Me and only ME ranting

Reflections on a Visit to the School of the Americas (SOA)

Posted on December 3, 2008. Filed under: Me and only ME ranting, Politics, Spiritual Musings | Tags: , , |

Ever since I first learned about it in 2004, I have been in heavy favor of shutting down the SOA.  This is news to noone.  But I’ve never been able to get down there with any groups for a peaceful protest and Q & A with the proponents of the SOA.  While the SOA may be indirectly involved in the massacaring of innocents I still believe that any involvement by the “school” is too much when it comes to the deaths of thousands of civilians.  If you are not familiar with the SOA, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), I urge you to check it out.  Like any questionable government entity it tries to pass itself off as something that is needed for national security.  While I am not a conspiracy theorist and I don’t believe the Trilateral Commission will dominate the world, I do believe that the evidence of those who have “graduated” from the SOA speaks for itself.

Some of the esteemed graduates of the SOA include:

Manuel Noriega, leader of Panama and drug trafficker;                                                                                

Col. Franck Romain, On Sept. 11, 1988, armed men broke into the St. Jean Bosco church while Fr. Jean Bertrand Aristide was saying mass and killed 12 parishioners and wounded at least 77. They doused the church in gasoline and set it on fire. Witnesses identified at least two of the gang members as deputies of Col. Romain, who was then Mayor of Port-au- Prince. Col. Romain later publicly justified the massacre as legitimate.                                                                                                                                                   

Maj. Alejandro de Jesús Alvarez Henao, Principal member of “Muerte a Secuestradores” (MAS), a paramilitary death squad responsible for numerous assassinations and disappearances.                          

Sgt. Antonio Ramiro Avalos Vargas Non-commissioned officer in charge of the small unit that massacred 6 Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her teenage daughter.                                                 

Maj. Armando Azmitia Melara, in 1983 commanded the Atlacatl battalion in the massacre of 117 people; in 1984 he commanded the Atlacatl battalion in the massacre of 68 people, most of whom were under age 14.                                                                                                                                                          

General José Valdivia Duenas, On May 14, 1988, army soldiers under Valdivia Duenas’ command killed (with gunshot, bayonets, and farming tools) between 28 and 31 male residents of the hamlet Cayara. Returning four days later, the soldiers arrested many villagers, dozens of whom disappeared (only 3 bodies were recovered). Duenas was subsequently promoted.

This is just a partial list (literally just scratching the surface, for a more complete and extensive list of graduates and the crimes they’ve comitted, here is a link to the source of the information above) of the graduates of the SOA who have commited atrocities and are involved in illegal activities.  As a Christian, I knew that I could not let this go by the wayside.  It is not one of those things that you can turn a blind eye to or think to yourself, “Well, it’s not effecting me or my life, so I’m not going to worry about it.”  While my current station in life prevents me from taking a more active role in seeing the SOA shut down, I will try to do what I can, in whatever small way that I can.  This is one of those ways, informing people.

Below is a reflection on the protest by one of the peaceful participants, Lani Osa.  With her permission I am putting this up because it resonated in my soul.  I hope that her experience may effect you too, to stand for something good, the closing of the SOA.

Reflections on the School of Assasins

by Lani Osa
Today at 5:46pm

Georgia. Distinguished as one of the most musical of states. A place, like many, where the most I could say of it is: I’ve passed through there, years ago, in a car. I was tired and I don’t remember much.
But last week I went to Georgia and back, and now forever more it will be a house filled with happenings, sights, fire songfull nights.

First of all there was driving. 24 hours of it, a straight shot due south. It was dull and it was fun, if not quite “Fear and Loathing.” Tunes, friends, anti-boredom agents. Our enthusiasm and snacks. The mythology of the road trip, our part in the fumes which will someday render the polar bear a fantasy beast.
Wake me when we have somemore lemonheads.

We arrived at the campground a jumble of twisted muscles and bloodshot eyes. We pitched tents and slept the best we could. The winter nights of Georgia are frozen too. Who knew?

Saturday we infiltrate the depths of Fort Benning. When i say infiltrated, I mean of course, piled into a busfull of protesters hailing from across the country to get the inside view of the virtues of the School of the Americas. A tour, given annually when the angry(ish) mob flocks to the chainlink shores of a fence which keeps in and closes out a military education which has bred two generations of massacres and the worldly incarnation of callous economic policy. The hired assassins of North American imperialism.

We sit in front of a military/civilian panel which lectures us on the necessity of the proud institution. The floor is opened and questions are fired. The darkest deeds of the school are bandied about by the folk who see straight through the party line. The panel is affronted by our audacity. The line is towed. Frustrating as any presidential press conference where every true question is thrown to the wayside. “Answer the question you wish was asked, never the one that was.” What is a State but a coherent fiction perpetuated by its actors at the expense of the slow waltz of wisdom, unashamed to turn failures and shame to lessons of change.

Afterwards we drive on to the “God Bless Ford Benning” rally, the traditional righteous counter demo to our assemblage of ‘tear it down!’ lefties. The streets are filled with soldiers in new-fangled camo, so unlike the well-loved rags of ye olde military campaigns. My brother worked in a factory in Ashland where he sewed camelpacks in the self-same material.

