How many of you would like to see lower gas prices? Better schools and better health care? How many of you make enough money to pay for your own health care? How many of you can do as you please with out restraint of fiscal struggles? I don’t know the answer, that’s why I’m asking. Because if it is as I think it is, then we could all do a little something to change those answers.

We are electing a new president. Ha, well we are giving our opinion on who the next president should be. But how many of you wish that the things you said and the ideas you had were listened to? How many of you have an idea that you think could help with lowering gas prices but don’t tell a soul because you don’t want to be laughed at and shushed out of the conversation?

What if there was a social uprising in this country that forced the government to finally listen to its citizens? Would it be as easy as the Boston Tea Party or as bloody as the War for Independence? It would probably mix a little bit of both. Because while a non violent movement gets the word out, it seems that every movement ends in blood shed. And maybe this time it can be the blood of the people that have forced so many of us into poverty. Maybe this time they can feel the pain of the hundreds of thousands of people that go with out food or shelter or human understanding every day in this country. Maybe we can rise in a way so powerful that history books will be written about our actions.

It all starts here. It all starts now. I’m open to suggestions and criticism. It is from our critisizers that we learn our weaknesses, and from our belief that what we are doing is right that we overcome that criticism in positive ways.

I may be crazy while I stand here alone, but will I be seen as crazy if you all have the courage to stand here with me?

I’ve waited minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, and year after year for the pain to go away. But it seems the longer I wait, the worse it gets. The more I medicate the more I think about it. And when I manage to let it go for a bit, the harder it hits me as I lay my head down to sleep.

The pills and the powders and the trees and the booze are unpredictable. It doesn’t matter the amount I take, the pain, it never subsides. Most times it intensifies, or becomes so horrific I scream bloody murder on deaf ears. I smile and wave, I might even dance a little bit, but I never let it go. I can still see the images, feel the abuse, remember the smell of the moments that are imbedded in my head forever. They are always with me.

I can smell the smoke of the bridges I’ve burned and feel the intensity of the death I dream.

The family fishing outside my apartment can’t tell, but I envy them. They cast their lines and worry only of the fish that may grab hold and reward their efforts, and the ducks that stroll politely by, picking at seeds and running from the geese. They know not that I glance their way and wonder what it feels like to be happy and calm.

Even the trees that offer their shade are something to be envied. Their budding branches shuttering in the cool breeze while basking up the days last offering of warm sun, worrying only if their roots will soak up enough water before the summer drought.

I envy these things, and many others; not because I am a jealous man sitting on my deck, but because I am lonely child of the Earth seeking understanding.

Every day I wonder where I missed the road sign for an easy life, a stable life. Where I fell asleep on auto pilot and changed course. I guess what I missed was the workshop where they handed out the owners manual to living in America. Where they explain that you’re screwed unless you’re white and rich. Or even just white. Where they explained its not the good things you do in life out of kindness and repsect for others, but that it’s about the money you make for the people that force others into need and create an environment of class and sub-standard equality.

I missed the story in the Bible that told us that fathers beating their children over shoes was acceptable and mothers giving up their children for sexual affairs should be expected. I missed the lecture in history class that told me blacks killing blacks was right and blacks killing whites goes against the plans. I missed the lecture that informed us racism should be passed on from generation to generation and all movements to abolish it will be dealt with quietly, but swiftly by the government.

I take a few more pills and chug an American beer and wonder why clothes mean more than integrity. Why a person who spends a hundred dollars on shoes becomes more popular than the person who spends twenty. I wonder why one side of town looks like England after World War 2 and the other like the TV shows we all worship so much; and yet both sides want the same thing, a recognition of their being. And one side hates the other for having all that money and the other side hates the first for trying to obtain what they so freely flaunt in front of them as the “American Dream.”

I burn another one down and let the smoke settle in my lungs before I exhale and wonder why the government doesn’t legalize this stuff and make itself billions. I wonder if it is truly about its side effects or the fact that Native Americans weren’t as willing to pass the piece pipe as our history books depict. I wonder why we don’t talk about the genocide that as white pilgrims we inflicted on the people that wanted to share their knowledge of this beautiful land and learn as much about the lands of far as they could. I wonder if it was because they were a people of color and not because they made unreasonable demands. I wonder why this beautiful land we thought was so rightfully ours is now being destroyed by an ignorant society balling up a clay model and throwing it away.

