Monthly Archives: March 2012
I have to ask a question and I hope no one questions my commitment to the cause: Why is Beyonce always half naked in her videos?
Two years ago I would have rather been burned alive as a heretic than to question God’s will like this. Beyonce showing up half naked on VH1 used to be an unexpected surprise for which I’d just tell God “thank you” and keep it moving, but things are different now. I have a daughter now and I’m a little more conscious of everything. Having kids is like having a mirror placed in front of you that you’re forced to look into everyday. You constantly analyze your actions and behaviors and you make adjustments with the hope that it’ll be enough to give them a good foundation for life. At least that’s what good parents do. Bad ones just keep-keeping on.
Chris Rock said it and I believe it: Your only duty as a father is to keep your daughter off the pole. I don’t know the first thing about being a woman, but I know everything about dating them. I may have majored in Accounting and English but I could’ve picked up a psychology degree while I was in college. I didn’t have a hard time finding a girl in college, I had a hard time finding a woman. Daddy issues, low self esteem and insecurities made for easy prey, but it was finding someone who didn’t have a Planned Parenthood Platinum Rewards card that was difficult.
I find myself being more conscious of the music I listen to and the images I let her see on television. I can’t play my iPod in the car like I used to. Not only does she repeat things, but she comprehends a lot of what she hears. One day it went from Jay-Z’s “Who You Wit” (SKIP!) to Lil Kim’s “No Time” (Oh hell no! SKIP!) to Tupac’s “I Get Around” (WTF?) and it made me go home and try to make a playlist that I was not ashamed of. I put a bunch of R&B songs on it. I figured that she should hear a bunch of women singing because maybe she’ll pick that up and, who knows, become the next Beyonce.
She was enjoying Beyonce’s songs a bit, so I thought it’d be cool to let her watch some videos. My main goal is for her to be wholesome but at the same time not be a social leper like I was when I was little. My grandmother only listened to talk radio, so everytime we had a party in elementary school I’d just sit there looking lost. “Who’s Bobby Brown?” So anyway, I turned on Beyonce’s Youtube channel and I had to turn that off too.
Why are you naked in every video? If you go back to Crazy In Love, she has on the “woman of the night” shorts walking the block and then rolling around on the sidewalk like she’s having an epileptic seizure. In some other video she’s getting married or something, but apparently it’s at the Victoria Secret Tabernacle because she’s naked in that too. The video for Love on Top has her doing the New Edition dance wearing a leotard and a Captain Crunch hat. One of the reasons I wanted my daughter to listen to her was because on some interview that my wife was watching she said that she was all about women’s empowerment. She had an all girl band and an all girl crew or something like that. She wanted young women to see that they could run things too or something.
I don’t see how dressing like a streetwalking tooth fairy and gyrating in your videos (which seems to have nothing to do with the lyrics to your songs by the way) serves the goal of women’s empowerment. You aren’t empowering my daughter. You are, however, appealing to my more primitive male desires, but isn’t that the problem that y’all are facing already? Don’t you wanna break the misogynistic archetypes? And please don’t give me that, “Just because I’m dressed this way” spiel. Like Dave Chappelle said, just because you’re dressed a certain way doesn’t mean you are a certain way. Just because I dress up as a cop, doesn’t make me a police officer. You may not be a whore, but you’re sure as hell wearing a whore’s uniform.
And I’ll say it before someone else does…I know that my daughter is only one. Beyonce isn’t Barney. She’s not supposed to be the day care role model, but I’m thinking long term. At what age does it become cool? Let’s say my daughter wanted to go to a party dressed like Beyonce. At what age would the average man be cool with his daughter going out in public like that? 10? 15? 20? Never! What makes it so bad is that she’s like the squeaky clean one compared to some of the other singers out. That concerns me.
So who runs the world? Men, apparently, if you think you have to dress like that to sell albums.
Do you see a kid in the photo? Neither do I.
We set a new world record today. I took this picture at 1:15 this afternoon. At 1:10 there were 18 kids on the playground not including my daughter. We cleared that place out in just five minutes. This place isn’t on school grounds or at a daycare, so it’s not like they all went back into class or anything. There were only two parents there with more than one kid, so it’s not like a big family left at once. Nope, those two parents had two kids apiece so that still leaves 14 kids who all mysteriously vanished in five minutes. That’s one hell of a coincidence if you ask me.
