My Co-Worker’s Stance on Survival in Society.

A Black man, with a red hoody on, wearing a beanie, rode past my little Asian coworker on bike and snatched her phone out of her hand.

This isn’t about the $400 dollar phone. This isn’t about my “little Asian” coworker. This is about Black men.

 

Mosaic.

Black Man Mosaic.

I fit the description of the Black man who snatched her phone…

She might have said he had dreads- so the style of the hair differs. And on that day I was wearing burgundy, not red; but close enough. I’m not heavy set- I’m skinny. But mannnnnn, if she filed a police report I’d be a suspect… I could just imagine myself walking out of the office, mounting my bike (which I ride everyday), and  riding through the same area where the incident occurred … I’d be a suspect.

This wasn’t an isolated incident… There had been a rash of robberies.

 

Heavyset or skinny. Dreads locs or fresh cuts. We all look the same to cops.

I left out of the office, rode my bike to the high school where I held an after school program, and asked my students a number of questions…

“Have you ever been robbed?” … “Have you ever robbed/ thought of robbing people?” …  “Do you ever get looked at as a thief or criminal?” …  “Do they ever fear Black men?”

The conversation that came out these questions showed that we suffer from the thought of Black men being malicious, criminals, animals…  these were the opinions of Black male and female high schoolers… And myself.

On many accords I felt the same.

I’ve been in their position. As a Black man, I’ve been in fear and I’ve been feared. How do we correct this mindset within high schoolers? For my little Asian  co-worker? Or, for that matter, white America?

… Especially if it is something that is pervasive within our own people/ community.

My co-worker is a loving-fighter. A poet born in the Philippines. A Pisces. And an experienced educator in Oakland, Ca. She took the incident in stride. I recall how she retold the account to me, “For real, bro!?!” she yelled at the man as he took the phone and continued down the block. “I even called him ‘BRO’!… ” She said to me with exclamation. She maintained her stance of love.

She didn’t let one person’s actions change her perspective on all people. 

That was the answer.

But is it possible to maintain your outlook on life, after seeing what life presents? Fully?

Seriously… Don’t you have to change to the environment as a means of survival?

… Or can you change the environment enough so as to ensure survival?

…. Just a train of thought ….

President Barack Obama Comes To Oakland.

Hello Mr. President

Hello Mr. President. Welcome to Oakland.

One glimpse of the police motorcade, and I flashed back to my DC days …

As a student at Howard University, I spent five years in the Nation’s capital. A Presidential parade was nothing new to me. Although the eyes of the Nation were focused on my hometown, I was more concerned with simply going home.

I closed my books and came out of Oakland’s main library: Hungry. Frustrated. Feeling pissed. Plus I had to piss…

“If all these badge rockin’ overseers (officers) weren’t around- I’d water this shrub.” I remember thinking to myself as I copped a squat next to a bush.  The police wouldn’t let me cross the street; they told me that the President would be passing in ten minutes… My thoughts began to race, so I held my bladder, and blasted off a couple of tweets:

  “If i pass this class, I can save myself. If I save myself, I can save my people”

 “… No matter what the President does… “

“(I’m sitting next to a bush, tweeting… surrounded by policemen.)”

….

If I pass this test I can graduate undergrad. If I graduate undergrad, I can start grad school. When I finish grad school, as a professional journalist with a teacher’s degree, I will be able to access and allocate resources that we all can use to better our community.

In the grand scheme of things the, Presidential election does matter. I know it does.

Do I have any voice in that matter- honestly, I don’t know. I know- 1 vote, 1 person. I know the electoral college. I know that large “Political Action Committees” are BIG sponsors of campaigns. I also understand that there is a lot that I don’t know.

I understand that there is a Black man in the most powerful office of all of the land… I understand that very clearly…

But I’ve only seen that via media. And I don’t always believe the media… especially media about the government.

In person, I’ve seen some things:

In September of 2008, I was in Denver for the Democratic National Convention.

In November of 2008 when the news was announced that Senator Obama had been elected as President of the United States of America, I was on Howard University’s campus in Washington DC.

I was even in Nation’s Capital on the frosty morning of January 20, 2009 during the inaugural celebration of America’s first African-American President.

I saw it. I didn’t understand it. But I saw it.

