Tuesday, May 30, 2006

When My Alma Mater Gets It Right

The lady in the picture is none other than the dynamic Dr. Ruth Brown Simmons, President of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. She is the first African American president of an Ivy League institution, and is a former Provost of Spelman College, as well as the former President of Smith College. She spoke at this past year's commencement for my alma mater, Morehouse College. Well done.

I'm Joe, and that's how I see it.

Paul Gleason

Many people, like my friends, remember Paul Gleason for his role in 'The Breakfast Club' as Principal Richard Vernon. I however, love his role as Clarence Beeks in 'Trading Places.' While both roles are highly entertaining and hold up extremely well over time, his sinister air and total attitude struck a nerve in me that I've responded to in all of his work.

If you're really a fan of Mr. Gleason, you will also recall his work as a bad cop in the extremely hilarious Chris Tucker/Brett Ratner vehicle 'Money Talks.' He's essentially the same guy in all of his films; tough, mean, but somehow endearing. The first time he was actually nice in a film I remember was in 'Van Wilder' as Professor Todd McDoogle wherein all he wanted to do was get Van to push himself to be the best that he could be.

I think that Professor McDoogle and Principal Vernon were similar in that they wanted the best from their students. Vernon used less conventional methods, while McDoogle applied heat. However, in whatever role he played in, Gleason shined as only he could as a lovably mean old cuss.

Mr. Gleason will be missed, but we've always got the memories on film.

I'm Joe and that's how I see it.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Elephant In The Room

My last post about Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth and the elusive (sike) 714 home runs got a response from my good friend Mitch. I have known and been friends with Mitch for the last twenty years (yeah pally, can you believe it?).

While Mitch's points were fine, and probably dead on accurate, the one thing that he missed was the fact that RACISM fuels all of this. It's absolutely convenient that all of the stuff about Bonds and steroids comes out in FULL STRENGTH when he's near the record. If it wasn't steroids then he would be seen as a jerk or labeled something else. Who cares if he's a jerk? Is being a nice guy a pre-req for having the HR record?

You can't understand racism and all of its tools of the trade unless you deal with it in your daily life on a daily basis. I don't care what liblabs with not a racist bone in their body tell me, but you simply can't understand it. And it is racism that fuels this debate over Bonds being worthy, nothing else. Were it Wade Boggs, George Brett, Dale Murphy, or oh my gosh even the great Mark McGwire who neared the record, believe me, his steroid past would not be nearly a big deal. But no, Barry is Black, Brash, Bald, Bountifully Gifted and wealthy. Oh that angers people, deep down, deep, deep down.

Racism in sports is so interwoven and never discussed that it mystifies me when people are shocked when it is brought up.

Iverson is looked down upon because he has tatoos, he has a bad attitude and he wears baggy shorts. Hell, Stern changed the dress code primarily because of him. But, what does that have to do with playing basketball? Nothing.

Terrell Owens is looked down upon because he is disruptive. He's loud and abrasive. But he works hard, makes catches, and conditions himself into magnificent shape. So, is he on-field performance altered by the way he acts? No. The only time it is is when he's suspended for essentially embarassing the organization that his exploits on the field during the 2004-05 season yielded major cash dividends and the team's second ever Super Bowl birth. Hmmmmmm.

Oh, and I forgot. That 714 that Babe hit...what about Josh Gibson, who eclipsed that 714 shortly thereafter...DURING SEGREGATION (read pre-Jackie)? Never, is he ever given the just praise that he deserves. Why is that? Do his homeruns not count? Of course not...he played in the Negro leagues. Well as we say many times amongst the Brothers, Negro please.

I'm Joe and that's how I see it.

For more light shed on race and sports, check out this article that JC sent me...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Get A Life and Leave Him Alone

If you were on your job, and you were accused of doing something and no one had any tangible evidence that you'd done it, (and you'd never been caught doing it) wouldn't you be tired of people hounding you about it? Exactly.

Get a life and leave him alone.

And just for a second, why is 714 seen as Babe's record? Where in the history of sport is the second place total of something seen as an accomplishment? Where in the history of sport has a second place ranking been deemed better than the first?

