The Countdown To The End…Again

(The following is true and inspired by the above trailer for The End Again. Read more here.)

I’m obsessed with countdowns. I also know when that obsession started.

end-139848_640It happened the day I experienced the last 30 seconds of a persons life and I became fixated on each of those last seconds. I can’t even fully explain it, but for the last 14 years of my life, my mind has often drifted back to that night and those last seconds. Or even that day. The last day of a life you don’t know is ending. Was it mundane? What were you doing on the day that you died?

What happened with 12 hours left.

With 2.

With 10 minutes.

I saw the last 30 seconds. In retrospect, they ticked by slowly. Each one lasting an hour as I watched the inevitable unfold. Since then, the moments leading up to the end tend to etch themselves into myriad possibilities in the bandwidth of my mind.

This also likely explains my fascination with the move Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind as Joel and Clementine spiral towards the moment of realization that his remaining memory of her – doubling as his first memory of her – is about to be eliminated from his consciousness and this convo ensued:

Clementine: This is it, Joel. It’s going to be gone soon.

Joel: I know.

Clementine: What do we do?

Joel: Enjoy it.

That convo really got to me. Only because its usually impossible to enjoy that last moment. It’s one thing to realize what you have when its gone; its another thing to realize what you’re losing while you watch it leave and there’s nothing you can do to stop the train.

Unless you can and you don’t. That is an amplified pain because two people get hurt at the same time. You hurt yourself and you hurt the other person. Hurt people hurt people. And scared money don’t make money. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and me and Mrs. Jones have danced this tango before as I’ve watched the end manifest with that last Uhaul box and that last shared memory walking over the threshold out into the world with a door closing behind it.

The countdown.

It starts somewhere. At some point, we commence with the beginning of the end. Is it a look? Is it a missed text? The stolen glance that never happened? The day that we forgot to kiss “hello” like we’d done every single day of our relationship before. Missing that first one makes the second easier, though no less noticeable. Habits are easy to create and harder to break. Pretty soon the “why not” becomes “why” and the pictures become reminders of what could be that isn’t anymore.

Three months.

The arguments that used to end with moments of vulnerability as we both realized that what we stood to lose was greater than what we stood to gain by being “right”  now rest in the air and linger. They linger until the next one, a little more passionate, a little more resolute, a little more pointed, a little more biting. You still sleep in the same bed but might as well be sleeping on different planets. Intimacy requires affection and that ship sailed the same path as the Titanic. The more time you spend together the less time you have left together.

One month.

Anger.

One day.

Sadness and reflection. It’s inevitable. Unless you hate one another – and chance are you don’t if you can assume the same space at the same time – at some point you will both try to question what happened and why. That doesn’t mean there are answers, just questions for the ether. Momentary smiles that frustrate because you don’t know why you stopped smiling but the music stopped and nobody can find the beat. Or the melody. Or even a note.

With every article of clothing placed in a box the time left shrinks towards its conclusion. You both see it coming. We see it coming. Or saw. We watched the chaos become emptiness. The thing is, even with words never said, the time draws down. And when the lights shut off and its my turn to settle down, my main concern, promise that you will sing about me.

One hour.

There’s something unsettling about the end. We all know that an end is coming. We have no delusions about that. But the moment the key gets placed on the counter and the look to find something else to do when there’s nothing more is the “it’s going to be gone soon” moment. It’s the end. Only the formality of the exit stands between the past you suddenly miss and the future you don’t want.

Love is a b*tch.

One minute.

The final embrace, both everything and nothing at the same time. Years reduced to a gesture that can be shared amongst strangers.

Door closed.

The end?

-VSB P

Panama and Champ Talk Racism, Sports, The South, and History

This was not the South in the 60s.Champ:  You know, the Iron Bowl—and the SEC (Southeastern Conference) by extension—capturing the country’s attention is put in a different perspective when talking to my dad and uncles, their friends, etc. because none of them f*ck with SEC schools. At least not rooting wise. They all still remember that those schools were the last to have black players.

PJ: Real talk…even my father hates Alabama b/c of that reason; which is why he pulls for Auburn.

Champ: Yeah.

PJ: But that’s kind of a bad argument. Shoot, we all root for former racist sports teamsand you’re mad because one of those professoinal teams was the last to integrate?

Champ:  For him, it’s weird to see black people rooting for teams like Alabama and the Red Sox.

PJ: If you’re going to hate something because of integration you kind of have to hate it all. Somebody has to be last.

