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Sunday, 12 December 2004
Now Playing: The Kleptones - A Night at the Hip-Hopera
Topic: event reports

Last Sunday, I dragged myself down to the Knitting Factory with money that I didn't have to spend to check out a documentary called Afropunk: The Rock and Roll Nigger Experience. I met up with my man Mikal who was hanging out with his friend Brian. Somehow, I knew I was gonna kick myself if I didn't go. I am SO glad I went: the film was amazing. A gang of artists that I greatly respect were in the joint offering various perspectives on what it means to be black and involved in punk and hardcore: Walter Kibby and Angelo Moore of Fishbone, Jimi Hazel of 24-7 Spyz, Chaka of Orange 9MM, members of TV On The Radio, Djinji Brown (never knew he had a punk/hardcore past), Mike Ladd, Latasha Natasha Diggs, and a host of others. Some wicked performance footage of Bad Brains, too. The film focused largely on four individuals and their experiences being black in a predominantly white subculture. All four had very compelling stories, but there was one that totally floored me - not only due to the nature of their experiences, but because this individual is the younger relative of a very good friend.

One of the four artists largely featured in the documentary is a brother named Moe Mitchell, lead singer of a hardcore group called Cipher. Moe is the baby brother of older twins Marvin and Matt Mitchell. I met Marvin and Matt at SUNY Albany. Marvin and I were DJs at the on-campus radio station together. To this day, I still remember him as "Marvin the Martian." I used to refer to myself as "the Space Negro" while on-air. We definitely bonded on some interstellar Nubian type steez. I can remember Marvin introducing Moe to me at a party that I was spinning at and checking out pictures of a show that Cipher had played on Marvin's website. I had no idea that Moe was in this film; I almost fell out of my chair when he appeared on the screen. The trip down on the subway was worth it for that moment alone.

Almost immediately after the flick, I relayed that news to Mikal. It was Marvin who introduced me to Mikal back in the spring of 1999 at what was perhaps the last party thrown at this skate park in Albany. So the two of us began to share with Brian how we connected that night. Mikal thought that he was the only one that went completely and totally bonkers on the floor while raving. I used to think the same thing...and then we met each other. We hit it off right away. He knew what it meant to be the few brown-shaded souls at a rave and have some white kid ask him for ecstasy or weed because they figured he was probably selling (and seeing as how Mikal wears his hair in locks, I'm sure he got asked a lot more than I did). He knew what it meant to be getting lost in the music and have some kid come up to him and ask, "Hey man, what are you on?" It's amazing the looks of disbelief that you get when you simply reply, "It's the music." Mikal suggested that if you were to talk to black people involved in electronic dance music and the rave culture, you make a documentary that would draw similar conclusions, and I know he's right.

Two bands performed after the film: Fillmore Brown (from Philly) and The Eternals (from Chicago). Fillmore Brown were absolutely amazing. I have to catch them the next time they're in the city. A five-man troupe including two vocalists, a bassist, a drummer, and keyboardist, they ripped through tunes with blistering accuracy and intensity. It was Negro punk poetry, it was gorgeous, it was cathartic. I hadn't banged my head in a long time and I was really getting into it. During one song in particular, I was totally caught up. Several thoughts occurred in my mind at once. I thought about how it had been so long since this side of myself had been spoken to and how desperately it needed to rise from its slumber. I thought about dancing on top of a speaker while attending my first rave back in October of 1992. I thought about every time I got caught up in GOD while at church and danced like no one was watching at the pew because I knew that I owed the Creator of the universe some major back payment in praise. I thought of the footage of rituals in Haiti that I had seen on PBS and watching the townspeople become so engrossed in the service that it was clear that something else had a hold on them. I was able to make a personal connection between the spiritual and secular moments of liberation and euphoria in my life. There was no contradiction between the natural and supernatural highs that I had experienced: they all represented a part of my walk through this life. And while banging my head, I started to cry. I'm still not entirely sure why. I was just so thankful for the moment I was in, for the connections being made, for blackness without rigid constrictions (whether placed upon us by others, ourselves, or each other).

