Death Around The Corner…And I Don’t Even Notice

This was on your television yesterday morning. This was my reality yesterday morning.

This was on your television yesterday morning. This was my reality yesterday morning.

Pretty much everybody in the country is aware of what’s happened today/yesterday  right now in Washington, DC. At the time of my writing – from my office, no less – the news has confirmed that 12 people have been killed by possible three gunmen, one of which has allegedly been killed. [Update (504pm)...it's an nword. Of course it's an nword. For some reason, we've really been trying our hand at these made for television crime sprees. I'm fairly certain we can trace this back to the rise of DipSet. I can't prove it, but I'm saying.]

I, along with a solid couple thousand individuals, work less than a mile from where the mayhem has been taking place and I’m not even the least bit concerned. The thing is, I have every reason to be concerned. I’m less than a mile away. The persons responsible could literally be on the run right now heading anywhere. Who knows? But I have reached this unhealthy part of my life where I’m completely desensitized. As long as I know my kid is cool I’m like…blah.

When I first heard about it this morning before I got to work I was concerned that my commute would be hampered by the chaos. To be fair, at that point, there were no reported fatalities. I recognized it as a tragedy and I’d never wish anybody to be shot. And yet, as close at is is to me, it seems so far away. Just like most other tragedies. I don’t know if this reflects age, cynicism, or whatever. When 9/11 happened I remember being terrified.

Same thing with the DC Sniper.

I will say that the Newtown shootings did hurt. There’s something about the deaths of children, no matter the circumstance, that is heart-wrenching.

Years ago, I wrote a post on my old site about the neighborhood I was living in at the time. In the 4-years that I’d lived there, at least 10 people had been murdered in the mile strip between the two major roads that bounded my complex. Not all happened in the complex, but one person was arsoned. One person literally tried to drive a car through one of the buildings. Mind you, I lived in one of those complexes that was built with cinderblock siding. Point being, there was more damaged done to the car than the building but damage is damage. My roommate’s car was stolen 3 times during our stay there; twice right out of parking lot. In fact, once, I got home at 430pm and didn’t see his car. I walked in and he was there. Apparently his car was stolen in the 30 minutes between when he got there (4pm) and when I got there.

And do you know, he wasn’t even pissed. Just frustrated that his car was stolen again. I wrote in that post that I kind of wished I was one of those people who was upset and angry when stuff like this happened. Basically, I wanted to be a white suburban woman who was motivated to start a Neighborhood Watch as opposed to being a young urban youth who was like, “they didn’t get me? cool.”

Because somebody was getting got. Get it?

Point is, apparently I’ve been this way for quite some time. But it seems a bit more of an issue now that I’m literally within walking distance of a national news story raught with tragedy and I’m checking on it every few hours or as somebody calls to make sure I’m good.

This concerns me. It concerns me more than I’m concerned about Kanye after his rant at the Pusha T album listening party. And I’m plenty concerned about Kanye. He’ll never get the credit, but he’s damn near on Chris Brown levels at times in terms of “lock him up for a bit just for his own sake…” Plus after his vocal change on the Kris Jenner show…you know what? This isn’t about Kanye.

I’m not proud of this, but hearing about 40 shootings and/or killings in Chicago on a weekend doesn’t even shock me. And it should. I should be outraged. I should be appalled. And I’m not. Not even close. I’m just a dude in an office reading a website about a news story in my backyard and realizing that tomorrow will be another news story about something else that shouldn’t have happened but did.

If though I try not to think about it too much too much tooo muuuuuuch, I may need therapy.

Am I alone here? What’s the pulse here? Are we all just desensitized unless its so far beyond our comprehension that we have no choice but to be scared? Does anything shock you anymore?

(I promise not to write about death tomorrow. Cross my heart…)

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka lower.case.p aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Things Black People Say?

This pictures has nothing to do with this post. I just felt like showing everybody how far Ice Cube has fallen. Those Coors commercials hurt my soul.

In a previous life when I used to frequent places where ratchetness always ruled the day and the potential for crime and/or uncivil unrest was always at a fever pitch, there were a few signs I’d always look for to indicate that some violence was about to go down. There’s the tried and true, almost slow motion-like, Bionic-man level speed of a herd of ninjas all running the same direction that-a-way, but away from something. Anybody with Black relatives knows that means either somebody pulled a gun or somebody used a gun or somebody just got stabbed.