Champ: Well,I think certain terms were specifically known for being racist, or lead by racists, rather.

PJ: That much is clear,but that also changed.

Champ: The Red Sox, Alabama football, Kentucky basketball, etc.

PJ: And those racists are no longer there. Sh*t, Indiana basketball may not be “known” for it as much, but they all had the same policy. All of them.

Champ: I can understand not letting it go, though.
PJ: Some were just more upfront about it.

Champ: Especially if you lived through it.

PJ: Southerners are just more honest about their racism. Yeah, I can understand that. I’m just saying that if you lived through that, then you lived thru a lot of racist sports. So if you root for anybody, you’re still rooting for a team that at some point practiced de facto racism. I suppose in some ways, i can understand why you’d root for the first teams to integrate. I’ll say this; if you root for all the first teams to integrate and hate all the last ones to integrate, it makes sense.

Champ: Yeah, but there’s a difference between someone who might have been racist and someone who happily defined themselves by it.

PJ: Because one person said it and another lived it? I don’t really think there’s much of a difference if you only changed because you couldn’t afford not to; which, lets be real, was the case with most sports franchises, college or pro. How does that make it any better? Saying “they weren’t defined by it…” doesn’t mean they were not racist. it just means they didnt go out of their way to state it. They still operated quite happily under those circumstances.  I’m not even sure why I’m arguing this; I get it. I can’t blame anybody for hating the Kentucky’s, Alabama’s, or especially Boston sports. But I do stand by the fact that most schools were happily racist for quite some time.

Champ: That’s true.

PJ: Pro teams as well.

Champ: But some were specifically known for being that way. It doesn’t make them the “most” racist. But it does make them the ones black people are least likely to f*ck with.

PJ: Old black people. But yeah, I feel that. Like I said, thats why my father hates Alabama. It helps that he grew up very close to Auburn, but the hate is palpable. Interestingly enough, I think that’s why I tend to have to toss a lot of that hatred to the side…for certain institutions. Remember, many stores didnt want us shopping there, period. Now we happily patronize those stores. Race creates complicated relationships.

Champ: It does.

PJ: You know whats most telling…Kentucky football was the first one to integrate in the SEC and Alabama wasn’t even last. LSU integrated after Alabama did. I’m looking at this chart and Alabama and Auburn integrated a year apart.

Champ: Alabama matters more, though, because Alabama was Alabama; Bear Bryant and sh*t. (Paul “Bear” Bryant actually claimed he couldn’t recruit Black players because he wasn’t allowed to. When he finally was able to, he opened the flood gates.)

PJ: And sh*t…the Redskins were the last pro team to integrate, but every n-wrod in America rooted for them because of Doug Williams.

Champ: From Grambling State University (HBCU in northern Louisiana)

PJ: Right. My point is…the Redskins were a notoriously racist team that refused to sign black players. Defiantly so. This probably explains why we have so many Cowboys fans in DC.

-PJ and Champ

Significant Moments in Black History That Never Really Happened

You know why this cat never got work again? Because this n*gga SHOT RICKY!!!!!

You know why Lloyd Avery’s career never really took off? Because this n*gga SHOT RICKY!!!!!

Once upon a time not long ago, when people wore pajamas and lived life slow, we got freed. At last. In order to get to that point, a lot of very important people and occurrences had to happen. It’s the reason we celebrate Black History Month here in America. Without that month, we’d forget half of the accomplishments of great Black people like Tiger Woods and Robin Thicke.

Wait. What?

Exactly.

Well because we tend to be a jovial, communicative, and emotive people, those events hold near and dear places in our hearts. Deuce. But because we care so damn much about our peoples, those events aren’t just limited to the Dr. Martin Luther Tha King, Malcolm X’s and Beyonces, traffic lights, spinners, and beatings by police officers…they extend to things that actually didn’t happen but matter a whole heap anyway. We got heart.

Is there a heart in the house tonight? Stand up.

So here are a few things extremely significant moments in Black history that never actually happened in real life. Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiike…

1. RIIIIIIIIICKKKKKYYYYYYYYYY!

Yo, you can go into nearly any Black home in America or gang outpost and yell out the name Ricky and everybody will know exactly what you’re talking about. Chauncey shot him dead in the alley when Ricky zigged when he should have zagged. Actually he didn’t zig or zag which is likely why he got hit in the leg before he got hit in the back with the sawed off shotgun (hand on the pump). When Ricky died, then his mama opened up the SAT test scores to reveal that Ricky had gotten the 700 score he needed to receive a football scholarship and make it up out the hood and go to college like Trey and Brandy were going to do, the hopes and dreams of the hood all song cried. That sh*t hurt. It still hurts. Ricky been dead for 22 years now. Doughboy too. MJ gone. Our nword dead too. Just saying, that was a significant moment in Black history is all I’m saying.