And don't tell me it's because it stood for so long. So what. Ted Williams or Willie Mays would've broken it if they hadn't served (5 and 2 years respectively) in the service and missed seasons. Give me another excuse. Oh, you...you can't. That's right, because it doesn't make any sense.

Get a life and leave him alone.

I'm Joe and that's how I see it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

How Sweet It Is

Hey, it's not a championship (yet), but it sure feels good to get over the mental hurdle. I couldn't have personally gotten over the mental hurdle without the words and sage advice of Delmont Harris, Calvin McAllister and Antoy Bell, Esq.

Bring on Phoenix. We're ready.

I'm Joe, and that's how I see it.

Lloyd Bentsen, in requiem

Senator, Mr. Secretary, Congressman...thanks for the memories. And one memory in particular is when you said, "Senator, I knew Jack Kennedy, I served with Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy...he was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy." Priceless.

Happy Trails Mr. Bentsen.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Same Old Story/"We Will Win The Game" - Jimmy Johnson

Growing up in Dallas, and being a fan of the home teams, you get used to defeat. I moved to Dallas in December of 1977. Early in 1978 the Cowboys defeated the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl 27-10. They didn't win another Super Bowl until I was a senior in high school in 1993. Those fifteen years between Super Bowl wins were brutal, and everyone loves to hate the Cowboys. Losses were always tough to deal with as a fan, but it seemed that whenever we did lose, the world was laughing.

On to baseball...

The Texas Rangers have won two pennants in the history of the organization. The only bright spots when I was growing up were when Nolan Ryan pitched there. I probably saw Nolan pitch ten times, and true to form, he won all of his games. However, the overall ineptitude of the Rangers led to my total disdain for the game of baseball. I loved playing the sport, but as the MLB goes, I couldn't have been more disinterested.

On to basketball...

The 1987-88 Dallas Mavericks took the 'Showtime' L.A. Lakers to seven games in the Western Conference Finals. We lost that game 7 115-102, but it was one great run. Flash to 15 years later...yes FIFTEEN YEARS later, the Mavs once again make the Western Conference Finals, but lose to the hated Spurs in six.

Now, facing elimination, the Dallas Mavs have given up a 3-1 lead to the wounded, undermanned and not nearly as talented San Antonio Spurs. In game 6, Harris was not involved seriously throughout, and the only person who played consistently the whole game was Dirk Nowitzki. This cannot happen on Monday night. This will not happen on Monday night.

12 years ago, before playing San Francisco in the NFC Title game, Cowboys head coach (I had to pause to watch Bonds at the plate...he struck out) Jimmy Johnson said, "Make no doubt about it, we..will win the game. Print it bold letters." I agreed with him then, and the quote has never been more relevant now. We will win the game.

I'm Joe, and that's how I see it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Much Ado About Nothing

My beloved Dallas Mavericks, 67 wins and all, lost tonight by one point to the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio. Listed below are my thoughts and reflections on the game as well as things that I learned watching games 4 and 5.

*Avery Johnson, with just under 100 games under his belt, is outcoaching Greg Popovich...and NO ONE IS MENTIONING IT. Why is that? And no, the Coach of the Year trophy is not enough. That's a great angle that a former player is outcoaching his former coach...hmm, I guess it's not popular at TNT or anywhere else I've been reading. Once again, why is that?

*The only person who can stop Tim Duncan, is Tim Duncan.

*However, I don't like Tim Duncan. I didn't like him at Wake, I like Randolph Childress instead. I didn't like him in SA, I liked Robinson. But more importantly, I don't like him now. He's a whiny one too. But then again, so is Dirk, and the whole NBA. According to the players, they are fouled on every play...which is probably true.

*Manu Ginobli flops around...A LOT. But he's also an amazing player. This duality makes him difficult to watch.

*Bruce Bowen is whiny. He cries and makes faces the whole game. He reminds me of co-eds from college when they didn't get their way in homecoming meetings. Here's a tip Mr. Bowen, close your mouth. It is in poor taste to constantly be whining and bemoaning each and every play. You must get tired of doing that. To his credit, he at least acted as though he'd been there before after tying up Dirk late in the game.

