Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina, Part 4: NOLA is no mo'

(Check out part 1, part 2, part 3 here.)

For a look at what people are really going through in NOLA, check out this blog from a NOLA refugee.

April, 2000

The first time I saw Bourbon Street, I thought the cab driver had made a mistake. Trash everywhere, homeless people out on the streets begging, fools walking down the road half naked. This was Bourbon Street? The famous Street that stood for NOLA?

It was. Burbon Street in all it's glory. That hazy day back in April of 2000, my first trip to NOLA. I remembered grabbing a cab at the airport, exciting to finally be in NOLA for the first job, and for a job interview no less. I was excited about the job, but more excited about living in New Olreans.

I told the cab driver to take me to the Royal Sonesta hotel. As we wound through NOLA's freeways on the way to the Central Business District (I thought it was cool that they didn't call it "downtown" like so many other cities), I craned my neck, looking at the skyscrapers, wondering what that big space ship-looking thing was. Where was the French Quarter? The neighborhood of sin, the decadent playground for those big enough to set their own rules. Where was it?

The cab driver swooshed off the freeway, onto Canal street. Look at the Palm Trees. Are we in the Quarter? The geeche-accented cab driver said no, we weren't. But we're getting there. We creeped down canal and hit a right. We drove a few more blocks and hit another right, then drove a few blocks and arrived at the hotel, which was anchored right in the middle of the quarter.

The French Quarter is hard to get to, hard to find. It is a confusing, mysteroius and complicated neighborhood that's full of life, exploding with energy and mysticism. It's a neighborhood where you can buy a Vooodooo doll, grab a drink, eat a po'boy and argue with a homeless person - ALL IN ONE SPOT.

But NOLA isn't just the quarter. It a big, fascinating city with life and culture outside the French Quarter. I remember seeing my first New Orleans Cemetary, where they have bodies buried above ground. Freaked me out. I remember eating turtle soup for the first time. Not bad.

Not to get too sentimental, but it's kind of depressing to see that New Orleans could possibly never be the same. Sure, they'll rebuild, but will it have the same character and culture that the "old" Nola had? I doubt it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Katrina, Part 3: The hotel has no windows

Most of New Orleans is now underwater.
The airport is underwater.
Downtown is underwater.
Most of the neibhorhoods are underwater.

So why is it, when I called Priceline to get a refund on my hotel reservation, the clown was like, "Why do you need a refund sir?"


Me: "Because the city is underwater."

He puts me on hold.
He comes back.

Priceline fool: "Sir, but I don't think the Hyatt sustained a lot of damage. We're not sure if we can give you a refund."

Me: "Look, I just saw the Hyatt on tv. IT HAS NO WINDOWS. How the hell they gon be open if there are no windows on the damn building?"

Priceline fool: "Please hold, sir."

Priceline fool keeps me on hold for like 6 minutes, then comes back and says, yes, I can have a refund. Clown.

Continental was a little more simple to deal with. I'd planned on going to a football game in Michigan in early Oct, but hadn't booked my flight yet, so I just applied my New Orleans ticket
towards that.

Why are service workers so useless and triflin?

Monday, August 29, 2005

'That bullet is a tribal mark, orientation, something we all gotta get sometimes -- just as long as we don't die, it's fine."

So Suge Knight was shot at the VMA awards. Tragic. Right?

Call me Mr. Conspiracy, but somethin don't sound right. I think this could have been set up by Suge himself, to get his name back out there, to boost his cred. Think about it: we haven't really heard much from Suge lately. Maybe a simple leg wound would get him back out there. Plus, we all know how, in the rap world, taking a bullet ranks right up there with going to prison as a way to earn props.

As rapper Peety Pablo put it: ''That bullet is a tribal mark, orientation, something we all gotta get sometimes -- just as long as we don't die, it's fine,'' Pablo said.

Aside from the fact that that's the dumbest shit I've ever heard, here are the reasons something don't smell right:
  • He was shot at an exclusive party, in an exclusive room, at an exclusive hotel. Come on, now. Everybody and they mamma can't just roll up in the Shore Club. And, they sure as hell couldn't get into an exclusive room. The person who did that had to be invited, and had to know somebody.
  • He was shot in the leg. Come on, now. If someone REALLY wanted to cap his azz, they would have shot him in the face.
  • Nobody saw anything. Just like when Tupac died on the Las Vegas Strip - one of the most crowded streets in the world - suddenly, nobody in this crowded, exclusive resort saw anything. And no one hanging outside other South Beach clubs saw anything.
  • Riiiight.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Katrina, Part 2

So I called to see what I can do about my reservations for next weekend. I pre-paid my hotel room through them at the Hyatt. At first, I had reservations at the good ol trusty Mariott, but I cancelled those to save money. Mistake.

