Dec 29, 2009

Radio Project

This past semester I took an advanced radio journalism class called "Narrative Radio." While the class was not one of my favorites, I did learn a lot and was able to contribute to the major class project, an hour-long radio program on WBUR 90.9 FM.

The program, the World of Ideas, ran this past Sunday. I got the chance to hear myself on the radio, on a station that is broadcast throughout Greater Boston. I think that's pretty cool. You can here the entire show here. I'm up to bat first.

The research and running around that went into this project was not easy, but I'm glad I got it done. This project was explained to us on the first day of class as a major portions of our grade and I think my work on it is what boosted me over the cusp from one grade to a higher one.

I'm just glad it's over and done with.

Dec 18, 2009

Famous or Comes with the Territory

It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you without a few lines to read through...

I'm not a rapper or a poet so I'll stop there even though the line rings true. These past few weeks have been filled with various activities surrounding my completion of grad school and a myriad of other things I do. I promise the major events, like my knighting will make it up here. For now, I wanted to comment on a column in the Boston Herald today.

Howie Carr wrote a column discussing the connection between state jobs and people who supported both Deval Patrick and Barack Obama. The lead graph is about my family. Having read it a few times, I can safely say that I find it more humorous than anything else. My sister, however is having a bit a difficult time with it.

I guess what amuses me is how the the column is set up to highlight certain facts and avoid others. All the numbers are accurate since they are public record so I have no gripe with them. But a closer look at the numbers and the dates reveals that my parents didn't donate to Patrick's campaign until a few days before the election because of my mother's employer at the time. That information can be found easily through a search engine, Howie, why not make mention of it?

Also, the application to become a Justice did not open until April of 2009. How do contributions to a presidential campaign in 2008 secure an eight month interview and vetting process? Or is it just that she was born in Chicago, like Patrick and Obama? I don't know, seems like a flimsy connection.

As for my sister, trying to make a connection between the campaign donation of a college sophomore and a state job three years later is even more of stretch. It also says nothing her background and the work she put in to actually qualify for the job.

Sure, you're presenting an argument and you need facts to back up your idea. I get that, but can't we do better than taking numbers at face value? As journalists aren't we supposed to be methodical in our approach? It just feels like you missed some stuff here. As one of my professors would say, "You've got holes in the story."

At this time I would like to say thank you to that same professors at Boston University who told me that all donations to campaigns are public record and as journalists we may want to think twice about having our name associated with a political party.

Dec 2, 2009

MBTA part 6

At some point I'll have to compile all the stories I've written about what I've seen on the MBTA. They might add up to a good length essay. I've got two more to add to the list, both from today and from the same commute home from West Roxbury.

I take two buses to get home, the #36 from West Roxbury to Forest Hills Station and then the #21 from Forest Hills to a block from my house. You've seen the ride to work, which is hectic because of how many people crowd the buses. On the way home, the rides can take as much as twice as long because the buses don't run as often. It's a pain, but you just get used to it and learn the bus schedule so you do as little waiting as possible.

When I got on the #36 to go to Forest Hills there was one man on the bus, sitting near the operator talking with him as if they were old friends. As I walked by, he reached into a black plastic bag and pulled out a Natty Ice and cracked it open. He finished that on while the bus waited, and killed one more before getting off the bus. Shortly after, I fell asleep.

Usually, the MBTA provides me with one outrageous situation per day, but I guess I had earned the double because I walked into another one as I was boarding the #21 at Forest Hills. While boarding the bus, the driver, a heavier set woman with short, close cropped brown hair, told a teen that he couldn't board the bus. The teen got off and made a fuss about it, calling her a bitch and other names.

It got interesting when they began to trade "yo mama" barbs. As far as I can tell, there was some issue about whether the teen would pay the fare. To that end, the operator, who had a long line of people waiting to board the bus, allowed everyone to ride for free.

As the bus pulled off, the operator made a point to yell out of the door that her shift ended at 5 p.m. and he could find her at Forest Hills. She also informed the teen that she had brothers and that she was "real hood" and that "they could do this." I just had to laugh. I really mean it when I say I love the MBTA.

Nov 24, 2009

Looking for the bounce back

[EDITORS NOTE - This was a post I did for WEEI, before the Patriots-Jets game. For whatever reason it didn't get posted, so I'll post it here]

Last week was a tough loss for the Patriots. But, it's Friday and fourth-and-2 was close to a week ago. As Ben Watson says, "you put in a good week of preparation and go out and play. But that rates the question, how well do the Patriots play after tough a loss? Or, more broadly, how well do they play amid controversy? Since 2001, when the team began their winning ways, there have been several situations that the Pats have faced where moving forward was the hardest part.

In 2003, just before opening day of regular season games, Lawyer Milloy was released from the Patriots and picked up by the Buffalo Bills. The news of the action came as a shock to fans and players alike. That weekend, Milloy and the Bills embarrassed the Patriots 31-0 in the Bills home opener. The obvious bounce back was beating the Eagles the following week, 31-10. But the real return on the loss to the Bills was beating them 31-0 at Gillette in the last game of the season.

Also in 2003,the Patriots lost to Washington on September 28. They didn't lose again until October 31, 2004 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 21 game winning streak, that included a Super Bowl was one of the longest in the league. So, they dropped one, pick yourself up, dust off, and go out and win next week, right? Exactly. They bounced back with a dominating win over the Saint Louis Rams the following week.

That bodes well for Sunday. In fact, since that loss in 2004, the Patriots have a record of 18-1 after a loss. As it pertains directly to the Colts, the Pats worst loss to them came in 2006 during the AFC Championship game. We could go into detail, but the video really covers it.


The music is, by far, the best part. The worst, Manning's smug smile and "thumb's up." So how do you reload after a tough loss like that? Easy, trade draft picks for Wes Welker and Randy Moss and go undefeated in the regular season. Though, even that can bring up issues.

In 2007, the Pats were good, real good. Like, potentially 19-0 good. We all know how that turned out so there is no need to relive it, but remember all the drama around "Spygate?" The allegations of cheating may have been the worst "distraction" the team faced during their undefeated run. However, their win over San Diego that year, right after the Spygate broke was especially poignant.

When the country was watching to see how the Patriots would react on the field, they executed well and beat the Chargers 38-14 on a Sunday night. Later that season, the Pats lost the one game they couldn't afford to lose.


Not sure if the team has really bounced back from that one yet... It didn't help that this happened in the next game:


Sure they won the game, but it's a Pyrrhic victory. As for Sunday? If history plays out the way it has, they'll win. But the Jets are a tough team and, like they say in the movies, "on any given Sunday you can win or lose." They probably don't need the pep talk, but it never hurts!

Nov 22, 2009

Perils of the job

I went out to cover a story about Dianne Wilkerson this evening. It took place at Morning Star Baptist Church. In school, we talk about gag rules that prevent journalists from doing their job to the fullest extent. Until today, those were just concepts to me in a text book, something to be read and memorized for a test or final paper later.