2. Stringer Bell’s death

Notice a theme here? Maybe its the way he died. Maybe its because of all of the people on The Wire who died, he’s the one who deserved his death the most. But that was a pivotal moment in Black history if only because Stringer was the quintessential prototype of who most educated ninjas want to be and who most women seem to be in love with. Idris hasn’t managed to shake the Stringer ethos and why would he want to. He’s tried to. Lord has he tried. Not quite as poignant a death as Ricky, but when String got shot, I heard Black women’s vagina’s scream from my third floor window. Too much? Possibly. Hi, my name is…Panama Jackson.

3. Dwayne Wayne breaking up Whitley’s wedding…and then marrying her

I can’t lie, I’ve often been amazed at how many women love Dwayne Wayne. I always viewed him as goofy as sh*t but somewhere along the way, he became “the man”. Either way, none of us wanted Whitley to marry Byron Douglass III even though that made total sense. So in that wedding episode when you could tell Whitley was losing it and then Dwayne hit her with the “baby PLEAAAAASE…” (that was possibly the most sincere beg in the history of begging – Keith Sweat gave it a 10 and a thumbs up) everybody jumped up and got excited. And I was like…13 at the time? Even I wanted their love to prevail. And it wasn’t real. Which might explain why the show lasted only one more season.

4. THE Fresh Prince Episode

You know which one I’m talking about. The one where Will Smith became WILL SMITH.

I can sum it up in 6 words and keep it moving before I start crying…

“Why he don’t want me, man?”

Man, it still hurts. And it wasn’t real. Will knows his daddy. I never looked at Ben Vereen the same again. She looked like Ben Vereen…b*tch don’t call here anymore.

5. The moment where Martin started to suck

Two words: Shaquille Sunflower

That boy was never the same after that. AND IT NEVER EVEN REALLY HAPPENED but the community took Martin sucking as likely the true beginning of the end of hip-hop. Wait…what? Exactly. This one might be a stretch. But that’s what she said. So we’re even.

That’s 5 significant moments in Black history that actually never really happened in real life that had an impact on the community. What else you got?

Can you think of any moments that occurred in some fictional environ that impacted our community at large?

Talk to me.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. NOW YOU SEE ME, NOW YOU DON’T aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Cheers To The First Lady of VSB, Liz B.

As most of you know, this past Wednesday, June 6, was Liz’s birthday. Some of you who are newer might be trying to figure out who the hell Liz is in the first place. Others who’ve been around for eons may wonder where Liz has been lately. Sometimes she shows up sporadically and then disappears like a ghost in the night not to be seen again for months. Well she’s pretty busy, that Liz.

Anyway, I figured that since she did such a bang up job last year on my birthday with the most hilarious post about the most ungangsta things about myself – none of which I can deny, by the way – that I might as well share some interesting things about Liz. And give some back story into the whole VSB thing and also some random, yet interesting tidbits. See, being the third and mostly silent (except when she’s 404ing some of you mofos) partner of VSB, it’s possible to get obscured and/or not get as much shine. And truth be told, she probably likes it that way to some degree. Liz is #boutdatlife when it comes to the ‘net, but like most of you ninjas, she’s also highly introverted and would probably become an icon on her MacBook’s desktop if she could.

So let’s just delve right in. We’ll see how and where this goes but it’s time to put Liz’s business in these streets in a good and fun way. Happy birthday week, Liz!

Backstory:

Liz is the reason I ever started blogging. Real talk. I found Liz’s old blog, BlackMartha, via the blog of one of my boys from Morehouse, KillaCal, who was early into this blogging thing. I was going through his blogroll one day and clicked on her blog and started reading about this AKA chick who lived in Boston and went to MIT and all the crap she was going through. This was back when folks got mad personal on their blogs. Y’all might not get the chance to really know this but Liz is a great writer. And her blog was fascinating. I checked on it daily. I’m pretty sure I never left a comment. I also can’t remember if this was 2003 or 2004. Either way, it was a LONG time ago, so much so that probably only Fela Kuti could appreciate it. (<—random non-pop culture reference)

One day, on a lark, I IM’d her and it was on like donkey kong. I’m sure she wondered who the hell this random dude was but soon we were, like, total BFFs. You all remember the days when the folks you met online knew more about your personal life than the people you saw everyday? Yeah, that was my life. Well, in my randomness of randomnesses, Liz convinced me to start blogging. Now I had no idea what it was or why I should do it, but she convinced me and well, the rest is history. That’s pretty much how VSB got off the ground. Every tech issue or need for blogging know-how would go through Liz even before VSB, so when Damon and I came up with the idea for this blog, we went straight to Liz who offered to set it up. So effectively, since I met Liz, she’s been the backbone of nearly everything I’ve done online.

