“Money is only loaned to a man. He comes into the world with nothing and he leaves with nothing.”   -William Crapo Durant, Founder of General Motors & Chevrolet

             As I sat inside Atlantic City’s Showboat Casino, I peered over my seated friend’s shoulder to observe the game of Blackjack taking place in front of me. I watched his style of betting-he’d wager the minimum amount allowed on a hand…ten dollars (though many casinos have a $20 minimum on blackjack) and he’d never deviate from the plan. He’d win a few hands, then he’d start to lose; then he’d begin to get hot and win again, only to begin to lose some more-before finally quitting and deciding it were time to head back to Philadelphia. Make no mistake…my girl friend was good at blackjack. He’d sometimes call to tell me that he’d won over a thousand dollars. Sure, it would take him sometimes four…five…six hours to pull it off, but the pride of entering a casino equipped with $200, and leaving out with $1,200 would be quite the conquest for anyone. As a reward for winning big, the Casino would offer him a complimentary room, but he knew that there was something beneath the surface of the Casino’s newfound generosity. You see, the Casino was designed for one thing and one thing only: To take people’s money! Kin Hubbard once said, “The safest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket.”
I wholeheartedly agree.
            A Casino, like many other legal hustles and scams, doesn’t come forthright and explain its intentions. Instead, its hustle is based and predicated on Chance. They make you believe that you have a chance…to win. They prey on human appetites. When you begin to win in a casino, you desire to win more. If you’ve won their money, the Casino wants it back, so they’ll offer the winner a complimentary room for the night. Why? Because chances are…most people will wake up the next day to spend more money in the Casino again…and the Casino will ultimately win. It’s set up for you to fail. Ever notice there are no clocks in the Casino…no windows…they take away your ability to be aware of time. They offer you “complimentary” drinks-lowering your inhibitions. They’re always air-conditioned, keeping you wide awake. They make you feel right at home…while they take your money. When someone has a hot hand and is consistently beating the dealer and winning, a manager comes over, relieves the dealer and a new one replaces him/her. The Casino sells you the false hope of chance.
            The first time I accompanied my friend to a Casino I was fascinated by the lights from afar. We entered its vast structure and walked along a seemingly endless Persian-styled rug, past the marble floors and pillars. I saw a lobby, where in it stood and sat nearly thirty people-their faces bore expressions of sadness, panic, calamity and fatigue. I could tell these were the Casino’s victims…they came there because the Casino sold them the chance of winning…but it was designed for them to lose. I looked over each one, and imagined what their stories were. Perhaps some had a serious addiction and this was a typical Friday night; some may have blown bi-weekly paychecks or even children’s college savings. Some could have squandered large quantities stolen from loved ones. They sat and paced the lobby in a trance and it brought back thoughts of seeing drug-addicted people in Philadelphia, as I felt immense pity, and yet shook my head in contempt. My gambling friend was way too cautious to get caught up in this kind of a situation. He played blackjack the same way he conducted his own life. He played it safe (bet the minimum) and was very cerebral. He never took chances, so when he won, he won little by little; and when he lost… he only lost a little. The greatest thing that set him apart was his uncanny ability to walk away. He’d sometimes bring me along just to hold his wallet…with specific instructions-to under no circumstances ever give him any additional money. I’m not a gambler (though I’ve played and won a few times), and as much as it bored me to tears to watch him in the Casino, I respected the way he played the game. Now…lemme get to the random thought:

“No one can earn a million dollars honestly.”  -William Jennings Bryan

            There’s another profession that is based on chance, even though it’s designed to fail. The employees of that enterprise are called drug dealers. In my opinion, a drug dealer is no more intelligent than the addict he sells to. Everyone knows that it only takes one incident of contact with a drug to be hooked-yet countless people get hooked on drugs with the vain notion, It won’t happen to me. Everyone knows that drug dealers never retire from their occupation of choice with a pension and a retirement villa. The Drug Dealers who refuse to quit wind up dead or in jail. There are no exceptions and have never been any exceptions to the rule…yet lo and behold…there’s never a shortage of morons to stand outside on a corner, foolishly thinking It won’t happen to me. The Idiot who sells drugs and the fool who can’t stop gambling are both lured in by the prize… quick money. Both know the risks; a gambler realizes that he could potentially lose everything he came with, but he insists that his skill will overcome the Casino’s money structure-which is designed for him to fail. The drug dealer believes that he can acquire large amounts of money quickly, and that his pension for police evasion will keep him in business. The Drug Dealer is in denial that he’s too lazy to get a real job. Why’s that? His mantra is that he “Ain’t got time to be workin’ no 9-5 for minimum wage.”
             It’s laughable when the man who refuses to work for $10 an hour for one year of his life with an honest job gaining experience, gets arrested and works for 35 cents an hour for the next five years of his life with a menial prison job. He fails to see or fails to care about the design. The same design that sold him chance-each successful sale, each materialistic purchase a victory for him-but ultimately the design is the only winner. What’s the best job available for prisoners? Suicide Watch. Lil Wayne, who made $42 million last year, is now making 50 cents an hour with his suicide watch position. Contrary to the meager salary, it’s actually the highest paying job for a prisoner-mostly entailing mingling with prisoners and is much better than working the kitchen or sanitation duty. You usually have to be recommended by a correctional officer or you must volunteer. Prisoners take course on how to deal with at-risk counterparts. Spike Milligan famously said, Money couldn’t buy friends, but you do get a better class of enemy. Throughout the ebb and flow of his dealings, the drug dealer makes enemies with law enforcement, rival drug dealers, and even the honest hardworking citizen…who’s detest can range from both jealousy of someone making three times their salary in half the time, to natural animosity towards those who make their children’s streets dangerous and those who feel exempt from the laws of the land and taxes that the law abiding citizens must endure.
        So why would anyone get into a labyrinth of circumstances when the only exits are prison or death? Simple. People are stupid. Truth be told, selling drugs has likely crossed almost every inner city black man’s mind at some point in his life. Unless you were the product of a wealthy family, you know what it’s like to have a bank account with a negative balance. You know what it felt like to be B-R-O-K-E. We all attempted to place a phone call on the cell one day and were redirected to a customer service rep for payment by our wireless providers. We’ve had the experience of screening blocked phone calls with the bill collector on the other end, looking to make arrangements for a delinquent payment. We all know the struggle. The reason why we all didn’t run to the corner, stripper pole or worse is because we chose to make better choices. They thoughta were just that: THOUGHTS. We recognized that it’s all planned to fail. We knew the ending before the entire saga played out. A Sucker is born every day and yet every day someone wakes up with dreams of being the next Scarface ...forgetting that Scarface dies at the end. Who will be the next idiot?

I know how it feel to wake up fucked up/Pockets broke as hell, another rock to sell/ People look at you like you’re the user/Sellin’ drugs to all the losers, mad Buddha abuser/But they don’t know about ya stress-filled day/ Baby on the way, mad bills to pay/That’s why you drink Tanqueray, so you can reminisce/ And wish…you wasn’t livin’ so devilish…shit/ I remember I was just like you/ Smokin’ blunts with my crew, flippin’ old 62’s/ Cause G-E-D was it B-I-G/ I got P-A-I-D, that’s why my Mom hates me/ She was forced to kick me out, no doubt/ Then I figured out, nicks went for twenty down south/ Packed up my tools for my raw power moves/ Glock nineteen for casket and flower moves/For punks tryna stop my flow/ and what they don’t know will show on the autopsy/ Went to see Papi, to cop me a brick/ Ask for some consignment, he wasn’t tryna hear it/ Smokin’ mad Newports cause I’m doin’ court for an assault that I caught in Bridgeport New York/ Catch me if you can, like the gingerbread man/ You better have ya gat in hand, cause Maaaaan/    -Notorious B.I.G “Everyday Struggle”

       …Damn he was nice….

…These Are The Random Thoughts Of Ronald Gray….


Volume 54: THE GOOD MAN: Why They Don't Want Your Ass

"Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake a whole relationship."
- Sharon Stone

