Monday, September 27, 2010

Truth; The Hardest Part is Telling It

The Bishop Eddie Long scandal – and make no mistake, it is a scandal – called forth our flawed trait of attempting to shift blame when faced with controversy, rather than confronting it head on and telling the truth. It seems that human nature – our pride specifically – will have us believe that our good works, our standing in the community and our perceived cover, will keep us safe from the truth. Working from the belief that ‘where there is smoke, there is fire’ Bishop Long’s future and his reputation as a man of God, hinges simply on telling the truth and how he handles the allegations in this scandal.

It doesn’t take a public relations expert or media guru to know that Bishop Long should…

1. Address the controversy head on and be clear on his stand on the issue:
When the young men came forward alleging that Bishop Long used his power as a world renowned religious leader to coerce them into having intimate sexual interaction with them, Bishop Long SHOULD HAVE come forward and emphatically (as he has done with regard to other issues that didn’t directly affect his life) deny the allegations and state clearly that he DID NOT engage in any sexual interaction with these young men and that he DID NOT in any way misrepresent his relationship as pastor with these young men. Instead, Bishop Long’s carefully crafted response to the allegations was delivered before his staunch supporters within the cocoon of his congregation and included, “I am not a perfect man, but this thing I will fight.” If that doesn’t stink to the high heavens as the precursor to, ‘Yes, I had a little homo fun, but they were adults by Georgia law and that doesn’t mean they’re entitled to any monetary damages.’ Bishop Long may be fighting the good fight with the belief that if the young men were of legal age in the state of Georgia, he is safe from prosecution and that his reputation will rebound from this, but his reputation is everything to keeping a multi million dollar religious entity like New Birth – and Long as its leader – afloat. With a flawed and hypocritical minister at the helm, New Birth’s much needed financial support would falter and die.

2. In today’s era of email messages, text messages, mobile movies and pictures, don’t play yourself thinking there is no proof:
Let’s keep it real here… today’s friends and colleagues have the potential to be tomorrow’s enemies and back stabbing climbers. In light of this, I always caution my family and friends to steer clear of communication (of any kind) that can be used later to drive a campaign to discredit or humiliate you. Most important, I caution folks to NEVER take photographs or videos that place them in compromising positions – literally or figuratively. I don’t care how much love you feel today, pictures and movies have the potential of being forwarded or found at the most inopportune times. That said, Bishop Long KNEW he forwarded pictures and email messages that were inappropriate to some of these young men. So it begs the question, why would a pastor of a 25,000 member congregation and connection to countless world leaders, act like it’s okay to email/text muscle shirt photos to the young men of his congregation? What spiritual mentoring did those pictures seek to achieve? The Bishop appears too pride-filled to recognize how damning the email, picture and text mail trail are to his reputation.

3. Illegal, immoral and unethical are three different things; as a spiritual leader, you have the responsibility to have your decisions be legally, morally and ethically righteous:
Bishop Long mentioned that he’s not a “perfect man.” The thing is, as human beings, NO ONE is. What we’re expecting from you as a pastor and leader is to be a man that makes decisions that are legally, morally and ethically righteous. Part of this means that as a leader, we expect you to have the ability to look at an issue objectively and make decisions as a leader that WE as laymen, may find difficult to come by.

Did Bishop Eddie Long indulge in homosexual behavior – the very behavior that he criticized and damned-to-hell for so many years? Was his delayed response to the accusations a means to collect himself and consult his legal experts for an ‘appropriate’ response? Would a heterosexual minister who has been tied to so many public anti-gay campaigns, wait until Sunday service to proclaim that he is, “not a perfect man…” instead of taking the bull by the horns and immediately (as he has done with hundreds of previous television appearances) state that he unequivocally, “did NOT have any kind of intimate or sexual relationship with ANYONE outside of his wife”?

This a techno-savvy pastor with extensive public relations knowledge. He is a seasoned media person who knows how a story spins and what makes for good press. His mediocre statement, coupled with his SAFE venue to deliver it, is as telling as the young men who are coming forward with their stories.

Sadly, Christianity and many folks’ belief in God will suffer because ONE man could not live his truth OR quite simply, tell the truth when exposed.

