Archive for the ‘His Story’ Category

I Too, Sing America Lifestyle…

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

For me, Ralph Lauren’s tipping point into iconoclasm was his use of the American flag on his clothing. He disguised his representation of the symbol on garments which were extremely well made. Prior to Ralph Lauren it had been considered sacrilege to WEAR the flag.

Looking thru the fall series which has gone on sale at I see several pieces which incorporate the American flag along with Native America textile prints.

This reminds me of the contributions of the Native Americans to the Union efforts during the Civil War. These peoples had been slaughtered, removed from their lands and relocated several times, but despite all of that they still believed in the tenets of the Constitution.

The Native Americans too, sing America…

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

The based godpoet Langston Hughes crafted that masterful verse.

Ralph Lauren has crafted these timeless Lifestyle knits with details that are obvious to the eyes, and some not so much.

The print at the nape is extra swag simply because ho one else knows it is there but you, or you could do a dP move and rock this knit inside out? LOL

Since we are entering the winter months I’ll prA’Li go after the longsleeve Lifestyle version so I can remain chill in my apparel aspirations while keeping the chill off my back.

A Birthday Card For T.C.

Friday, May 25th, 2012

I just got off the jack with SoundWave. He is chillin’ in V.A. Dude has made a remarkable life transition after being on ice for a decade. When we talk about shit he hypes me up just like when we were 16 yrs old. This brother could sell the tone to the phone and it’s nothing. S.W. could make you jump out a window on the tenth floor after he taught you the tuck and roll technique. I have to remind myself that I am talking with my boy and not the Black TONY ROBBINS.

We talked about T.C. because today was his born day. I will call his moms tomorrow and say hello. I can’t tell you how many times the three of us have been plotting some ill-fated street caper or some other heist that we pulled off by the skin of our teeth. There was no logical reason that we found ourselves doing this ridiculous teenage shit, especially when we weren’t teenagers anymore. But it’s the call of the wild, the call of the streets. You think that you can somehow beat the odds. That you can somehow take it to the endzone and then retire. But you can’t, no one can. The sooner you realize that the better off you are going to be. Some of us don’t get a chance for that epiphany. I do this shit for y’all.


T.C. and I were lamping in my apartment, burning down White Owls back to back when my doorbell rang. I already knew who it was without asking. S.W. came upstairs all excited and out of breath.

“What the deal, yo?”, I asked him.

Yo, I got a Jetta and I got a new spot with mad exclusy shit”, he replied in a pant like he couldn’t catch any air. The apartment was mad hazy though.

“So what’s up? Who’s down to roll?”, S.W. asked us.

T.C. jumped up like, “Fuck it, I’m ready.”

I had to think about this for a minute. It was a Wednesday night and I had to go to work the following morning. T.C. worked with me at the architect’s office, but he was known for blowing off a random day. He and S.W. still lived in their parent’s cribs and they didn’t have the constant pressure of the first of the month that I had. We all supplemented our day jobs with miscellaneous dumb shit, but that dumb shit wasn’t going to be my career. It was just my hobby. That is how the cocky, arrogant kid in these pictures thought about doing crime. That was all about to change after this night.

“Fuck it, I’m d. Where are we going?”, I said to make the cipher complete.

“Sunnyside.”, S.W. replied.

“Where?!?”, I knew where was Sunnyside because of my dad’s job, but I thought that neighborhood was only about factory buildings and warehouses by day and late night Latin prostitutes. Turns out S.W. had found a little residential enclave in Sunnyside because he was beating out some Spanish shorty. The neighborhood was hell’a quiet and there were some nice rides posted up on the street. The truth is that we had made Forest Hills and Kew Gardens too hot with all our various nonsense. From stealing cars to doing stick ups there was nothing left for us in that area of Queens. Plus some of the other young fools that put in work were out there now so when they got caught up they would be taking the weight for our dirt.

