of billions to fading away as a simple man gardening crops was an important lesson for me.  As a child, he was inquisitive – like myself – and had to learn of his culture and the way the world worked as he ruled.  But, what was key to his life is that no matter what a man does he matters in some capacity.

Another film that stands out to me is my favorite film ever, The Godfather. 

This is a film I’ve loved since the day I overheard my Uncle and Godfather make arrangements to have a viewing party at my uncle’s house – that I was denied entry to because of “adult activities” taking place during the party.  (I also learned later in life what this meant too.)  All the things that make me whole are in this film; family values, policy and principle, accountability, loyalty, and respecting those against you.  I was in middle school when I first saw the first of three parts of this story.  I related to the characters in this film as I’d done in The Last Emperor and pretty much all other films I’d seen prior to.  I knew Michael was special; he followed the protocol set by his father that ultimately brought success to the Corleone family.  I worried about Sonny because of his reckless abandon for violence and cutting corners.  I feared for Fredo shortly after he was introduced to the story because of his weaknesses and softness towards the family’s vigor.  But each character matters.  Each character is important.  And all characters exist in real life, no matter what your family resembles.

There were biblical references in this film as well as codes and rules respected in families and neighborhoods of all races, creeds and financial backgrounds.  Messages like “Live by the gun, die by the gun” and “Wallow in the ground with dogs, come up with fleas” were made sense due to this film.  Some people use their own life experiences to navigate through rights and wrongs, while others – such as myself – also appreciate the lessons learned by seeing people not associated with their own lives experience failure and success.

And this was the beginning of my affinity to film.  I thought it to be ingenious the way a story could be told on screen and I’ve cherished the art form for years.  Their are other favorites that I’d like to mention like E.T., Big, Scarface, and Blazzin’ Saddles to name a few but I’d go on forever and this post has to end at some point.

But lately, the film industry has changed in a way that has left me disappointed more often than expected.  It’s a catch twenty-two for me because out of my disappointment in a few films, I’ve begun writing myself.  I’ve taken the liberty to highlight one film from the past three years that were my biggest disappointments in the theater.  It’s not to say that these films were the worst films ever, it’s just that I’d expected more from them in particular over all others in that given year and was let down a little bit.

2007 – I Am Legend

Overall, I enjoyed this film but one thing concerns me about this film is the ending.  If these blood seeking thinga-majigs had more adept abilities than the best bloodhound in history and had killed all humankind – as well as dogs, cats and other warm-blooded land-roving animals – then how do hundreds of people stay safely tucked away in a colony barricaded within a three foot high stone fence remain unharmed?  I’m still waiting on an answer to that question ’til this day.  Once it’s received, I’ll change my opinion of this film.  But until then, well, it’s a disappointment.

2008 – The Day The Earth Stood Still

I saw the original film created in 1951 and even though this film was done 57 years later, it wasn’t better than the original.  So what’s the point?  After all the technological advances made inbetween nearly six decades I believe it’s criminal to do a remake that doesn’t surpass it’s predecessor. And the audacity of Scott Derrickson to deviate from the original story as if his rendition was better still has me appauled.

2009 – Watchmen

I still have lines on my forehead from straining a confused look for almost four hours of viewing this film.  Afterwords, I’d expressed my opinion of the film to my techie friends and I was then advised to read the book.  Wait a minute…Zack Snyder (the director of the film) read the book, then produced a film according to what he’d read and now I have to read the book to understand what he put in motion on film? Not to mention the over-the-top perverted scenes featured in this film that displayed Dr. Manhattan’s male anatomy and overly homosexual superheroes.  More time was spent developing the characters sexuality and anatomy than providing supporting documentation on the characters themselves.  I’m not sure what Mr. Snyder wanted me to walk away thinking from his film.

I want my $10.50 back, please…

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Filed under Film, Movies, Nostalgia, The B2 Xpress