Monday, August 28, 2006

Idle and Joi-fully Wild...

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Another interesting and fun-filled weekend was had.. I was definitely anticipating my Saturday because I knew I'd be checking out the creativity of Outkast under the direction of Bryan Barber who is equally creative... The direction was so cool with the photographic images seemingly coming to light. I loved that effect. I was also anticipating seeing Joi in concert on Saturday night once again at the temple bar in Santa Monica.

My Saturday was real cool and the anticipation was worth it...sort of... The movie was good.. I enjoyed it.. A lovely escape.. I like Terrence Howard in that role of being mean and shady.. he plays that kind of thing really well.. I always like seeing Ving Rhames representing himself as only he can do...strong.. And there's nothing more powerful than seeing Cicely Tyson on screen no matter how small the role. She always makes an impact... At times I had to remind myself that what I was watching was a musical because there were moments when the music came out of nowhere and caught me off guard because I was so into the story. At times I wish it were just a serious movie with a musical backdrop ala Ray with Jamie Foxx but I wasn't at all disappointed.. It was a great movie and definitely an escape from the usual. Not to mention, I have a love for going back in time so watching Andre 3000 and Big Boi aka Andre Benjamin and Antwon Patton doing there thing in an era gone by was real cool.. I wish I could go back to those times. As much as we're spoiled by technology and so called advances in life, etc etc., it just seems like actual LIFE and living meant so much more.... but anyways...

Saturday night it was time for Joi... Beautiful Joi... The Temple Bar is a cool place to hangout though I would love to see Joi in a larger concert hall type of place rather than a club. And I'd like to see her get down with some well rehearsed, confident playing musicians BUT...I digress... however, the musicians did struggle but Joi was the bomb! Her singing was very strong, she was in great spirits despite the trials of everyday life that she explained to the audience. Valet parking in Hollywood lost her car keys. There were wardrobe issues and other last minute craziness but she thanked a couple ladies in the crowd that she'd met recently who came to her rescue. She said they bonded as sisters and she was blessed because of it. She talked about relationships and her degree in psychology that she hopes to complete in three years. She was proud to say that one day she'll be known as Dr. Joi Gilliam and charge $300 per hour for folks to sit on her couch.. *smile* That was cool.. She also mentioned with pride about a song that's featured in Idlewild called Movin Cool. She wrote that! She had a lot of time to talk to the crowd due to more malfunctions but nevertheless she sang her heart out.. It was pretty cool. I enjoyed the night and ate some very delicious calamari... yummy.. I had the waitress laughing because I finished them so fast and had to order a second plate.. I was hungry!!

Sunday, I was expecting to rest up from Saturday. I had to work during the day on so my plan was to go straight home and get some much needed sleep. My plan didn't workout because as soon as nightfall hit, I was feeling that urge to go go go!! Joi was gonna be performing on the "black" side of town, which she said she couldn't wait to do. I figured that might be pretty interesting. Maybe her choice of songs and performance would be a little different. At the Temple Bar it was a crowd that was about 60% white but at this place in the hood called The Camelot it was about 98% black.