            I had a female friend who once said, “The first time you buy a house, you see how pretty the paint is and buy it. The second time you look to see if the basement has termites. It’s the same with men.” Nowadays, man-bashing seems to be the sport of choice; shows stereotyping us as oversexed, indecisive fools who avoid commitment have higher ratings than the NBA Playoffs-as we grow sick and tired of the All Men are Dogs jargon that permeates talk radio shows, R&B songs, movies and Women’s Magazine articles. The only thing worse than reading about a scorned woman’s recollection of her past indiscretions is listening to her and her single friends spout off about the lack of good men, as if they themselves are anywhere near being marriage material. Because many of the brothas out there who speak up for the fellas are concerned with ratings, reputation, and book sales-which mostly come from the African American female population-their words are often watered down for their women readers; implicitly packaged instructions on how to find the one, and not simply the next one. Women went out and bought the Steve Harvey book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, which let sistas into the mindset of a man and both answered questions and gave relationship advice; Advice that can ultimately lead you to the man of your dreams. But did the buyers know that Steve Harvey has been married three times? That’s like buying a book on Maintaining Wealth that was written by Mike Tyson.
            Strangely…naively…people far too often listen to what celebrities and semi-celebrities have to say, without even realizing that celebrity relationships don’t function the same way an Average Joe’s relationship does. They say the number one cause of divorce between couples has to do with money. Money isn’t the primary concern with rich people. It is with the rest of us. It’s hard to be in the mood, when you have an eviction notice taped to your door. There aren’t many romantic evenings on the town with the Mrs. when there’s a boot on the car. There won’t be too many champagne bubble baths when you can’t afford champagne! And time alone with your lady becomes just wishful thinking when you don’t have the $300 weekly daycare fee for the children.
            The bottom line is…sound relationship advice doesn’t come from people with PHD’s or celebrities with overpaid editors. Sound advice doesn’t come from the bitter girlfriend that can’t hold onto a man of her own, or the Momma’s boy who spends his Saturday night dateless and in the basement with a Playstation 3. It is not found in the pages of Cosmo or in the misogynistic lyrics of some mind-numbing Gucci Mane or Lil Wayne track played over and over on BET. It comes from good ol’ fashioned experience and common sense. As a single man (single meaning Not Married), I couldn’t and wouldn’t write a piece on How To Maintain a Healthy Marriage. But for the fellas (and I mean the good fellas) I will respond the attacks on us. I will let the naysayers know that good looking, well groomed, God fearing, ambitious, compassionate, humble, and single men exist in adequate numbers-and there are many of us without kids! As I explained in a previous entry, I no longer had issues finding the right woman, once I looked inward and instead focused on becoming the right man. So…for the sistas that continually bash us, let’s explore some of the top two reasons your ass is still on the market, despite your claims to be the ideal woman:

All men are not slimy warthogs. Some men are silly giraffes. Some woebegone puppies, some insecure frogs. But if one is not careful, those slimy warthogs can ruin it for all the others.  –Cynthia Heimel

THAT FALSE SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT- you know, some of the greatest debates take place on facebook and the ensuing comments to user’s statuses. There seems to be an infinite amount of women who have a false sense of entitlement, where they feel as though being a successful woman guarantees them a husband. Companionship is a gift; a gift that even all of God’s people in biblical times weren’t promised. The same way that everyone who owns a degree isn’t promised a great job or a job at all, every good woman who has something to offer (if you let her tell it) will not always be promised a mate. Besides, if everyone were destined to have a marriage partner…there would be an equal amount of men and women on the earth-which is far from the case. Women outnumber us, and with overflowing prisons, black on black crime, and men who’d rather be with another man, finding a husband can be harder than a 500lb woman finding something in the Gucci Store that fits. But sistas…don’t be fooled. The average single man out here doesn’t care about your personal accolades and Ivy League education. Your $300,000 beach-front condo with 800 credit score is great, but the woman who makes $35,000 a year, drives a KIA, treats us like a King and can cook the shit out of a steak has a better chance of receiving a proposal than someone who can multitask corporate deals on her blackberry and do her own taxes. You are not-I repeat-ARE NOT entitled to become someone’s wife because you are successful!
The other woman who kills me is the one who continually passes on all of the good men in her life- from the final week of 7th grade when the straight A student gathered up the heart to tell her how he felt, to her senior year of college, when the smartest guy in her class offered to take her out in an effort to help her cope with the recent heartbreak of yet another Athlete or Frat

