Version 2.0

Culture, healing, politics and bullshit - Not necessarily in that order

The general, socio-political and very personal rantings and ravings of a hip hop head from the hood hustling for change... Of himself.

You all know me and are aware that I am unable to remain silent. At times to be silent is to lie. For silence can be interpreted as acquiescence.
—Miguel de Unamuno


Friday, March 27, 2009

I Owe Everyone An Apology...

For not tending to my due diligence.

I've been blogging since 2004, and where at one point this place was an outlet for my outbursts, it seems in maturity they become more like quiet conversations that have a little meaning for those that choose to read, respond and have participated in some of the life things I have.

I have grown. Y'all deserve better.

I have always been fascinated with politics, technology and independent study as it pertains to Black folk here in America. I'm also moody, opinionated and fickle when it comes to... Well anything. I have waxed poetically, ranted politically and emotionally romped all up and thru here and for some in my inner circle, y'all know my business For others, it wasn't like there were cryptic messages here that could not be followed.

When I started blogging in 2004:

I was a cubicle slave, complaining about being single and miserable in my line of work

I longed for the day that I could be free economically, running my own business

I was casually dating and going through emotional roller coasters

And with a few years with a little internet under my belt:

I had broken free of corporate America and was trying to find my place

I gave up everything I owned and roamed the countryside like Kane from Kung Fu

I relocated a few times and had to stab a few of the hands that fed me

Caused emotional roller coasters by not casually dating

And over the last 18 months I:

Relocated back to Chicago

Got married - Settled down

Got profitable and grounded in my business ventures

Used my political knowledge as leverage against ignorance in a Presidential campaign

And still stirred up a few emotions inside and outside the Ntimbanjayo camp

And for those that had to struggle thru reading that bullshit, I sincerely apologize.

Blogging should have taken on serious aspects of my life and I should have stuck with writing about those particular things that could help, inspire and made sense. I didn't do that so my apologies go out to y'all for dragging folk thru stuff that probably should have never made it to your monitor or laptop screen.

But since I'm here...

I still want to write and communicate, and even wax poetic and speak politics even though shortly before the election 6 months ago I pulled myself from the Obama campaign and refused to blog politically. I'm currently a husband and a future father. I'll still attempt to use this forum as a tool of change for myself. I'm still a tech head, even though I no longer work in cubicle land doing IT related stuff. I still vote and pay taxes and have an opinion on what matters and what I think should be.

I am 20 years or so removed from high school, so most of my peers are parents and/or grandparents and with 14 (and a possible) nieces and nephews I do have discussions in that realm. I have responsibilities and should speak out and reach out to folk when necessary. I still should provoke thought and create and respond via intelligent conversation, not make people ask "what the hell is that?" when I write.

I travel more and have been recording and writing about my escapades. I also have one hell of a social calender and some adventurous friends and I am dying to tell about the people, places and things that make me giggle like a schoolgirl and get me as full as a tick. And drunk even. But between social networking sites, Tweets and business profiles, I'm all over the damn place. Well, not any more.

So, in the next couple of days (maybe a week, I get lazy) I'm going to change up a few things here and centralize all things Hassan on the 'Blogging While Black' domain. There will be sub domains and archives of the old stuff, my current music and literary projects, product reviews (I am a consumer electronics whore slash gadget freak/former network operations dude for 2 majors/2 wireless carriers) and trip recaps (trucker related stuff and the monthly vacation thing the wife and I do). I'll try to cover stuff that makes me tick in a way that is part infoshare - part blog persona because between Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and the rest of em, going to all of those places makes me damn tired. Hell, I own a domain. Might as well use it to its advantage.

So out with the emotional rants, virtual gifts, ignorant quizzes, fake celebrity gossip and pixie dust exploding all over your computer monitor when someone leaves you a note that jut says 'hello'... It's time to get grown in cyberspace. My blog should reflect my growth and development. I just hope other folk follow suit.

Oh and by the way, there will be no sponsorship/renumeration or comps given when I talk about commercial products or tech stuff. By product review, that means either I bought, used, rented, leased or came across and actually utilized something being sold on the open market for either business or pleasure purposes and I have an independent opinion. As much as I drive and travel you know that there is a need for me to partake in stuff that eases and comforts someone that spends so much time away from home. For those that really know me, Then you already know about my other ventures that pay the mortgage and car notes around here.

Once again, I am sorry for not utilizing this medium in a manner that is consistant with grown folk and what they do. Change gon' come soon, okay?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How I Got Over You

I laughed aloud.

It took more time that I wanted to admit
But my hurdle was accomplished in humor.