I didn’t vote in the 2008 election… I know, I know…

I support the image of a Black man in the Oval Office, it speaks volumes as to how far this country has come. But the politics behind it- I still question. I figure I fall into the fray, full of Black folks who feel the same way; untrusting of our government. Untrusting is an understatement…

Look man, I’m coming from Oakland, Ca. A place where people have seen the underhandedness of local governing bodies time and time again. In the past four years- we’ve seen blatant dirt on the hands of the State (CA budget) , the City (Police), and even the Transit cops (Oscar Grant). To think that the Federal Government- will do something to better the situation in our Oakland neighborhood is behooving, farfetched, and unrealistic to many of us out here.

Well, recently… the Federal Government has done SOMETHING to aid the city The NY Times ranked as “the World’s 5th best tourist attraction of 2012”…

On the same morning that the Federal forces made a move to close Oakland’s famed medical marijuana college… a mass shooting occurred at Oikos University, a small Christian school located in East Oakland. Unfortunately fittingly.

There are people in this city struggling to make ends meet, losing lives to gun violence  (with both policemen and black/brown men behind the trigger), and people who have been scarred by the woes of the world. These are the people who don’t trust in the government. On any level.

The 99%er movement, which swept the Nation in October/ November of 2011, took to a different feel here in Oakland. Protesters of all backgrounds combined forces and claimed residency right under Oakland’s main tree- in the center of the city. The local governing officials didn’t take too kind it’s new neighbors, and eventually gave them an eviction notice… in the form of a sunrise police raid. The raid set off a domino effect of rebellious actions on the part of the people- and eventually ended with many reports condemning the City of Oakland’s approach to the Occupy situation.

The remnants of this movement are still felt locally, as spray paint still adorns the side local businesses and the grass on the City of Oakland lawn is still patchy and brown. Nationally, the Occupy Movement in Oakland is still ringing bells, hence this NY Times Article published on Aug 1st, 2012.

President Obama’s late July appearance in Oakland was greeted by protesters… per usual. Many of the protesters were fighting global injustices, federal wrong-doings, and for the legalization of medical marijuana… And  some protesters were just out there to protest, as many do in this city.

While protesters, fans, and police motorcades focused on President Obama being in town, three notable events occurred in Oakland:

1. An investigation was ongoing after a weekend shooting in East Oakland left a 5-year old girl in the hospital.

2. A two-day incident, which initially began as a high speed chase and eventually concluded in a house in East Oakland where a standoff between armed men and police lasted 12 hours.

3. The family of Alan Blueford, a teenager who was shot by OPD, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Oakland. Blueford was killed on May 6th. The officer who shot, also shot himself in the foot. The officer’s name has not been released, neither has Blueford’s autopsy records. Therefore, the family cannot move forward with this case.

These are the problems that haunt this town. Local issues. These are the issues I find myself concerned with. Local issues … not National issues.

The people of my city are children who have been hurt by miscellaneous happenings, sisters who have been scarred by society, and people… hurt people.

Just imagine: If cured, what wonders could these people do to change society?

One week after President Obama’s visit to Oakland, an article about the nature and nurture of Black men in Oakland was published in a local newspaper. The very next day, the NY Times again chose to shine light on America’s new tourist attraction: Oakland, Ca.

How can we open our doors to the world, if our house isn’t clean?

What is the significance of President Obama leaving the white house, to come to a town where Black and Brown people die in the street- before and after he leaves?

I’ve done a little research; now, I’m sure I could stand to do some more, but this is what I’ve concluded:

 I- a young man who watched the 2008 Presidential election process with a lazy eye, a young man who has watched the little (if any) “change” in my local neighborhood with a hawk’s eye, and a young man who is going to the University of California’s graduate school of journalism this fall… I have a responsibility.

Outside of individual donors, the University of California Berkeley was noted as the biggest contributor to Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign, and the Golden Bears are among the leading contributors to President Obama’s 2012 campaign thus far.

I need to pay more attention to the connection between the local issues and the federal/ National implications of these issues…For my voice does matter.

And, if I can take it upon myself to broaden my focus, I’m sure the people in power locally can take their mind off of federal/ national issues to deal with hometown matters.

I’d be willing to make a deal.