Keep passin ‘the open windows…

Monday, September 20, 2010

Know Your Place; Act Accordingly

There is a line in the Meryl Streep cult classic movie, The Devil Wears Prada, where Anne Hathaway’s character is scolded by her boyfriend when she consistently chooses her career over her relationship. As Hathaway’s character, Andrea, struggles to make a point, her telephone rings and when she chooses to answer the call, her boyfriend ends their argument by saying, “…by the way, if there’s any confusion who you’re in a relationship with, it’s the person getting their calls answered.” This is a pivotal moment in the film because it is when Andrea is forced to face who she’s become – one of the shallow creatures she alleged to loathe at the start of the film.

Sometimes we have trouble accepting our place in each other’s lives and who we’ve become to each other. While we may have been the best of college buddies, we may now have a place of priority just under your loved one’s family pet. Relationships, family, new friends and careers can change the hierarchy of those in our lives and similarly affect our position in theirs. Yesterday’s best friend is today’s long lost pal.

Rather than being disappointed by my new position in the lives of my family and friends, I simply accept that our lives change and the people in our lives rotate in and out of our lives or their hierarchy simply changes. True friends and committed family members will always find a place in our lives and if folks mean something to you, you’ll have enough sense to always make time for them.

Anytime you’re making repeated calls to family or friends without a return call, is a good time to assess your position in the individual’s life and to make the adjustments on your end to minimize your frustration and maximize the quality of your relationship with them. Finding only a couple of minutes to speak to a loved ones doesn’t minimize who they are to you, it may only mean that the relationship doesn’t require as serious a time commitment as your other relationships.

Spending precious time fretting about where you stand with the folks in your circle simply means that you have not taken the time to know your place and to act accordingly.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cocoa Cure; September 17, 2010

  • Relationships are what you make them. Mutually create the parameters for your intimate relationships with your partner and don't attempt to conform to the mold set by other people's relationships.

  • An update on the August 2011 Cocoa Cruise

  • Happy birthday to Chris and Kas.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The VMAs; Are YOU Still Relevant?

Just when you thought you were still hip and current, the VMAs come along and remind you that you need a hip replacement. From the outrageous get-up of our minister of retro-futuristic, Lady Gaga, the self described leader of her little ‘monsters,’ wore outfits that she had to apologize for before accepting each award – and she won eight. She changed from one difficult attention bullhorn gown to another, combined with matching burdening headpiece and six inch yikes before needing the help of four or five audience members to get her up the stage to pick up her moon man. Twitter was on fire with folks either loving Gaga’s ability to shock and ability to say f*ck-you to functionality, but those of us that may be reaching the age of practicality couldn’t help but think that the gimmick was not only outrageous, but making La GaG-a, a bit of an invalid.

A few other folks who caught my eye… Nicki Manj who appeared to have kidnapped Serena Williams, J-Lo and Kim Kardashian for a bride of Frankenstein ass that can only be described as out of this world. I’m an ass man, but even I had to chuckle at the cameramen scrambling to back away far enough to include her and her GARGANTUAN ass in the same frame. Note to Manaj…the rule of thumb is that if you are elbow deep each time you wipe your ass, it’s too much.

Then there was Mavis Staples from the I’ll Take You There fame back in the day….oh no wait, that was Mary J Blige. Yes, I know Mary and I are about the same age, but it’s harder for me to accept how darn old I am until I took a good look at Mary and realized that yes, we are reaching that age…AARP here I come…the kids in the audience were looking at her the way we used to look at Aretha Franklin…a back-in-the-day artist who was still doing her thing. …but you go Mary with your hollerin’ ass. We love you.

Ciara who is an Aaliyah/Maya fusion, is looking hot and finding her way into an A-list spot. She wowed the audience and looked stunning.

Taylor Swift :::sigh:::: I realize that the name Kanye West makes her cringe with embarrassment, but the truth is that he gave her more recognition than any publicist working double-time would have done for her in five years time. You would think the man beat her ass ala-Tina Turner/Ike the way folks defend this overgrown 12-year old. Her songs are a bit of a snooze and her VMA performance – outside of the intro featuring the infamous Kanye fiasco – had the equivalent effect of an Ambien with an Abilify chaser. I didn’t know if I should take a bathroom break or take a razor to my wrist. My advice to camp Taylor is that they should recruit some other rap artist to bully Taylor on the regular…maybe snatch her mic every now and again….just to spice things up again…and Taylor, we know you’re like 6 foot 6, but with those canoes, we’re going to ask that you wear shoes at all times. You really looked like a remake of the movie the 50 Foot Woman when you walked off stage last night.

