America F*ck Yeah: Help! I’m Middle Class in Washington, DC

You think they're helping her with homework. What's really happening is daddy is telling her that she has two years max in private school. She's got to pick the two years and promise to make the most of them. After that, public school my ninja.

You think they’re helping her with homework. What’s really happening is daddy is telling her that she has two years max in private school. She’s got to pick the two years and promise to make the most of them. After that, public school my ninja.

You know, if I lived in Toledo, I’d probably be winning. Or maybe Des Moines. Consequently, if I lived in Detroit, I’d be Supreme Ruler Almigh-ty. But as luck would have it, I live in Washington, DC. This means that though the IRS thinks that I’m affluent, I’m really not. I’m more like getting by on good looks, charm, and my job. See, I’m one of those middle class folks who lives a nice middle class life, though in as urban a setting as possible. One time at bandcamp, somebody left a grocery cart from our neighborhood grocery store at the mailbox. It’s possible that whoever left it was trying to mail a shopping cart to a relative. It’s also possible that I’m too sexxy for my shirt, so sexxy it hurts. Neither of which is true.

While my education, and therefore, employment have afforded me luxuries such as a nice townhome that costs the price of a good-sized estate in most Southern states and a vehicle with great gas mileage, I also have a child. This means that I’ve got to deal with the most daunting task that any middle class person is forced to wrassle with: education.

Le f*ck.

Let me tell you something. You people without children are dodging all types of bullets in these streets. See, my daughter’s mother and I are both very well-educated and very well employed. We’re also just smart people. Genetically, it seems like we may have hit the lottery in regards to my child’s intelligence. She’s whipping piano’s arse and taking names. She’s beastmoding her Pre-K education, and clearly well above a significant number of her classmates in aptitude at this point. She’s not in public school, but a charter school, and people in DC will tell you what a battleground the charter vs public school war has become.

Can I be frank? Thank you, Frank. Save for a scant few, DC public schools leave much to be desired…by almost anybody. This is why charter school enrollment has exploded in this city in the past 10 years. My daughter is in a KIPP school. Have you seen Waiting For Superman? One of the schools profiled was a KIPP school and it’s a wonderful environment,place, and setting. But let’s be real, for special children who are a little bit smarter than the average bear – in major urban centers – you really need to send your kid to a private school. It’s not that the teachers and administrators can’t teach your kid; it’s just that when you have a child with an insatiable desire to learn – such is the case with Young Panamontana – you run into the need to feed the beast, so to speak.

Except, have you seen the prices for private school? Holy rusted metal, Batman. Thus far, it seems like the average annual price of tuition is in the $20-$25K range. That doesn’t even include the fees for entry and special stuff that kids who go to private schools do. I have no earthly idea how people pay for these things. Seriously. But there they go with straight face and nary a “gotcha!” in sight asking me to drop for a year what Rick Ross spends in one night at King of Diamonds (not clue whose return on investment will go further as of press time). Given my salary and apparent caste in life, I’m trying to figure out how somebody who does pretty doggone well is supposed to legitimately drop that kind of dough for a child’s education. Which, again, the return on investment is questionable at this point. Pretty much at my daughter’s age, you’re paying for security, access to resources, and…umm, lack of diversity.

Which is a whole other beast. See, you may not know this, but I’m Black. My daughter’s mother is also Black. So my child is…

…class?…

…Black. Private schools seem to be notoriously not Black. I have a problem with this. Forgive me for what I’m about to say but remember, half of my family is also white.

Ready?

Little white privileged kids seem to be some assholes. I’m afraid of turning my child into one or having her end up feeling outcast-ed because she’s the token. But you know what else sucks? She’s an outsider at her own school too. So I’ve got a different child (all positive though…you don’t want it with Hov), who has already proven to be gifted who is in need of a challenge so as to maximize her intelligence while maintaining a social balance so she gets to be a normal kid too.

Mind you, these are all good problems to have. But they are problems nonetheless. I’ve spent my educational years working to get to this point where I’m a bit too far beyond my public school options but have not quite made it far enough to avail myself of the private school options. I can’t walk into any office and claim to be a parent in need. One look at my W-2 and they may charge me for the visit.

At one point, I decided to move into the Southeastern section of DC. I bought a house there eventually. SE is the Black part of town and also, perception-wise, the bad part of town. Crime happens here, but this is DC so it happens all over the city. But perception is a motherlover so my part of SE – east of the river – remains the non-gentrified part of the city no matter what the newspapers and optimistic idealists try to tell you. Either way, I, a highly educated, well paid, employed individual was trying to move into SE.

I called no less than 5 apartment complexes and was met with various, “you make too much money to come live here.” messages. So let me get this right…I wanted to move into the part of town with my people, but I made too much money to do so. But I didn’t make enough money to live in the “desirable” part of town either. Not by myself and looking for at least a 2 bedroom apartment.