My curbside treehouse was prime real estate for these ruminations. I emerged from my thoughts just in time to take a photo of the Presidential parade as they made their way through the East Bay.

Ten minutes passed, Presidential Lincolns passed. Remaining true to their word- the officers then said I could pass. I went home, urinated, and studied some more. I’ve got a class to pass.

OG Told Me: Essay About The Photo Essay.

One time, an OG Told Me: “We’re not getting older, we’re getting better.”

It made me think…

In life, there is beauty in growing old, why would I want to die young?

In America, why are we glorifying young death and degrading becoming an elder?

In Black America, If they don’t have fathers- where are they getting guidance about manhood from?

In manhood … WAIT … how did I get here?

… answer…

The 1st Entry: "My homework ate my dog."- Dick Gregory.

The 1st Entry: "My homework ate my dog."- Dick Gregory.

At 24, I find myself in this strange world called, “manhood”, you might have heard of it… but … not all of my homies made it, some of them never even heard of it.

So, once again I ask: How did I make it to manhood?

As a young man growing up in Oakland, Ca … I followed the OG’s. Religiously.

Their way of talking, thinking, breathing, and blinking… I studied that. Vigorously.

As an 80’s baby, growing up in urban America, surprisingly enough: I wasn’t the only one without a father. Eight of my friends were fatherless too. In turn, we came together as a brotherhood; a fraternal support group. This is sometimes called a gang, a posse, or a clique… na, we were just boys becoming men.

We would pick-up small insight into manhood ( i.e. ideas on approaching women, how to make money double, or even something as essential as: how to fight); we would bring that back to the boys and share the newly acquired knowledge.

From this, I quilted together my concept of manhood.

Through this photo essay, I wanted to recreate that quilt; and show the world my version going from boyhood to manhood.

I call it: OG Told Me.

The project takes the phenomenon that I’ve encountered throughout the process of growing up, and documents it- so now babies of the millennium can find concepts about manhood where they hang out: the internet.

Detroit bus driver Barry Ray told me a story about two gas station owners beefing over gas prices … until one owner killed the other. Over pennies.

Detroit bus driver Barry Ray told me a story about two gas station owners beefing over gas prices … until one owner killed the other. Over pennies.

A basic photo essay: head shots of elder Black men, with the addition of clever-wisdom laced quotes. This photo essay is not just documenting elders, no-it’s bridging the gap between generations. It’s giving young men an idea of what they might look like at a later date, and it’s … giving me insight to the problems that plague the black community.

Unexpectedly so.

I found a number of the issues that plague Black men in society through my OG told Me project:

- Lack of accountability.

- Communication issues.

- Self destruction.

- Hate.

- Total disregard for another man’s dream…

- Lack of critical thinking.

- Stubbornness.

- Idle time.

Through this same project, I also found some of the blessings that are found in Black men in society…

- Creativity.

- Wisdom.

- Eldership.

- Sincerity.

- Love.

- Deep beliefs.

- Kinship.

- A way of life that is unobserved by others- yet seen everyday: the invisible man.

-The natural occurrence of a rights of passage in the Black community.

“Ethiopian proverb: When spider webs unite- they can tie up a lion!” - Joe Brooks, VP Policy Link & An old Black man… Been there. Done that. What’s new?

“Ethiopian proverb: When spider webs unite- they can tie up a lion!” - Joe Brooks, VP Policy Link & An old Black man… Been there. Done that. What’s new?

The biggest conundrum I found myself facing during this year-long project: Finding the purpose of life…

All around the world people are living for two things: to get older and to get smarter.

This is survival. Basic survival.

However, where I grew up, people are living for two things: to get money and … to get money.

In result, our illusionary pursuit of money results not in getting older and getting smarter- no, it results in us dying young and dumb.

This is not survival. This is basic.

The aging process should be appreciated. It’s the beauty of life.

Raymond Bellinger, War vet from New Orleans who sits at the same bus stop all day. When asked about the greatest lessons ever learned, he recited the Lord’s Prayer. word for word.

Raymond Bellinger, War vet from New Orleans who sits at the same bus stop all day. When asked about the greatest lessons ever learned, he recited the Lord’s Prayer. word for word.

I haven’t made it all the way-I’m still growing, learning, aging- or as the OG told me, “getting better.”

