SuburbanMadness

A space for my rants, musings, and thoughts about things that excite and frustrate me about living in the world these days. Topics covered will be hodegepodge: Popular Culture; Parenting; Bathroom Reviews; Politics; Cooking; Familial Relationships and other assorted emphermal pleasures.

Name:
Location: Shaker Heights, Greater Cleveland/OH, United States

Dismayed and Perplexed Black Mother & Wife who cannot understand why her people continue to go down a path that will only lead to destruction & decay. Believes that Intelligent Black People must become Warriors for their families and their communities if Black folks are going to survive. We must struggle to educate out children and ourselves that the ways of the underclass will only lead to tragedy and death.

Friday, December 09, 2005

BIG Dummy of the Week

We have to put up with alot of stupidness these days. Bush being POTUS is of course the most obvious example. Still, there's Condi's 1984-esque speeches about torture and "black sites." There is the shrieking over Christmas and trees.

But today's shinning example of idiocy run amok is Principal Jennifer Watts of Kansas City, Kansas, who suspended 16 year old Zach Rubio for__ GASP! speaking Spanish at school. Another "big dummy" to the crummy teacher who turned in the boy and his classmate in the first place.

Don't our "educators" (a real stretch in regards to Watts) have anything better to do. I know they are busy out west kicking evolution out of the schools, but this latest bit of news from the Plains really stinks. The school had no formal policy (meaning written) that addressed their no-speaking Spanish ban. The school district overturned the principal's decision. However, there are larger issues here.

Xenophobia must be tempered by reason people. When I was in school it was a good thing to be bilingual (the student in question is a U.S. citizen who speaks unaccented, fluent English; he has a Spanish speaking father who is a naturalized citizen). Not that most schools try real hard to teach foreign languages. Americans, as a rule, don't think they need a second language. Even if they like traveling abroad.

But, nowadays we all hate the Hispanic hordes that are flooding our nation. Taking all of those great gardening, construction, slaughter-house, nanny, and busboy jobs that we all are so anxious to do. Sure, it would be great if the more recent immigrants learned English more quickly. But, I think what we all are so afraid of is not being able to understand them. They could be talking about our stupid a**es and we wouldn't even know it. We can't read their newspapers; they could be planning a coup. But what galls me most most of all is that I can't fully enjoy their television shows, which look a helluva lot more interesting than ours.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Battle for Christmas

Am I the only one who is tired of hearing about this so-called battle for Christmas? Are so many Christians so unsteady in their faith that they must be mollified with insincere "Merry Christmas" wishes from retailers, The White House and just about any person they cross paths with?

Being originally from New York, I cannot understand, nor imbibe the screeching and screaming of the self-appointed religion police. Growing up around variety of people and religions tends to make one realize that the whole world (or country) for that matter does not celebrate Christmas. According to one zealot, 98% of Americans celebrate Christmas. Mmm... this is probably true to a certain degree. But celebrate Christmas how? How many of that 98% celebrate the holiday without any regard for the birth of Jesus Christ? I dare say more than a few. Christ and his birth were never central facts about Christmas when I was growing up. And I knew many other kids just like me. Christmas was about presents, food and family. It was about carols and trees and if you were lucky snow. But being awed by the birth Christ? It didn't matter.

Still, I realize that the birth of Christ is truly the most important part of this holiday to some. And that is wonderful. As someone who was recently baptized as a Christian, I can truly understand the importance of Christ in my personal life. However, I do not understand why some people are so offended if Lands End, Macys, or Wal-Mart don't wish them and all of us a Merry Christmas. It is not a matter of political correctness. It is a matter of not cheapening the so-called meaning of Christmas further.

The Battle for Christmas is an excellent book that examines the history of this holiday in the United States. While the Christian conservatives want to yell about the secularists draining religion out of the holiday, it would serve us all to remember that the relationship between Christmas and religion is far more complicated.

At first this time of the year was celebrated as some sort of pagan holiday that had something to do with the Winter solstice. Being the darkest part of the year (north of the equator) the pagans developed a ritual that celebrated light. It involved evergreen trees because they are alive even when the rest of nature appears dead. This evolved into our Christmas tree, but they weren't always called Christmas trees. (Ask yourself: what do evergreens have to with the birth of Jesus?) Then, along came the early Church who wanted converts to the new faith, so the leaders of the early Church grafted a holiday celebrating the birth of Christ onto this pagan ritual.

