This episode features VP, Director of Recruiting at Weber Shandwick, Rebecca L. Sanders. Rebecca points out the pitfalls of having to navigate a corporate environment as someone who looks different than everyone else, and gives tips on how to succeed in spite of that. Learn how this former account exec, now tackles the issues of diversity and inclusion, as a high powered recruiter.
This episode features Seng Rimpakone, a former agency producer who has carved out an impressive career as a freelancer. Born in Laos, Seng's journey into advertising was long and arduous, but extremely fulfilling. Listen to her unique perspectives about tackling the industry as a woman, and the battles she fights each day to make advertising better.
This episode features Sergio Rodriguez, Executive Creative Director for Imagen TMA. Learn about Sergio's path into advertising — how he discovered his talents, sharpened his creative chops and journeyed to the U.S. from Puerto Rico. Sit back and discover how mastering two languages and cultures, are only a few of the challenges Sergio overcame to carve out a successful career in the ad industry.
Introducing the first episode of my podcast "Talented Others", a podcast aimed at shedding light on minorities in the advertising industry. This episode features John V. Seaton, an Executive Producer who entered advertising in the late 70's. Learn how he journeyed from picking cotton in the rural Jim Crow South, to thriving in an industry where few Black men had thrived before. From memorable Superbowl commercials to countless awards, we'll revisit the moments that make John, an advertising trailblazer.
"Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen." — Michael Jordan
There's a frailty to every job, especially those in advertising. Downsizing, lost accounts, mergers, changes in client leadership — the forces effecting job security are numerous and ever changing. The same job that provides you with income, security, exposure and access to the biggest names and events in the business, can end with one impromptu HR meeting or company email.
It's heartbreaking, mind blowing, angering and seemingly unfair. If you've ever been a part of a mass layoff or seen it happen, chances are that memory, and the lesson that comes with it is tattooed to your soul. Nobody's job is safe, ever ever. So, what's the best way to prepare for the unpredictable? Start developing hustle muscles.
If fast twitch muscles are responsible for you being fast, hustle muscles are responsible for your ability to hustle. We all have a primal urge to spot opportunity, but few have the strength to push themselves out of their comfort zones, relentlessly attacking and overpowering any obstacle standing in the way of their ultimate goal. That requires hustle muscles. When the checks stop rolling in, your hustle muscles fire out of reflex, survival. The goal is to develop and maintain that level of drive, even during prosperous times. Here are a few tips to help you develop your hustle muscles, so you can hustle harder.
You are not your job. You are a collection of unique skills and expertise that can be applied anyway you see fit. Once you remove yourself from the tiny box of a job title, it opens up a world of opportunities in need of you. Think beyond a particular industry or a specific set of tasks. Your new title is opportunist. Each waking moment should be about pinpointing opportunities that allow you to display your various skills.
Life has two modes, drive and cruise control. Drive has a specific destination in mind, while cruise control is mindless meandering. Set a goal and start driving yourself in that direction. Do something daily to take a step towards your ultimate goal. If you aren't tired when your head hits the pillow at night, mentally, physically or both, chances are you're in cruise control.
If there is no urgency in your life, create it. You know that book that you've been putting off writing for the last ten years, give yourself a hard six month deadline to finish it. You'll be surprised what happens. In 2004, at the Democratic National Convention, Senator Barack Obama delivered a critically acclaimed keynote address that let everyone know, he was a future presidential candidate. Rather than waiting eight to twelve years like most were advising, the senator ran for president and won in just four short years. How? Instead of waiting, he pushed up the deadline, which created urgency. Urgency forces you to maximize your time and effort. All good ideas have expiration dates, and all good ideas are being chased by better ideas. Activate your ideas as fast as you can in order for them to have maximum impact.
Every now and then you hear about some guy making some kind of crazy leap from ACD to Chief Digital Officer. Even better, you hear of some celebrity jumping from Hollywood to corporate America, as a Chief Creative Officer or Chief Futurist, for some major brand. In both scenarios, the sighs and eye rolls from the business world happen almost immediately.
"They didn't deserve that." or "Titles don't mean anything anymore."
There's a name for these people, hustle haters. Never be afraid to overreach. The ability to sell yourself and your ultimate value is far more important than any title. Even if you fail at the position, you walk away with a victory in salesmanship. If you're exceptional at convincing others of your worth, you will always be able to create opportunities for yourself.
Work your network.
You're surrounded by all these amazing people doing amazing things and you're not even working the room? Reach out to your network. Find out what they're up to, who they know, who they can introduce you to. Remind them of who you are and what you have to offer. You'll be surprised how many jobs or business opportunities will appear, just by making yourself visible.
Monetize your information.
We've all connected a friend to another friend who was looking for a job, that's admirable. But there's another group of friends looking to use your introductions to complete business deals. Don't just pass over your business connections for free. Put yourself in the middle of the transaction. Don't just facilitate the meeting, help close the deal. Your time and connections are worth 10% if that deal goes through. Connect enough of the right people and you'll have a lot of easy money coming in. Analyze your network, pinpoint potential business partners and start brokering deals today.
Most businesses don't understand advertising and can't afford to pay an ad agency that does. But guess what, they can afford to pay you. Negotiate for your expertise. Consult, direct projects and create decks for these clients. It's an easy way to use your experience and a great way to build new relationships.
Also, the digital age has ushered in a new generation of entrepreneurs. Startups often need help presenting their businesses to get funding, or consultation on how to market their new businesses. Tap in to this network. Your experience and connections are invaluable to these new companies.
Some of us have a great business idea we should be creating. For the rest of us, we at least have computers and cameras. We have blogs. We have Youtube, Instagram and Vine. Start creating something. You never know if your blog or video will blow up. But I do know, if it does, there's money to be made — millions of advertising dollars. So create something, grow it, make it special, make people want more of it. If you do it successfully, opportunities to monetize it will appear almost immediately.
Hopefully your hustle muscles are twitching now. This isn't a worst case scenario blog about what to do in case you get laid off. This is about changing your outlook about yourself and your worth. This is about maximizing your talents and experience. This is about learning to monetize your countless assets. It's okay to hustle, with or without a job. By the way, I didn't just write this for you, I wrote this for myself, as a reminder.
Don't just hustle, hustle harder. One luv.
In advertising, anytime you enter a client meeting you arm yourself with weapons — a sound strategy, research, good creative and a very informed perspective. In other words, you walk in like a detective at a drug bust, a big ass loaded gun in your hand, another in the small of your back and plenty of extra ammo ... just in case all hell breaks loose.