At most, people would ask to see a copy of whatever I had written after it was presented to my editor for deadline. Tonight, the reality of someone trying to limit my ability to do my job presented itself fully. I was initially nonplussed about having to cover the event, but once it became clear that I might not be welcome, I suddenly found myself much more interested in trying to get the complete story.

I arrived at the church at 4 p.m. when the function was slated to start. Upon arrival, I realized that this was not an event to honor Wilkerson, but an evening church service to show support for her as she dealt with her legal troubles. I immediately ran into the issue of people being more than willing the chat with me about Wilkerson and the service, but no one would speak to me for my story.

I should have known then that something was up.

Rev. Borders began the service by asking any members of the media to join him in the lobby of the church. I was the only one to get up and leave with him. Once in the lobby Rev. Borders explained that he did not want this service, meant to show support for Wilkerson, to be exploited and used in conjunction with other news about her legal issues.

The gathered ushers and Rev. as well as a media consultant decided that I would be allowed to stay because the "Banner has been supportive in the past." I guess that's cool, but there is an inherent assumption that I'm not going to write something negative about Wilkerson. Now, to be fair, I was not sent to the event to pester and badger anyone, especially Wilkerson, but I'd like the freedom to cover the event and ask questions of anyone present.

As it turned out, by walking out of the sanctuary was an effective way to brand myself as media and make sure that no one talked to me, not even polite chatter. I did like how Wilkerson politely declined to comment. I walked up to where she was sitting in the front row and introduced myself to her. She smiled, shook my hand and said "no comment, thank you."

It was so polite I had to put it in my story. All I ended up doing was quoting the people who spoke during the service. My quotes were a bit dry but that's what you get when no one in the audience will talk to you.

I never thought I would have to deal with prior restraint and gag laws outside of a class room, but I guess the reason we talk about them is because they exist and there will be situations where we will have to find ways around them, if possible.

Nov 21, 2009

Tales from An Tua Nua

I worked at An Tua Nua tonight. I've been picking up shifts the past few Saturdays which has been pretty decent. Besides the fun of working at a bar, I was initially excited about working because I figured the place would generate plenty of writing content. It has finally come through for me.

After doing a quick walk-around I noticed that there were a lot of women in the club. This wouldn't raise an eyebrow, normally, but as I walked around the fact that there were a bunch of women all dancing with each other with a noticeable lack of men struck me as odd. Upon closer inspection I realized that there was a healthy amount of gay women in the club that night.

I had to laugh, because they ran the gamut of generalized gay stereotypes. There were two black gay women, both dressed like men. One wore dark blue jeans, a red shirt with matching hat and shoes. Her shirt was open and a she wore a white tank top. She also wore a red bra, which, as the night wore on, was shown more often. She danced all night, entertaining herself and her friends as well as those around her.

The other black gay women, wore dark jeans and a light blue t-shirt and matching hat. She sat in a corner booth and drank beer all night. I wouldn't have realized she was with the other gay women had it not been for the a third women who would, with regularity, grind on her. It reminded me of high school, when I would stand on the wall and wait for girls to come up and dance on me.

There was a "pixie" on the dance floor, she had short spikey hair and, despite being impressively thin, never left the dance floor. There was a young gay couple. interracial too. The black girl was small in statue and fairly cute. Her girlfriend was a heavyset white girl. They danced exclusively all night and then, with 20 minutes left, they started making out on the dance floor. The white girl was all over the black girl, it was a bit scary to watch, like rolling slowly by a car accident. They decided to make out right next to the place I stand so I couldn't move away.

As I watched everyone enjoying themselves that night, I realized that I might have been in the middle of a Guerrilla Gay Bar night. I learned this term about two weeks ago from Ashleigh, when she told me she and one of her other friends were going to participate in a Guerrilla Gay Bar at Tequila Rain. The premise is that one night a month gay people take over a straight bar and make it a jumping gay bar for the night.
I think it's an interesting idea. I like that the concept plays on the fact that as long as you are of age, you can get into a bar/club. We all love going out with our friends and it makes perfect sense that something like this can and would happen.

As it turned out, it was not a Guerrilla Gay Bar night. There were just a bunch of gay women out at An Tua Nua. I'm considering joining the email list so I can see one of these events first-hand. I wonder where they will be December 4th...

Nov 20, 2009

Dez's fashion show

I went to to a club downtown this evening to watch my friend Dez participate in a fashion show. It was a bit on a whim. Dez texted me on Wednesday, after we had run into each other on campus. She wanted to know if I would like to come watch her in a fashion show. I would get in the club for free, and get to hang out. Can't complain about free entrance to a night club, especially downtown. They tend to have expensive cover.

An event like this is not usually something I like to go to alone. It seems a bit odd to me to show up and sit by myself or generally be singular at something like this that begs for company. As it turned out, Dez had invited others, whom I knew, but leading up to the show I was at a loss as to what to do.

My sister is the perfect tag along for these events, she's classy enough to make me look decent for bringing her, but she's also family so if there is some type of potential for a romantic connection she doesn't get in the way. Unfortunately, she had plans for the evening and was unavailable. The next step is to find someone who isn't family but fits the same criteria as my sister... Not always easy.

The names of two women came to mind, but for various reason neither of them would have been appropriate. Sure, both passed the classiness test, but one had already met Dez and there seemed to be some tension and since the night was about Dez, I didn't want to deal with the possible backlash.

The other woman hasn't met Dez and, if I can help it, never will. I know that sounds terrible, but since I have somewhat of a romantic interest in her it just didn't seem prudent to bring her around.

I ended up asking my friend Reynolds to tag along. He works because he's into fashion and fashion shows, having covered one for the Banner. Plus if something went down, he'd know when to step aside. A good wingman is hard to find!

It's amusing because Reynolds and I had a conversation about what we would wear to the club. "This is a fashion show, right? So we need to be stylish as well," he said. I had to agree, this would be a night to raise the bar on the clothing options. It worked out well because the night club, Umbria, was real swanky.

I parked my car at Reynolds' apartment and then he and I hopped the orange line downtown and walked over to Umbria. The place has a restaurant on the first floor and while the night club is on the floors three through five in the five story walk-up building. I've been to clubs in the downtown area and the price point for them is more or less the same. A cover in the mid teens and $10 drinks all night. Umbria was no different. Not exactly a cheap night out, but they can be fun if you know going in that you're going to drop some money on the evening.

There was a bit of a snafu at the front door. I gave Dez my and Reynolds name under the impression that we would be granted free entry. Turns out we were only on a list that got us discounted entry. I felt bad because I told Reynolds it would be free to get in, so I picked up his cover and mine.

The night club opened at 10 p.m. and the show was supposed to start at 11 p.m. Reynolds and I got into the club and went to meet up with some friends who were hanging out with Dez on the top floor. I found out that the show was for a local designer, as well as a local photographer. The setup was such that the "models" walked down a set of steps and across a roped off area of the dance floor on the fourth floor, holding photos.

