MNR: And the Band Played On (Stakes is High)
“…y’all know them stakes is high.”
De La Soul, “Stakes is High”
I could write a thesis on the height of the stakes in the world today. I could write a thesis on the aforementioned bar, the song, and group. I may do all the above in time. Today, I’m going to speak on the stakes of life as we know it in America while blending the song and De La into the discussion.
My perpetual non-bias and aptitude for injecting equity into any type of ethical analysis makes me complete, although I must admit that it is a bit uncanny. My true gift from God is my ability to achieve catharsis through my pen and keystroke. It’s usually how I navigate through all the PTSD from mi vida loca (with the GP lob off the backboard assist from Mary Juana) and the times we currently live in. If not for faith and my gift, I’d be somewhere locked in to keep me away from myself (yeah – think on that). I’m going to beat you to the punch. Before you wonder how I had the gall to admit to something so candid I want to know…how do you achieve apathy? [I’m going to assume that you know the definition of apathy] Because if you care, if you really care, the fact that you’re not on pins and needles daily is extraordinary, and I’d like to know how.
Come take this walk with me…
As a man of true faith and conviction, I don’t want to hear the cookie cutter substitution of faith in place of ignorance. All believers trust and have faith. But I’m skeptical as to how many believers are acutely aware of the things happening in the world in which they exist because if they really are, then they’d be spending every day addressing life in the same fervent manner that De La Soul did a generation ago when they dropped the album and title song. How the fuck can you go about your daily routine singing a Lady Smurf melody and skipping along as if all this shit isn’t in absolute bedlam? This leads me to the question of the day: do y’all MF know what time it is? Man, them stakes high den a MF.
We live in an America that is seemingly split down the middle, although it’s probably more like a 62/38 split. Look, I’m not acting like every white person is palling up with us-skinned folk and adopting our cause, but I am confident that many are decent individuals. Politics aside, they believe in equality and fairness in life. I’m not mad at them for having conservative views. I’m not mad at them for being proud to be white. But that’s not the 38. The 38 are tRump/MTG/Klan Grand Wizard acolytes and meat glazers. They want us in a subservient position or dead, plain and simple. Any veiled or outright homage to the “good ole days” is overt xenophobic code language. The fact is that America is truly a melting pot. Technology has educated, enlightened, and exposed. The revolution was in fact televised. Now, the establishment is on its heels. Their children came up listening to rap music and loving the hip hop culture. They see the world differently. It’s a new day. Their days are numbered, and they know that. The establishment is doing everything in their power to try to stop the rain from falling.
Please don’t ignore or discard what certain states are doing regarding voting rights. Even though tactics like limiting polling hours/locations and reducing or eliminating drop boxes are evil, they can be overcome with communication and resilience. If your gpa or ggpa had to walk three miles to the schoolhouse and chop wood for the fire before beginning class, you can stand your fat ass in line for a couple of hours to vote for the persons who will make political decisions for you. Sorry, but I don’t want to hear it. Shut the hell up and get your tay-tah chip eatin’ ass out to the polls early. And take your chips, granola bars, and water with you because THOSE states made giving out snacks and water to those in polling lines a crime. Smmfh. My true anger is directed toward trying to change laws to appoint partisan entities to review “suspect” elections, elections deemed suspect when blue voters legally vote a person into office (and I’m not a Democrat). That’s outright illegal. There should be no way a person or group of persons can ever have the power to void the result of an election because they “feel” there was fraud/corruption. Laws like that open the door to outright fuckery. If you don’t think another American Civil War (I included American because stupid Americans think that the term Civil War only applies to 1861-1865) is possible, you are dumb AF. This country is more divided than it was in 1860.
50 million Republicans still believe that the 2020 election was stolen. 15% of Americans believe in QAnon. Before you cuss in disgust, do know that I’ve had the Q discussion with more than one of the younger brothers that I know in the community. I’m talmbout everyday 20-something Black men, sports watching, PS4/5 playing, weed smoking, family and community loving individuals. No type of weirdo shit. No brainwashing. Just enlightened young men who read and actually feel that many parts of the Q myth have merit, especially the parts pertaining to celebrities being involved in satanism and pedophilia. I’ll do one better. Case in point: 5G (drops mic and walks off stage). Marinate on that. The commonality in all of this is communication, or better, misinformation. I won’t even get into the numbers of our folk who are saying FUCK NO to the COVID vaccine. I disagree with their sentiment, but I have no right to feel any type of way. Black folk have always been skeptical of anything administered by the government, and for good damn reason. They have every right to say no to the vaccine or anything else they choose to say no to. The same respect extends to the Jewish sects who refuse vaccines and Anti-vaxxers of the country. America is to blame for this. It is what is.
