Everyday Livin’ In #Thugnation

Since we’ve spent some quality time around here talking about emo dudes and people with degrees, I figure the least we could do was dedicate a little bit of time to the thugs that read VSB. Believe it or not, they make up a sizable percentage of VSB regulars. Between hooridin’, drivebys,¬†social network gangsterism and organized f*ckery, thugs take out a little time every day to read a little bit on current events, check police blotters, and read about relationships. Believe it or not, gangstas need love too.

While I realize that most of us limit our thug tolerance to family reunions and coming-home-before-you-go-back-in parties, the truth is many thugs are just like us only with the foot of intolearnce and systemic injustice and racism standing on their neck while the rest of us get to live in a post-racial America rife with unicorn grass, meliflous waterfalls of sugary goodness, interracial marriage, and A Different World re-runs. Thugs don’t get the re-runs. Do you know how hard it is to bootleg FiOs??

The other day, I got to thinking about some things that are everyday occurrences for most of us reading ninjas and realized that the, real talk, thugs have a whole lot of the same similarities simultaneously. Yep, we parallel. See, it turns out that all of us are just peoples at the end of the day. And peoples do folks things. For in-stahns, here is a list of things that thugs and us reading ninjas really do have in common, our simultenous similar parallels, if you will.

1. Listen to and love Michael Jackson

True story alert. A long time ago I was at my grandmother’s house in Atlanta and one of my recently unincarcerated cousins was hanging out and an argument about Michael Jackson’s best album breaks out. Me, one of my sisters, and two of my other cousins are going at it. Out of nowhere, Zone 4 Mo tells us all to shut the f*ck up because “ain’t no argument. Mike ain’t had a bad album. Off The Wall was good, Thriller is a classic beyond all else, and Bad might be his best album that nobody talks about. Y’all don’t know nothing about Mike.” This from a dude who wasn’t afraid of jail and couldn’t care less about getting locked up. And you know what, that made me realize: who doesn’t love Michael Jackson? We all grew up on him. It’s impossible to not like Michael Jackson if you’re Black and between the age of 18-98.

2. Have odd hobbies

Have you seen Clockers? I don’t think its a particularly good Spike Lee movie but it comes on a lot for some reason. Anyway, Mekhi Phifer played a clocker named Strike who had a crazy affinity for trains. And you know what, that didn’t seem odd. It’s like all thugs look for some type of escape from sh*t and end up interested in Mongolian macrame or staplers. It never fails that you’ll end up talking some thug dude and some how, some way, some random association will come up and you’ll find out that your neighborhood d-boy knows everything there is to know about car engines despite never having driven before or Johann Sebastian Bach. Regular ninjas have these odd fascinations too though I suspect most dudes pick them up trying to impress women. Like jazz flute.

3. Respect for mamas

Everybody respects mamas. Even the most hardcore ninja will at least stop talking when somebody’s mama starts talking. Same thing in the reading ninja world. If somebody disrespects a mama, there is ALWAYS somebody there to be like, “hey man…that’s such’n’such’s mama…be easy, ninja.” Dear mama. Which is why the threat of telling somebody’s mama always carries weight. Hmm…ladies…does the “I’m gonna tell yo’ mama” threat work on y’all? I’ve only seen it really work on dudes.

4. Get upset about gas prices

Overheard at the Sunoco on Riggs Road (DC/MD line): “Gotdamn!!!! Yo, the president need to do something these gotdamn gas prices, mo.” Nobody likes paying a lot for gas, pimp.

5. Make you take off your shoes when you come in the house

One of the funniest memories I have from my youth was when I went to visit my boy’s family in Knoxville, TN. When I say these ninjaswere hood AND¬†lived in the hood, I mean they lived in the hood. House looked like the get-shot-spot. Yet, somehow, someway, these ninjas were impeccably particular about their homes cleanliness. There wasn’t ‘nan beer bottles of ashtrays filled with weed anywhere. The damn house was spotless. It was like a spoof of drug dealers with classical music tastes. In fact, it was like walking into Stringer Bell’s apartment. And these ninjas, were ADAMANT about nobody wearing shoes in their house. Which was, for all intents and purposes, a trap house. Just a clean as f*ck one. For this reason, they didn’t throw parties b/c “ninjas don’t like taking off their shoes.” I wish I was making that up. I laughed so hard…after I left.