Dez was still getting makeup done when we go upstairs, but her friends, Dan and Deirdre, were already there. The four of us hung out while Dez flitted about, receiving instructions and otherwise prepping for the show. Dan, who is in grad school with me and Dez, had a camcorder with him and was taping the show, or at least trying to. He talked his way into the club for free by claiming to be sent there to report on and cover the fashion show. True to his word, he walked around talking to people, mainly models, asking them questions about the preparation process. I'm not sure how successful he was because he kept complaining about the low lighting in the club which made it difficult to conduct interviews.

By 11:15 p.m., the show hadn't started. Reynolds informed me that fashion shows, like theater shows, never started on time. I wasn't too concerned because the club gave us free champagne while we waited for the show to start. Great technique, really, free booze to keep you complacent. I took the time to chat with Deirdre, who I had met before, but really know all that well despite us both being friends with Dez.

At 11:30, the show started, so we went down one floor to watch "Sexy Desi" strut her stuff. She looked great. Her hair, was spiked up in an outrageous style that completely worked for her, and her makeup was phenomenal. I'm not usually one to notice things like makeup. If it's done well, you shouldn't notice it which makes sense. Props to who ever did her makeup because. Even though I could tell she was wearing it, it accentuated her cheeks and really drew proper attention to her face. The clothes seemed nice enough. I can't say I was blown away by the collection but the photography was very nice. The models almost felt secondary to the photos, one model even walked the "runway" with a camera taking shots of the audience. Dez walked twice, and really seemed to enjoy herself. Inspired by the photos on display by the models, I tried to get creative in the way I took photos of Dez. It didn't quite work out because the bouncers wouldn't let me get low to the ground or move around too much. I'm not nearly as good as the photographer on display but I'm happy with my work! I got photos of Dez doing her thing and had fun doing it. For me, this photo captures the spirit of the evening. It was all about having fun and being out with good company. As Dez said later in the evening, "not bad for a Friday night out, right?" I couldn't agree more.

I was glad I could make it out. Dez and I haven't seen much of each other this semester. As our program comes to an end, we've both been really busy. When we get busy events like these become all the more important. They act as a means of staying in touch and showing our friends that we still and truly care even if we don't get the chance to say it. Dez sent me a text before the show saying "I'm glad you're coming :)" Maybe it was just standard politeness, but thank you for reaching out. It's these type of connections strengthen friendships.

Nov 19, 2009

Ashleigh's Knighting

This evening I got out of class a little early and headed over to the BU Pub to celebrate Ashleigh's Knighting. Apparently, during the month of November she had been secretly doing a Knight's Quest. I'll assume, by now, you're aware of what the Knight's Quest is. If not, feel free to do some research! by the time I got to the Pub, most of her friends were gathered. It now was a matter of waiting for the proceedings to begin.
The thing about a Knighting is that you don't just come in and have it done. The process involves imbibing while you wait for the actual ceremony which requires more imbibing. I've been to two Knightings and each time I've underestimated the amount of drinking I've done and I'm not even being knighted. I guess it's a matter of just knowing that you're going to be very intoxicated by the end of the night. Each bartender working the night of your Knighting creates a specialty drink that you have to finish in the course of the evening. Below was one of the ones Ashleigh had to drink. As you can see it's obviously a mixture of light and dark beer, plus something else, which I think is grenadine raspberry vodka mix. As the evening went on, more alcohol was imbibed, and well, the photos tend to tell the tale...! We were OK as we began the evening... It's great taking pictures because you can see the deterioration over the course of the night. It also helps catalog the evening. There were several people present at Ashleigh's Knighting who had been Knighted previously, and all of them said that the memory of their Knighting got hazy the closer they got to the Knighting, itself. I'm not sure what happened prior to this photo to generate such poses, but it must have been hilarious. Eventually, the knighting ceremony takes place. By the time it happened Ashleigh was good and prepared to receive her name. For those gathered, the ceremony can be funny and slightly embarrassing. A list of names are read, and one is chosen by the bartender as the knight's name going forward. That name is later written down and, I believe etched into a plaque. below is footage from the knighting ceremony.
After all of that, Ashleigh was officially a Knight of the Pub. She thanked all of her friends for coming out by attempting to kiss and hug anyone who happened to wonder within five feet of her. Justin was especially excited about Ashleigh's method of gratitude. All in all it was a good time. I'm looking forward to my own knighting, which will probably take place two weeks from today. I have yet to schedule the event with the Pub, but seeing as I only have one beer left on my quest, it's pretty much a done deal. I can honestly say that I've enjoyed the two knighting events I've been to. As long as I'm prepared for the massive amount of alcohol I'll be ingesting that evening, I guess I'll be alright. Besides, you can't fake this kind of happiness and sense of accomplishment.

Nov 18, 2009

MBTA part 5

I just watched a kid roll a blunt on a bus while on my way to work. The smell of weed permeates the area where I'm sitting. The kids around pretend not to notice...!

Nov 17, 2009

MBTA part 4

Recently, I've stopped driving to and from work and school in favor of riding the T. beyond the financial boon of saving money on gas, I've enjoyed my time on buses and trains because it affords me a glimpse of the daily human condition. This evening was no different.

I have class Tuesday nights and tend to ride the train home late, usually around 9:30 p.m. I spend this time catching up on pleasure reading since most other times I'm doing school or internship related work. This evening I was enjoying a conversation between Akasha and Lestat when my attention was turned to other people riding the train with me.

The train was unusually packed this evening because of the Boston University opening night basketball game. Naturally, some folks were intoxicated to varying degrees. One such person was Dillon. Dillon, who had been at the game, was talking to a pretty young blond with a pink scarf when I got on the train. As it turned out, the Asian girl who got on as the same stop as me knew the blond. They sat next to each other and the blond introduced the Asian girl to Dillon.

"This is my friend, Tenny," the blond said. (I hope I'm spelling her name correctly.) The blond then turned to Tenny and told her to explain why her name was Tenny. Tenny declined, saying the blond told the story much better. As it turns out, Tenny was born on the tenth day of the tenth month at 10 a.m. Hence her name. Cute when you think about it.

Dillon was equally moved, explaining that he was born in the tenth month on the eleventh day and 1 p.m. Hence the name "Dillon" with two "ls" to signify eleven. Tenny laughed politely at this.

Dillon, a pale blond man, wearing a gray fedora, continued talking to Tenny and her blond friend, asking how they knew each other and what Tenny was studying in school. She answered all questions with a polite understanding of how drunk Dillon was. When it was discovered that she and the blond were from New York, Dillon talked about his sister living there and spending two Thanksgivings in Manhattan, one of which he spent extremely high on marijuana.