Or more simply, the Loss Of Life Potential Index was at a 9. Even if you didn’t know what was going on, you can always trust the crowd in those situations. Always. Run first, ask questions later and hope nobody named Ricky is running beside you. Seriously, if a ninja named Ricky is running next to you…trip him and keep running.

Another sure sign of violence is the quick removal of a shirt. I don’t know what it is about ninjas who are about to get in a fight and taking off shirts. I suppose muskels are supposed to be imposing, but unless you’re Hancock, chances are those triceps aren’t stopping elephant bullets, laughing boy.

ELEPHANT BULLETS?

Elephant bullets.

So yeah, running crowds and random ninja shirt removal are two signs. There’s a very famous third though that should set off anybody’s spidey sense. And it’s the first in a line of statements that I’m wondering are only uttered by Black people. Seriously…

1. YOU DO NOT KNOW ME!

Almost on cue, every single time I’ve seen two ninjas (who obviously don’t know each other) begin to do the pre-fight cat daddy where they more or less circle the wagons, one person is ALWAYS going to say to the other, “you don’t know me!”, almost hoping (I guess) that the other person will realize the fact that 1) they don’t know them; and 2) the potential for what they may have in store. We so simple. I’ve always thought this was a stupid statement in and of itself in these situations because well, it lends nothing to the situation. But hell, I’ve said it before and because I’m cerebral I had an internal convo with myself on some “P, that’s dumb…he knows he doesn’t know you. He also isn’t scared of you. And genius, you don’t know him either. This could end bad. I should offer to do his homework or something…” Either way, I wonder if other cultures go down this route. At least it’s good for something; like I said, it’s a violence indicator.

2. I’m just saying.

The words “I’m Just saying” have had a tremendous resurgence as of late in our community. It seems like every n*gga “is just saying” something. Like we’re all the innocent victims of facts or something. “Yo, your b*tch is ugly dog. I’m just saying.” Newsflash, it doesn’t absolve you from sh*t and it definitely doesn’t make you a soothsayer. And yet, its almost as popular as saying, “my neck, my back…” well you know the rest. I’m amazed that no song has been made out of this saying. Oh wait…that’s right, Young Jeezy has a song called, “I’m Just Saying”. Nevermind. N*ggas.

Speaking of…

3. I’m doing me/Imma do me/Do you boo

I’m sure there are various iterations of this in other cultures, but there’s something about living in Black culture that requires us all to let others know that we’re just doing ourselves. Like other people won’t let us live so we do our thing and hope that the haters stay away. I hate haters. That might be an oxymoron or the universe might have just exploded, either way, keep doing you boo. Oh, and I’m realizing the best statements all have songs. Like Rocko’s hood classic, “Imma Do Me”. Kwame is rolling over in his condo.

4. Haters gon’ hate/Can I live?/various iterations of pseudo poetic self-motivational shots fired

You know, us Blacks are a poetic people. I’m just sayin’. Everybody’s out to steal our joy and everybody’s tryign to steal our shine. Allegedly. I’m just sayin. I wonder if other folks say this same sh*t also but not as poetically as we do. More like, “people are always going to try to tear you down, Jill!” Real talk, “haters gon’ hate” is much cooler.

Hmm…

5. Real talk

This is the first cousin of “I’m just sayin” or maybe they’re kissing cousins. Maybe they’re from West Virginia. I don’t know. But I’ve never heard anybody not of the melanin who made a statement using the words “real talk”. It’s not even slang. It’s just a statement indicating that what I just said was a fact. Maybe that’s our problem. We keep having to validate what we say with other validating statements in attempts to validate that which was said that needed validation. I feel like I just watched That’s Not Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta again. My bad y’all. My bad.

Those are a few joints that I wonder if Black folks are the only ones to use? Are there any others? I’m sure there are. Let’s create a list and send it to the “listserv” for a response.

By the way, go Heat. Thank you and good night.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. IM JUST SAYIN, REAL TALK…CAN I LIVE? DAMN aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

For all of my DMV heads: Next Wednesday, June 27, come hang out at the Penthouse Pool Club on U Street (didn’t even know this existed did you) from 7-10pm and get free food and free X-Rated Fusion liquor. I’ll be there hanging out and this is an invite only affair. You must RSVP and it gets you admittance for yourself and one person. Yeah, it’s that kind of affair. So peep the flyer, RSVP, and I’ll see you next Wednesday for a cool ninja extravaganza. With free stuff. (This is not a VSB event btw, just an event that a VSB will be at.)