Ten years ago, I was in a client meeting when all hell broke loose. And no, this wasn't your garden variety bad client meeting. There were no tech glitches or typos. We weren't over budget nor had we drifted off strategy. This meeting went awry for more complex reasons — race and cultural bias.
It was the day before the commercial shoot. The project was a simple lifestyle commercial, showing the range of activities in the lives of a young, active couple. This general market TV spot would feature African-Americans as the lead actors. In theory, general market means, all those showing interest in a product, who also have the means to purchase it. That's in theory.
In reality, general market is code word for cast it with white talent. However, when marketers actually use diverse talent in their general market work, the responsibility for who that talent is, and how that talent will be depicted, falls on the hands of the agency creating the commercial and the client approving it. So overwhelmingly, depictions of diverse people are made in boardrooms void of diversity.
Now, this is where it gets tricky. What happens when you inject diversity into one of those boardrooms? What happens when your depiction of diverse talent collides with your client's? What happens when your wardrobe, location and music choices start to feel, culturally authentic, rather than generic? What happens when your general market commercial stops being vanilla? Well, as I found out on this project, you run the risk of your client feeling your commercial is "too Black."
Cut to my pre-production meeting in L.A. In another city, on the conference call, is my client. After wrapping up the presentation of the pre-pro book, a fervid voice came screaming through the speaker. It was my client, letting me know we had moonwalked all over her threshold for Blackness, and in turn, transformed her perfectly good general market commercial, into an unacceptable Black one.
"Why is he soooo black?" (in reference to this actor)
"I can only see his eyes and teeth" (in reference to his skin complexion)
"Is this really the music? It's soooo black!" (in reference to the recommended song )
"Guys, this is a general market commercial, not some little BET spot! Start acting like my general market agency!"
Of all the insensitive things said that day, and believe me, there were many, the last quote was the one that truly hurt. You could argue, the other comments could at least be dismissed as ignorant, uninformed, in poor taste and individual in nature. But that last quote?
"Guys, this is a general market commercial, not some little BET spot! Start acting like my general market agency!"
That quote reeked of privilege, discrimination and institutional racism. That quote wasn't indicative of an individual, but of an organization, of a community, of an industry. In this candid moment, one of the most powerful marketers in the land was admitting "Black commercials" were inferior in her eyes, and it was important her commercial didn't become one. Clients often disagree with creative choices. But this was the first time those choices had specifically been called out for being too Black. After that meeting, I was hurt. I was angry. And most of all, I was convinced, I had worked my last day in advertising.
Fortunately enough for me, I was raised by pre-Civil Rights parents, parents who overcame the Jim Crow South. They didn't prepare me for an ideal world, they prepared me for the world they grew up in. My daily lessons were about competing, working hard, exhibiting excellence, respecting people, never forgetting where I came from and not letting anyone or anything steal my sense of racial pride.
Looking back, my entire life I was being groomed to embrace the responsibility of being the only Black guy in the room. That's who my Dad was for most of his 40 plus years as an agency producer. I watched him navigate the industry, build great relationships and create timeless work. And there was no way I could expect to follow in his path without facing all of the same challenges he did.
In the end, I didn't quit advertising. I finished the spot, it tested well and I moved on. Yeah, I'm still here, different agency, different clients, same age old problems. So what does it all mean?
It means I'm worried.
Although that meeting was an anomaly, the opinions and biases expressed were not. I'm worried because I still have twenty plus years to navigate in an industry that continues to hold on to antiquated notions about who works on what — notions that attempt to stereotype the capabilities of Black creatives, directors, editors, musicians and stylists. I'm worried because I don't see any pipelines being developed to recruit, develop or promote the current generation of minority talent, let alone the next one.
I'm worried because at least once a month, some young Black kid finds me online. They find me because I look like them, because they view me as someone who made it in this industry, which means maybe they can make it too. I'm worried those kids will be entering an industry, that thinks it's ok to question what's too Black, while never stopping to question the larger more prominent issue ... what's too white? One luv.
I'm thinking about children.
My parents were six years old In 1955. That's the same year a fourteen year old Black boy named Emmitt Till was pulled from his relative's home in Mississippi by white men. Those men, fueled by anger and racism, kidnapped young Emmitt – brutalized him, tortured him, mutilated him, maimed him, murdered him and sank him to the bottom of a pond to rot forever. Emmitt lost his life that summer and my young parents lost their innocence. By the time Emmitt's mom laid him to rest in an open casket, with his grotesque body on display for all to see, the world had changed for an entire generation of young Black children. Their hearts had been filled with fear, their self image had been attacked and the sharp edge of society's rage had pierced their hearts and left a festering wound deep in their memories. The death of Michael Brown may leave a similar wound in the memories of your children.
I'm thinking about parents.
Parents strive for one common goal, for their children to have it better than they had it – a better education, a better home, a better community, a better life, in a better world. Michael Brown's parents held this goal sacred as well, until it was shattered by the bullets of a police officer, aiming at their unarmed son. Now parents all over the nation are being forced to sit down with their own children, to explain this senseless loss of life and the chaotic aftermath it has spawned. These conversations are awkward and heartbreaking. Parents of all races are discussing old realities with their children – racism, civil rights, American history, police brutality and believe it or not, survival. Yes, Black parents are being forced to teach an added lesson, "what to do if stopped by the police." As these parents struggle to find the words, they do so accepting the alarming notion that the world their children are growing up in, might not be any better than the one they grew up in. In fact, it may be worse.
I'm thinking about social media.
You think you know people. Actually, a more accurate statement is we never give much thought to who we think we know. We simply know them – from work, from school, through friends, family or acquaintances. There's a false sense of security that comes with a familiar face or name. You innocently associate them with other familiar faces and names of people you actually know well. So you follow them on Twitter, you connect on LinkedIn, you friend them on Facebook. Then a tragedy happens, like Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford or Michael Brown. When these stories, loaded with social and racial context, begin to dominate the news, the conversation steeps over into social media. People begin to speak, emote and reveal themselves and their deep hearted views. Some do so boldy, while others take a more subtle approach, simply liking or retweeting views that line up with theirs. Regardless, a social footprint is left and a stance is taken for the world to see. These stances often lead to arguments, grudges, unfriending people you thought you knew, and becoming leery of learning the views of those you know you don't know. Regardless of your views, your social media experience has been changed forever.
I'm thinking about my own innocence.
