Tag Archives: Queens

Still Chasing…….

25 Jul




This summer was supposed to be a chill one. I had a wedding on the east coast, but other than that, my plan was to read books and lay up under the air conditioning all summer. Much like my 2006 plans, things took on a life of their own, and I found myself criss-crossing the country again.

2016 Summer Observations:

  1. Now that Mommy jeans are in full effect, it may be smart to re-invest in Fanny packs. Young hipsters have brought back something so puzzling, that I can’t help but think this is backlash against the increasing creepiness of men’s boorish behavior. It is the only rational explanation I can think of. Why else would young women purposely wear jeans that make them appear bloated and unattractive? Has the buffoonery of our catcalling, drink spiking, leg grinding, and upskirting finally worn away the magic of women leaving their homes feeling beautiful? Is this a retort to the victim blaming laden statement “Well she had it coming, look how she was dressed.”? I hope this isn’t the case, but I also hope it isn’t women being ironic. Not all women age as fine as wine,  and there will come a day when Mommy jeans will be a necessity, not an option. Those wasted days of beauty will be missed down the road ladies.
  2. Seattle is still extremely white. Seattle is so white that it feels like a foreign country. Seattle is so white that when black people see other black people, they not only introduce themselves to each other, they also get invited to dinner and church services. “Come out to Colombia City and fellowship with us. The whole congregation will be there. All ten of us.” One day when I was walking around downtown, I saw a well dressed white man with a cast on his right arm. It took everything I had not to yell out “Ted Bundy” the same way someone yells out “Kobe” when shooting paper into a wastebasket.
  3. I feel sorry for anyone who sits near me on a bus or an airplane. I feel like handing them a card before I fall asleep that reads,” 1-800 How’s My Snoring?” I should just carry a mouth guard with me at all times when I travel, because its inevitable I’m going to konk out as soon as we take off for our destination.
  4. As much as I miss my Okie friends, I do not miss Oklahoma–especially now that its vogue again to be openly bigoted. You will hear some people brag about Oklahoma being the first state to send a man into outer space. I don’t see how this is flattering. I think it displays the extremes people will go to get away from the God forsaken state. The moon suddenly isn’t far enough away from a state that says if a person puts their penis inside another person’s mouth while they are unconscious it isn’t rape. Ironically, sodomy laws are still in effect there. No wonder Oklahoma is 49th in education in the United States.
  5. My top four favorite cities in North America:   1) Montreal Pound for pound the most dime pieces per capita in any city I’ve ever been. Great food. Well designed layout. Reliable transportation and diverse. Tons of street art, and affordable rent. I could tell who the Americans were in the city by their Valley Girl speak. It was rare that I heard people say the words, “Like, you know, and whatever.” Montreal is a world class city. 2) New York, but more specifically Queens. Brooklyn is too trendy to me. Manhattan just feels like white noise. I know very little about Staten Island and the Bronx. Queens though may be the most diverse of all the boroughs. The food is phenomenal. It is a good place to live whether you have a family or you are single. Taking the N,Q, or 7 trains is a convenient way to travel to the other four boroughs. Plus the Mets play there. I do wonder how long it will be cool though. Its becoming harder and harder to live in New York if you aren’t rich. 3) Portland. I forgot how much I love this city–especially during the summer time. I love the heady highs, and the high trees. Now that legislature has caught up with the times, it has become an even more enjoyable place to visit. Even though the town has more happy hours than black people, and buying a house there has become almost impossible for people not making six figures, it is still an extremely fun place. The women aren’t quite as “hot” as the ones in Texas, but they score well because there are an abundance of cuties living there. If hot women were a currency, then Portland would be the Uruguay among North American cities. There is a thriving middle class of cuties who happen to be pretty chill. I dig it. 4) Austin. Of course. Austin is douchier than it was 10 years ago when I first left, but it is also more going on there than 10 years ago. The food is better. There are more places to eat and drink, and its more diverse. Yes its getting “whiter” by the day, but its not all the same kind of white people–at least for now. Much like New York, it may not be as cool of a place 10 years from now.
  6. I left Texas ten years ago hoping to find a new place to settle into–a new career in a new town in a new region. Much of this journey was captured in my collection of poems, Chasing Kerouac with my Credit Card. The trip that I embarked on during the summer of 2006 was a means to explore parts of the United States, and then plop my ass down somewhere.My criteria eventually became: a) A city near the water–namely the Pacific Ocean. b) A city where I wouldn’t be entirely dependent upon driving a car.c) A racially tolerant city where I could at least feel safe as a black man.

    Many people have wondered why I move around so much, and it is because C) has been an elusive find. Some cities are safer than others for black men, but this summer (and the frankly the last 5 years) has proven that nowhere in America is a minority safe–especially blacks. Now that we are on the heels of a Trump presidency, what once felt like paranoia (to other people) is soon to be a reality. To spare us all the unnecessary bloodshed, I just wish all the whites in America who don’t want to interact with gays, blacks, Muslims, Jews, Arabs, Asians, Mexicans, and anyone else not straight, white and conservative, would map out a place in the Midwest (we could call it Bigotopia) where they can live with all their distorted beliefs, and not bother (or be bothered by) anyone different from them. The government should just give everybody relocation grants and call it “The Mulligan Act of 2017.” Everyone wins.

