The Corner Stoe & The School.

I had to ask the question: “what is the healthiest, most fulfilling meal you can find at a corner stoe?”

The conversation that ensued: dietary habits and how they influence behavior… might be the focal point in understanding how to teach these young men and women in the classroom.

I was at the “Elev8 Family Engagement” event, a round table discussion where matters of mental and physical health were the topics on the table.  The meeting was held in a classroom at Roots Middle school, one of five schools on Havenscourt’s campus on 66th and E. 14th in East Oakland.

The Lockers in Roots Middle School are all sprayed with graffiti.

My question came at the tail end of a presentation by Michael E. Shaw, Director of the Urban Male Health Initiative.  And just prior to a presentation by Christopher P. Chatmon, Executive Director of the African-American Male Initiative at Oakland Unified School District.

There were about 20 people in the room that afternoon; the attendees: single mothers, their children, two presenters, the event host, and myself.

My question, which was initially posed to Mr. Michael Shaw, the expert on urban health, was quickly rerouted to address the entire room. Host, Gaylon Logan took my question, and asked the youth in the room, what they thought was the healthiest, most fulfilling item in a corner stoe. “Water”, one juvenile remarked.

After a laugh, I told the room that I eat trail mix, peanuts, and orange juice from the corner stoe.

The room laughed again.

Then, loud enough for the room to hear, but still under his breath,  one of the youth remarked “we don’t have trail mix where im from”.

Another laugh erupted.

I changed my question: “If you only had $3.00 to spend, and you had to buy something fulfilling from the corner stoe, what would it be?”

“chocolate. chocolate. and chocolate”, said one girl, halfway joking, halfway serious.

“Chips, soda, and candy.”, said a younger boy… others in the room agreed.

And then the conversation halted. No laughing this time, the event’s host took the reigns of the convo, and simply asked the mothers: “do you go to these corner stoe’s ? did you know that this is what they are spending their money on?”

“no’s” and head shakes confirming the “no’s” ran rampant through the room.

Mr. Logan, made light of this finding and suggested that the parents investigate the corner stoe in their community and the type of food it serves…

However, my question has yet to be answered: what is healthiest thing you can find at a corner stoe? is there anything that will fill you up for $3.00 ?

Pen Point: All Over The Map. ( P. 2)

There is no place like Home.

It’s Monday April 25th, 2011… And I’m suffering from a cold case of jet lag.

Last Monday, I wrote a blog about my adventures on the East Coast- and then I didn’t touch another computer for a week straight.

….now it’s Monday, again… last week was a blur- thank goodness for twitter and camera phones…

Monday night as I rode into Washington:


“That DC skyline is awesome”.

… I spent Tuesday running around Washington DC…


“Electrical house fire on 6th and H in NE DC. All residents were safely evacuated.”

“… Say a prayer for the elder lady and her grandson …”

“Real men don’t cry … They get chocked up.”

6th & Hst in North East Washington DC. House on fire, all occupants were safe.

(… And then I searched for my long lost notebooks…)

“From the time I was 12-22 I filled 31 journals w/ words, they’re all in Geoffery’s room in Drew Hall … I’m on a mission to get my shit.”

“My notebooks have been signed, sealed, and are now being delivered back to Oakland.”

“…Sitting in Drew Hall … Reminiscing.”

“Over the weekend, I bumped n2 a young homie who told me, “thank you for seeing the big picture.” (in reference 2my approach to being a RA)”

“… I learned more from the younger homies, than they learned from me …”

“Weed smokers are late for everything … except for 4-20 .”

“Seek knowledge. Crack jokes. Eat pizza. #college.”

…Washington DC Wednesday, April 20th….

capoeira on Howard's campus
J. Cox. in the Dojo.


“Do yall remember what happened last 4-20? … I do. Four words: Gulf coast oil spill.”


“Spread love.”

“having fun”

…New York for the weekend…


Uncle Smokey and his newest grand baby
Central Park
Harlem, USA.
I spy: "Get God"


“New Jersey turnpike… Word to Assata Shakur.”

” *Kicks in the door, waives the 4-4*.”

“….sitting in a park in midtown Manhattan …. Feeding the birds. Word to the spooky lady on Home Alone 2.”

“At a park in Bed-Stuy, chopping game about life with my bru Justin… I’ve known bru since I was 5…life is good.”

“Lost in new york… Again.”

“…At a diner somewhere on the lower east side…dolo. Drinking coffee.”

“Being in love with one person > being loved by a lot of people.”

” This is the time of day that you’re supposed to be thinking about life…”

“As I stare into my swirling 3rd round of coffee, my critical thoughts about life are interrupted by a certain Rihanna song stuck in my head.”

 “Every time I come to NY, I get lost… Yet somehow, I never lose.”

… One last night in Washington DC…

tweets ( only 1): “I just saw a real streaker. #6wordstory .”

Washington, DC. U st. CVS Parking Lot. Late night... backdrops are provided for those who want flick it up with the posse... ( I took this pic over the shoulder)

…As I made my way to the airport on Sunday afternoon I fired off a number of tweets, but these two stuck with me…

tweets: “… The greatest stories are “love” stories…hands down. But without the “coming of age” story, you can’t have the love story.”

“( I reference “Love and Basketball” and ” The Lion King” as examples of that last tweet.)”

… In Conclusion …

about friends: They say, don’t burn bridges… I say: don’t even let them grow cobwebs…

about love: Seek knowledge, love will eventually come.

about life: leave me alone to my vices and my crafts, and I can never be mad.

Ashley Christina Reid. RIP.


Pen Point: All Over The Map. (part 1.)

I’m on the East Coast as I write this;  in Richmond, Va where it’s mid 70’s and sunny in the hood… 

 “over on the East end, in the projects.” hanging out with a friend I’ve known since I was twelve.