The loss of innocence is equal parts eye-opening and heartbreaking. You mourn the illusion of simplicity and perfection that was never really sustainable anyway. Meanwhile, you gain the experience of dealing with pain and healing yourself, while learning to prepare for more of it. I lost my innocence when I learned about slavery as a really young child, sitting with my parents watching the mini-series Roots. It was a jarring blow for my young delicate mind. But with that blow came my sense of racial pride and an urgency to learn not only about our struggle but our triumphs. That loss of innocence changed me forever, for the better. Other memorable moments of innocence lost include the Atlanta Child Murders. the first time someone screamed "nigger" from a passing car and the death of Yusef Hawkins. These were the moments from childhood that forced me to deal with a new reality, develop a more acute awareness of my surroundings and prepare myself for the threats it held. Not only did my emotional stability depend on it, so did my life, so much so that I wonder if I'd even be here had those moments not happened.
Innocence is overrated, and the mistake isn't in losing it, but in guarding it to begin with. Too many of us shape our perspectives based on ideals and fantasies about how we wish the world could be. But by guarding ourselves from the cruelty and pain that exists beyond our own version of reality, not only do we deny our own human struggle, we deny everyone else's. We also deny the real work that needs to be done to achieve our ideal world. Our world is in chaos, from Ferguson to the Gaza Strip, from Mexico to the Congo. And the residue of this chaos has a way of showing up on your front door, when you least expect it. You should be reading and gathering information with such urgency that your fears, ignorance and misconceptions are confronted daily. You should be sharing information. You should be having uncomfortable conversations with people, in person and even on social media. And most importantly, you should be talking to your children.
Your children are the next generation of Darren Wilsons and Michael Browns. How they interact in the future, what roles they play in each other's lives and through what eyes they see each other will depend on what you're saying or not saying today. Open your mouth, they deserve a lot more from you, than i̶n̶n̶o̶c̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ ignorance. One luv.
I've spent my entire life traveling back and forth to Mississippi. No, I'm not from there. But as my parents always told me, that's Home. They were born there, as were their parents before them, their parents before them and so on. At an early age the notion of Home was embedded in them, like a chip, and they embedded it in me. The small towns. The farm to table meals. The mosquitoes. The dirt broke economy. The highways, 61, 82,45. The community. The struggle for equality. That's Home. Our house and the city where my parents actually made a living was in St. Louis. Yet, we called another place Home. Three day weekend? We went Home. Summertime? We went Home. Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, family vacation? Whenever it was remotely possible to go there, we went there – Home.
Home isn't always where you live and sometimes it's not even where you're from. I think Home is a place you feel you owe a debt. Anytime a community births you, builds you or boosts you to higher heights, you undoubtedly feel some sense of gratitude and debt. That's why you go back. Sure, our trips Home were about reconnecting, fellowshipping with family and embracing familiar faces. But those trips were also about more than that. They were also about helping out – moving chairs across town, helping to paint a school, gutting someone's burned down house, sending food in preparation of a funeral, etc. And in instances when someone was down on their luck, I distinctly recall standing in the distance, unable to hear the depths of the conversation, but watching intently as one of my parents slipped someone some cash on the humble. That wasn't about an individual relationship, as much as a small attempt to payback the wealth of influence a community has had on your life.
"I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile." - Lebron James
Undoubtedly, the more successful you are, the more it means to people when you return Home. There's a huge difference between going Home to get back up on your feet, and returning Home having done your community proud. At my grandparent's houses, when the family went Home, there was a large collection of new cars with Northern license plates lined up out front. To the natives walking by, it was like seeing their own return hoisting championship banners. People they had grown up with had left for the "big" city and conquered it. They had carved out a better life for themselves and their families. There was real interest in the many different routes they had taken to achieve that success. And make no mistake, that success gave those who remained hope. If the very people they had grown up with had made it, so could they, whether they ever left Home or not. The living example stood right before them, they too could be champions.
Recently, the world's best basketball player shunned an opportunity to continue living in the glitz and glamour of Miami, to return Home. Almost immediately I saw cynical reactions. "Cleveland?" "Who moves from Miami to Cleveland?" "Lebron is dumb, that makes no sense." I found those comments and many like them superficial, short sided and very reflective of people who don't understand the meaning of Home. Like my parent's before me, I too have made many sacrifices for Home. Not only am I connected to my family's ancestral home of Mississippi, I'm also connected to the place I grew up, St. Louis. I've never lived there as an adult. College, post grad and my career in corporate America have all taken me on a journey away from Home. But as I watched co-workers take exotic island or European trips over the years, I was constantly stacking my precious vacation days to simply return Home. For me, I was sacrificing the world for my world. You can't put a price on attending a wedding, funeral, family/class reunion, Thanksgiving dinner – play time with the next generation of cousins or driving a half hour past a thousand barber shops just to pull up to one owned by family. These things are priceless.
I'm not saying don't travel. Travel opens the mind and changes the perceptions we have of the world, and often, that the world has of us. As ambassadors of Home, we owe it to ourselves to touch as many different people and places as we can. It's important the lasting views of those who come in contact with us spread and add substance to the narrative surrounding Home. After spending nine and a half years in Michigan, I consider Detroit my second Home. I entered that place with an outsider's perception, one based mostly on stereotypes and generalizations. But the countless Detroiters I interacted with intimately, made sure I saw it as something more than a city full of flaws. They made sure my eyes were open to the beauty of what it truly was – Home.
Maybe it's time we start to challenge our perspectives. Superstars like Lebron James aren't just superstars. They're real people who come from real places. And communities like Cleveland and Akron aren't just non-glamorous cities. They're Home for a lot of smart, talented, good people. This story is far beyond basketball, this is about Home. And Home comes in a lot of different forms for a lot of different people. So instead of criticizing people who live in front of cameras, it's time to start focusing on those who don't. It's time you start asking, what are you doing for Home? What influence are you having on the people there? What connections are you keeping alive and strengthening? When is the last time you slid Home a helping hand on the humble? Lebron is returning Home a champion, fully dedicated to repaying his debt. The real question is, are you? One luv.
"I use the n-word. I'm going to continue to use the n-word with my black friends, with my white friends. They are my friends." – Charles Barkley
Summer of 1976, I was three years old. We owned an orange VW Bug and it was nothing for me to crawl into the passenger seat of that car for a quick trip around town. Yes, I said passenger seat. In the era of love, peace and afro sheen, child seats were considered more of a hassle than an asset. So away I went, standing on the seat, holding the overhead handle as tight as I could, with one simple instruction – DON'T LET GO! And when I wasn't standing up on the seat, I was sitting in my mother's lap or stretched out across the backseat aimlessly napping, all without a seat belt. Ignorant? Careless? Barbaric? Maybe. But I'll offer another word, normal. This, my friends, is what parenting and car travel looked liked in 1976. Nobody was wearing seat belts and little kids, we were literally holding on for dear life. It took years of deaths, pain and an abundance of education for society to reevaluate the cultural norm and eventually embrace a better way. Once we knew better, we did better. I think the same is true with the use of the n-word.