2) Anyway, Priceline woman tells me that, basically, It's too early to cancel my reservations, which were for this Friday, Sept. 2. She's trying to be optimistic, and is all cheery. She's like, "Oh, you should be fine. The hotel is likely going to be open." So I'm like, "What if the city is UNDERWATER?" She's like "Oh, well, in that case you have options. "

3) So then, Priceline woman is all happy and cheery again, trying to reassure me that, even if a hurricane comes thorough NOLA, the city will still function.

Priceline woman: "I flew into New Orleans once, right after a hurricane, and everything was ok."

Me: "Oh yeah? When was this?"

Priceline woman: "A couple of years ago. "

Me: "Um, was it a CATEGORY FIVE hurricane?"

Priceline woman, after a pause: "Um, no. I think it was a two."

Me: "Big difference there."

Give her credit for trying, I guess.

4) But, as I said before, this isn't about me or my reservations. This is about the people who are still in NOLA. Pray for them. Or, if you're not religious, just think good thoughts.

5) Jhill and I were just talking about this: what about all the reporters, rescue workers, and politicians who have to stay in New Orleans? My company has several people in NOLA right now. I hope they're ok. Really makes you think about whether certain careers are worth it.

6) FOX news is a trip. Sensationistic as all get out. Damn. All the other networks have been low key, but telling the facts: the storm is big. Leave New Orleans. But not FOX. No way. They've been like "KATRINA IS COMING! KATRINA IS COMING!" I'm not joking. One of the anchors was screaming that late last night.

7) President Bush declared a state of emergency, and the other networks were calm, saying "The President has ordered an evacuation."


8) I have since switched to CNN.

Katrina getting her NOLA groove on

1) Leave it to a Hurricane with a ghetto name like Katrina to destroy New Orleans. Why couldn't Hurricane Becky or Molly do it? Why it gotta be a Katrina?

2) Seriously, though, we all need to say a prayer for the good folks in New Orleans. Let's hope Katrina realize that she don't have the right outfit for the club on Burbon Street, and needs to go back home in the ocean, and passes around New Orleans. If she hits New Orleans, it could be one of the worst disasters in United States History. It's deep. The situation in New Orleans is so hopeless that, even in a hurricane situation, the American Red Cross is like, "Yall some good ones for staying! Yall on yall own."

3) I'm not the only one with a sense of humor about Katrina. Check out this blog from New Orleans. It's an interesting read on what people are doing and how they're coping with every thing. Fools loading up on cases of beer. Good plan.

4) Wow. As I write this, an announcement just came on the Weather Channel. There is now mandatory evacuation in New Olreans. First time in the city's history that has ever happened. This is getting serious.

5) I'm sure, even with that warning, there will still be fools down in the French Quarter like, "Can I get another DRANK?" Clowns in NOLA treat a hurricane like it's just a drizzle or something. "Uh huh, yeah. We know a storm could come. But it prolly won't. Let's go get drunk."

Memo to those fools: GET OUT!!! Ain't no gin and tonic or Po'boy worth it! Hmm. Let's do the math: Booze, or death? Hmm. Tough choice.

7) Anybody else get obsessed with the Weather Channel during hurricane season? I can't stop watching.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

"They're comparing chickens to black people?"

Read this story. The triflin-ness of it speaks for itself. Apparently, PETA felt that the struggle of chickens was equal to the struggle of BLACK FOLKS during SLAVERY.

Memo to Peta: We eat chickens. We're human. They're animals. While I understand that they're living things and shouldn't be tortured, it still doesn't compare to what slaves went through.

Plus, hell, isn't is basically torture when I buy a 5-piece at Popeyes?

PETA Rethinks Slavery Analogy
From Associated Press

August 14, 2005
RICHMOND, Va. - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is reconsidering a campaign comparing images of animal abuse with those of slavery after complaints from civil rights groups and others.

The animal rights group's "Animal Liberation" campaign included 12 panels juxtaposing pictures of black people in chains with shackled elephants and other provocative images. The group, based in Norfolk, Va., wrapped up the first leg of the tour in Washington on Thursday, visiting 17 cities before deciding to put the tour on hold.

"We're not continuing right now while we evaluate," said Dawn Carr, a PETA spokeswoman. "We're reviewing feedback we've received ‹ most of it overwhelmingly positive, and some of it quite negative."

One panel showed a black civil rights protester being beaten at a lunch counter beside a photo of a seal being bludgeoned. Another panel, titled "Hanging," showed a graphic photo of a white mob surrounding two lynched black people, their bodies hanging from tree limbs, while a nearby picture showed a cow hanging in a slaughterhouse.

Controversy erupted Aug. 8, when the display was in New Haven, Conn.

