Volume 47: When You're TOO OLD FOR FIST-FIGHTS

Food for Thought: In Pennsylvania, Gun violence is responsible for the deaths of about 1,200 people each year. 80% of homicides in the southwest section of Philadelphia are unsolved. 75% of individuals shot are black. 72% of the individuals are black men. 40% of those individuals are under the age of 25. The rate of murder here is 3½ times per capita the rate of New York City-whose population is about 8 times larger. Over $125 million dollars are spent each year on the immediate healthcare needs of shooting victims. Of this amount, taxpayers pay $90 million for medical care for uninsured victims. Philadelphia has the highest murder rate of any big city in America. Pennsylvania has the highest rate in the nation of black homicide victims, (29.52 murders per 100,000 population) which equates to more than six times the overall rate for victims of all races. 81% of those homicides were committed with handguns. The most commonly cited reasons for homicide are arguments …leading to fighting…and ending in murder.

“Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”  –Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

         On the eve of the 23rd anniversary of celebrating the Birthday of the great Martin Luther King Jr., I found myself deviating from the usual day of service with my frat brothers, instead reflecting on the matter of nonviolence. Nicknamed The City Of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia is arguably the most historic city in the country. It is also a place plagued by violence and now has the monikers of The Murder Capital and KILLAdelphia, PISTOLvania. When speaking of gun violence, one statistic really jumps out at me: The most commonly cited reasons for homicides are arguments…leading to fighting... ending in murder. Although it can be quite the spectacle to see an obnoxious person get what they deserve, and receive a one-sided ass whoopin’, the Educated Negro wonders if people realize that there’s a point when you’re just TOO DAMN OLD TO GET INTO FIGHTS WITH PEOPLE.

I’ve actually evolved to the point where I no longer find humor in a good catfight. By catfight, I mean an altercation between two women, typically involving scratching, hair pulling, and shirt shredding, as opposed to punching. However, that term isn’t just gender specific, but rather describing any vociferous fight, with the end result being the participants missing articles of clothing at the end. One of the biggest turnoffs is seeing two beautiful women scratching each other’s faces and ripping out hair. In the endfor what? Ever notice that women never fight over the men worth a damn? When was the last time you saw two women fight it out in the hair salon over a man with a Master’s Degree and Thriving Business? When was the last time two women fought in the club over a pediatric surgeon with good credit? Nope…who do they fight over? Treyshawn, the KFC fry cook-currently six months behind on child support payments for all five of his misguided children. If you can get into a club, you’re too damn old to be fighting someone.

         Random fights between two or more Neanderthals in this city are common during a weekend night out. A seasoned 30-year-old male in Philly realizes at the first signs of an altercation that it’s time to go. Long gone are the days of standing around, watching two morons fight for primitive superiority. Why? Because moments later, one or more of their goons will begin shooting, or the loser of the altercation will utter those four infamous words: “I’ll be right back.” Much of the frenzied crowd-too dumb to leave and too cool to care-will hang around for Round 2 and eventually become witnesses to a shooting or shooting victims themselves. It’s the norm here. Because 40% of Philadelphia’s homicide victims are under the age of 25, you’ve got to wonder if people realize that by their mid-twenties…YOU’RE TOO OLD TO GET INTO FIGHTS!!!

         The popular cartoon series The Boondocks, coined the term “A Nigga Moment,” where ignorance overwhelms the mind of an otherwise logical Negro male, causing him to act in an illogical, self-destructive manner i.e. like a niggahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0B9QGrpdu5Y
There are some logical males who get baited into Nigga Moments, and there are also some who just lead Nigga Lives-their sole purpose to cause as much carnage as they can, until someone puts them out of their misery. Money, Women, Drugs or Personal Boundaries/Lack of Proper Etiquette are the leading causes of fights between the Negro males.