There was a moment in the Black American narrative when the n-word felt like bricks hurled in the wind from every direction – a constant barrage of oppressive rage, striking our spirits and damaging our psyche. We shielded ourselves with all the strength and pride we could muster and still, it didn't feel like enough. Then the miraculous happened, we took ownership of the word. Suddenly, the common Black person, no matter how poor and uneducated they were, had an ingenious response for their oppressive society. Yeah Mr. Oppressor, we are niggers! Poor niggers, beautiful niggers, hip niggers, talented niggers, dancing and prancing niggers, prideful niggers, loving niggers, ball playing niggers, progressive niggers, revolutionary niggers. We're fried chicken eating niggers, niggers with doo-rags, niggers in Cadillacs, niggers with guns – niggers who are here to stay no matter what you do, no matter what you call us. That my friends was a powerful moment. Nigger/nigga became the rallying cry for disenfranchised people who wanted the world to know those words would not break them. Your words will not reduce my humanity. I am not what you think of me, I am more.
The n-word is a powerful symbol, of racism and of the ingenious way people survived it. However, today the use of the word runs rampant throughout society, void of context. All races, religions and nationalities use it. It's often used as an exclamation, as a slur or as thoughtless slang. The best case study for the word is to go on Twitter and type in either nigger or nigga. Sit back for a second. Scroll through the scribes. Notice the comfort with which it's spewed publicly. Notice the races of the faces. Notice their ages. Notice their total disregard for history and the naivety with which they embrace the word. There's a term for what you'll notice. It's not rebellious or powerful, it's just blatant ignorance.
At 21, I said the n-word all the time. I was young, naive and rebellious. I had a strong sense of history given to me by my elders. I even minored in African American studies in college and guess what, I still said the n-word. It was my word and no one could convince me otherwise. Oh, to be young. At 40, I'm of a different opinion. The years have taught me that black and white are seductive colors, but most issues exist with a shade of gray. The n-word is no different. I no longer use the word because I don't need to. I have other words that better articulate who I am. I have a greater appreciation for the struggle of Blacks from previous eras. I have a positive view of myself and other Black people, so I choose to refer to them in a more positive way. Also, I no longer live in Black isolation. I'm surrounded by all types of different people. To constantly use that word, might send them the confusing message that I feel it is okay for them to say it. Sorry homies, it is not.
I've made my peace with the n-word. I don't say it, but I'm not here to police who does or doesn't use it. I think the n-word is for people who are finding themselves. It's for the voiceless people who can't fully articulate their message, but need to be heard. It's for uneducated people who have to pass through a period of ignorance until they know their history and find their fully evolved selves. It's for provocative artists who can inject satire and irony into the word providing us with a startling reminder of its past. It's even for racists, to use so they can be identified as such and deal with those consequences. It just isn't for me, or any adult Black person with an education, a job or one iota of racial pride. That means you Charles Barkley, Mike Wilbon and all the rest of you publicly defending the n-word. At your stature in life, with your money, education and media platforms, defending the n-word is like defending allowing your three year old to ride around in the front seat of your car. You know better. And it's about time you start speaking like it. One luv.
A year is just long enough to forget. To forget the best moments, the moments you healed from, the "aha" moments and all those important moments you swore you would never forget ... but did. I tweeted about many of those moments and feelings this year. Here's a look back at a few of them, my 2013 in tweetrospective.
Feb 4th - friendship is a seesaw that should never be weighed in one direction for too long.
Feb 9th - the way you treat people who can't do anything for you, that's who you really are.
Feb 28th - either kick ass or be prepared to say "ouch."
March 8th - heroes are bystanders who chose not to be victims.
March 17th - something has horribly gone wrong when our young men stop seeeing female peers as classmates, friends or even humans. #steubenville
March 21st - too many don drapers, not enough putney swopes. #advertising
April 1st - advice should only travel from the direction of wisdom or love.
April 11th - reebok drops rick ross over "rape" lyric. so i guess they were fine with the "drug dealing" and "murder" lyrics? #advertising
May 1st - wow, i'm 40.
May 2nd - friendship is the act of saying "you are not alone, we're in this together."
May 6th - these are the people we should be encouraging to stop living a lie; pedophiles, terrorists, rapists, murderers, racists ... not gays.
May 12th - the biggest misconception about motherhood is that it is a suitable replacement for fatherhood. #mothersday
May 29th - Q. what's wrong with music? A. female music producers ... i can't name many #hugeproblem
May 30th - cheerios commercial features an interracial married couple with a mixed raced child ... brave client, brave ad agency, bravo. #advertising
June 4th - great taste is a talent and a curse. to know how few things are really good is to be bombarded with how average almost everything else is.
June 25th - impossible to be 100% loyal to the people AND the government. a loyalist to either side is a potential traitor to the other. #snowden
July 3rd - dear adolescents, please leave the social media world. take time to develop who you are before you allow people to critique who you aren't.
July 14th - there are trayvons in chicago, juarez, san pedro sula, acupulco, new orleans, kingston, cape town, detroit, and goma. #NoJusticeForTrayvon
July 18th - emotional people are extremely loyal ... to their emotions. #pokerface
July 25th - blacks doing anything positive have to be public and vocal about it. young eyes are searching for which path to follow, give them options.
August 8th - the beauty of laying in bed at 3 in the morn searching for answers is ... if you're up, it means you haven't given up. #keepfighting
August 20th - running ... far better as an exercise than as an excuse to not face fears.
August 28th - emmett till died 58 years ago today, marking the beginning of the civil rights movement. #MLK50
Sept 4th - #advertising consumers, brands and agencies are like nerds, bullies and cool kids. it's like musical chairs, the roles just keep changing.
Sept 17th - our country's mental health crisis has consequences – self medicators, rampant homelessness, petty theft, violence #AaronAlexis
Sept 24th - what are you chasing and why isn't it chasing you?
Sept 26th - best thing about kanye, he gives a sh*t about what he's doing. worst thing about him, he thinks we give a sh*t about it too. #delusional
Oct 6th - Fall = soups, full body reds (wine), pie, firewood, irish coffee, hot apple cider, scarves, sleeping in, fewer allergies, better movies.
Oct 14th - the Redskins name is about as insensitive as being the murder capital with a pro basketball team named The Bullets. oh wait... #thathappened
Oct 21st - reliving my nine years in detroit and the fall of kwame kilpatrick. #celebritycrimefiles
Nov 5th - happy 41st wedding anniversary mom & dad.