I push the really bad thoughts away a little while longer and wonder if anyone else understands what I’m thinking every day. I wonder why that matters to me, and conclude it is a last ditch effort to not feel as alone as I am right now, as alone as life has been since I realized how little value we put in the lives of strangers. Why is it ok to stare blankly into the distance and ignore the people that could hold the answer to that question we have been stuck on our whole lives. The question that lets us take that next step. And we sit there cooly in our groups of mild manored followers posse’s agreeing on the dumbest topics and holding back our deepest fears, not realizing our only real fear is coming off as vulnerable.

But as I chug my last beer and pop my final pills while pulling on the last of my trees, I wonder if tomorrow will offer any change or if I will continue to ask these questions of anaudience of one because no one has the guts to question right from wrong.

I wonder today, the 40th Anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. about that word legacy. Because this is a man that left more than a legacy, he changed the course of history. Which is his legacy. Is he also legend? Because he did what no one believed him to be able to do. He stood up when every one else sat down. He showed courage when every one else were cowards.

There are time that I wish I could have been there with Dr. King. But there is a part of me that wonders if I would have had the courage to stand by his side during those times. If I could have taked the senseless beatings, the constant death threats, the bombings, etc. Because life hasn’t been easy for me, and I’ve seen some stuff that I never want to live through again, but nothing as extreme or constant as the perils that Dr. King faced.

I wonder if the kids that run around on the south side of Chicago realize that that empty lot on the corner was once lived in by Dr. King himself. If they realize that the city they live in was once said to be the worst experience of Dr. King’s life. It was in Chicago that Dr. King faced some of the worst racism he had ever experienced. Which surprises a lot of people, even today. He spent three months living in the ghetto’s of Chicago, his house was blown up twice, shot at several times, bricks through the windows, and it was in the self proclaimed black friendly North. It wasn’t in the depths of Alabama or Mississippi or Louisiana that Dr. King feared for his life the most, but Chicago. And while his life was ended on this day 40 years ago, in Memphis, I wonder what he would think of the progress, or lack there of, since his passing.

Our neighborhoods are riddled with racism, our schools, our businesses, everything is still deeply rooted in racism. I know, it’s a harsh thing to say, but it’s true. Think about it. How many times have you heard an off comment at work about another race? Or been sitting in a class and only seen one black student, and they are sitting by themselves? Or sat in a teachers lounge and heard teachers complain exclusively about their black students, but only when the black teachers aren’t around. And even the opposite, where black teachers complain non stop about their white students. Racism is still alive today, and it is evident in every aspect of our lives. You just have to open your eyes more to see it.

And the fact that this racism is so prevelant in today’s society, makes me wonder what we are teaching the next generation. If we are finally breaking the cycle, forty years after one of the greatest Civil Rights Leaders of all time was murdered for a dream of equality. I ask what you do to end racism, and where you draw the line when a friend makes a racist joke. And I’m not saying I’m perfect, no one is, but realized we all do it is the beginning to the solution.

It’s been a hot minute since I last blogged on here, and I think it is about time I share with you all what’s up with me. I’ve been to a few more events and met some really chill people. I’ve even run into some fellow New Yorkers, and that has made me feel more comfortable when I head out for the night. Not to mention our being the 1st Annual Bowling Tournament Champions!!!! That was a kick ass time, and I feel bad for anyone that was panzy enough to sign up and not show, you suck. We had a blast, and the after party at the Spot was just as kick ass!

I have been thinking these last few days about stupid beef that people start. I used to spend a lot of time in the hood when I was a kid, I didn’t have to, I lived in a nice house on a quiet street with a fucked up family life, but I would escape to the streets and it led to a lot of bad decisions in my life. I can remember people threatening me just for looking at em funny, and then for no reason pulling a knife out or a gun out and bringing their beef with me right to my door step. I wasn’t a punk, and I know that too many times I brought it right back at em. It was that mentality that had me getting in trouble, getting chased by the cops, had the fenes after me once or twice cuz they didn’t like my product, all types of bull shit, yah know? I know earlier this week I was pretty pissed at a few people, and I brought it to em. How they handled it is how they handled it, and I have since calmed down a bit. I’m not sweating petty bull shit anymore, it’s a waste of time.

So I think back to the days that I used to be after people, that I would start a fight or pull some shit on some one for no reason. And it makes me sad. All the people that for no reason I held a grudge against. Whether they were on the wrong block at the wrong time, or because they took something I thought belonged to me. It was all a waste. But I have learned from those choices that I made, and to most of you the person I was just talking about is not a person that you know. I have chosen to change my life, to be a better person, a person that cares and stands up for what I believe in, because the killing and the hatred is not the way that life should be. I shouldn’t have to hit someone to get my point across, I should be able to verbalize my distress to them and deal with it. They should be able to as well, and that is what I attempt to do everyday.