The Camelot was a nice place located not too far from Crenshaw Blvd. on 54th Street. I walked in and immediately loved the decor and the whole vibe.. Sort of an afrocentric thing going on. Looked like the perfect place for soft music, poetry, wine and dine. It wasn't really a restaurant and it wasn't even a bar. This was like a very large converted house turned into a rental hall or ballroom, I guess. They had an artist in the open air patio area showing off his work. Candles everywhere.. A couple of sofa's, different areas to sit inside and outside.. Really great place to mingle.. As it neared showtime I noticed a lot more very lovely ladies crowding in. The DJ was playing some real cool music that went from neosoul to old school. I sat down on one of the sofas with a lovely plate of soulfood just as the DJ began playing the Brother's Johnson track; Strawberry Letter. Ahhh... That felt like stepping back in time during that moment. The plate was super lovely because I had a couple biscuits, some heavenly gravy, fried chicken, greens, and sweet corn...Oh my!! I was about to really start enjoying myself... Lovely perfume from the ladies mixed with incense filled the air and sweet sounding voices could be heard along with the great music... I adjusted myself and began to sop up some of that gravy with the biscuit when all of a sudden those famous words came through loud and clear.."Good evening folks! This party is over! Women exit first and men follow!" My mouth was open but the biscuit hadn't reached my lips yet... It was the police and I mean A LOT OF POLICE standing together and giving us all looks like, you better not make any sudden moves. So, I dropped my biscuit in the gravy and stood slowly. One of the police told me to set my plate down.. Then I overheard others saying they planned to take all the equipment to the police station. One of the police officers took my plate and sat it down somewhere. I thought to myself, this is funny.. My soulfood got confiscated!! I felt bad for those musicians because their gear was about to be taken from them and it would be a long night and a hassle for them getting their stuff back. One policeman said they had been to The Camelot before and shut things down because they weren't allowed to have musical events there, especially concerts. That ran through my mind when I first came in because this place as I said was great for SOFT music, poetry, etc etc but Joi playing live is anything but soft. She likes to get loud and raw with her music from the opening number to the very end. She would've had that place rocking loud and made everybody in the neighborhood come outside. Somebody didn't do their research but it still made for an interesting night, capping off a fun weekend but damn them for taking my soulfood!! Aaaaaaarrrrgh!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Outkast

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This weekend I'm looking forward to checking out that Outkast movie, Idlewild. I'm a stickler for going-back-in-time stories anyway so I know I'm gonna love this one, especially being that its got those Outkast fellas in it. BUT...first things first.. The CD came out this week and I've been enjoying it. My favorite tracks are Train, Chronometrophobia, Hollywood Divorce, and a couple of other Big Boi dominated songs that I cant remember the titles of... I love Andre 3000 aka Andre Benjamin but I'm wishing he would return to rapping more. I dont mind the singing.. It's cool but in my un-called for opinion(wink), that brotha says a whole lot more when he raps! He can still maintain that artistic, creative, trailblazing role that he and his partner do by continuing to rap... But again, I dig some of the singing but I LOVE IT when he raps... Case in point.. the song Chronometrophobia... It's a super short song but lyrically it's the bomb... Peep these words as I think I got them right.. I listened a few times and then wrote them down..

Lord be havin mercy on my soul, I'm havin the impression that my life is gonna be a bowl... of cherries but it's very hard for me to cope... Got tired of being broke... This A-T-alien aint got no time to sit and mope. Made up my mind while y'all made up your beds... On a cold wooden floor is where I lay my head... Born in 1975 never thought I'd make it this far. Still battling in this racial war. Trying to find solutions to this situation I'm facing. Only thing that's free is my flow that y'all be chasing. Letting my niggas know before I go, I drop good knowledge like dropping books. Lets stop the crooks from robbing you of your brain and such. Using welfare as a crutch. I'm in it for good, you enter my hood, you wont be finding much. Hope that when I'm gone y'all remember this. What we stood for, fuck the fame and that glitz. It's beginning to look a lot like the ending. Got to be more careful, know what corners you be bending. Revelations getting inpatient now I'm dead. Remember what I said, I'm gone... Bow your heads...
Andre 3000

Despite that brotha not doing enough rappin on the CD, it's still a very creative and cool collection. I look forward to everything they do and hope that they do a lot more together. These two are unstoppable musically and they still got that fire... Special nod to my favorite female singer, Joi. She's singing on a couple of the tracks and is sounding especially sweet on my favorite called Train. I'll be checking her out in concert this weekend. Always the best live show you'll ever see. She's hot!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sad Realities Of The Other Side Of Town

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LA aka Los Angeles has such diversity in it's people population.. It blows my mind sometimes how many people are here filling up this town.. The crowds no matter where you go are interesting for lack of a better term at the moment.. There's always a potential for love amongst everyone or something negative poppin off too.