  7. Its crazy how fast ten years just flew by. In some ways this summer paralleled summer of 2006. Moving out of town and being technically homeless for two months was again a theme. The World Cup was the social milieu back in 2006 (where France lost in penalty kicks just like this year’s Eurocup), while the Copa America and Eurocup were going on while I was on the road this year. Though this summer wasn’t nearly as messy as 2006, there were certainly some curveballs that have forced me to stay on my toes. Of course this year’s travels wouldn’t have gone nearly as smoothly without all the people I managed to meet and befriend in the last ten years. My Texas, California and Oregon connections have taken me to some cool places that would have been almost impossible to know without them. I can’t imagine my life had things gone the way I had originally planned back in 2004–before my first visit to the Pacific Northwest. Had you asked me what I thought my life would be like at 37, I would have probably said a wife and kids, teaching at a school in Fort Worth; owning two cars and paying on a mortgage. None of that sounds bad, but I can’t believe I would have been successful at that lifestyle at that time.I would have spent all my free time staring out the window wondering WHAT IF? I can’t say that these things won’t eventually happen (probably not the part about living in Dallas), but I can say that I’m at least a couple of years away from that being my reality. We still have a lot to accomplish before that happens. I’m still chasing……….






East Coast Trippin’ Days 10 and 11: Built vs. Bought

6 Jun

This trip has been a game changer in so many ways. My definition of hospitality and generosity has broadened in some degree because of my time spent on the road. It is one thing when friends allow you access into their homes and lives, that is a natural result of knowing someone for so long that trust becomes preternatural. It is another thing to allow a stranger into your home, provide them with a key to get in whenever they need to, pick them up when they are lost in a strange neighborhood, cook them delicious meals, and introduce them to all of your friends Some people have not only given me directions, but physically taken me to the place where I needed to go–and without even asking my name. Almost everything I originally generalized about east coasters has been wrong. I am very happy to admit that.
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My good time continued as some old friends from Austin flew up for the Governor’s Ball Festival on Friday. Today we played pickup ball at the elementary where our buddy teaches at. We were able to use the gym and get some shots up. It was fun to have that leather ball in my hands again, but it was just as nice getting to hang out with my old Austin homies.

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The night before we tried unsuccessfully to get into the free show out at Prospect park. Everyone and their mom was out their trying to get their Janelle Monae on. It was a little insane. It felt like we were at free show at SXSW without a name badge. I ended up leaving and visiting a friend out at Crown Heights. We visited a little bit. I met her roommate and then split for Queens. On my way out I ran into a crap game with like 6 fairly fit black dudes. I was on my phone, and I could tell they were sizing me up. I was a little inebriated and was in no shape to run so if they were going to be beat my ass, the best I could do was make it difficult for them (at best). I just kept walking to the end of the block and tried not to look back at them. After I crossed Franklin Ave. I picked up my pace and then crossed to the other side of the street so I could sneak a peek behind me to see if anyone was following me.

Even if Brooklyn is safer than it used to be, I’ve lived in too many bad neighborhoods to know that all it takes is to slip up once, and that’s your ass. You’ll never catch me slipping like that. That is why I never sit with my back to the entrance of a restaurant, and I always hatch an escape plan at the movie theaters–shit happens, and people be tripping.

Once I was on the train again I allowed myself to relax and consider what it was like to live in New York during the early 90’s during what some think was the golden age of Hip Hop. You had the Beasties Boys back and forth between NY and Cali working on that “Ill Communication” album. Wu-Tang was beginning to take over the hip hop world. A Tribe Called Quest was representing. Nas dropped “Illmatic”, and De La Soul was throwing out some ill shit. The Rangers won the Stanley Cup, the Yankees were about to start their dynasty, and the Knickerbockers were competitive year in and year out.
I would like to sit down and talk with New Yorkers about this time period–it’s a conversation worth listening to. The world was changing and I was too young to even realize it.
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I’m really digging Queens though–especially the Woodside neighborhood. It feels like another country and is definitely the most diverse of the boroughs I’ve visited. The other Boroughs seem more socially segregated. In Williamsburg, you see the same types of people dressed the same way, having the same kind of tattoos. In Harlem there are mostly blacks. Manhattan seems more for the wealthy or the Chinese business owners. I feel like Queens is the most authentically New York spot right now, in terms of diversity. I dig it. If I were to move to New York in five or six years, Queens would probably be the spot for me.
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Tomorrow is the big day that I have been waiting for. Outkast and Phoenix are two groups that have been on my wish list for a long time. It’s going to be fun. Taking the ferry over to Randall’s Island and gonna drink a lot of water, and try to find an edible to enjoy for the show. I could be like “Rimjob Brown” for Grantland and have mammoth expectations, or I can just go, get fucked up, and have a really good time seeing music with some good friends. Now tell me, which option do you think is best?