The rally. It’s a family affair, there are popcorn machines and candy stands. Girls wrestling for the camo-ed men, pawning backrubs and kisses. For the kiddies, real live tanks they get to crawl into. Rows of automatic weapons backed by proud soldiers frothing at the mouth with ravings over their gats’ technical innovations to spellbound crowds. A kitschy hippie impulse seizes me. I pluck a roadside flower and stuff the stalk into the barrel of a semiautomatic rifle. The soldier watching over the toy is not impressed. I smile the sweetest smile i can muster and traipse away.

Sunday 20,000 people convene for the demonstration. A protest zone is quarantined off. A stage sits in the center. Puppets, drums and masks vitalize the space. Most people have come with one white cross, large enough to write the name and age of a massacre victim. We all stand facing the sage. An old Catholic Padre, massacre survivor, whispers to us a prayer. A prayer evoking the spirit of the East, her gifts are beginnings. The South, the gift of healing and growth. We turn to the West, who gives the wisdom of inward-looking. Then back to the North, from whence stems guidance and rest.

The circle is turned, the liturgy commences.

On stage, the name of a victim is chanted in minor keys whose passage through the self is marked by tremulous waves. Their age, their village, or else a simple “unidentified child, woman, or man.” A booming deep ceremonial drum is beat once. One beat per life. The vibration echoes through every body in the crowd. 20,000 people raise their cross, or if they have none, their hand, their fist. As one we chant “presente.” They are present. They are here with us.

This chant, the drum beat, crosses raised, “presente.” For how many names do we repeat the ceremony? Although we chant and march in slow funeral procession for two hours or more, we pay homage to only a fraction of the human lives we lump into the category of victim.

Death. If our protest accomplishes nothing else, it forms in me a newborn understanding of a human life. How many times do we hear of a murder, a natural disaster, famines, war crimes, collateral damage? I can only hang my head with the most abstracted sadness. It is difficult to feel real empathy for faraway turmoil. Perhaps this is a defense mechanism, lest our soul be so inundated with tragedy that we cease to function in our own day to day affairs. Perhaps too this is why it is so easy to struggle for exotic causes. It is nothing personal. We neither loose nor gain nor risk any measure of our own existence.

But for me this ceremony was a shaman looking into my eyes every one of those dead. A real live person, each of them, no longer victims or tallies. It was a seeing of the fullness of each of those lives, a flare, then the fire snuffed, trampled, drowned. At one point, a chorus is repeated time and again until grief makes me forget where or who I am. “Unidentified child. Village in Columbia.” 30 times or more this was spoken. What happened in that village! How could the lucidity of these children be canceled out in the instant of a few staccato beats? Just because the massacre is the latest entry in an interminable accounting, it’s as if it has happened for the very first time in history. For those on the other end, this has never happened before. Cultural memory means nothing in the face of shot down child.

We walk in a circle. We trace out the medicine wheel. The wheel which forms a cycle, the nature way of death, life, birth, be it futile or sublime. How to integrate such rupture, these jagged edges and gaping holes? At some point each of us finds ourselves before the Fence. It is in interruption, like all of these lives. I cannot speak for the thoughts described in the hearts and minds of the 19,999 others who found themselves before the fence, now a barrier of crazed angles, morphed into a wall of tilted crosses as each is balanced precariously, another emblem into the links. Patches of light filter through, and the military warning signs guarding the inviolateness of the other side.

I seek a resting place for Luis A. Morales Viego of Cuba, who lived beneath the skies and took air into his lungs for 15 years. I wonder what filled his life in the weeks before his death. Did compadres die by his side? Were his days and nights made of dreams for his life to come or was he a precocious cynic? Had he seen more beauty or more terror in his days? Was he in love? Did he like to dance, did he play music?

This boy was nobody to me until I clutched his memorial, raising it high “like an antennae to heaven.” I joined him to his brothers and sisters in death. It means nothing for him and everything to me. He is present no longer, despite the liturgy.

We are not fighting for ghosts. A cross cannot resurrect life once lost. The consequence of failing in our struggle is not an abstraction, even if we cannot appreciate the enormity of it. Yet every action of real resistance is an affirmation of the pulses yet pushing blood through the body, of lungs filled up and emptied out. These people were killed by people like them, but the system breeding these deaths is one we all participate in, through action or apathy. In the time I take to write this, there have been new killings. A moment of protest is a luxury when there is no time to loose.

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What I Am Thankful For 2008

Posted on November 27, 2008. Filed under: Me and only ME ranting, Spiritual Musings | Tags: , , , |

What I Am Thankful for 2008

Many of us during the Thanksgiving Season stop to reflect on what we are thankful for.  Sometimes we share it with others; sometimes we keep it inside believing that some things are so personal that they should remain ever internal.  I’ve never made a list of what I am thankful for and when asked I usually rattle off the usual pleasantries, i.e. my family, God, my friends.  But this year I’d like to start a new tradition and list what I am actually thankful for. 