This brings us to my girl Rhianna. I love her…let me start there because it’s a fair statement that I like her swagger, her music and her look – most of the time. Last night, however, she looked like an acid dropping ballerina who had been playing in mommy’s make-up and escaped out the back door of their country shack and rode 3-days on the back of a pick-up to get to the VMA stage. The fact that she dwarfed Eminem wasn’t as disturbing as when you looked at their feet and realized they were wearing matching combat boots. Rhianna…we love you…no more hanging with 19-year old Midwestern drag queens in wardrobe prior to a performance. I know…I know…the list is getting long, so let’s close this out on a high note…or ummm…a bright note

Host extraordinaire, Chelsea Handler, of Chelsea Lately fame, did an incredible job at dry, yet sobering humor. She didn’t pull any punches – even when her intended targets were sitting right in front of her. She jumped right on in – even into a hot tub with the Jersey Shore cast – and made us feel that being silly and not caring what folks say is the best way to have a great time. It takes a REAL talent to say whatever without really offending anyone and she did just that.

The VMAs are still a way for many of us who may have fallen out of the NOW to catch up on what is really going on. For folks who were offended, disgusted or plain bored, maybe you’ve officially crossed the line to the next level of life…irrelevant.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Friday, September 10, 2010

Yes to Peace; Not So Fast to the Mosque at the 9/11 Site

Posted in response to Royce’s Excitable Bore 9/10 Blogspost

I have said time and again that the primary reason for most wars is religion and differences in folk’s belief in their God. I also agree that the United States of America is built on our ability – and really, our desire – to be free of oppression and our wish to be all inclusive and diverse. That said, I disagree with talk that the United States wasn’t established with Christian beliefs at its core. Even our Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” That creator, referred in other documents (and our currency) as God, is established as a Christian God. That said, I do believe that as a Christian nation, our intent was to show compassion for all and an open minded environment that nurtured all religions, cultures, etc. Unfortunately, the U.S. has fallen victim to the same pitfalls that other nations have struggled with for years – intolerance for other religions, cultures and orientations.

That point aside, my personal belief is that the tragedy of 9/11 was one that will live in infamy in our nation’s history forever. It was a painful reminder of our vulnerability. Like many victims, the U.S. relates all things associated with their attackers as offensive – this includes their culture, their religion, etc. In an effort to appease the masses, while holding fast to our core desire for inclusion, we should be objective. For example, although our country believes in freedom of expression, it would be painful to many Americans - African Americans in particular - if a White supremacist group set-up shop in the center of Harlem, USA with the pretext that they are trying to promote racial unity. The truth is that the historical strife between those two groups would make that arrangement a breeding ground for disaster. We can also think of religious groups that believe that being gay is a sin and how gay America would feel if religious groups chose to worship in front of their homes simply because they have the right to congregate in public spaces. Not unlike these ficticious scenarios, the mosque being touted as a place of worship for our Muslim brothers within the confines of a site that suffered the greatest loss of life on American soil from a terrorist attack, is to some, a blatant attempt to rub salt in a wound that has not healed. To date, the towers have NOT been rebuilt, human remains have been found as recently as last year and the memory of that day, just 9 years ago, is still fresh in America’s mind – especially the minds of New Yorkers. There are countless other available sites to build this house of worship on, so it begs the question as to WHY must it be built at the site of the disaster.

Our civil liberties and freedoms cannot come at the expense of any other group. Christian or Muslim, religion is intended to worship a higher power; one that encourages love, peace and maybe even a more benevolent sense of self. My hope is that the mosque would be built off the site of our nation’s worst disaster and that maybe the next generation – one that didn’t experience the horror first-hand – can converge (Christian and Muslim) and agree that peace is the only way…maybe even build ONE unified temple where all denominations worship and seek to be better human beings for their differences.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Welcoming the Fall; Now That Summer Is Over…

The unusual high temperatures in the northeast this year have many a summer lover wishing for fall. This year, temperatures frequently topped the mid 90s and included a humidity that rivaled a greenhouse in hell. That said, there have been some realizations I’ve come to accept…like my disdain for flip flops and casual sandals in the workplace, the way they make that thwat-thwat sound and the hosts of filthy healed New Yorkers scrambling around our filthy city make my point all the more evident. I found that even when it rained – torrentially – folks found a way to wear their flip flops everywhere they went. All said, summer tends to lose a bit of luster as you get older and the hygiene-to-the-wind mentality contributes to that.