And I’m enjoying every step of the way.

… And that is why I created this photo essay.

Now the question remains:

what exactly were those lessons that I was taught as I was growing from a boy to a man?

Book coming soon

Why is it so much easier to help other people than myself ?

Why is it so much easier to help other people than myself ?

You know that spot on your back where your arms don’t reach? That one spot that always itches but you can never scratch-until you get one of those plastic back scratchers … But of course- that doesn’t suffice: that’s plastic dawg!

Yea, that spot on your back where your arms don’t reach, that’s a constant reminder that human beings are social creatures. We need someone to scratch our backs… I mean, we could use trees like California Brown bears do; at least the tree is living… I bet a that’s more sufficient than an inanimate object … I digress.

So, my itching- or, uh- burning question: Why is it so much easier to help other people than it is to help myself ?

I was awarded a shiny-new parking ticket after taking these young men to get educational resources.

I was awarded a shiny-new parking ticket after taking these young men, amongst other students, to a Saturday afternoon full of workshops full of educational resources.

The first thing I did when I came to the realization of this conundrum: post it as my facebook status … and sent a tweet out carrying the same sentiment.

“It is called being selfless. And it is a good thing, for when we lend a hand to another, we are in essence helping to improve ourselves.” Benny “Uncle Punch” Andrews said in reply to my post.

“For two reasons. The selfless part like Bennie said and also it is harder to see the issues in oneself”- Andrew Meyer.

How true…

It’s been killing me all week: I can hold it down for the community, for my friends, for my family … but when it comes to self-It never comes down to self…

It’s not a total mutilation of self in order to save the world… na, I’m not that nice. It’s not a: save the world, so I can say I saved the world kind of thing either… Na, I’m not that egotistical. This persona is a product of being aware: I see the bigger picture. I see the young person who is affected by the parents who are unemployed … that… Or it’s the elder junkie who is a product of a broken school system, hit a schnide in the game, turned to whatever drugs were readily available in the community… and then whallah! You have my surroundings.

And as bad I want to get out of here, that’s just scratching my own back… I want my surroundings to change. So, when I walk out the door in the morning I scratch the backs of fiends , “baby mommas” , marginalized youth, ect, ect… And they say it all comes back… They never said it would come back to haunt me.

It’s messing with my mind.

“you fall in the same line as a psychologist with this one. Unable to solve their own problems.”- @Truth_Inception.

He’s right. I can give people the shirt off my back, but have trouble asking for it in return.

“Yes. I dedicated a week to myself and it was the hardest things ever. Very necessary though.”- @OhhMissRiss

She’s right… that’s what I need.

It’s crunch time. I’m 24 ½. It’s time to lock in and focus on something great. But all I seem to care about is socializing, the internet, and socializing via the internet!

Dang!

I saw this tweet the other day, it simply said that “accomplishments are better than compliments”… and I’m more than sure it’s some song lyrics that were tweeted out of context and quotations- nonetheless, the statement resonated…

I have a number of big time accomplishments within my grasp (graduating, publishing a book, living to be 25…)

And all of it seems so simple: Just do it, NIKE style. But every time I go to move forward… those same friends that are better than back scratchers- are holding me back. They aren’t exactly back stabbers, but nonetheless, being sociable and helping others and wanting to show the world that I’m solid ( That I have a strong backbone)… all of that is holding me back.

So I had to investigate- I had to find someone who has been in my position before. Someone that was destined for greatness, but was suffering from minor setbacks …

So I googled quotes from Michael Jordan:

To be successful you have to be selfish, or else you never achieve. And once you get to your highest level, then you have to be unselfish.”- Michael Jordan

… I’ll take the words of the man who wore number 23 on his back …

Peace.

Invisible Men.

This radio broadcast originally aired on November 10th, 2011 on KQED

http://www.kqed.org/assets/flash/kqedplayer.swf

Invisible Men

Youth Radio’s Pendarvis Harshaw tries to keep black high school students from dropping out.

Pendarvis Harshaw

Pendarvis Harshaw

By Pendarvis Harshaw

The phrase “I don’t give an F-Bomb” resonates throughout high school hallways every day, especially in Oakland public schools. Which begs the question: how do you get students to actually give a flying F-bomb?