I am thankful for the re-burgeoning relationship I have with God.  After the years of depression I’m finally beginning to rekindle the fire that once engulfed me.  I’m thankful for the new ways in which God has led me to lead a more peaceful and simple life.  I’ve been introduced to some of the finer points of eastern philosophies and religions and found that many of their practices and beliefs are easily integrated into the Christian spiritual journey.  So along with Jesus, the Saints and the Church, I am thankful for Tao and the simple way of non-resistance. 

I am absolutely thankful for my wife.  No one has to put up with my BS like she does.  She is the cornerstone of my life and is the most dependable person I know.  She is like a mirror to me, showing me my good aspects as well as reflecting back to me my flaws – the things I need to work on – but always willing to work with me on fixing them.  She will always hold a special place in my heart for her patience and perseverance.   I’m grateful that she supports me in the endeavors I get excited about and is always willing to offer a hand to help.  She works tirelessly for the benefit and welfare of our children, for her schoolwork and for the program at church which she is a part of.  She isn’t always shown the appreciation that she deserves from others as well as by her own husband. 

I’m very grateful for my son Titus.  Watching him grow and become more of a little man every day fills me with joy and at times will even bring me with tears.  I’m thankful that he is entering that time in his life when he is beginning to understand the difference between right and wrong and as a matter of fact, he’s the first one to speak up when his daddy slips up and does something objectionable.  He is one of those joys in my life that keep my going when times are tough.  No matter how his day has gone, whenever he gets to see me for the first time that day, whether it be picking him up from Montessori or coming home from work, he comes running into my arms yelling, “Daddy!  I missed you so much!”

I’m thankful for the newest addition to our family, baby Guerin.  He’s a rolly-polly lump of unbounded happiness.  He is free with his smiles and is one of the most vocal babies I’ve ever seen.  When he smiles he sticks out his tongue, it’s the cutest thing you’ll ever see.  Sometimes he gets so happy you can tell he can’t contain it, so he scrunches up into a ball smiling the biggest smile you’ve ever seen.  I’m grateful that he was born this year without any complications and that he has been healthy (except an initial bout of jaundice) and there have been no major scares with him.  I can’t wait to see how he grows in the following year.

I’m thankful for past and present friends.  I’ve reconnected with so many old friends these past few years and I am glad to hear they are doing relatively well (read: at least they’re alive).  Joel, Jessica, Ashton, Neal, Holly, Joey, etc., I’m glad to have been able to reconnect with you as you all have made positive and lasting impacts on my life.  I will never forget you and I’m so glad to be able to talk with you again. 

Speaking of impacts on my life, I am thankful for the friends in my circle and new friends I’ve met.  Maurice, you will always be my friend and my closest confidant.  Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.  Lauren, Gerald, Ron, Ro & Eric, Jenn & Andy, Joe & Danielle, Fiona & Tom, the people I work with, you’re all lumped into the group of people I really like being around and I have benefited by having you in my life.  New friends:   Shawn Voss, Kelli Dunlap, Melinda Ledman, Sarah Lehman, Travis Williams, Mark Johnson, each one of you have at one time or another brought joy to my doorstep (although some of you have left a burning bag of joy on my doorstep).  I look forward to strengthening our relationship as I hold each one of you very dear and am glad you are now my friends. 

Lastly, I’d like to say that I am thankful for a year filled with triumph and failure.  I’ve succeeded at things I never thought I could have and failed at things and learned from them.  I’m grateful for the challenge that I was given that made me reexamine where I stood in relation to the person I thought I was, affecting a change in my life that I pray will grow through the coming years.  I’m thankful for the people who listen to me prattle on about things they don’t care about and I’m grateful for those who come to me for advice or information.  I guess you could say it’s a little bit of ego-stroking but hey, I’m thankful for it!  I’m thankful that I am no longer suffering from massive depression and I am able to get on with my life.  I’m thankful for all the little joys that are brought to me everyday by those I care about. 

That being said, thanks for reading this and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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“Daddy saved the day!”

Posted on June 11, 2008. Filed under: Good Titus, Me and only ME ranting |

Today, Titus and I went shopping at Costco, stopped in the food court and grabbed hotdogs and pizza.
As we were leaving I told Titus that we were going to Reese and Malcolm’s house (Maurice’s house, those are his children). As we pulled out of the parking lot I thought about what I need to do to be more humble and how to be a better servant.

As I was driving down 86th Street approaching Zionsville Rd. I pulled up at a stop light next to a lady in an SUV. I just happened to notice a small whisp of white come out from under her front right wheel well. I figured it would be nice of me to let her know that maybe her car was overheating. I rolled down my water and hollered at her, “You’re steaming!” Rather annoyed, she rolled down her window and asked what I’d said and once again I told her that she was steaming. When she asked me where she was steaming from (the white whisps were still rather hard to see) I looked as far as I could into her wheel well (I was sitting in my car after all) and noticed that there was a fire and fiery stuff was dripping onto the ground.

I looked at her, my eyes wide in shock, and said, “OH SHIT! Your car’s on fire!”

She yelled back, “OH SHIT! What do I do?!”