Sunday wasn't as visually stunning as Saturday but it was nevertheless poignant. How's that for a cool word? *smile* I visited two different areas on Sunday. Both are very familiar to me although one I hadn't really noticed before eventhough I'd traveled around this section of town many times. I'm speaking of Watts. I've been to this historic city but never had I passed by the Jordan Downs projects before. The picture above was taken there on Sunday. No disrespect to the residents of this project housing but the whole look and vibe of the area was very depressing; very sad. There were only two ways to get inside this place when it comes to driving your car unlike Nickerson Gardens, another project located five minutes away, where it seems a little more open. Looking at Jordan Downs I wondered how people must feel living there. I mean, there wasn't much joy, not even on the faces of kids who usually can find happiness anywhere. All the buildings were pink with bars everywhere. I can't imagine being excited about going home here but I do respect those that find a way to dig deep within themselves to persevere despite their circumstances. I'm pretty sure they're to be found here but on this day, everybody I saw either looked very angry or sad.. Makes me wish I had the power to do something that could make everybody happy... Jordan Downs seems worlds away from the so-called finer areas of Los Angeles and even my own suburb/valley living area.

Speaking of worlds away, I spent another lovely Sunday evening hanging out in front of Starbucks. Yep yep..and what do you see there? Lots and lots of women walking around.. Beautiful... all kinds..black, asian, latino, a growing population of ethiopian ladies, and many others.. Then you see fancy cars and SUV'S driving back and forth playing loud music from different eras. I mean, you might see a lowrider cruise by playing old Parliament, Heatwave, War, etc etc.. Or you might see another ride cruise by playing NWA, Eazy E, Ice Cube, The Game, etc etc... One guy drove by in a really old Cadillac playing some Curtis Mayfield and it sounded good. He turned heads just like he wanted to and inspired a few smiles and hollers. Then you have the parade of motorcycles riding by.. Every kind you can imagine making you feel like you're in the wild wild west. When they get off their bikes, everybody got that swagger as they make their way to the hanging out area. The best part is seeing all the comraderie between all the motorcycle clubs.. Everybody hugs everybody and shows concern and love no matter what your colors are or what the name on your vest is... I enjoyed seeing that.. I salute those clubs; Wanted Ridaz, Infinite Ridaz, Prospects, Red C Ridaz, A/O Ridaz and all the others whose names I can't recall filling the air with a positive vibe.

I sat next to a guy that was dressed in beige slacks, a black shirt, hair all greased back, sunglasses, and sandals. He talked major league mess and BS.. He complained about everything from the motorcycles to the music playing inside Starbucks. I figured he should've liked it considering he was 40 something and they were playing Aretha, Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, The Dramatics, etc etc... Sounded good to me though no one was really paying attention to the music as much as they were checking out the scene. Then this fella spent about 15 minutes straight talking about stocks, bonds, realestate, and taking a trip to Nigeria. He mixed all those subjects together to a point where he made no sense at all.. Just sounded like he was bragging to me.. After a while I got tired and tuned him out until he finally pointed something out that we both could relate to, which was this gorgeous honey coated female approaching the door of Starbucks and smiling at us because we were staring so hard.. We both gave each other daps and nodded in agreement...

"Yep yep, that's why most of us here chillin at this particular Starbucks," He said.

"Exactly..." I told him.

And then on my way home, I thought about those kids I'd seen earlier on Sunday behind and surrounded by all those bars in Jordan Downs. I sent up a prayer for them with the hopes that whoever is teaching and raising them is supplying them with the inspiration to dream, hope, and strive for anything and everything that they want to see and do in this life... Know that there's a whole world out there waiting for them and that those bars are by no means a precursor to a direction they're destined for. It dont have to be that way at all...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Young Soldier

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Leimert

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Always some strong cultural identity and beauty happening in Leimert Park...

What year is it?

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Everyday and especially on the weekends on Crenshaw Boulevard you're likely to find some young folks with a new old message dressed in an old familiar way. "Black Power!" They yell out to passing cars with raised fists in the air. For a time you might find two or three of them on any given day but now months later, there's a whole bunch of them taking what they do very seriously or at least portraying that.

