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Things are happening, and to be perfectly blunt, much of it fucking sucks. In the last couple of weeks I’ve suffered some professional set backs that have made me curse myself for not keeping up with the gym regimen that would’ve easily solved my problem. Need I remind you I have nothing against using one’s cheeks to earn the bulk share of someone else’s check. That said, while I huff and I puff, and yearn to blow someone’s got damn head off, my sister and the little voice in my head have both reminded me that these things happen in my field all the time and each time I’ve found something else. So rah, rah and all that good shit.

Still, while that was going on I recently woke up to some freakish rash on parts of my arms and hands that quickly spread all across my body. Fortunately, I purchased a health insurance plan earlier in the year following a legitimate fear that one of my ears was committing suicide (or something). After going to the dermatologist I was told that I was suffering from a sun allergy post-trip from New York. Mind you, I was told this in Los Angeles, land of endless sun. Who am I to be skeptical to a specialist, though?

Well, I had my reasons. The first was the doctor walking into the room declaring, “Oh my God! You look just like Chris Rock. I bet you get that all of the time!” Actually, no, I don’t. Back during All Star Weekend there was a little boy at the bus stop outside of my apartment complex running behind me yelling, “Chris Brown! Chris Brown!” A few bus drivers and waiters made the same mistake back in 2009. That’s the only Chris I’ve been compared to in the past and to be honest, I don’t see that one either outside of us both being lanky and brothers in big teeth.

Anyway, after her Rock realization and sun allergy diagnosis she shared another opinion: My rash might have been caused by an STD. Syphilis, to be exact. My response was immediate: “Don’t you have to have sex to get an STD?” I’m not a virgin, but it’s been a minute. Several. Eons really. There are perils with being picky with your penis, though secret cases of syphilis was not one I expected.

She kept repeating that she didn’t think it was syphilis, but wanted me to get checked out anyway. In my mind I kept thinking, “Girl (well, ma’am), I ain’t got no damn STD.” I do get regularly tested, after all. And as fate would have it, I do not have syphilis. However, the cream she prescribed to me hadn’t been working. The rash has spread and my hand looks mutated. As a fan of respectable levels of vanity, I found this troubling. Same for where this problem occurs elsewhere on me.

I called the office – frantically – asking for answers, particularly about recent blood work done. I went to the doctor again late in the evening yesterday. That’s when I found out the obvious: No STD. Depending on how the next week goes, I might have actually preferred that scenario.

There is now a possibility that I have what is called a common inflammatory disease that affects about one to two percent of the general population. As I read that in the pamphlet while waiting for another cream I thought to myself how uncommon that sounds. A biopsy was done on me and I’ll know what’s what in a week. Hopefully. It is not contagious, but I was told that if this is what I have this rash can last for 12-18 weeks at a time or 1-5 years. Ah, it just really, really sucks.

Do you want to know how bad the last few weeks have been? I didn’t even flinch at first upon hearing that. Yeah, it’s been that bad. Needless to say, I quickly snapped into how frightening a prospect this all is. I was told that this new and seemingly stronger cream might eliminate the problem by my next appointment. Or it may not. I have no idea.

In the last few weeks I’ve had personal and professional setbacks, medication for other health problems cause my jaw to become annoyingly soar (after a single dosage), and now this. I’ve felt a bit lonely the entire time, too, given I’m far away from all the people I care about most. At least I have my mother by phone. We haven’t even talked about any of this in detail yet. I’m just grateful for everything else.

This morning I got on my knees (which I typically do anyway), said a little prayer, and just felt thankful to have woken up. It’s all I can do right now. Things will get better, but I’m not one to tell anyone not to articulate when things are sucking. I damn sure wouldn’t strip myself of such abilities.

I do have some good news, though. Those weird black marks on my otherwise pink ass lips that popped up mysteriously yesterday: The dermatologist says they’ll be gone soon. I said good as it’s not fair to have the effects of relentless weed smoke without the benefits of any high. Same for the premise of the STD pains without any of the fun first. She laughed. I was serious. Maybe she knew that. At least that’s settled. I’ll find out next week what to do about everything else.