So I’m too broke for the well-to-do, and make too much for the rest of the populace, and my taxes subsidize programs I’ll never qualify for to use. Meanwhile, I’m trying to find a way to make sure my child gets the education she deserves that for the next 10+ years can run me nearly $200K before she even gets to college.

Basically, Panamontana needs to get a job. Even if daddy is considered affluent by the people who take 38 percent of my pay check.

I’m middle class in DC.

America. F*ck yeah.

R*dskins and The Right Side of History

[Good chance you're going to have me 'round these parts for the rest of, or at least a greater part, of this week. Sit back, shut the *CENSORED* up, have a Coke and smile. -PJ]

Cooper-N-Word600I live in Washington, DC. This is no secret to anybody. Well living where I live and working where I work places me in the epicenter of some of the greatest and most non-sensical moments in current U.S. history.

We recently witnessed the dumbest stand we’ve all been privy to in a long time regarding the closing of the federal government due to what effectivley became the nuts running the nuthouse in the Republican party’s far right extremist camps. Here’s the thing about taking a stand…it only seems smart if you win. Once you lose, wholesale (at least for the time being), you become less “right” and more obstructionist. I’m glad all federal employees are getting back pay, because 1. I’m a fed; and 2. It turned that dumb stance against Obamacare into a nearly 3 week paid vacation, which amounts to losing ground in polls, in the coffers, and effectively, America. America is blaming Republicans for this recent kerfluffle and that’s where the blame goes.

See, at some point, they had to realize that they were going to lose that battle. Sometimes, you have to adjust your version of right to reflect the times you live in, reasoning be damned. This was the case with same-sex marriage and its ever increasing reach across the country. No point in delaying the inevitable. At some point, same-sex marriage will be legal no matter how you feel about it. Why stay on the wrong side of history? Same thing with the civil rights movement and the Internet and music sharing. Everything with any type of traction reaches a tipping point. Smart people realize it and don’t stop it from happening. You may not like it, but once that snowball gets moving, its moving.So why get in the way?

Such brings me to my point. Again, I live in Washington, DC. And yes, I’m a Washington Redskins fan. And yes, they should change the name. Dan Snyder, a man with very few supporters as it is amongst the populace, is firm in his reluctance to change the name from something we can all agree is a racial slur, even if the vast majority of persons not of Native American descent couldn’t care less.

I remember having a conversation about this in my office one day. People were debating why they should change the name if most people aren’t concerned and don’t find it offensive (I believe “80 percent of Native Americans polled don’t care” was quoted). My response was and still is, if its a word you wouldn’t call a Native American as to his face, then it’s offensive. Nobody in their right mind would walk up to a Native American and call him a redskin. My grandmother was a Native American and I wouldn’t call her that. I haven’t called Liz that for that reason (though I’ve called her an injun, I’m working on myself). It was a slur back in the day and its a slur now. One of the early owners of the Redskins, George Preston Marshall,  was a known racist and happy as hell about it. He even allegedly ( I can’t find corroborating data) stated that none of the money left in his will could go towards advancing civil rights. You were some kind of  jackass if that is true, Mr. Marshall.

Back in 1933 when the team was changed from the Boston Braves to the Boston Redskins (they moved to DC in 1937), I’m guessing nobody really cared if the word was a slur or not. Or could be viewed as such. It’s 2013 now. We don’t tend to play that, and yet we STILL have a team named after a racial slur that might not ever change.

Honestly, at some point, I just don’t understand the reluctance to change. Let’s say Snyder’s pride is the culprit here. Nobody can make him change anything, why not just make a damn change for the goodwill of the league and take the graceful way out. The fanbase is loyal. You get a whole slew of sales and thus profit due to merchandising. I can’t really see the downside. The history of the team is still in tact and we still have RGIII. I can’t for the life of me understand why the folks in power don’t see the writing on the wall. Even if Snyder manages to keep the team name for as long as he is alive, it will change at some point. Why not be the one to make the change to receive some of the goodwill he’s so severely lacking. Folks hate Dan Snyder. Hell, change the name to Indians so we can have a real Cowboys vs Indians fight on our hands when Dallas comes a callin’.

To be real, I’m kind of surprised that names like Indians, Braves, and Seminoles still manage to be okay, but I suppose as long as its not a slur, you can name yourself after a group of people. I guess. Me no know. I’d half love to see a team called the African-Americans or the Latinos just to see if that held water.

Point is though, the ‘Skins should change their name because well, its the right thing to do. Why keep fighting a battle that you’re losing and you know it. There’s no glory in being the last man standing unless you’re battling for honor, and even, then if there’s still opposition, you’re going to die. A coward may die a thousand deaths and a soldier may die but one…but holding fast to something that is dumb to fight over doesn’t make your death honorable.