Nov 27th - when i was nine i read "Are you there God? It's me Margaret." by accident. that book saved me from the chauvinism boys often develop.
Dec 4th - i always wanted to do things that made people recognize my name, but i always feared doing anything to make people recognize my face.
Dec 13th - jim brown, blackness is like fingerprints, no two are the same. and nothing disqualifies you from the conversation. old views, new world.
Dec 31st - when people want to be treated better, too many say, "do you know who i am?", not enough say, "all i want is to be treated with respect."
Happy new year! Follow me on Twitter at @hardCore3eo.
i’m searching for wisdom
forward thinking towards change
praying out loud
calling out to the ancestors
but nothing's happening
i can’t see the forest for the lack of trees
the birds aren’t flying south for winter
mankind is being herded
in the opposite direction of unity
and the new togetherness is alone
at the top of my lungs
poems from the bottom of my heart
but still i see it
black skin and vitiligo ways
physical makeovers and forgotten souls
i see treatments but no cures
i see teachers but no lessons
inspirational words from dysfunctional people
apparent problems and hidden agendas
the mirror’s image is our reality
and it’s all so backwards
the way we live
the way we love
the way we are
hot heads and cold hearts
we scream I HATE YOU openly
and whisper I LOVE YOU behind closed doors
giving women our babies
but never our last names
giving babies our features
but never our time
accidental pregnancies and planned abortions
inverted ideas and matter over mind philosophies
young abrupt death
old lingering ignorance
a hurricane we’ll never forget
devastated black faces already forgotten
why is mother earth spinning
in the opposite direction of reason
people are praying to the west
and war is the way the east is being won
american news is knowledge
foreign news is propaganda
we label men liars and call books truth
we pay for the liquor and bootleg the music
and it’s all so backwards
the way we die
the way we hate
the way we continue to be
our dreams end when our eyes open
our movements end before the first problem is solved
and our heroes are only celebrated in death
fixed incomes and broken homes
sporadic menstrual cycles and scheduled executions
more martyrs than mentors
more parolees than pupils
dry wall goes up while historical brick crumbles
on lots where the grass stands taller than the people
and it’s all so backwards
the way we grow
the way we evolve
the way we raise our children
strangers do all the teaching
we explain santa clause but never the bum on the corner
we say, do as i say, not as i do
young eyes openly watching death in movies
old hands covering their eyes
the minute people start making love
as if to say that part ain’t real
as if to say that part is somehow wrong
and everything we hide they find
the pornos behind the dresser
the brandy above the fridge
the weed stash between the mattress
the skeletons in your closet
even the loaded gun under your bed
who will you blame when that gun goes bang
somewhere along the way we lost direction
aimed our inner focus outwards
turned our backs on each other
and now we all sit amongst each other as strangers
and as strange as that seems
all we ever needed to do to end this is turn it, around
the mountain’s highest peak is our potential
our footing lacks hope
so we’re all sliding towards fear
“A well-thought-out story doesn’t need to resemble real life. Life itself tries with all its might to resemble a well-crafted story.” – Isaac Babel
If we could all drift back to our five-year-old selves, ignoring the stains from the syrupy fruit punch on our fingers and the graham cracker crumbs on our shirts, we’d find ourselves sitting with a group of peers, enjoying our snacks, listening to a story. We used to call it “story time.” Story time was one of our first social experiences. It’s where we learned the art of listening. It’s where we learned to paint pictures with our minds and relate to things that often looked nothing like us. And it’s also where we learned to question things, as a group. For us, a great story could never be long enough and could never have a perfect ending, because we hated endings. What we loved were invitations – invitations to places previously unimaginable, which were nice enough to always invite us back.
By late elementary school, stories were no longer a social experience. Reading stories had become an anti-social act, isolating us from the pack rather than connecting us to it. Sure, there were stories in TV shows and movies, but those stories had major social hurdles. See, you couldn’t really pose a question in the middle of those stories without upsetting your social circle. But we did it all the time as that small kid during story time, right? The minute we were ready to call bullshit on something, we just did. We’d raise our hands, the story would stop and we would discuss what alarmed us, together. Everyone was in on the conversation and when we were done, the storyteller would simply continue with the story. Maybe that’s why sports are so enjoyable. We can share in a conversation about what we’re seeing, without breaking the flow of the story as it unfolds. That’s the ultimate entertainment experience. And thanks to social media, we’re finally experiencing our stories in this way again.
Social media has reinvented story time. It allows us to all tune in to the same TV show or movie, react to it and pose questions about it, without disrupting the story. Instead of sitting around in a circle, we have access to one, via social media. And that circle can be as small as our friends or as big as the millions of other Americans viewing the story with us. The interaction is silent but impactful. It also gives us a chance to gauge our viewing skills. Are we the smart kid in the circle, catching all the symbolism and foreshadowing? Or are we lagging behind our peers, with one too many “what did it mean when?” Yeah, we’re competitive, even with entertainment. Maybe that’s why so many of us geek out by posting creative memes, hard to find quotes or clips from our favorite shows. It’s a simple, not so subtle way to remind people, that not only do we like a given story but we’re also a part of something, a circle.
Ever jump on Twitter or Facebook when a hot show is on, like the top shows? You know, Breaking Bad, Scandal, Homeland, Boardwalk Empire and Walking Dead? What you’ll see is the social media equivalent of dropping a slice of bread on an ant mound. The live social feed literally go nuts. Maybe, this fanaticism surrounding TV viewing is simply because the stories have gotten better. I'm the first to admit to blasting through whole seasons of my favorite shows, alone, free of social media. That's one experience. I also know how gratifying it is to watch those same shows in unison with family, friends and millions of others via social media, while staying connected to the conversation. That's the ultimate experience. That's the experience that reminds me of childhood.
So where does that leave advertising types like me? Oh, I think it's obvious. We should be telling our own interesting stories. Stories for and about our brands that are engaging and easy to experience socially. Stories that will leave consumers wanting one thing – for our stories to never end. One luv.
So, one night I'm hanging out in L.A., Whiskey Bar at the Sunset Marquis. It's late, like 1 AM or so and I'm standing outside checking the messages on my phone. That's when I hear this abrupt high pitch screech. Not like sneakers on a hardwood floor, think more like a groupie on vodka tonics. And there she was, a 20 something, green to LA, aspiring actress/model/reality star. She was all dolled up, thirsty for a celebrity encounter and apparently her drunken eyes had found one – me. Before I could even react, she sprinted, stumbled up the short flight of steps out front and slid face first across the asphalt like a baseball player stealing home. With her hands, arms and knees now all skinned from her fall, she looked up at me slowly with zero shame and muttered two extremely desperate words, "Damon Wayans?" What else could I do in that moment but play the umpire ready to call her out? So my response was equally as dramatic as her question. I looked down at her and in a very deep over cranked slow motion voice, I responded. "Nooooooooooooo."