*Dirk Nowitzki gets a lot of calls. Facts are facts. He's first team all-NBA though so...

*The Mavs overall did not play well in Game 5, and still only lost by one point. Only Nowitzki played well consistently tonight. Terry never got going, nor did Stackhouse or Harris. They played well enough, but they never played well consistently, nor did they get in any semblance of a rhthym, and thus they lost the game...by one point.

*In Game 5, the Spurs had done enough collective whining to limit Dallas's trips to the line.

*Dallas should've worn green tonight. They probably would've won.

*Steve Kerr is a pathetic announcer. His analysis is sub-par at best, and his observations are of the most obvious things that anyone with some working knowledge of a game called basketball, can see. He also used several points that Kobe Bryant made about the Spurs during halftime. Oh yeah, and Kerr is a bit of a homer. He was visibly smiling when the Spurs won tonight. I have two words for him...Tommy Heinson. Heinson used to call games for CBS way back when, and was a former Celtic player and coach. His bias was so obvious that as a young 9-12 year old I was annoyed to apopletic proportions.

*Finley still has a little left in the tank. However, he NEVER hits the big shot in the BIG game. That was the problem with him in the first place. For all of his ability and greatness, when the game is on the line, Mike disappears.

*Dallas will win the series. Even when we played horribly, we still only lost by one, and San Antonio was scrapping like crazy just to stay in it.

From Dick Motta, Norm Sonju and Don Carter...from Jay Vincent, Brad Davis and Mark Aguirre...from Derek Harper, Ro Blackman, Sam Perkins, Detlef Schrempf, Roy Tarpley and James Donaldson...from Jimmy Jackson, Jason Kidd and Jamal Mashburn...from Michael Finley, Steve Nash, Dennis Rodman and Dirk Nowitzki...from Marc Cuban...from Green to Blue...from Reunion to the AAC...I've been a Mavs fan. From Lower Level, Section 116, Row 2, seats 4,5,6,7...I've been a fan.

I'm so tired of the trite...WE/I BELIEVE. I'm changing that slogan to "WE/I KNOW."

I'm Joe and that's how I see it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On the cusp...

It's so close that we can touch it. Just get it done fellas. It's long overdue.

Michael had to learn how to beat Larry.
Isaiah had to learn how to beat Larry.
Isaiah had to learn how to beat Magic.
Michael had to learn how to beat Isaiah.

Get it done.

From your number one fan since 1981.


I'm Joe and that's how I see it.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Trial by Fire

I enrolled at Morehouse College in August of 1996. The whiff of Olympic magic still in the air, Atlanta was definitely a city in transition when my class started our New Student Orientation at Morehouse.

The first weeks went along swimmingly, and Morehouse won it's first two football games. OutKast dropped its sophomore effort, "ATLiens" to rave reviews, and I finally started to understand the locales that they were speaking of in there music, since several of the places were minutes from campus.

I went to the Miss Maroon & White pageant on my birthday, September 22nd. It was a balmy night, and I remember wearing a red Hilfiger button down (because TH was still VERY much in), khaki shorts and docksiders. I remember sitting in the balcony and watching with anticipation as my boys and I leered and hissed from our elevated perch in the stately but sterile Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel. Stormee Windom won.

A few days later, after the Mike Tyson fight, Tupac Shakur was shot in Vegas. It was the common perception that since he had outlasted bullet wounds before, he would more than likely live through this situation as well. Unfortunately for him and his fans, that was not the case, and he died at 25. There were several Tupac fans on the 4th floor of Benjamin Elijah Mays Hall, and seemingly all of them decided to play his music as loudly as possible the night he died.

A few days later, word started to spread on campus that four students from Forbes Hall (now Brazeal) had been arrested for sexual assault. (Six years later, in that same Brazeal Hall, an incident occured that incited more unrest on campus that left a permanent physical scar on one student, and a ten year jail sentence for the other.) I dismissed it and went on my way studying about Lapis Lazuli and Mesopotamia, or worrying more about the 1996 Dallas Cowboys. It wasn't until I was eating lunch in Chivers Dining Hall, and I watched President Massey briskly walk in, dressed neatly in a baseball cap, maroon sweater folded over his shoulders and over his polo shirt, that I realized that maybe the rumors were true.

