Nearly twenty-four years ago, on Chicago's South Side, a promising young athlete, a basketball phenom, was gunned down, in broad daylight, on a cold wintry street near his high school. Ben Wilson was seventeen. I was fifteen. I didn't know Benji, as he was affectionately called, but his story touched the entire city, and the senseless killing rocked me to the core. I couldn't understand, couldn't process it, but, I shared the grief felt by many others my age who knew and loved him. I remember it so well. I remember they took him to St. Bernard Hospital, and I remember when the news came over the radio that he did not make it. The DJ played T.ramaine Hawkins "Goin Up Yonder" and I was in the back seat of my Daddy's Volvo, and I cried quietly, because I didn't know if it was okay to do so. If I remember correctly, the radio station broadcast live from Simeon's gymnasium, where students gathered to mourn and comfort one another. I remember the sadness, the wailing, the words of comfort from adults. It was awful and it was frightening.

Goin Up Yonder - Tramaine Hawkins

Years before that, when I was just a little girl, one of my cousin's was murdered, by gunfire, on the South Side, and I believe he was a mere fifteen at that time. I remember my family gathering in the emergency room of the hospital where my mother worked, and again, if I recall correctly, she was part of the team working to save his life. But, he didn't make it. His bullet riddled body couldn't maintain the blood that they were frantically pumping into him.

There are a few other stories I can tell, stories of violence in my beloved city, the city we natives lovingly refer to as "The Crib." However, the Jennifer Hudson Family tragedy is most prescient in my mind right now. When my girl MoMo first mentioned it to me, I jumped online to search the story. As the details rolled in, all I wondered was "why", then I prayed and asked God to allow myself and the Hudson family to lean on Him and not our own understanding. I began hearing T.ramaine Hawkins song again, and somehow, it is tied, in my psyche, to senseless tragedy at "The Crib." I awoke yesterday to the news that a body, that of a young black boy, had been found, in the SUV the authorities were looking for, and mu heart sunk. By end of day it, it was all clear.

LA is so very different. I do not know the hood here, the way I do at home. I'm familiar with The Jungles, I handle business on Crenshaw, I lived in Compton for some time my first year here, but its different. As I've been watching WGN and all other news reports covering the story, I see faces that feel so familiar, hear a dialect that is so country. :)

There is an element to the hood in Chicago that is so distinct, so sad, yet loving and rich with "down home." There is desperation, optimism and complacency that are so intertwined, so blurry, that one wonders if this cycle can ever be broken. Just when there seems to be a glimmer of hope, that someone "from here" can make it, shht like this takes place. There are those who want to leave and those who want to stay, and the reasons are various, but ties always remain, because as Jennifer said, "it keeps me grounded" and you can't forget where you came from.

When I get home to Chicago, the first place I want to go is Harold's on 87th Street. I want to drive around and see the city that raised me, I want to hit Stoney Island, King Drive and Cottage Grove; Hyde park and Downtown. I want to go Steppin'. I grew up in London Towne, at the tip of the "Wild Hundreds" and if I don't make it to the old neighborhood to visit, there are consequences to pay from those who played instrumental roles in making me into the woman I am today. When I go home, I feel recharged; the city is no punk. It is arguably the most segregated city in the country, but there is beauty in that, because you can drive or ride "the El" from one area to the next and experience different cultures and people. I did this for four years during High School. The city's history is legendary, roaring with jazz, blues and classical music. The politics are unrivaled, and the food...incredible. I grew up listening to House music. I attended the strongly rooted Trinity United Church of Christ. I have kept in touch with virtually all of my friends, starting from kindergarten.

I must admit though, that things are changing. Gentrification has reared its ugly head and the dynamics and landscapes are forever altered. On the South and West Sides, crime has increased and the living ain't necessarily easy. I hear it when I talk to my friends who are cops, and my friends who are funeral directors. The heartbeat is different, the soul has been sucked out some.