I'm convinced we live in a society that teaches us to make assumptions about people. It's really important for us to be able to rank people socially and economically, instantly! God forbid we treat everyone the same. Our society treats people based on the boxes we think they fit into. So this is where it gets interesting. Enter me. I'm not flashy, I don't drive a Lambo, have a posse or make it rain in strip clubs. I don't have an assistant, I'm never surrounded by admiring fans and TMZ is not snapping my picture at the airport. I'm just a 6 foot 2, 40 year old dude in advertising, who also happens to be black. Yet, based on how I look and maybe how I carry myself, combined with the environments I often find myself in, people automatically tend to think, I'm "somebody."
My entire adult life has been one long series of mistaken identity. There was the strip club in Atlanta in the late 90s where this stripper actually left her pole to come give me a big hug. "Baby, I heard you were in town." Sorry Peaches. Apparently, I was mistaken for Malik Yoba of "New York Undercover" fame. (Nope, don't look like him. ) There was the Mexican restaurant in LA, same year Karl Malone played for the Lakers, where the servers actually asked me most of the night if they could take a picture with "Karl." (Nope, don't look like him and I'm nowhere near 6'8, 270.) While preparing for a shoot at Universal Studios, a guy on a nearby tour screamed out "there goes Will Smith" and pointed at me. So I waved back to all 100 adoring fans whose vision was equally as bad as the guy who screamed out in the first place. (I look nothing like Will either.) Upon checking into a hotel in New York once, I over heard a young white woman whisper to her boyfriend, "babe, I think that guy's a rapper." (Really? Me? Must of thought I was an old skool hip hop legend or something.) Japanese tourists FOLLOWED me around snapping my picture in Maui. (Still not sure who they thought I was. T.C. from Magnum P.I.?) And upon my last flight out of the airport here in Austin, an older woman walks up to me and says, "just wanted to say, love your show!" She winked and walked away.
What does all this mistaken identity say about me? Absolutely nothing. What does it say about society? It says that in 2013, the social expectations for black people are still pretty low, especially if when a black guy checks into a nice hotel, the immediate assumption is, he must be famous. Same goes for a nice restaurant, vacation, first class on a plane, VIP in a club, etc. But hey, no harm no foul right? I mean, when you're assumed to be "somebody", other than a few hilarious awkward encounters, it's all pretty harmless stuff right? Well, sometimes assumptions lead people to think you're a "nobody."
Not long ago, a guy mistook an average black dude for being nobody. You know, the kind of nobody that deals drugs and breaks into your house and steals stuff, a criminal. So he followed that nobody. He called the authorities on that nobody. He even got out of his car, confronted with a gun and killed that nobody, based soley on split second assumptions, that the guy was indeed, nobody. But in reality, that guy was just an average black dude like me. His name was Trayvon Martin. Isn't it a shame George Zimmerman didn't confuse him for his favorite rapper? "Yo J-Cole, I love your work man!" Next time before you assume who someone is, take a second to consider, not what your assumptions say about them, but instead, what they say about you. One luv.
"Anybody can make a free throw..." - Coach Collins (Northside Youth Association; St. Louis, circa '83)
The gym went silent. And there I was with the ball. Alone at the free throw line. Tied ballgame. (BOUNCE!) Ten years old. No. 32, like Magic. (BOUNCE!) White leather Converse, like Doc. (BOUNCE!) No time on the clock. I make it, we win. (BOUNCE!) I miss, overtime. (BOUNCE!) I spun the ball in my hands. Bent my knees. Stared at the goal. (RELEASE!) The minute I let it go, I knew. Even though I was ten, I knew. I knew right after the one point some odd seconds it took that ball to travel from my hands, to that hoop, I'd be a completely different person. Needless to say, I was.
To this day, I have never cried as hard for anything as I did losing that game. After going to two overtimes, we lost when my friend Michael missed a free throw that would have sent us to a third one. I don't really remember shaking hands with the opposing team. All I know is, when we finally made it back to the bench, our hearts just exploded – simultaneously as we sprawled out all over the floor. It wasn't that slow pitiful cry either. It was that loud hurtful cry. The one where your insides convulse repeatedly every few seconds and you catch chills but can't catch your breath. It was a sad sight. At first, all the parents gathered around smiling, saying "awwwww", like they thought it was cute that we were crying that hard – halfway amazed kids that young actually cared about something. But after fifteen minutes had passed, we were still there, crying tears that would flow all the way home.
My forehead rested on the cold frosty window of our car on the ride home. We ended up stopping for a cheeseburger, but I couldn't eat. Hell, I could barely breathe. I spent the rest of the weekend walking around the house with a blanket wrapped around me like I was sick. Actually, I think I pretended to be sick after that. It was the perfect excuse not to talk much, plus it made it easier to hide the heartbreak. My family loved to tease and joke around. Showing too much emotion over something as simple as a game would have made me an easy target. So I stayed in bed a lot over the next few days, eyes open, staring at the ceiling. I replayed the moment over and over. I imagined how good it would have felt had I hit that free throw. Everybody would have been screaming my name, lifting me in the air. "Go Corey, go Corey!" Every time that dream got too good, it would evaporate right before my eyes, until all I saw was our white ceiling. Then Coach Collins's voice from practice would echo in my head. "Bend your knees. Take your time. Anybody can make a free throw." He always said he wouldn't blame us for things we couldn't control, but free throws? Free throws were the one thing we had total control over, so we had to come through. And I hadn't. That weekend, I promised myself two things. One, I would never cry that hard over anything for the rest of my life. And two, if I was ever put in a similar position, I would not miss my free throw.
Thirty years later and that missed free throw is still a huge source of inspiration for me. See, free throws are bigger than basketball for me, they always were. Free throws are simply opportunities in life when the ball is in our hands, when we alone have total control to decide the outcome. Every morning I get my ass out the bed and go to work, that's a made free throw. Every time I tell someone "I love you", that's a made free throw. Every day I'm an honest, trustworthy friend, that's a made free throw. There are so many things in life we have absolutely no control over. So the few times in life we have an opportunity to make good on small things, it's important we take our time, bend our knees and make our free throws. In basketball, when you miss a free throw, you lose a game. In life, a missed free throw leads to lost love, lost income, losing our good reputation and unfortunately, sometimes our life. I was lucky enough to learn this lesson at ten. By the way, as far as basketball, I never again found myself at the free throw line with no time left with a chance to win the game. And no, I've never cried that hard since. But as far as life goes, I find myself on the free throw line every day, knocking'em down one after another. Like Coach Collins said, anybody can do it, in fact, everybody should. I can't help but think, that every day, I'm making my former coach proud. One luv.