"There was one man who began shouting that the exhibit was racist," Carr said. "Then, there was a lot of shouting." Carr said PETA used the shocking images to prove a point: Whether it's humans harming animals or each other, all point to an oppressive mind-set.
However, officials with the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People aren't buying it.

"PETA operates by getting publicity any way they can," said John White, an NAACP spokesman. "They're comparing chickens to black people?"

PETA officials apologized this year for a campaign that compared the suffering of Jews during the Holocaust with that of factory animals.

A pledge to my readers

I, Drew, hereby promise to update this blog more often. Sorry for being triflin, just been hectic and busy lately. Don't give up on me. This blog shall live.

(Though, I still say I'm grown and can blog when I want to, but anyway...)

Friday, August 19, 2005

Yet another anti-coporate America rant

Why are credit card companies the equivalent of Satan on Earth? I have paid my credit card payments on time for quite a while now. On time. Getting my shit together, right?

So, this month, with all my travels and shit, I got confused. Yall, I paid my credit card bill - online - one day late. For real. ONE DAMN DAY LATE. And I got fined $30 by the credit card hoes.

And, even worse, it was a low balance credit card. I only owed like $350 on that muthafucka. So, damn, a negro got charged 10 percent for being one day late!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Hotlanta, Part 2

What's the deal with Atlanta? I haven't been in 10 years, and I really, really liked it when I was there last week. Hell, I wouldn't mind living there.

But I also got this uppity vibe from ATL. As my boy Steve said: "These fools in Atlanta swear up and down this is either New York or LA."

And he's right. Atlanta is cool, but also has some of the most sididdy, snotty, uppity negroes I have ever seen in my entire life. Heffas running around there like they just jumped out of P. Diddy's limo. Guys rolling around like they just signed a 7-year contract with the Falcons or a record deal with LaFace records.

I got this vibe that there are certain Atlanta "types":

1) The uppity Southern Bell. This one came from money, even though her mamma and daddy couldn't wait to ship her off to school. If she left Georgia for college (which is doubtful), she attented either Howard or Hampton, yet she flies back to ATL every six weeks because she missed her high school friends. If she did go to school in Georgia, it's likely at Spellman, where she lived on campus, chased after a husband at Morehouse, but pretended like she was all that. She played hard-to-get, but likely ran through one or two fraternities.

2) The wannabe Southern Bell. This one came from a working class family but PRETENDS like she came from money. She likes to brag about her clothes, her shopping excursions, how much she knows, and likes to put in airs like she's a fifth generation Johnson, but in reality, her mamma and daddy nearly got a divorce when he lost his $50,000-a-year-gig at the plant, and she ows about $100,000 in student loans, and she can't afford cable and her Visa is maxed.

3) The Morehouse Man. Macho, debanir, cool, and gay as all get out. Dates women - occassionally. But prefers to roll with his boys for some strange reason. Will likely go to Medical School, and thus has no time for a wife. (Hmm. Wonder why?)

4) Mr. Rap Wannabe. This fool is from either Detroit or Flint or Chicago, but heard about Atlanta years ago. He dropped everything and moved down, no job, no prospects, no nothing. He expected to be signed to a record label as soon as he got off I-75, because everyone knows HE is the most talented, undiscovered rapper in the country. He calls his mamma every other day - collect - asking her to wire him $100 for his share of the rent.

5) Mr./Mrs Randomly Love Atlanta. This person likes Atlanta, but they're not sure why. They've always heard about it, so they decided to move there. Truth is, the only reason they moved there is because it was the trendy thing to do. This person is a follower, the person who does what everyone else is doing. They like Atlanta...they think.

6) Mr. Black Gay Atlanta. He heard that Atlanta was the gay mecca, so he figured, "Why not?" Marginalized in other cities, Mr. Gay Atlanta moves to Georgia, expecting a utopia. Only, he realizes what he saw in his old city: fools are all the same. Everywhere.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

"Drew, I'm blacker than you are."

This column by my girl Donna Britt has me thinking: what is black? What does that mean? What does it mean to say you're not "black enough?"

Recenly, KLC recalled, in front of some very influential people in the industry, that when we were in college, I sort of "tested" her blackness. She was right. I did. For that I apologize.

There have been many times in my life where my blackness was "tested."There was my simple-ass uncle who nicknamed me White Boy when I was a kid (going so far as to have a tshirt made with WHITE BOY printed on the front) because I was born very light skinned. There was the simple mf white guy in college at the student newspaper who thought he was down as all get out, going so far as to tell me once: "Drew, I'm blacker than you are."

Keep in mind that this was one of those white boys who wore baggy jeans and his cap with a tilt and listened to wack-ass East Coast rap and thought that made him down. As I told him once: "If I took you into the neighborhood where I grew up, you'd get your ass kicked."