Such a fun way to end summer and kick off the fall. You can’t see me, but I’m doing that jazz hand thing right now. And people have the gall to give me grief over a memoir. Look at all this rich material. Yes, I’m still working on that, too. Other things. Lack of focus lately because well…you know. I’ll get it together. I normally do. I just hope I’m better all around once that happens.

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I turned in an assignment this morning about Troy Davis, but it was more about analyzing the differences in attitudes between the families of Troy Davis and the other man executed last night, Lawrence Russell Brewer, than my opinion on the matter.

That might have been for the best, because I’ve still yet to really process my feelings beyond sadness. Obviously, this is another example of how much race and class factor into the way the justice system unjustly handles the death penalty. If the Supreme Court’s refusal to issue a stay of execution for Davis last night but willingness to do the same without issuing reason for a man convicted of rape and murder isn’t a reminder of such, the Georgia parole board doing the same in 2008 for a man who admittedly murdered someone (versus the dubious at best case against Davis) being spared from death in favor of a life sentence certainly is.

Why was his life spared? Because he behaved himself.

Via Reuters:

At Thursday’s hearing, his lawyers presented a dossier of evidence attesting to his remorse and good behavior in jail, according to local media reports. The lawyers also said he was suffering from withdrawal symptoms from a cocaine addiction at the time of the crime.

It’s as disheartening as it is infuriating. If nothing else, I take comfort in the fact that all of this attention has caused people to revisit their stances on the death penalty — including mine. Though I typically viewed the matter on a case by case basis, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to not be against that form of punishment altogether. It just seems more and more barbaric and antiquated — not to mention mercilessly unfair (something I did acknowledge all along, hence the lingering conflict).

In the midst of sadness, I’m encouraged by the people who actually used their voices for a cause bigger than themselves. Doesn’t matter how small or large they did so, the fact is that they did. In the future, though, I hope some people will learn when to shut up and just let people participate. There is no sense in belaboring the point about the bandwagon effect. That is the entire point of bringing about awareness — to get more people to join a particular cause.

I also would love it if people would bite their tongues when compelled to play the roles of Debbie Downer and Captain Obvious. To do so is selfish and self-centered. If there’s anything we can learn from yesterday beyond the fact that legal grievances continue to ugly this country is this: It will take an even greater of amount of selflessness to help end them.

 

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Edit: This was intended to be published yesterday, but more pressing matters caused me to forget all about it. I did manage to watch the show last night, though, so hell, might as well not let this post go to waste. Insert shade dots here if the spirit moves you. But if it does: shut up.

I feel like I should know better than to still be watching America’s Next Top Model. For a good while, I wasn’t. I was reminded of this when I tuned into last week’s premiere of the All-Star edition and failed to recognize half the cast. About a year ago, a friend of mine encouraged me to give this show (that feels like it’s been on forever now) another go. “It’s good this time, I promise.”  I listened and kept watching. Naturally, he stopped not long after. When I tried to ask him about the season that premiered about six hours after the one he recommended concluded he was all, “Oh, I stopped watching.”

Jinkies.

(more…)

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During my regular routine of scouring the Web to hear new music, I stumbled across a new song from Joey Lawrence. I don’t remember what he was talking about and I think it’s best that way. All I heard was Joey singing in Autotune. That was enough to completely disregard anything that was going on. How old is Joey Lawrence? Like 60 or something? That is, in celebrity on the decline years which is like dog years squared. I haven’t a clue as to what Joey Lawrence has been doing since Blossom went off the air. For all I know he could be a big singer in South Korea or Chile, hence the new material. Based on that song, though, I’m assuming not so much and that makes me kind of sad for him. I’m also a little sad for myself, too.

I used to have the biggest crush on Joey Lawrence. I told y’all I was clocking boys younger and even in the midst of the back and forth of trying to force myself to like girls, I never fought Joey. I mean, remember him in jeans? Shut up, some of y’all do. Let me have it.

Anyway, I just want to take this time to remember Joey in a much better light. This song wasn’t technically that great either, but it beats a 100-year-old ex-sitcom star from 20 years ago singing in Autotune, right? I thought so. Plus, he had really cool hair for the time. I’m pretty sure his hair always looked better than Blossom and Six’s. Their bad.