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
I'm surrounded by women, young, old, single, divorced, happy, bitter. They all have something in common. None of them have a significant romantic relationship in their lives, nor do they seem to have the slightest inkling of how to achieve and maintain one. These women meet men all the time and rarely get excited about them. Yet, when excitement does find their heart, a rush of over zealous emotions and actions lead to a relationship built on intimacy not interest. What these beautiful, intelligent women end up with is an on again off again lover rather than a soul mate, or the speed with which they want to move pushes their potential Mr. Right, right out the door. So how do these ladies deal with the aftermath? They go through phases of really casual relationships, followed by bouts of celibacy. They read books, join churches, write, become very goal oriented and focus on themselves. But deep down, that need to find a life partner, to really know love and even to start a family of their own, never diminishes.
There is no blueprint for love. However, I've seen enough sistas make the wrong moves so often that I think it's time I shared a little advice and shed a little light on the situation. I'm going to offer a few tips that won't guarantee love, but will definitely put you on the path to finding something new, if not significant. Mind you, there are exceptions to every rule, but if you play by these rules, you'll significantly increase your success rate.
1) NEVER DATE STRANGERS
Never ever date strangers. I don't care how great they seem or how good they look, do yourself a favor, don't do it. Here's the thing about a stranger, all you know about him is what he tells you. That's putting a huge amount of trust into someone for absolutely no reason. Trust is not a starting point, it's a destination. The minute you start dating a stranger, you make trust a starting point, thus setting yourself up to be lied to. Here is a simple dating rule. Only date people you know OR people who come with a reference. This gives you the advantage. By knowing the person, or knowing someone who knows the person you're dating, it gives you the opportunity to gather more information about the person than they may even be ready to reveal. It gives you the chance to think about all the things you've experienced with this person, or heard about them. Now you have a knowledge base to begin from. It also helps if the person you're dating has to be accountable of his actions to someone besides you. This is the beauty of meeting people through your friends. Common friends create a situation where, the person can't just treat you any ole kind of way. Treating you bad could affect not only what you think of them, but what his friends think of them as well. Also, it helps the vetting process. If people you respect, can recommend someone they respect, all this mutual respect will drift over into your potential relationship. Once again, it doesn't guarantee love, but it will alleviate wasted time with someone absolutely wrong for you.
Also, if you want to increase your dating pool, don't go out and meet more men. Go out and meet more women with male friends. Your female friends make the perfect buffer between you and what's out there.
2) EMBRACE PATIENCE
Your friends are married and have houses, and kids. So the f*ck what! Excuse my French, but trying to "keep up with the Jones's" is a perfect recipe for disaster. Life and the changes life brings comes to us in due time. So don't go throwing all your standards and expectations out the window in a rush to find any ole man.
You know that man showing you some interest. Well, I'm not sure if he's Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong. But one thing I am definitely sure of, he wants to tap that ass! And that's all he will want UNLESS you give him a reason to want more with you. Men are very skeptical of things that come too easy to them. Let me repeat this. MEN ARE VERY SKEPTICAL OF THINGS THAT COME TOO EASY TO THEM. So if you really want him to stick around, take your time to REALLY get to know him, and allow him to really get to know you before you start giving way too much of yourself.
As men, all our lives we have been told that women fit into two categories. The ones you just sleep with and the ones who are worthy of relationships and commitments. Terrible lesson, yet this is the lesson we've been given. Very promiscuous women often find themselves surrounded by male attention, yet that kind of attention is rarely long term. As we get older and people get more in touch with their sexuality, the lines between the ones you marry and the ones you sleep with blur. However, what doesn't blur is the reality that a man must have a certain amount of respect for you and who you are to maintain a loving relationship with you. Often times a woman meets a man and quickly starts sleeping with him, cooking for him, and in many ways taking good care of him, yet he won't commit. You know the old adage, if you can get the milk for free, then why buy the cow? It's true. So if you want to go giving away unearned milk, cool. Just know if you're doing it, it's not necessarily the way to a substantive relationship.
Learn to show yourself the same level of patience you have given so many bad relationships. Take your time with yourself. Be forgiving of your mistakes. Put no time constraints on your happiness and well being. And when you do find a spark with someone, resist the urge to let your mind go zooming past the second date down the aisle towards the preacher. Desperate thoughts lead to desperate actions. Sure, the ticking clock is real. But at a certain point all you can do is put yourself in the best possible situation to embrace love. What you can't do is make love embrace you back.
3) KNOW YOUR POWER
Women, you have no idea just how much power you have. From here on out, know this if you don't know anything, you are worth a million dollars to someone. So act the part.
a) Never chase a man. Remember, you're worth a million bucks, what man wouldn't chase after a million bucks? Initially, if he wants to see you, let him come to you. The minute you put yourself in a situation where you are running behind him, chasing him down, flying to see him, driving to his place at his whim when he hasn't even shown you he's willing to do the same for you--in his eyes, your value diminishes.
b) Invest wisely. Every relationship, no matter how deep or casual is an investment, an investment of you. What defines a good investment is the returns you see on that investment. If you make a small investment of yourself and you see small returns, that's considered a conservative investment. But if you start making risky investments, mind, body, soul, and the only returns are pain and heartache, that's a great way to become emotionally bankrupt. If you value your worth, and understand your power, always invest conservatively. Take your time and learn all about what you're investing in. See how risky or stable of an investment it is before you go investing more and more of yourself.
c) Be specific. Not only are you powerful, the power of words is real. You all have standards, and beyond that, you all know what you want. Yet when you go speaking to the universe, you make really general statements like, "I just want a good man." And bam, you meet a good man. He just happens to be a good man with bad credit and four kids. See, the universe gave you exactly what you asked for, but you weren't specific. So become more specific. Also, know what you REALLY want. Don't say, "I want a handsome man", when you really want a man who won't cheat on you. The universe is listening to your thoughts and your words. Embrace your power, and speak into existence your reality.
4) BE HAPPY
Your happiness is not dependent on a romantic relationship. Focus all your energy on being a happy well rounded person. Happy energy resonates with people and is one of the most magnetic forces on Earth. We all want to be around people who seem like they are carefree and enjoying life, not those drowning in misery. Our worlds get really small when we only focus on our personal problems. When we focus on our blessings and the potential of what's to come, our worlds suddenly seem enormous and very exciting. The best chance you'll ever have of being happy WITH someone, is by first learning how to be happy alone.