What about the gluttony and excess of the season? During the times of peasants and estates in Europe, this time of the year was the end of the harvest period. The land was dormant and there wasn't much to do. But there was much to eat (thanks to the recent harvest) and some to drink. Also, the landlords would give the peasants small gifts and extend hospitality to those less fortunate than themselves. In general it was a time for merrymaking and the inversion of social roles. During slavery, this practice continued; slaves were given gifts, master and mistress celebrated with their chattel, and the received their rare allotment of meat. These days, children are the lords and ladies of the day; all is done to make sure they have the best day ever.

What about the commercialism of so sacred a holiday? Well, it was never really sacred. Second, in the U.S. Christmas has been about capitalists selling things to consumers since the 1800s. Tin drums and calicos. Candies and ribbons. The birth of Jesus was and is an excuse for the buying of things. While this may be a sad state of things, it is the most historically correct model of the holiday in this country. Sure there can be change. Perhaps we should put Christ in Christmas, but don't pretend that he has always been there. We should buy less and give more of ourselves. We should love our children and stop substituting things for touching, caring and sharing in their childhoods. We should share our abundant blessings with those that are less fortunate. But the whining about Christ and Christmas addresses none of these points. Instead it is yet another thinly veiled plot to turn our country into of theocracy.

Get the book. It will address all of my points in a fuller manner. It also shows why it is wrong to get excised over "Xmas" since "x" is Greek for "ch." Just because the conservatives scream louder doesn't mean that they are right.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Learning From Katrina

Hurricane Katrina just about obliterated the city of New Orleans and many other parts of the Gulf Coast of the U.S. This natural disaster that was no surprise wiped out many, many families. It also revealed just how entrenched poverty is in our national fabric. For those who are caught in the grip of poverty, for whatever reasons, it is an almost impossible task to escape.

Now the good people that bought us "compassionate conservatism" and major cuts to social welfare programs last week (yeah I know they voted to keep funding at current levels, but the cost of nothing goes down), have decided that now is a good time to kick hurricane survivors out of their temporary hotel/motel housing. These folks are like Scrooge.

While our "leaders" sit down to a bountiful meal this coming Thursday, thousands of our fellow citizens will be wondering what they have to be thankful for. Many of them will not experience their meal surrounded by the comforts of home, but instead will eat in soup kitchens and wretched shelters.

Even more disturbing are the many hundreds of thousands of Americans who disdainfully ignore the ongoing plight of people that have lost everything. Some schmuck named Aaron just commented on the radio about how isn't it time for the displaced and dispossessed to get on with their lives. Touching isn't it? Barely three months later folks. Bootstraps anyone?

Why is it always some white guy, who has never known a real moment of need in his whole entire life, calling for self-help? A guy whose greatest challenge has been getting a piece of a** from time-to-time? A guy who has benefited from his daddy's money, white skin privilege, and having a friggin' penis is supposed to know what it is like to be poor, black, female, or old? A guy who if something this catastrophic happened to, would have a support network at his fingertips. But, he feels free to pass judgment on his fellow citizens for not sucking it up and moving on.

Still, Hurricane Katrina taught me a few things:
  1. Do not rely on the government for anything. Luckily, I was born into a family that was more-or-less middle class, so I have never known the joys of needing the govt for my next meal. Still, Katrina revealed that the govt will not be there when you are down on your luck. Forget about after the dirty bomb attack, bird flu pandemic, or any other shit that might jump off. You better have an emergency plan (running car, money in the bank and in the house, a relative to hole up with, etc.) This is not Sweden or Canada...you have to lookout for yourself.
  2. Having a disorganized, disordered family is a huge liability. Families are only as strong as their weakest link. Having kids that you can't afford to provide for leaves them and you vulnerable during an emergency situation. In short, if your family is messed up, you are f*cked because you will not have anyone to turn to.
  3. Your fellow citizens will send money at first (esp. if you remind them of some refugees from the Sudan) but ultimately they will revert to seeing themselves as taxpayers and not humans that are connected to their fellow citizens, and therefore, start wishing that you would just go off and die somewhere far away from them. Yeah, they will talk about caring, but their actions will let you know that you are not wanted.

So this Thanksgiving, take a moment and truly think about your blessings. Think about how quickly they could all be ripped away from you. Think about how you would cope. Because the folks in D.C., your state capital, and the local mayor for the most part don't give a rats a** about you. Nor do your fellow Americans. Thank goodness for the fake sentiments we will hear from now till the end of the holiday season. Kind of makes one forget the ugly reality.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The One-Finger Peace Sign Goes To...