The numbers show that young black men drop out of school at higher rates, and are more likely to be incarcerated than other groups. Earlier this year I worked as an educator in the Oakland schools, in a pilot program designed to prevent young black men from dropping out. My students, all freshmen in high school, were in my class because of discipline issues, low attendance, or academic shortcomings. We called our class the Young Lion’s Lair.

To maintain focus, we did pushups. We did wall sits. We did sets of 20 jumping jacks. And everyone had to stop at the same time, or else we’d do it again.

At the start of class, we’d toss around a tennis ball and review the prior day’s lesson. And at the end of class we’d toss around that same ball and review what we learned that day.

We discussed a holistic approach to manhood. It was protocol for each young man to stand whenever he spoke. And when they spoke out of turn, it was mandatory that they say “I apologize.” I asked them not to say “I’m sorry,” because they weren’t sorry young men.

Attendance shot up. Discipline issues decreased. Their grades didn’t change during the semester I worked with them, but I could tell they were learning. Everyday there’d be a moment when one of my students would have a tiny breakthrough and I’d exclaim “hot damn.” It was equivalent to getting a star in kindergarten, and it was a constant reminder that we were progressing.

One day I asked my students to read aloud from Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man.” They were reluctant to read in front of their peers, but eventually one student began… “I am an invisible man.”

Student after student read with increasing excitement. They were into it, and pleaded with me to bring in additional chapters. It was as if Ellison was narrating their lives. “I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids — and I might even be said to possess a mind.”

With a Perspective, I’m Pendarvis Harshaw.

Change the Game

Game Changers Project.

gamechanger
game changer

Have you heard about the 2025 campaign for Black men and Boys ?

The Grio. com ran a big story on the site at the start of this year, check it out: http://www.thegrio.com/specials/game-changers/about-game-changers.php

The game changer’s project is a media inititative to change the image of young Black men and Boys in the media by simply uploading the untold; by taking stories of men and young men alike doing uplifting things in their communities, and giving them proper acknowledgment.  The theory is simple: become the change you want to see in the world… or in the media.

For more information about the initiative, check the website:

http://www.forwardevermedia.com/gcp.html

A key part aspect to being able to tell the stories of Black men and boys in the urban underbelly of America is having storytellers on site, and the Gamechangers project specializes in that. With representatives in New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Oakland.

… I’m the Oakland rep…. Here is my bio, along with the rest of the game changers: http://www.2025bmb.org/thegame/

Here are a couple of stories that I’ve published thus far in efforts to change the game:

Oscar Grant’s Uncle, and the Oscar Grant Foundation: http://www.thegrio.com/specials/game-changers/in-oakland-oscar-grants-uncle-continues-the-fight.php

An article on an education program in Oakland, The Nation’s First African Male Achievement Initiative:

http://www.thegrio.com/specials/game-changers/nations-only-school-district-to-take-on-educating-black-males.php

And soon to come…

http://www.gamechangersproject.org/

Stay updated on how the game is changing via twitter: @Gamechangers007

peace.

“Black Youth Rises From the Ashes”

August 5, 2011 The Oakland Post ran this article:

(http://content.postnewsgroup.com/?p=14170 )

By Pendarvis Harshaw

Joel. Not me.  

Joel. Not me.

 

 

Me. Not Joel.

Me. Not Joel.

(After that minor photo snafu… here is my article)