Fighting Crime With Chicken Little: Why things aren’t nearly as bad as they seem

More common than you think

Although the rapture turned out to be a JaMarcusesque bust, a quick glance at the evening news and the hundreds of thousands of stabbings, shootings, muggings, murders, and animal rapes occurring in every city every day makes it seem like the end is definitely near.

And, when you consider that more and more recession-induced frustrations are going to make people lash out even more at their (bastard) children and the fact that the upcoming NBA and NFL lockouts are going to fill the streets with a bunch of unemployed and uneducated Robocop thugs wandering the streets with nowhere to go after they’ve used up their Strokers credit lines, things aren’t looking up.

It’s a war going on outside, no one is safe, son, it don’t matter if you’re 3 feet or 8’1”, and sh*t is just getting worse and worse and worse.

Or not.

From “FBI: 5.5 percent drop in violent crime”

Crime levels fell across the board last year, extending a multiyear downward trend with a 5.5 percent drop in 2010 in the number of violent crimes and a 2.8 percent decline in the number of property crimes.

Year-to-year changes the FBI released Monday in its preliminary figures on crimes reported to police also showed declines in all four categories of violent crime in 2010. All categories for property crime went down as well.

“In a word, remarkable,” said Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox. In his view, the declines signify success for aggressive law enforcement and corrections programs and comprehensive crime prevention efforts. He said the crime levels could easily rise if the current environment of state and local budget cutting extends to law enforcement measures that are working.

Wait, what??? I thought this was the end of the days!!! I thought things were getting worse!!! I visited my old elementary school last month and saw a 5th grader in a ninja costume chasing a lunch lady with a giant tampon!!! I personally know three 28 year old grandmothers who still gang-bang, and one of them is my accountant!!! A Nigerian nun broke into my house last night and shot me in the knee!!! It was a non-lethal wound, but still!!!

Nope.

The FBI reported that violent crime fell in all four regions of the country last year — 7.5 percent in the South, 5.9 in the Midwest, 5.8 percent in the West and 0.4 percent in the Northeast. The bureau’s preliminary statistics for 2010 are based on data from more than 13,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Nationally, murder and non-negligent manslaughter declined 4.4 percent, forcible rape decreased 4.2 percent, robbery declined 9.5 percent, and aggravated assault was down 3.6 percent.

Yikes! Cold hard facts have a funny way of quelling hyperbolic anecdotal hysteria.

Still, even with these numbers, I know there are still going to be people who refuse to believe that crime is actually getting better. People whose notions and fears and misplaced nostalgias will make them maintain that each and every hood is a carbon facsimile of the first 15 minutes of “Saving Private Ryan.” Chicken Littles who refuse to believe that there’s actually hope, actually room to go outside and inhale, and actual proof that the sky is staying right where it’s always been.

As I read that report, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between how our perceptions about crime don’t quite fit the reality and how our perceptions about love and relationships don’t quite fit those realities either. Everywhere I turn (including here) I read more and more proof that we’re a bunch of relationship retards, getting picked last for coitus kickball, destined to eternally ride the short bus of romance. We’re stupid, fat, ugly, undateable, DBR, and…did I mention already that we’re stupid, fat, and ugly?

And, while I’m sure there are people out there experiencing real dating and relationship acrimony, the reality is that things aren’t nearly as bad as they seem. The vast majority of black men are still completely enthralled with black women. Black women are still the baddest and bangingest beings on Earth (even if they don’t quite believe it yet).

We’re still getting giddy when we meet someone who makes us smile, we’re still saving voicemails left by that person so we can listen to them later, we’re still asking our dudes and homegirls for the “hook-up,” we’re still on dates taking up all the damn booth space at the Cheesecake Factory, and we’re still getting invites to weddings that’ll definitely be so hood that they’ll be hilarious. (“Wow. I’ve never been to a wedding reception with a breakfast buffet”) And, speaking of hilarious, Jet magazine still hasn’t run out of their seemingly never-ending supply of pictures and unintentionally hilarious bios of just-married n*ggas.

Can things be better? Definitely. Our main problem continues to be the fact that there’s a bit of a communication disconnect between us, but our increasing willingness to have open conversations proves this is a problem that can (and will) be solved.

