Http://djdestv.com @djdes Tv Comedy TOO SOON? — MIKE EPPS AS CHARLES RAMSEY! [INTERVIEW SPOOF]
We all know Mike Epps aka ‘baby powder’ is special but here’s another reason why…total geek fest!!! Enjoy
At 1 pm sharp I posted up at my favorite table in the cafeteria, second back from the main thoroughfare facing toward the elevators. From that perch I can indulge my nosiness and have juuust enough distance not to be eyeballed or hovered over by every passerby. While dining on an overpriced turkey sandwich from Whole Foods, my partners, La and Nicole and I got into a discussion about chicken boxes. What is a chicken box you may ask? It is a fried delicacy that is legend in Baltimore. It is also cheap. This box is comprised of fried hard chicken wings (2 for me) and french fries tucked in a box if you’re being literal, or styrofoam if you’re not. It can be found in a hood near you. Typically there’s Plexiglas involved, so you gotta shout your order through the mouth level circle of holes punched into the glass, Can I get a chicken box? Salt, pepper, ketchup! …and a half n half! I always decline ketchup because whoever’s serving up the grub is always heavy handed, to the point that ketchup covers the wings. I’m a salt and pepper girl, hold the ketchup.
While La and I wax poetic about our various chicken box experiences, Nicole twists up her face, chicken box, she says with disgust, ugggghhhh! We look at her like she just shook up a can of soda and opened it on us. What’s wrong with you, I ask, why do you hate chicken boxes? I mean its chicken and fries, what’s not to like?
I know, with a good half n half too, mmmmm, says La.
It’s the word, chicken box, it makes me think about a box made of chicken, retorts Nicole.
This comment is met with a round of laughter and some harassment at her expense. We taunt her Yankee by way of Rhode Island snobbery, especially her inability to make peace with our Baltimore vernacular.
We also ask her if she even knows what half n half is; her only response is to turn up her nose. For those not in the know, a half n half is a wonderful tooth disintegrating sweet drink that is a mix of lemonade and sweet tea. Done well, it can be a magical thing. The suburban term for this drink would be the Arnold Palmer, named after the golf legend. None of this moves her though she seems more open to the half n half.
Just as La and I are pinpointing the best places to get a stellar half n half a new character enters the scene, Los. He saunters over to the fridge grabs his lunch, and then regards us as he preps his food at the counter. As usual, he just shakes his head the whole time, he already knows the routine and expects the harassment but today I decide to do things a little differently. Instead of turning on Los, Nicole becomes the target. I reveal her disdain for the chicken box. What, exclaims Los, you can’t be serious! She tries to look at him defiantly but he’s having none of it. Come on, you’ve been in Baltimore, for what…Then he stops and just shakes his head again, that’s what I thought, if a number doesn’t come to mind, it’s been long enough. Nicole looks fake-hurt but quickly recovers standing firm in her anti-chicken box sentiment. We’re gonna work on that, said Los.
We all cackled and somehow the conversation wended its way to Tupac and Biggie. In fact I think I’m the one that took us there. I can’t be sure how I made the transition from chicken box to Tupac and Biggie but I did. Some random stream of consciousness meandered into my brain diverting my path, and bam! I’m telling Los and Nicole how irritated I still am that no one has caught their murderers and that I know there’s some kind of conspiracy blah blah blah… Any hip hop head in the 30 and up club has had this conversation before. While I’m rhapsodizing about the whole thing Los just looks like wow, pointing to me he says, you need a hug, and then turning to Nicole, and you need a chicken box.
freshairfrolics asked: why are you so fresh?
Because of the company I keep;-)
Just finished writing Mom-Mom’s (maternal grandmother) obituary, which led me to have some conversations with my mother about her life. I knew her as my grandmother and heard stories about her civil rights activism but hearing them again all together just made me admire her that much more. I was pissed I couldn’t include every single one in her actual obit but I at least wanted to preserve this one for all internet eternity.
So my mother begins the story, “during the war…” I interrupt, what war Ma? I told you what war. No you didn’t. Well what war do you think? World War II, there’s only one ‘war’ ! I reminded her that actually she’s the history buff, I’ve never was and so had no idea that ‘the war’ meant World War II. The question of which war settled, my mother told me how a group of black female factory workers, my grandmother, included traveled by bus from Havre de Grade, MD to Edgewood. On one trip the white bus driver told all the black women to go sit in the back of the bus. Mom-Mom and some of the other women lambasted the man for telling them to do something that was against the law. He insisted and they pounced on him rousting him off the bus. That scene made me laugh and wish I could have been a fly on the wall.