The White House & Other Lowly Republicans that are pulling a Swift-Boat Veterans For Truth on Congressman John Murtha. Come on! To compare this guy to the Michael Moore branch of the Democratic Party is just stretching the truth too far. I don't know how Bush, Darth Cheney and the rest sleep at night.

I'm no fan of the war in Iraq (blah blah blah faulty intelligence; deceit by Rumy & Wolfowitz, etc.), but nor do I want the crazy Islamist Fundies wrecking havoc on our country. Plus, I really would not look so hot in one of those burqua things.

Scrooge-like House & Republicans and especially Ohio's own Steven LaTourette for passing a retrograde funding bill that cuts funds for Food Stamps, Student Loans, Child Support Enforcement and other programs that benefit the poor. Next up on their agenda, tax cuts for the rich! LaTourette deserves a big, fat finger for changing his vote from yea to nea at the last minute. This guy is the real flip-flopper! First CAFTA and now this. May the folks of Lake County awake from their slumber and vote his a** out next year.

The McDonalds on Lee Road for hiring the dumbest girls and young women to staff the counter. How many dum-dums doe sit take to look at the board to figure out orders? Whay can't girlfriend figure out $7.18-$4.00=$3.00? When she siad I can't add in my head, I almost laughed in her face!

Peace & Love To...

The Lady In South Africa that invented a condom for women that adheres to rapists d*cks so that they can be caught for their crimes. Rape is out of control; anything that empowers women is fabulous. One finger to the whiners who are saying its barbaric. HELLO! They are rapists! (via BUST)

Congressman John Murtha and others for speaking out against the Bush Crime Family and their friggin lies.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Barbie & Me

Always, always count on your children to flip the script on you. Getting prepared for this round of Santa's Fabulous Giveaway, I'd been under the impression that my two girls wanted certain things.

I thought I had manipulated, uhm... talked them into, uhm... influenced them into wanting nice, educational-type, p.c. toys. But noooo, instead of American Girls and Groovy Girls, I'm in the market for Barbie and Me.

I'm particularly in the market for the blickiest and blackest Barbie & Me, which is billed as the African-American one officially. Because the brunette/Hispanic/Latina one doesn't resemble my kid. Fault me for being picky, but this particular child is my milk chocolate, sugar plum and I want the damn doll to look somewhat like her.

So I go online, to save myself time, money and aggravation looking for these must have items: Pixel Chix and Barbie & Me. Can find Pixel Chix easily. New books for Leappads= easy. Shadow the Hedgehog=easy. But black Barbie & Me. She is not stocked at ToyRUs.com or Walmart.com. WTF!

Ahh..Target.com does have, but no free shipping like ToysRUs.com. And no low, low prices like WallyWorld. The agony!

Am I the only black perosn who buys crap on line. Walmart is stocking a bunch of ooogly a** black Barbies of the Zodiac (real ghetto looking) and some other half black/mulatto looking Barbies, but where the hell is the Black Barbie & Me.

So yes, I'm already aggravated and pissed off and Thanksgiving is a week away.

HAPPY FRIGGIN HOLIDAYS!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sick, Sad World

The world continued to spin despite this week's absurdities, curiosities, and just plain old weirdness. In no particular order, here are the things that made me go WTF!

Tyra Banks' Woe Is I Crap: Tyra dressed up for like all of four friggin hours as a really, really fat chick. She went out and public and suffered the dirty looks and scorn that is the daily lot of America's overweight folks. Emotionally and physically exhausted she resumed her supermodel life, dragged out to real-life fat women to sit on her talk-show couch and preceeded to cry on their shoulders about how hard it is to be fat. Self-absorded bitch!

Really Bad Mothers: This week's "winners" just prove that bad mothers come in all colors.

Booby Prize #1 is the Brooklyn, NY (let's hear for the hometown) Red Hook project rat whose toddler son drowned in a nasty, dirty bathtub while she listened to cds in the next room. Child Protective Services knew about this loser because her older son had been scalded by a previous boyfriend. Triflin' no good bitch!

Booby Prize #2 is Cleveland's own poor white trash dummy who sold/gave her baby to a man that she had met once to take across the country to the child's father. This piece of skanky trash then concealed her crime for the entire summer. Luckily, her daughter is still alive. Hope the triflin' no good bitch loses her parental rights forever!

Weasel Alito's Lack of Ethics: Okay, okay...those of you who know me will not be surprised that this guy makes my blood a little cold. When Judge Alito is seated and the country is put on cruise-control to 100+ years of "Jesusland" rule I won't say I told you so.