The Eternals KICK ASS. A tighter than tight trio that use a various array of sounds and instruments, they're impossible to classify. Sick drummer, a bassist that doubles on keyboards, and a lead vocalist that also plays keys as well as a number of other electronic devices. Sometimes they're dub reggae, other times they're hip-hop, sometimes rock, sometimes avant-electronic...but always challenging. They have releases on both the Thrill Jockey and Aesthetics record labels. Mikal and I were both inspired that night. For him, the whole night confirmed that he needs to have his hands in a number of different musical projects, not just hip-hop. He had gotten away from the other sides of himself and he wants to change that. As for me, a reawakening has taken place. In frenzied and spastic times like these, the audio extremist in me can't afford to die. While I may feel like hip-hop and house today, I could just as easily be free jazz and experimental noise tomorrow. Regardless of the rigid constructs that others have made for blackness, fluidity is essential for my survival. Beyond that, my Christian walk cannot be boxed in either. Christ ought to be the overarching umbrella that covers every area of my being, every role that I play in this life: the husband, the co-worker, the writer, the DJ, and so forth. It doesn't mean that I'm preaching 24/7 while playing these roles, rather that I allow God to take control of me while I function in these roles. That way, my life becomes a sermon - I shouldn't have to say a word.

Much props to James Spooner for making this film. Funny, honest, and very moving, Afropunk is a must-see. If it's playing anywhere near you, I highly recommend it. Click here for more information.

Posted by macedonia at 2:05 PM EST
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Friday, 10 December 2004
"it's not all bad"
Now Playing: The Push Bin w/Lou (wfmu.org)

This world can keep you on your toes with its ups and downs. Isn?t it fun when you?re watching the remaining balance on your checking account and the total is three dollars less than the amount of your rent?and the rent check hasn?t been cashed yet? Earlier this week, I was preparing myself for several days of overdrawn fees hitting the account. Just as I was wondering why I can?t just get a lump of coal in my stocking like everybody else, Beth?s check hits the account. It gives us some breathing room, but only if we take really short breaths.

Just yesterday, she sent me an email entitled ?it?s not all bad? that made me smile:

Hi there,

I hope today has been a blessed one for you. It has for me.

There were small victories that carried over into today. In spite of two (now three) upset students who don't like my teaching style, I have helped at least three. I have probably helped students and they don't even know it yet.

Yesterday, I spent about an hour tutoring one of my students on citation. He left really understanding the format.

Today, I helped explain to another student when to site. I helped her compare the MLA format paper to her own essay and make corrections herself. And I helped her see how a quick outline would help her better organize her paper in less time. I also told her your favorite phrase: "There's no shame in a B." At one point she was either so overwhelmed or so embarrassed that she almost cried. I calmed her down, and I expect that her next draft will be greatly improved.

I do indeed love this job. When I let go of myself, God does use me through it.

I?m really proud of her. This is the job she was meant to do. This is only her first semester teaching; so much of her experience thus far has been trial and error. The lessons she learns from the mistakes made this time around can only help her to improve next time around. She?s well on her way to becoming a great teacher. Nice to know that one of us has found their calling in life.

Posted by macedonia at 11:48 AM EST
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Thursday, 9 December 2004
music appreciation moment: Plant Life
Now Playing: Plant Life - "Luv 4 The World (Why They Gotta Hate?)"
Topic: music appreciation

It?s been a long time since I?ve done one of these ? way too long, in fact. Half the time that I spend complaining about stuff on this blog could?ve been spent writing about musicians, DJs, producers, and record labels I?m feelin?. Well, you know what they say about hindsight, so let?s move on and get this area poppin? again?

The group: Plant Life. The album: The Return of Jack Splash. The label: Counterflow Recordings. I. LOVE!!! This album. Another bunch of heads that primarily do hip-hop, but decided to flip it on some past/present/future pop goodness. And the results are lovely. Some funk, some soul, some disco, some Prince circa early ?80s?it?s brilliant. Many have been calling Plant Life the next Outkast and with good reason. Definitely has that Andre 3000 The Love Below feel to it, but no copycats here?this group comes original. Check out their official website for more info and sound samples.

Posted by macedonia at 10:48 AM EST
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Friday, 3 December 2004
the way things go sometime...
Now Playing: Dego @ WMC 2001 (mix on d-i-r-t-y.com)

It?s been a banner week after our extended Thanksgiving vacation here at work. First thing Monday, there?s a server crash. No database, no email, no internet, no nothing. It was like that for half the day. Tuesday comes and our database is down again for half the day. Not only that, but it was pay day and something went awry with direct deposit. Everyone on direct deposit didn?t get paid until yesterday. Of course, if you?re one of the lucky few here that gets your check handed to you, no worries: you just went about your business. The rest of us got pay stubs that didn?t mean anything for two days.