Real talk, I credit Liz with all of the success I’ve had since I’ve started blogging, seeing as the world has opened up for me in various ways both professionally and personally. It if wasn’t for her prodding and championing and encouraging my shenanigans…nobody would have any idea who I was. I’m positive of that.

Random: Liz and I have collaborated on more ingenious non-started up business ventures than you could possibly imagine. Seriously, we’ve come up with business ideas that will change the world. We’re just both Geminis which means 98 percent of them stay in the idea phase. Wompington Womperstein. The funny part is that while VSB has definitely blown up in the blog world, I think Liz may be as famous if not more on the internet geek side. We’ve been out places and somebody would find out Liz was there and blow a gasket. People always want to meet her. And because to me, HTML always stood for “Ho, Too Much Lettuce”, I always assumed there was some internet genius underworld that she was running that I wasn’t bright enough to understand.

I also remember the first time I met Liz…at a Coldstone Creamery in Times Square in NYC waaaaaaaaaay back yonder. That first meeting was awkward because, well, two ninjas who met on the Internet were going to have an odd meeting in 2004. Hell, back then, folks really might have been serial killers. Back then, nobody was finding love in the Internet. That was when folks looked at you sideways for making friends via the ‘net.

But we truly became fast friends. She came to Morehouse’s homecoming with me and my homies one year; I went to her graduation from undergrad. She’s stayed in my house with my girlfriend (at the time) and played with my kid. I’ve met her family. She’s one of those friends who always gets name dropped when a woman comes into the picture. Because she’s not going anywhere.

And now that she’s running all types of sh*t up in NYC for MadameNoire (that’s what I like to tell myself), I couldn’t be prouder or happier. It’s funny because as real friends go we’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve been there for all types of real life dramas and hardships and met family members, etc. At the end of the day, I want nothing but the best for Liz as she travails the world of running things. She might not be around VSB all the time like she used to but she’s also busy as all hell so she never has the time. But that’s okay. Point is, Liz is the homey for life and as vital and important to the VSB story as Damon or I. And because of her background role she likely never gets her just due…so I figured, why not write a quick tribute and walk down memory lane.

So in case you didn’t get a chance to say Happy Birthday to Liz, please do so and throw a dub up (she’s from California by way of New Mexico…the real New Mexico…as in her grandparents had an emu farm, New Mexico) for the homey Liz. She’s the reason you’re even on VSB right now.

Thanks homey…hope your bday week is and has been a most fruitful and enjoyous one.

Signed…

-VSB P

It’s time for another Very Smart Single out there, check out the profile for B. Greene ladies, and if you’re interested, send us an email at contact@verysmartbrothas.com!

One more time, for all the folks in DC: I won a happy hour at McFaddens at 2401 Pennsylvania Ave, NW from 10pm-midnight. All drinks are $3 if you come in and say my name (say my name) at the door. You’ll get a wristband. I’ll be there chillin’ hanging out. So come on down and kick it with ya’ boy and have a drink and chillax. Stay a minute or twelve. Or 2 hours. Holla.

Landmark Moments In The Black Community – The B-Sides

We black, we know it. We dancing. It's our birthday. Booty butt cheeks. Booty butt cheeks.

This has been a good week for Black people. Really, it’s been a good week for those of common sense but I figured I’d just skip the niceties and go right to where I care the most, my kahmrunitee. Tyrese. Obama’s (military) accomplishment and ensuing speech will be remembered long time like a favor from an Asian chick who works at Happy Endings Got Me Working Day and Nite Spa. While it’s not nearly on the same plateau as Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, or the assassination of Malcolm X – and Martin for that matter – as landmark events in the Black community go, for current day ninjas, it’s our moment. They’re the kind of moments you will remember forever. Even if you weren’t even alive for them. They resonate.

You know, like the OJ Simpson verdict.