I personally don’t like going to a crowded playground and in the past I used to just keep walking for fear that my daughter would be trampled or something by the bigger kids. Now I know that all I have to do is just step inside and we’ll have the place to ourselves in no time. Works for me.
I’m not really in a writing mood. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, so I was sitting on the couch just now feeling groggy when I caught a glimpse of the news. The Megamillions jackpot is now at $476 million. That’ll wake you up. That much money deserves to be written out in long form:
Four hundred seventy six million dollars. ($476,000,000.00)
Personally I prefer to think of it as:
School loans, car insurance, cell phone bill, credit cards and disappearing money.
Everybody has their own fantasy of what they’d do if they won the lottery. Here’s mine. Like Deion Sanders’ timeless ballad “Must Be The Money” I am certain that money will definitely change me. It’s gonna change my address, my phone number, my credit report, and my friends.
The first thing I’m doing is signing my ticket and putting it in a fire proof safe. I’m calling up a security company to escort me to lottery headquarters because that shit is in the heart of Anacostia and I’m liable to get caught in a crossfire just walking into the place. Personally I want to remain anonymous, but lately they frown upon that kind of thing, so if I’m forced to do the ceremony with the big check then I’m going in there prepared.
I’m shaving my head, facial hair, and eyebrows and going in there with some foundation and mascara on. They’ll think some negro mime has shown up. From there I’m going down to the school loan headquarters dressed like Moses with a staff and I’m gonna shout out “LET MY PEOPLE GO” and pay off our school loans in pennies. Then it’s back out the door with my entourage of “big nigga security figures” to go down to the district courthouse to change my name. From there, we’re heading to the airport to take a private jet to the country of Noneya (It’s in Africa).
About a week later, my closest friends and family will receive a package with a check whose amount will be based solely on emotional connection and they’ll get instructions on how to call me. My phone will be set up to give a “number not in service” message off the bat. Then you punch in a secret code which will cause it to beep. Then you read a secret code phrase. After voice analysis the phone will ask you to leave a message. You type in another secret pin number and it’ll ring over to my phone.
I haven’t really gotten much further than that in the fantasy planning, but trust me…I won’t end up on “How I Lost My Millions.”
The Hunger Games movie came out over the weekend. I haven’t seen it or read the books, but I used to play it all the time when I was younger. There are several different versions. Let’s see theres:
The Original Hunger Games
That’s what homeless and poor people play here in the United States, but, like soccer, it’s much more popular over in Africa.
The Hunger Games Junior
It’s like Monopoly Junior but the opposite. The objective is to not have any money. I used to play it a lot as a kid. It’s basically a bunch of minigames like “Grandma bought a 22 oz box of Cap’n Crunch but only one pint (16 oz) of milk. If I eat it with a fork can I make the milk last?” or… “Safeway had that nasty Townhouse store brand Spaghettios on sale, now we have 50 cans of it. Are we really eating this everyday for dinner? My mother says that unless I have McDonald’s money I should stop whining. How can we alter it by adding hot dogs, onion powder and garlic salt?”
The Hunger Games: New Millenium Edition
The wife and I lost our jobs in the same month. The social services rep says we can’t get food stamps because we don’t work at least twenty hours a week. I told her that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. She told me to have a nice day. We have twenty bucks a month to eat. What’s the best way to die: Starvation or succumbing to a lifelong battle with diabetes, heart disease and cancer from eating ramen noodles, hot dogs, jelly sandwiches and sweet tea for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
I can’t believe they made a movie about this.
I forgot to post today/yesterday. I don’t know how it happened. Time just got away from me. It’s one of those things that happens when you have kids. They’re little langoliers who feed off of time. One minute it was morning and the next thing I know, it’s midnight.