I work with students today that I am able to relate to, and them to me. I am real with them, and I don’t sugar coat anything for them. My co-worker Janelle thinks that I have a gift to reach students, and this may be true, but the way in which I see it, I am just telling them how it is. I don’t hide myself from them, and I show them emotion and reality like most adults wont do in their lives. I love my students, all of them. The day one of my students graduates, I will be one of the happiest people in their lives. For a lot of them, they will be the only one in their family to accomplish such a thing, it is something that not even I could do the traditional way. I’ll be like a proud parent, and I look forward to that day.

Anyway, thank you Mojo for a great couple of weeks. I owe you all a lot for a lot of great times! I look forward to many more, and I owe you all for introducing me to one of the greatest women in my life right now. Steph is phenomenal, and I hope that things continue to progress at a steady pace and that both of us will continue to be happy together. It’s been great thus far, and the future only looks brighter.

I’m out for now, but I want to leave you all with this video for all the friends and enemies I have lost to the streets. They are always on my mind…

Last night I got a call from a student in need. I get these calls all the time. It’s a part of my daily routine, yah know? Every day there is a teenager I work with that needs more help than I can give them. But last nights call was different. This student I was close to, I had taken him under my wing, helped him get a job and get back into school. Talked him out of droping out to sell drugs here in Indianapolis but couldn’t talk his Dad out of pulling him out to make him sell drugs with him. This kid is a genious, straight up. He could change the world if a teacher gave him half the chance, but since no one ever told him that before he struggled in believing it was true.

I’m not going to use his name on here just for his privacy but we can refer to him as “J”. I could tell by the sound in his voice and his speech that he was high as all hell. I thought there was more there, so I started with the obvious, weed. I know he smokes it daily, but this time was different. He was acting a little bit different. It was almost as though he wasn’t even there, and yet he was talking to me about some of the most random stuff. I tried to keep him focused and find out where he was. When he told me his Dad had flown him to Texas to live with his drug addict sister, I knew he was in trouble. He told me he had been working at Wendy’s and then started talking about the colors dancing across the television screen. As calmly as I could I asked him what other drugs he had been using. He refused to tell me, and I could hear his sister in the background yelling at him for even admitting to doing other drugs.

J is a kid that I trust. Even with his past, he is a kid that has confided in me a great deal, and the least I can give to him is my trust, as blind as it may be. No one else will listen to him, and CPS wouldn’t listen to me when I reported the abuse at his Dad’s house before he was sent to Texas. So I feel I am at a dead end. And I feel like this because only a few minutes after we got off the phone he texted me and told me his sister and her boyfriend had made him do heroin. I’m not sure they made him do it, but it would be feasable. Do I think he might have voluntarily done heroin? Not really. We had talked about the use of drugs before and heroin was one that I made him promise me he would never do. I have seen its effects, I know recovering addicts, I have dealt with its abusers. J is smarter than that, I mean damn it!

I’m not going to attempt to hide my emotion in this because I know I crying on the inside. I was up all night trying to find resources in Texas to contact, trying to find his probation officer here in Indiana and his former probation officer in Illinois. This is a kid that I can’t give up on, that I refuse to give up on. This kid could live in my living room if I could afford it. I am so sick of losing child after child to the use of drugs. I am sick of losing child after child to violence and abuse and neglect. I am sick of the fact that you can report the most heinous crime in this country and have nothing come of it. I wish I knew what to do for J. I wish I could afford to fly him back here and get him the help that he needs. I wish that his Dad wasn’t as messed up as he is and that his sister wasn’t putting him in the situation that he’s in. I am scared shitless that J is going to turn eighteen and get arrested and never see the outside of a prison fence.

I want to save every kid while I work on saving myself and I know that I can’t and every day that I wake up I am reminded of that. I work this job because I know what it takes to beat the things these kids are facing. I beat them. I was there. I was in high school and I was them. Damn the fact that I am only one person who can’t do anything for these kids but listen. And sometimes listening is enough, but not this time. Not for this kid. Why is it like this? Why do we allow for things like this to happen? Their dreams are so beautiful and yet their reality is so ugly.

I was inspired to write this by a great song on my Brett Dennen cd that I recently recieved for Christmas. And I was thinking about the words and it just sent this signal to my hands that started moving rapidly across the keyboard and typing in these words.

It made me look back at my life, and when I really started to mature as an individual. I had grown up in a household that forced me to deal with a lot of real issues, and I had chosen a lifestyle that was going to force me to make some major decisions soon. Drinking and doing drugs had always been my way to deal with lifes problems, a way for me to get a release and see everything from a happier life. I was never actually happy, just tricked into feeling that way by the drugs I chose to take.