I guess the ultimate thesis of this blog is that it seems that most of you are totally oblivious to how close this world is to derailing at a moment’s notice. I’m not saying the aftermath will be apocalyptic, but it will directly lead to a fast progression toward utter destruction. At this point I’ve all but given up on trying to communicate how much peril the world is in from an environmental standard. The simple fact is that someone who’s reading this blog at this very moment will likely be alive when most of southern Florida and lower Manhattan no longer exist because they will be underwater. No one gives a fuck about the melting of the polar ice caps or fossil fuel emissions. Why? Well, the answer is most likely because we can’t see the ultimate outcome in real time. It’s not like burning a piece of paper. It’s more like sunburn. You may be able to stomp on the piece of paper before it burns completely, perhaps you won’t. But damn it, you could’ve worn sunscreen to prevent the burn from coming. You could have also taken your dumb ass inside to avoid the sun burning your skin cells. It all reminds me of the movie And the Band Played On. There were a few enlightened people screaming MAYDAY to the top of their lungs, but no one really listened. Doctors in Manhattan and San Francisco warned about AIDS in 1981. They saw it (an epidemic) coming like De La. The federal government knew more than enough shortly after. Rock Hudson died in 1985, so even everyday Americans knew what time it was by then. Regan didn’t open his mouth until 1987. He knew, he just didn’t care. Apathy. Sound familiar? Elevate on that. I just took you there. Now add on to it. Keep your eyes open, y’all. All three. Blessings to all who perished defending this country. I’m out like Buster Douglas. Peace to Keith Soda. Y’all know them stakes is high…
tymonday.com; @tymonday on Twitter & IG
crewunb.com; @crewunB on Twitter & @theunbearablescrew on IG
MNR: [General]ly Speaking
“Up late night on their mother’s cordless. Thinking a perm or bleach and cream will make ‘em better when they’re gorgeous.”
Nas, “What Goes Around”
This nigga lying, this nigga lying. Y’all don’t know the nigga I’m referring to. But that nigga lying.
I’m proud of my NY Knicks. We won 21 games last year. We were picked to be shitty again this year. All we did was win 41 games and secure a four seed in the playoffs. Last night was a tough one. We should have handled our business a bit better than we did. We didn’t. All you can do is clean the slate and get back to it. It would be nice if Julius Randle showed up for Game 2. Yeah, he had a bad game, but it was the body language that got to me last night. He looked overwhelmed, as if the moment was a bit too big for him. I’m confident that he’ll bounce back tomorrow night and that we’ll even the series before heading to Philips Arena. I said Knicks in 6. Last night did nothing to shake my confidence. #KNICKSNATION 4 LIFE
Fuck all you bitch ass frank stand consumers and your Knicks slander, especially all the fake Nets fans that spawned out of nowhere when they picked up Slender Man aka Mr. Emotional, Kyrie Gandhi, and Blackbeard aka Struggle Braids. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch cuz y’all are all a right leg, a Kyrie mental health breakdown, or a few “buy one get ones” from Burger King from going home in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Like I said, the only banner I saw in the Barclays rafters last time I went was Dr. J.’s dusty ass retired #32. Fuck y’all.
RIP Paul Mooney. If Richard Pryor is the GOAT (I have no problem with the assessment although I think Redd Foxx was damn close), then Paul is as well. He was a long-time writer for Pryor, and one of the most respected pens in the industry. He told the unabashed, uncompromised truth, even when it hurt. I’m glad that my generation caught a glimpse of his genius via the legendary Dave Chappelle and his seminal and eponymous show. A friend of mine argued that news of his death should have been much larger, as he is a key figure in comedy and one of the reasons why Richard Pryor is an icon. I concur. Look up TRPS on YouTube. There were only a handful of episodes…episodes that shook popular culture and were truly ahead of their time. Paul was a key part of it all. Rest easy Negrodamus. You shall be missed.
My sun Jermaine Cole dropped unexpectedly a week ago and gave us a damn good surprise album. Cole’s project, titled “The Off-Season,” is a twelve-track effort full of quality material. The radio is pushing “pride.is.the.devil” heavy right now, and it’s a damn good track. Lil Baby goes crazy. But my favorites are definitely “let.go.my.hand” and “my.life,” in which he brilliantly flips a classic old Pharoahe Monch hook. “100.mil” is another banger worthy of a few playbacks. Cole doesn’t miss…unless it’s in the Basketball Africa League. I watched the highlights from last Thursday (I think). He can definitely build a few luxury homes in Rwanda with the bricks he laid the other night. But all jokes aside, I’m proud of Jermaine. He continues to be one of the best MC’s breathing and has managed to live out his childhood dream – at the same damn time. Keep on doing what you do, my nigga. It’s a Cole world.
