Thursday, April 26, 2007

Burn, Baby, Burn

April 29 brought power to the people, and we might see a sequel.
- Ice Cube, "Wicked"

It has been fifteen years. Fifteen years since the city of Los Angeles was burned, almost beyond recognition. Fifteen years city since the powder keg exploded, since the weeds came up and choked the life out of the community. Since the tears turned to anger, turned to rage, turned to violence, turned to exploitation, then turned to recovery.

We, the citizens of the City of Angels, witnessed it firsthand. It was MORE than anger. It was confusion, frustration, and anger. It was Daryl Gates and LAPD's finest in rare form. It was trying to figure out, at a very young age, "Where is the hell IS Simi Valley, anyway?"

It's not so much important to get into the minutia details of what happened on Florence and Normandie. All of us know them. And it only takes going down one of our many streets that NEVER recovered, where the buildings are dilapidated, or GONE, replaced with nothing but bitterness, violence, and memories of how and why it happened.

Just as everyone can remember where you were and what you were doing during 09/11, or the OJ verdict, we all remember how we felt and where we were when this story broke.

We weren't surprised at the video that emerged when we saw Rodney King. Our thought was "Oh, so now they have it on tape". We WERE, however, surprised that they changed venues, and relocated the trial to bum fuck Egypt, otherwise known as Simi Valley, a suburbian community that is at least 45 minutes outside of Greater Los Angeles. But hey, from a technical perspective what should that matter for us, because there WAS a tape, and there WAS the evidence. Mind you, we knew that Rodney King was a hot mess and probably had one too many Remy's or Sticky Icky's, but what we saw on those tapes was not restraint, it was brutal assault. Moreover, it just looked TOO EASY. . .The officers looked like they were playing caroms with their sticks.

Then, the verdict was announced.

For myself, I was at home that day from work and school. My mother had went to a funeral. I was stunned. The tears burned in the back of my irises. I didn't know what to think. Then I saw what was happening on Florence and Normandie. What they call South Central LA. What we call a couple of blocks West of the 110 Freeway. . .And it just grew, and grew, and grew. The Los Angels Riots ha

For most of us in Los Angeles, everything that was happening was surreal. We did everything, including stocking up on food and water, thinking that it would be a shortage. My School (California State University, Los Angeles), closed up for the rest of the week. There was NO Internet boon at the time, and you only had a cell phone if you were doctor or a drug dealer, so you were glued to the TV, transfixed by what you saw, you were running to your phone because someone paged you :P or you were going to page someone.

It felt like the LA Riots would never end. And, to some degree, it hasn't.

And the grassroots healing began. All kinds of Non Profit (read: Suspect) organizations came out of the woodwork. The "Rebuild LA" project came to the forefront, and now downtown LA has is turning into a major place to be. (anyone who lives down here knows that at this point, you best not be caught dead down there after 8pm unless you're going to see the Lakers). Somebody was somewhere. I know people that were getting their hair braided at the time, I know folks that were DOING TIME, that lived right in the thick of it, and who participated in in. For all of us Angelenos and those who understood across the nation, it was a turning point. Whether you were hurt by it, saw it as an opportunity to rob and steal, or figured it had to be tore down to get some attention, we are still here. We are still standing.

We are, the people of the City of Angeles. We are the Angelenos.

What do YOU remember about the Los Angeles Riots? Where were YOU?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Reversal of Fortune

If I had a 1,000,000, We wouldn't have to walk to the store
If I had a 1,000,000, We'd take a limousine cause it costs more
If I had a 1,000,000 We wouldn't have to eat Kraft dinner
"If I Had a Million Dollars" - Barenaked Ladies

Recently, I was discussing with a friend of mines the Showtime Documentary "Reversal of Fortune". It is a documentary that trails the life of a homeless man, and his subsequent decisions and purchases he made after he is surprised with a windfall of 100 grand. We then transitioned into the subject of people in our lives who also have had opportunities come their way based on an inheritance, back pay, or anything in between, where they received significant amounts of money that, although not something they could RETIRE with, could definitely be a cushion for wants, needs, and then enough money left to SPARE.

Here are some of the monies that were squandered by friends and/or family. ***DISCLAIMER*** Just CUZ I know these mofos don't mean I spend my money like it's Last Holiday or something.

Conte$tant Number One: A friend I went to high school with, his mother won 100K in the California lottery. Now, although 100 K taxed at a high percentile almost cuts that amount in HALF. . .It was still circa late eighties, and that was a significant amount of money to have at one time. The lady, her son, and her daughter proceeded to go to Hawaii and Jamaica, bought a Cadillac (throw some D's on it), and then remodeled the kitchen. Before the end of the year was out, she had turned in the Cadillac because she couldn't afford the luxury tax for the car tags, bought a less expensive car and used the remaining money to catch up on her bills.