One day a couple months ago I listened to a young brotha preaching as I ate hotdogs with a few other people at a hotdog stand on the boulevard. Everything he said made sense despite a few bits and pieces being exaggerated. I liked his passion and then I noticed a little bucket that he was carrying. It was the first time I'd seen these new militants, if you will asking for donations. I donated a little something and I've seen this young man several times after that marching down Crenshaw, fist in the air and carrying his bucket. I cant help but wonder what this will lead to for him and will he and his other comrades continue? Will they stay true? Are they prepared for anything and everything that might come with what they're doing? I've yet to hear any message from them saying what they hope to accomplish, so for right now they've just become yet another group of people known to walk and/or stand on corners on Crenshaw Blvd.

Jump ahead to today when I stopped by Leimert Park where they were having a Marcus Garvey Celebration Day. There were different speakers throughout the day and one of them was a young man named General Taco(brotha on the mic). That's what he called himself. He didn't say he was the leader of this group but I'm assuming that he's up there. The brotha spoke with extreme passion and even had a flow similar to Tupac when he's angry. I watched him. I felt like I'd stepped back in time with the way everyone was dressed and all the fists going up in the air. General Taco spouted out words of revenge and a call to arms. Familiar stuff. He spoke a lot about guns, "the pigs," and more guns, etc etc.. He ended each point that he made with what seemed like his adopted slogan, "click clack!" Only one police car was nearby watching. The officers didn't look too pleased with what they heard and General Taco seemed to be making sure they heard him clearly. I really hope this group has a positive agenda for helping the community but based on the message preached today on behalf of this group, there was nothing expressed that would leave you feeling like they're gonna make a positive difference. Any noise that they end up making probably wont be covered. It'll just be something heard on the street or they might get a few lines in the Sentinel newspaper, our so-called black newspaper...

General Taco spoke fearlessly but some of his young comrades really didn't strike me as being fearless. I didn't see dedication in their eyes. Some even appeared to look as if they wondered what the heck they got themselves into. I wonder about their lives when they're on their own. Do they have a home? Do they need someone or something to believe in and this is what they found? This young group is growing in numbers so I'm curious to see where they are by next year this time. Instead of calling themselves the new Black Panthers, they call themselves the "Black Ridah's." Ride on but do it with conviction, pride and a positive goal to truly help the community.

Venice

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I was mesmerized by this gorgeous lady today while hanging out on Venice Beach near the boardwalk area. The moment I saw her I couldn't resist. I had to capture her somehow though it wasn't in the way that I wished the most... ya know...something like me being able to slide up to her and say, what!(ref. Morris Day in Purple Rain) This young lady had a boyfriend with her so the best I could do was photograph her. She knew it... The moment I noticed her, she noticed me but she played it off pretty good. Then, I kept shooting her until I could capture that moment when she'd sneak and acknowledge me with a smile.. As you can see above, the camera loved her. She'd be amazing to do a photoshoot with, showing various unspoken sides of her personality. I wondered what her voice was like. She seemed very playful and flirtatious. I saw her stop to smile and play with a little baby. She danced carefree to an E-40 song that was playing over a sound system in the area. She had a walk that was really cute and sexy... Cheers to this Venice beauty. I thank her for that brief flirtatious moment and I send a wish to the stars that we can meet again though I'm not trying to take her away from her boyfriend, but I wouldn't mind.. *wink*

Monday, August 14, 2006

Lately

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Nah, this aint the beginning of a Stevie Wonder song but latey I've been having the strangest... umm funny things been happening to a brotha. Seems like I'm always running into folks who just want to tell me something. Maybe this is something that's gonna turn into a weekend ritual. A complete stranger opening up, telling me stuff and me having absolutely no idea why they chose me.. Last weekend was Raymond who I actually enjoyed chilling with at Starbucks. This past Saturday it was Yvette at the gas station. Thanks to a very slow chick behind the counter unable to figure out how much change to give someone, Yvette who stood next to me simply started talking... I saw her when she walked up. I looked at her for a few reasons. One was that she looked like a female wrestler with way too much muscle. Two was that she was showing a lot of cleavage. Three was that her face was so manly-like and her lipstick looked like she put it on blindfolded... And the main reason I looked at her was that she walked up and stood right beside me rather than behind me as most folks would do standing in line. I was almost about to give her that "WTF" look but despite her having too much muscle, her boobs looked soft so that caught my eye for a moment..lol. *smile*

Anyway, Yvette just started talking. She told me she had just come from a wedding and that the groom kept his eyes on her rather than the woman he was to marry. She said the groom even followed her to the bathroom at one point and let her know that he wanted her. Yvette was at the wedding because she's a friend of the bride. She said she couldn't stay at the reception for fear of messing things up. She looked at me and said in a dumb blondish sort of way, "I dont know why he was acting that way, geez!" The lady behind the counter approached so I said "I'll have twenty on number eleven, please..."