         Money is a common thing to see people fight over-especially poor people. My Dad told me that his father was killed when he was a few years old, over $10. He told me that he owed someone down the street $10 and recently had won some money playing cards. The guy asked for his $10 and I’m guessing my grandfather simply said, “I’ll give it to you later.” But the neighbor wanted it then. At this point, the neighbor uttered those four words: “I’ll be right back.” He came back alright-and took a life over $10. You’d think it doesn’t get any more stupid than that, but it does.

         Men have been fighting and killing over women since biblical times. The Story of John The Baptist personifies the power of the pussy. According to the Synoptic Gospels, King Herod had imprisoned John because he disproved of Herod for divorcing his wife (Phasaelis), and unlawfully taking his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias. On Herod’s birthday, Herodias’ daughter (Salome) danced before the king and his guests. The Bible said her dancing pleased Herod so much that in his drunkenness he promised to give her anything she desired, up to half his kingdom (I’m assuming her dance was similar to a modern day lap-dance). When the daughter asked her mother what she should request, the Mother-still bitter because John said that Herod shouldn’t be married to his brother’s wife-told her daughter to request the head of John The Baptist on a platter. Although Herod was appalled by the request, he reluctantly agreed and had John beheaded in the prison; John the Baptist-the close friend of Jesus. Ahhhh…The Power of Women.  It just goes to show that people have fought over women and died for the affection…or perceived affection of women since the beginning of time.

         Ever have someone brush or bump right into you and not have the decency to apologize? Ever have someone step right on your foot and act as if they don’t even notice? My personal pet peeve is when someone says, “watch out” instead of “excuse me.” This is a major trigger for physical encounters among adults. Although someone’s lack of etiquette does not justify a verbal or physical thrashing, it can set off a domino effect that has ultimately led many to pain, embarrassment or an untimely demise. Me personally…I consider myself far too refined to be seen rolling around on the ground with an imbecile, or being physically thrown out of an overpriced club by it’s security. Instead I recall a phrase from Mark Twain stating, “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig, you get dirty; and besides, the pig likes it.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJHrxD4fW9U

         I left the fighting behind in high school. I just don’t see anything worth fighting over at this age. I remember seeing a pregnant female getting pummeled on the ground by a group of females in my senior year of high school. She subsequently lost her child shortly after, due to the altercation. The motive? She was pregnant by the boyfriend of one of her assailants. Most people would say that somewhere during your high school years, one outgrows the need to handle affairs with the fists. I hope that many more can realize that they’re too old to be getting into fights and ultimately learn to appreciate the well being of the next man. Dr. King’s stance on nonviolence has truly been an inspiration to me, and if he has offer peaceful solutions in perilous times when it would have been ideal to fight…what’s your excuse? Let’s learn to love each other, guys.  

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
-Napoleon Hill

…These Are The Random Thoughts Of Ronald Gray…


Volume 46: A Look back at 2009

I’m sitting here in this suburban Starbucks Coffee shop-conveniently located in a Barnes & Noble Bookstore right outside of Philadelphia. Although extremely overpriced, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorites places to get some quality writing done in peace. I look over my receipt and shake my head in disgust. My purchase? An overrated Chicken Mediterranean flatbread and a concoction called a Caramel Macchiato Venti-a modest meal that barely satisfies the hunger of a child-at a whopping $12.  After the traditional wallet raping by Starbucks, I enjoy a seat at a table and work on my book I’ve been attempting to write-the one I vow to have complete by year’s end. Minutes later, I find myself becoming distracted and working on my latest random thought blog. Let the games begin…

“One who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; one who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.”  -Chinese Proverb

         I was once told you can tell whether a man is clever by his answers, and you can tell whether a man is wise by his questions. I believe the point was that sometimes questions are more important than answers.  They say there’s no such thing as a stupid question. I strongly disagree. But…here we are in the year 2010 and I reflect back on many of the unanswered questions that I had for the world in 2009. Questions that have gone unanswered…until now. An avid reader of my blog said that I’m always giving advice in my random thoughts, and wanted to know if there are times where I have questions and turn to others for the answers. I told her that 2009 left me with many unanswered questions and that I would dedicate my next post to my reading public to see if they could indeed answer the various inquiries that befuddled my brain last year