I remember us heading up to the grocery store, a trip that usually takes me about an hour. My grandmother was on the track team for the Underground Railroad. She’s 82 and walks a good five miles a day, not for exercise or sport, but because she finds it quicker than waiting for a bus. When I was little she’d keep me out of school because paying bills was an all day affair and she wouldn’t be home in time when I got out of school. We left her house and walked about 16 blocks from her house to Union Station and then another 15 blocks from there to the old Bell Atlantic building. Then we went to the Pepco office, then Washington Gas and then to the old Woodies building to pay her account. After all of that, we’d stop at Popeyes to split a two-piece and then walk ALL THE WAY back to her house. I was five.
With that in mind, you can understand how I can walk 2 miles to the grocery store and back in under an hour. At least I used to be able to do that. A new challenger has entered the ring. My daughter is at the stage where the stroller is no longer acceptable. She wants to walk too. Since marching for freedom is an Allen family birthright, who am I to deny her? It took about an hour to go four blocks. We stopped at every bus stop, mailbox, stop sign, manhole cover and piece of trash on the ground so that she could explore, point, and read the letters to me.
Obama was on his way somewhere today so they had Marine One flying over. For those who don’t know, they fly two or three of those things at all times so that you never know which one he’s in. That meant that three helicopters circled over us every other minute. My daughter stopped to point and yell “Airplane!” everytime she saw one. That meant I had to yell it out too. Then we had to stand there and absorb the magnificence of flight as she watched it go across the sky. Then we’d start walking again only to have her attention captured by the marvel of metallurgy when she saw “SEWER” written on a manhole cover. “S-E-W-E-R, S-E-W-E-R, S-E-W…” COME ON!
I’m sure the trip to the store was like the fellowship of the ring in her mind. To me it was like The Oregon Trail. It took forever, we lost some people to dysentery and I carried a hundred pounds of food back home. It was a very long day.
There’s a certain street savvy that one acquires living in this city. By 16 you’ve pretty much developed jungle-level instincts that cut on every time you walk out the front door. Ever so often those instincts are put to the test and so it was one calm summer night that I found myself taking an exam.
I was on my way to the old Blockbuster near Eastern Market when I noticed a black SUV slow down as it passed me. I tried to act like I didn’t see it, although I was scanning the truck out of my peripheral. The tints were way too dark to be street legal, so my first thought was “drug dealer tints.” The average drive-by or jump-out robbery begins with a pass by. That is, the people circle the block once and then come back around to do whatever it is they’re gonna do. So, I waited to see if they were gonna turn or go straight. If they went straight then all was good, but if they turned then they were coming back. They turned.
I crossed the street. I knew the area like the back of my hand. There were way more parked cars on that side of the street (that’s called gunshot cover), not to mention an alley that I could cut through if I had to. I kept looking back to see if the truck came back, but I didn’t see it. Then I saw it coming from in front of me. “What the hell?” I assumed they would think I was still on the other side of the street so I dropped down like I was tying my shoe directly beside this big tree. They passed right by me. Then I heard the tires screeching as they slammed on the brakes. Then I heard it reversing back up the street.
I hauled ass full speed toward the alley. Even though the alley doesn’t provide a whole lot of room to run (and we all saw what happened to Morris Chestnut running through the alley in Boyz In Da Hood), my plan was to zig zag, hop over some fences and Ferris Bueller my ass through some people’s houses. I wouldn’t get the chance though. As soon as I got to the alley another black SUV sped out and blocked my path.
It was like something out of a movie. My brain started racing like, “These niggas are organized like shit. What the hell is going on?” I turned and got ready to run the other way (You know, make the bullets work for it) when the truck started flashing red and blue lights on the dashboard.
Normally, you’d be relieved to find out that it was the good men and women of law enforcement and not body snatchers, but as the only black person on the street in a neighborhood not exactly overflowing with colored folks, I didn’t feel any more sense of security. “Oh shit!” I threw my hands up over my head as four or five people jumped out with guns drawn.
“LORENZO!” one of them shouted out.
“Uh, no. Or-dale!”
“Lorenzo, it’s okay! We’re friends!”
The dude was talking really slowly like something was wrong with him. So I repeated really slowly, “I’m Or-dale. Who…is…Lorennnzo?” He kept telling me that my parents sent him to come get me. Now this was right after the Amadou Diallo thing, so I was really scared to move. I told him in a really slow voice. “I have a wallet. My license is in it. It is in my back pocket. Please don’t shoot me.” Without them even having to ask, I locked my arms behind my head, got on my knees and crossed my ankles. The guy walked up, got my wallet out of my back pocket and saw my license.