S.W. told T.C. and me about all the whips he saw parked on the street. As was S.W.’s habit of leaning toward hyperbole, he made it sound like the folks in this neighborhood left their car doors open. I put on my hooded sweatshirt, grabbed my Eastpak bag with the pulley and the screwdrivers and we all left my apartment. S.W. drove the Jetta to Sunnyside. I sat up front and T.C. rocked the back executive status. The first joint we came up on was a brand new ’89 Montero. The joint was white two tone with the silver grey on the kick panels. Mitsubishi doors are like water if the car doesn’t have key guards. If you stared at the motherfucker for ten seconds the door locks would pop up. In any case, I pop the passenger door and I hop in the truck. I bang the pulley into the ignition, turn the screw into the cylinder four solid times, slide the weight back to me and out pops the cylinder. T.C. has the ‘key’ screwdriver. He jumps in the driver seat and turns the ignition. Contact motherfucker, we are gone in less than 60 seconds. The Montero was sick as fuck and it only had like 2k miles on it. We could probably flip this joint at the chop shops next to Shea Stadium.

A few blocks down we came across the motherlode. An Audi 5000 GT parked under a tree as if it were trying to hide from us. The tree however provided perfect cover for us to do our thing. Audi door locks are the same as Jettas and Golfs since they are all part of the same parent company. Porsche is part of the company too, but sadly I don’t have any stories about us bagging up a Porsche. Japanese cars require that you move the screwdriver inserted into the doorlock up and down to pop the lock. The German cars only work on a sideways angle. I still got the door open with no problem. Once I’m inside the car it’s a wrizzap unless there is a kill switch under the hood. This car had no switch so I popped the ignition and S.W. hopped in with the starter screwdriver while I jumped out and got into the Jetta’s driver seat. We had to get the fuck out of dodge just in case that Montero was called in and the jake were in route.

I told them to follow me since I was like the official navigator for the clique. We drove to the nearest parkway which was the Long Island Expressway and we headed to T.C.’s crib in Hollis. Once we got to Hollis we would figure out what to do with the cars. I admit to being a little jelly that these dudes had new cars. Since I didn’t really want to roll with the mission that evening I couldn’t lay claim to either of the cars. Those were the rules that we played by. The person with the mission plan got first dibs on the bounty. If there was money on the table then we split that equally (if you didn’t stash some first), but for shit like clothing or cars it was always the proprietary choice of the dude who set the plan in motion.

At T.C.’s crib we all got a chance to see what we had scored. The Mitsubishi Montero was a sophisticated SUV. The driver’s seat was set on some kind of gyroscopic shock plate and the seat bounced and swiveled on angles as the car turned. The interior front was a cool grey leather that matched the two tone exterior. The Audi was two years old but is was still crispy and plush. It had a 5-speed sport transmission and leather throughout the car. There is a reason why some cars cost more scrilla. It’s because they are just designed and engineered better. They include shit you didn’t even realize that you need, but once you have it you wonder how you ever lived without it. The Audi had a mobile phone in the center console. It was one of those joints that was the size of a telephone book. What did we care? We were big fucking pimping. The question came up what if we were to sell these two cars to the chop shop? We would probably only get about a thousand for both. I know that sounds fucked up but chop shops became really leery about using “contractors” outside of their network because there was a Fed sting a few years before that nearly shut down the whole Iron Triangle. Aww, who were we kidding? We were going to floss hard in these cars as usual.

S.W. had the Audi since he found the neighborhood and T.C. was going to keep the Montero so now it was time to find a ride for me. I was caught up in the moment and I wanted to have some shit that was on similiar status with these dudes. We parked the Montero down the block from T.C.’s house and left the Jetta across the street from his crib. When we piled into the Audi we used the same seating plan as when we first got in the Jetta. By sitting in the front seat next to the driver you assume navigation and deejay duties. The Audi had one of the sickest systems that we had ever heard. This my friends, was like car thieves heaven.

We drove through Jamaica Estates but there wasn’t anything glossy enough for my taste. I would have been cool with an Ac’, but not an Accord. I wanted some official shit. The truth was that I wanted an Audi too and I let my jealousy cloud what little remained of my better judgement. It was already late enough that I should have ‘deaded the mish’ and just gone home. But instead we continued our search outside of the boro of Queens. We crossed the Whitestone Bridge into the Bronx.

Back in the day there was a cool azz drive-in movie theatre right by the Whitestone Bridge, but it had been replaced after a few years by a multiplex. These mega-theatres were always easy spaces to pick up cars, but most of them only existed in Nassau County or WestChester. In any case, we cased the parking lot and didn’t really see any action. So I was beginning to get desperate. I thought about driving through the Pelham Parkway neighborhood, but since I wasn’t a true Bronx kid I knew that I didn’t know the landscape too well. However, there was one Bronx neighborhood that I did know like the back of my hand and they had just built a multiplex theatre and strip mall there – Co-Op City.