I saw some footage of Saweetie from a few years before she became a household name to all the younger folk. Some guy was on a college campus interviewing random co-eds about some dumb shit that I cannot recall and one of his interviewees happened to be Saweetie. She’s beautiful. Like naturally beautiful. Look, I’m no sexist or chauvinist, nor am I the type to TELL a woman anything about her body or appearance. It’s none of my business. But damn it, I am entitled to my opinion. All I can do is think of the aforementioned Nas bars. Y’all are already gorgeous. Y’all don’t need to change a thing. I love everything about the Black woman. I love your spirit, your hair, your smile, your body, and your mind. You don’t need enhancements, lace fronts, or anything else. But I’m going to continue to support you unconditionally. Just know that I love you all just as you are, without reservation or condition. We are the sun. You are the moon.
The crazy thing about catching up with loved ones and conversing about this and that is the uncomfortable mention of death. It never fails. At some point in the conversation the dearly departed will enter the discussion. I spoke with my folk Rahgie, my family from the Hali. He told me that my old rec league basketball teammate and HCHS class of ’96 alum Duron Moorefield passed. Duron was a man and a half at 13. When he drove to the basket, he was Lebron before Lebron – a true bull in a china cabinet. Off the court, he was a cool ass dude who kept to himself. RIP bro. Love you. That’s two of my guys gone from the team. Love you too AJ. You were truly unique. RIP to the Baby-Faced Assassin.
I also found out my old homie Nick Breedlove passed. I was told he had a fall and injured his head. He went to sleep and never woke up. Breedlove was old school cool when we were all still young. He was the first cat my age who smoked a Newport like an old school nigga off the movies. He was smoother than 6,000 thread silk sheets. It hurt to hear the news. RIP Breedlove.
RIP to Val from Jefferson Houses. Val’s been gone for a minute, but I just found out that she passed last night while conversing with my cousin/sister Leaha. Val was an older friend of the family (from my big cousin Wendy’s era) and used to visit 2A on a regular basis. She was always a willing source of information. She always had the scoop on the latest in Jefferson news. Val also had a laugh that would make Lucy Ricardo blush. I wouldn’t mind hearing Val laugh a thousand more times. Much love Val.
Things change, but death is certain.
My blog last week was nice AF, but it was also longer than a bootleg beta copy of Godfather II. Shit, I damn near stopped reading that MF at a certain point. My queen always reminds me of brevity, and she’s right. They don’t all have to be ten-minute reads. So, having said that, I’m out this bitch. Protect your peace and make sure you perpetually let your loved ones know exactly how much you love them. Tomorrow is not promised. To the projects I’m ghost shorty wop, one love.
tymonday.com; @tymonday on Twitter & IG
crewunb.com; @crewunB on Twitter & @theunbearablescrew on IG
MNR: The Death of Civilization
Civilization · / siv-uh-luh-zey-shuhn / · noun
an advanced state of human society, in which a high level of culture, science, industry, and government has been reached.
Picture it: HCHS, 1995. My third period Honors History class was ushered into the library and brought before a lone computer station that sat by the card catalogue. We were told that this magnificent piece of tech contained the internet, which was the future of the world. We weren’t shown any cool tricks or what to actually do with the internet. I remember thinking about how much of a damn waste of time it was to show us this computer with its magical internet. I was more concerned about lunch: a double portion of pizza, my daily midday blunt cipher, and a few minutes of alone time with my lil cheese Melissa (I had a press pass, so I went to parts of all 3 lunches errday). When we returned to class, our future salutatorian Matt Martin told me that he had internet on his home computer, but only 12 hours a week of some shit called America Online. My first thought was “what the fuck is America Online?” My second thought was “who the fuck would want to spend 12 hours a week ON A COMPUTER?”
That was my formal introduction to the internet. Pardon the apathy and my impervious nature, but my entire academic life consisted of traditional library research. I was taught to use the Dewey Decimal system to my advantage, from the books in the stacks to periodicals to encyclopedias to microfiche. I took a certain pride in my meticulous nature, combing through material to produce an essay or a project that was thorough and worthy of an A. University (at least my university) was a letdown tech wise, as I quickly realized that the computer to student ratio was horrible. There was always someone on the little bit of computers we did have on the yard. Thankfully, Dr. Andre Hudson (Dre Doggs), my brother and next-door neighbor from #BXNYC, had AOL on his PC in the dorm. He let me rock when I needed to get some info. But for the most part, I still went the traditional route of doing the leg work for my research.