         Question 1: Why is The Maury Show and The Jerry Springer Show still on the air?!?    I’m sure many of you have wondered the same thing. I had a few weeks off from work for the Christmas Holiday and almost ran insane through the streets in a fit of rage because of these mind-numbing shows. They both literally come on about 10 times a day. The theme for The Maury show today was: The DNA test will prove that you are the father of my six kids. I sat and watched as a black couple- complete with deep southern accents, air their dirty laundry and questioned the paternity of a 4-year-old boy affectionately named “Quafeeq.” Why do people still watch this trash?!? I personally don’t believe that Maury’s shows are even real anymore. They must use actors. I mean, everyone knows what happens on Maury’s show…everyone! Somewhere on this planet, Osama Bin Laden is probably watching it and shaking his head saying, “DNA paternity testing again?” How can people come on that show and not know what they’re getting into?

 If your boyfriend/girlfriend takes you on that show, you already know what’s coming. They’re cheating on you…and the child or children may not be yours. You’ll sit there with a stupid look on your face, while Maury does his best to console you. He’ll tell you “We can give you a paternity test on your children” but…you’ve gotta bring your dumb ass back on another show and suffer more humiliation. If you’re really unlucky, you’ll have the dubious honor of sitting right next to the sorry bastard that was smashing your woman and wants nothing to do with the children that could potentially be his. In the end, the children oftentimes aren’t yours, and the woman, overwhelmed with humiliation, goes running off into the back room, while the cameraman simply follows her backstage with Maury in hot pursuit. Haven’t they run out of idiots to come on that show for free DNA testing?!? When DNA tests were first available to the public, the primary reason people came on shows like that were because they could not afford them. But now you can actually purchase homemade DNA tests from the supermarket (no bullshit) or have them done for as little as $200, which is much better than flying in to New York City to be embarrassed in front of a studio audience and millions watching around the world.

         If you really have a screwed up relationship, your significant other will bring you to Chicago to be a guest on the Jerry Springer Show, a modern day carnival and minstrel show. If you’re ever on Jerry Springer, two things are sure to happen: Your significant other is bound to tell you that they’ve been cheating-oftentimes with a close friend or family member; Moments later that person will emerge from backstage and you two will then fight in front of a frenzied audience, chanting “JERRY! JERRY! JERRY!”
How is it that people still come on those shows and have no clue what they’re in for? It’s gotta be all fake. People without TV’s know not to come on The Jerry Springer and The Maury show.

Question 2: Is there such a thing as too much ass? And at what point does a woman with a fat ass become just a fat ass woman?

I wonder to myself, what caused the rising number of women having surgery on their asses in 2009? Now some will say that it’s no different than women getting breast implants, but this is really getting out of control. It was already difficult for us men to cope with the deception of fake eyelashes, colored contact lenses, and the both tasteful and horrendous weaves. Shit, women even started wearing girdles again in attempts to mask their weight! Now we hafta worry about someone’s ass being fake or padded. And half of the time, it doesn’t even look natural. Look no further than your typical men’s magazine, and you’re almost bound to see a 112 lb woman, with the ass of a woman three times her size-her chicken legs barely equipped to handle her frame. What is causing this? Have us brothas become so engulfed in the size of the ass, that woman feel the need to enhance the gifts that were already God-given? Ladies…imagine how you would feel if you found out that you well-endowed lover was sporting a surgically modified penis. In 2010 I would like to see more women become truly comfortable in their own skin. 

