Monday, April 16, 2012

More adventures at my Favorite Baltimoron Store

So I went to the neighborhood Food Depot, my favorite Baltimore store, to pick up a couple of odds and ends. I bypassed the carts and picked up a basket, with the intent of getting in, picking up maybe 5 or 6 items, and getting out. However, as often happens with me in this store, I ended up with more than I came for. There was a sale on yogurt, so I picked up about 12 cups of those, then I passed by a few other things I just had to (NOT) have, and next thing I know my basket was stuffed with about 20 items, give or take.

I trudged past the 10- and 15- items or less express lanes and over to the regular lane with the shortest line. When I made it to the conveyor belt and got ready to unload my goods on it, the cashier, seeing me holding a basket instead of pushing a cart, said "Sir, you can take your stuff to the express lane."

"But I have more than 15 items," I said.
"Well, you can take it to the 10 items or less line."

Say what, now?

"Umm, you know," I said, not being able to resist an easy bit of smartassery, "if I've got more than fifteen items, that means I also have more than ten items."

Woooooo, that heifer was MAD with me...but oh well, what can you do?

Thursday, April 12, 2012


So I am a grandfather again, for the fourth time - all boys (one of these days I will get a granddaughter, although hopefully no time soon). My newest, Mr. Kevin was 7 lbs, 10oz, and like his big brother, #2, "Hurricane" Darius, took his sweet time making his arrival. But he's here and will be returning to (my) home with mom and big brother in a few days. Something tells me that in the very near future - given the power of Mr. Kevin's lungs - I may be thinking about changing my name to the Sleepy Nerd...

Thursday, April 5, 2012



Noun:  Somebody believed to be evil: somebody or something regarded as hateful, evil, or frightening

I have spent my life trying (with varying degrees of commitment and success) to be a good person, and I've lived what could be considered a pretty decent life. I've gone to good schools, got married, raised kids, worked good jobs, been involved with respectable organizations, and in respectable activities, have strong ties to the church, etc.

Yet none of that matters when I walk out of my front door every morning. For when I leave the comfort and safety of my home and enter in society, I become, in the eyes of many, a "suspicious character". I know there are many of you out there, my brothers and sisters, that can identify with what that means: Police cars coming up behind you and running your plates to see if you have anything they can use as a reason to pull your over (or inventing a reason to pull you over even if they don't - otherwise known as "DWB": Driving While Black), store employees following you around or appearing out of nowhere mainly to keep an eye on you, and of course, the ubiquitous spectacle of women clutching their purses and/or snatching up their children, and getting the hell away from you as fast as possible. Most days I can either take this all in stride with a laugh or shake of the head; some days, however, it pisses me the hell off enough that I just want to snatch one of those skittish women's purses - not to steal it, mind you, but just to whack her upside her bigoted head a few times, Aunt Esther style (and if you're Black and over the age of 40 and you don't know who Aunt Esther is, get off my blog, you fish-eyed fool. H'ah, glory!).


"The term bogeyman is also used metaphorically to mean a person or thing of which someone has an irrational fear."

Now many folks would respond to me by staking the position that Blacks, and particularly Black males, commit violent crimes at a rate disproportionate to our overall population percentage. And while this is an undeniable, tragic problem that has many causes but few - to this point - solutions, the argument ignores one essential fact: just because most violent crimes are committed by Black males, it doesn't mean that most Black males are violent criminals. To me, this is a critical distinction, yet if you are inclined to see Black males as bogeymen, then it's a point that won't amount to a hill of beans to you. I guess that's the thing about us bogeymen: either we all look alike, or we're all just so frightening that even though we may each look different, all those good, innocent people we're scaring can't be expected to remember what distinguishes one of us from the other. Neither can those good folk be bothered with context when it comes to us bogeymen: being dressed in your work clothes, church-going suit, pushing a stroller, holding your child's hand, being on a date with your sweetie...none of these things matter when a bogeyman's elevated levels of melanin are perceived by someone else's photo receptors and the resulting signals trigger waves of distrust and fear throughout their bodies- because any other reaction would require rational thought, and really who has time to be rational, reasonable, or logical when bogeymen are roaming about?