Dillon also talked about spending time in Seattle, "it rains a lot," and taking comedy classes at Cambridge Center for Adult Education. At Arlington, Tenny and the blond got off the train, but not before reminding Dillon to check out the blond's trivia night on Saturdays at Penguin Pizza, near Brigham and Woman's Hospital. Dillon promised to show up this coming Saturday.

After Tenny and the blond exited the train, Dillon's companion, a mousy looking girl in an over-sized blue parka, chided him for being so flirtatious. Dillon explained that if one wanted to pick up girls, that is how one had to act. I chuckled out loud.

The irony is that Dillon's intoxication blinded him to his boorish behavior. I'm certain that Tenny and the blond had a grand time talking about him once they were off the train. He'll make for a good story to tell their friends, just like he's made for a good blog entry. Not sure I can say it enough, but I love riding the T.

Nov 15, 2009

Girl at the bar or, The One that got away

Saturday night I worked at my bar. My bar job is one of those gigs that is not super difficult, but requires odd hours. Working from 9:30 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. is just a natural drag on the system. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy it immensely and it often generates great fodder for the blog. Take last night for example.

Saturdays aren't the busiest night for An Tua Nua, and because of that, the back room remained closed. There were some folks who came in looking to dance including a trio of girls, one of whom really caught my eye.

She was wearing a blue shirt and jeans, her sneakers were bright and multicolored, pinks, blues and reds. her skin was the color of coffee when cream and sugar are added and her hair, wavy and brown fell to the middle of her back. She had a pink flower above her left ear. When I saw it, I was transported back to Hawaii and evenings spent on the beach at a luau in front of a fire pit.

She was gorgeous!

The first time I saw her she smiled at me. I looked away. Did that just happen? That did just happen. I thought to myself. Later she approached me and asked if we would be opening the back of the bar up for dancing. At the time I didn't know if we were, but I told her I would check on it for her. When I found out we weren't opening the back I found her again and told her she could make a dance floor where she was.

For the next hour or so, She and her friends hung out near a table with stools around it listening to the music and enjoying beverages. We made eye contact a few more times, each time she would smile at me. After the second time I decided that I would talk to her. It was at that moment that my boss called me to help clean up a spill.

I turned my attention to the mess that had been made, mopping up the mess and removing the broken glass. When I returned from the the kitchen area, I looked for the girl at the table where she had been, but she was not there. A small amount of panic seeped in to my gut. A quick walk around the bar area informed me that she was not there. Bathroom? It was more wishful thinking than anything else at that point. I knew she was gone. I had missed my chance.

It really sucks, I should have spoken to her earlier in the evening. Now, all I can do is hope she comes back the next time I'm working...

Nov 14, 2009

Adventures in Maine - Cities of the Androscoggin!

If you're from Maine, a real Mainer, you'll know the next line in the title.

Once my friend, Amanda, picked me up, we drove from Portland to the "L-A" area of Maine. I used to have family in the area, my grandfather. It has been almost six years since he died, the last time I was up that way. I forgot how nice it can be, strikingly different from city living. it was funny, as we drove through the area certain things began to look familiar. I asked my friend if a there was a little league ball park and community center nearby. She looked at me funny and said there was. I had to laugh. One of my fondest memories of my grandfather was hitting balls in that park one summer evening during a visit. We walked from his house to the park and he pitched to me until the lights came on. We walked back to his house and had ice cream afterwards.

I dropped my bag and freshened up while we waited for Amanda's friend to come by. Amanda and I talked about my tutoring job, since she used to be my boss, she was curious to know how things were going. After that, when her friend showed up, we tried to decide were to go that evening. Apparently, Fridays are the "off" night in Maine. People don't generally go out until Saturday. We decided on Italian food for dinner and went to a place called DaVinci's. Good food. I've found it can be difficult to get angel hair pasta to not be sticky because of its size. DaVinci's offering was excellent. They also serve "garlic knots," a buttery garlic bread role that also delicious. Amanda and I tried to take a picture together, while waiting for our food. Apparently neither of us can keep our eyes open! But we finally got a good one. After dinner I was shown different night spots in the area. The first, the Irish Twins, sounded promising. In Boston, Irish bars are synonymous with good beer and great company. It only seemed appropriate that an Irish bar in Maine have something similar to offer. I was wrong.

I was treated to my first "welcome to Maine" moment when the three of us entered the bar. I looked around at the place, which was of decent size. The bar was set up to the left of the door and to the right of the door, in the corner a band was setting up. On the one TV in the establishment, the Celtics game was playing with the sound on. There couldn't have been more than 60 people in the bar. I thought to myself, the place is dead. Not wanting to be rude, I kept my thought to myself. I'm glad I did because moments later, Amanda's friend commented on how busy the place was that night.

We did not stay at the Irish Twins long. Instead we opted to try a place called Gritty McDuff's or Gritty's for short. On the way to Gritty's I was told about a dance club called Babylon that was across the street from Gritty's. Perhaps some dancing would happen that evening...! We passed a beautiful church on the way to Gritty's. I didn't get the name, but the way it was lit up that night was breathtaking. Gritty's reminded me of the bar that I work at. A nice place that caters mostly to college students. In this case, Bates College. I guess because of the lack of things to do, Gritty's also gets the locals. Either way, it was filled up inside to a point that I felt was akin to a bar in Boston. Gritty's is a micro brewery so the stuff on tap is their own creation. It was quite good. Too bad the Celtics lost. It would have made the brown ale and pub standard lager taste that much better. I also saw my first black women in Maine at Gritty's. That wouldn't be worth mentioning had I just arrived in Maine. But since I had been in the state since 1:30 p.m. and it was going on 10:30 p.m. it was something that stood out, not to mention she was gorgeous.

Her name is Katie and she is a mix of African-American, French and "Indian" heritage. Not sure what type of "Indian" she meant. Could have been actual Indian from India or Native American, whichever it was, it was awesome. A petite build, light brown skin and wavy hair pulled back. Amanda and her friend thought she might be Latina, I approached her for clarification. It was funny because I don't think she expected me to talk to her. When I said "Hi" she looked up, a bit shocked that I was trying to make conversation.

The night ended with me and Amanda's friend drinking whiskey and playing a game called "What the F*ck." All in all a good trip, really a great diversion from the everyday routine.

Nov 13, 2009

Adventures in Maine - Portland

Today I traveled to Portland, Maine for a job interview. Sometimes I am taken aback by the ease with which we can travel from place to place. Money notwithstanding, you pretty much go anywhere. Currently, I'm sitting in a Starbucks in downtown Portland waiting for a friend to pick me up. I smile every time I think about how I was in Boston this morning. Let me recount the day.