"Eleven on twenty?"

"Nah, twenty on eleven!" And then I replied to Yvette before walking away. "Perhaps next time you should wear a turtleneck, some long pants and an overcoat."

As I walked away she asked "is my dress not right for a wedding?"

"What dress?"

You could see her thong through the fabric of the dress and it had one string around the waist which made it look more like a skimpy outfit for bedtime. One pull of the string and that dress would open completely... Who's gonna be next to tell me something that makes me ponder the question "why did they just tell me that?"

Wait

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I saw this brotha watching with envy a man and woman in the distance as he waited. I took the shot from my car and then pulled over a few blocks down to write the words that grabbed my attention...

Love makes you wait, unsatisfied like the morning dew drops that wont stop hitting your car. It blurs your vision. It's beautiful yet scrapes you deep enough to leave a scar. Something so lovely; a million miles dont even seem that far. It keeps you waiting no matter the struggle or the pain you go through. Proving yourself like you should be ashamed of something untrue. Like holding a mirror when there's nothing out of place. Seeking advice after you've proven to be strong; surviving unnecessary games. You wait because it's time. It would be nice to live again... Not unlike the love of a good friend, but more.. Like that good shit that makes you feel as close to wanting to confess a sin. That merry-go-round of life when you feel so high.. even with your eyes closed you can still see the sky.. Lean back for now and wait... Wait because you know you want to...

You

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It wasn't you.. I knew that from the start. You with the three kids and a life with another man, spread so far apart. What we had was beautiful but friendship is all it was meant to be. If we were together you'd get tired of me. I'd need much more than you could give.. Time... be it in short intervals that placed emphasis on the kind of romance that a brotha like me needs to live... Together we are not capable; compatible...at least not in that way... So, offended by words you slid away mysteriously.. Kicked me to the curb so gently.. stopped caring so easily... so easily which is sad..almost hypocritically....thus... It wasn't you..

The one is out there looking for me unconsciously... The one whose heart mirrors my own. The one who right now is finishing every thought I make. Listening to every word I say because even without words, we speak the same way... She knows me.. she's the reason these words flow from the top of my head, tippy toeing from the bottom of my heart...

It wasn't you... the one who shared more with me than anyone else I've ever known. The one who I convinced myself would be the kind of love I could forever call my own. The one who believes she was born many lives ago in a place she knew nothing about until I took her there... Eating meat pies and walking amongst the spirits, you'd have to discover humility, sacrifice, and selfless-ness in order to truly hang with those people. No mood swings 'cause the moon is full. No trippin 'cause you cant force another to pay for what you owe.. The kind of love you want from one man and one man alone is easy... You got rid of the one who could... thus it wasn't you...

The one knows my eyes, she can read my soul...tell if I'm lonely, the kind of lie that feels old. She knows my shirt size, favorite color, what makes me laugh the hardest. She knows what makes me cry, what makes me tired...She knows the words that can put out my fire.. She represents everything I want but have yet to see.. She recognizes what's in my heart, my soul, and everything I believe.. She can embrace with a passion the kind of love we both crave. She'd have no worries about the responsibility of making sure I rest peacefully in my grave..

It wasn't you..the one who embraces negative change... Kick a friend to the curb because new man is insecure... I wish you well because I remember the stories, the hours, the effort to remain as friends... The times you shared family photographs on a beach front balcony with me. A night when I brought to life the very same white horse galloping through your dreams and disappearing in your heart. I showed you no matter what that sort of love was never far from your grasp...reachable...attainable... A dream is a beautiful representation of your sincerity...at least for that moment... Thus..I thank God it wasn't you but I wish you love no matter what you do... yesssss...it wasn't you...