 I really believe in that quote, that went something like:  “at the end of the day the wealthiest man is not the man who has the dollar he started with, but the man who has the friends he started with”…( or something to that accord ). 

I’m finally getting a second to sit down after about four days of non-stop moving through Washington DC. I’m out here on the East Coast for seven more days…

I’m currently on the East Coast serving a number of purposes…

1. I have 31 notebooks and an African walking staff located in the 5th floor closet in Drew Hall on Howard’s campus… those are my prized possessions. I must send those back to Oakland.

2. speak to the good people in Howard University’s school of Communications and School of Business to reassure that when I take this remaining accounting class this upcoming Summer that I will indeed graduate… eventually.

3.Visit family and friends! … … let’s see how many places I can go and people I can see! 

(I already put a dent into my “to do” list this past weekend, we hit everything from bbq’s to concerts, and a couple of bars in-between. I saw  a lot of my people in the District and on Howard’s campus, and met a lot of new faces… good times.)

Philly's own, Young Chris at Howard's Spring Fest


the view from over DJ Chubb E. Swagg's Shoulder
O. Munoz and Freako .. chillin.


Q-Tip and Phife Dog once uttered the classic call and response: ” you on point Tip? “… “all the time Phife”…

I can relate. I’ve been on point as of late… Working, Constantly.

I teach ( a 9th grade, a Life Skills class for young men) and I do freelance journalism (focusing on a project “ OG Told Me” where I interview elders in the community) . In-between the two, I ride my bike and take pictures.

I’m back home from college and really working, and it’s a very fulfilling thing… but it’s not always fun.

This week is Spring Break for the high schools in Oakland … CANNON BALL!!!

It reminds me of a story…

you ever jumped out of a swimming pool, dipped into a hot tub, and then jumped back into the swimming pool?

That sensation is a form of shock therapy. An elderly lady once told me about it in Hawaii… Sitting in a hot tub with an elderly lady

in Hawaii is part of a totally different story about traveling…. I digress point being:

 It’s that shock sensation when you go from one extreme to the other that causes you to remember you are alive…

I’ve been in the Bay’s waters getting active, and this Spring Break- I decided to jump into the major cities of the East Coast … the way

the cities are circled by the freeway’s that end in “95” on the East Coast is almost like small hot tubs on the map, and the weather is getting hot… maybe forced, but I find that analogy applicable. 

none the less, I’ve never taken a real “Spring Break” while in college. I went to New Orleans to assist in the rebuilding process in ’07, and other than that I stayed on campus during spring break, working as a resident assistant.

This year, I had to take a break from the work that I was doing- change things up, and remind myself that I’m living … jump out of the pool and into the hot tub!

with that said, I feel like Tribe Called Quest:  “Award Tour ” :

…. DC, Richmond, NY…. Maryland, San Fran…Oaktown.

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.

Bucketfeet on deck!

“Buy a Shoe, Build a Community”-the good people at Bucketfeet.

Bucketfeet on deck!

A high school friend and baseball teammate, Aaron Firestein has started a shoe company called: “Bucketfeet”. The funky- artsy shoes are prime footwear for the approaching Summer season. On top of being some stylish-comfy shoes, the proceeds from the company go toward rebuilding communities all around the world.

After traveling around the world himself, Fierstein saw how he could combine his love and appreciation for art, with his passion for traveling, and his drive to uplift the community: through shoes!

The company is just getting things started; and with an article in the Los Angeles Times, It seems things are on the good foot.

For more info on bucketfeet, check out the website ( ;  be sure to check the photo link, as Aaron Firestein is not only a CEO of a shoe company, he’s also a dope photographer!

I just got my first pair, and now I’m ready for the Summer to start… it’s time to kick it!

good luck Bucketfeet.


Free Bikes!!!

I got a new bike! for free! and you can too!

( not my bike- but this cool bike can be found at the Bikery)

I don’t have too much time to write this blog… because I have a new bike… and that means I don’t sit still too long.

This is how you can get a new bike :

1. log onto: ( phone : 510- 536- 6732)

2. call and schedule an appointment. (Tues, Thurs, Sat, or Sun)

3. show up to the scheduled meeting, and participate in the 4 hour tutorial on bike culture.

4. Eat snacks in the middle of the Four hour tutorial

5. leave the 4 hour meeting at the 3 hour mark- to go enjoy a test ride on your bike.

6. come back to do a final check in on the same day… and then the bike is yours!

(The Bikery asks that you check- in some time down the road to make sure the bike is being well kept as well.)

But that’s it! no strings attached (unless you get a bike with streamers).

I attended the meeting just one week after I had gotten my bike stolen (RIP RANGER), I brought my sister along for the ride. We sat through the tutorial where we learned how to properly lock our bikes, how to properly hand signal while in the streets, and even how to properly wear a helmet… yea, my big ole dome in a helmet- picture that!

… There are no pictures of me in a helmet, but there is a picture of my sister in a helmet, smiling ear-to-ear on her new bike…

East Oakland’s Bikery is located on the corner of E. 14th and 23rd Ave, just minutes away from the Fruitvale Bart Station.

The Bikery’s storefront location in East Oakland is a part of the bigger, “Cycles of Change” East Bay nonprofit program that works to get bikes in the hands of the youth. The Bikery takes the same mission as Cycles of Change, while also aiming to get bikes in the hands of lower-income young professionals, especially young Black men.

I am extremely appreciative of my new bike; I’ve been able to make it to make it to my odd-jobs ( teaching and producing media) . I’ve been able to see friends and family. And I’ve even been able to get away from it all, and ride all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge!

my bike. my Bay.