Thinking quickly I yelled at her to pull into a relatively empty parking lot next to some small restaurants and a liquor store. I dipped into her lane and followed her into the parking lot. I jumped out of the car and could see plainly that the fire had started to get a whole lot worse. Greyish-tan smoke was starting to billow out from under her hood at this time. Someone pulled up to us at this time and I hollered at him, “Call 911!” then took off to the closest restaurant. I ran in the front door of El Rodeo and asked the first person I saw if the restaurant had a fire extinguisher. They rushed to get me one and I ran back outside to the burning SUV.

By this time, flames were coming out the sides of the fire walls of the wheel wells and flames were shooting up the windshield. The lady that had been driving the SUV had grabbed Titus from out of my car while I was inside and moved him further away from her burning wreckage of a car. I ripped the pin out of the fire extinguisher and stuck the hose right through the fire wall and pulled the trigger. Bright Yellow powder shot out of the nozzle puffing out through the seams of the engine hood. The fire was stubborn and wasn’t giving an inch, I had to start moving a little back because it was getting hotter and I couldn’t get the nozzle directly on the fire anymore. I continued to spray and pray for some success but it didn’t come. I heard the fire engines beginning to approach (at which Titus began yelling, “Wee-oo, wee-oo, wee-oo”) and backed away from the fire to let the pros do their job. The last bit that I could do was move my car out of the way so that it wouldn’t interfere with the fire fighters.

I went and sat down next to the SUV’s owner (her name was April) and figured I’d just keep her company. I knew that if I was in that position, I wouldn’t want to be alone. I felt like crying for her. I asked her if she’d need a ride anywhere. She didn’t. Her husband worked just down the road and she would go home with him. Titus kept her company and kept her spirits up. He knew she was sad and gave her a hug. I snapped some pictures with my phone of the firemen putting out the fire and destroying her car in doing so. I figured it would be good for her for insurance purposes. I let her know that I could send them to her phone, she looked up at me, sadness in her eyes and said, “I don’t have insurance.”

My heart sank, I didn’t know what else to do for her. I turned my head away as I fought back a tear. Myself, Titus and April sat in silence and watched the fire fighters do their job. As it came under control and they began to clean up their hoses I said, “I’m so sorry. Isn’t there anything I can do for you?” She shook her head and looked out to her car again.

She sighed and said, “You know, I’m just glad you stopped me. My car was on ‘E’ and I was on my way to Speedway (a gas station) to get some gas. The car was making some noise and I figured I’d look at it while I was filling up. I’m glad you told me something was wrong before I got to that point or before I decided to just go on the highway.” In a way that put it all into perspective. The results could have been disastrous if she’d gone to fill up her tank while her car was on fire. It would have been bad enough had she been tooling down the highway with her car a flaming mess but to add gasoline into the equation is a recipe for catastrophe.

I’m not trying to make this bigger than it’s supposed to be but I believe the Holy Spirit did put me in a position to help (not that God caused the fire but that God used me to help that lady). It really was a humbling experience for me.

Titus loved it too. He got to see fire trucks and firemen do their thing today. We had originally planned to go to an event where you pay $5 and your kid can climb around fire trucks and police cars but there’s always a bajillion kids at those things and your kid has to share. There are never enough bodies to field all the questions that your own kid has either. We didn’t get to go to that today because we’d slept in too late but the fire fighters that were there helping us today were more than happy to give Titus the first-class treatment. He got to put on their helmets and play with their safer equipment. They even let him sit in the driver’s seat and press all the buttons that he wanted to. He even got to make the siren go off. The firemen posed for pictures with him and showed him all over the place, they showed great patience and answered all of his questions (and he had a ton of them). They even gave him his own red fire hat with “Fire Chief” written on it, which he has worn all day long. He even took it to bed with him.

As neat as I thought it was and as glad as I was to be a servant rather than be served on, Titus made my day. When he got home he told Marcia all about his fire fighter adventure. I began by asking him, “Do you want to tell mommy what happened today?” he looked at her, smiled and said, “Daddy saved the day!” Once again, I feel humbled.

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My thouMy thoughts on The Moment of Truth

Posted on January 23, 2008. Filed under: Me and only ME ranting, Reviews |

My thoughts on The Moment of Truth

There are questions that everyone wants to know.  But we keep some of our secrets to ourselves.  As honest as we would like to consider ourselves, as much as we’d like to think that our lives are an open book for anyone to read, there are things that we keep inside.  Those are our deepest, darkest secrets.  We keep them to ourselves to protect others and to protect who we are. 

There is a difference between living a lie and keeping a secret.  Living a lie is going throughout your day-to-day existence pretending you are something you are not.  Keeping a secret is not as destructive as perpetuating a lie and it’s not the same thing.  We all know someone who has confided in us and given laid out their heart to us, asking us never to tell a soul.  To tell someone else would be damaging to the relationship as well as to the individuals involved. 

And so enters The Moment of Truth (hosted by Mark L. Walburg).  Most people know I have a disdain for reality TV.  Some of it stems from the lack of reality it shows (people act differently when they’re on camera), some of it comes from the people that watch the tripe that comes on the screen, but most of it comes from the networks that push this reality-porn on a (now) writer-less, TV starved nation.  But this is actually really pushing the limits of any kind of decency for me.  A show where you win $500,000 if you don’t lie to very personal, often closed door questions is appalling. 