The day started in Boston. 6:45 a.m. alarm, early for a Friday, but generally a standard wake up call. After a quick shower and shave I printed by train ticket, packed my bag and got a ride to North Station where I snagged the train to Portland, ME. I need to ride the train more often. I did it once before in college, went from Chicago to Boston. It took 24 hours and we generally enjoyable, if a bit dull. I remember things got interesting in upstate New York because suddenly the trees went from barren to snow-covered. This train ride was a little better because there was farm scenery on both sides of the train. Plus I fell asleep and when I woke up we were pulling out of Saco, ME. the second to last stop on the line.

Once off the train I hopped into a Mac Taxi, driven by the amiable Phil. During the course of the ride, Phil gave me the rundown on places to live in and around Portland. He said that I should look to live in North Gate, or up on the hill and that I should stay away from the city unless I had the money to live in one of the high rise apartments with a doorman. Otherwise, I would be bothered by the "addicts." Phil lives in North Gate, and would live closer to the city but his distaste for the addicts drove him out of the city. He even used to ride the local transit, but apparently it is spotty at best which lead Phil to get a taxi in town. He has lived in Portland all of his 51 years and loves it. I guess that would explain his impressive dislike for the addicts who are "always begging for change."

Phil dropped me off at my destination. I went inside and met a bunch of folks and talked about potential jobs. I won't bore you with the details. Suffice to say, I'm in the running, but I'm not quite what they are looking for.

After the interview, I had some time to kill before my friend picked me up. I wondered up Congress Street, the main street through Portland, stopping to check out the history museum in town. Probably would have gone in were it a free day... I also saw the local movie theater, the Nickelodeon, or Nick, for short. After walking and looking at the various shops, I stopped at a Starbucks, where I am currently, to wait for my friend.

I snagged a seat by the window and just people-watched. Several patrons of the Starbucks approached me to strike up conversation ranging from the weather to my laptop. The best, was a women who slid in next to me and began speaking rapidly about a man across the street who was about to juggle fire. At first I didn't think she was talking to me because she wasn't looking at me when she began to speak. I quickly realized she was, in fact, talking to me when I didn't respond and she turned a looked at me.
Fire juggling is pretty cool. The small black object on the street corner is a hat for people to drop money into. Perhaps this fire juggler is one of those "addicts" that Phil was referring to...

My friend showed up a few minutes later. Stay tuned for more adventures in Maine.

Nov 11, 2009

As my program rushes to its end, I find my time slipping away. It's both exciting and scary. What will come next? I wish this day had been more productive...!

Veterans Day


Thank you for everything you do and sacrifice to keep our country safe and strong. I doubt it can ever be said enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Nov 10, 2009

Big Sisters Extra

I did a story on the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston about a week ago. The link to the story is on the right. I thought it came out well, all things considered. I've come to realize that working for a local, community newspaper has certain benefits and drawbacks.

I often get invites to events I would otherwise not have access to. This is cool when I get to walk into a Michael Jackson tribute concert at the House of Blues and bring a friend along with me. As great as that access is, it rarely leads to a good story. I had a great time running around the House of Blues taking pictures of people, but in the end, no story materialized from it. Other times, you have to cover a story that doesn't interest you, but is something the paper wants to have. I've found in theses cases, the product I publish is often some of my better work. I don't know how to explain that.

I think the worst aspect of working for a community newspaper is having people approach you with story ideas. Let me be clear here, I don't mind being approached, it's just that the stories or events that people want me to cover tend to be self-serving and not really linked into something that the entire community would want to know about. Or worse, it's a retread of something they saw in the paper last week. When one of my friends emailed me about doing a story on Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, I was concerned because I couldn't immediately figure out the reason for the story.

I have a process that I go through when people pitch me. First, I ask myself if it's something I'd read in the newspaper. This is probably the hardest test because there is very little I would read. So, the test goes hand-in-hand with would other people be interested in reading about it in the newspaper. If it passes those two tests, I'll send an email to my editor asking if the paper would be interested in the story. More often than not, they are, but there interest comes with conditions, in this case I had to make the story not so much about Big Sisters mentoring program but about the lack of black women acting as mentors in the community. Big Sisters would only be the lead in, not the entire story.

I don't generally like doing stories that people pitch me because there is too much of a risk of not being objective. People don't suggest stories to you so you can tear them down in print. It's all sort of fluffy, "look how great we are" stuff. i understand the need for this, but it's difficult to maintain journalistic integrity when you're doing a favor for your friend or fellow church member. I was wary when my friend emailed me because there was space for this story to just be a fluff piece on Big Sisters.

You'll notice that Big Sisters is the brunt of the story because in doing research I came to realize that they are one of the few groups that is actively seeking black women as mentors. Because they have such a high number of "ethnic" Little Sisters they are pushing to match them with more big sisters of color. I thought that was the most interesting issue and because of it, kept the focus on their work and new programs.

They have an office on Mass Ave, which is near the green line. The building looks like an apartment building from the outside. A doorman sits behind a desk that looks to be wedged into the corner of the narrow entry hall. there is a stairway that leads to the various offices in the building behind the doorman's desk. Located on the second floor, the Big Sisters office is very spacious. I was only saw the large conference room but there appeared to be offices down a hallway behind the receptionist's desk, which was to the right of the door. They had just received these new chairs and asked me to sit in one while I waited. They were quite comfortable.

The interview, itself, went very well. I spoke with Maren Johnson and Judy Neufeld, who were more than happy to talk about their new programs and generally gave me a sense that they were really excited to get some coverage by the Banner. They even gave me names of current Big Sisters to talk to for a first-hand perspective of the mentoring programs. I also gave my friend grief for being late when she was the one who set the interview up.

Sometimes stories like these can be a drag. I sometimes find it hard to write about something that I know is just giving someone a chance to cast some light on themselves and not benefit anyone around them. But Big Sisters is different. I respect the work they do and I'm glad to help them generate some buzz about their new program so that it can become successful.

Nov 9, 2009

Knighthood Part II

I'm back at the BU Pub. The oak wood bar is the same, but there are a few changes... The television shows pro football highlights and Steve, a tall, fair-haired bartender, serves me a Magic Hat #9. My friend, Ashleigh, steals a cheese-covered nacho chip from my plate. The Magic Hat is my fortieth beer of fifty on the Knight's Quest. The end is in sight.

Initially, I intended to finish my Knight's Quest during the Spring Semester. I was prepared to drink 3.5 beers a day to make it happen but events outside the realm of my control forced me to readjust my schedule. Not really an issue, because I'd rather go through the process of being knighted in the middle of the semester.

With ten beers left, at my current pace, I'll be done by next week. I'm looking forward to it. My program is only three semesters, not a lot of time on campus. Getting the Knight's Quest done in that time is an odd sense of accomplishment.

Stay tuned for the the Knighting ceremony...!

Nov 8, 2009

Fantasy Football

Every year, for the past three years, I've joined a fantasy football league with some friends from high school. The Foxes yahoo fantasy football league has been a way for me to stay in touch with friends from Roxbury Latin as well as add some fun personal fun to the football games played on Sundays and Mondays. Currently, I'm fifth in the league with a 4-4 record. However, I'm winning this week. I enjoy participating in the fantasy league, but I've noticed a few trends emerging in how I watch football.