All of a sudden, the music in the cafe that had been blaring, stopped, and from some unknown place in the back, Dr. Massey was speaking from a P.A. system. He gave us instructions about the media, and left as hurriedly as he had arrived.

After dinner, I went back to my room and turned on the t.v. to watch 'A Different World' on Channel 36 like I did every afternoon. While flipping the channels, I saw something on the news about four Morehouse students who had been arrested and charged with sexual assualt.

Having been at Morehouse a little over 7 weeks, I didn't know any of them, but immediately felt sorry for them. The next day, stories were spreading around campus with great speed. Some true, some false, but all about the same thing...the Forbes Four.

Who was she? What was she doing over here that late? She's lying!

I heard a number of things. And it didn't take long before facts about the story were on the front page of the Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution. My friends from Howard were calling asking me about it, and my parents were interested in what was going on too. This thing had spread fast, and before the widespread use of email.

The woman in question was a freshwoman at Spelman who lived in Abby Hall. We found that out from the newspaper. Spelman circled the wagons, and shut down visitation. Morehouse shut down visitation, but no wagons were circled.

A town hall meeting was held and run by the venerable Dr. John Hopps, our provost at the time, and he mentioned that the four students in question had been suspended from school. This raised great concern among the student body, and the packed King Chapel crowd screamed and hurled epithets and threats toward the stage to show their displeasure with the ruling. The mood on the campus was tense.

The SGA was definitely on the side of the students, and seemingly did what it could to find out answers to the difficult questions. I remember one night, members of the SGA, clad in their uniform du jour of suit, shirt and bow-tie walked the halls of the dorms and collected money for the incarcerated students. I remember one of my friends on the hall saying, "I hope y'all will do the same for me, man."

Stories were circling like crazy, and all of a sudden a new invention not yet instituted in my dorm before, was installed. It was called a 'control desk.' In other words, female guests had to be signed in at the desk, and each person living in the dorm had to work the desk at a given time throughout the semester. This 'control desk' seemed to only last about a week before it was found burning outside of our dorm on Brown St.

And while interest in the plight of the incarcerated students started to wane, Homecoming came a knocking. With a star-studded lineup that rivaled any homecoming anywhere in the world, Morehouse rolled out the 1996 homecoming, "Magnifying the Mystique."

The comedy show was Jamie Foxx in the new Olympic Arena on Monday night. The fashion show was in King Chapel on Tuesday night. Thursday and Friday night were Coronation. The concert, Westside Connection (WC, Mack 10 and Ice Cube) and A Tribe Called Quest was held Friday night in the Olympic Arena. The parade was Saturday, followed by tailgate and the game against none other than HOWARD UNIVERSITY and their mighty Bison. After the game was the stepshow in Archer Hall, and after that was the huge Omega-Delta party at the Omni in downtown Atlanta. On Sunday, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin and an array of other gospel stars graced the stage at the Olympic Arena while I stood in line to hear a little known rapper getting serious buzz named...Jay-Z. Jay-Z was performing at King Chapel for $5. My best friends from Howard, Dorian, Benji, Braedan, Tim, Ray and Ace, came down to join in the festivities, and we had a truly memorable time.

A quick side note...we were stuck waiting to get into the Omega-Delta party for two hours in a lobby of the Omni. When I say stuck, I mean pressed up against each other for two hours, in a very small space. One Spelmanite was pressed up against a locked glass door, and almost suffocated from lack of air and exhaustion. Eventually, Miss Howard, LaChanda Jenkins, who was stuck near us, and who I knew from Jack & Jill, saw us and told us to lock hands. We did, and she guided us through the crowd as we got to the front of the quagmire and handed our money to the people in charge. When I finally got up to the smoky room, the pungent smell of variations of smoke and alcohol seemed to consume me. After an hour in the greatest party I'd ever been to in my life, the Fire Marshall (who seems to never sleep), came in and shut the party down. As we exited the Omni, several paying customers were very upset and voice their concerns. While sitting out in front of the Omni with several thousand other people, someone said 'they' were shooting. Before I knew it, I was gone flying up Marietta St. I looked to my left and right and saw my boys right there with me. Crazy times indeed.