Wanted to check out a record release party tonight thrown by this label a friend of mine works for, but my services are needed at the church. Tonight will be spent typing up a memo for one of the brothers who wants to hand it to our pastor. After I got past the fit of rage I had for this coming on such short notice (writing something to be handed to the pastor is a big deal, in my opinion), I asked God to give me the words I needed to write tonight. I?m not foolish enough to think that I can do this on my own. I?m not nearly as miffed about not being able to hit up the party tonight as I was last night. In fact, I?m pretty much over it. While I know I?m doing the right thing, the ministry I?m involved in has been taking its toll on me. I won?t get into specifics because I don?t believe in saying negative things about the church or its members. All I?ll say is this: if I manage to avoid tossing a believer through a stained glass window over the next several months, it will be nothing short of a minor miracle.

Posted by macedonia at 4:44 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 23 December 2004 12:02 PM EST
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Wednesday, 1 December 2004
Now Playing: Peanut Butter Wolf - mix on BBC Radio 1's One World

I?ll be the first to admit that I?m somewhat slow on popular culture. On my way home, I pass by a beverage discount center. I stop dead in my tracks when I see this big sticker on the door advertising an energy drink called Crunk, or should I say, ?CRUNK!!!? I probably should have known that Lil? Jon (affectionately referred to in my home as ?Yuckmouth?) was behind this product. Check the ingredients: one of them reads ?black carrot extract (for color).? Did you know black carrots existed? And if you saw one, wouldn?t common sense tell you that maybe it?s something that?s better left alone? Supposedly, it takes like pomegranate, which is probably a good thing. If you?ve seen bottles of Pom in your local supermarket, you know they don?t come cheap. Perhaps Lil? Jon can be credited with bringing the exorbitant flavor of pomegranate to the everyday hood and hoodette.

The thing that made my jaw drop to the floor is the fact that on the bottom of the can it says ?Contains Ashwaganda (Horny Goat Weed).? They CAN?T be serious. And let?s remember that I was in front of a beverage discount center when I saw this, where you can buy it by the can or by the case. Ashwaganda was conspicuously missing from the list of ingredients online, so maybe it?s just a sly marketing ploy. But if Coca-Cola actually contained coke at one point or another in its history, would it really be surprising for Crunk to contain horny goat weed?

Perhaps what I find disturbing about all of this is?somewhere in America there lives a person that decided Nelly?s Pimp Juice just wasn?t enough. I?ve got serious problems with that.

Posted by macedonia at 4:51 PM EST
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Monday, 29 November 2004
it's about shaking those evil vibrations loose...
Now Playing: check the list, people...
Topic: playlists

Saturday night, November 20, 2004
Michelle?s Birthday Party, Brooklyn, NY

As I entered Keri?s apartment, the sounds of Madvillian welcomed me in. I took that as a very good sign. The collabs between Madlib and MF Doom had served as a soundtrack for subway transit the past few days. Beyond that, my wife had given me the Stones Throw 101 collection as a belated birthday present, so I had that label?s work on the brain. Eddie (a.k.a. DJ Soma) was still setting up the sound system, so I made myself comfortable and watched a skate video on the TV screen. He would get things started later with a nice hip-hop set. He?s a Stones Throw head, too ? we hit it off right away. Slowly but surely, more friends and acquaintances would enter the spot. Andre (Praying Mantis) followed up Eddie with a wicked jungle set. My man Mikal came through; we shot the breeze regarding various subjects. Good to catch up with Jon [s] also. He spun some drum and bass, too, mixing in his own tracks with other selections.

