#MNR: Summer Madness
RIP Ditrius Medley, HCHS (South Boston, VA) class of 1995. Ditrius was a veteran of the United States Navy. His civilian roles included Warranty Specialist and Shop Technician. I knew him as one of the Western District’s best football players, a thousand yard running back for our beloved Blue Comets. I covered Ditrius and the team for three years for our yearbook. I have (had) a great deal of respect for his athletic prowess. I have even more respect for the fact that he went back to school in 2017, receiving a B.A. in Business Administration and Management from Walden University last year. Ditrius and I were never close. I knew him, he knew me. I wrote a piece or two about how he ran through WD competition, no hyperbole or cliche. I admired his raw talent. I didn’t come to bury Ditrius today, I came to praise him. Rest in power, big fella.
If you close your eyes and concentrate, you can hear Kool and the Gang “Summer Madness” playing in your mind. You can feel it in your soul. Here’s to the close of another summer. Meh born day is the tenth day of the ninth month. Technically, it’s still summer, as the Autumnal Equinox isn’t until 9.22. But no one gives a shit about summer after Labor Day. For a lot of kids, that means it’s back to school time. For the kids down south and other places that begin the calendar year before Labor Day, summer is long gone by the time I thank the Lord for another year of life. I get it. Summer is dundee for most after the first Monday in September. I ain’t mad at that.
Yeah kids. It’s back to school time. I hope youse all had a good summer. America was open, so I’m sure most of y’all got out and had a good time. Here’s to fresh kix, a few new outfits, three notebooks, a couple packs of Pilot G-2 pens, and a fly ass backpack.
I never stopped working this summer. We returned to the classroom from virtual learning in early April, so I shook that rust off long ago. I worked Extended School Year from early July until 8.16, so there wasn’t any period of off-time to call a vacation. I never stopped my Behaviorist work. I’m in the field five days a week. The grind never stops.
I feel like Uncle Shay and Skip with their perennial Lebron and Brady go-to schticks every time I mention COVID in my blogs. But uh…yeah. I feel like if I don’t speak on it, some ONE may underestimate its devastation and the cumulative effect it’s had and continues to have in America and around the world. This Delta variant is the Arsonal of viruses; it’s SO DISRESPECTFUL. I really feel like the northeast is largely oblivious to how bad things are in the deep south, from Florida to Texas to…Mississippi. There are states where the ICU beds are at 90% or better capacity. I think we fail to do the math (analytics) frfr. Does that mean that if you are on the verge of dropping dead from COVID that you can still get a bed in your local ICU? Most likely, I guess. It’s damn sure not likely though, if you’re “only” suffering from mild COVID symptoms, even though we know that the virus can take a left turn at any moment. But what it also means is that if you are suffering from anything from an asthma attack to a gunshot wound, you may be shit out of luck trying to get an open bed. That may sound absurd at surface level, but simple mathematics are…simple. If every bed in an ICU is filled, there is no bed. Furthermore, they’re not going to give a current patient the boot prematurely. You can’t just go in the cafeteria and make an ICU bed as if it were a cheese sammich. I think a lot of people take the seriousness of an ICU for granted because they’ve never been in an ICU. I have. There’s a nurse specifically dedicated to you in an ICU. If you hit that red button, your nurse is there in a literal minute. Doctors check in often. Plenty of y’all/us/I know what it’s like to be in a regular ass hospital room on a stay. I think I logged the average nurse response time at seventeen minutes during my two-week medical vacation. The doctor stops by once a day and talks for about five good minutes before exiting stage right. Rural areas, as always, suffer the most. The irony is that rural populations largely shun the COVID jabs, mostly due to political affiliation. I’m certain no toothless WASP yokel shuns the vaccine because of his or her skepticism toward the government dating back to the Tuskegee Experiments. In all fairness, I am also certain the same yokel doesn’t shun the vaccine because of Ruby Ridge (IYKYK). At the end of the day, that’s that yokel’s right. I can’t snipe a southern MAGAt zealot without also examining and scrutinizing my folk that live down the way. A lot of us are proud to be ignorant. If you are truly versed in medicine and history and still choose not to vax, I respect it. Even if you’re an ignorant ass nigga and just don’t trust the vaccine cuz you don’t trust the government, I respect it. I can’t get mad at another Black man or woman for declining the vaccination. It’s a matter of choice. But continuing to move without discretion and not giving a flying fuck is non-cipher. I don’t respect it. I don’t care if we’re cool. We’re still cool. I just don’t respect it. I can’t break bread with you. I cherish my life. I cherish the lives of the loved ones in my cipher.