Now that summer is unofficially over, let’s review what worked and didn’t work this summer and what you can do going forward:

** Flip-flops may be appropriate for the beach, the occasional BBQ or the pool, but flip flops are NEVER okay for ANY work environment (if you work at the beach, wear the rubber soled deck shoes) As an aside, contrary to popular belief, flip-flops are NOT more comfortable than other casual or commuter shoes – actually they can become irritating in wet weather or when worn for a prolonged period of time. I do realize that heavier folks (that may rock cankles) find them more comfortable, but the look isn’t for you either.

** Clear Deodorant may be a claim that the manufacturer has made on the bottle of anti-per spirant, but after you put it on you noticed it wasn’t clear after all…so stop using it. White arm pits and circles of white or yellow under arms on shirts/blouses is just plain nasty. Additionally, if you appear to be carrying a natural cheerleading pom-pom under your arm, feel free to trim the hair (for men) down to a very fine amount of arm pit hair OR shave (for women) the hair all together. Invest in a shaver you keep in your bathtub to help keep your pits tidy. If you suffer from hair bumps under your arms you should 1) keep the hair trimmed short, but not shaved as your hair may be curling back into the follicle AND see a dermatologist to prescribe Klaron – a magnificent topical antibiotic that prevents hair bumps (infection) on your face, pits and pubes.

** White After Labor Day is never cool…forget what you heard. I have an aversion to any white shoe that ISN’T a sneaker. I’ll fess up to it. I refuse to wear any white shoes regardless of the season. That said, the fashion rule of not wearing white shoes after Labor Day and BEFORE Memorial Day is in effect – for life! Please do not rock white, off-white, egg shell, cream shoes between the unofficial close of summer and the unofficial opening of summer in May. If you want to show even a bit more class, don’t rock any skirts or pants in white between the same time period.

** If you must wear white, learn the DOs and Don’ts of white-wearing. Contrary to popular belief you SHOULD wear black undergarments under white clothing since red, blue, purple, green, etc. will clearly show through your garment – even white undergarments will be clearly identifiable under white clothing. I know that some of you may have been made to think that it is sexy to see your red lace thong under your white pants, but it’s actually trashy. We’ll discuss the difference between trashy and sexy in another blogpost.

**Know your feet…They are yours and they don’t look any better to us than they do to you when you peek down. No one can tell you to take a pumice stone to those dogs and remove dead skin or to cut and file down the talons working your socks/stockings for dear life, but if you refuse to handle your Flintstone feet, please keep them under wraps – both in socks and closed-toe shoes. No ifs, ands or buts.

** So you want to show cleavage? I get it, I get it…someone complimented the girls and now you think they need to dangle out of everything you own. Since this is an all-year issue and not just a summer one, let’s keep it simple here. Invest in ONE good fitting to determine what your REAL bra size is and spend the bucks to wear what makes the girls look amazing. Regardless how big or small they are, if they are not properly supported and just lay or sit there dangling like a meat sack pendulum, it is never cute. I mean, sure you’ll get compliments from the neighborhood or office perv, but the rest of us think it’s a darn shame that you don’t take better care of the twins.

** Laser and waxing are your friends. Yes folks this isn’t the dark ages and some of us grow hair where the rest of us don’t even have skin. That said, I will commit with my girlfriends to get waxed at least once every two months and shell out for laser treatments come this January. My suggestion (to the ladies especially) is to find a top-notch laser specialist and invest the dinero in getting certain areas done so that you’ll NEVER have to worry about hair growth again. Let’s just say, I’ll be handling a few trouble spots myself. Consider working on areas you either have lots of trouble maintaining – ie. your armpits or bikini area. It’s worth the investment. Remember that Jurassic Park was made more scary by the thought of what would come out of the foliage.

Now that we’ve covered these items let’s put the clothes back on, think things over the next 10 months and be ready for summer 2011.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Florida Vacation 2010

It has become a most pleasant ritual - thanks to our friend Alan - to visit Kissimmee, Florida each year to close out our summer. This year we not only visited Universal Studios and the cool Harry Potter attractions, but we also shared time with family - BD's and mine. My cousins Aidita and Rene, along with their spouses hosted us for dinner and a pool party of sorts for the kiddies and meeting BD's brother was the highlight of my trip. Granted, I was nervous about making a good first impression, but hoped they could see how much BD and the Minnie mean to me. Gratefully, both visits proved that when you love someone and introduce them to those that mean the world to you, folks will appreciate what's real. A huge thank you to Alan, to our family and friends who made this trip one filled with fond memories.

Keep passin' the open windows...

- Mobile post from my iPhone

Location:Orlando, FL