We drove up I-95 into the parking lot entrance for the brand new Bay Plaza. What had been a dumping ground was being converted into new retail spaces. The PathMark had relocated fom the PlayWorld building. There was a Red Lobster across the lot from a multi-screen movie theatre. Just as a quick aside, a meal at Red Lobster and the 9:30pm show of ‘The Last Dragon’ is something on par with a ghetto fabulous engagement date. As we crossed into the parking lot we passed in front of an unmarked Caprice Classic with two detecs peeping our whole steez. As we drove a little further I turned around to see that the jake began to follow us. I gave S.W. the heads up and told him to park the car. We could ditch it for a time and cross through the Burger King to the other side of the parking lot. S.W. wasn’t having any of that. This Audi was his baby and he was going to find a way out of this situation. S.W. drove around the back side of the theatre into an almost desolate parking area and as he went for the exit another unmarked police car and a squad car blocked his way. S.W. screeched to a halt and we all jumped out and began to run in every direction.

The police jumped out of their vehicles and drew their revolvers (pre-DIALLO, thank GOD) they yelled at us to stop and S.W. and T.C. did. For whatever insane reason I continued to run. I had the bag of tools in my backpack and I didn’t want to be responsible for the car so I tried to get away. I ran all the way to the end of the parking lot and as I was preparing to vault the chain link fence I realized what was on the other side. The Hutchinson fucking River was on the other side of the gate. My heart sank because I knew then that my dumb azz was caught. The police were chasing me on foot and in a car and when they got to me I was taught the ultimate lesson. Never make a police officer run.

In hindsight, I realize that I was lucky that the police that evening were all seasoned veterans and not rookies or racists. Instead of shooting me, which they would have had no problem in proving their justification, they just tackled me to the ground. While my face scraped the asphalt and I was cuffed another cop decked me in the head. That’s when I turned to look at one cop run up to me as if he were kicking off the football to start a college game and he kicked me in my stomach. After that I can tell you that I received the most medieval azz whupping of my life. I can’t tell you how long it lasted but I was being kicked, stomped and called a piece of shit until I began to spit up blood and phlegm. S.W. and I laughed about this because he said that while he and T.C. were more than a hundred feet away they could hear me getting thumped on.

My azz was fucked the fuck up. The cops picked me up and threw me in the back of one of the cruisers. Then they drove us all to the station house to be processed for our pics and prints. I limped into the precinct and when the desk officer asked what had happened to me the arresting officer said that I had fallen while trying to run. As I sat on a bench next to T.C. and S.W. they began to bust out laughing. My face was swollen and my left eye was closed. I had blood and mucus on my sweatshirt. I looked a fucking mess. I tried to get my mugshot from the Police Department’s archives, but they told me that my photo isn’t available any longer. I was going to use the picture for the Mugshot Hairstyle Modeling contest. I would have won.

Inside the station house cells I was placed alone while T.C. and S.W. were placed together. There is something unfortunately meditative about sitting in a jail cell. There’s also nothing else to do but meditate on what you did to put yourself there. I had made a lousy choice for my personal time, and now I was reaping the full results. I don’t care how many times you do some shit and get away with it. The one time that one-time pinches you should be all you need to never want to feel that feeling again. When the next morning arrived we were given cold coffee and an even colder Egg McMuffin. I was given the customary phone call.

I didn’t call my folks since I didn’t live with them anymore. I called my job and told them that I would be out for a few days. They knew without asking because T.C. and I had been working for them for a few years already and this wasn’t the first time that we were both away for a few days. You could never really call it back then, but you hoped for the best. A couple of days in a precinct house, add two more in the central booking facility. If you made bond with the court you could see light and smell air in four days. A short stay at the ‘hood Holiday Inn. Well, not quite.