Hurricane Ida, you dirty whore, you. CNN calls Ida’s damage “catastrophic.” She has pummeled southeastern Louisiana. Over a million are without power. As of the production of this blog, there is at least one confirmed casualty. Ida was so powerful (Category 4), that she stopped the flow of the Mississippi River near New Orleans and caused the river to REVERSE. The US Geological Survey called it “extremely uncommon.” Ida is now a slow-moving tropical storm over southwestern Mississippi. She poses a serious threat to areas like Tennessee, which is still in the immediate aftermath of flooding last week that claimed scores of lives. God bless all the victims of Ida. She gives me Katrina chills.
You don’t have to be a politician to know that the current situation in Afghanistan is an absolute shit show. I don’t have the time to explain it all. You don’t have the patience to read it all. Just know that Biden fumbled the ball on kickoff return immediately after tRump threw a pick-six. God bless all the US servicemen and servicewomen as well as the civilians who lost their lives last week. I’m not speaking in specifics when I say that I basically saw this coming. But I saw it coming.
Speaking of football…it’s back. High school kicked off this past weekend. College kicks off this weekend. The NFL begins on 9.9 and truly kicks off my birthday weekend. It’s lit. It’s time.
Y’all be good. And if you can’t be good, try to avoid getting caught being bad. Remember: the man who sleeps on the floor cannot fall out of the bed. Peace to the East New York Perverted Monks and Mike Tyson.
tymonday.com; @tymonday on Twitter & IG
crewunb.com; @crewunB on Twitter & @theunbearablescrew on IG
#MNR: The Price of COVID
Nowadays, are you extra pissed that damn near everything available for purchase or rental, from food to clothes to gas to hotels to airline tickets have taken a very noticeable hike in price? I’m talking about everything from two-star hotels on the Virginia Beach strip on a random weekend to Polo boxers to…lumber. Everything. It’s one thing to go to your favorite local grocery store and see your particular brand of ground chicken (Perdue) fluctuate in price from one week to the next. I’m not frugal to the point that I’m bitching about a dollar increase (actually, I am, kinda). But when your favorite drawz have made a $15 jump in price and your hosiery infrastructure is in dire need of strengthening, it’s enough to make you want to slap box with two midg---err umm, little people.
For those of us who slept through economics, inflation is defined as a persistent, substantial rise in the general level of the prices for goods and services across an economy, resulting in the loss of value of currency. Let’s trim the fat and forget about the loss of value of currency; we’re not going that deep with it. Our focus is on the persistent, substantial rise in prices. I know you see it. I’m going to assume that it altered your plans a time or two. The price of everything is crazy. I’m seeing gas prices north of $3.30 a gallon. WTF? Well, you don’t need to be Alan Greenspan to figure it all out, it’s quite simple. The problem is COVID.
Inflation rose an eye-opening 5% from May 2020 to May 2021. Do the math. The COVID shutdowns began in March 2020. Even though we exist in an age where data can be analyzed in real-time, it took a minute to get accurate numbers on how COVID began to affect the domestic AND global economic landscape. We literally shutdown as a nation. The shutdowns affected everything across the board. Many factories were forced to shut down for periods of time, temporarily bringing production to a halt. Many transportation companies were affected as a direct result. There was no product being made to sell to vendors, and in turn no product to move, forcing transportation companies to lay off a lot of truckers. Overall, there was much less product being produced, distributed, and sold. And to add insult to injury, the global scarcity of raw materials and electronic components further affected the production of many products. It doesn’t matter if you have a factory full of workers if there’s nothing for them to work with. Items like PS5 or Xbox were already in short production because of a lack of availability of internal components. Even when they are produced and sold, bots and hoarders scoop everything up. EVERYTHING. Most consumers are left with the lone option of paying ridiculous resell prices to own desired products. COVID was the catalyst for everything. And further, furthermore, when companies see how much resellers make on their products, it’s quite likely that they will inevitably begin to raise retail prices. The only true loser is the consumer. We’re forced to pay the bump ups; we’re forced to pay the resell prices. I know what some dickhead is thinking. Gee, you all should be ashamed of yourselves. None of this is necessitous. These are first world problems. Shut your correct ass the fuck up. OF COURSE these are first world problems. Few of the things we complain about not being able to purchase are necessitous. But damn it, this is America. We’ve earned the right to bitch and complain about first world problems. And no, we shouldn’t have to pay some asshole $800 for a $400 PS5 or $400 for a $200 pair of Nikes. But it’s the world we live in. COVID is the runaway influence.