On this show a contestant is strapped up to a lie detector and is grilled with 21 questions.  While the audience sits and awaits the climax of this mental masturbation.  What is wrong with our lives that we need to sit and listen to the most hidden of people’s personal secrets to get some entertainment?  Either way a person answers, we know they’re going to be humiliated and someone is going to leave the show emotionally scarred (if you check out the message board on the official website, you’ll find one discussion about what people’s guesses are for the amount of breakups/divorces this show will cause.)

Survivor is one thing, Big Brother is another, but this?  This is just poor taste in recording and viewing.  Questions like “Do you wish you were still single?” and “Do you think you’ll still be married in five years?” are absolutely worthless questions.  As a married person myself, there have been times when I’ve answered yes and no to both of those questions.  No need to share those answers with the rest of the world so I can make a quick buck.  How about a reality show that puts the producers on trial?  “What won’t you do for advertiser’s money?”  “How many people are you willing to humiliate for a buck?” “How ‘bout we rake you over the coals and air your dirty laundry in front of the nation as we watch your family stare in horror?”

I may live a dull life at times.  You know what, that’s what makes me more than happy.  It makes me appreciate the interesting times more than if I was constantly on the go.  But I don’t need to watch the misery of others to make myself complete.  I don’t just blame the producers, I blame the viewers.  If there weren’t people out there who’s day wouldn’t be truly over unless they watched someone having a more miserable life than they are, the networks would stop making this vomit.  I’m going to do myself and the world a favor by voting with my remote.  This is why I have DVR and a DVD player. 

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Why Some Animals Eat Their Young

Posted on October 5, 2007. Filed under: Me and only ME ranting |

Why Some Animals Eat Their Young

At times I have wondered at and been appalled by the fact that some animals kill or go so far as to eat their young.  “Why would they do this?” I would silently scream, “Why would an animal want to do in something so cute and cuddly?”  With big heads and big eyes, baby animals are so cute as they stumble around discovering the world around them.  Sometimes they chase their tails, sometimes they jump up in the air with all four paws for no reason, and other times they just want to rough-and-tumble-it.  Most people can’t help but bubble over into vulgar displays of affection.

So why would animals want to lay waste to such adorableness?  It wasn’t until tonight that I think I finally realized why.  My wife asked me to take Titus to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum and to meet her there with some other friends with small children.  Being as I’ve never been to the museum before, I figured what the heck, I can only learn something while I’m there, right?  Yeppers, I sure did.

At first it was an absolute blast to be able to watch Titus run around, eyes wide, panting with anticipation, running from one exhibit to the next.  Then in a heartbeat he began pushing other kids out of the way to get to things, started grabbing tools out of other kids hands, climbing on different displays (that had prominently displayed signs stating in no uncertain terms, “NO CLIMBING!”).  I began to think I had the most difficult child in the world on my hands.  Even when Marcia was available to watch him, I began to despair.

But alas, my gloominess turned to glee as I saw what other children were doing to their parents.  Screaming, crying, kicking, shoving, running away from them.  I actually had to chuckle, my kid sure as heck ain’t that bad after all!  Some of the parents didn’t care, which made me think, “I ought to remember that kid’s face, I’ll probably see him at the detention center pretty soon.”  But the maelstrom of chaotic flailing limbs and banshee-like screams did not begin until it was announced that the Children’s Museum would be closing in just a few minutes.  You could almost hear in the announcer’s exasperated voice “So get the hell out!”

Marcia was to take the boy back to the house so when I finally lost track of them, I beat a hasty retreat.  I wandered out of the Agrosciences section on the fourth floor and found my way to the elevators.  Now I was in for a real treat.  Starting with the closing of the elevator doors, a sound began to emanate from the other side of the thin sheet metal.  I heard a young girl whining, “No, I want to go back that way!”  I smiled knowing the frustrations of the parent of that incorrigible little child.  As I watched the floor fade from four to three, I was once again met with the protestations of another little rugrat.  This time, on floor three, I heard a much louder tantrum (I believe it was a young boy) in which the young child screamed, “Go back!  I don’t wanna go!”

I suddenly had visions of descending through the rings of Dante’s version of Hell.  Moans, cries, protestations, yelling, cursing.  I was afraid Judas Iscariot or Brutus was going to appear on the elevator with me and put a reassuring arm around my shoulders to say, “We all end up going to the same place.”  Floor two flashed its bright gleaming redness into my eyes.  I could hear (through what I could now only assume was a portal to the netherworld) a bloodcurdling “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!”  At that pitch, all voices become unisex.  The fear built in my soul as the elevator began to come to a stop.  My hands began to tremble.  My throat became parched.  My eyes proceeded to well up with tears.  What would await me on the other side of this transdimensional doorway?  My ears were never meant to hear such things.

