Friday, December 30, 2005

Primary documentation on podcast

I got this video ipod. I have been listening to a lot of podcasts. There is one in particular that was just amazing. There were personal interviews of people who experienced and endured the Jim Crow laws. It is amazing. These people are truly amazing to have lived through it and still retain quite a bit of humour. If you can, download these and listen to them.

Whoa and memories

I missed this. I was persuing urbanite Joe Frank's blog and found this gem about SLU.

According to the Saint Louis University School of Medicine Student Handbook:

First this just strange statement:
"Within the past twenty years there has been renewed interest in the city and the downtown area is generally considered one of the most impressive of the Midwest. Laclede's Landing is now a fashionable social spot."

And just more strange statements:
"St. Louis has bus service, but it would be difficult to depend on it to get to class."

And this one encouraging to keep our divisions alive:
"In the city, you should live south of Delmar. In the county, live south of Page."

And this word of advice:
"The major advantage of living in the county is the comfort of getting away from the medical school and downtown St. Louis at the end of the day."

This is not news to me at all. I went to SLU. This is the way it was and still is. This is the way they wanted us to live, they taught us to be this way. It is not just SLU, but peers, authority figures and the social structure. Granted, I didn't really abide by the University policies on all sorts of things. I was lucky I had great parents who wanted me to be exposed to more.

You know, I wonder if Loyola in New Orleans had the same type of thing in their policies and handbook. I guess they can change it now considering they are probably going tear down the Lower 9th Ward and put in some expensive homes, student housing and housing for artists. That will get rid of all the problems. The substandard housing. The poor people. The crime. I feel like this is deja vu. A repeated mistake.

****************************

A few years ago I went back to SLU to visit with one of the administrators who I used to work with. Phil Lyons. He is still there. A sharp guy that Phil.

I remember Phil brought some fried chicken to some students in the lounge. He went to a chicken joint just around the corner from SLU. A kid asked Phil where he got it.

He explained to them where the chicken joint was. It was just north of Powell Hall. Just a few blocks from SLU.

Then the kids started talking. This one kid, a young nerdy suburban black kid was shocked. He said something like "I would never go to north Saint Louis and I am black." He was very serious, yet smiling in as a matter of fact manner. The other kids within earshot, all white, were smiling and nodding their heads.

I started laughing. I couldn't help myself. I was sitting off to the side eating some of the ultra smooth fake potatoes I love so much. I nearly dropped the potatoes. Phil was rolling his eyes. I don't think the kids even understood why I was laughing.

Those kids are, uh, so sweet and innocent. These kids are so young and have so much to learn. Some may never learn. It is sad to see powers at SLU that don't want to teach the lessons and just insulate in the fortress SLU. I guess they fear that street smarts don't take to all kids. SLU could certainly stand to have the kids a bit sharper upon graduation.

I remember taking my seminar class for my History major. My teacher was pretty funny. Critchlow. The class was on the 20s US. We had some pretty dim bulbs in the class. These were kids that were majors in History in their fourth year and Critchlow was clearly flustered by the students. We were several weeks into the class and he finally asked a few students in particular "Can you name a President from the 1920s?" That was pretty sad. We found out just how stupid some of the students were in their own area of study. Neither of them got it right. And each gave three answers. Ouch. I felt for Critchlow. He was one of the only teachers to ever bounce me out of class. At least it was not for something as dumb as not knowing the basics.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Class and evasion


I would love to take a class. Colin Powell is teaching at City College in New York. He has been quite busy since he left the administration. He is also trying to buy the Washington Senators baseball team. I would love to take a class from him. It would be great to learn and to ask questions across the board. I miss going to class, especially poli sci and history class. I have had some great history teachers in school. Doc Mueller, Aylward, Critchlow, Sanchez, etc.

I would love to take a class from Dick Cheney. He was just interviewed on Nightline the other evening. This new guy Moran was pushing him but ultimately let him get off without getting the simple questions answered. Cheney was fairly blatant in his evasive answers.

Moran: The president has said we do not torture, and Sen. McCain proposed a measure in part to vindicate those values that would ban the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of any person in U.S. custody anywhere in the world. Why did he [Bush] fight so hard against that?

Cheney: Well, we ultimately reached a compromise between the president and Sen. McCain, and it was arrived at just last week. But what I- Excuse me. The position I took was one that was the position the administration had taken when we signaled to the Congress that we were prepared to veto a bill that went farther than we thought it should, in terms of trying to restrict the prerogatives of the president, and-

Moran: How so, when it comes to cruel, inhuman - What's the president's prerogative in the cruel treatment of prisoners?

