I've never once believed that we, as a people, as a society, have ever really settled racial tensions. I've always been hopeful that people have changed, but not that racism has been eliminated. Case in point: the riots in Toledo, Ohio.

Planned Nazi March Sparks Violence

If you ask me what I think, I think the White Supremacy movement is a load of shit. I think its a hateful and ignorant way to live. Especially here. Culturally and racially speaking, the United States is one of the most diverse countries on the planet. Yes, it has been marred by years upon years of civil unrest because of many people's inability to blend and share. And with all the years of racial inequalities, with all those whom we have lost in the battle to make everyone's voice equal, it stands to reason that we might have learned something from our mistakes and our successes.

My children are part black and I hope that they are able to embrace what it means to be black. I want them to research their roots and celebrate their shared cultures. I want them to learn that it's okay to be black or white or brown. But I also want them to learn that even if they don't agree with someone's ideology, they have no right to squash it. I hate Neo-Nazis. I hate them. But unfortunately, the Constitution of the United States of America gives these racists the right to peacefully assemble and to express their views. Yes, there are limits, but the right is established.

As much as it pains me to say, the White supremacist have a right to their beliefs just as much as I do. If I chose to march for my beliefs, I would hate for someone to be there to throw food or trash at me or to cause me harm for my choice of beliefs.

The Neo-Nazis were planning to march through neighborhoods to express their outrage over gang violence. They claimed that people urged them to march. I don't know if there's a shred of truth to that last claim. The group got a permit and outlined a route with local authorities in which they planned to walk. This was planned almost a week in advance, according to news agencies.

Hatred and intolerance breed from hatred and intolerance, yes? If you throw gasoline on a fire, the fire intensifies, yes?

I understand that people don't want a Neo-Nazi group to march through their neighborhood and spew their rhetoric. I wouldn't want that happening in my neighborhood. But what would give these people more satisfaction:

A] that you watch from your porch, in seething silence, as they march down the street telling you that they hate you.
B] that you throw things at them, attempt to hurt them and then systematically destroy your own neighborhood in protest.

It takes the same kind of ignorance to tear up your own shit and loot your neighbor's property as it does to believe that because you aren't white, you're no good. They automatically share something. Ironic, isn't it? They are joined together by the gene for stupidity.

Because the Neo-Nazi's were allowed to assemble, protesters of the march felt they were in their own right to attack police officers and destroy both public and private property. What kind of ignorant shit is that?

You know what that says to Neo-Nazis? That they are right. The march protesters have given up their right to be angry and any argument they present is void. The violent mob said, "You're protecting the wrong people!" They were protecting everyone!!!!

I would hate for a group of Neo-Nazis to walk down my block saying, "Send those wetbacks back to Mexico!!! They've come here to steal our jobs and dirty up our streets!!! They are lazy and stupid and they bring down property values wherever they settle!!!!"

I'd be livid. I'd be angrier than shit. But here's what I'd yell back. "If you want your chicken de-boning job, you can have it back. If you want to mow the lawns and trim trees, go for it. If you want to open up tire shops and Mexican restaurants, have at it. If you want to take back all the jobs that lazy, unmotivated WHITE folks don't want and think they are above of, feel free to take them." Better yet, I'd grab the phone, call my buddy Fred over and we'd sit on the lawn, drinking imported beers and smoking cigarettes and laughing as they walked by.

THINK PEOPLE!!!! When you become consumed by hatred, you not only give people like that ammunition from which to continue to fuel their incoherent, ridiculous beliefs, but you take a step down the ladder and are soon beneath them. Channel your fears and angers into something productive from which a real solution comes. Listen to the music you believe gives you strength. Empower yourself to make a difference and give yourself and those around you true strength.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
"The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force."

If you can't beat hatred with love, beat it with indifference. You cannot defuse a bomb with another bomb. It might seems silly or idealistic to read those words, in this day, that MLK felt so strongly, but their value has never diminished. And neither has the sense of promise which they so beautifully outline.

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.' I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today."

Hatred is fueled by ignorance and fear. Don't give them the satisfaction.


He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

I still don't know why my parents waited so long to have another child.

My "little" brother, Dorian, is somewhere in Buffalo right now listening to my voicemail message advising him not to drink and drive tonight. He'll be out with his friends celebrating his birthday. I think he's 23 today.

Just yesterday, he was chasing me around the backyard, wanting to hang around with me. Well, it seems like just yesterday. I remember wanting to pick him up from his little carrier when he was just a baby. He was a little guy back then. Now he's bigger and taller than me. Little brother, my ass.

I remember when he was little kid, still in his crib, he'd stand, hold himself up by the gate and look down. He was big enough to see over the top. Somehow, he discovered that if he hoisted himself right, he could flip over the rails and reach the ground. Of course, that meant that when he'd flip, he'd come crashing down on his backside with a tremendous THUMP! I came running into the room and there he was, on his back, giggling and laughing. I got scared and put him back, not knowing what happened. As I left, I hear, THUMP! So I run back and there he is laughing again. After putting him back the second time, I turned the corner and snuck a peek. He stood up and hoisted himself over, doing a complete flip on the way down and then THUMP! Back to the giggling. In retrospect, that might explain a lot about the man I'd come to call, 'Dee.'

He was a good kid. Very bright and personable. He inherited my father's volatile sensibility which always put him head to head with Dad. When he was about 10 or so, we'd tell him that Dad was on his way home and he' high tail it out to the backyard to hide. They still lock horns from time to time. But he doesn't run anymore.

Between school and my parents, I tried to have as much of a positive effect on him as I could. We'd get on each other's nerves from time to time. But for the most part, we were close. He always hung around me and my friends, trying to throw his two cents worth into anything he could. I offered him all the best music I could find and we always went to watch movies together. I ripped the manager of a Dollar Theatre a new asshole for not allowing him to watch a rated R movie with me. It was a shitty, Jean-Claude Van Damme movie too. "Timecop."