Still Mr. Alito's ethics seem a little shaky. Which of course makes him like all the other Republicans running the country into the ground. Exhibits A, B & C: the Bush Crime Family, Tom Delay and Gov. Bob Taft. This guy is a weasel. He was suppossed to recuse himself, per his testimony when he was given his present job, from any cases that involved any companies that he held stock in; the company that manages his portfolio; and any cases involving his sister's law firm. But you know what? He didn't! In a trifecta of lapsed ethics, he particiapted in cases involving all of the above. Stay-tuned for Chuck Schummer's tsk-tsk'ing regarding this.

Those Crazy Christian Fundies: Continuing their "good works" that began with that abstinence-only sex-ed crap and moved onto blocking access to Plan B emergency contraception, these dopes are now tying up the HPV (human papllioma virus) vaccine because (GASP!) some teen-age girls might have sex!

Having experienced their success with Plan B personally (locally Planned Parenthood is the only option. Chain-owned pharmacies fearing the rath of the half dozen old white guys who protest at the local abortion providers, don't stock it) and the joys of the results of HPV (wow! so I'm how close to developing cervical cancer?) all I can say is shame on these people!

Cervical cancer, which is what HPV will ultimately cause, kills women. And more often than not women do not notice the symptoms when they are first infected. The results (abnormal/cancerous cells) are detected years later by regular Pap smear. This is one of the most common STDs out there. You do not have to be a slut to get it. Women with as few as one or two partners in a life time have been found to have it. This vaccine will prevent infection, the surgeries, and deaths that this virus causes. To hold it up because unmarried girls and women will have sex is just wrong. If you don't want your daughter to get the vaccine, lock her in the basement until you can marry her off. But keep your religious notions and laws off of my body!

Pay attention straight people: first they chip away at abortion; then they make access to birth-control and sex-ed hard; then they persecute, ridicule and discriminate against gays, lesbians, and trans-gender folks. Who will be next? When Weasel Alito is seated, you might be forced into marriages-for-life. I know, overly dramatic, but I advise you to get your Plan B before you need it, and to get a Passport because you never know when you might have to cut your loses and move to Canada.

Terry McMillian & Her Gay Ex-Husband: their appearnce on Oprah wasn't that exciting. Terry is kind of like your crazy-ass aunt who drinks and smokes way too much. She gets into a rant about how triflin' men are at every family gathering and ends up in tears. What we learned about Black chick lit's #1 writer: a) Jonathan hurt her; b) she still loves him (why does this surprise people? They were married for a number of years); c) Terry can still be dumb like the rest of us (sharing a bubble bath with your (gay) ex-husband? WTF!); d) Jonathan is enjoying his 15 minutes of fame.

Beyonce, Tina & the House of Dereon: Oprah had two must-see t.v. moments this week. If you thought you'd be hearing Jay-Z's dame announce that she was preggers, boy were you dissapointed.

What you were treated to was the premiere of Beyonce and her Creole mama's clothing line. {{{YAWN}}} Suppossedly 1940s-inspired fashions were modeled on mostly skinny chicks. Note to Kelly & Michelle: you two need to get some self-respect and stop being Beyonce's friggin' lap dogs. Aren't you above modeling for her tired ass?

Most of the House of Dereon's fashions would look nice on my 9-year old (especially those peddle- pushers that will make a real woman's leg look like a large ham). Still, B & her mama promised that their jeans will fit those of us with a small waist and a big booty (no gapping in the back, or flattening out of the apple). I'm skeptical, but will withold my final judgement until I try a pair on myself.

Lastly, all of the clothes featured only go to a size 12 or 14? WTF is up with that? You know the big girls will be dying to buy this crap. Yeah, yeah they promised a plus-size line soon. Beyonce and Tina should have launched that shit first, if only to spare us all the sight of too large bodies squeezed into their little corset tops and those friggin peddle-pushers. Plus, Beyonce is one baby away from the plus-size department for life. She reminds me of Chaka Khan. And we all know how she ended up.

Look Sexy. Don't Have Sex: The abstinence-only people got together with the public-service announcement people to bring you this crap. "Young" actresses and singers are appearing in a series of ads that encourage our daughters to look sexy, but not to have sex.

I hate mixed messages! First of all, if you are under like 16 or 17, there is no reason to look even vaguely sexy (young women for the most part don't have the skills to handle the attention). Second, why encourage girls to look like skanks? They will attempt this all on their own without encouragement. Third, they are using Little Kim in one of these ads. Who they hell are they trying to fool? This is a woman who sucked and f*cked to get where she is professionally. Whose the next spokesmodel, "One Night in Paris Skank Hilton?" Give me a friggin' break!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Ghetto Fabulous Halloween

Okay, Okay I know Halloween is like past, but the sad shenanigans hubby and I witnessed while trick-or-treating with the kids still leaves me slack-mouthed.