Less care about team play
Since fantasy football is more about individual stats than team play, I've found that I will watch games just to see the particular player on my fantasy team do well. I couldn't care less about the rest of the team. I got upset this weekend when a particular running back on my team didn't play well. Turns out his team didn't run the ball well this weekend, but all I care about is the player.

Random anger at specific players for poor performance or great performance
When a guy on my team is doing poorly, I get really upset, as if their poor performance is causing me physical harm. Last week, Mike Sims-Walker, wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars, had nine yards on two or three catches. Not a great outing by any stretch, but it happens. It didn't help my fantasy team. I could have used the projected nine points. On the flip side, this weekend I played someone who had Wes Welker on his team. He and Tom Brady hooked up from 84 yards. During the game, I was a mess every time Welker touched the ball.

Obsessive attention to player stats and team rankings
Suddenly, I find myself doing comparative research on how well a team's pass defense is against certain players. Now, as a follower of football, I have a higher general knowledge of how teams are doing, but my desire to know how well Hines Ward has done in the past against the Denver Broncos pass defense is just a tad bit much.

Luckily, I'm not anywhere near as bad as these guys. Let me be clear, I like fantasy football, it's fun and adds a new dimension to my enjoyment of the football season. It's just funny because I'm fully aware of how it's changing the way I watch football, and maybe I'm OK with it.

Nov 6, 2009

MBTA part 3

While waiting for a train, today, I saw four boys attempt to jump a fifth boy. The jumpee screamed for the police and help. The people near him did nothing...

Nov 5, 2009

BU lax player brings execellence to Regis

(Editor's note: This is a story I did for a class earlier this year. I liked how it came out so I'm posting it to my blog.)

At 24, Jake Kravitz is the youngest Varsity lacrosse Head Coach in Regis College history… He’s also the first lacrosse head coach so he gets the title by default. Hired last fall as an Admissions Counselor and part-time Varsity lacrosse Head Coach, Kravitz has the daunting task of building a team, and a program from scratch. “It’s been a lot of work, but it’s also been fun because I’m doing something I want to do,” said Kravitz.

Earlier Years

Born in Pennsylvania, Kravitz was raised in Dresher, a town 15 miles north of Philadelphia. Involved in sports since he was young, Kravitz played a myriad of sports including swimming, wrestling. At Upper Dublin High School, Kravitz played football for the varsity team until a back injury forced him to stop.

In eighth grade Kravitz was introduced to lacrosse through a friend. “He would bring his lacrosse stick to study hall,” Kravitz recounts. “He’d let me try to cradle with it, and when he realized I could, he said I should join his town league.”

In middle school, the lacrosse team was split into an “A” team, comprised of eighth graders, and a “B” team made up of seventh graders and eighth graders who had never played the sport before. Kravitz was relegated to the “B” team.

“It was funny, as an eighth grader on the “B” team; I was the largest kid on the field. I had not stick skills, so they put me on defense and my job was to knock down whoever had the ball, scoop the loose ball and then give it to someone with better stick skills,” said Kravitz of his first lacrosse game experience.

The skills would come, and as they did, Kravitz was able to contribute more than just his size, especially as he moved up and began to play varsity lacrosse for his high school he lost the size advantage he enjoyed in eighth grade.

Upon graduation from Upper Dublin, Kravitz entered Boston University in the fall of 2003. Despite the fact that BU did not have a varsity lacrosse program, Kravitz was still eager to play for the club team. “I looked up the website for BU Club Lacrosse and emailed to coach to express my interest in playing for the team,” said Kravitz.

The College Years

When he arrived on campus, as a freshman, Kravitz soon realized the club lacrosse team was not what he expected. “The team was in shambles. Their season had been cut short, last year, due to an alcohol violation, some of the players had been caught drinking with the coach,” explained Kravitz.
His freshman year was not much better. The low point came the morning of an away game against Worcester Poly Technical. 14 people including the coaches showed up for the bus. They barely had enough to field a full team. “I don’t think we won more than two games my freshman year,” recalls Kravitz.

If nothing else, his freshman year taught Kravitz how not to run a team. As a sophomore, Kravitz was named club secretary, and began to work with the other officers to move the lacrosse program in a new direction. Little by little, BU Club Lacrosse became more legitimate and their play improved in the league.

By his senior year, the BU lacrosse team had become a contender in their league and was invited to play in a postseason tournament in New Hampshire. As team president for the second year, Kravitz had played an integral role in increasing recruitment by “Storming the dorm” and handing out flyers.

Despite losing to Boston College in the first round of postseason play, Kravitz was happy to see the progress the team had made since his freshman year. “It felt good to be a part of the team knowing where it was when I joined and seeing how far it had come when I graduated,” said Kravitz.

Post College

After graduating, Kravitz worked as an EDI analyst for a software company processing thousands of healthcare claim forms. “My life was the movie Office Space. I had several bosses, and hated it,” said Kravitz.

In his free time, Kravitz would play pickup games of lacrosse and joined various summer leagues to maintain his skills. In 2007, he helped manage a spring lacrosse league in Boston for the company ULAX. The summer, the opportunity to be a head coach at Regis College presented itself to Kravitz, who was looking for a way to break into coaching.


“I don’t think I was there first choice for the position, but my work at BU, rebuilding the club team, really impressed them [Regis College Athletic Director, Marybeth Lamb, Assistant Athletic Directors, Heather Gilmour and Jessica Gould].”

Kravitz is optimistic about the newly established Regis Men’s Lacrosse team. “I want to win the league in five years,” he says. When pressed as to why he thinks a league championship is possible in five years, Kravitz relates his philosophy on why working as the Men’s Lacrosse head coach is less like work and more like a passion.

While many hours of work have gone into setting up the team, Kravitz won’t know how successful his efforts have been until May 1. “May 1 is the deadline for deposits. I’ll have a better picture of how well I did recruiting after that date… I’m excited to see the turnout,” says Kravitz.

Nov 4, 2009

Falling Behind Already

Well, one could say that this experiment was a failure. It's only been four days and I've already missed a day. While the initial idea was to write and entry every day of the month, I think if I end up with 30 entries in the month of November that is a win.

The reason behind my ball dropping is simple enough, I was doing school work and that has a level of priority over all else. In the past 72 hours I've had a presentation due in one class, an audio assignment due in another, a day of work plus my responsibilities at my internship. Throw on top of all that a developing cold, which I think I may have gotten from my flu vaccination, and it stands to reason why a blog entry might go undone. But let me not paint myself untruthfully. I did procrastinate. I should have done my reading for the presentation earlier, so that I would not have had to stay up all night reading it and trying to understand what it said.