Boy boyfriend. You continually passed on them and chased the bad boy until that one day when you realized you were in your late twenties and everyone else around you traded in a life of club hopping for a life of monogamy as someone’s wife. It was then that you decided that you were tired of the games and wanted something and someone serious.
            Fanny Brice once said, I never liked the men I loved and never loved the men I liked. So now we have the woman who spent close to fifteen years of her life chasing the wrong man, in and out of relationships with counterproductive people…now she wants to settle down. But just as fifteen years of eating nothing but junk food leaves the body changed from what it once was, fifteen years of dating trash leaves anyone a shell of what they once were. So here you are. You still have your looks, but emotionally fragile and emotionally damaged. But she has a false sense of entitlement and feels as though all men should be honored to accept her. Shit, how many fellas out there recently ran into the former love of your life, just to find out that she’s put on 50 lbs, allowed losers to ruin her life, and now has five bad ass kids to show for it? Why would someone “good” be willing to sacrifice what they’ve built to be with you…simply because now you’re single and available and say you’re ready for a relationship? As John Lott so eloquently put it, that’s like buying spoiled milk just because it’s on Sale! (laughing) Whether you’re a highly successful woman, or you were the brain-dead dime-piece of your high school or college class, holding on to faded glory and having a false sense of entitlement will do very little for you, other than give you a front row seat to someone else’s wedding! Take it from a man who sees it all the time.

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the universe.”   -Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

ACCOUNTABILITY- How long will sistas blame men for their inability to find a husband? We hear them say that the white women are taking all the good men. We hear that men are afraid to marry…even though weddings are at an all time high-recession and all. It’s not uncommon to know sistas who relocate from major city to major city, to down south and to the west coast; with every major city comes a variety of new excuses as to why you can’t find someone. First comes the theory that men is New York were dogs, then the men in Philadelphia were too aggressive and didn’t treat you right. Then you moved to D.C and you said that everyone was gay or taken. In North Carolina, you called them nice but said they were “too country” for you. In California, you made fun of how they dressed and called them “corny.”
When does one realize that the common denominator is you?!? Women (and men) must have accountability for their successes as well as failures at love. I’m not gonna front, it is harder for young professionals to find shit to do in some cities, much less find love…but there’s a reason why you are the successful person you are. Use some ingenuity! We can attend HBCU’s with limited resources and come out gainfully educated and employed, but sit back and wait for a miracle lover to drop from the sky. Want a God-fearing man? Take ya ass to church! Why would you spend weekends at club Smack-a-Bitch and then complain about the perspective suitors who attend it? Tired of men only calling when they want sex? Stop being a hoe! (laughing) Do gold-diggers frequent Unemployment Offices in search of their Men/Sponsors? No. Once you accept accountability for your actions, you know what kind of adjustments you need to make in order to stop the pattern of failed relationships. Before you do that, you’re no different than the person who refuses to look for employment or gain education to compete in an evolving world, yet complains about a lack of jobs, inadequate resources, or a racist America where the white man is trying to keep you down. Some people we meet are like the almighty penny…two-faced and worthless…but there are some gems out there. As George Bernard Shaw once said, “If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.”
Knowledge speaks. Wisdom Listens.

“Behind every good man is a good woman and behind that another man
 looking at her ass.”    -Unknown

…These Are The Random Thoughts Of Ronald Gray…


Volume 53: Are You In An abusive Relationship?

 When I am asked why a man/woman doesn’t leave the abuser I say: “They stay because the fear of leaving is greater than the fear of staying. They will leave once the fear of staying is greater than the fear of leaving,” –Rebecca J. Burns, The Last Straw

  Note: Most of us have a religious foundation, whether our beliefs follow the teachings of Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Jews or Buddhists. Some do not directly identify with a particular religious group, however still believe that a Heaven and Hell exists for us once our physical lives have ended. But I believe Hell has a special place reserved for rapists, child molesters, and men who repeatedly abuse and murder women and children. Three weeks ago, Philadelphia Police arrested Ronald Moon, a 28-year old window installer and father of two, and charged him with murdering his live-in girlfriend. Residents in the North Philly neighborhood, Diamond Street near Palenthorpe, complained of a foul odor in an alley that they assumed were dead rats. Henry Riviera, a handyman, had a feeling that the stench was something worse…something much worse.
            Danielle Winston was the girlfriend of Ronald Moon and had been reported missing since December. Police swarmed on the area and found a rotting corpse slumped in a sheet under a garbage bag in the alley next to their house. Her body is believed to have been there since sometime around Christmas. Moon was charged with stabbing his live-in girlfriend to death in their bed shortly after an argument, then busting a hole in the wall and dumping her body into the cold alley. In a sick twist, he then slept in the same bloody bed every night for nearly four months, inches away from her body. Moon then lit incense every day to cover up the smell. Of course with the changing weather, the smells grew stronger and people feared the worse. The medical examiner’s office determined that the rotting corpse belonged to 32-year-old Danielle Winston, who had been missing since December.
            A neighbor confirmed that Moon had a history of attacking Winston. Winston wisely had filed a Protection Order against him after he attacked her last November, but unwisely must have reneged on her decision and continued the turbulent relationship. Moon had once bashed her head in with a crowbar, and left her with a gash requiring 22 stitches. During November’s incident, which led to the protection from abuse order, Moon had choked her repeatedly until she passed out. When she awoke, Moon stood over her yelling, “Get up bitch! You ain’t dead yet!”
            Winston was a certified nursing assistant, who was described as someone caught up with the wrong man. Ironically, after her murder, Moon had been dating a new woman for the past month from the same neighborhood. Yes…I truly believe that hell has a special place for people like Ronald Moon.