P.alin and McC.ain should visit this "real America", where school-aged children are gunned down on city buses, to and from school. They should familiarize themselves with the "real America" where little seven year old boys die at the hands of guns, along with their grandmothers and uncles. You know, those wonderful firearms that P.alin uses to hunt Moose? They aren't so wonderful in the hood. However, O.bama knows these streets, so don't underestimate his gumption, his toughness. He is sensitive to this plight, and not necessarily because he is Black. Don't start that shht with me. He knows it, because he cares to know and understand.

J.ennifer H.udson's life is heading into a new chapter now, where she must cope with the inexplicable deaths of her loved ones, and while it is both sad and troublesome, the most heartbreaking thing is that these types of crimes are committed daily in hoods all across our country, but its so prevalent that the media doesn't bother to report it on national news. Just like the Hudson's neighbors in Englewood didn't bother to report gunfire, because "we hear it all the time."

Get your ass out and vote next Tuesday. No excuses.

The Maven


A Monday Mind

Less than ten days, less than ten days, less than ten days............ VOTE!

This may be the largest voter turnout, ever, in the U.S.!

The reality of an O.bama presidency is becoming more and more real and I am beginning to feel many things, like, excitement, nervousness, anticipation, pride, restlessness, joy, weariness, and sadness that loved ones who are no longer with me, didn't live to experience this milestone in history.

Did I tell you that someone hit my living room window, with my O.bama sign as the obvious target? HATERS!

Does Mc.Cain cry himself to sleep at night? Is P.alin plotting for world domination? Is E.lizabethH.asselbeck her co-conspirator? Just how much MORE wealth did G.W. accrue over these past eight years? How many more Red Party's are going to come out in support of "That One", really?

The bailout was B.S.

The J. Hud tragedy has me shook. The Crib is no joke sometimes.

Its time for me to go back to braids. I'm over the fro'. I say this lovingly.

The 30th anniversary of The Wiz was this past week. I love that movie, and its subliminal messages. Q and them were on one when they filmed it. LOL!

Los Angeles weather has been superb.

Kindred has a new release. Gotta get it. Love them.

My mom loves Link TV (check your local listings) and I haven't revealed this to her, but I have grown to dig it too! Knowledge truly is power. This channel is chock full of educational goodness.

Speaking of knowledge, if we all seek the truth about our country's underbelly dealings within and abroad, all indications would point to a need for revolution. But, we don't want to know the truth, we can't HANDLE the truth. We're too afraid we might miss our favorite TV program.

Back in the day, I was a bartender. I worked in the same place for six years. GREAT memories. This past weekend, I was called upon to bar tend a private, family function for a friend. So, I decided to take it back a lil'. Cute bobbed wig, push-up bra, tight jeans, high-heeled boots and loads of charm....... and yes, I made out very well in my tip jar. Some things never change. LOL!!!

Set a new goal today. Create an opportunity for someone else.

I have a confession........I ate a bag of 'skins over the weekend. Bad girl.

Credit is evil, but is it a necessary evil? Pay cash dammit!

Did anyone watch the Bubba, Ed, and Ted H.ipH.op Awards? Sigh.

There is something blissful about consuming pizza and beer, maybe it has something to do with the nap you're forced to take afterward.

B.enR.oethlisberger and B.rettF.avre combined for 6 INT's on Sunday; they are my Fantasy Football QB's, so each week is a toss up for me as to which one I will start. My boy D.H. refers to me as "Season Over", LOL! Speaking of season over, can you say Cincy?

Donnie Mac held it down against A-Town, of course. Can I trade for him? I need to look into that; someone tell JT to holla at his girl. (JT is in my fantasy league.)

M.ikeS.ingletary is a head coach. This is gonna be interesting.

I.saiahT.homas,what really good?

Basketball season is here! When the basketball and football seasons overlap, life is good.

J.immyR.ollins and R.yanH.oward are delicious, and so are C.arlosP.ena and B.J.Upton, and that's all I have to say until there is a winner in this series.

Where is season three of The Boondocks? I have worn the first two seasons out, I know the dialog. Someone tell A.aron Mc.Gruder to holla at me. I NEED SEASON THREE!

Facebook is a helluva drug.

Keep your eye on this shht our gov'ment just pulled in Syria. What kind of timing is this?