No longer were there any words involved.  All that surrounded me were the mingled growlings of parents and the spine-chilling screams of their spawn.  I don’t know if I’ve ever walked so fast in my life.  On my way out I noticed a sign that mentioned that the Children’s Museum was going to have a Haunted “House” type attraction from October 16-31.  I chuckled and thought to myself, “The 16th?  Ha!  They actually posted a typo.  Lord knows nothing could have been more frightening as this evening has been.”  Reaching for the soothing cool metal of the exit door’s handle, I knew I would soon be safe from the cacophony that was rising and falling like waves.

I walked across the Sky-Walk thingy over Illinois St. and had my welcoming Monte Carlo in sight.  At this time I noticed three sets of parents with their offspring in tow.  This is the moment I had my grand insight.  I realized that children today are conspiring with each other.  How else could the following event have happened so perfectly?  As the children stepped from the concrete onto the pavement of the Parking Garage, all three (from different families mind you) scattered in three different directions.  It was like watching the three horsemen riding off to lay waste to the earth.  I began fretfully to look around for the Fourth Horseman (for he is Death and Hell follows after him, little did I know that HE would end up being a little 3 year old girl).  Dodging in and out of parked cars, I watched as natural selection was bested time and again as the God’s precious little creations dove Matrix-like out of the way of oncoming traffic.  Meanwhile, the parents are frantically yelling, “STOP, STOP!”  At least one had the sense to yell out, “I’ll beat your behind if you don’t stop!”  I swear it was like hearing tires screech as that child ceased and desisted. 

I finally made it to the Monte Carlo and was able to put it into reverse, I checked carefully and pulled out slowly as to not do my part in proving Social Darwinism.  As I began to pull away at a crawl, I spotted her.  The Fourth Horseman I will refer to as Death!  Most people are fully aware of the patience of grandmothers with everyone, especially young children.  But this little one was going to be the death of her grandma.  Grandmother was trying to pull one way (I can only guess to the car) while the little imp was pulling the other way and pointing back to the museum.  Grandma had the situation well in hand.  Until that is, when the little one named Death decided to try a new tactic….running towards traffic.

In no time, the good being of Light who is the Grandmother snatched that little child up (did grandma conquer Death?) and swung her into her arms.  As she tried to cradle the little one, Death flailed like a spider monkey;  arms, legs, feet, hands….my god I believe I even saw a tail….they flew every which way. 

This is when I had the epiphany.  I understood it at last.  THIS is why animals sometimes will eat their young!  I can only think that the parents/grandparents did nothing of the sort tonight because they knew people were watching.  No doubt there was a whispered word of warning or two to some of the children, “You do that again and what happened to your bunny is going to happen to you….yum, yum!”  But for the most part it was an unspoken understanding of how things used to be back before we had social mores and CPS.

I hope you all enjoyed the story.  For those of you who are feeling upset, I hope that you could at least pick up on some of the sarcasm because I was laying it on pretty thick.  If you still can’t see the humor in the writing, then maybe you too are just proof of why some animals eat their young.

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OMGWTFFTWAYNE?!

Posted on September 24, 2007. Filed under: Me and only ME ranting |

OMGWTFFTWAYNE?! 

 

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to go to the Ft. Wayne Juvenile Detention Center for 5 days of training.  Marion County put 4 people and me up in a hotel for a week while during the day we were trained in things like dealing with Mental Illnesses, crisis de-escalation, conflict resolution, juvenile rights, cultural sensitivity, etc. The classes were a whole lot of fun as well as the night life.

 

But I’m not writing this blog to talk about the classes (and I’m sure as hell not talking about what happened on those nights, we bumped and locked that stuff), I’m writing about the race related experiences me and my compadres had while we were out on the town.  Now most who know me know that if someone drops the race card on the table, I’m the first one to say, “You’re trippin’, just because they got a green arrow and you didn’t doesn’t mean that the traffic light is in a racist conspiracy against you.”  BUT, when it hits you smack in the face, no matter what color you are, it’s more real than American Idol (we remember are the articles that were written when the three black people were the only ones in the bottom three one week but Fantasia Borino went on to win the entire thing don’t we?)

 

Our second night in Ft. Wayne we all decided to go to a breakfast type restaurant for dinner (I won’t name the restaurant).  We were waiting to be seated so I just took the time to kind of eyeball the place and see how it looked.  It seemed that everyone was being seated over on the left hand side of the restaurant and it didn’t appear to be anywhere near packed.  Well, it came time for us to be seated and the manager asked us how many were in our group so I responded with, “We’ve only got 5, sir.”  Mind you, there are 3 white people and 2 black people in the group, we’ll call them Kisha and Joseph.  Anyway, the manager looks dead at Kisha and asks her, “And how many children do YOU have.” 

 

Now, I want to point out the fact that he didn’t ask any of the people in front of us, he didn’t ask anybody else in our group, just Kisha.  At that time, my eyes got as wide as they could possibly get.  Even Kisha took a step back from that verbal slap in the face.  I expected the next question to be, “And where’s your baby daddy?” or “You paying with food stamps tonight miss?”  Kisha didn’t react other than reeling from the impact of the absurdity of that question and kindly responded no.  We all looked at each other trying not to laugh as he took us to our table.  But, I noticed that something wasn’t right with this picture.  Everyone was going to the left side of the diner, while we were being taken over to the right.  Not only that but we were being taken to the very back of the section.  BEHIND A WALL!  NEXT TO THE KITCHEN PASS!