One pilot class-first time experiment and one fresh Howard graduate take on a shaky school system in the midst of a Black male genocide happening in Oakland, Ca. This past school year the Oakland Unified School District introduced the Nation’s first African American Male Achievement Initiative, which is spearheaded by Chris Chatmon. Three of Oakland’s six public high schools were selected to be a part of this pilot program. The outline to this African American Male Achievement Initiative consisted of seven primary goals: Increasing attendance rates, increasing graduation rates, intensifying middle school holding power, a 4th grade literacy rate goal, to cut incarceration rates in half, to cut suspension rates in half and to decrease the achievement gap. I had 15 weeks to change 15 years of deterioration of the spirit. Before the academia could begin we had to first address the issues that would have inhibited their learning process such as discipline issues, confidence issues, and emotional issues. I brought in a copy of the Oakland Post to the first class I taught. I showed the front-page article that I wrote about Bill Russell meeting President Obama. Accompanying the article was a picture of two of the most well respected Black men on Earth, a powerful image to show a group of disgruntled Black Youth. That same day I asked them: who are you and where do you want to go? These were the questions we as a class searched to answer from there on out. Sure we touched on college, academics, and how to use school as a tool to get out of your current predicament. But nothing got them going like open-ended critical thinking questions. I once asked them, “If you could step out of the door and go anywhere, where would it be and why?” The answers where to heaven, to a videogame, to Canada, to go shopping, to a girl’s house, to Africa to see where my people are from, to sleep, and a young man merely wrote “to a safe place”. The majority of them simply wanted a safe place; and that’s what the “Lion’s lair” classroom was. I am now a proud big brother to 21 young men. Just because classes ended doesn’t mean that the lessons in the classroom stopped. The class is a part of an ongoing process of developing a generation of young men in Oakland, young men with knowledge of self, composure of emotion, and the ability to critically think for themselves. At the end of the day, this was simply about taking young men who are constantly surrounded by death and giving them skills and the inspiration to thrive.

 

(*Backstory: Joel is my homie from Howard. He was in downtown Oakland the day I went to get the story published. When the people at the Oakland Post found out the Joel was a Howard Grad looking to get into education- they figured they’d do a story on him at a later date, and took a photo of him for good measure…. and they accidentally put his photo with my story. nice. Glad they fixed it tho. Thanks Oakland Post!)

… sneak peak at this book I’ve been writing…

1 page out of one of my 31 notebooks...

I will write this book.

It’s a story of a lost young man, growing-up and looking to his elders for guidance… well, he actually looked to women, cars, and money- but, it just so happened that his elders had the women, the cars, and the money; plus wisdom of how to obtain these things.

The elders would drop wisdom rapped in words so profound that the young man couldn’t help but to write them down…And as a young rapper growing up in inner-city America, he’d quote these elders in his lyrics. But he’d soon find that this process of taking the wisdom from the elders and applying it to his life was more profound than any rap song. Deeper than poetry. and too big for newspaper headlines.

It’s not just about this one young man in America. It’s a universal concept:

Learn from elders. Teach the youth.

It is culture. It is religion. It is the way of life…

It is human nature to want to grow old and gain wisdom as you do so.

Only thing is… out here… We don’t all get to grow old.. and even fewer of us value wisdom…and on top of that…we don’t call them elders… we call them OG’s.

I will write this book.

Afterall, it’s my story.

Block Reportin’- JR Valrey

JR Valrey is a renown international journalist who, for years has been focused on producing media that sheds light on the social issues of the oppressed; he has recently published a book by the name of Block Reportin’.

 

The book is a compilation of over 30 interviews Valrey has conducted with individuals from all walks of life:
Paul Mooney, Cynthia McKinney, Mumia Abu Jamal, Freeway Ricky Ross, Mos Def, and Gil Scott Heron to name a few.

The book opens with an interview with one-time East Oakland drug kingpin Lil D, who is now incarcerated. The interview gives a modest peak into the life of Lil D: his past, his current state, and what he plans to do upon being released.
The first interview was just a taste for the pallet.The second interview was the hook…

Malcolm Shabazz, grandson and first male decedent of Malcolm X spoke to JR about the pressures of baring his grandfather’s name at a young age, the incident where a young Malcolm Shabazz lit a fire to a house that would burn down and take the life of his grandmother- Betty Shabazz, and the growth Malcolm Shabazz has experienced since that time.

His book, Block Reportin’ can be found at Marcus Books, Revolution Books, and a in your neighborhood as JR takes his book on tour… block to block.

I would like to publically salute JR Valrey for his work, dedication, and growth.

Much respect.

Get Active!

 

A couple of weeks ago, I was doing about a thousand miles an hour on my bike, got to my destination, looked down, and I’ll be damned: I had ripped my tie!

This is when I realized, that I was indeed getting active… maybe even too active.

I’ve painted the entire East Bay. I’ve ridden the bike to meetings, to classes I was teaching, and to the errands in-between…

There is a Buddhist saying: “the man who doesn’t have 2 minutes to meditate needs two hours.”