Cheney: There's a definition that's based on prior Supreme Court decisions and prior arguments, and it has to do with the Fourth, Thirteenth, and - three specific amendments to the Constitution. And the rule is whether or not it shocks the conscience. If it's something that shocks the conscience, the court has agreed that crosses over the line.

Now, you can get into a debate about what shocks the conscience and what is cruel and inhuman. And to some extent, I suppose, that's in the eye of the beholder. But I believe, and we think it's important to remember, that we are in a war against a group of individuals and terrorist organizations that did, in fact, slaughter 3,000 innocent Americans on 9/11, that it's important for us to be able to have effective interrogation of these people when we capture them.

And the debate is over the extent to which we are going to have legislation that restricts or limits that capability. Now, as I say, we've reached a compromise. The president signed on with the McCain amendment. We never had any problem with the McCain amendment. We had problems with trying to extend it as far as he did.

But ultimately, as I say, a compromise was arrived at, and I support the compromise.

Moran: Should American interrogators be staging mock executions (and) waterboarding prisoners? Is that cruel?

Cheney: I am not going to get into specifics here. You're getting into questions about sources and methods, and I don't talk about that, Terry.

Moran: As vice president of the U.S., you can't tell the American people whether...

Cheney: I don't talk about-

Moran: ...or not we would interrogate...

Cheney: I can say that we, in fact, are consistent with the commitments of the United States that we don't engage in torture. And we don't.

Moran: Are you troubled at all that more than 100 people in U.S. custody have died - 26 of them now being investigated as criminal homicides - people beaten to death, suffocated to death, died of hypothermia in U.S. custody?

Cheney: No. I won't accept your numbers, Terry. But I guess one of the things I'm concerned about is that as we get farther and farther away from 9/11, and there have been no further attacks against the U.S., there seems to be less and less concern about doing what's necessary in order to defend the country.

**********

Moran: Does the United States maintain secret prisons around the world?

Cheney: I'm not going to talk about intelligence matters.

Moran: Secret prisons?

Cheney: I'm not going to talk about intelligence matters.

Moran: Does the International Red Cross have access to everyone in U.S. custody, as we are obliged?

Cheney: Terry, with all due respect, I won't discuss intelligence matters. I shouldn't.

Moran: I'd like to put this personally, if I can. You're a grandfather. I'm a father. When we look at those girls and we think that the country we're about to pass to them is a country where the vice president can't say whether or not we have secret prisons around the world, whether waterboarding and mock executions is consistent with our values, and a country where the government is surveilling without the warrant of a court, is that the country we want to pass on to them?

Cheney: I want to pass on to them a country that is free, that is not plagued by terrorist attacks, doesn't see a repeat of the terrible events of 9/11 when we lost 3,000 of our people that morning to a handful of terrorists who had no justification at all for what they do.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 26, 2005

More firecrackers

I picked up some fireworks recently. It is my weakness. I couldn't pass these up:


This one is called "Bobblehead Doll". I am not sure what exactly it is all about, but it has a bobblehead of Bill Clinton, and another of bobblehead Jesus Christ. It shoots rockets with reports




This was called "Rave Party". And this one shows people being funky at a rave. It has pictures of booze, pills and cigarettes with a psychedelic background.



This one is called "Dollar Bill". I have no idea what it is about.




This of course, is I believe a likeness of Saddam Hussien. That is pretty easy, it has a target on him.

And this is my favorite. The "Exploding Bin Laden Noggin". It has a head that flys into the air and then promptly explodes. Very cool.


Hunger and nutrition

The US is the leading nation of the developed world that has a serious hunger problem. Apparently hunger was nearly eliminated by the late 70s as a serious issue facing this nation. There is an interesting story about how Missouri is one of the leading states rates of food insecurity and hunger. Oregon had a serious issue with hunger, leading the nation, and has nearly eliminated it in the past five years.

I am a sinner

So it appears that I am a sinner. The crowds at Saint Stans on Xmas night were pouring into the street. There was an energy at Saint Stans I had not felt since I was in Mexico during the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Shrine. However, it did not remind me of the energy as I watched the Pope in his Popemobile fly by me on an empty stretch of Olive by SLU back in 99. What a contrast.

It is good to see people standing up.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Tonight


I think I am going to step out and get a drink early this evening. Somewhere around 5 to 7.