I’m guessing this is a rich, powerful man/person thing, because only those who think they’re above all believe that the writing on the wall doesn’t include them.

To that end, they’re still the Washington Redskins, but I just tell my daughter to call them the Football team.

History is a cold b*tch. Some of these folks would be smart to respect her and how she’ll write their stories. But until then…

…at least we’re not the Giants.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. I JUST CALL ‘EM THE SKINS aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

DC Happy Hour!

Hey VSBs and VSSs in the DMV area, we just wanted to give you a heads up about a Happy Hour we are co-hosting TOMORROW in DC in conjunction with The Usual Suspectz and Elevated Entertainment.

Details below. If you can make it, please come and rep for all the VSBs and VSSs who ask us where do we all hang out at. Panama Jackson (and Liz) will be there to meet and greet you all! Continue reading

New Features and a Live Event Starring The Champ

Hey VSBs and VSSs,

We have some exciting housecleaning announcements for you all:

1. Some of our readers asked us to get on Tumblr so they could keep tabs on us over there. Your wish is our command: Follow us here. For now it’s just an imported feed, but we might do some other things with it later.

2. A few of you were asking if you could subscribe to The VSB Files on iTunes. I’m happy to announce we’ve been added to the iTunes Podcast directory: Click here to subscribe. You can subscribe to the podcast’s regular feed over here. We’ll be back with new episodes shortly!

3. A new feature we’ve been trying out over the past week is AskChamp. The Champ really wanted a way to answer your dating questions via Twitter, but we thought adding a layer of anonymity (and more character space) would help people open up a little more, if you know what I mean. We hooked up a FormSpring account that feeds to our Twitter account. Our Twitter followers have been enjoying Champ’s answers, so be sure to follow us on Twitter and feel free to drop your questions in the AskChamp widget on our website’s sidebar. You can also enter your love questions directly on the AskChamp page.

4. If you can’t get enough of The Champ, you’re in luck because he is (finally) going on the road! I thought Champ had strict orders to never leave the State of Pennsylvania, but he’s coming to Washington DC for the Modern Day Matchmaker event, where he will be a featured panelist for the show! The event goes down Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 6:15 PM (ET) at Gala Theatre, 3333 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20010. Tickets are $20 for the show, and $10 for the after-party. FOR VSB READERS WE ARE OFFERING A $5.00 DISCOUNT ON TICKETS! Use the discount code VSB at checkout to receive your discount. The code applies only to the full access show & after-party ($25) and show-only ($20) tickets. We only have a limited amount of tickets to sell at the discount rate, so it’s first-come, first-served. Get your tickets now!

That’s it for now.

Feature requests, suggestions, complaints? You can keep them to yourself always e-mail us, we’re all ears.

~Liz

Where The Wild Things Are: Places Ni**as Shouldn’t Be Able To Go Without Rules

Sad to say, but a lot of you ninjas don’t know how to act. I’d love to say that’s an opinion, but really, that is more factual than anything you’ll find on Wikipedia. Well, it seems that some locales in New York City have come to realize this very fact, namely, Chuck E. Cheese. To wit:

Harlem’s Chuck E. Cheese is now a maximum-security play penitentiary.

As they enter the arcade and pizza parlor “where a kid can be a kid,” parents and their young children are given a list of prohibitions more stringent than Rikers Island’s.

“No gang-style apparel, including but not limited to hats, shirts, buckles, bandanas, towels,” reads an enormous sign installed last month.

“No gang-type conduct or behavior, including verbal slogans, greetings, hand signs or intimidation. No weapons or tools or any sort whatsoever; including knives, chains, screwdrivers, glass cutters.”

By comparison, visitors to Rikers Island are not banned from wearing gang colors, but skimpy or “see-through” garments are prohibited.

Oh, the places we will go. Of course, I’d love to call racism (it is, I mean it’s only the Harlem branch), but I’ve been to the Magic Johnson’s theater in Harlem when folks started acting a damn fool on some gangbanger stuff. Not to mention the Applebee’s in Bed-Stuy on Fulton that required me to remove my hat as it could be construed as a gang-symbol. Or the Ruby Tuesday’s here in DC that doesn’t sell dark liquor since that’s what usually incites ninjas to act like, well, ninjas. They do still serve light liquor though.

Common sense be damned.

Either way, I figure for the sake of argument that you know what, there are some places where rules are necessary because face it, we all have family members who just don’t know how to act. And some ninjas just can’t HELP but be ignant. I’m convinced it’s a gene. So I brainstormed some other places some ninjas just shouldn’t be able to go unless rules are instated. Follow me. Continue reading