Let me get this out of the way now: some guy actually asked me for Snoop?s ?Drop It Like It?s Hot.? Of course I didn?t have it and at that point, I didn?t even know what the song sounded like (Life sans MTV and BET is quite the liberating experience). I heard part of the song a few days after the party and I have to say?I?m not impressed. The Neptunes have definitely done better production. Anyway, I still had some heads nodding and a few cats busting moves. I was requested to spin house and funk. I ended up veering more to the funk side of things; heads seemed to really dig it. Lesson learned: Always fulfill a request for Soho?s ?Hot Music.? Some people still go nuts to it after all this time. I always bring it but rarely ever play it, often choosing DJ Smash?s ?What Is Jazz? (sort of a mash-up between the piano sample from the Soho joint with Deee-Lite?s ?What Is Love??). Plus you can still make the guy who asked for Snoop happy because ?Hot Music? is probably one of three house tracks that he?ll actually get with. Hate to generalize, but that tends to be the case.

I always have an idea of what records I?d like to spin prior to an actual set happening, but it?s important for me to leave room for improvisation and gauge reactions from the crowd. That was definitely true of this set; the enthusiasts swayed me into some interesting places and I was able to reach that medium where I?m pleasing the crowd and myself at the same time. I love it when that happens. There were a few joints I played for the first time that seemed to draw a great reaction from people. I tend to joke about my DJ status as of late, referring to it as a semi-retirement, occasionally emerging from it to do a birthday party, bar mitzvah, and maybe even a circumcision if the mood struck me. These days I feel like I?d rather chill at home with the wifey and some DVDs. Sets like these are good for the soul and don?t happen nearly enough. I was so into what I was doing that I completely lost track of time. The set made Michelle happy, a number of partygoers happy, and it made me happy. A win-win?gotta love that?

- it's about shaking those evil vibrations loose
and dancing with mi abuelita on a saturday night -
a dj set for michelle's b-day party / saturday, november 20, 2004
somewhere around one a.m.

melvin van peebles*break that party/the eight day week/saturday night*stax
the pointer sisters*pinball number count (dj food re-edit)*ninja tune (uk)
lyn collins*think (about it)*people
breakestra*cramp your style*stones throw
esther williams*last night changed it all*jazzman (uk)
secret frequency crew*deep blue (eli-173 remix)*counterflow recordings
djinji brown*abuelita's dance*seven heads
dj smash*what is jazz*eightball
soho*hot music*kool groove
dj smash*gettin' dizzy*new breed
bobby byrd*i know you got soul*king
kool & the gang*chocolate buttermilk*de-lite
mighty ryeders*evil vibrations*luv 'n' haight
dennis coffey and the detroit guitar band*scorpio*sussex
liquid liquid*cavern (the cut chemist rocks a rave in a missile silo remix)*mo' wax (uk)
deee-lite*when you told me you loved me*elektra
isolee*it's about*freundinnen (germany)
manu dibango*soul makossa*atlantic
konk*baby dee*soul jazz (uk)
nina simone*see-line woman*verve
nuyorican soul feat. george benson*you can do it (baby) - bar beats*giant step/blue thumb
the juan maclean*give me every little thing*dfa
esg*moody*universal sound/soul jazz (uk)
daft punk*harder better faster stronger (the neptunes remix)*virgin (uk)
nightcrawlers*push the feeling on (the dub of doom)*great jones/island
earth people*dance (bonus beats)*kool groove
de la soul*derwin*tommy boy
dj smash*gimmie some*new breed
major force*the return of the original art-form (dj format remix)*mo' wax (uk)
olli ahvenlahti*grandma's rocking chair - kenny dope remix (percussive explosion live edit)*jazzpuu-love (finland)
archie bell & the drells*tighten up*atlantic
the new birth*i can understand it*rca
jimmy edgar*re: city alley*warp (uk)
gold chains*nada*play it again sam

Posted by macedonia at 5:42 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 3 December 2004 4:44 PM EST
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Friday, 19 November 2004
Big Baby Jesus has left the building...
Now Playing: ...a moment of silence...

?Shimmy shimmy ya, shimmy yam, shimmy yay?gimme the mic so I can take it a-WAY?? It?s like a slightly more coherent ?Cold Lampin? With Flav? or something. Thank God those two never got in a studio together.

It?s been almost a week and I still don?t know how to react to the news of Ol? Dirty?s death. For me, ODB was like that one relative you only see at the family barbecue that brings their own foldout lawn chair: loud, ignorant, and embarrasses you without halfway trying, but they?re family so you can?t disown them. And when they?re gone, it still affects you?for reasons that you can?t even find the words for.

I can remember the first time I sat down with his Return To The 36 Chambers album. I knew I was in for trouble upon discovering that the intro for the album was FIVE MINUTES LONG. And how surreal was his cameo on that Mariah Carey joint?