I made a promise to myself that I would be more responsible academically as a grad student. Until two days ago, I felt comfortable saying that I was maintaining that goal. Now, not so much. I am, however, determined to get everything done and do it well. If that means less time hanging out then so be it. It's time to prove to myself that I can delay gratification long enough to at least get my work done.

Nov 1, 2009

An Experiment + Boston Bengals

It's commonly understood that blogs are only as good as their newest content. Most blogs die slow quiet deaths when those that post to them either give up or, worse, forget. I don't want that to happen to this blog. As it stands now, I update about two or three times a month. Not terrible, but not awesome either. So here is the challenge. For the month of November I'm going to write one entry every day. This counts. The idea, besides getting used to writing everyday, is to form a habit. I hope the you'll find the entries entertaining, if nothing else. I appreciate feedback so don't hesitate to get in touch with me using the various methods listed to the right. With the preamble finished, let's get to it!


Boston Bengals

In my spare time I coach a Pop Warner football team, the Boston Bengals. This is my second year coaching the team and I can say with much certainty that my two years of coaching experience have been vastly different. I coach 13 - 15-year-old boys. They are at an age when they begin to really develop a sense of identity and how they want to be perceived by others. It's interesting because they deal with the dynamic of being looked at as young black men and many of the stereotypes that are associated with that. However, they also have childlike desires that show in the level of goofiness they display.

We, myself and the other coaches, use football as a technique to teach these boys discipline, patience, commitment and responsibility. All of these concepts take character, something football, as a sport, can teach at any level. We do our best to ingrain these concepts into the boys so that they keep them and grow into responsible adults.

My first year, the team was made up of boys who had been in the Boston Bengals Pop Warner program for several years as well as boys who had played together before. Because of that, our team was more mature than other teams and able to gel faster allowing us to go 7-1 on the season, 8-2 including our playoff record. This year the team was made up of younger boys, many of whom had never played organized football. Our lack of experience lead to a 3-5 season record but also allowed us to grow more than the first team did.

As much as we coaches love winning, we strive to instill in the boys those concepts that I mentioned earlier. It's not easy. But I feel like the reward for succeeding is worth the difficulty. We lost our first five games. I've played on losing teams and and 0-5 stretch is tough to accept. Really, any string of loses is tough to deal with. Not only do you begin to doubt your skill, but you also begin to question your commitment to the sport. Why continue to play a sport, especially a sport like football that beats you up physically, when you aren't at least winning some games?

Despite losing our first five games, we retained a core of boys who continued to show up to practice and, work and and play hard. They were rewarded by going on a three game win streak to close out the season. In our first win, we beat a team by 12 points. Our second win was a come-from-behind victory over another Boston neighborhood program. Our third win was a blow-out, so much so that Pop Warner slaughter rules went into effect during the second half of the game.

These wins, while obviously a product of football skill and execution, are also a testament to the level of character these boys have developed. It would have been incredibly easy for any of them to quit the team and cease playing football, or join their high school team if they were good enough to make the squad. Yet each boy remained through the hardest part to reap the benefits of their patience. All of the boys on this team will remember this season of football. The fact that they went 3-5 may not linger, but the feeling of family and team unity will. I'm proud to have been a part of that. I'm proud to have been able to watch these boys mature over the course of 14 weeks. And I hope they are as proud of themselves as I am of them.

Oct 7, 2009

Stage three: the walk from bus stop to school.



Pass through the residential area...


...Into and through the parking lot of TenSpa...


... Down American Legion Highway to school.


Dunkin' Donuts, a morning requirement...!
The bus is so full the driver has to turn people away!
This bus is much more lively than the first. Much noisier!

Boarded bus at 7:25, this is only the second stage of three on my trip. Not sure if I'll make it to work by 8!
Passing through Roslindale and into West Roxbury... There is enough light to see outside the bus now..

I thought the first bus was full, the second one is worse. A few kids have to wait for the next bus.
I GOT A SEAT!!
More HS students waiting for the bus...might not get a seat this time!
Made it to Forest Hills, halfway to school...

















A cop stopped me and asked me why I was taking this picture.
The bus was pretty full, but no one sat next to me... Odd.
There are a lot of HS students on the bus but the ride, so far, has been very quite.

The girl sitting two rows in front of me is listening to Biggie Smalls... I can tell because I can hear her music despite her headphones...!
It's rainy today. Usually means slower service, but so far I'm making good time.
Got to bus stop at 6:38... Bus arrived at 6:45, not bad!
I'm traveling from Dorchester West Roxbury. It's about 5 or 6 miles away. A 15-20 minute trip by car, but I'm on the bus.
Good morning! Why don't you come to work with me? Follow at twitter, and with pics and video on my blog. http://rickdashiell.blogspot.com

Aug 27, 2009

New Banner Story... Last week

I had a story in the Bay State Banner last week. Would have made mention of it, but I was at a family reunion and was making an effort to not turn my computer on. The Red Sox talks and Fenway Challenge made for a decent photo op and quick wrap up. The link is on the right.

There will be photos from the reunion and some extra on the Red Sox Talks soon enough.

Aug 14, 2009

Peace Boston Hip Hop Festival

This was the first story I did for the Banner when they began to republish. I liked it, something with some pop to come back with. I'm not the biggest fan of festivals like these because often the talent that takes the stage before the main event isn't that great or the headlining act doesn't even show up. That happened with Bow Wow earlier this year at Chez Vous skating rink.

However, unlike that debacle, the Peace Boston Hip Hop Festival not only showcased great local talent the headline act, 80s rap group Whodini, showed up early and did an extended set. I took a bunch of pictures and some video of the acts, many of which are posted in the following entries. Check out the local talent. People say that Boston doesn't have much to offer in the way of hip hop but I think that seriously underestimates the city.

TOUCH 106.1 FM helped emcee the event. DJ OC worked the turntables between acts and Courtney Boston kept the crowd motivated as prepped for Whodini. Whether it was freestyle rhymes, joking with DJ OC about Boston sports or hyping up the audience Apparently everyone loves Courtney B.

Aug 13, 2009

New Banner Story

Check out this week's Banner to read my arts and entertainment story on Elan Trotman, an up and coming smooth jazz musician. He released an album earlier this year titled "This Time Around," which is a fusion of jazz, funk and R&B. As always, there is a link to the story on the right!

Aug 6, 2009

Human Behavior

Less than thirty minutes ago I witnessed human nature at it's most raw. While driving home across BU campus I pulled up to a stop light at St. Mary's and Mountfort. Two of my friends were in the car with me. Suddenly, my friend sitting next to me in the front seat grabbed my arm and exclaimed.
"Oh my God! That guy just picked his nose and ate it!"
I looked to my left. Sitting in a blue pick-up truck a white male, probably mid to late 40s, with brown thinning hair and thick glasses sat, had his right pinky buried two knuckles deep in his nose. He pulled the finger out, tipping it down and put it in his mouth.
"No!" I proclaimed. "He didn't just do that...!"
My friend in the front seat nodded her head. "He did!"
"What's going on?" My friend in the back seat asked? I nodded towards the truck.
"He's picking his nose and eating it," I said.
At that moment, the man jammed his pinky back into his nose, swirled it around, pulled it out and stuck it in his mouth. Everyone in my car howled in shock, disgust and disbelief.
"I think I'm gonna vomit!" My friend in the rear shrieked.
"No way! That just happened!" I roared. my friend in the front seat just laughed and giggled, saying "No way! No way!" Her shoulders shaking the entire time.
I looked away laughing and shaking my head. The light, still red, would not change. Finally, the light turned green and I sped away. What people do when they don't think others are watching will never cease to amaze me.