We were more than common,
my drive matched your determination
you opened me with your words
I made time to communicate
I gained a new hustle in effort to get next to you
Never had so much thought been conjured up in my mind

By way of a train ride.
In my moment of support, I held back my other hand
Never to deceive...

But in my presentation I had to remain clandestine
I hid my means from you

But in order to see you and still be knee deep in my thing
I hustled opposite in the manner that I spoke up my life
Nah, no one died or got hooked from my dealings,
I gentrified to pay my tithes.
My actions caused some to be uprooted but...

It fueled my desire and made me make time

Just to be close to you... Girl.
For a moment, baby
For a moment, baby

And in that time I dug deeply
You illuminated the dark tunnels
Nonsense became common knowledge
I felt lighter because you lifted me but I should have known

You never made any real effort to pick me up.
And I was too busy keeping my right hand from your sight
Funding the left... To really see
That your light never really illuminated me
I was just that push you'll need

I pushed you.

And you never got chance to know me
You sat yourself across from me
My name became transparency
That night, checked texts, frigidity
With all that light, I could not see

You gained pleasure in ignoring me.

So I think back to those last moments in the flesh
And how things didn't happen
With all that was left unsaid
How things crumbled in my eyes but worked as your perfect plan
And how I suffered

Then I realized that as I hid my hand
Only to hide from you my method of finance you showed me both of yours
And with each palm


The perfect comedy to my hapless tragedy

This wasn't the first time I doubled down when the dealer drew 21.
I hadn't played my last card, in fact...
I was at the beginning of my deck.

So I kept playing.

Had both of my hands on the table for some time now.
I never had to fool the dealer.

How did I get over you?
I realized that I was dealt in a very long time ago.
Fear of losing will prevent you to play your real hand
I lost.
But as I kept playing, I've won way more than I have lost.
Even when the game has dealt me queens.
Your comedy to my tragedy.

I just chuckle...

Cathartic, I guess.

Written on the fly in the moment - 2009 Hassan Olumoroti Ntimbanjayo - Sho Nuff' ~ Ya' Dig?

(Working Title) Englewood Kids

I started typing and only got so far... Forgive me. Things are well and I keep busy. I'm also getting some writing in as you can see from the passages below. I got more but I haven't touched my bed since yesterday morning...

He had never felt as lost as he was in this moment. Indeed, he was the new kid and he felt out of place as he stood on his stoop. The neighborhood kids played just a distance away and they kept an eye on each other, them wondering when he would come out to the sidewalk to address and he wondering if one or all of them would run over to the bottom step and invite him to partake in their fodder.

This was only different in the fact that he never thought that he would ever end up here. His parents worked to the point of him not seeing them during the week, also knowing that he was one of the few kids at school that actually lived in a house. Families in the big city were apartment dwellers. The only other family he knew that lived in a home as big as his was his cousin.

There were good memories had from the summer he spent at his aunt and uncle’s house. Times have changed and so has his family’s status after his father died in an accident at the auto plant a few months ago. He barely saw his mother anymore. When she wasn’t crying alone in her bedroom she was working one of her three jobs, studying for night school or sleeping. He was basically on his own these days and this was the first summer living in the brownstone apartment he now called home. No more summers with his cousin, no more as his dad called it ‘country adventures’.

He never thought his situation would change like this. Remembering going over to grandma’s house and driving through these neighborhoods. He was an outgoing kid, not afraid to address a stranger and not scared to explore new places, but this was too surreal to wrap his brain around:

Older boys hanging on the corner
Lawns with no grass growing in them
Stores with speakers on the outside of the front door, music blaring
Random kids running amok
Vacant lots and run down buildings blending in with neighbors next door watering non-existing plants
Fire hydrants open, kids and auto traffic merging with little to no effort
Women dressed like they’re going swimming with their church shoes on walking the dark places of the back streets
Weird-looking churches right on the same street as the liquor store
So many liquor stores… And the activity around them

He thought it was the story he saw on the TV each night on the news. He thought he would never be a part of it so he casually ignored it. Some of his father’s co-workers lived in these areas be he never knew which one. A few of the kids came to the repast and funeral with their parents and he remembered being in the room separated as the grown folks bantered about and recalls how loud these kids were. They seemed to be more open and loose with their expression that he remembered being taught so he remained quiet. And now he stood on the stoop of his new home carefully observing this same kids wondering if they would ever make contact.