?Me and Ma-RIIIIIIIIIIII-ah?go back like babies with paci-FIIIIIIIIIIIII-ahs??

Ever since his death, the video he did with Busta Rhymes for the remix of ?Woo-hah!!? has been in my head. Anybody else remember the full-bodied psycho ward outfit they shared while bouncing around a rubber room? It was that image that came to mind when reading the sentiments of the webmaster at Okayplayer.com, calling his recorded output and live performances ?smart went crazy.? Yeah, I?d buy that.

May as well cut this short, for there will be others that can speak much more eloquently than I in regards to this passing. However, I would like to direct you to a related thread on the OkayBoards that I found interesting. In a way, it reminds me why I left the boards in the first place (and it?s rare that I go there even to lurk), but the participants do bring up some intriguing views regarding discussion of the soul after death, particularly amongst the hip-hop community.

Posted by macedonia at 4:56 PM EST
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maybe the (satellite) radio waves are causing brain damage...
Now Playing: ...the noise in between my ears...

I had no idea about the Satellite Radio giveaway in Union Square yesterday. You can imagine my surprise walking through on my lunch break to see the streets packed tighter than usual and two huge rigs in the park. Apparently, Howard Stern was there (like I care). It was all this huge promotional deal for the upcoming alliance of Stern and Sirius Satellite Radio. People were walking away with these satellite boomboxes ? a co-worker said that Sirius was giving them away, but I kinda doubt it was that easy to earn one. Probably the funniest thing about it was a group of people across the street from XM Satellite Radio were staging some sort of ?protest.? All wearing matching company T-shirts, they held up signs promoting talk show hosts Opie & Anthony. They were walking through the intersection cheering and drawing attention to themselves.

All this so that grown men who ought to know better can feel free to curse up a blue streak and do who knows what else on the air?fantastic.

Posted by macedonia at 4:54 PM EST
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Monday, 15 November 2004
the rock
Now Playing: Kelis - "Millionaire" (feat. Andre 3000)
Topic: the Christian walk

Last Monday ended on kind of a weird note. For the most part, it was a good day for me. I put in for that day off so my birthday weekend would be an extended one. I reacquainted myself with an old business contact to try to get some things moving in a different direction in terms of my job situation. The meeting went well. After that, I felt like swinging by my old job and I?m glad I did. Saw some people that I hadn?t seen in quite some time, all of whom were happy to see me. So I was kinda flying high for a while. Then the evening came?

Beth called me sometime after 10 p.m. really upset. She told me that the passenger side window of her car had been smahed. There was glass all over the front seat ? it had been completely shattered. She was able to get most of it out and had placed tarps on the driver?s seat as in the windowless door. Thankfully, our auto insurance covered it and we wouldn?t have to pay a dime to get it replaced. She drove home and was able to get it fixed the next day.

Under the circumstances, both of us seemed to take the whole thing in stride. Perhaps we knew that the situation could?ve been a lot worse. Beth could?ve been in the car when the incident took place. She could?ve been seriously hurt?maybe even fatally hurt. Unfortunately, these things happen more often than they should. Parking in a fairly safe neighborhood doesn?t change the fact that crime travels. Material things aren?t worth freaking out over, especially when they?re far less valuable than human lives.

I had been reading the Book of Job from the Old Testament of the Bible, so I was kind of ready for bad news to come. And of course, that news paled in comparison to what Job had to go through. He lost his family, his home, his help staff, his possessions, and broke out in sores all over his body that oozed pus. The only people he had to talk to were his so-called ?friends? that kept trying to figure out what he had done to deserve all of this. And for over two-thirds of the book?s chapters, God didn?t say a word. And when He finally did speak, it wasn?t the answer that Job was expecting. Considering what he had to go through, I wasn?t about to go ape over a broken car window. If anything, I?m thankful that nothing else was broken, nothing was stolen, and that my wife was nowhere near the car when it happened.

Beth kept a souvenir from that night: the rock she found in the car afterwards. She figured somebody hit the window with a crowbar or something. She described the rock?s size as ?no bigger than an apricot.? I?ve seen it and it looks smaller than that. We?ve been trying to figure out how this small rock caused so much damage. Just exactly how fast was that thing traveling, and from where? We?ll probably never know, but we do know this:

Job had it worse. FAR worse.