But as Donna Britt's piece pointed out, we as black folks are really self-limiting ourselves in our experiences. We don't do certain things because that's not something "black folks do."

When I lived in Colorado - yes, some black folks do live out there - I went hiking a few times and snow shoeing once and that was it. I wasn't into the "outdoorsy" life because, well, I just didn't care. I didn't think black folks got into all that stuff. So I ignored it.

Now? I miss Colorado's natural beauty, the stunning mountains, the rolling hills, the trees. Let me tell you: heaven on earth is Colorado in the fall when the leaves are changing. Amazing. But I didn't take advantage of all of that, and ignored it.

Do I regret leaving Colorado? No. But I wished that I'd have taken advantage of those things when I was there.

I long ago accepted certain truths about myself: I can't play basketball. I don't like chitterlings. Rap music is getting on my nerves. I've read all of William Shakespears stuff and think most of it is brilliant. I like Sting. I bought Jagged Little Pill. I think OJ is guilty. Black folks gave R Kelley a free pass.

None of those things make me any less black.

So, have you ever been considered or called "less black" by someone?
Or "less white"?
Or "less womanly"?
Or "less gay"?
Or "less Asian"?
Or "less Hispanic"?


Yeah, yeah, I know I've been triflin in updating this blog, but, well, I"ve been busy. Plus, I'm grown. I can blog when I feel like it.

I just returned from a trip to Atlanta for a convention. I had a blast. I was able to reconnect with some people I hadn't seen in years, and really enjoy hanging around good friends and doing some professional networking.

And peep this: I actually had good service in the ATL. My last blog was a rant against stank black service workers. Well, I had some great black service workers in ATL. This one waiter was so cool we hooked him up with a $15 tip, and there was only two of us. He treated us well, and didn't act as if we were preventing him from watching the BET Awards. He was a cool cat.

So, lesson learned: don't go generalizing an entire group. I was ready to write off my people. Big mistake. Obviously, people are people, you know?

Ok, there are other Hotlanta tales to tell. Like the stank, cluesses, evil-ass cab drivers we kept getting and the fact that I lost my brand new cell phone, and the woman horse breeder I sat next to on the plane who was returning from a booty call in Minnesota.

But I'll save those for later.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

No waiting on line Black

Are black cashiers and service workers just inherently evil, or are they trained that way? Why does it seem like they're evil just to black customers? I am sick of dealing with the angry, stank, evil black service worker.

Look, I consider myself a real brotha. And I always try and help my people out. But it seems like lately I've been dealing with stank black service workers left and right.

First, I had to deal with Bomquisha at Randalls who got an attitude when I dared buy some groceries. Even though Randalls is a grocery store, an upscale one at that, Bomquisha was highly pissed that I bothered to get into her line to buy my three oranges, some ice cream, some bottled water and a bag of Funyions.

When I got in her line she looked at me like I stole something.

How dare I?

Then, I had to deal with DeVonte. I was out to dinner with some co-workers recently, and Devonte's suddenly friendly smile disappeared when my face made it to the front of his line. This fool was doing all he could NOT to take my order. He looked up at the ceiling, he looked around me, he even asked the guy behind me if someone had taken his order yet. The other cashier already had. Clearly, this fool wanted to do anything but wait on me. I was a little frustrated when all I wanted was a couple of $1.99 fish tacos and a margareta, and instead got thrust into an episode of The Black And The Restless.

Then, I had to deal with NABJ.

Man. N-A-B-J. Should be short for t-r-i-f-l-i-n-g. I don't even know what to say. All I did was call the national office and check up on my membership application and my convention registration. After all, I'd paid for both weeks ago, and they'd already charged $400 to my credit cards, and I have yet to see piece of paper the first. I wanted to know what was up.

So I called NABJ and told them what I was looking for. Then I say, "I just want to check on my membership and convention registration."

A long pause.

Then I hear a big-ass SIGH, like somebody told her her lights were about to be cut off.

Yall know the kind of sigh I'm talking about. One of those "you want me to WORK?" sighs.

Getting even deeper with all of this, why does it seem like black service workers only act like that towards other blacks? As I said, I've been in lines, I've been waited on in restaurants, and I've seen white customers get the Royal Treament, but when the service person turns to me, I get treated with disgust.

And I'm a friendly person. I used to be a waiter, and I used to get hyped when some black folks were sat in my section by the host or hostess.

Every now and then I'll run across a cool service worker, a person who is just so laid back they really couldn't care less. Like the black cashier at this one grocery store in Houston who procalimed, loudly, that she "didn't give a damn and didn't need that damn job."

But for the most part, all I get is attitude. Am I missing something here? Does anyone else get the same vibes from black service workers?

I know the service industry is hard and stressful, but, damn, can't a brother get a smile every now and then?