“What’s your name?”
“Ordale Allen. I have no idea who Lorenzo is.”
He told me I could get up. They put their guns away and one of the trucks drove off. He explained to me that there was an autistic child who apparently belonged to someone very important in the area (more than likely a congressman since it was Capitol Hill), the kid had gone missing, and that the guy fit my description. Apparently the kid hadn’t taken his meds in a while so that’s why they had their guns drawn.
He gave me my wallet back, got in the truck and drove off.
The moral of today’s story…There are two types of survival techniques: Those that keep you from getting shot by drug dealers and those that keep you from getting shot by the police. It’s good to know both.
This Trayvon Martin situation is the real life example of what I’ve occasionally talked since I started this blog. What concerns me, however, is how we’re reacting to it. I was right there with the public outrage that George Zimmerman wasn’t charged. Where I get off the bus, however, is when I start seeing Facebook statuses talking about “White people still think they can kill Black people and get away with it.”
I’m ringing the bell and I’m getting off the bus.
I think that’s going too far. First off, George Zimmerman isn’t White. He’s Hispanic. Second, even if he was White, how does the actions of one person directly apply to the entire group? Are we not doing the exact same thing we accuse them of? I think generic hyperbolic statements like that are reckless and insulting to the millions of White people who don’t feel that way. Reverse racism really irks the hell out of me. How are we ever going to bridge the gap if we’re always pushing people away?
Now don’t get it twisted, I don’t think things are peachy for us. When I walk out of my apartment I immediately go into Black man mode. I turn on my nonthreatening voice. I take my hat, hood and sunglasses off whenever I go in a store and speak to every clerk I see. I’m careful not to stand too close to the shelves and I don’t put my hands in my pockets until I leave. I choose my outfit carefully when walking at night. I keep my hands in plain view the whole time. If the worst of the worst should happen and I find myself alone at night on the street behind a White woman, I cross to the other side or go another route. Hell, I even keep my Runkeeper app going at night so that I have GPS proof of where the hell I was in real time in case I should fit the description of a suspect.
I shouldn’t have to do any of that, but I’ve always been worried about having my own Trayvon experience. It’s a conundrum. I look like the people out there committing the majority of the crime in this city. Hell, I get scared when I see a dude in a hoodie coming my direction at night. I’ve been robbed a few times and each time they were wearing hoodies, so that’s become the official uniform of the criminal underworld as far as I’m concerned. Not all dogs bite, but I still get scared if I see a rottweiler. But the fact that George Zimmerman chased down the person he was supposedly afraid of tells me that Trayvon could’ve been wearing a suit and tie and he still might have shot him.
Michael Bay, the same man who put two bullets into the back of the head of my childhood memories of Transformers, is remaking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. According to EW he’s changing the origin story too. No longer the result of mutagen coming into contact with four baby turtles who fell down a sewer, these new turtles will be aliens from another planet.
Why Michael Bay? Why? Do you just hate 80s babies?
You screwed us by making the main character of the TRANSFORMERS franchise a human being. And once and for all…Megatron is supposed to be a GUN, not an airplane. So now here we go with Teenage (Alien) Ninja Turtles. Are there ninjas in space?
Let me tell you one thing Mr Bay: You put your hands on Thundercats or He-Man and it’s on!
You know that little jingle they play when someone loses a game on The Price is Right? It’s like a trombone or something. Anyway…I heard that in my head the moment I read this article saying that our good friend the Nuclear Bank Robber has been caught in Texas near the Mexican border. If you missed my shout out to him a few weeks ago then you can read it here.
Look at that face. And that hair! No chemicals there, only juices and berries. I feel like Uncle Ruckus when I say this but…”Nigga didn’t I tell you they was gonna find you? Praise White Jesus!” lol
Seriously though, it hasn’t even been a month. I wrote the post on February 28th. You couldn’t go 30 days without getting caught? Bin Laden managed to elude the US government for ten years and he didn’t have half the genius that you have with your nuclear bomb building self. And Mexico!? Really? Been watching a lot of bank heist movies lately, have we? The bad guys always head for Mexico. Yeah, that ALWAYS works.