Posted by macedonia at 5:45 PM EST
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Friday, 5 November 2004
31 blessings
Now Playing: The Push Bin w/Lou (wfmu.org)
Topic: the Christian walk

I just got out of my job review. I don?t have it in me to tell it all, so I?ll just say that I got a glowing review by my supervisor, but it?s clear to her that I?m frustrated right now. At least she knows. At least somebody knows now and I don?t feel like there?s this secret I have to hide from everyone. I let my frustration be known and did it in a professional manner. It?s done. It?s out there.

I?d been preparing myself for today since this weekend. I turn 31 at approximately 4:02 p.m. today. I see the date, but it doesn?t register. It just feels like another day. I don?t feel special, I don?t feel celebratory, but at least I can feel something?even if it?s a void. Throughout the week, I?ve been counting the blessings to remind myself why today is important. Here are a few of them:

  1. God took the time to create me. The heavens and the earth were more than enough. The fact that He didn?t deem it a waste of time to form me from the dust of the earth and breathe the breath of life into my lungs is amazing to me. I meant enough to Him that He created me. (That goes for you, too, you know?) I believe that God is a God of purpose, meaning that He didn?t create us just because. There?s a reason why the Creator placed us all on the planet. If I stay in His company long enough and follow His instructions, my purpose will be revealed to me in time, at the right time?His own time. Remind me that I shouldn?t put a time limit on success.
  2. Even when I wasn?t concerned with God, God was concerned with me. I can?t fathom unconditional love, no matter how hard I try. And the idea that God pours out that type of love daily on a horrendously flawed creature like me is just mind-boggling.
  3. Jesus gave me a second chance. He also gave me third, fourth, 15th, 16th, 27th, 28th, and 32nd chances. Anybody else would?ve given up on me by now.
  4. The Lord has kept me from dangers seen and unseen. It?s the ones that I don?t even know about that I?m really thankful for.
  5. Health. In Westchester County, it costs $1.75 to ride the bus. I cut down on cost by buying a book of bus tickets, but my income isn?t like it once was. I stretch the duration of the ticket books by taking the bus to the subway station in the morning and walking home from the subway at night. Sometimes I?ll miss the bus in the morning and have to walk both ways. If it wasn?t for the Lord sustaining my health, my commute would be the death of me. And speaking of being near death?
  6. I lived through having the measles, mumps, and chicken pox at age two. SIMULTANEOUSLY. Both the doctor and my mom really thought I was going to die. Obviously, I don?t remember any of this. Anything before age five is a complete and total blur.
  7. All five senses are intact. A left-handed brother woke up in his right mind this morning. I can see, taste, touch, hear, and smell. I know how it feels to hold my wife?s hand, to have her look at me and smile and how it makes me melt every time. What if I couldn?t hear music? What if I couldn?t experience it on all the levels that I do now? I wouldn?t be able to hear my wife sing (she?s my songbird). And life would be vastly different if I couldn?t taste peanut butter, apple pie, and vanilla ice cream (no, not all at once).
  8. Food. I have a choice of what I want to eat in my fridge and cupboards. I?m not in a position to have to resort to cannibalism or eat what others throw away. At my lowest point, I ate nothing but rice for a week. Still, you can stretch starch-based foods, so that rice was a blessing.
  9. Clothing. In the immortal words of Mr. T from his Be Somebody Or Be Somebody?s Fool video, ?Everybody gotta wear clothes. If you don?t, you?ll get arrested.? I?m not worried about name brands ? does it fit me and can I afford it? I have more than one shirt, more than one pair of jeans or sneakers, and at least one suit in my closet. I BETTA act like I know some don?t have that luxury, as well as get off my butt and give my older threads to those that need them.
  10. Shelter. During marriage counseling, Rev. Dr. Edward L. Hunt (the pastor that would officiate our wedding ceremony) mentioned what was, in his opinion, the eleventh commandment: ?Thou shalt own property.? Beth and I want to own a house someday, but right now I?m happy with our apartment. It feels like home and a place of solace, which is critical when the work day beats you down.
  11. God sent me someone to share life with. Beth?s had my heart since the fall of 1992 and she will long after the Lord calls me home. Our wedding day and honeymoon are some of the happiest times I?ve ever experienced. Five years married, twelve years together, and we?ve only just begun. I thank God for her daily: she makes this life bearable and I hope I do the same for her.