Also, in the name of full disclosure we live in the "slums of Shaker Heights" which means we rent in a not-so-desirable building while struggling to save a down payment, pay the bills, drive decade+ old cars and plain old survive. In other words me and mine are the not-so-well to do in a community that is known for being well-heeled.

Additionally, we carry packaged name brand candy to hand out ourselves, so we are not just takers, but givers as well.

So, we get the kids dressed and set off for another exciting round of Beggar's Night. Trust me it gets real stale by year 9, and now that we are expecting child #3, I have at least 12 more years of costumed outings to look forward to.

First thing we notice, is that the street closest to us looks deserted. In years past, this two-block stretch would have been awash in all kinds of little monsters and goblins visting just about every house because all the houses used to leave a light on. Not this year; less than six houses are participating in the annual ritual. But I soon see why.

The Invasion of the Ghetto Riff-Raff was in full swing. Cars (hoopties with spinning rims and flashy new SUV's) pull up (some times to the curb, sometimes in people's driveways) and like clowns at the circus, out tumble throngs of misbehaving tweens and teens, most not even in any semblance of a costume clutching supermarket plastic bags and the occasional ratty and dirty pillow case.

They bumrush past my kids, mumble-mouth "trick-or-treat" and run back to their rides without so much as a "thank you" to be driven to the next house where the same scene is repeated. The Vikings could have learned a thing or two from these roving bands of modern day pillagers.

Most of these were not little (kindergarten through grades 5-6 grade-aged) kids, but middle-school and then some youths who were way taller and bigger than me (and I'm 5'9")! Baggy pants & white tees; tight jeans and head rags; on their cell phones letting their peeps know where they was at. Young chesticles hanging over multiple roles of baby fat in shirts two sizes too small; size 13 feet in Timbs while the pockets of their pants are almost at knee level. Ebonics-ladden conversations riccochet in and out of my head while I wonder how many foul words my kids are learning in a short period of time.

Still we pressed on. The warm weather deluded us. Two avenues over we encountered the Mother Ship. Surely, Smoketown must have been empty because the entire 'hood was on this strip. Juvies smoking blunts while talking about how "somebody better give me some muthafuckin' candy or else!" Grandmothers who are my age, in all their spandex and velour glory, ordering little Specials and Jay-anythings (Jayron, Jayson, Jaylin) into hustling for the candy. "Girl/Boy you betta get you some candy! I ain't come out here for nuthin"

Folks who vaguely look like me and mine (increasingly that is where any resemblance begins and ends) running up and down and across the street just acting like pure-D fools who ain't never had anything. Yet their cars, clothes, and jewels are newer, more expensive, and shinier than mine. Cost of living must be less in the 'hood.

Still, one white lady had a more of a trick than a treat for the interlopers. When they walked up her porch someone appeared out of the darkened bushes and scared the beejeezus out of many of the lovely young people. You would have thought you were watching some old racist film, for all the bug-eyed black folks running trying to get away. It was quite hilarious and served the rowdies right.

Yes, yes, yes! I know it sounds elitist of me to complain about people who look like me driving in to trick-or-treat, but Shaker Heighst borders the black half of Cleveland. Segregation by race and ethnic group is old news for Greater Cleveland. Whites on one side of the river, blacks on the other. Shaker Heights bucks this trend by being a "diverse" community. Meaning mostly liberal white folks are willing to reside near black folks because it is a nice place to live. (It also helps that they can get financial assistance for moving into the black sections of the 'burb.) Which makes the display of sad behavior that night even more troublesome. Because the whites who peeked outside their doors saw hundreds of reasons to move to Solon or Chagrin Falls. Hell, I saw reasons to move further out. The Ghetto Riff-Raff won't drive that far to trick-or-treat. Homes of a few whites that I know were dark that night. And I don't blame them. I wouldn't want those rowdies storming my door either.

Whatever happened to hometraining? My mother and father raised me with some sense. They taught me not to act trifling or like I don't have no sense. They taught me to say "thank you," and to not embarrass myself, my family or my race through my actions. Were we rich? No! But manners and civility have nothing to do with money. Sadly, hometraining has become a relic of the past in some quarters of the community. And I understand why some folks now leave their porch lights dark and go out to dinner and a movie on Halloween night.