After leaving Richmond a half year after I received my degree, I found myself back in the country at my mama’s crib. She’d just purchased a new Gateway PC and a printer (Dude, she got a Dell…IYKYK). She’d enrolled in a master’s program at Longwood College, and needed the computer for her term papers. It just so happened that Shareon’s new computer was internet equipped. To keep things in perspective, I’m pretty certain that I used to spend Matt’s allotted hours in a single day (internet was charged by the month by then – the dial-up era lol) from time to time. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to become an internet junkie.
As with anything tech related, I was extremely late to the social media wave. My first encounter with social media came third party. It must have been around ’07. I was dealing with a certain young lady who was a total Myspace junkie. She marveled over all the “cool things” one could do on Myspace, but all I heard was photographs and intel. Evidently, she didn’t notice all the work I had chilling on the bed – plenty of obese bags of sweet cheeba. The yay wasn’t for display. I didn’t even give a verbal reply, but my eyes said, “bitch, look at all this work I got on deck!” I never gave Myspace or social media another thought until a couple years later when I officially retired from the streets, but not before my spot was raided, the U.S. Marshalls put the eviction sticker on the door, and I was homeless. Fast forward to stability. When I was in the streets, I didn’t really communicate with the outside world. I went to school with future doctors, lawyers, journalists, accountants, educators, IT professionals, and philanthropists. I didn’t go to school to major in drug dealing. I wasn’t raised to be a hustler. I was ashamed to speak to old classmates. I knew that I should have been doing better for myself. Sure, the money was lovely, but the rise didn’t match the fall. But when I did reemerge, I was eager to check in on old mates. I spoke with a friend who seemed to know how ERRBODY was doing. I thought wow, he’s the best friend ever! He checks up on everyone! He quickly laughed my amazement away and informed me that he knew how everyone was doing because of this app called Facebook. I’d never even heard of Facebook. I had a lot of catching up to do. Twitter was literally forced upon me by my beloved cousin, the enigmatic @iamdjgreen. I was mobbing with him on his home court in Virginia Beach July 4th in 2010. He informed me about Twitter and how I’d be perfect for it. He didn’t ask me if I wanted to join. Instead, he quickly created a profile and became my first follower. That’s back during the iamdjgreen.com era, back when I blogged for the site. Twitter soon became my favorite platform.
Since my foray into the planet of Twitter, I’ve been tapped into the galaxy of social media. I joined IG day one. I rock with Snap. I don’t TikTok. I have no problems with any platform. My angst is with all of us, self-included. We have all played a role in this bullshit, even if we have never typed or sent a pic of anything heinous. This is the time to light the blunt.
I don’t know of any data off-hand, nor did I seek to find any. I’m going to say that even though Facebook is the king from an aggregate user standpoint, the social media world revolves around Twitter. I said that to say that although it’s not the entire discussion, Twitter is at the center of the discussion, and it’s where I’m going to base my initial point of reference. Back in the early days of Twitter (up until around 2015), Twitter and social media alike was far from being the collective monster it is today. Sure, there have been trolls damn near since this thing took off, but they were few and far between and usually cast off as harmless dickheads with nothing else to do. But one day, the king of the trolls, who was already a heavy presence on social media (namely Twitter), announced that he was going to run for president. In retrospect, that’s around the time all the fuckery truly began.
Donald John tRump was a troll years before he became the president of this country, and long before the creation of social media (think Central Park 5). Nothing changed when social media emerged. He regularly used Twitter during the Obama administration to propagate his personal brand of fuckery, questioning every political move the former president made (which was well within his rights). And, as a shock to many (I don’t know how), his views (tweets) were retweeted and given favorite hearts in the tens and hundreds of thousands. In retrospect, Twitter love was probably the first birdie that chirped in Cheesy’s ear about running for president. That’s the allure of social media. You don’t have to be an insurrection Pied Piper. You can be a depressed 32-year-old with 34 Twitter followers. You put out a high and depressed tweet around 2 am on a Sunday morning from an apartment in a project building in Spanish Harlem. You don’t expect anyone to notice; it’s merely therapy for a troubled soul. But, to your surprise, you get a like on that tweet. It’s not only a like from a stranger, but also confirmation that you’re not the only person in their feelings. Someone else can relate. That can mean a lot to a person in peril.