Now that I’ve appropriately (or not) explained my previous adoration for all things Joey (oh and his brother, Matt, too, in Brotherly Love) y’all do me a favor and let out a little, “Whoa!” in memoriam. For love. Or like, for the inappropriate lust you might have held as a sexually curious child, too. Whatever touches your heart more.

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Hear ye, hear ye: I hereby decree all doubters cease and desist efforts to draft Drake into the gay community. It is a waste of time because that Canadian is into coochie. No matter how persistent you are in arguing otherwise, it won’t change the fact that the man is into women exclusively. Case in point, this video being cited as “evidence” that Aubrey is into male ass play.

(more…)

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If only it were this simple.

In my latest for The Root, I offered a personal touch to a recent story about a growing number of people (5.9 million of them) between the ages of 25 and 34 who have been forced to move back home thanks to the economy. I actually know of a few people who have either dealt with this in recent years or going through it now. Admittedly, the time period I write about is a few years shy of 25 but trust me, it’s close enough.

I have alluded to some of the issues mentioned in the piece on the site before, they this offers a bit of specifics (like an actual prescription) that I’ve never been forthright about — especially not for publication. I’m opening up more in that medium. Maybe it will help. Me. Someone. Both. Who knows?

Click here to check out “Moving Back Home: A Gift and a Curse.”

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I suppose in theory I ought to find this feature on Japanese youth mimicking the hip-hop influenced sect of black culture somewhat offensive, or if nothing else, painfully patronizing. I don’t. To be honest, it comes across as a little endearing. These folks seem to possess a genuine affinity for a black aesthetic.

Unlike these idiots who are clearly mocking black people. It’s women like them and Kreayshawn that make you almost want to wish a yeast infection on someone. Almost. The karma isn’t worth it. I learned that from Mother Oprah.

Anyway, these Japanese ladies are different. I get the feeling that if they took a field trip to Brooklyn they would find a way to stay permanently. Then they would go off and find the Asian dancer from Soul Train on Facebook in order to get a blueprint on how to find their place in a different world. The proof lies in the comments they deliver with a big cheesy grin in each and every instance.

(more…)

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I wasn’t aware that gospel artists remixed contemporary music until about 10th grade. That’s when my Catholic parish got a curly-wig wearing priest who would soon import the black gospel choir from his old church. I didn’t mind the shift in musical offerings considering the alternative was an organist and a soloist who sang in a style my ears never found to be that interesting. I think I would’ve appreciated her way of singing more had I been born before Vatican II like my mommy.

So yes, I liked the gospel choir better because it at least made a largely European themed way of worship feel more familiar. There were times when the choir would make me wince, though. Namely when they shifted from Kirk Franklin to Puffy and Jermaine Dupri. One memory that sticks out in particular is when the choir decided to remix Musiq Soulchild’s “Love.”

Lord
So many people use your name in vain
Lord
Those who faith in you sometimes go astray
Lord
Through all the ups and downs the joy and hurt
Lord
For better or worse I still will choose you first

They also threw in some other corny verse and a guest rapper from the choir. I immediately started laughing out loud during mass. I couldn’t help myself. I found it corny as hell. The changes weren’t exactly a stretch given the original song, but it still sounded bad to me all the same.

Since I stopped being a regular church goer I’ve been largely oblivious to future remixes. Unfortunately, thanks to my friend and obvious demon, Lauren, I’m now reminded that these reworks are still being done — and uploaded online for all the world to see. If Jesus wept, it’s probably over the embarrassment that comes with being linked to such crappy reworks.

I initially thought it was satire or something, but Lauren assured me that these Dallas-based rappers were serious. She’s right. Sadly.

From their Facebook page:

Attempting 2 Take Gospel Music 2 a New-Level, while Reaching out 2 others and Minstering the Word of GOD at the SAME TIME….

Why can’t Christians let the heathens have their own songs? Especially songs like Waka Flocka Flame’s “No Hands.” When I hear this song I’m thinking, “hands on ya knees, hands on ya knees” versus fall on my knees and pray to the Lord.

I also noticed that their are gospel remixes to sexually-charged songs like “Motivation.” Whoa, savior? While I’m certain that Kelly Rowland loves her Bible, she made that song to get biblical. Why won’t you folks let her sin in peace?