Back to the story...

However, in the wake of all of this, the esteemed and eloquent Dean of King Chapel, Dr. Lawerence Carter, mentioned during a Sunday sermon that perhaps young women bring these actions upon themselves due to the way that they dress. Oh the furor it caused! The response to his comments were sharp, condemning and quick. He received open criticism from women and men alike for his statements, and never seemed to utter a word again about the situation. In the years to follow, he has been seen, and is still seen today as a great theologian and an important and vital member of the Morehouse community, but one slip of the tongue perhaps at a later time, when information was more readily accessible to greater masses of people, and Carter would have been out on his pants. How he dodged that one is beyond me, and it's NEVER brought up...ever.

After homecoming, word spread that the young woman in question had been caught on campus at a dorm in a very compromising position. A short time after that revelation, the students were released pending trial and eventual dismissal.

Seeing the dismissal of the case as a final end to the story (not to mention a dropping of the charges), one would naturally assume that things were over. Not by a long shot.

The day I came home from Christmas break, I was picked up by my friends Marc Germain and Keith Donaldson. They mentioned that they were going to pick up their friend Tony, who like them, was from Boston. I didn't know Tony, but he jumped into the backseat of Keith's Mercedes and extended his hand and shook my hand hard. He mentioned that he was hungry, and that we should go to Lenox to get something to eat. Before I knew it, we were on I-85 North headed to Mick's at Lenox. During our hours together, I got to know him a little bit, and he mentioned jail more than once. At first I found it odd, but didn't really pay it any attention.

Later that night, as we were driving back to the dorm, Marc and Keith told me that Tony, was one of the four students, one of the Forbes Four, who had been wrongly arrested and incarcerated for sexual assault. I was blown away. Before hand, I was merely an observer, and a cynical one at that, of the situation, but now, after spending the better part of the day with one of the guys, all of the emotions that I had felt before flooded my mind. I started to see Tony more and more on campus, and in my dorm because his first cousin lived across the hall from me, and because Marc and Keith were two of his best friends and they also lived on my floor. Tony Clark...my main man.

Tony knew all about Morehouse from the inside out, and was not afraid to tell it, show it, or impart wisdom about it. Tony would school me, lecture me, teach me and mold me into a person who questions things, and doesn't necessarily accept them at face value. He was fast becoming my best friend at Morehouse, and things seemed going well for him, as he was adjusting to life back on campus, and then word came that the story was not over.

Emerge Magazine, a publication that I loved and respected, chose for it's March or April 1997 cover story, 'The Rape of A Spelman CoEd.' The story, written by a victim of sexual assault, was part autobiographical, and part factual. The very fact that a person who had gone through such a horrible crime, would turn around and write a story about an alleged sexual assault seemed to me to be in poor taste as well as have a total lack of journalistic ethics. The article wasn't as scathing as it was decidedly one-sided, and it painted pictures of people that I could see and touch on a daily basis in a very negative light. But, as things do, the situation passed and the storm blew over.

And that summer, there were Tony and I burning the midnight oil, pushing each other to study, to make up for things that we didn't do in the previous school year; me because of lethargy and him because of an unjust situation.

So, as I look at the situation today at Duke, I wasn't surpised that the lacrosse players were suspended, that's what they did at Morehouse ten years earlier. I wasn't surprised that the accusations have been hurled before anyone outside of the D.A.'s office and the defendants have any of the real evidence. What surprises me is how little, tiny Morehouse braved a similar storm ten years ago this September, and dodged a bullet that would have been and could have been a major PR fiasco, and would've tainted the school's image for years to come. Now, it's never even mentioned. But if you ask anybody who was at Morehouse or Spelman during that time, they'll tell you their version of the story, and they just might tell you how they really felt too.

I'm Joe, and that's how I see it.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

"My boy is wicked smahht..." - Good Will Hunting

Blowing up like nitro...

My baby brother is doing well for himself right about now. Check out his most recent clip from the Colbert Report at this clip.

I'm Joe and that's how I see it...proudly I might add.