My question to you is this: It’s been three weeks. Why the hell did they find you in Texas near the Mexican border instead of on the other side of the Mexican border? What the hell were you doing all this time? This is what my teachers used to warn me about when they said that Black people can’t afford to waste time. Seriously man, you were the best of us. You were the Jackie Robinson of super villainry. You integrated the sport, man. Hall of Fame all the way. It was Dr. Evil from Austin Powers, Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget and you, the Nuclear Bank Robber with a heart of gold that prevented him from decimating entire cities as long as he got twenty-eight dollars from the teller at Capital One.
It’s in moments like these that I’m reminded of a quote from John Greenleaf Whittier:
For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, “It might have been.”
I know one thing, you better hope that perm grows out before you get to prison.
I’m sitting on the couch with my leg elevated and my ankle wrapped. Who gets hurt jogging? I used to be a track champion…now look at me. At least back then my injuries were glorious.
The year was 1997. I was in the ninth grade and was at a track meet over at Dunbar High School. Somehow I got put in the fastest heat for the 100 meter dash. All the dudes looked like they were in their second or third senior year of high school and I had no idea how I was supposed to beat them. I psyched myself out though.
“You’re a cheetah. You’re a black cheetah. You’re so fast that you can play quarterback and wide receiver in the same play. Scratch that, you’re not a cheetah. You’re light! You’re so fast that at night you can turn off the light and be in the bed asleep before the room gets dark.”
It didn’t work. “You see all these girls in the bleachers…don’t embarrass yourself.” Women…works every time. I got in the blocks. “Runners on your mark. Set. Boom!” I came up out of the bleachers like a lion chasing a gazelle. I looked left. I looked right. There was nobody beside me. Nobody was ahead of me so through the process of elimination I arrived at this conclusion: “Oh shit, I’m winning! Run Run Run!”
One quarter of the way down I looked out the corner of my eyes again. “I’m still winning!” I’d hyped myself up before, but it never actually worked. I started thinking about all the numbers I was gonna get and I started running even faster.
Halfway down the track…still in front. I got three quarters of the way down when I finally had that moment that athletes talk about when they say they “embraced greatness.” I wasn’t just about to win a DCIAA track meet. I was building a highlight reel. I was going to college on a track scholarship. I was going to the Olympics in Sydney Australia. More importantly, I was about to get that girl’s number, that girl’s number, and that one’s number. Yeah, I embraced greatness alright. “I’m gonna win, I’m gonna win! Oh my God I’m gonna *POP* AAAAAAAH!”
My left leg stopped working.
I don’t mean I got a cramp or that it tightened up. It stopped working. When you’re running full speed and one of your legs just randomly stops moving you nosedive into the ground…Then the momentum makes you tumble along the ground a few times. Then you come to rest. Then you realize there’s a sharp pain in the spot that connects your thigh to your hip. Then you realize it hurts too bad to scream. As a matter of fact, your heartbeat hurts.
I heard my coach yell out, “Finish the race!” I responded with, “Come get me!” He couldn’t hear me because the track meet had turned into some Disney sports movie moment where everyone starts shouting out encouraging catch phrases and doing motivational clapping as if you’re some kind of Tinkerbell on its deathbed that needs claps to survive. Everyone thought I had tripped and fallen. I guess they thought my pride was hurt and I was laying there defeated. In reality the tendon in my thigh had torn off the bone and I was laying there asking God to rain down morphine from the sky.
When I realized no one was coming until they got a “Cool Runnings” finish where I picked up a sled and limped down the track, I tried to stand up. The best I could do was crawl a few feet before they realized I was in pain. Eventually a stretcher came and Doctor Obvious told me that I hurt my leg. He also quoted some DCIAA rule that says you can’t give minors painkillers without a parent’s consent. No one took me to the emergency room, no one called my family to come get me. My coaches even tried to convince me to hobble home on the metro so that they wouldn’t have to “go all the way across town” to take me home.
A day later I went to Kaiser where they diagnosed the whole “tendon ripped off the bone” thing. I was on crutches for a while and eventually regained the ability to move my leg up and down about two or three months later.