A Save Saint Stans fella gave me this flyer the other day. I go to the Polish Falcons every year for the fish fry. It has been a while since I have stepped out for a fish fry style outing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Other blog

This is a blog I read every once in a while. It is Matt Frederick's blog aka Matty Fred. He writes a lot about baseball.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

National News

Raymond Burke's excommunicating Saint Stans board made the front of the Wall Street Journal today. It is pretty interesting. Unfortunately I can't link to it for the WSJ doesn't have their articles online.

This is not the first time this has made the news. Most of the national news programs have featured bits on this.

I long for the days when Catholic Church made news when it deseged the parochial schools in the STL several years prior to STL City schools and the Brown v Board of Ed case. In those days Cardinal Ritter threatened to excommunicate those who did not comply. I really don't think the excommunication of the board of Saint Stans is going to make the ceiling of the Cathedral.

I still wonder what the archdiocese is trying to accomplish under Burke. Everyone bemoans the church shutting down Holy Family around the corner of the Royale, something that really was unnecessary for they paid their tribute, but what was really criminal was shutting down the ministry at the church which actually had a growing population. The archbishop shut down the Spanish Mass at Saint Francis. This ministry was essential for the neighborhood, and was serving a growing population unlike the entire rest of the archdiocese. We used to have two church's serving the Spanish speakers, pretty much the Mexicans on the southside. Now we have one.

I think I may go to Mass at Saint Stans. I hear from a friend that Canon law allows for exceptions of priests being excommunicated by an archdiocese, and they are allowed to use sacraments during "dangerous times".

A few notes


So these are some notes that were recently posted in my residence. Peter AKA Shit in the Face wrote the two notes signed Shit in the Face. He does painting for me. He was just putting up a friendly note so we wouldn't track in any paint. Notice the bottom note. On the top of the Shit in the face to do list is brush teeth. I did not write that final note, Helen did.

I told Peter he has to brush his teeth before clocking in. He told me he brushes his teeth about once a week. That is so gross. He brushes his teeth now. He has been going to the gym with me pretty much every week too. He still has plenty to do though, but the kid is a hard worker and pretty damn funny too.

Pete is smart. His handwriting is a punk rock font too. Now if he only took school more seriously. Or even slightly seriously. I know it is not that hard for him, but well, it is far more complicated that it needs to be. I won't let him smoke in my presence or in public view. I don't think there is any way I can get him to stop such a silly, useless, expensive and nasty habit, but I can clamp down on his smoking around me or the places I control. He is still so damn funny and very candid. And such a punk. He has done a great job of painting my steps.

I got some pix of his older brother Joe's trip to Mexico. I need to get my scanner working again.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

New Decoration

So I played the movie, The Mission, on Saturday night. I instructed Burt to play the movie after dinner, for I knew it was a bit severe. It was a movie based on the Jesuit Missionaries in South America circa 1750s. The Jesuits tried to protect the native peoples from slavery. It is a violent film. Sad film. Beautifully shot. We viewed the film when I was in high school. I guess it was some sort of recruitment tool for the Jesuits, however it was not particularly complimentary of the Church or western civilization.

After the movie one of my sister seemed disturbed that I had shown it. I told her it was reality. I show all sorts of films at the Royale. I have shown some other violent films. Across 110th Street. Resevoir Dogs. Battle for Algeirs. All sorts of zombie movies. The claymation of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Hmmm.

So I mentioned something to my sister that I had been planning at the Royale for a while. I have been contacting a few people and checking out some ways to install a new piece. I want to put up the current color coded threat level as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. I would put it up right above the map of the city. My partners think it is a great idea. My sister and Allison (a bartender/manager/spiritual advisor), think it is an awful idea. My sis says people come to the place to escape reality. I never considered the purpose of the Royale to be an escape, much less and escape from reality. That is why I never liked the old Real Bar's assessment that it was an "oasis". I feel I am a part of a greater city, a greater nation and a greater planet, or I try to be as great as we can be. We need to try to make the world as great as possible. Hmmm.

I wonder what the people think of this. I would probably make it out of wood and paint it. I would like to do it with neon and turn on the level that was directed. I think it is good for people to be reminded of what is going on. That is why I have newspapers in the place. I have pictures of great people on the wall, not alligators wearing sunglasses or a Bud Ice neon. So post your thoughts on this upcoming new decoration.

And while I have been bouncing around the web looking up resources, I found this. Wow. Uh...

President

The President just got interviewed on Jim Leher. This is just weird. Clinton was constantly answering questions at press conferences that seemed to happen everyday, but this Prez it is abnormal to have him being interviewed or taking questions. He is going to give an address from the oval office tomorrow night. All this communication seems strange, yet it should not be.