 

Now I’m beginning to think to myself, well, at least we’re done with the manager.  OHNONONONO!  The waitress was worse!  Joseph and I both ordered waters for our dinner.  Throughout the course of the meal mine was refilled three times, she wouldn’t even wait until it was halfway empty before she refilled it.  Joseph on the other hand must have looked plenty hydrated because he didn’t get a top off even once, even though his glass remained empty.  Napkins apparently became an issue too.  When the nice young white girl at our table asked for napkins it was, “Sure hon’ I’ll get those in a second.”  When Kisha asked for those same napkins (they hadn’t come and it had been about twenty minutes, not to mention it took 35 minutes for our food to get out) it was, “Yeah then she brought an overloaded amount to be kind of a smartass about it.

 

When it came to ordering our food, it was more of the same.  Kisha would get talked over by the waitress, she would get skipped, and food would get forgotten.  Joseph didn’t order or say much so he stayed out of the waitress’ crosshairs, thankfully.  And it wasn’t like Kisha was being demanding or asking for lots of different things.  Those of you who know me know I can be a restaurants worst nightmare when I’m not even trying, so I can recognize the warning signs of a restaurant terrorist.  Kisha was no trouble at all.  She was always polite, always sincere and a perfect lady.

When the checks came, the waitress doled them out and we were all in agreement that it was a fine time to leave; no after dinner conversation for us thank you very much.  We heard, “Here you go hon’” and “That’s for you dear” as our server handed us our checks.  Kisha spoke for all of us when she asked, “Ma’am may we please have receipts with these?”  very politely, I would almost say demurely.  The waitress shot back with, “You’re just going to have to wait.”  My jaw hit the greasy table!  I couldn’t believe what I’d just witnessed. 

 

There was nothing overtly racist about this experience.  There were no uses of the n-bomb, no one called Joseph “Boy”, there were no crosses burning on the front lawn of the restaurant and guys with white hoods weren’t jumping up and down on our van (well, our van WAS white).  But it was the piling on factor of it all.  The consistent rudeness to the only two black people in our group (who are what people would say, “well spoken”) was what set off my race-dar. 

 

The learning experience came later when I asked Kisha why she didn’t say anything.  I can’t remember exactly what she said but it was something along the lines of, “If I did respond to her actions, if I did trip on what she was saying and doing, all I would be doing is validating what her prejudices were.”  So Kisha and Joseph both kept their cool.  Joseph later told me that it happens sometimes and you just get used to letting it roll off your back.

 

The next day, Joseph had his own direct experience while we were in one of the Ft. Wayne malls.  We decided to go shopping after our lunch was over and we kind of went our separate ways.  Joseph and I went down one leg of the mall and he found a store with sports jerseys and hats and other memorabilia.  I went into Spencer’s while he took a look in the other store.  While he was in there, he happened to see this little pink Indianapolis Colts Jersey with Jerome Addai’s number on it.  Joseph really wanted to get it for his daughter and asked the lady working the counter how much it was.  She ignored him so Joseph asked again, this time in response she picked up the phone. 

 

Joseph is a gentleman.  He’s funny, he can get loud and rambunctious but he is an absolute gentleman.  He trusted that the woman may not have heard him and wasn’t simply trying to ignore THE ONLY CUSTOMER IN THIS SMALL STORE!  He asked her one more time how much it was and she finally looked up.  She didn’t look up to pay attention to Joseph, she looked up to make sure the security guard was walking into her store.  He walked around the store pretending to window shop, in full uniform, while peering at Joseph.  Joseph may be a gentleman but he is a human being and has limited patience. 

 

Disgusted with this treatment, he walks out of the store and over to a fountain in the middle of the mall.  At about the same time I began to walk out of the store I was in and down to his location.  That’s when I see the security guard follow him out of the store and practically stand over him while Joseph took a seat on a bench.  The guard didn’t leave until I walked over and sat down with Joseph. 

 

To me, this was all unbelievable.  If I hadn’t seen if for myself, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.  I probably would have told them, “You’re trippin’” and been done with it.  But I’ll be damned it was right before my eyes.  For as colorblind as I want my child to be, for as colorblind as I try to be it’s still real, even in larger cities like Ft. Wayne (pop.  500,000).  Whether or not you like someone else’s cultural differences is one thing, I don’t like the Hip-Hop culture myself, but I don’t lump all black people in it.  I also don’t like the Country Music subculture that is starting to rise up either, but I don’t lump all white people in it.  But not liking someone or disrespecting someone for something they’re born with, something that they had no choice over is the supreme ignorance.  The stereotype that they are putting on someone else, they have become themselves.

