“…He called me and said: I’m lost & I’m on MLK… I said: run!”- Unknown comedian.
MLK Ave. / Boulevard/ Street / Drive / Way … always seems to be in the hood. Always.
Last year I walked down Oakland’s MLK Way through a foggy North Oakland to the pier in Oakland’s Jack London Square, just outside of West Oakland. The year prior I walked through South East Washington DC by the Big Chair and Frederick Douglass’ house in order to capture the sights of MLK Ave. in the Nation’s Capitol.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2012, I found myself in one of the Nation’s most scenic cities: sunny San Francisco, Ca. Instead of walking this time- I decided to ride my bike… I should have known something would be different from that decision alone…
I didn’t spot any RIP murals, graffiti, lower income housing, or any Black people. At all.
San Francisco’s MLK Drive has to be the most scenic street dedicated to the deceased Civil Rights leader in the States… Here is a sneak peak:
I saw a lot of joggers how some ever…
As I came out of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, I ended up at the beach, Ocean Beach… At 12 Noon… I was listening to BIG’s instrumental for “Juicy”. I hopped off my bike and stepped onto the sand that lead to the Pacific Ocean.
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…
… 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.
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…
They got my bike, now I can’t ride; so I guess it’s time to fly….Get active!
Networking: the key is getting out there, meeting everyone, and networking your ass off…but first:
know thy self.
Damien Robinson, a college colleague, co-Californian, and all out cool cat, is putting work into his community. He works at the Independent Living Skills Program in San Francisco, Ca where he has the opportunity to mentor a small group of Black and Hispanic foster youth. Damien wants to one day rewrite special education curriculums in public schools; he is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in effort to bring this goal into fruition.
Damien asked me to come and speak with his group about networking, being a professional, and manhood in general.
The world of networking is about having both internet savvy and personal connections, knowing how to decode body language and read eyes, and balancing on that dental floss- thin line between name dropping and citing references…
These are just three broad concepts, out of a plethora of ideas that are tied into networking. My task: exemplify what networking is, show how it relates to these young men, and help then perfect the art of networking.
Inside the classroom we discussed how networking itself can be as deep as a mathematical equations that shows each individual’s degree of separation. And on the other hand, networking can be as simple as asking your friend where he gets his hair cut…. most importantly: when you meet a woman on the street, you are networking.
Our conversation brewed and we covered everything from firm handshakes to follow-up emails. And in the end, we did practice elevator pitches in effort to show these young men how to approach future contacts in a respectable manner.
I left out of the two-hour discussion thinking, all forms of networking: face to face networking, online networking, or even approaching a young lady in the street; all call for you to be clear about who you are and what you want.
Before anyone else can be confident to identify with you, or your business… you have to be confident in you.
…And that is manhood… or rather, that is adulthood… And it’s an amazing lesson to teach teenage boys in the hood.
On Saturday July 17th, 2010 I spent the day riding shot gun with the big homies Rod, Reg, and Benardo. The trio rode back to to back through the town in their candy painted Box Chevys… this is how we rolled….
We ended up attending the informal Saturday car show at Treasure Island in San Francisco. Mustangs, Camaros, and Old School cars of all kinds were in the building.
Each summer, juveniles in America’s inner cities made the decision to take a step outside of the boundaries made by their caretakers; this phenomenon is called “jumping off the porch”, and this summer many will take that leap.
I’ve seen it before…
The older neighborhood boys are paying, and all you have to do is ride your bike around the corner, and see if there are any police lurking…only problem: your granny told you to stay where she can see you.
You want the money. You need the money. But above all- you would want to obey your granny. After-all, she bought you that bike. And she can take it away.
But its summertime. And you know you could ride around the block, wave at the girls playing double-dutch, check for Five-0, receive your payment from the older boys, and return to your porch, before granny looks up from her daytime stories.
This is where you make the decision to “jump off the porch”, and into grimy city streets that move faster than any one of those gears on your pretty little 21-speed can handle.
It happens all the time, not just summer time. It happens for many reasons, not just money. And it leads to something one cannot find sitting on the porch: adventure.
But it leads me to question: is jumping off the porch a good thing, a bad thing, or a natural thing?
This train of thought was inspired by Youth Outlook reporter, Amanze Emenike, as he explored the topic and how it has influenced his community of Hunter’s Point San Francisco.
In the end, the classic teaching reins supreme: respect your elders. which means, if granny says stay on the porch, then do so. But then again, each experience where a wealth of wisdom is gained can be considered “a rights of passage”. And, if it weren’t for jumping off the porch, who knows how much first hand knowledge and experience I would have missed out on…
That leaves me asking: is there anyway I can jump off that porch, make that money, wave at those girls, gain that life experience, and not disrespect granny?
DJ Fresh is a DJ and producer who makes more rounds than his turntables.
His original home of Baltimore, Maryland is just one of the many places DJ Fresh has called Home. He moved from B-More when he was nine years old, landing him in the South Bay city of San Jose. It was at this time in his life, the nine year-old “fresh” kid decided to add the DJ to his name, and committed himself to his music.
DJ Fresh is now a veteran producer and DJ, who’s name rings bells- just as his beats rattle trunks. His resume boasts projects and performances with Hip-Hop heavy weights such as Nas, Common, and Raekwon. And his travels have lead him to the East coast, the West coast, and now, he is poised to go on an international tour with Lil Kim.
But before he made that move to embark on his next journey, I caught up with DJ Fresh, as the workaholic was poised to record yet another track for the upcoming Tonite Show project. He and rapper San Quinn couldn’t spare a minute to pause the track as they were grinding away on the next track for the upcoming DJ Fresh album.
DJ Fresh’s “Tonite Show” album series can been seen via advertisements floating in the bay area streets, and can be heard rattling trunks in the Bay Area and beyond. He has teamed up with a number of talented producers, and formed the group, “The Whole Shabang”. The Whole Shabang production team works with the top Bay Area artists, such as J- Stalin, D-Lo. , and Messy Marv; amongst others. To get a taste of what the combination of talented producers and top artists sounds like, here is a three piece special:
A new track titled “I Am” by an up and coming artist, Young Gully