I wasn’t going to make bond this time. My parents were so tired of my bullshit that they told me to get the fuck out when I was 17yrs old. To be truthful, I deserved that because I was like a cancer. I was out of order. I was out of pocket. I was out of my cotton-picking mind. My parents were professional, progressive people. Highly educated and highly motivated. My lifestyle was one-hundred eighty degrees from where their mindset pointed. Speaking of numbers, a Middle-class family makes $200k annually which is say $150k after taxes. The last network that broadcast the SuperBowl charged sponsors two and a half million for a 30 second slot. And that’s just one of the days in a year when people are trying to sell you shit. All of that to say there is a lot more money invested outside someone’s home to make kids feel and act a kind of way.

I have some dough stashed at the crib, but nobody has my keys. I am incognegro right now with my folks so I can’t borrow any chips from them. My maternal grandmother, who lived in Co-Op has to take care of too many people that I wouldn’t feel right bothering her for a loan either. Asking the people at my job would be embarrassing as all fuck and it might let me see that they didn’t really, really need my help after all. I was just going to have to ride this one out. I had fucked myself up with this lack of judgement so whatever the cost I was boss.

Inside the central booking facility we all got back together in a huge cell with 7 or 8 other detainees. This is the Bronx and kids don’t try to steal chains like in Manhattan or, of course, Brooklyn. In the Bronx kids hustle them jums, nah’mean?!? That is how kids in Uptown and the Bronx get money. I am not saying that there ain’t no stick up grimeys and shooters in the B.X., but it is all centered around the Crills. In Brooklyn, you can have niggas on some random ‘its Tuesday’ bullshit. That’s why seeing the Bloods and Crips in New York City always surprised me. New York City became programmed into being followers instead of leaders. HAIL, MEG!

Some dudes had a C-low set of dice (don’t ask me, but anything is possible after I saw the movie Belly). We played a few hands and won, then lost, then won again. In reality the money never really leaves you, but it was a good passtime as you awaited your name to be called by a bailiff. Once you leave the bullpen you are escorted though a narrow low-ceiling hallway into the main court chamber. The natural light is shocking to you because you have been under dimly charged flourescent tubes for four days. Dim bulbs for dim wits.

When the judge read aloud the charges to each of us he also rendered his bond decision along with the indictment. T.C. and S.W. both had a 10k bond and I was realeased on my own recognizance. R.O. Motherfucking R. T.C. was mad as fuck at me too. I told him that he should’a ran. He told me to go fuck myself (no GEORGE MICHAEL… this was 1989). I was going to get some action too as soon as I got home. My ladybug from Morgan State U. was in town and I knew she would stay at my crib for at least a night. I needed to get home quick too because I hadn’t shaved, showered or shitted in four days. I smelled like a hot roasted bum.

That was the last time that I had to do a short stay. They are the worst. I mean, yeah shit can get worse than a short stay, but why would you want to do it? The reason that I did it is was for the money and the thrills. The outsider outlaw motif permeates my community and it affects men who should be well into responsible adulthood. I was still very selfish and this wasn’t the last dumb shit thing that I did in my life. Lucky for me that AAUM has had some patience with my development. I still owe this city, my community, my family and myself to pick up the baton that I carelessly dropped and carry it to the next station.


Thursday, May 24th, 2012


Editor’s note: Thundercracker’s bornday is typically Memorial Day (May 29th) so in his and Megatron’s memory we reminisce over them.

This day, fourteen years ago, I lost the best friend anyone ever had. He was like my younger brother; not young enough that I had to babysit him, but just young enough to listen to whatever I said. Well, not everything. But if it had some adventure to it, he was down for the crown.

We lived across the street from one another, in a part of the neighborhood where the kids were from two-parent homes that their parents actually owned. We were also medium lightskin and handsome. This made us and the kids from our enclave the envy of the rest of the neighborhood. We wanted to show the other kids that even though we went to schools in white neighborhoods and even though we had white friends we were still… Black!?!

T.C. and I would do simple stuff like boost juice from the bodega before we would go to the Parks Dept. public pool. When we got a little older we became writers, actually ‘taggers’, and we would ride our BMX bikes all around the city to do our graffiti in obscure places, like on the pedestrian walkway of the Tri-Boro Bridge. The funny thing was that we had to be pretty brazen when doing our ‘tagging up’ because we both had to be home before dark or risk punishment. Sure, we were afraid of the police, but our parents were way meaner than any cop we ever encountered.