            The tragic tale of Danielle Winston is a common conclusion to the abuse that women suffer at the hands of an insecure, controlling and unstable man. I spoke to a female friend of mine about this loss of a promising life and wondered if there was something that could have been done to prevent such a thing.  I’ve never been in an abusive relationship, nor have I ever raised my hand to a woman. So is there a foolproof way for women to avoid becoming victims of abuse? Likely not. However, as it is such with most of life’s perilous situations, one can often avoid problems if one can recognize the warning signs. Recognizing warning signs in relationships can be much more complex for some than others…especially when it comes to abuse. Why? Well…because a man with a propensity for violence doesn’t enlighten you to his past during the first date over filet minion.  They will often practice restraint on their past urges early on and appear quite normal-if not downright charming. I mean, no woman would continue to date the man who punched her in the face at The Olive Garden on the first date. Abusers are oftentimes subtle and their actions gradually increase in intensity and frequency.

“The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.” –Gloria Steinmen

            I’m no doctor, but I believe that the intuitive person can recognize many of the signs early on. Most abuse comes from the insatiable need to control. People use physical, mental and emotional abuse to control a particular person…or sometimes a family of people. Abusers prey on the fear of others. Without fear, a menacing person who intimidates through force is simply reduced to some idiot aimlessly bitching and screaming about something. People have attained power and maintained control through fear for as long as anyone can remember. Republicans used fear to get a mindless president in office and keep him reelected. They used America’s fear of the unknown (terrorists) to allow them to put faith in a man who had his own selfish agenda. The abusive man follows the same blueprint. Abusers aren’t only selfish; deep within exists a great wall of insecurity. Warning signs? Phase One of Operation: Abuse That Ass is that he will often attempt to eliminate your friends. It will not come in the form of him saying to you, “Baby…I think you should get rid of all ya friends and only confide in me.”
No. Remember it’s subtle. The abusive male will plant seeds of doubt. He’ll claim that he doesn’t trust your male friends; He’ll tell you that your girlfriends talk about you and are jealous of you. (Many women are one argument away from severing ties with most friends anyway) He will tell you that your family is meddling in your relationship too much and are destroying what you two are trying to build. Profound love/lust/delusion can often cause people to believe the bullshit. The abused will now think, Everyone’s tryna break me and (insert ghetto name here) up. They’re just jealous because they’re still single! They aren’t my real friends! Then it becomes easier to sever ties with everyone-which is exactly what the abusive man wants. Once he breaks that support system…it becomes very difficult to ever leave.
            Every type of person has something that they do early on to raise an eyebrow and let us know that it’s a prerequisite of what to expect from their ass. He spends 4 hours guessing passwords to hack into your facebook account and reads all 400 messages in your inbox?!? Run for the hills! If someone can do that…they can go through your phone. If they will go through your phone…they can possible follow you or show up somewhere unannounced. If someone can show up unannounced…they can likely make a scene and embarrass the shit out of you! If someone can willingly and frequently embarrass the shit out of you (and themselves) publicly, there are no boundaries to what their crazy ass will do! If someone doesn’t mind public humiliation, then what goes on behind closed doors can be much worse.
            Abuse starts will arguments, humiliation and insecurity. It progresses to a shove and mental degradation. Then it graduates to a left jab, followed by a right hook! A man who puts his hands on a female-any female-is a weak individual, attempting to role reverse the hand he’s dealt. He doesn’t deserve the gift of companionship and certainly not the rare jewel of a good woman. Fuck each and every one of them… Just my two cents (shrugs)

A Nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.”

…These Are The Random Thoughts Of Ronald Gray…