Good folks of VSB…it’s Friday. Relax. Relate. Release. What are some other similar simultaneous parallels between thugnation and regular old reading ninjas?


Urgent Like A Muhf***a: Best Places To Meet Other VSBs and VSSs (Or People Who Read Good)

The VSB BBQ is the unicorn heard around the reading Black person’s world. While that might be a hyperbolic statement, one of the reasons that so many people venture here daily is that we’ve amassed a community of likeminded individuals with common interests and an unbridled belief in education. Yes, everybody here loves pr0n, Rick Ross, and street knowledge. But we also love Janelle Monae, volunteer work, and the Black community. It’s a dichotomy that only Bill Clinton and Tupac Shakur could fully understand and embrace.

And Puffy. He went to Howard for a few years. I hear that’s what they do at Howard.

Over the course of the past two years one of the common threads of our common threads – no Alexander McQueen – was this desire to find out where to meet other likeminded people in our respective cities. Admittedly it can be hard. We all judge books by their covers and how do you know somebody is like you unless you spend actual time talking to them and hanging. And let’s not even talk about how much women hate each other on site.

And awkward? Have you ever SEEN two men attempt to become friends. It’s like watching a piranha trying to play with a porcupine after a hurricane in August 2005 after the levees break. If that makes any sense to you, please put the weed down.

Anyway, I figured that perhaps its time to enlighten the masses on where exactly to find other people like ourselves. Sure that sounds pretentious, but that Bishop Eddie Long (still trying to decide if I want to write about that) story sounds like a straight up shakedown to me but that doesn’t stop CNN from running with it. I know my people. I am everyday people.


1) Poetry slam

I went to a poetry slam this past evening and as I looked over the crowd of mostly 20 – to 30-something pseudo professionals and professional college students I realized that this crowd is the very one that would more than likely read. Without prodding. And books too. Poetry slams are rife with people who are full of contradictions since by definition the best poets are the ones who are self aware enough to be able to analyze themselves honestly and openly. Plus, after the joint, I handed out my card to this chick who said, “folks STAY sending me to this website.” Game.Set.Match.

2) Kanye West concerts/cover band shows/listening parties

Namely anywhere that Kanye West is present. You see, like him or not, Kanye is the representative for our generation, whatever generation it is. He says everything and nothing at all at the exact same time. He dresses like a 12 year old little girl who wants to be a little boy but makes good music. He’s the most relevant artist we have today and people think he reads books. Therefore, we listen to him too. There’s no rhyme or reason to Kanye West’s appeal to the young professional set, it just exists. He’s like a Herpes outbreak – lays latent until the heat shows up and then he’s everywhere. And for some reason, we can’t get enough.

3) Open mics

Like the poetry slam. open mics are full of passionate malcontents who’s lives are full of great decisions that we’re not happy with. But we’re living the good life and nothing can stop us now, we’re on the move. People who read go to open mics because that’s what people who read do. Or at least while the weather’s nice outside. You can find people just like the very folks who frequent this site at open mics. Not on the mic. But sitting in the crowd trying to listen and shushing you. Slow down sailor, holler after the show.

4) Neo-soul shows

I don’t know why the reading set loves Chrisette Michele and Bilal so much but they do. But the one place you can find any and everybody? A Maxwell show. Unfortunately Maxwell thinks he’s a martian so he only comes out on Tuesdays and off months.

5) VSB Happy Hours

Coming soon to a city near you. Or not. Either way we love the kids like Trick Daddy.

This is public service week here at VSB, for those of you who know the very people everybody else is looking to meet, where is the best place to find people who read?

Heal the world and make it a better place.