Conte$tant Number Two: A cousin of mines, received 37K from SSI due to, what he calls, his inability to work based on a long term disability. Frankly, he is 26 years old and appears to get around better than a seven year old boy after two red bulls but that is not my concern. Anyway, he received back pay from that, and proceeded to buy five leather jackets for his sister, he bought twenty pair of Eye-Talian shoes for himself, as well as twenty designer shirts for himself. He got all of this from downtown LA. For those of you who are not familiar with the LA basin, downtown LA is known as the garment (read: sweatshop) district, a place where you can buy both authentic and knockoff clothes for a reasonable price. He also purchased a significant amount of bling bling, one of which was the platinum cross. YES, you know what I'm talking about. He did buy a car. That was a good thing. Paid about 10K for it. HOWEVER, something or another happened and the car was towed and he had NO money to get it out. He was subsequently evicted and no one has heard from him. But the last time you saw him he was decked out with some nice shirts and shoes, though. :P

Conte$tant Number Three: One of my mother's friends (who had a child, VERY spoiled, who couldn't keep a job - not to mention couldn't keep his nose clean) received a settlement check of 30 grand. . .Had something to do with her dead husband, I don't remember. My mother was giving her some suggestions on what to do with it, but NO. . .Her son wanted her to invest in his get rick quick schemes. She 'lent' that fool more money for the "World's Greatest Vitamin" "Amway" "Long Distance" and Any other Network Marketing Scam you can think of. She told my mother that "Well, I don't want Social Security to find out about it later on and me have to pay it back. (I am NOT sure what she is talking about). She gave my mom 1K (my mom refused to take it, but she insisted so my mother, being who she is said phuck it and took it). She was going to Marie Callendar's every day, and giving her son AT LEAST 50.00 per day (which no doubt, fueled his drug habit to NO END. W/N three months that money was GONE!


I don't understand it. I KNOW that everybody has a vice and a challenge to overcome; sometimes it's alcohol, other times it's sex, other times it's food, temper, and anything else you can think of. But blowing that amount of money in such a short period of time is staggering to me. I know that perhaps their socio-economic status may have played a part in how they handled the money (which is what happened with Reversal of Fortune), but I don't want to make excuses in a world where so many opportunities are available and resources to assist you. Being a good steward over money is important to me. I won't say I'm the champion or I always do the right thing, BY ANY means, but I know an opportunity when I see one. . .

Do you know anyone that this has happened to? Has it happened to YOU? What would YOU do with a windfall?

(Of course if it has happened to you, I would expect anonymous posts. :P)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

April Old Skool Joint

This Video Needs No Introduction. And Yes, I had my (VERY MISGUIDED) dreams of being the next drum queen, although I'm sure the men had another kind of dream when it came to her. :)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Habla Espanol?

In respect to the coastal states, the value of knowing a secondary language is almost tantamount to having a secondary collegiate education. There are innumerable job postings that are listed, where, they not only require knowing a second language, but actually post it in the language they are looking for you to know.

With English not being the official language of the united states, our melting pot consists of innumerable languages (Farsi, French, and in particular, Spanish). The spanish population has imploded in recent years, and, in fact, they are progessing as the largest minority (for lack of a better word) in this country. This land was originally inhabited by almost every ethnicity that you can imagine (Sans European) prior to the Columbus raid, so during that time there were far reaching implications of what was communicated prior to that. This is understood.

With that said, if in fact there is a high latino population (surging and emerging) that would also mean that there are more and more Latinos entering the work force. Because of this, those who do have English as a Second Language have SPANISH as their first language. With that said, if you live or visit any coastal state (Texas, California, New York), even an increasing number of employees are conversing in their native languages directly on the work floor.

The value of knowing a second language is beautiful, no matter which one. Any language is a form of communication (Sign Language included), and to break a barrier with a person who believes that you are unable to speak with them cannot be measured in words. I've witnessed it and it's wonderful. As for me, once again, I'll reserve my opinions after every one has posted.

But that's not the question at hand. . .There are many, and you can respond to any of of them you wish. . .

If this economy works primarily in one language (American English), then would there be a necessity to require employees to speak a secondary language in a work location where the primary language IS English? (With the exception of call centers, where in bound calls come in from people speaking everything from Arabic to Swahili). Has the tide turned where those who have mastered the English language (as most were trained to do in their primary school years, as well as secondary education) came back to haunt many of them? Is it appropriate for any person that speaks a secondary language to carry on an entire conversation in the work place with someone who is unfamiliar with the language? If you went outside of Western Civilization, would anyone care for you enough to ensure all could speak to you in your native tongue? Should everyone just get on the good foot and learn a second language, for their benefit?

How Effective/Necessary is it to Know A Secondary Language in The Workplace? Should Employers Require it?