Whodini

Whodini member, Ecstasy hypes up the crowd during their set at the 2009 Peace Boston Hip Hop Festival.

Moe Pope

Moe Pope sings "Danger, Danger," off his album of the same name at the 2009 Peace Boston Hip Hop Festival. Together with producer, Headnodic, Pope forms the rap group Megaphone.

New Banner Story

You read that correctly, the Banner is back. And I have a story in the re-up issue. The 2009 Peace Boston Hip Hop Festival was held at the Strand Theater last weekend. Check out the link under Banner stories. I tons of pictures and some video so look out for the extra content to come shortly.

Aug 5, 2009

M-Dot

East Boston born rapper M-Dot performs during the 2009 Peace Hip Hop Festival. His song "Hush, hush" highlights Boston's neighborhoods and what makes them great.

Boston Tap Co.

The Boston Tap Co. was one of the better opening acts. Tap dance has been pigeon-holed into the "Broadway-Showtunes" are of performance so it was cool to see the dance style brought into the world of hip-hop. "We dance and tap to different music that shows people tap is more than what you see on Broadway," said Sean Fielder, founder and director of The Boston Tap Co.

Hip-hop dance is cool, and there were several groups at the festival that were all talented, but to see tap dance showcased was especially interesting. After their performance, the group took a picture with Mayor Thomas Menino.




Shaquan Reed of the Boston Tap showcases his skills at the 2009 Peace Hip Hop Festival



Later, the entire ensemble would create staccato rhythms with their feet, showing what each member could do.

2009 Peace Hip Hop Festival - Royal Fam Krumpers

The Royal Fam Krumpers opened the show with some fantastic dancing. Krumping is one of those dances that can make you look really stupid. But if you have some skill it's amazing to watch. What I liked most about Royal Fam is that they use krumping as an expression of their faith. The group started at Jubilee Church, and right before their performance they prayed as a group. It's hard not to appreciate young people who remain grounded in their faith amidst all the temptions offered these days.

I also liked that there was nothing scripted about their performance. They went on stage. The music started. They began to dance. Very simple, yet each of the dancer's movements were precise and purposeful. They were the perfect group to start the festival because of their high-energy moves and music. The crowd, which was rowdy and not really paying attention, quickly got into their moves and fed off their energy.




Daniel Grant krumps to open the 2009 Peace Hip Hop Festival.

Jul 31, 2009

BRETT FAVRE: HOW TO SPEND RETIREMENT

This past Tuesday it was reported by several respectable sports news outlets that Brett Favre decided to stay retired instead of join the Minnesota Vikings for a 19th NFL season. While the news came as a shock to said sports news outlets, LEEInks would like to congratulate Favre on making a decision and suggest some ways to fill his newly acquired free time.

Since Favre will be spending more time at the Hattiesburg compound, he can work on maintaining his lawn. His various Snapper mowers probably haven’t gotten much use in the past 18 years during training camp time in August. According to the Snapper lawn mower website, Favre enjoys cutting his own lawn, and if his commercials are any indication it’s one of the few times can talk football and not be harassed. But, if the lawn is not enough, LEEInks has some other suggestions.

It’s obvious that Favre just likes to hang out. The beauty of retirement is he now has all the time he wants to do just that without the stress of having to dodge linebackers. His days will be just like his Prilosec OTC commercial … except without the heartburn and it’ll last longer than nine days.

It was reported on Wednesday that Favre is still throwing the football and even though he is retired. This works well with the retirement plan because it will give him more time to chill with the guys while tossing the pigskin. LEEInks wants to know if it gets any better than a game of touch with the fellas in a pair of comfortable jeans. Clearly it does not.

Or, if the heartburn kicks in and Favre wants to get away and contemplate nature, he can wonder the Hattiesburg wilderness with his dog, otherwise known as Remington Country.

Were that not enough to do during retirement Favre could resurrect his acting career. Everyone saw There’s Something about Mary , he was phenomenal. LEEInks sees a bright future for Favre in the comedy genre. The next movie involving Favre, Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen is guaranteed to be box office gold.

At 39 years of age, Favre is still a young guy. He has plenty of time to decide how he wants to spend his retirement. LEEInks would again like to congratulate Favre, it takes skill to tick off all of sports media, and leave a bunch of reporters with egg on their face.

Jul 13, 2009

Game Point

I’m interning at a radio station this summer. TOUCH 106.1 FM is a local, black-owned and operated, low-power station based in Grove Hall. It’s been fun because I get to do sports updates and recently have been live on the air on Mondays during the morning show. My internship is wide open in terms of what I’m allowed to do. To that end, I’ve been working with two other DJs to produce a sports radio show similar to Pardon the Interruption. We’ve been working on getting the segments to be played on the air but as of yet we’ve not had any luck. But you can check them out here on my blog. Let me know what you think.


Game Point - 6.12.09.mp3 -

Bay State Banner Suspends Publication

With the Bay State Banner suspending publication I find myself in an interesting position. Since last year I’ve held at least three jobs at once, sometimes up to five. I’ve always been aware of the difficult economic times, but it wasn’t until the Banner suspended publications that the crunch of lost jobs hit home.

As a student/freelance reporter the closing of one writing avenue shouldn’t really slow me down as I am able to write for anyone. Newspapers are always looking for good writers that they can pay freelance rates. The irony is that it never crossed my mind that the Banner would shut down.

Helping edit the Banner every Tuesday allows me to see and read the paper before it comes out and see the length of the paper as well. It might not have been prevalent in my mind, but when the newspaper shrinks from 36 – 40 pages to 20 – 25 pages in a year there are problems.

Owner and publisher, Melvin B. Miller has stated that the suspension is due to financial issues coming from the fact that the paper has sold a diminishing number of ads. Honestly, it’s all above my pay grade.
I do hope the Banner will continue to publish. It’s a staple of the black community, the spiritual successor to the Guardian and one of the few newspapers that covered issues of importance to the black community and still maintained a global perspective.

Plus, I have several stories that I’m still working on and I’d like to get them published in the Banner!

BANNER STORIES AND OTHER STUFF
I know I’m behind in my updates. Some new developments with me have kept me from writing with regularity, but I’ll catch up with my updates and probably talk about the other stuff that going on with me. I appreciate your patience.