They remained observers of each other until one kid walked over to the bottom step of the brownstone and addressed the neighborhood’s new edition:

“Hey, what’s up?”
“I’m David, what’s your name, man?”
“I’m Kevin.”
“You got any brothers or sister man, or is it just you over here?”
“Nah, it’s just me.”
“That’s cool. I got a little brother. He messes up everything. You wanna go walking around?”
“Go walking where? I don’t know a whole lot about around here.”
“Don’t worry man, it’s the hood, ain’t much to know unless somebody starts fighting or the man comes through.”
“The man?”
“Yeah, you know. The cops, the fuzz, mister Charlie and em’.”
“The police?”
“Yea man. They always messing with folks around here. My dad calls em’ get stoppo.”
“You mean Gestapo – the German killer police?”
“Yeah, just like them dudes from history class. Sometimes they go around killing folks for no good reason, but that’s just the dudes that got dope though. Them Gestapo dudes popped my daddy’s brother three years ago. What you know about some German history anyway?”
“That’s all we ever learn about in history at my school anyway is about the war and how that holocaust changed how we do things. My pops used to tell me that there was some sort of a black holocaust but…”
“He ain’t around no more”
“Shoot, my daddy ain’t either. He split too?”
“Naw, was in an accident.”
“And y’all moved here? Dang man. But don’t worry though, ain’t too many kids here ever seen their daddy, the just be hanging out.”

They talked on the stoop for about an hour and then they started to walk around, David showing Kevin the neighborhood. As Kevin toured what was his new hangout and home, he wondered what would become of him amid the madness and noise, sirens and loud music. He studied this kid and wondered what made him of all people endear himself to a total stranger and wondered aloud sometimes why he was so open when all the other kids just looked and never spoke.

As they walked and explored, he imagined himself as just one of the boys hanging out on the corners looking as if her was protective of all the abandoned buildings and vacant lots. He knew that he would have to make everything he took in familiar, this was his new home and he had to know it like the back of his hand. The one thing he never knew is how much he’s need the knowledge of the lay of that land… Kevin’s world would indeed change as much as he would become a product of this new environment.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Still Have New Orleans On My Mind

You can taste it in the stale air at or about 3am. You know its time to go home, but you paid to get here and folks are still crowding the streets and the live music keeps calling you. You have another drink, your belly is full of seafood, rice and beans. You probably would wake up and have a little wine out of the fridge like I would if you were at home standing in the dark, the icebox light illuminating the kitchen and dining room. I would sit at the table and have a good glass of chilled merlot, even if I have to get up and do my due diligence in mere hours.

But you're in New Orleans and it strikes you that damn near every native you come across keeps saying hello. Yep, there is an excuse in celebrating that.

So we're two days into our escapade around the Big Easy and it ain't even the weekend but it feels like it. I think my nightcap every night except for the last one consisted of a frozen daiquiri with either Captain Morgan, 151 or Everclear in it. And I friggin' loved it! We spent more than a work week in the Crescent city and it went something like:

sleep in late
roam the French Market
eat fresh seafood in the French Quarter
ride a rail car
eat fresh seafood outside the French Quarter
gamble (I gotta keep my card count)
have a good, stiff drink
sight see stuff
have more fresh seafood
hit Bourbon Street
listen to great live music
have another good, stiff drink
hit the hay before sunset... literally

There was a five day blur of walking about the French Market, light shopping and eating well with a slight touch of alcohol, and it was exactly what both my wife and I needed to take the edge off living and gallivanting through a city like Chicago. This diverse and small gulf city with these diverse and generous people pitted in the midst of rebuild treated everyone off the boat, plane and bus like a family known house guest, giving them access to everything in the house, including the medicine cabinet.

The best thing about wandering through the second oldest city in America is its blend of natural mystic of gulf swamp, the architecture of both the French and Spanish and the tangible markings of history. The businesses and residents simply gut out some of its buildings in the French Quarter and Market, keeping the facade and frame whilst adding business and modernization to areas of the city long past 300 years old. The central business district and downtown areas are classic metropolis. Glass, steel, shops and stores make up where wheeling and dealing takes place. There still isn't enough money to overtake what Canal and Bourbon can make in a night, but things are coming up. The rebuild will do exactly what big business wants it to do. I'm not a fan of gentrification, but I do understand that the footprint of the rich that want to play will overtake the will of the street vendor in a mere few years.

I'll still want to visit and lobby for the poeple.

Damn, I haven't even waxed on about the arts, the music and the damn food...

Oh, and we did visit Mid City, Lakeview and the Lower Ninth Ward.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Friday, March 06, 2009

(Update) Walking To New Orleans

I've been to this place before. That's what I was thinking as I took I-10 around into the city. I remember coming to this place as a drunk heathen in undergrad and the times I drove thru as a truck driver. I remember arriving at ground zero less than a year after Katrina and thinking that is was akin to something I saw in an old science fiction movie. New Orleans was very quiet in 2006 and you couldn't get in via interstate 10 because Lake Pontchartrain took it but now, 10 was like a main artery feeding trucks and cars into one of the most tragically beautiful places I ever laid my eyes on.