The most disturbing story my mother told me was how in 10th grade my Aunt G witnessed her teacher assault and insult a black boy by throwing an eraser at him. The eraser smacked him in the mouth leaving white chalk powder around his lips. The teacher added insult to injury, adding that the white powder made his lips look like those of his people in Africa. Well my aunt went home and told Mom-Mom who phoned the principle advising that if that boy did not get an apology she was going to contact the school board and press charges. Needless to say, an apology quickly followed.
Even in her 70s, she jumped out of her front door (I didn’t know she was that agile) to confront cops who had driven up on her lawn harassing her two teenaged grandsons who were standing talking under the tree in her front yard. She asked why they were there, they had no clear answer so she sent them fleeing, tails tucked between their legs.
I can’t say I have the same courage to stand up in the face of injustices. I do from time to time but I tend to do so with quivering knees and fear of retribution. I know I’m not alone in that, but if I could choose a quality to appropriate from my grandmother, it would be the courage of my convictions.
R.I.P. Alma Vivian Christie Leeth 1/27/25-3/19/13
Pic: The lot where my childhood home once stood
Childhood memories float back to me mostly as a sonic tapestry. I grew up in Aberdeen, Maryland, a town in rural suburbia, built around an army base loaded down with training facilities and naïve young soldiers. I remember hearing bombs detonate on the base, exploding every day but Sunday, shaking the entire house. I was never afraid. The sound of the bombs, so much a part of my childhood, became white noise. I went to sleep at night to the sound of freight trains rattling across the tracks in the distance, their cars pulling for what seemed to be infinity. I wondered if any hobos were on them, and if so, did they carry red and white checked handkerchiefs with all of their belongings tied to the end of a stick. I was nudged out of sleep by a neighbor’s rooster crowing, without fail, every morning for years. I looked forward to its voice. I don’t recall when I stopped hearing the crowing, but one day mornings dawned gradually.
Summertime evenings, after the freight train rolled through, there was a brief intermission of night quiet that blanketed us. The insects, on cue, took center stage creating a cacophonous orchestra bringing the woods and shrubbery surrounding the house to life. I lived for full moon nights. My bed was by the window; a gentle breeze would flare the bottoms of the curtains. I’d lay there looking up through the screen to the floodlit sky, the moon so clear and bright I could just make out the grey shading of its landscape. Without fail, the full moon drove our dog, and his neighborhood counterparts, to incessant barking. Some even howled but I never minded because the sounds of the countryside comforted me. I came to rely on their constant presence as much as I did my mother’s yelling for us kids to ‘GET UP’ on Saturday mornings.
Saturdays were chore days for all of us kids; there were six of us, so she had a full squad to get the work done. Without fail our mornings began with our mother’s brusque barked orders to get up, wipe our faces, rinse our mouths and sit down for breakfast, after which we would begin our chores. While we split tasks like washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, cleaning our bedrooms, or dusting and sweeping the living room, our mother would play her vinyl and sing along with her favorite musicians. A Saturday cleaning might be paired with Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, The Beatles or Aretha Franklin. If she hadn’t turned on her music prior to my father turning on the TV, then our chores were backed by the sound of grunts and landing blows from the battles on Kung-Fu Theater, punctuated with short bursts of my father’s laughter as he made fun of the cheap costuming and pulled cotton ball beards of the characters. Later, he would switch to any available televised sporting event. We worked around him. The mass cheers of spectators combining into a roar dulled my senses, urging me to quickly complete my tasks so I could escape outdoors.
Chores complete, I headed outside. I would lay down a sheet so the grass wouldn’t make me itch. I always had a book with me, essential to backyard reclining and crucial to disappearing into my imagination. Our stray dog of the month would run circles around me, once stealing my glasses while I napped under the sun, dropping them by a bush lining the neighbor’s yard. My grandfather, who we lived with, would pull out his riding mower, firing it up. I’d lay there listening to the drone of the mower mingled with the clanking of breakfast dishes as my mother washed them, her voice floating on the breeze of a song.
I moved away from the sounds of my youth when my father drove me up the New Jersey Turnpike to college in Westchester County, New York. The summer sounds, still familiar. After graduating from college, I moved further, driving cross country to Los Angeles. There my apartment was surrounded mostly by the sound of cars pulling into driveways and opening and shutting doors. I returned to my childhood home in Maryland at the very beginning of 2002. This time the summer sounds of the insects were not familiar and seemed extraordinarily loud. I rarely heard the train. My mother, no longer woke me up Saturday mornings since I was an adult.