That’s the double-edged sword of social media. Social media can eliminate oceans, borders, physical barriers, and socioeconomic status. It can be the most efficient form of news possible, even better than the Associated Press or Reuters (especially for neighborhood news). But it can also be a monster for those exact same reasons. Information is paramount, but misinformation is often more effective and impactful, for so many reasons. My theory is that people are, in an almost perverse way, obsessed with bad news. We’ve all heard the saying that bad news travels around the world before good news gets out the bed. It’s the reason why human-interest stories (warm fuzzies) are given the last block and shortest amount of time in a news broadcast. It is well documented that Americans have little interest in “good” news. They want the dirt, the trash heap, and the shit pile.
We know (in retrospect) that misinformation played a big role in the 2016 presidential election. We know that Russia colluded with Rudy the Asshole and #45. We know about all the bullshit that popped up on FB and Twitter TL. Four years of tRump was crazy enough. What’s way crazier is the lasting impact of all the lies and fuckery. It impeded proper response to a burgeoning pandemic. It fueled a whole insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. It’s dismantling voting rights across the country. Lies, lies, and more lies, all fueled by a few lies and diverse platforms to spew it out to every reach of humanity. Poison.
Trolls are one thing. Sure, we hate Tekashi, but we just wave our hand at news of his fuckery like a horse fly buzzing near our plate at a cookout. Actually, he’s less harmless. But it’s the internet gangsters with the super troll enhancement that burns a lotta folk biscuits. And 9.8764 times out of 10, their avi is nothing close to a personal photograph; their given location is nowhere close to their actual GPS. These MF have mastered the art of agitating a normally sane person to the point of taking a penitentiary chance. Twitter Fingers and other keyboard killers have thrown plenty of salt into the game. My simple advice? Laugh the shit off. Appreciate the free comedy. And I hate to tell ya, but you’re a clown for taking the bait. It is what it is.
In contrast to the everyday trolls and internet Tough Tony(s), I do consider cyberbullying to be a very serious offense. As an educator, I’m always chopping it up with the kids. I’m older and a bit more reserved than I was as a young fella, but I still check the temperature. I know the vibes. Cyberbullying is a real thing. And please miss me with the “MF been getting bullied forever so stop acting pussy” bullshit. You being the toughest of the toughest doesn’t mean the next person is. And one other thing: if you’re my age, you didn’t grow up with iPhones, the internet, and social media. You have no idea what these chillen go through. Instead of being a dickhead, try compassion. Please talk to your children and younger loved ones, even those in college. Don’t assume that they’re as strong as you were as a 13 to 20-year-old. Parents, stay on top of your kids’ social media usage. I realize that what I just said is imperative, but some of y’all are slow AF. Or you just don’t care.
My last burnt biscuit pertains to IG Live. I always thought it was kinda corny to tap into some celebrity’s live, unless KKVSH is making her cheeks clap at one in the afternoon on a Tuesday. But that’s my opinion. Who gives AF? I get it. And I respect the hustle. But I really can’t get with everyday MF constantly on live with their 15 MF followers up in there with ‘em. Bitch, you coulda group text that bullshit you’re all in the camera explaining. With your lying ass. And your lace front is pure trash. Like literally trash. Leave that shit at the curb for sanitation. But all jokes aside, I was forced to watch some heinous shit on a live recently. I can’t get specific, but it involved a younger family member whom I love dearly. It was nothing perverse, but it was something criminal. I’m still lost when it comes to this shit, this crime filming/self-incrimination. I was raised up in the streets to move in silence. Open eyes, open ears, closed mouth. But what really kills me is the comments. MF will comment the most apathetic shit as something heinous is taking place – on a MF live. This isn’t a soap opera, TNT drama, or the Lifetime Movie Network. This is real life in real time. The comments were crazy. Like some Lord of the Flies type shit. I had to throw in the towel. This is the same day that I watched Lil Reese leaking from the mouth and face, beatdown and holding a slug from a semiautomatic pistol. There’s a woman (presumably the lady whose SUV was stolen) filming Reese on live, talking to that man like he was a rabid-ridden dog meandering through a busy marketplace in Peshwa. Her man was talking crazy too. All the while Reese was convulsing and leaking, eyes literally rolling into the back of his head. Look. I ain’t mad at the lady or her nigga. They were mad AF about their vehicle. But what got me was the comments on Twitter. I’m not talking about the tweets of compassion. It doesn’t matter what Reese’s involvement was. We don’t know and it’s none of our business. I’m referring to the vile comments. It’s unnecessary. And we all know that most of the MF who had the most fucked up shit to say would piss on themselves if the Chicago Grim Reaper were in their proximity. I’m not acting like Reese is my lil cousin. I don’t know that man. But I do know he was on that pavement fighting for his young life. All the dumb commentary was out of pocket, plain and simple. We truly live in an apathetic, macabre world. My God…
I truly feel that social media will be the downfall of civilization. It’s normalized so many fucked up things, things that should never, ever be normalized. Murder isn’t funny. Pedophilia isn’t funny. Snitching is not the damn wave. Neither is lying incessantly or using every drug known to man – at the same damn time. We, as a society, really need to get a grip on how we treat social media and how it treats us. The babies are growing up with devices in hand as soon as they leave the crib. This bullshit is being etched into the foundation of their psyches. Please marinate on all that’s been mentioned in this blog. The stakes are high.