The one laughs at me right now, trying to speak poetically, paving the way which leads me to her... Though actually, I'm not looking nor is she trying to find me. We both recognize that when it happens, it happens... When the moment is right, it's right.. It is what it is, when it is sort of thang... I thought I saw her today, laughing at me as I changed my flat tire. She said sorry. Told me I was the best looking flat tire changer she'd ever seen and then drove away in her black Escalade. But I didn't envy her. It made me laugh.. I enjoyed the moment for what it was and thus it made the frustration a lot more bearable... The one isn't waiting for me at happy hour. She's not at the movie theatre or in the bookstore. She's not on Crenshaw Blvd. She's not in Beverly Hills. She's not in another state. She's not anywhere that I can imagine but then again... she could be... maybe...perhaps..

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

On the set

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Sunday I spent a little time on the real life set of a story I'm working on. It was a trip being in Compton on 108th Street, listening to the sounds of life. There was something always going on but it was a beautiful day too. It was crystal clear blue skies until a couple of fires broke out. Life over there keeps the local firemen constantly busy. I counted three times that the fire trucks were called to that street within a thirty minute time frame. Two were for an actual fire and one time was paramedic related. There was a bridge near a train track where I noticed an old pontiac trans am parked at. All of a sudden it caught on fire. The dark smoke filled the air instantly like one of those clouds before a tornado hits. The entire street was dark for a moment. It smelled like burning rubber and before you knew it, the fire trucks came rushing in. People filled the street for as long as the fire was burning. Some looking at the sky and holding their noses while others maintained their fascination with the burning car and the firemen preparing to put out the fire. Once they put it out, everyone returned back inside or behind the gates of their apartment buildings and homes. Further up the street there were a group of latino males yelling at each other and two police officers with their arms folded, standing and watching with amusement. Across the street from where I sat there was a black family, three male and one female in their front yard playing dominoes and listening to Julio G's westside radio show. Young kids would dart out into the street every once in a while just to chase a dog or a ball that got away from them. It was funny to watch this street. There was a certain rhythm to it that stayed the same until the occasional interuption occured like those fires breaking out, the fire trucks speeding by, and an occasional police car zooming by with flashing lights but no siren. The rhythm never stopped when those kids darted in and out of the street but when one lady shouted "Kenny get your ass out of that street!" everyone within earshot of her voice including the domino playing family stopped what they were doing for a few seconds to watch little Kenny walk with his head down as he returned to play behind the gate of his front yard. 108th Street was pretty cool. Absorbing the whole vibe of it in about 45 minutes time was a fun trip. I'll be back to capture more of it, visually and spiritually...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Hanging

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I'm coming off of a three day weekend that was pretty cool.. The best and most interesting day out of the three was Saturday. Whew..talk about some interesting moments! The first part of the day was spent with a good friend(Jody) visiting from Hawaii. I had a blast showing her pretty much all of LA, though there was still a lot more to cover. I gave her the kind of tour that a tour guide might not do. I took her from the so-called roughest areas of town to the most beautiful? Although to me, beauty is found everywhere and most times when you find beauty surrounded by danger, it can be the most rewarding moment. Sort of like that Tupac concept of a rose growing out of concrete. The first stop that I took Jody to was such a place where if you look real hard you can always find a rose growing out of concrete or peeking out doors and windows covered with bars. I took Jody through Compton and into Watts. The images above are from our stop in Watts and never did she feel threatened or in danger. Personally, I felt like I was at home. When I spoke with Jody on Sunday she told me that a friend of hers cringed at the thought of being in Watts. I mean, people tend to have an almost allergic and hysterical reaction when you mention going to Watts. To me that's sad because its like you're throwing away and forgetting about some beautiful people, culture and history. The Watts Towers itself is such an amazing man made structure.