Good luck sistas. One luv.
sidenote: Quit taking advice from your bitter female friends. Find an objective male confidant you trust, who isn't trying to date you and take your men issues to him.
As a kid growing up, what we had for dinner was more than food. It told a story. It gave deep insights about the state of the household. After a while, it became so predictable that just by smelling what we were having for dinner, you knew whether times were good, bad, whether new money was coming in the door, or even if someone in the family had just died. Each meal articulated something very specific and even as a young kid, I quickly learned to decipher the language of our household meals.
BAKED HAM - My folks weren't big ham eaters. So if you smelled ham, somebody was dead, straight up! What followed was an impromtu haircut, a lot of cleaning up and tons of phone calls to the house. We were either about to have a lot of company or go to someone's house who already did. We had a few deaths in the family as a kid and the smell that sticks out to me is ham with pineapples and cheap beers.
BREAKFAST FOR DINNER - Breakfast for dinner meant there were absolutely ZERO groceries in the house. You know that sad sight of opening up the fridge and seeing the back of that mofo. We all know it! So to play it off, my moms would fry some eggs and bologna, bake some biscuits and it would be on. We'd all sit down to the table, passing the jelly for our biscuits, as we washed it down with Pepsi.
SUNDAY DINNER - Sunday dinner was the shit. But the cool thing about it at my house was, it wasn't only served on Sunday. Any time my mother was off from work, I can remember walking home from school and time we stepped onto our street, we could smell the aroma just oozing out the house. My moms got down on her off days. You could smell fried chicken, candied yams, macaroni and cheese, collard greans and all kind of other goodies in the air. If you smelled a Sunday dinner and it wasn't Sunday, my mother was really relaxed, which translated into her going way over the top to please the family.
SUNDAY DINNER ON FRIDAY - A Sunday dinner on Friday meant important guests were coming in from out of town. Either our grandparents or someone they were trying to show off for.
MICKEY D's - At my crib, McDonalds was reward food. I hated going to the doctors as a kid and since I had asthma real bad when I was younger, that was all the damn time. Mickey D's came after a visit to the doctor's or dentist's office. You leave the doctor's office mad, lips poked out, arm sore from the shot dude just gave you and fifteen minutes later, you had a shit eating grin on your face as you stuffed a cheeseburger down your throat followed by the cold chaser that was always orange drink!
CHILLI AND HOT DOGS - Chilli and hot dogs meant the first cold Saturday of the winter had arrived. We usually ate off it two to three days.
SALMON CROQUETS - This was one of my favorite meals, but my old man hated it! So if you smelled salmon croquettes, with white rice and gravy, the old man was out of town on business. It also meant I got the lion's share of the dinner. This meal made me feel like a man. So what I was eight. I'd even slide over into his chair to complete the effect!
BAKED BEANS & HOT DOGS - If I smelled this shit, moms was out of town and pops was cooking. To this day, my old man is no chef. In fact, besides some really bad scrambled eggs, this is the only meal I ever saw him cook up as a kid. Sometimes my mother would go out of town for a funeral or something and the rest of us would stay home. Each time, my sister and myself were fed large plates of my old man's specialty. Oh yeah, he had the nerve to serve it up with Ritz crackers on the side – like it went together or something. We always complained when he cooked it, but I secretly didn't mind the taste at all.
SPAGHETTI OR LASAGNA - This was my mother's way of saying "I will not be cooking for the next three or four days, so eat up." My mother made the biggest pots of spaghetti and the biggest pans of lasagna. We'd eat on it forever and never got mad about it cause it was so good.
VIENNA SAUSAGES, POTTED MEAT, & SPAM - Believe it or not, there was a time in my childhood when I cheered when this stuff was served up. If you could get past that nasty ass yellowish meat jelly that hung over the meat like a dark cloud, it was smooth sailing. My folks pushed this on us when they had to go out and they didn'ty want us messing with the stove. So it was a big box of Premium white crackers and all the canned meat we could eat.
PINTO BEANS & RICE - My pops is a Souther dude who doesn't give a damn about meat, but he loves beans. So this meal meant my old man had to go out of town on business for a while. So moms usually blessed him with one of his favorites.
NECK BONES & BUTTER BEANS - This one meant my old man was just getting back in town from a business trip and moms wanted to greet him right. If you've never had the pleasure of sucking on a neckbone, consider yourself lucky. It's all kind of weird juice and white stuff that comes out of them bones. At the time it was good. (Now you can understand why I didn't eat pork for fifteen years.)
CUBE STEAK & BAKED POTATOES - This was our "let's celebrate" meal. It usually meant some new money had come into the house. A promotion or something like that. We always ate a salad with it. And this was one of the few times we ever had desert with our meal. My folks didn't do dessert. Dessert for us was usually Jello with fruit cut up in it. But when we had cube steak and potatoes, there was usually an apple pie sitting on the stove to go with it.
Q-KING - Back home in St. Louis, there used to be this spot on Kingshighway called BBQ KING. Man it was good. My barber shop was in the vicinity, so after I got my shag trimmed up and lined, (yeah fool, I had a shag growing up, like 82-83) my pops would stop at a pay phone to get my mother and sister's order and it was always right over to Q-KING's. My favorite was the hot link sandwhich with that white ass Wonder bread with barbeque sauce poured over it until it just melted in your mouth.
PIZZA - If we were eating pizza at my house, throw some confetti in the air and pop open a grape soda, IT'S PAY DAY. Each pay day like clock work, we ate pizza. In other words, every other friday we were eating pizza. Sometimes we ordered it, sometimes we went out to get it. But the mood was always vibrant and happy when pizza was served up.
FRIED BOLOGNA OR GRILLED CHEESE - I grew up in a house where food was always plentiful. So when we started eating too many grilled cheese sandwhiches or fried bologna and crackers back to back, you kinda knew, somebody must be broke.
FEND FO' YA'SELF - Fend for yourself was my mother's "pissed at the world" meal. This was served when my mom, an overworked school teacher, got home tired as hell and me and my sister had messed the house up real bad. The demand was simple, "clean up the damn house and fend fo' ya'self". If pops was in town, he'd bail us out with White Castles. If he was out on work, we usually ate cereal and always got in trouble later for "eating up all the breakfast food". Oh well, you gotta eat.
So there it is. And I know I'm not the only one. I'm sure the food served up at your crib as a child held hidden messages too. And if you think back hard enough, you might even remember a few. Part two coming soon. One luv.