I understand that sometimes the barometric pressure makes it so damn tight that we’re convinced the sky is definitely falling. But, when you’re done reading this, take a look out your window. I bet you it’s still there.

—The Champ

In case you missed it, check out our interview with Black Enterprise.

No rapture means that God wants you to stay on Earth and purchase the paperback or the $9.99 Kindle version of “Your Degrees Wont Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime”

Lastly, we’d like to thank all of you for coming through and nominating us for FIVE Black Weblog Awards. We’re on the final ballot for Best Humor Blog, Best Writing in a Blog, Best Sex & Relationships Blog, Best Group Blog, and Blog of the Year. Please vote for us here.

Get Gone: Instantly Breakupable Offenses

Man, I don't know either.

I believe that if you decide to commit to somebody then you commit: lock, stock, and barrel. You believe in their dreams and hope they live long enough to see them. If he just can’t wait to be King, then you call him Martin Luther. If she wants to dance with somebody who loves her, then tear the roof of this sucka and go up on the down stroke. Whatever it takes. That’s what commitment is. F*ck them other n*ggas because I’m down for my n*ggas.

Love.

And all of that would be well and good, except every now and then, the people we’ve decided to commit to do some ridiculously outlandish stuff. And I don’t mean sleep just sleep with somebody else. While it may be morally wrong, its neither ridiculous or outlandish. Banging a horse? Now that’s both. And what do we call that? That’s a 392 violoation: Instantly Breakupable Offense.

I don’t care if you did it six years ago and you were higher than Charlie Sheen sitting on a cloud on the third ring of Saturn. If I find out you did something like that, you gots ta go.

F*ck your couch.

Here are some other Code 392 Violations: Instantly Breakupable Offenses

1. These shoes (<—-click me motherf*cker)

I intentionally didn’t post the picture because I want everybody to get the full effect of actually clicking on the link and seeing them. I also will not describe the non-sense. But as great philosopher king, The Champ, said to me when I shared this travashamockery with him, “you’d have to re-evaluate your life if you were dating somebody who would seriously consider wearing these.” Yo, word to Big Bird, if my woman ever showed up with those on her feet, and thought it was okay, I might have to disavow all knowledge of her.

2. Cursing at my mother

Whoooooo lawd haf mercy got bles  da chile hoo s’got his own. My mother doesn’t even curse. If even the first few letters of a word I do not approve of are directed towards my mother, you gon’ have to a hitch a ride back with the galaxy. You know what word I’m not a fan of? Mystic. Never liked that word. I don’t like the Mystics of Washington or the drink. Presents quite the conundrum for you. You bet’ not call my momma “Mrs”. Better call her Queen or something. That first syllable is a killer.

3. Getting me put in jail

I’ve mentioned the scene in Crash numerous times where Terrence Howard watched the police feel up his wife. That scene hurt me. But for different reasons than anybody else. I feel like he lamed out in later scenes by not putting her out. Like, woman! You nearly got me pummelled AND put in jail by the LAPD. You got to go. You don’t love me. You probably don’t even love my doggystyle. So let’s pop a little champagne because we’re finna celebrate. What? My divoooooooooorce. Word booty.

4. Being a part of a national crime syndicate

Maybe you aren’t anymore. And that’s great. But I’ve seen True Lies and I watch a lot of movies. You can never get rid of that life. It’s part of you forever. And really, it’s not even that you did the crime and didn’t do the time. I’m happy for you. Viva la OJ. It’s more that you lied to me and probably never shared the money. You’ve been letting me think I make more money than you this whole time when the truth is you and four short and stocky Mexican Elmo impersonators spent the entire 90s bilking seniors out of their retirement by selling them pre-paid legal. And you never shared that part. I don’t really even know you. You’ve got to go.

5. If she tells me “she” was born a “he”

I don’t care how many operations you’ve been through, I’m not strong enough to handle that. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s not you, it’s me. No really. That again, is deceit. It’s a wonderbra. It’s Watergate. It’s COINTELPRO. It’s the cookie jar. It’s just deception. It’s the omission of the century. I’m sure I’m an advocate of only telling pertinent information. That’s pertinent. It’s like f*cking that horse. Like you get there and you think wow, this is gonna be cool, she’s f*cking a horse. And then you realize, dude, she’s f*cking a horse. And he was really giving it to her. Not sure who I feel worse for, her or the horse. I lost my train of thought.

No.

As Rebecca Black would say, it’s Friday Friday. What are your instantly breakupable offenses, no matter how long you’ve been together?