  12. My mother. She has been the nurturer, the sustainer, the disciplinarian, and the strand of support and guidance for more than a quarter of a century and has lived to tell the tale. Still giving, still caring, still concerned, she is my mom, my friend, and my sister-in-Christ. She left me the sweetest message this morning while I had my review:
    ?Good morning, my darling. I?m just arriving at the hospital. My labor pains are not too bad. I will call you when you?re born. I love you. Have a blessed day.?
    I?ll always love my mama ? she?s my favorite girl?
  13. My father. Reconciliation is important, especially when it?s your parent on the other side of your scorn. Forgiving my father for past behavior is easily one of the best decisions I?ve ever made. I can remember him arguing with my mother and raising his hand to my sister. I can remember sitting on the back seat of his green Cadillac Eldorado and watching him and his friends freebase in the front. He?s made a number of wrong turns in his life and, thankfully, none of them have taken him out. The fact that he?s still here for me to hug wipes the slate clean. I love my dad more than he can imagine.
  14. My extended family. Between grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews, we are four generations deep on both sides of the family. Add to that my wife?s nuclear and extended family and you have a lot of people on all sides with a lot of quirks, idiosyncrasies, and general personality crap that drives you nuts. Even so, there?s a lot of love flowing whenever we do get together, and for that I?m thankful. There are some families that can?t say the same.
  15. I get along surprisingly well with my in-laws. Beth reminded me of that just yesterday. That?s a blessing: few things are worse than gaining family members through a sacred union that can?t stand you.
  16. My church family. In addition to my nuclear and extended family, God has blessed me with brothers and sisters in the faith I can go to for encouragement, accountability, and spiritual uplift. The secular world shouts ?clones,? but God desires unity (not uniformity) amongst His people. I don?t know how they?ve put up with me as long as they have. Must be grace and mercy extended in my direction.
  17. Morpheus. I?m adding this one at Beth?s suggestion, but it?s true: I love our little neurotic. I never used to like cats until Beth got him while we were dating. That silly thing stole my heart. He races around the house chasing things from other dimensions, he licks plastic bags, and he bats around his water dish so that it falls on the tray underneath it and then drinks it from the tray. In addition, he?d probably rather have peanut butter and tortilla chips than his cat food. AND HE?S LACTOSE INTOLERANT. This is what Beth gets for insisting on choosing a kitty that was hiding under a dresser. The apartment wouldn?t be the same without him, though.
  18. Financial aid mishaps didn?t stop me from graduating college. I?ve had to work for one semester three years in a row to pay my tuition bills, thereby turning a four-year degree into a seven-year bid. But I didn?t quit and I didn?t forget what the money was for. I graduated SUNY Albany with a BA in English. (A lot of good it?ll do me now: didn?t The Princeton Review rank my alma mater the #1 party school?)
  19. Brubacher Hall (Fall 1991-Spring 1993) Before this dorm was the property of The College of Saint Rose, it belonged to SUNY Albany. This is where I spent by freshman and sophomore years of college. This is where Beth and I first met and fell in love. It is also where I met the most insane bunch of people I have ever known in life. There was a whole crew of us that became friends rather quickly. Most of us have fallen out of touch with each other, but it doesn?t change the way that I feel about them. They were the most amazing group of people I?ve ever met and I know that I?ll never have friends quite like the ones I had in that dorm. That was a very unique time in my life, one that I?ll always remember with fondness and fits of giggles.
  20. I have childhood friends that still ask about me. Mom told me that yesterday. Cats that I haven?t seen in forever (at least since elementary school) run into my mom, actually remember me and ask how I?m doing. That?s gotta count for something.
  21. Music. I obsess over it enough to treat it like I know it's a gift from God.
  22. I?ve hosted a radio show. Several of them, actually, and I created some radio promos, too. I even had my own news article broadcast on a public access station (it was about the growing popularity of techno). Some of them have been recorded and are currently waiting to be converted to MP3 files. And as much as I think all my old shows suck now, as much as I want to distance myself from the person I was then and the radio station as a whole, I have to admit that I had a lot of fun while I was there. I really miss being an on-air DJ. It?s the one component of college life that I wish I could continue.