Big ups to my former mentee Rodrigo Cardenas, who stepped across that Rutgers stage today and received his Master’s degree in Social Work. He’s one heaven of a kid. He worked for me years ago and has always checked in. Much love Rod. Keep winning.
Fuck the internet.
tymonday.com; @tymonday on Twitter & IG
crewunb.com; @crewunB on Twitter, @theunbearablescrew on IG
MNR: Sneakers, Part 1
“It’s what you keep spending your money on.”
Who wear it all? I’m a Foam freak…
I still remember my first pair of Nikes. It was a pair of white Air Force 2 (yes, Air Force 2 – look ‘em up). White with the blue check (swoosh). The year was 1986. Shareon sent me out to Bridgehampton to complete third grade with Mrs. Curreri, the same lady who taught my Uncle Alan and Aunt Cynthia. It wasn’t a big deal to me. It wasn’t the first time my mom sent me to live with my grandparents, and it wasn’t the last. My home situation was absurd. But anyways…my nana and pop made sure that I started day one off with a fresh pair of steps (those two really were the greatest). They took me to the shoe store and told me to pick out the pair of my choice. I saw those AF2 on the shelf and it was love at first sight. It was the day I fell in love with Nike. Obviously, I’ve been in a committed situation ever since.
Fourth grade began with a pair of white and silver Sky Jordan. Tyrone sent me a pair of white Air Jordan 2 to begin fifth grade. Shit, I figured I’d always keep a fresh pair of suntin’ on my feet. Boy was I wrong. Shareon didn’t believe in spending money on clothes and sneakers. She was err umm – a bit frugal. I hit my all-time low in sixth grade when she bought me a pair of Jordache sneakers. If you’re a certain age, I already know what you’re thinking. But this wasn’t the early 80s and I’m not talking about a pair of jeans. Well, it goes without saying that the lil bit of confidence I’d accrued over the years was done for. I mean, how in TF was I supposed to approach Mary Canada and tell her that I was deeply in love with her – in a pair of damn Jordache sneakers fresh out the department store? Trust, I wore the pair of Nikes I already had until they began to converse with me (you’ll figure it out) – until Shareon told me to throw them in the trash and take those “J’s” up out the box. I’ll never forget my dear old friend Nikki Inge consoling me the first morning I wore them to Project IDEA. I was quite thankful for his compassion, but it didn’t help. The shame I inevitably felt made me the sneakerhead I am to this day.
Thankfully, Shareon never sent me to school in another pair of slims. My sneakers always had a swoosh on ‘em…they just never had “Air” under the swoosh. I didn’t complain. I was thankful because I knew that even though Shareon didn’t have the budget to send me to school in $100 kix, she wanted me to be happy. Realizing this, I quit pestering her over expensive shoes and began working with Halifax County Recreation at age 13 (she got me the job). From then on, I spent the majority of all my checks on sneakers and loud. I was able to keep a fresh pair of kix on my feet throughout high school (strong arm emoji). Summers meant coming back home up top to #BXNYC and working with my Aunt San, and that meant multiple sneakers to begin the year. Shit, I thought I was a sneaker Don until I entered VUU and met Aaron Joseph Baker (Jab). My brother had about 30 pairs under the bed. I tried to emulate Jab, but my pockets weren’t that deep. Even though I fell a bit short of Jab’s mark, I was known for keeping a clean pair or three in the stash. Nike dropped the Jordan 5 retro for the first time during my senior year. And, of course, I didn’t have the bread on deck to cop the black pair. I almost entered a mini depression until my big bro George Saidu (DPG) spotted me the cash top cop a pair the same day he copped his pair. He didn’t have to do that. But that’s true brotherhood that exists to this very day.