From Brown vs. Board of Ed to Alice Walker’s The Color Purple to Michael Jackson taking that final Moonwalk towards the sky, the Black community has a lot of moments that are and will be commemorated for eons to come. Little martian children will read about great accomplishments and beam…possibly up Scotty, but a beam is a beam.

But you know, there are also some events that are AS significant (okay not really) that don’t get nearly as much attention. You know how on old vinyl records, there was always a B-side record? It wasn’t as good as the hit on the A-side, but intended to get some attention and pull for the artist as well. We here in the Black community have a lot of B-side moments. Such as?

Glad you asked.

1) The death of Ricky

I don’t care how old you are, you know that Ricky’s dead. In fact, any time I see a Black man running, I’m compelled to yell out RIIIIIIIICKY!!!!! with the force of three titans and two foster children named Shane. Boyz N The Hood was our first real look at South Central from a place we could care about, unlike Colors. We cared and when Ricky got shot, we cried. I remember seeing it as 12 year old and begging my uncle to never take me to South Central. Why? I didn’t want to get shot like Ricky. ZIG ZAG RICKY!!!! DON’T RUN STRAIGHT!!!!

Speaking of deaths…not quite on par but close enough….

2) The death of Stringer Bell

I promise you that I heard screams in my apartment building when Stringer got shot. Despite him being the one character I was ROOTING for to get murked, something about Stringer resonated to all of us. Every woman wanted him and every man wanted to be him. Again, DESPITE the fact that he might have been the most shady, ruthless, f*cked up character on the show. And if that was a spoiler, then let me add this too…

2a) Bodie getting bodied on the corner

Probably didn’t hurt as much but dammit if it wasn’t hard to see the one dude you really liked just as a straight up soldier catch a bad one.

3) Nipplegate

It’s the point where we realized that it really was us against them. Justin sold out Janet and never looked back. Her career never really recovered and she was forced at gunpoint to do Tyler Perry movies. She participated in one of the most retarded scenes in cinematic history…oh and that scene would be the ENTIRE film Why Did I Get Married Too. Justin went about his business to make more millions and just be white. All over a nipple. Who hasn’t seen one of those. I’m looking at one right now. Damn shame.

4) Halle Berry bares her boobs in Swordfish

Just a personal landmark for me. Nothing more, nothing less. The guys I was with? We all stood up to clap. Nobody cared though, that movie sucked donkey nuts.

5) Tupac/Biggie/rapper deaths

I’ll bet more ninjas know the birth and death dates of Tupac and Biggie than King or Malcolm X. Young and old.

6) The Game Season 4 premiere

Apparently it was the most highly watched cable program after the summer solstice but before the winter solstice on a Tuesday in November both before and after 8pm while going up on the downstroke. Or something. Point is, more of you ninjas watched the Game season premiere than would show up to a rally on education inequality. That says something. What? I don’t know. I was watching it too.

7) Whitney Houston tells us that “crack is wack”

Just like everybody else, I watched that interview and saw Bobby sweating like he stole something. Then Whitney hits us with the quote that will live longer than she will, “crack is wack”. She also asked for a receipt for all the drugs she’d done which subsequently showed up online a few days later. Notably, nobody believed her.

8) Some guy gives Tyler Perry a check to put on a stage play

Somewhere in Atlanta, a homeless Tyler Perry finishes up a manuscript for a terribly predictable and horribly written stage play starring him as a woman. He added some gospel, some really long songs, and a cast of other ninjas nobody’s heard about, and convinced somebody to give him the money for that first show. The rest as they say, is showbiz history. Nobody can pinpoint the moment where it all went left, but it happened. Spike Lee’s guitar gently weeps. Or it would if he could figure out how to come up with a decent ending for a movie. Spike has worse endings than 15 year old virgins.

9) We find out the DC Snipers are Black

Sad, sad day for stereotypes everywhere. Except them ninjas got caught sleeping. Literally. Just like Black folks.

10) Kanye West says that Bush doesn’t care about Black people

As unpoignantly poignant as his statement was, it somehow fit exactly what the entire Black community felt. This is also the point where people started believing that Kanye read books and/or was somebody to talk politics with. Boy were those people wrong. Point is, Kanye did Kanye things, and we’ll never forget. Like the Alamo.

That’s ten. What else you got? What are some sort of glossed over landmark moments in the Black community?

Shake something.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. LOOKING AT THEM GIRLS WITH THE DAISY DUKES ON aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3