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Dear San Francisco Giants Fans

Posted on August 9, 2007. Filed under: Me and only ME ranting, Uncategorized |

Dear San Francisco Giants Fans,

                My hats off to you for a great last couple of baseball seasons.  Now I’m not referring to your won-loss record or your standings (with only 51 games left in the season you are still back 13 ½ games back in the NL West, I’m not poking fun, after 6 outstanding seasons my World Series Champs St. Louis Cardinals are 6 ½ games out in the NL Central).  What I’m talking about is how you all have handled yourselves during this whole Barry Bonds mess.  You have been packing the seats and cheering your man even as the drama swirled round and round the Bay Area.

                I was a fan of Barry Bonds back when he was still a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates playing along with Bobby Bonilla.  I always figured that those two were a force to be reckoned with.  Bonilla, after 16 years in the big leagues, retired in 2001 from the Cardinals organization with decent numbers of .279 avg., 287 homers and 2010 hits.  Bonds on the other hand has managed to stick around for 22 seasons with brilliant numbers of a .298 avg., 756 home runs and 2915 hits.  One more thing Bonds has that Bonilla doesn’t have, a bad reputation.

                With charges of steroid abuse and a well publicized bad attitude, Bonds has made a media darling out of himself.  No matter how hard he tries to run, the media keeps following him and thoroughly enjoys picking apart his every mistake.  Don’t get me wrong, he hasn’t done much to boost his public image (hell, even his teammates don’t like his personality).  In 1998 Mark McGwire (.263 avg., 583 home runs, 1626 hits) laid waste to Roger Maris’ old single season home run record with 70 and Sammy Sosa (.273 avg., 604 home runs, 2387 hits) was following hot on his heels with 66.  In 2001 Barry Bonds hit 24 more home runs than his best season to break the single season record for home runs belting numbers 71 and 72 off of Chan Ho Park, finishing the season with 73.  Now he has the most prestigious record in baseball; he’s now the home run king (756 hrs). 

                As McGwire and Sosa chased down the single season record, crowds in both their home stadiums as well as away would cheer them as they came to the plate.  Bonds on the other hand received consistent boos.  Even as he broke Hank Aaron’s record on August 7th on a 3-2 pitch by Washington Nationals pitcher Mike Bacsik (4.47 ERA, 32 K, 86.2 IP for the season), stadiums around the country welcomed the news with at best a smattering of applause but more often than not it was met with boos.  But you people in San Francisco stand by your man.  One of the shots of Bonds’ historic swing was enough to give me goose bumps:  as Barry watched the ball sail into the outfield bleachers both he and all your fans in attendance raised their arms in triumph at the same time. 

                That wasn’t the end.  Before the game was even finished, ESPN had interrupted its regularly scheduled program, The Bronx is Burning, to start with the questions of legitimacy.  But this is nothing new to you all in The Bay.  From Jose Conseco to Barry Bonds, Northern California is used to baseball controversy.  But you Giants fans kept selling out games, kept cheering for your man.  Even when Bonds refused to take part in the All-Star Game’s Home Run Derby competition (in his home ballpark in front of the only fans that wouldn’t boo him nonetheless) you still stood by him. 

                You Giants fans get a lot of credit from me.  For his many faults you have never left his side, you have never wavered, you have been there to continually cheer him on.  Even though Hank Aaron’s statement was aimed at Bonds, I think subliminally one comment was meant for the fans and his admiration of what you all have had to go through, “It is a great accomplishment which required skill, longevity and determination.”  So once again, congratulations on the past couple of seasons and congratulations for your (sometimes) unswerving dedication to a ball player who, in many people’s minds, will always have an asterisk by any record he holds. 

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The inherent goodness of pizza

Posted on July 10, 2007. Filed under: Me and only ME ranting |

Right now I am craving some pizza.  MMMmmm…Puccini’s, Bazbeaux’s, Some Guys Pizza.  God I would kill to have the best pizza I’ve ever had (and I haven’t had it in almost 20 years), Frankie’s Firehouse Pizza.  Yum yum yum.  Pizza is God’s gift to the tastebuds, and also his cruel little practicle joke.  Have you ever done one of those jokes to somebody that goes something like this, “Here, drink this.”  The other person goes ahaid and gulps it down thinking, “Mmm.  This is good” meanwhile you giggle because you know what you’ve put in it. 

Pizza happens to be the same way.  We have cheese (milk food group), crust (bread food group), sausage-pepperoni-ground beef (meat food group), green peppers-onions-mushrooms (vegetable food group), and tomato sauce-pineapples-etc (fruit food group).  It should make perfect sense that such yummy goodness all mixed together would make for the perfect meal.  But NNNOOOO!!!  Pizza is not exactly the most healthy food for us to eat.  WHY GOD WHY!?!?!

Okie dokie I’m done, and I still want pizza.

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Selling Salvation

Posted on June 20, 2007. Filed under: Me and only ME ranting, Uncategorized |

I did a guest blog on Maurice Broaddus’ web site entitled “Selling Salvation” it actually is a response to a question that someone had posed to me and having read it Maurice thought well enough of it to post.  It’s basically about the problem with our view of what evangelization is or should be…how to convert people, etc.  It’s a stance that doesn’t go with most main stream views of evangelization, hope you find it interesting.

Selling Salvation

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