My hunger for more and more kix hasn’t waned over the years (needless to say). They say the first step is admitting that you have a problem. Hi. My name is Ty Monday Thompson, and I am a sneaker addict. Sheeit. I’m a full-blown junkie. And, if there were ever a moment that I sipped hater juice and began to feel ashamed that I’m a 42-year-old sneaker fanatic, I’d just take a trip home to the westside of Harlem and watch the flow for a few minutes. That’s a guarantee to see at least 50 men much older than I, all fresh from toenail to hair follicle. I’m talmbout fresh Nikes or Adidas with a fly ass sweatsuit and fitted/snapback/Kangol hat to match. I basically said all that to show love to my old heads in those 100 Blocks because I’ve never felt any type of shame for dressing the way I do, especially with the sneaker game. I’ve been doing this shit my entire life. Why would I change?
Through all the ups and downs of my life, two things have remained consistent: my affinity for potent trees and fly kix. Some days are better than others, and at times the cash flow isn’t conducive to a new purchase. That’s cool. I can’t dance every dance. And the good Lord knows that bots have driven us dedicated sneaker addicts to near insanity. The Nike Sneakers app is a miss-and-hit go-to at best. The other apps are so overloaded with traffic on release dates/times that you can’t even access the site until after every pair is smooth sold out. It’s truly a bitch to know that if you really want a pair of sneakers and you don’t have ultimate “luck” or a plug at a sneaker store, your only real option is to bite the bullet and pay way over retail price. StockX is the best option these days, as GOAT has gone to shit in the past year or so. Regardless, the game is nasty right now, and there’s no end in sight. Shoe companies and retailers could give a fuck about bots. They’re getting their bread either way. To be concise, it’s doing us a double disservice. Y’all don’t think Nike and Kanye see these resell prices? They do. Logic says that if you’re willing to pay $400 resell for a $190 pair of sneakers, you’ll pay $220 directly to Nike or Adidas. It’s a shitty game, but it’s the only one we’re left to play.
The Crew UnB shop has all types of apparel to match up with your newest and most fly steps. Head to the front page after you finish reading this blog and drop a few coins on elite threads. You’ll love the compliments you receive from admirers as you walk down the avenue in your UnB and #MNR merch that you matched up perfectly with your kix. Thank me later. Love to the world.
tymonday.com; @tymonday on Twitter & IG
crewunb.com; @crewunB on Twitter & @theunberarablescrew on IG
MNR: Forgotten Notes (Curt Lennon’s psalm)
“My thun is speaking to his twin ghost.”
Prodigy, “Quiet Storm” (original)
“Makes me call my homie on the phone, like there’s something new out, that’s got me in a zone. It’s just that feeling, got me. I wish music could adopt me. (Just like music)”
Erick Sermon feat. Marvin Gaye, “Music”
A few months before I found out that my brother Curtis DeAngelo Lennon was assassinated, he called me clear out the blue. I don’t remember what year he passed (I try not to embed the years of tragedies in my head). I just remember sitting at the table when I got a call from an unknown Carolina number. I picked up, and it was my brother Curt on the other end. I hadn’t heard from Curt since I left Richmond years earlier. I was surprised that he called, but I was elated that he called. He told me he got my number from someone – I’m not sure who. But my brother thought enough about me to make a few calls to get my number, and he called to chop it up with his old pal.
Curt and I became true friends after we pledged together. Ultimately, grades prevented him from completion, but we remained close. Unfortunately, circumstances that were way above my head prevented me from crossing the burning sands as well. But in retrospect, that really doesn’t matter because the brotherhood that was forged by so many of us remains to this very day. I’m not going to name drop because there’s a lot of pain wrapped up in this whole ordeal. If you were on the yard of VUU around that time you probably know what I’m talmbout. If not, you don’t. But anyways…my bro called my line and immediately put a smile on my face. Curt was a whole other level of cool. He was the first well-to-do Black kid I’d ever met that wasn’t either A) a complete and utter asshole or B) somehow ashamed that he was privileged and didn’t have to go through what so many of us had to because of some form of economic hardship. He was completely comfortable with the skin he was in. That was a big part of Curt’s cool. Not to mention that he had a full beard at 20 years old and a closet that would have made a celebrity run for the black card, as well as a new cocaine white Jeep Cherokee with North Carolina plates, taking up big space in the student parking lot. But back to the call. We chopped it up for a good minute, bringing the other up to speed on our current life situation. He let me know that he left Richmond and was back home in Carolina after a falling out with a roommate. He told me he left his clothes (WHAT?), furniture, and all. He just got in his ride and left. But he was doing well. I’m certain I didn’t have much to say about my life at the time, as I was in the early stages of being a career underachiever, working jobs that I coulda worked without a degree and living in my aunt and uncle’s house. But that really didn’t matter, for I knew that any type of pretense was completely unnecessary; none of that shit mattered to Curt. It never mattered to him. We never spoke on money or any of the bullshit that came with it. What we did speak on was Homecoming. He informed me that he’d be attending and wondered if I’d be doing the same because he wanted to see my face. He let me know that he loved me and that he missed me. He spoke on how he couldn’t wait to attend a function that weekend in his “slide-on’s,” referring to a pair of comfortable loafers. He said that “you had to throw on a pair of slide-on’s” and step into the venue to cut a rug or two. I laughed and laughed. I coulda listened all night to Curt talking his shit. My brother was an all-time great when it came to being smooth. I knew this before I even knew him as a person. I’d see him on the yard from time to time. He was always fly and, from a distance, always had a gregarious and magnanimous personality. Getting to know him on a personal level only confirmed this. Curt was one of the original kings of cool. The irony in this unexpected conversation is that, even though I told Curt that I probably wouldn’t be attending Homecoming, I figured that we’d catch up in the near future. After all, we had the rest of our lives to get up, right?