 Noun  Someone or something that people believe is bad and causes problems

This brings me to the case (or non-case, if you're a member of the Sanford, FL Police Department) of the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. I won't rehash all the details of the shooting, or restate any of the follow up stories; you've no doubt read and/or heard them all by now, many times over. I guess the thing that sticks in my mind - throughout the coverage of Zimmerman's changing stories; the questions of who attacked whom and who was defending himself against whom; the conflicting accounts of whether he was or wasn't injured, whether he had or didn't have a broken nose; whose voice was heard screaming - throughout all of this, I ask myself over and over: what was Trayvon Martin doing on the night of the shooting that George Zimmerman found so suspicious? Such a simple and obvious question to ask, but one without a sufficient answer (or any answer). What was Trayvon doing that was suspicious? 
Was he trying to break into a car? Peeping into a window of some body's home? Following somebody? Or was George Zimmerman's "suspicion" of Trayvon Martin just due to the latter's "Walking While Black"?

Yes, I'm aware that NBC admitted to doctoring Zimmerman's 911 call, but let's say for the sake of argument that this proves he wasn't targeting Trayvon for his race. Then what was Trayvon doing that was suspicious?  Is Zimmerman some expert on drug abuse that he knows definitively what someone looks like (and from a distance, no less) what a person looks like on drugs? What was Trayvon doing that was suspicious? 

Until we hear from Zimmerman himself (and not his family members and various lawyers and mouthpieces) and hear just why he was found Trayvon Martin "suspicious", then the only thing I can conclude is that Zimmerman looked out his car window, saw himself a real live bogeyman that he couldn't possibly conceive of  "belonging" in his neighborhood, ambling along aimlessly (as 17 year olds are wont to do), and wearing a hoodie no less (which as we know, according to Geraldo Rivera, is justifiable grounds for murder ) called 911, then - in disregard of the dispatcher's recommendation - decided to follow after Trayvon, setting off a chain of events that turned Zimmerman into a modern-day St. George, slaying a Black dragon.

No matter what your stance on this tragedy is - whether you are outraged that Zimmerman is not in jail, or whether you are outraged that Zimmerman is being unfairly treated; whether you think Zimmerman is a racist thug, or whether you think Trayvon was; whether you think Zimmerman stalked and killed Trayvon or whether you think Zimmerman was defending himself from an attack from Trayvon; whether you are outraged by, weep for, or otherwise mourn the loss of a 17 year old, or whether you have so little regard for the lives of people of color that you are angry that fictional characters whose death you wept over when reading a book are played by Black actors in the movie adaptation of that book ; whether the circumstances of Trayvon's death stirs up echoes of history and/or identification with constantly being viewed with suspicion, or whether you can't quite understand why some Black folks' reactions  are as strong as they are - I would think you would want to know the answer to the question: What was Trayvon doing that was suspicious? Then again, maybe you don't need to know; maybe being a "bogeyman" was enough to create suspicion.

Until we find out the answers, I'll just thank God that the "Stand Your Ground" laws don't exist in Maryland. I might be dead already...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Baltimorons, the Carry Out Edition

Baltimore, like every city, is chock full of carry out joints where you can buy your favorite subs, chicken boxes, ethnic food, pizza, etc. As you might expect, and no doubt have experienced, these spots are hotbeds of Baltimoronic activity. Now I'm sure none of my blog followers would ever behave this way (suuuuuure, you wouldn't) - but just in case, let's talk about it:

  1. Most carry outs offer variations on pretty much the same fare. It shouldn't be that hard to figure out what you want. I mean, usually you know that you're going to that joint before you get there, and after you get there, you're probably going to be standing in line for a minute, looking at the menu posted on the wall, or that you picked up from a stack on a counter; how much time do you need to figure out what the hell you want to eat?
  2. As a special case to #1, talking on your cell to someone else about what they want, after the point at which it is your turn to order should be justifiable grounds for a group beatdown. Figure that shit out before it's your time to order...
  3. The prices of any and everything that you can buy in the carry out are clearly listed. Don't be lazy and ask how much the chicken box is when you can clearly find the answer out for yourself with a minimum of effort...
  4. If you're going to argue with your cook/cashier about the total for your order, make sure your math skills are up to par. If everyone else in the joint has listened to you arguing about your total, added the numbers up for themselves, and determined that your total is what was actually rung up, why are you still arguing about it?
  5. There ain't a carry out joint on the face of the planet that's not going to charge you extra for cheese. Seriously, get over it and pay the 30 cents...
  6. It doesn't cost any extra to be polite. Really, you're the one up in this greasy spot getting yourself some grub; how do you figure that makes you better than the people preparing it for you? And if you're a regular customer at the carry out, why would you want to keep coming back to the same place if the workers and/or food annoy you so much? Not only that, but do you really want to piss off the people responsible for fixing your order?
Just a little friendly advice for you carry out Baltimorons, from the Angry Nerd (not that my readers would need it, of course)...