My life was a wreck. I constantly looked over my shoulder, was paranoid all the time, and for more reasons than I understood at the time. But I remember waking up one day, and as funny as it is, the last time I was arrested as a kid, and saying to myself that I needed to clean up my act. Get my life together because as long as I shoveled off responsibility to other people, nothing would ever change. So I decided I was done. I wasn’t going to drink, or do drugs, or gang bang anymore. I made that commitment to myself, and then I made it to my Mom. All of it went to hell later on, but it also led to the opportunity I would get from the DA and let me get out of a serious drug conviction before I turned 17.

My life changed that day. It was never the same again, nor will it ever be. I started to realize that things were going to get better, that the mistakes I had made were forgivable and that I would be able to fix everything with time. Even today I have to say that to myself, because even today I face challenges from my past. I know that there are things in my past that will never be forgiven by the people I did them to, and I have grown to accept that. The only thing that I can do now is have a positive impact on the lives of the kids that I serve every day. And it is leading to some interesting choices else where in life.

More on the other places it has effected me later. But for now, I leave with this. If I had not fallen and fallen hard, I would never had had the courage to get up and walk again. Because the greatest teacher in life is your own self embarassment. I embarass myself daily, and I learn from myself daily. I hope to for the rest of my life….

I suppose there are times in every person’s life where we ask just how much we care about a person, place or thing. How much are you willing to sacrific for something? How about that NBA Rookie Card of Michael Jordon? Or that tight ass apartment on the Upper East Side that everybody raves about and nobody has but you? Or the child that gets shot every day in this country? Sometimes I think that we forget a lot about the great deal of work that it took to get somewhere. I know that there are some people that worked extremely hard, on their own, to get to the top. But even being left to yourself to accomplish your life goal, there was someone or something teaching you a lesson. Whether is was that you didn’t need any help, or if it was that you always had the attitude that you were fine in life and never let on that you needed to help. The later is usually us more stubborn people, and I am one of them. I am extremely stubborn, as are a lot of the people in my family. But there are a few things that I know are more important, deeper, and less desirable than the aforementioned places and things said before. How many people when put in the situation would take a bullet for a child, or a stranger, or a man, or a woman, if it meant it would save their life?

I have a repeating dream about once a week. It stems from when I was living in Brooklyn, in a rather rough area, and one afternoon while running around the park I was a witness to a young boy being shot dead as an innocent victim in a gangs drive by shooting. I witness it from the moment the grey Caprice came around the corner to the second the first shot was fired to the feable leap I made in front of the boy that was killed. If as soon as I had seen the car pull up I had grabbed the boy, he probably would have lived. But my hesitation, my studder step as I realized what was happening, was something that cost a little boy his life. And it seems that once a week I have a dream about it, and if I had been quicker, and the life that boy would have now. And I am constantly wondering about it. I am constantly saddened by the fact that this boy could not be at his kindergarden graduation. That he never met his first grade teacher, or saw Central Park, or saw anything outside of the shitty neighborhood he had been born in.

I wonder often times if in the same situation or a similar one, if I would be able to react quicker. If I would be one step faster, or a half a step faster and take the bullet myself. I wonder at other times if I would be one of those people that would risk a car wreck to miss a slow grandmother in the cross walk. If there would be time enough for me to avoid her and not hit the car storming up the lane to my left.

I wonder a lot if any other American ever thinks about this, or if we all have become too wrapped up in ourselves.

I wonder if I was not meant to think about this.

I wonder if thinking about it has done more good than bad.

If there is a cure for the constant wonder that creeps into my head late at night and forces me to stay awake.

I wonder as I sit here and I type this if Charles Decker II ever typed on a computer, or knew how to read.

Because the only thing I knew about him was that his last breathes were spent in pain and in fear and in solace, because the people that loved him didn’t love him enough to be with him at the park that day.

I know that there is no reason not to sacrifice myself for the life of someone that has so much to learn about, live for, and experience. A child’s life is easier more precious and more valuable than my own.

Is it more than yours?

::::Maybe a little dark, but nothing to be alarmed about::::

So last night was my first Wild Wednesday, ever! Not too shabby if you ask me. Got a shit ton of pics, some great footage of the burrito debacle, and fine one night’s stay at the Grand Hupster Hotel! Could you ask for more???????!!!!!!!

It all started with what seemed like an innocent stop at the local gas station with Hup to grab “dinner”, i.e. chocolate milk, soda, fig newtons, and chips. But what do you know? Not even in the check out line and a woman drops her milk jug and it splashes everyone with in ten feet. (Hup-where’s the photo Mofo!?!?) Ofcourse the guy behind her chimed in that she should have gone with chugs and not the usual gallon, but woman, they never listen!