         But looking at some of the surgically altered derrières that flood the Internet, rap videos and men’s magazine, I started to wonder if there were a such thing as too much ass? As an African American male, I have a keen appreciation for the rotund backsides that can turn heads and stop traffic. But because those bodies that we enjoy looking at usually don’t come from a daily routine of morning jogs and a healthy diet- but rather fast food and one’s alcoholic beverage of choice-many women with fat asses today are 2-3 slices of cheesecake away from being the fat ass women of tomorrow. Some of the newest video models are as much as 200 lbs in weight, which would be met with utter laughter and mockery from the fashion industry. As a photographer, I believe that one’s size should not limit your marketability in being photographed, however I wonder how the supersized curves of some women will continue to hold up against father time. We’ve all seen physiques that look great in a pair of tight-fitting jeans, but when the clothes come off, the sista with the bodacious curves transform into something resembling a body-slamming WWE Wrestler mounting the top rope for a signature move…scary.

Question 3: What is the psychology behind the growing phenomenon known as “Sexting?”  What exactly is sexting? Sexting, which comes from the words sex and texting, is defined as the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, primarily between cell phones. It popularized among teenagers having sex over the phone by sending erotic, flirty messages with hints to later meet up for sex. Is sexting the new sex? Mmmm…not really because according to polls, it doesn’t always end in sex-actually only 30% of sexting incidents end up with people having sex. Sexting has become so popular that now middle-aged adults are doing it-ugh! Online sexting is something that I’ve been seeing often; many facebook and myspace profiles contain pictures that sometimes are flagged by the network and taken down. Some risqué pics fall into the wrong hands and have cost people much embarrassment and even their jobs. After all, many morons who engage in this phenomenon don’t realize that many coworkers and bosses search facebook for the profiles of the people that they employ and work with. Many people now lock their cell phones when not in use and guard their phones like hidden treasure because of the pictures and videos that can become uncovered-no pun intended-by an unsuspecting friend or family member who dares to venture into cell phone albums or videos.
         But why would people continue to put their reputations and jobs at risk for such a small thrill? Likely because the vast majority of people are morons and common sense really isn’t that common. It’s not uncommon for a woman to ask for a cell phone image on a man’s endowment or a man to ask for a quick tittie shot. But why?!? Could it be because there are so many other idiots that do it? Is it due to the fact that we are an oversexed society? Or could it just be the growing number of people who don’t get enough or get too much attention? In any case, there will be no photos of Ronald Gray gracing anyone’s cell phone screen any time soon, but if you feel the insatiable need to feel desired amid a life of boredom and unfulfilled ambitions, go right ahead and send your pics to 215-834-9343. I’m sure my frat brothers and I will have a great laugh at your expense!

         Questions 4: Do people even think anymore when they select these stupid ass tattoos?!? There’s a young lady who works at the Barber Shop that I frequent in Philadelphia. In my humble opinion, the greatest form of craftsmanship expressed in the art of cutting hair comes from Philadelphia-although that’s beside the point. The Barber Shop is what had inspired this question while looking back on those unanswered in 2009. Within earshot of the seat where I await my biweekly trim from my barber is one of the many chickenheads- who’s aura permeates America’s 5th largest city. On her left arm is the ever-popular first name written in cursive with the random cherry or strawberry under it-a bite is missing from her fruit of choice. As she turns and coons around the shop-blurting about that bitch who’s ass she wants to beat for texting her man-I notice the artwork on her right arm; A revolver pistol with smoke coming from the barrel and the words: RYDE OR DIE BITCH above it. My heads shakes in disgust as I’m reminded whey good brothas in Philly have such a tough time meeting quality women and the good women in Philly are pretty much shit out of luck.

          Previously in one of my random thoughts, I expressed detest for facial tattoos. Many consider me an extremely intelligent individual, but even I can’t think of one thing that would look remotely cool or intelligent on one’s face. I began to see a trend of tattoos not only on the face, but the ass as well-perhaps popularized in the strip clubs. Does anyone stop and ever think about how their ass will look at forty with lions, tigers and bears crawling around on it? The very popular porn star Cherokee has one of the most memorable tats on her backside. Every guy knows what I’m talking about. The tattoo on her right ass check that simply says: D’ASS. (laughs) If you’ve ever seen Cherokee, you know why! Besides the fact that Cherokee and the popular porn star “Pinky” are both a blueberry muffin away from being fat, tats like D’Ass will look very stupid on a middle aged woman. Does anyone ever think of that?