  23. I was a rotating resident DJ at a bar. From January to October last year, I was a part of a really great party on the Lower East Side called Recess, which was held at the Orchard Bar on Wednesday nights. I miss tag team sets with my man Jordan; we learned so much from each other. I miss hearing Goldenchild and Moises rock rare groove sets and talking music with them. It had its annoying moments, but the high points outweigh them in my memory now. There was one night in April of 2003 that the back room almost exploded, there was so much energy. It was 3AM on a Wednesday and no one wanted to go home. The party?s still going, but I hear from some that it?s not the same as it used to be. That?s a shame; for a while, it was THE place to go midweek.
  24. I had a poem published as part of a former professor?s book. Dr. Mark Anthony Neal?s class at SUNY Albany was the highlight of my last semester there. We?ve kept in touch since then and he?s currently considered one of the greatest cultural critics of his generation. He has written several books, one of which is entitled Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic. He asked for one of my poems to appear within the book?s introduction. It?s an honor that still humbles me. I have so much respect for Dr. Neal?s work and I make it a point to see him whenever he?s in town.
  25. Will and Khari. My brothers-in-Christ, my partners in Cut-Up City (urban-based audio collage), random silliness, and way too many in-jokes. Those two are always gonna be my heads. Cut-Up City runs things. ?We will be here for-EVER?Do you understand? For-EVER. FOREVER AND EVER?AND EVER AND EVER.?
  26. Mikal. MC, writer, raver, dancer, and all-around brilliant mind, he is a pea from the same brown-shaded pod. We met at a party in Albany back in 1999. I thought I was the only head at a rave that got into the music as intensely and outwardly visible as I did until I met him. That?s how we bonded. We?re both older and wiser, but still share similar struggles and we talk each other through them. Truth be told, he?s the younger brother I?ve always wanted. I?m very thankful that God allowed us to cross paths.
  27. Dawn and Baba. Whenever two people find each other that you know are just meant to be together, that?s a major blessing. These two souls are powerful as individuals; united in matrimony, they will move mountains. I am so glad that I was able to witness their wedding ceremony this summer. Plus Beth likes having more friends around us that are married and in their 30s ? makes her feel less like the oldest person in the room.
  28. Constant inspirations in concert. I?ve been fortunate enough to see a number of my greatest musical inspirations perform live: Prince, Fishbone, De La Soul, The Legendary Pink Dots, Basehead, Squarepusher, Carl Craig, and Mouse On Mars. Alas, I never did get to see Frank Zappa on stage. He came through my area on his last tour a few months before I got into his music. That was 1988 ? he died in December of 1993. I guess it?s no surprise that I?ve been listening a lot of his live recordings lately?
  29. I?ve never been to jail. I can hear the Chris Rock response on this one: ?You?re not supposed to go to jail. What you want, a cookie?!?? But when prison populations are overwhelmingly black (even in towns where there are no black people), you can?t tell me that someone somewhere doesn?t already have a cell with my name on it. I?ve managed to avoid becoming a cog in the machine known as the prison industrial complex for this long, and I intend to keep it that way.
  30. I?ve never been shot or stabbed. I?ve heard from those that have traveled overseas (especially if they?re from New York City) that others constantly ask if they?ve been shot, as if we all live in the wild wild West. I suppose we do, in a way. However, being in front of or behind a knife or a gun is not a black man?s rite of passage, contrary to popular belief. Neither fate has befallen me so far and I thank God for it. (?If you never been shot or stabbed [Mount Vernon], go ?OOOH, OOOH, OOOH, OOOH???)
  31. I?ve seen a body of water that just goes on forever. It was November of 1999 and Beth and I had arrived at the Sun Palace in Cancun. As we checked into our room and got settled, I looked out our window. All we saw was water. I?ve never seen that before. Usually, there?s always some land mass or bridge in the midst of it all. But not here?just water. I?ve never been as relaxed as I was in Cancun. Beth and I have been trying to get back ever since.
I was hoping the list of blessings would make it to 31. There?s lots more that I know I?m missing, but two days ago I didn?t even think I?d get this far. That was the goal for this week: to write down one blessing for each year that God has spared my life. It?s not like He had to.

Posted by macedonia at 12:19 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 5 November 2004 12:28 PM EST
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