Four years ago my father died suddenly of a heart attack, right at the tail-end of summer. Three years later, in early September, after a Monday night Baltimore Ravens game, my childhood home and that of my father, was destroyed in an electrical fire. Now living in the city, I got the call and rushed north to my parent’s house. Flames no longer visible, I watched the smoke graze the sky. My mother, standing in the dewy grass in her house dress and bare feet, stared at the gaping front of her home of 25 years.
The only sounds I recall are the crackle of the firefighters’ radios and their yelling back and forth to each other as they fought to douse the simmering heat. I mostly remember the flashing red lights of the fire trucks snaking down the entire road, blocking each end. The lights reflected against the sides of the neighbors’ houses and across my mother’s face as she watched all of her family keepsakes ruined by the onslaught of water. In that moment, the sounds of the neighborhood lay dormant. I didn’t know it then, but this space I’d called home, even when I moved away, would not remain in the family.
In the weeks immediately following the fire I drive up to the house often, the pebbles popping against my tires as they rake through the gravel driveway. Sometimes I’ll just sit in the car, turning down the radio and listening to the silence. Other times I get out and walk up to the porch, hearing the rubber soles of my sneakers slap the concrete walkway. I stare into what once was the living room, looking down into the eight feet of water in the basement. I pick up a rock from the driveway and launch it through the broken living room window. I watch it disappear. It makes a hollow ‘thunk’ sound as it hits the water’s surface, and then disappears into the abyss. I stroll around to the backyard, peering into the kitchen, eyeballing the almost pristine china cabinet on the other side of the warped floor. Then I settle under the big backyard tree at the picnic table. One of the tomcats, who refused rescuing after the fire, preferring to stay in the woods abutting the yard, tripped lightly across the grass. He jumped almost weightlessly on the picnic table, landing his paws with a muffled thump. I stayed there stroking his fur in the shade of the tree. The only sounds: his purring, a bird cheeping, and cars driving by evoking crashing waves behind a sliding glass door.
I’m working on an assignment for my memoir workshop class about my relationship to my generation, X. Writing this piece I’m gravitating toward music which is fitting since the older Gen X’ers have been around since the inception of MTV. I was struggling writing this at first because my ass has been kicked by a cold all weekend long but then I logged on to ol’ Spotify and saw the last song I listened to, Just What I Am by Kid Cudi. I’m always attracted to a song first by the actual music, the lyrics come later. The rhythm of this song is expansive and emotional. In this song, Cudi is personifying the whole self-implication thing, laying himself out there for all to see. His voice, even the plaintive robotic refrain, IIII neeeed tooo smoooke, tied in with the quick slow rhythm of the music gives me chills. I’ve had this song on repeat for about an hour and it’s given me the push I need to get a draft of my homework completed. I love it, music is the cure people!
Check out the video:
I am so dayum happy it’s Friday I don’t know what to do with myself. I’ve been workin hard all week long plus school has started back up. My new schedule has frankly been kicking my ass. Not to mention not realizing that a month long break between semesters miiiight not be the best thing…. I’ve fallen off my personal writing and instead been focusing on writing essays for my memoir class and magazine articles for my mag writing class. In both I have to adhere to a form and tell a story that has focus, nothing like the freedom of my blog. By the time I’ve finished up reading and writing I have nothing left for fun. That has to stop! Ok, ok, let me be honest with myself I know good and damn well I spend my ‘no homework’ nights watching Real Housewives and every original series on Showtime and HBO.
The other day at work my girl asked if I’d watched EPMD’s Unsung on TV One. I was like nahhh, not yet, I don’t even know if it recorded. I forgot about our conversation then she asked me a couple of days later, adding that I would be surprised by how many songs I’d recognize. So finally last night, while cruising my DVR for something of interest to watch I remembered her recommendation and found the episode. First let me tell you that Unsung has caused my iTunes library to expand; every time I watch the dayum show and see an artist I love or didn’t know I loved, I download a song or an album.
Watching EPMD’s piece, I was reminded how Parrish Smith and Erick Sermon were deep in the hip hop scene for quite some time. They also put on rappers Das EFX, Keith Murray, and crazy ass Redman who makes me laugh and wince every time he hits the mic…I love his music. Anyhow I kinda subliminally knew all of this stuff, but watching EPMD’s story I was blown away by their success right out of the gates and then their sudden end due to some CRAZY shit! I don’t want to go into detail here in case you may want to check out On Demand and see for yourself.
Check out the videos for these classics:
Crossover (this was my favorite!!!)
So Wat Cha Sayin (message to the haters, I learned that from Unsung, video starts at 26 seconds)