Talk to me.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka TANGLE JIG P aka lower.case.p aka SHUGGIE J. aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

The Great Name Drop

These ninjas shooting again? Take that to Bush Blvd.

Marlo said it best, “My name is my name.” Rihanna echoed, “ooh na na, what’s my name?” Snoop poeticized, “what’s my name, fool?”

What’s in a name?

There’s a high school in Washington, DC, that has currently been having more problems than three hypochondriac crackheads with an itch and a cough. There was recently (well last late year) a girl sexually assaulted in the school by a bunch of males who then had her name, face, and phone number plastered all over fliers that were passed out around the school as an “easy ride”. They’ve got gang problems. In fact, for a solid two months, I noticed no less than 10 police squad cards parked in front of the school. It’s a shame really. This school in its current iteration is a direct descendant of the famous (especially amongst older Black Americans) M Street School.

Yes, this high school is Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School.

And you know what? Every day I drive by I wonder aloud to the invisible passengers in my car if Dunbar wouldn’t want his name removed from that school. I know I would. If my name is going to be attached to something, which is an honor, I’d like it to be attached to something that doesn’t involve police, violent crimes, and plain ole f*ck sh*t. Of course, since most of our heroes names get attached to stuff in the Black community, which is generally inner city, well, we’re kind of stuck like chuck.

I remember The Boondocks episode with Dr. Martin Luther The King in it where he hilariously thought that somebody really needed to ask permission to use his likeness for ads. And kind of like dead rappers getting better promotion, dead icons get all the accolades by having their names attached to places where the folks have no idea who they are. So here’s my list of what I’d guess would happen if icons could ask to have their names removed from sh*t that their name is attached to when their named is attached to sh*t they can’t go for (that, no can do).

By the way, if I could have any other person’s name in life, it would be Shuggie Otis. Thank you.

1. MLK Ave, Street, Drive, Blvd, Circle, etc

As Chris Rock famously pointed out, MLK was a man who universally stood for peace. If you are anywhere near MLK in any city, you know that there’s some violence going down. My particular residence in ATL…is on MLK. From Harland Terrace all the way through Adamsville, there always seems like something is going down. I’ve witnessed shootings with my own two eyes. Flatlands FTW.  And its like that in every city. Of course, its a double edged sword. MLK goes through the Black community because well…

…he Black. We’re not going to NOT name a street that. But I’m sure if MLK had his way, his street would run thru the north side of town, since in most cities (most, not all) the North side is where its generally the most peaceful.

Quick Panama fact: I once nearly bought a condo near the intersection of Malcolm X Blvd and MLK, SE in DC because I figured it had to be the Blackest intersection in America.

I smart.

2. Medgar Evers College

I’m too lazy to find all the documents but MEC was going through ALL kinds of f*ckery at their Brooklyn, NY, campus. School presidential issues, misappropriation of funds. and a big booty b*tch to go with it. Just saying, It’s bad enough that Whoopi Goldberg played his wife in a movie, NOW he’s got ninjas kick dirt on his name educationally? I’d want my name back. Call it Kwame Kilpatrick U or something more apprpriate.

3. Morris Brown College Center for People Who Don’t Reed Gud

Speaking of colleges, I’m not sure it even needs to be stated, but if I was that ninja Mo B? I’d snatch my name off the school with the quickness. We got criminal scandals, eight students, and and teachers who know less than the students. Real talk, I took a class at Morris Brown my junior year. It was a 400 level French class. So we’re talking about reading French Lit and writing papers, etc. When I tell you that Professor Jenkins Jackson from Uganda didn’t speak any French…well he didn’t speak any French. And he’s my teacher? I should have known something was wrong when the “classroom” was this ninjas office. Standing room only.

That’ll do, pig.

Folks? What you got? Who do you think would want their name snatched back from an entity because it’s the antithesis of what they stood for?

And better yet, what would you rename these locales?? Let your soul glo(w). Let it shine thru!

Talk to me.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka TANGLE JIG P aka lower.case.p aka SHUGGIE JACKSON aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

ATTENTION: Our Three Year Anniversary is upon us, and we are celebrating it in DC on Saturday, April 2. Introducing VSB Lounge: Three Deez. Yes, this means The Champ and Panama Jackson are finally meeting in person! RSVP here, while supplies last: http://vsbloungethemeetup.eventbrite.com/