Excommunicated

Funny how the church will excommunicate the board of Saint Stanislaus, yet they do not excommunicate the priests who abuse and molest our kids. They just moved them around for years, parish to parish, and now ask for forgiveness and figure that is enough. But refusing to pay tribute to the archdiocese is worthy of being kicked out. That is wrong.

As a Catholic, I find the Church's actions against Saint Stans and lack of action responding to the abuse inexcuseable. I would like to ask for forgiveness on behalf of the church. Not all Catholics support the church's actions. I condemn the church for these sins. This is awful, and I am not proud of what the Church is doing at all. It is more than an embarassment. It is reprehensible.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Test for the Video Blog


Watch the video
I am working on setting up a video blog. Bill came by tonight and I set up this new account. I want to see if the video will upload. This is a video off of a PSA media campaign for Saint Louis I produced with Marc Syp funded by Metropolis.

The mind of a kid

I still think like a kid. I am sure it drives the old ladies crazy.

As a kid I didn't have the same concept of property as adults. I still don't. I would cut through backyards, jump fences and run down gangways with impunity. Front yards might as well be an open field. We would run up and down and old ladies would yell at us. I am sure I was not the first, nor was I the last kid to behave in such a way. I am sure I was not the last kid to be yelled at by an old lady either.

The alleys are the best. As a kid where I lived in Chicago, the kids ruled the alleys. Cars had to stop for us. We could hide behind trash cans. We could race our bikes. We could knock trash cans over. We would peer into garages and make plans. We would look suspiciously at kids from the other blocks. I can still remember mom ring the bell to call us in for dinner.

I can feel the real guts of the people in the alley. Beautiful gardens. Kids toys. Barking dogs. Trash. The smell of BBQ. Men working on cars. Kids playing ball. Old fridges. Bikes. Big wheels. The kids rule this area. I still prefer to walk down the alley.

Not all the old ladies would yell at us. I remember Mrs. Jackson. She lived next door right on Division. She was so cool. Her house smelled like old people. She didn't like it when we ran through her gangway, but she would always talk to us. Very nice. She made us sandwiches. We tried to not run through her gangway screaming. But sometimes we forgot. We were kids. She was still always cool to us.

RIP Thurman Community Cafe

I had been hearing rumblings that the Thurman, an offspring of the Hartford Coffee Company, was going to close. It is official. It is dead. It had just opened in what seems just a short time ago. The Hartford is still booming, but the Thurman just died.

The Thurman was located in Shaw, a closed community just on the north side of Tower Grove Park. There could be discussions of theories that could go for hours, even days , on why it died. So I will throw in my two cents.

I have never considered opening a business in Shaw. Shaw is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Saint Louis. It is so obvious. I lived there when I was 18 for a couple of years on the 4200 block of Cleveland. This was the most beautiful home I had ever lived in. My mother was wildly jealous of this house I rented.

But all of the commercial districts in Shaw have been choked off. There is no natural flow of traffic. The streets are all closed off. There are no public houses in the entire neighborhood. The traffic is not conducive to commercial business. The blocked off streets are at least prettier than the ghetto barriers of cut up sewer pipe they have been putting in all over the southside last summer. But they have the same effect. They choke neighborhoods of natural traffic flow.

It is more complex than this, but this traffic policy is so very much overlooked.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wednesday at the Royale

 

Lew Winer the III is doing a drop in session of solo tenor and saprano saxophone. He is warming up to do free flow music. Today was his first session. He plays with quite a few people in town and duos and trios. He plays regularly Tuesday and Thursday at the Beale on Broadway with Kim Massie. He also does Sundays for service at the Mount Nebo Missionary Baptist Church in East Saint Louis at 10:30.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Merry Christmas and banana slap


The season is upon us. I decided to get a tree this year. It has been a couple of years since I have had a real tree. Yes, those are handcuffs.

I decorated this myself. Well, actually Helen put the cuffs up. I scored the tape and wrapped the tree. I bought the tree over at Saint Pius. A couple of kids put it on top of my car. It is a spruce.

I feel so centered. I went to yoga over at the south city Y. I haven't been since I think spring. It is well overdue. It feels great. My instructor, Jennifer Miller, is the best.

I hit a kid today. I coach on Mondays. Okay, I hit a kid with a banana peel. Jeremy started eating the fruit without asking permission at the end of the tutoring session. I took the banana out of his mouth and slapped him with the peel. He looked at me shocked. I looked right back at him and asked him if he wanted to be a boxer. He nodded yes. I told him he a banana slap should not stop him in his tracks. He laughed.