Anyway, after giving Jody a tour of Watts and a little bit of Compton, it was time to take her to LA. We drove through other parts of South Central. She could sense the gradual change in neighborhoods every step of the way. She wondered why there was such an obvious lack of trees in the poorer areas of town which made it feel so hot. It was like a concrete jungle, if you will and yet as we moved closer to the west side of Los Angeles on through the Wilshire district and the Larchmont area the air was so cool and breezy. Beautiful trees lined each neighborhood street. Homes were gorgeous. Even the older homes were refurbished and nice. We made a stop at the Grove, which is a mall in Los Angeles. I wanted her to try some alligator fillets in the farmers market section of the mall at a place called the Gumbo Pot. She was surprised. It wasn't that bad. Not that she went crazy over eating it but at least she got to try something she at first was very leery of eating. Typically the Gumbo Pot does a lot better with making their alligator. Seems like they went cheap on a brotha and changed their nice sized fillets to tiny bite size nuggets. That wasn't cool but still a fun time in the market.

After that it was on to the so called rich areas of town; Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, etc etc... People were out and about walking everywhere and enjoying the fantasy life wishing they could afford all that expensive ish. From there it was on to the beach areas and stopping in Marina Del Rey for a nice long walk along this area that has a nice lagoon and million dollar plus homes. Another great time and a beautiful way to end the day before dropping Jody back off at her hotel. I ended my day by stopping by my favorite Starbucks in the Ladera Center. I was just thinking I'd hang out for a quick minute and sip on my white chocolate mocha but instead I ended up getting into a two hour conversation with a very interesting dude named Raymond. He was a big, broad shouldered, light skinned brotha. A very young 43 year old. Loved to laugh real loud and from what I would quickly learn, had some interesting experiences to talk about. At first I wasn't sure I was listening to the truth but once he showed me some physical evidence, I couldn't help but believe the brotha..

First story Raymond shared with me was a love story. He's still healing from falling in love with a beautiful lady from Morocco that he met in LA when she was on vacation. She lives in Paris and he said that he's been there four times to visit with her. This long distance relationship took a lot out of him. He'd built up this dream to marry this lady because she had looks that was beyond his wildest dreams so he felt like he had to constantly pinch himself because he was able to be with her and talk to her constantly over the phone in between the visits. But then it happened.. He flew out there for the fourth time and spent a month in Paris. His intentions at this time were to propose to the lady and to relocate out there. He was so sure that this was gonna happen that he'd quit his job already and gave up his apartment. He was that sure about her. Then as he sat in the hotel in Paris with the Eiffel Tower standing tall in the distance whenever he'd look out his window, his time spent with the moroccan lady would only amount to about thirty minutes per day. She had other things to do and couldn't make much time for him. He gave her the ring but she never wore it. She pretty much stepped on his heart and crushed his soul and that's a heavy load to carry when sitting in a hotel so faraway from home. Imagine that long plane flight coming back with a broken heart. The moroccan lady let Raymond know that she'd found someone else and then his dream come true was done. Raymond showed me his plane ticket and Paris subway pass that he used to get around out there. He kept both folded up in his wallet. Those are probably two things he may need to consider getting rid of or at least keeping in a shoebox somewhere rather than in his wallet. I told him that stuff like that makes his journey that much more interesting. Not many can say they experienced a long distance romance with a gorgeous moroccan lady living in Paris. Be proud of that but try to move on and look forward to a more grounded and closer kind of love experience... hopefully.. Though we know love aint always a grounded experience..

Anyway, I learned more about Raymond and he shared some other cool and interesting experiences he's had with his work as a counselor in a facility that helps young men between 18 to 25 transition from being in jail to making it in the real world. The sad reality that he shared with me is that he's only had one success story despite the fact that he said ALL of those young men are very intelligent, talented, most had great computer knowledge, etc etc but something inside of them keeps them from leaving a certain mentality or lifestyle behind. Raymond said to me that a lot of those young men do three things. He said "them young men be wishing, dreaming and gangbanging. Then they dont realize that the last thing cancels out the first two. Once that happens I can't help them any more. After ten chances or more, they on their own!"

Saturday was a good day.. I'm sure I'll run into Raymond again. He loves to hangout at that Starbucks too and watch the bootie parade along with all the sideshows that go on there... And many thanks to Jody for a beautiful visit and all those delicious and sweet smelling goodies from Hawaii.. Catch ya later.. *smile*