As teenagers the level of our felonious misbehavings increased and we became car thiefs and part time drug dealers. Stealing cars was easy as hell, especially during the summer, because our homes were in parking range of Shea Stadium. There were some METS fans that had to suffer the double ignominy of rooting for a sucky team AND not having an automobile to drive home in after their team lost again.

When it came to selling drugs, me and T.C. knew we really weren’t from that part of the neighborhood. The older dudes that were giving us ‘work’ were doing it because they were desperate for some young bodies to stand on the corner and do ‘hand-to-hand’ for them. Once in high school, however, I was lucky enough to link up with some guys that needed more ‘work’ than a few measly redtop/yellowtop pieces and we left the block jigs to their own devices. That is why I loved T.C. like my brother. He was a straight rider, even when he knew I was getting into some crazy shit. And he always had my back.

So when I got down with a group of guys from my high school in Brooklyn who had banded together to keep the thugs from other rival high schools from always handing us our azzes, I invited T.C. to join. Nevermind that T.C. went to high school in Queens. My youth action group had grown quite large and as part of our public service mandate, we gathered after school to escort students to and from the train stations. Whenever T.C. met up with me and the fellas, we’d have the strangest luck in finding things all around the city. It was a lot of fun hanging out with the fellas, but after a while the time came for us to stop running around the subways and knocking people out for their GUCCI sweatshirts and PRINCE sneakers.

T.C. and I weren’t going to be drug dealers forever either. My parents had a video camera and I liked to make movies, and T.C. was one of those rare cats that had every rap song memorized, even the rare joints by T-LA ROCK that never were played on the radio. We were going to take the monies from all our illicit hustling and move to Los Angeles. We imagined that in our real life we were creating the script and soundtrack for the hipper, cooler, Black version of ‘Less Than Zero’.

T.C. and I never made it out to L.A. We never even got the chance to leave this damn time zone together. Sometimes I regret the fact that I have lived these past twenty years without my brother. I think about all the things that I have experienced as an adult that he would have liked to do. I still haven’t made the trip to Los Angeles, but when I get there I will be pouring out half my bottle of BELVEDERE for my brother.

The Miseducation of T-Bag

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Editor’s note: T-Bag gives us some true life stories on this drop. Leave him a comment.

Growing up I went through all the typical struggles one goes through, parents divorcing at a young age, teenage angst, trying to fit in, etc. Unfortunately my parents divorce had a profound impact on the majority of my life. I remember the first day at my new school I didn’t know anyone and all I wanted to do was make friends and fit in as any kid in the 4th grade wants to do. Up until this point I had been a great student, interested in learning and academics in general.

To make a long story short from the first day at my new school on through my senior year of high school all I was good at doing was fuxing up. To give you an example of how fuxed up I was, I got an “F” in ceramics in my junior year of high school. This was one of many “F’s” I would receive. I thought I was the coolest person around, my parents didn’t know ish, and I had the answer to everything (typical teenager). When reality set in in my early 20’s and my pops stepped to me and asked me “So whats your plan”? I was dumbfounded. At this point I was going to community college still not really giving a fux because I had a roof over my head and 3 square meals. So it hit me, I need to get my ish together and make something happen.

As you already know I finished community college by the age of thirty and obtained my degree in Registered Nursing. The only problem is that since I wasted all my years in high school making bad choices I am now >> paying the price in my daily life. I am surrounded by MD’s, Nurses, Physical therapists, etc., all who are well educated. My problem is that I am unable to contribute to many conversations because I didn’t learn anything in school cause I was too busy being Mr. cool guy. In the last few years I have had to take it upon myself to learn the things I was supposed to learn as a youngster myself.

I recently copped the book “A Short History of the World” by H.G. Wells, a recommendation by one of my very well educated friends. This book is about exactly what the title says, a concise history of the world. It starts out from the planet having no life to World War I. If you lived your life like me and feel as though you also have a lot of learning to do, cop this joint. One of the great things about this book is that it is free on the Kindle app for all you fux ups.


Respect The Architects…

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Rest In Peace Iz The Wiz

The early 1970s saw the growth of graffiti in a way that only its pioneers can explain. Classic Hits, the most visual book documenting this time period of graffiti art, tells the story from the view of originators Taki 183, Blade, Iz the Wiz, Alan Fleisher, and more.

Classic Hits Trailer from Dokument Press on Vimeo.