The Maven


Is She Serious?

I am sitting here watching a P.alin interview on C.NN and I believe that I am going to relieve myself of the French Onion soup I ate for lunch.

First of all, why do I always feel like I'm at a hoe-down when she's speaking?

I have grown exceptionally tired of listening to her spew rhetoric, hatred and lies. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what she's speaking about. Who are J.oe The P.lumber, P.hil The Bric.klayer, R.ose The T.eacher, and "Tee-Toe The Builder". Are they pissed that now they will or have become points of national scrutiny? Does she have to address her crowds as if they are kindergarteners?

If you notice, Say-Rah, begins her talking points, aka, her run on sentences, with hopes that she sounds sensible or intellectual. However, she comes up snake eyes every time. She is a walking crapshoot, a bad dream, a worst case scenario. Seriously, SHE STILL CAN"T PROPERLY OUTLINE THE VP JOB DUTIES!!!!

According to this broad, I may not be a "real American". "Real America" is in small towns where folks "love this great country", work hard, are patriotic and love God. But I'm here to inform Ms. W.asilla, that although I don't live in a small town, I do live in a small apartment, drive a small car, and have a small amount of money in my bank account. Am I not good enough to be christened a "real American?"

See, S.arah, I'm AM a real American. Would you be mine, could you be mine, won't you be-my-neighbor? I mean, gee whiz Say-rah, you aren't averse to living next door to me are you? It will be okay.....I will cook a pot of collards and mustards for you, and you can hook me up with your favorite Moose stew and we can swap "war" stories about the pain our ancestors suffered while helping to make the country so wonderful. We spread the wealth a LONG time ago, in hot ass kitchens and cotton fields, so don't give me that B.S. about O.bama spreading the wealth and how bad that will be for "real Americans." Your coded talk doesn't fool anyone. You are playing to the fears of "real Americans" who want to maintain their piece of pie.

With Obama, there will just be more pie. And not apple. Sweet Potato.

If we dig deep enough through the recesses of the cyber mind, we find FEAR! Folks are afraid of a "black planet", where countless negroes will arise from the doldrums and spread Hip-Hop all over the world (oops, we already did that.) They should not worry though, we won't "take over", we will simply continue to make our dignified and important contributions to history and society as we've been doing all along.

Racism is alive and well and y'all better stop taking naps. Remember, our forefathers made moves in the shadows to get ahead. Things have not changed. Get your flashlight.


Happy Anniversary, Love Birds!

Although it is seldom mentioned in the mainstream, the obvious love, admiration and respect shared between these two is very refreshing. While "Black love is beautiful" may seem cliche, the reality is, we cannot survive as a race of people without it. Furthermore, the entire human race will not survive without love.

Personally, the bond that The Obama's share gives me comfort and more confidence in a productive Obama presidency. When I see them together, its like I hear India.Arie singing, "boy, where are your people from......"

Without question, a loving, strong and balanced home life, reflects in our professional and social lives. There is great candor, I believe, to the phrase "behind every great man, there is a great woman" and in this case, nothing could be more true.

What do you think?


Pig Tales

I am bacon's bitch.

Few things please my taste buds more than a slice of the swine.

I take mine extra crispy.

I like to hear it crunch as I chew.

I'm not mad if its slightly burned, I enjoy that taste too.

I love it when my bacon has cozied up next to some syrup on my plate.

I also love a good pork chop, fried (oh my, I could squeal with delight just thinking about it!) You see, Honey, my maternal grandma, she used to make fried apples, pork chops and biscuits, and it was my favorite thing in her culinary reportoire. Damn, I miss her.........

Now for the tricky part..........

I am thinking about divorcing pork (GASP.)

Don't worry, it won't be difficult.

I never cook it at the crib, I only have it when I'm at a restaurant.

I know many of you are anti-pig, and that's cool. I know its not good for you, but the pork industry came with it when they marketed their goods as "the other white meat."

So, I will keep you posted about my final decision, and if you love bacon as I do, BLESS YOU and as my girl Paper Doll says..."stay strong in the struggle!" LOL

The Maven