Does anyone ever think first before they get R.I.P tattoos of neighborhood homies who passed away?!? What with happen when others pass? Will they get everyone’s name tattoos on them ass well? Does anyone ever think that over a lifetime, we will bury many friends? Do woman and men ever think that when they get boy/girlfriend’s names permanently etched on the skin that perhaps there’s a remote chance that they may one day break up…and some other guy will have to see …Greg…Big Mike…or Man-Man on your lower back every time he wants doggy-style sex? Do men ever stop and think that perhaps the reason that educated, cultured sista won’t take you or what you say seriously is because you have Money Over Bitches tattooed on your forearm? Ever wonder why that employer never called you back after that interview? It could have been the fact that you showed up at the interview late…or your idea of “Business Attire” was a Polo shirt, khakis and Timberland boots (trust me-I’ve seen it)…but it likely was the meaningless sayings that you had tattooed on your neck. I’m not saying that tattoos are wrong or limit one to a lifetime of refilling water glasses at Denny’s. All I’m asking is… did people actually think about the future when they got them?!?

Question 5: Horrendous Clothing in 2009 that costs and arm and a leg: Have fashion designers lost their edge…or their minds?!?
Fashion sucked in 2009- yeah, I said it. It seems as though no matter how stupid the clothing, throw the words Gucci on it and an expensive tag and the masses would go without to have it. This year I saw some of the most horrendous pieces from the Gucci line that I had ever seen. I also saw Gucci release patent leather sneakers with some sort of weird removable shredded piece and market that crap for $350. Guess what? The suckers actually bought it, and convinced themselves that they were fly. I think UGG boots are short for the ugliest things that women could buy for the price they pay (the ones who bought the real ones), but women told themselves, hey…they’re warm. While making a Christmas purchase at a Coach Store, I was horrified by a male who donned a pair of UGG boots for men. Skinny jeans became hot and the teenagers wore them in a multiplicity of colors, ranging from white to all the pastel colors. It was horrible. Black people miraculously stopped wearing jackets in the winter-did anyone else notice that?!? I remember when we used to see white people in January-twenty nine degrees in Philadelphia with a American Eagle hoodie, GAP shorts and some flip flops- and we’d look at them like, look at this mutha-fucka! Where the hell are his clothes?!? Now who’s doing the same thing? The teenage black kids! (laughing) I guess winter coats aren’t cool anymore.

         Are designers running out of fresh, innovative ideas? Or am I bugging? Are we going to be doomed to the trends of history-repeating fashions in 2010?!? Will designers force feed the public horrible, wallet-breaking couture…cleverly masked behind Jay-Z, Kanye West and MTV celebs?

Note: Just some food for thought, guys. And just as the foods with the best nutritional values rarely taste good, you can’t always expect my rhetoric to taste good. Some people will take offense to what I say, but I guess that’s why they’re called Random Thoughts. At times, it may appear as though my words are speaking directly to you. Maybe you love the Maury Show and Jerry Springer. Perhaps you have a dumb ass tattoo…hell, I have a tattoo too and I’m branded in four places. Maybe you have a bit too much ass and now people are dropping hints that it’s time to hit the gym. Shit, my ass needs to go too. (laughs) Maybe you just got finished sending a risqué test message to someone you barely know and your profile pic on facebook is of you in the bathroom mirror in your bra and panties. Don’t change it on account of me and what I write. Love yourself. Embrace who you are. Someone once told me the hardest thing to do in life is to be yourself, the second hardest thing is to accept others for who they are. These are just my random thoughts and the things that go through many of our minds on a daily basic but few have the chance to express. I’m just expressing. Thanks for listening.

“No one but a fool would measure their satisfaction by what the world thinks of it.”
 -Oliver Goldsmith

…These Are The Random Thoughts Of Ronald Gray…