I learned months later that my brother Curt was the victim of a home invasion. He was shot and killed. When I tell you that I was totally floored by the news, please believe me. Not Curt. Curt was the type that coulda charmed his way out of damn near anything. And as far as a robbery…Curt woulda had no problem letting a MF take whatever. I was informed that, somehow, his housemate survived the incident (hand on chin emoji 3x). If I EVER get intel on who he is and where he lays his head, I’m a see him one day. That’s on my brother in heaven. But I digress.
I was home yesterday after church, playing GTA V online, as usual. When I’m riding around Los Santos causing pure havoc, I either have the radio on Space 103 with Bootsy Collins, West Coast Classics with DJ Pooh, or off cuz I need to concentrate. Whenever you request your vehicle from the mechanic, he usually leaves the radio on when he drops it off. It just so happens that when he dropped off my Deluxo (think DeLorean – it hovers, flies, and shoots homing missiles), the radio was turned to Worldwide FM, hosted by Gilles Peterson. It played the song “Forgotten Notes” by Hackman, a dance track that samples a chopped and tweaked vocal of Faith Evans’ “Love Like This” (luh huh since ’95). I can’t call it, but just know that I immediately saved it to my RockStar account list and purchased it from iTunes. It put me in a zone. I was first intrigued by the vocals, not even realizing it was Faith, but it made perfect sense when I found out. Like most songs on GTA V, they’re perfect for riding out. I guess that’s what initially hooked me. It’s extra smooth, and Hackman was a genius for how he manipulated Faith’s vocals. And somehow, some way, my vivid imagination takes me to being in a European dance club somewhere like Brixton, London with this track pulsating through the speakers, fueling my high and intoxication, eliminating all inhibitions. Of course, I gotta have my slide-on's on my feet. This brought me to Curt. I’ve got the perfect pair of coffee colored Cole Haan’s for the occasion. I miss and love you Curt. I’m a keep your name alive until I am no more.
I’ve listened to “Forgotten Notes” about 50 times since yesterday, vacillating between tears and joy. That’s the beauty of music. It can immediately take us back to a certain place and time. Whenever Luther comes on, I immediately think about Shareon. He was her favorite. Whenever I listen to “Killing Me Softly” by the Fugees, the breakdown takes me to the school parties of the ’95-’96 academic year at HCHS. We voted it the song of the year for senior superlatives. I’ve lost at least six classmates over the years, including my pals Mike Vanney and Derrick “Lawman” Lawson, as well as the home girl Tisha Pannell (we attended VUU together). In my heart, whenever Lauryn bellows through the breakdown as only she can, all of my dead folk are still alive and vibrant. We’re all reunited in the lobby of the school, the location for all our parties, dancing the night away (until 11). “Forgotten Notes” makes me want to hit a real dance/techno/post wave club and get busy for a few. But I can’t without my slide-on’s. And every time I think about or say slide-on’s, Curt is alive in my heart.
Holla my folk @nasty_boyz420 on IG for the best tasting THC-infused lemonade in all of America. It’s made from freshly squeezed lemons and is quite amazing. Just ask Yankees great and future Hall of Famer C.C. Sabathia. He approves. That’s my time y’all. Tell your loved ones exactly how much they mean to you whenever possible. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. RIP Travis Thornton, another slain VUU legend. RIP Chubby, my big homie and true King of New York.
tymonday.com -- @tymonday on Twitter and IG
crewunb.com -- @crewunB on Twitter; @theunbearablescrew on IG