Well, I finally got the time to meditate. My bike got stolen earlier today. I last saw it as I locked it up, on the corner of 19th and Valencia in the heart of the Mission District in San Francisco. I assume someone cut the bolt, and made away with my orange and silver Schwinn. I hope it serves whoever stole it well, after all, gas is 4.29 a gallon for the unleaded 87 octane in the City.

… so now I’m chilling on the couch.

Great! A little downtime to kick my feet up, properly enjoy this rainy Saturday , and even sneak in a couple March Madness matches… you know, chillin.

Well, this funny thing happens when I have downtime… I start reminiscing… usually about business, friends, the hood, philosophy… and women.

This time, all I could think about was my bike: I miss my bike, that was like my best friend for the past 3 months…

 

The shadow of a big head kid, rocking some headphones, while working on his bike in the backyard.

The shadow of a big head kid, rocking some headphones, while working on his bike in the backyard.

 

 

 

… Picture this …

One day, I showed up to Oakland Tech to teach a class full of boys with a wind breaker coat soaked from rain… took it off, only to reveal that my t-shirt had pitt stains from sweating.

 

…picture this…

Once day, I rode my bike through San Francisco, I was coming from editing a video and heading to a jam session at a warehouse on the docks. The rain was slightly under monsoon status. The wind was just under typhoon status. And all I wanted to do: get to pier 38. I didn’t know exactly where pier 38 was, but I knew where pier 39 was: that’s the carnival-esque tourist attraction, everyone knows where pier 39 is! … No one ever told me that pier 38 isn’t next to pier 39. No- it’s on the completely opposite side of the Embarcadero, because the docks are separated by evens and odds. Therefore, I had to ride all the way back to  pier 3, pier one, … and then pier 2 , pier 4, and so on…. I arrived to pier 38. soaked. I stayed long enough to notice that this “warehouse” party was essentially on the docks. And I was wet… this sucked.

As the wind whistled through the gaps in the warehouse walls, I made the move back to the BART Station. When I got to the BART Station, my clothes and hands were so wet and cold, it took 15 minutes to get the fare machine to accept my soggy bills.

… picture this…

Just last Saturday, March 12, 2011- after an evening of hanging out with a couple of lady friends, I hoped on my bike and rode a couple of laps around downtown Oakland. I bumped into fellow journalist Reginald James, and we talked briefly. It was 11:15pm when a lady interrupted us to ask for the time, we simultaneously pointed to the clock tower atop of the old Tribune building; and then we laughed. I shook Reggie’s hand on 12th and Broadway,  and then like: pewn! I shot out to East Oakland to my sister’s house, cause I had promised my niece and nephew that I would spend the night…by the time I arrived they would be asleep, but when they awoke, I told them about what happened to me during my bike ride to their house…

At approximately midnight, on a corner in an East Oakland neighborhood, I found $203 dollars in loose bills.

As I approached the money, I was so suspect looking   way for cops, drug dealers, pimps, Mexicans… No telling whose money this was… It was splattered as if it was previously stacked on the top of someone’s car- and they just pulled off… leaving the money all over this shady corner…

I hoped on the dough like kids on a piñata! gathering the large bills first: 20’s and 10’s only…stuffing them into my hood as I straddled my bike. Picking up an occasional five here and there…I grabbed what I could, and then I pulled away… My adrenaline was pumping… And then I looked back, there were 36 One dollar bills left on the ground. How do I know that there were 36? Because I went back! threw my bike down and picked up every bill.

I told my niece and nephew that story the following morning, and then gave em each a dollar and took them, along with my sister, to breakfast.

….

I took plenty of pictures while on my bike, but the most memorable times couldn’t be captured on camera.

There were other great stories during rides… I saw plenty of faces and places… I even created a photography folder on facebook about it.

I think it’s fitting that I lost my bike on the Saturday March 19th, 2011 … the day of the super moon! … If nothing else, the amazing moon serves as a scape goat for extracurricular energy. And tomorrow, when the super moon is replaced by the morning sun, it will be officially the start of Spring. The last photo I took of my bike was just yesterday at Cal Berkeley… where I found a bunch of human made cocoons… And everyone knows butterflies come out of the cocoon at the start of the Spring…

the last photo.

 

 

They got my bike, now I can’t ride; so I guess it’s time to fly….Get active!

 

peace.