I find this all to be selfish. Okay, so maybe I do adore the screwed and chopped version of “God In Me,” but I didn’t change the lyrics. Never once have I said anything like, “It’s the Pimp (C) in me!” I know my limits. It’s time holy rollers learned theirs.

No one wants to hear, “It ain’t no fun, if my Jesus can’t have none.” Or, “Say his name, say his name. When no one is around you say, ‘Jesus I love you,’ if you ain’t running games.” The same goes for, “Bless that demon that you like so bad. And when your with it, know that God’s in your head.” Oh yeah, a big no, too, for, “Stop! Now the let mother blesser pray for y’all.”

Let “Saved Faces” “Sex Faces” and “Christians In Jerusalem” “Niggas In Paris” be free. If gospel singers want to reach the youth, try your own bounce friendly works like Mary Mary. Until then, cut this shit out.

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So I’ve taken part in Good magazine’s “Dealbreaker” series with an essay called, “He’s In Love With Jesus.” This underwent a lot of back and forth between me and my editor on the piece. That said, I know it might read differently than the personal works y’all have read on the site (possibly a good thing, you can tell me). I should note that the more I looked over the essay the more it almost felt like an amalgamation because I quickly became aware of all I’ve felt this sort of pressure from a variety of people for quite some time. It’s honestly more about what the person referenced represented than the guy himself (shade).

You know, given I’ve been a sad R&B song over someone else for so long anyway. Let’s stop over sharing for a moment, shall we? Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to explore more about myself, religion and sexuality in that thing I really, really want (really). That was largely the motivation for me to even try my hand at this.

Okay, enough of my babble. Click here to read Dealbreaker: He’s in Love With Jesus. Feel free to tweet, hit like on Facebook, and offer your commentary on the site.

And if you care, there’s other stuff like “Not The Marrying Kind” and “Accepting Where My Piece Blows.”

Gon’ now.

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Popeye The Sailor Man’s illegitimate seed wants the gays of rap to be free. You know, so they can stop giving women AIDS and shit. The Game’s shared these feelings during an interview with Vlad TV. When asked about homos in hip-hop, the rapper said Beyoncé should’ve named her song, “Run The World (Gays),” ’cause you know, we’re everywhere. Isn’t he clever, y’all? If your answer is yes, do me a solid and look to the right and click on that X. Gon’ now. Get.

Anyway, like most people who say they’re not homophobic but say plenty of homophobic things, The Game added that he doesn’t judge gay people. No, he only fears those in the closet are killing other men and women via disease — a theory long debunked yet continues to be uttered from the mouths of the uninformed. I suppose this is what happens when people get their information on sexually transmitted diseases from poorly adapted films like Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls instead of CDC studies. Cough, cough, Janet.

Oh, The Game had some other breaking news to share, too: We live in a free country, thus can do and say whatever we please.

Like Exhibit B:

“It’s a lot of man fans out there in hip hop. I see how you n-ggas be lookin’ at n-ggas when I be around. They be looking at n-ggas crazy. You might see a rapper looking at another rapper like he got a problem but he really looking at him like he a man fan.”

Man fan, eh. I guess that’s better than the numerous times I’ve heard him say “faggot” on wax as if the word is his personal teeth whitener. It’s always the people who help incite the desire for discretion among select gay men chastising them for keeping secrets. Nothing screams gay pride like AIDS associations and Gossip Girl inspired discussions about the same sex sect. Who run the world indeed.

When I saw this video I instantly thought to pass it off as another example of a rapper saying stupid things. That’s still true, though in recent weeks I’ve encountered two separate instances where much smarter people essentially made the same dumb mistakes. I don’t think The Game or the aforementioned mean any harm, but folks know when a person doesn’t accept them. They also know when they’re being vilified. That ultimately is where the harm comes in. No one is going to open up to a anyone who clearly has a problem with something very personal to them. I can’t say that I blame them even if the secrecy bothers my core.

It’s nice in theory to hear a rapper like The Game say, “be gay, be proud,” but him wrapping the statement up in a big stereotypical blanket probably helps gay acceptance in hip hop about as equally as it further hinders it. Here’s to hoping some day soon someone a bit more eloquent can look out for the homos a little more thoughtfully.

In the meantime, I’ll add “man fan” to my lexicon. No way am I going to let that phrase continue to be used disparagingly.

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