When I was still at home, we didn't have separate rooms. Not for a long time. We had this bed that had another bed underneath it. It had a handle and you'd simply pull it out. We'd stay up talking about games, movies, girls and God knows what else.

He and my dog, Jordan, grew up together. There's a photo that, if I ever find, I'll post. He's kneeling down and she's at his side. He must have been about 8 or 9. For 14 years, they played in the spacious backyard at my folks house. He loved her just as much as I did. Maybe more. It was a heartbreaking day when we had to cut a hole in the living room floor to get to her lifeless body. We both cried all day long, it seemed.

The day he told my folks he was going to Buffalo with his girlfriend, my parents nearly lost their minds. Not because they were gonna miss him, but because they thought he was making a mistake. There was, of course, no talking him out of it. He and Susan seemed solid. In the back of my mind, I was hoping that it would last. He's not with her anymore, but he's still in Buffalo. He's had his share of fuck-ups, but who hasn't. Still, he's managed to make close friends, he's a volunteer firefighter and he's happy and healthy. My parents are very proud of all he's accomplished out there.

What makes me particularly proud is that all the things about literature and film and music that I taught him stuck with him. Not to mention the fact that he's a great guy. One of the finest men I know and I'll ever know. He doesn't visit as often as I'd like, but I have yet to visit him in the nearly 5 years that he's been in Buffalo. He was the best man at my wedding. That was something. Damn near had me in tears with his toast. I think about it, I get teary eyed.

For years I called him "kid." After a while, I came to realize that he wasn't a kid. He'd begun to sprout hair on his face, had a girlfriend in tow and was sneaking beers here and there. And now, he is undeniably a man. A great man.

So, hoist a drink up for Dorian. The best brother a guy could ever have.

I'll be right there. I just gotta record 31 songs...

I can't say I was ever a die hard Van Morrison fan. I mean, I listened to a few albums of his. An Irish friend use to listen to an album with Van and The Chieftains. That was a great album. They even sang in Gaelic.

The last time I gave Van a try, he was rambling through a chorus of "Boom Boom" with John Lee Hooker. What is it about aging singers that makes them repeat words or whole sentences over and over when they sing.

"And I, and I, and I, and I love you, baby!!!!" Christ.

Needless to say, I didn't go through the whole album.

Then I found this. I haven't listened to any of these songs yet. Well, just the one about the danish. I'm dying of curiosity.

Contractual Obligation Album


It's not often that I have a picture of me to post since I'm usually the one taking the pictures. Seems it's been like that all my life. Jaime, our Photo Editor, took this one of me taping Jonathan Thompson during his going away party. Posted by Picasa

I Hate People

Sometimes I'll be driving and just utter, "I fucking hate people."
Sometimes, I feel bad about saying it. Even though I mean it. Other times, I don't give a good goddamn.
This is one of those times.

Aaron has been quite miserable these past few weeks. A wheelchair, coupled with a brace he wears all day, has reduced what he can do to just about nothing. He and Tonya went to Shriner's in Houston last week and they took away the wheelchair and diminished the use of the brace to just at night. Aaron was delighted. He was given a walker to promote his mobility and to help strengthen his leg. Since he has very limited use of his left arm, the walker comes with a handy platform and strap to immobilize his arm and help provide support.

Tonya and I had to go cash her paycheck and figured we would go to HEB (our local grocery store) and stock up for the next couple of weeks. Since Aaron was with us, he would either have to amble around the store with his walker or ride in one of those motorized shopping carts. He elected the cart probably because it allowed him to drive. He sometimes gets excited at the prospect of driving, but we have to bring him down from his cloud. Aaron will never drive. But he is able to control a bumper car, so we figured this would be okay. He actually drove very well, minus a few minor collisions with endcaps and miscellaneous store obstacles. As we moved about the store, Tonya and I both noticed that just about everyone we encountered was fucking rude.

This HEB ain't nothing to write home about. The produce isn't always fresh. Some of their items are marked up a bit compared to the HEB by our house. For me, the only reason to drive over there is for the beer selection. Aside from that, the store is nothing special. The Central Market on Broadway, which is frequented by the likes Tommy Lee Jones, when he's in town, has the major selection of fine foods and produce. Of course, you pay through the nose for the privilege. I mention all this because some of these people must have thought their shit didn't stink by the way they behaved. And they behaved like a bunch of rude fuckers.

The entire time we were there, trying to help Aaron move around the store, there were nothing but sighs and eyes being rolled and general dislike of the fact that our son couldn't move around properly. Or at least well enough for them. A bunch of fucking snobs, these assholes were. A couple of people were really nice to Aaron; they moved their carts and offered him the right of way, whether they had it or not. Most everyone else could have given a damn. They blocked isles and stood by as Aaron repeatedly said, "Excuse me, please," in a very calm and respectful tone. Aaron was the model of manners. I wanted to start smacking people in the mouth.

I don't know that we'll be going back there to shop. I might head there for the beer, but if it's possible, I'll just try some other place. I won't take away from any of those people who were nice to Aaron and gave the kid a hand. Kudos to them.

What remains clear is that I do hate people. They prove to me, with great frequency, that their capacity for selfishness and their love of material worth is greater than their capacity to get along with the other people on this big blue marble we call Earth.

I hope that someone reaffirms my faith in humanity soon. Lately, I just fucking hate people.


As I left work, I could see this guy from a distance. When I got in the truck, I drove up and took his picture. Late evening snooze at the bus stop. Or too drunk to stay awake. Anyhow, I thought it was funny. Posted by Picasa

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