Then we made our way up to the Rip to check out Landsharks and really kick start the night! By kick start, I mean I drank a couple of beers and watched college football until the crowd started rolling in. Which was good, I was starting to think Wild Wednesday wasn’t going to be so damn wild! But then South Carolina and the whole crew showed up, so it got live! I think I was on beer eight, nine, maybe eleven or so by 12, so all accounts after that are inadmisable in court.

The dance floor was hoping, the girls were gorgeous, the guys were chillen, the liquor was flowing and before I knew it I was sharing a dance with Steph Brady, and I was glad for that opportunity. I must say that there are quit a few Lady Mofo’s that really know how to work it out there, thanks for keeping things pumping ladies!

As the night wore on Hup and Steph decided it was time for some grub, 2:45, I had to agree. We then proceeded to Qdoba, and as many of you have probably seen or heard, the Burrito debacle ensued. It was an A class show, can’t really lie. I enjoyed myself, and I was really happy that I was able to get out and enjoy the Mofo’s that I have heard have had such a good time on these Wild Wednesday’s.

All in all, I ended up sleeping for all of about thirty minutes amazing couch in the Grand Hupster Hotel’s living room.

I’m not gonna lie, it was really, really good.

I don’t know what it is, but there is some great stuff playing for me on Pandora tonight! I mean, when they play a set of Blues Traveler, Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews Band and Brett Dennen, I just don’t think it can be beat. I am just really enjoying this dope ass song by Brett Dennen called Just Like the Moon. I just don’t think it can be beat, and I hope that one day meet a woman and that this song could hold a significant meaning for us.

Haha, thank you Pandora for a great night with an extremely relaxed and mellow tune!

The future, when asked about, can be one of the scariest things for humans to talk about. Who really knows? I mean, I can want one thing and work towards it every day of my life, but how do I know that tomorrow is going to be ok? That I wont get into a car accident and break my back, never be able to fulfill my dream. We just never know. And on a larger scale, what if what we love today isn’t what we love in ten or fifteen years? It can be put in the sense of relationships and jobs and friendships and just life. It’s scary, because I know there are times when I really feel like I am on the right track with something, and then one day it just isn’t as important and then shortly after that I am just not even worried about it, it was just a passing feeling.

Life with in the realms that I see it now, is at times bleek. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suicidal or anything, just saying that there are things that I see now that I don’t think I can put up with in thirty years. Things with in the profession that I would like to enter into and things in the personaly lives of others. And maybe it’s not normal to think about these things, but I was asked by a coworker today what my future looks like.

I have a few hypothesis’, but I don’t know which one to really pursue. I seem to have found myself at a fork in the road, only instead of that comical and sometimes life changing two road fork we see in movies, I am finding myself faced with more of a pitch fork. Let me break it down here for a second:

1?- Professional soccer player. I am pretty good, played with a few really good teams and stood out and played with a semi’s team that was decent and well respected. But I feel I have been away from the game at a high level of competition, one that would only be needed to play professional soccer. So it scares me off a bit. That and not being in great shape yet.

2?- Enter into the police academy and fight crime. But I don’t want to lock up kids and shit all night. I want to create programs to help these kids stay out this trouble in the first place. So I guess that’s scratched.

3?- Finally finish college majoring in political theory and philosophy finally entering into law school and working in New York City. It holds a really bright future, one that could bring me into a lot of money and a possible position in government. Which, honestly, has been my dream since I was a little kid. I only fear that a lot of the things that I have done in my past will prevent me from really moving forward with this. Especially the political career.

4?- Finally finish college(notice the similarities) majoring in secondary education and history so I could teach high school American History and Economics and Government. Which would be awesome because I think that I relate really well with the students that I work with now and I could hopefully get more kids interested in something that I love, HISTORY! I know, I am really a nerd and have been holding it in all this time. But again, I run into a problem, I don’t have the cash for college. I knew I was lacking something that really was important in this situation.

5?- Move back east and become a small time community activist attempting to save the world who inevitably kills himself while overdosing on LSD in his lower east side apartment. Now that would be a life of a legend, say like Abbie Hoffman or something. But I don’t really like the whole dieing thing. Not that the drugs would be that bad but the suicide, no, I can’t do that. So I guess this it sort of out as well.

I mean, I guess I just sort of need to see where I see myself in thirty years and hope that doesn’t change in the next ten. But then again, aren’t we all?

Oh, and I am listening to some great tunes on Pandora including such great hits as Hook by Blues Traveler and Middle Man by Jack Johnson and ofcourse the great Dave Matthews Band.