I truly wish I had some good old Ty Thompson inspirational message for you all. The fact is that there’s a good chance that a lot of this fuckery is here to stay. Now, I don’t want to be Donnell Downer. Not everything will be permanently fucked up. Lumber prices have already begun to come down. Food prices fluctuate, so if you can’t afford your chicken this week, next week will probably be better. Ditto for gas; just replace weeks with months. It’ll be a couple of years, but in time the demand for game consoles will calm down after everyone who wants one has one. But the hot ticket items like trading cards and fly kix…forget it. You, I, we are going to have to pay out the ass from here on. My bro just called me about pricing a pair of Jordans for his baby girl. I had to break the news to him. He was far from incredulous but was slightly taken aback at how fucked up the sneaker game had become. Smh. Aren’t we all? C’est la vie.
That’s my time y’all. Stay blessed and stay dangerous. I’m a catch y’all on the come up.
tymonday.com; @tymonday on Twitter & IG
crewunb.com; @crewunB on Twitter & @theunbearablescrew on IG
“Outside of New York, everyone wanted to be like New York. Inside of New York, everybody wanted to be like Harlem.”
From Pleasant Ave. to Broadway, from the Polo Grounds to Jefferson Houses, Harlem is its own Babylon amidst Mesopotamia. More recent generations think about drip when they think about Harlem; old heads remember Harlem as the home of the dope game. At one point, more than 90% of all the heroin that touched down in the United States came through Harlem. I could go even further back and speak on various riots and civil unrest, but you already got the point. Harlem is mecca.
My family spent the better part of a half century in Thomas Jefferson Houses at 210 E. 115th St. in Apartment 2A. To the trained eye, that’s smack dab in the heart of El Barrio, better known as Spanish Harlem. If you know me, you know I was raised in diverse spots. I was born in Southampton. I lived in Washington Heights, #BXNYC, Hempstead, and Bridgehampton as a child. Eventually, I migrated to VA. But NY has always been home. I used to spend summers at 1500 Noble Ave. at my paternal grandparents’ apartment, the building my dad came up in. As soon as I was old enough to work, I came home to spend summers in the X on 1751 Gleason Ave. with my uncle and aunt. But most of my time was spent in Jeff, dating back to the early ‘80s. My dad used to bring me to my Aunt Betty’s crib because that’s where he used to spend his time as a child when he wasn’t raising hell somewhere in the X. No matter where I was, I always ended up at 210. I “cut my teeth” in Harlem, aka the 100 Blocks. My big cousin Nut (Albert Bradley, political prisoner – FREE MY BLOOD) raised me up in the streets. He put me on to everything. I learned all the hustles from those 100 Blocks. I got my first piece of ass in those 100 Blocks. I made PLENTY of money from drugs that came from those 100 Blocks. My big cousin Wendy had the crib on 122nd St. and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. (7th Avenue). Apartment 7G to be exact. I spent plenty of time on the west side and got into plenty of mischief. All the while, those 100 Blocks were my playground. When I moved back up top Summer 2002, I was in the hood every day (literally), even when I lived Jersey side. Eventually, I moved back to the city. And where did I end up after the NYPD raided my establishment and the US Marshals put an eviction sticker on my door on Apartment 2C in 1400 Jesup Ave? Back in Harlem. Back in Jeff. I said all that because I wanted to make my resume known to any motherfucker who might have some dumb shit to say about the type of time I’m on. Let’s get it.
Last week provided what may have been the best Versuz we’ve seen thus far, as legendary squads D-Block (LOX) of Yonkers and Harlem’s own Diplomats hit the stage in the Garden to go track for track, hit for hit. All politics aside, we can all agree that it was an amazing spectacle and a fun ass evening. Damn near everyone I know tuned in. Off rip, there’s no way around it…L-O-X prevailed. Jada proved that he is a rap savant, juicing and plant-based diets are amazing for stamina and breath control, and Harlem niggas gon be Harlem niggas no matter what. Cam was more than fashionably late, Jones came on stage in a whole leather outfit, and Juelz was (over) dressed like it was closer to late October than early August. There was more visible jewelry than in some display booths in Queens Coliseum. They rapped over records (not instrumentals), their playlist strategy was suspect, and they had 118 niggas on stage with them. Shit damn near got a bit out of hand. BUT IT WAS IN MADISON SQUARE GARDEN! AND THEY BLEW IT DOWN HEAVY! That shit really was a movie. But I think a few things need to be addressed.