I buy all of my fruit for the bar up at Produce Row at United Fruit. That is always fun. There is a cool guy Gary, Q, that sells me the produce and then there are crews of shifty fellas who get the fruit. Gary always gets me some bananas for the kids at the gym. Then I pay for my order from a woman named Sherrel. I think that is her name. She is inside a cage where we pay. She is quite nice too. She used to own a tavern at Arkansas and Magnolia. We have had quite a few discussions about the business. She still owns the building and lives upstairs. I took Bruce with me today. I usually bring a fighter or two with me when I pick up my weekly produce purchase. Last week I brought Peter, the week before Todd. The rest of the kids tutor while I pick up produce. I have a crew of kids from the University doing some form of tutoring with the kids that brought their homework.

Bruce, of course, asked a lot of questions. Not always questions that have answers. He asks all levels of questions. Some interesting questions. Some that are maddeningly obvious. Bruce once was going to fight. Bruce is the middle brother between Demetrius and Derron. He has since resigned to seriously compete. His brothers are now training out of Gamble Gym for Buddy Shaw. That will be interesting. Buddy is an excellent coach that keeps an extremely strict regimine. I hope they do well. Both Demetrius and Derron won at the Silver Gloves state championship.

I just finished Battle for Algiers. Damn. It is hardcore.

Sites and movies and such

Every once in a while I am going to post an accomplice site that I think is worthy of checking out. I think Bill Streeter's site, lofistl, is a great site. Bill uses video blogging. He picks some great content. I think I am going to incorporate some elements of video blogging into stlstreets and also I am going to try to make a Royale blog. It may take a few months to fully develop this.

I also just watched The Battle for Algiers by Gillo Pontecorvo. It looks and feels like documentary, but it is a film on the Algerian Revolt against the French Colonialists in the mid 50s. They use some very graphic scenes of torture. The revolt shows people blowing up cafes with small bombs, shooting police and soldiers. It is hard to watch. I was showing it down in the Royale and a few people seemed concerned about it. I told them what it was, and I figured now that torture is legal it should be just fine to show this on TV. It is reality.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

RIP Richard Pryor

RIP Eugene McCarthy

Friday, December 09, 2005

Nasty

There have been reports of British private security squads opening up their fully automatic weapons on civilian cars. It is pretty nasty. There was a very interesting documentary piece that Frontline did about a year ago titled Private Warriors that dealt with the security contractors in Iraq.

Wow.

This was something else. Jim Leher interviewed Donald Rumsfeld. Damn. It is just so strange seeing him answering questions like this. The guy really has a really strong convictions on his very different point of view.

There was another interesting interview with John McCain on Meet the Press. What a contrasting point of view from a man in the same party. He has no confidence in Rumsfeld. Damn.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Yay!

I love snow. I wonder if anyone will come in for lunch today. I don't care. I am going to make sure we have plenty of hot drinks for everyone.

My new hero is Joe Stein. He is a 19 year old that works for me. He just got back from Mexico. He hitch hiked down to the interior with a few of his friends. He got down there and back in about nine days. He was in last night to work. I got a chance to sit down and talk to him of his adventures for a few minutes last night. He did this all and spent only 60 bucks. Twenty of it was on a "fine" and another twenty was on a bus.

So I got Netflix. I have gotten so many fun movies. I rarely get a chance to watch them. I usually just watch them with the volume off in the restaurant. I just sent back Escape from NY, Escape from LA, Once Upon a Time in America and Raging Bull. I should get in today Kelly's Heroes, American Experience: Fidel Castro, Battle for Algeirs and Serpico. It is so much fun. I think all this snow has inspired me to order the claymation version of Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Stories of the aftermath

I have read several interesting stories following the devastation of Hurrican Katrina. The human crisis is obvious and disturbing. Then there are the sad and sordid side stories.

Two that caught my interest have been a story on the fraud. There were homes in Jackson which had no damage, other than they were without power for a few days. This really sucks because there are people who have really suffered, and still suffering and we have major rebuilding to do. This is the kind of fraud that works against aid efforts to those who are really in need. I would rather have some people undeservedly benefit if it ensures that all are covered, but major parts of the south are a wreck.

Then there is the change of New Orleans. It appears that New Orleans will be permanently altered in terms of demographics. The city was once a majority African American will now have a substantial Latino presence.

Pen Manufacturers

I have noticed that the drug companies have gotten into the pen business. Nearly every pen I pick up has to do with some sort of prescription drug. It is good to know where our money goes when we pay for our prescriptions. Free pens. Note pads too. So the pen business is supported by the drug manufacturers. Interesting.