At one time I thought I'd get a woman pregnant and would have to move here to take care of her and properly raise my seed. A classmate from high school moved there and at one time I had a little 'business' in the Big Easy. New Orleans has a few memories tucked away involving lil' old Hassan. For the most part, I was too drunk to remember much. That never stopped me from wanting to go back even though coming back this time would be damn scandalously different. I headed to the Crescent City last week with my wife.

This time I hit Bourbon Street as a family man. No frat, no business partner trying to get me to hook up with that fine ass divorce from accounting during the morning seminar. No truckers telling me not to buy any hand crafted art because the bones and spirit of the dead inhabit the ceramic and stone. No hanging out at sporting events with drunk Army buddies... I was minutes from checking into a French Quarter hotel with my other half.

I was taking vacation, so I was primed to act accordingly. Even though I really wanted a drink.

And some crawfish.

My time keeps getting away from me, so I'll blog as I go. Look for more of this throughout the day and over the weekend. I'll time stamp things as well...

Friday - 6:50 PM

A long time ago I was a different person. I was this arrogant asshole of a man standing only on my military accomplishments, half of it the public could not know. I was a young, black Karl Rove, headed to New Orleans with a smirk on my face because I knew some things others didn't, got through a bunch of red tape and political bullshit and now it was time to celebrate. It was the first time I took a vacation as an adult and it was myself and a few Army cats actually calling our trip a sane form of raping and pillaging. Raping the bars of its liquid gold and pillaging (or filtering) through the different kinds of women Nawlins had to offer. We were young, fit and trim and we survived war so you could tell us nothing. That was almost twenty years ago and I can remember nothing but getting there and using a cell phone for the first time to call a mate from my old unit out of Colorado that was already there. Other than that, the call of alcohol rung in my ears and the feeling of numb stung me from my fingers to my toes.

I remember the feeling of alcohol and not walking the Quarter or being in the hotel. I remember being downtown accessing the lobby but I can't remember much else except for me going to the airport to head to Chicago. I remember my mother picking me up from the airport and me riding the expressway back into the heart of the south side wondering why I felt the way I did when I left Korea. Oh, I drank heavily there too, every day. New Orleans is a welcoming city but it feels like your are no longer in the States. The warm feeling welcomes to to the neighborhoods and the banks east and west of the central business district but if you choose to stay downtown or in the French Quarter, you are in a foreign country. I miss home so much that back in the day I'd drink myself numb in order to function normally.

I got that feeling once my wife and I got to the hotel room. All I wanted to do is drop my bags and get out on the Quarter. Our accommodations were on Dauphin, so we were one block away from Bourbon smack dab in the middle of the Quarter. We checked in, checked our respective emails and looked at each other. How do I show her that I am not the monster I was twenty years ago? Didn't have to. She looked at me and said: "Let's go get a drink." When we walked outside and headed to Bourbon, all of the tingly feelies came back.

And I smelled craw daddies.

Shit, it's the Thursday after Fat Tuesday and the Quarter seemed empty. Oh, it was only 8 o'clock and we were both standing in front of one of those walk up daiquiri joints. I didn't know if my wife had a hurricane before but we bought one for each of us and I also got a huge cup of Heineken. Here I am, double fisting adult beverages with my wife and she performed some of the hardest sipping I had ever seen. She was trying very hard to get to the bottom of that cup. Them Bourbon street beverages will do that to ya. I reminded her that we had all night, still had to eat and that the drink was laced with Everclear. We stumbled down to one of the best restaurants on Bourbon and all I could think was introducing my wife to fried alligator. Once I got some semblance of beans and rice..

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Death And Taxes

I was on my way to posting about my trip to Nawlins yesterday but a couple of things got in the way. A good friend from my immediate past and old high school chum passed away and I had errands to run, you know... Stuff to do.

I picked up a new suit yesterday an I gotta run to my tailor to get it fitted. Then I have more errands to do. Stuff. To do.

I'll pontificate (thanks LadyLee) on my so-called vacation later.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Coffee And Beingnets

I'm waking up in the French Quarter one mo' gin'. The wife and I already got up and took a walk over to the car. Coffee and beignets will be the order of the day, we'll shop and then head home later this evening. I took a lot of photos of New Orleans but only one seems to describe my most recent stay:

More on my trip when I return to Chicago and the cold.

At least it didn't snow. Like in Atlanta where we almost ended up.