First off, no one who was riding with the Set was under the false assumption that the Dips hits would dwarf the LOX hits from a “rappity rap” (lyrical) standpoint. That wasn’t the thing. One thing I will admit is I think most people on either side forgot just how many hits the LOX have in their cache. But mixtapes aside, I truly feel a lot of us felt that between all three Diplomats there were enough hits to make it a serious competition. I personally feel that the playlist order plays a MAJOR part in a Versuz. You gotta come out swinging in these settings. If you hold too much of your stash back the other side may have already put an insurmountable lead on the boards before your hits can put things back into perspective. And being that it was in front of an audience of THOUSANDS, the opinion of the crowd weighed heavy. It was evident from about midway through that the LOX had taken control of the crowd. From a body language position, the Dips felt the exact same way. They faded down the stretch while the LOX got stronger. All jokes aside, salute to juicing and vegan diets. The combination sure had those three middle aged humans fit for the competition. And that brings me to the last part of the LOX domination of the Versuz. The LOX treated the Versuz like a Game 7. The Dips treated it like it was a preseason “intrasquad” scrimmage with no refs. As a Harlem MF, it was clearly evident that Cam was only there for the bag and to display drip. That set the tone for the evening, along with him being OD late. Maybe it’s just me, but I think Jones kinda lost interest as the night progressed. His facial expression and energy were off. And God bless Juelz; he ain’t the same. I’ll leave it at that. So, there you’ve got it. I’ve candidly listed all the reasons why the LOX won the VERSUZ. Now, I’ll explain why no one from the Town gives a fuck.
FOR THE RECORD, ANYONE WHO KNOWS WHO FREAKY ZEEKY IS KNOWS EXACTLY WHY HE WAS ON STAGE DURING THE VERSUZ. PLEASE ASK SOMEONE WHO KNOWS OR SHUT THE FUCK UP IF YOU DO NOT.
The Dip Set is so much more than a Versuz competition in which they were clearly outmatched. The LOX was the 1950s Yankees that night. But during the early 2000s, the Dips were the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers. They were the team that, for a moment in history, shook up and sat atop the rap world. Who was the GOAT MC from Harlem before Cameron Giles? I’ll wait. Exactly. With all due respect to Doug E. Fresh, Black Rob (RIP to Jeff’s greatest), G. Dep (free my guy) and Reverend Mason Betha, no MC embodies the spirit of Harlem like Cam, from the attitude to the style of music to the drip. He brought his close childhood pal and blood cousin along for the ride, and the childhood pal ended up becoming a damn good MC while the cousin is still big time loyal to this day. Then, he fucked around and won the rap draft lottery and took Juelz Santana with the #1 pick. He created a brand that rang bells from Lenox Ave. to Paterson, NJ and all around the rap world. And without any doubt, Dip Set single-handedly put an epinephrine needle in the thigh muscle of the city’s gang culture, whether intentionally or unintentionally. I lived in those 100 Blocks at the height of the Dips movement. The entire city was knee-deep in gang activity, and at the time there were about seven Bloods for every three Crips. Some may disagree, but from my perspective, it was fashionable to be nine trey or UBN at the time. And drip wise? I’m a leave it at this…Cam made pink fashionable to the 20-30 something Black male who had yet to come to terms with his inner thug. Pink furs, pink Nextels, pink Range Rovers, pink everything. Oversized fitteds with bandanas tied around. Air Force Ones with the Gucci and Louis Vuitton customization. Gaudy jewelry and chains. Outsiders may proclaim that the drip wasn’t a thing for them, but all five boroughs and surrounding areas would be lying if they tried to deny the influence. But that wasn’t a Dip thing, per se. That was a Harlem thing. They were just emulating what the streets said was en vogue. FYI: all that started with Dapper Dan back in the 1980s. Ask Mike Tyson. Ask Rakim. Ask LL.
Leading up to the Versuz, I never really pondered who the winner would be. I was simply giddy that it would take place. If I had, I suppose I woulda went with the LOX. But I’m loyal to the Town. That meant that it was Dips or nothing. But all in all, I’m pleased that I got to see two of my favorite crews of all time go toe to toe. I’m even more pleased that everything was peaceful. That means more than anything. Catch the LOX, Dip Set, and State Property on tour this fall at an arena near you. It’s my time, y’all. Many blessings.
tymonday.com: @tymonday on Twitter & IG
crewunb.com: @crewunB on Twitter; @theunbearablescrew on IG
#MNR: Time is the [Ultimate] Illusion
“And I switched my motto. Instead of saying ‘fuck tomorrow’ that buck that bought a bottle coulda struck the lotto…”
Nasir Jones, “Life’s a Bitch”
“…but time is the illusion…”
Buckshot, “Night Riders”
“Eventually, I knew I’d run into Hi-Teknology. It was only a matter of time like centuries.”
Talib Kweli, “Memories Live”
Time is the ultimate illusion. I’ll say it again. Time is the ultimate illusion. Most of us tend to make the huge assumption that whatever we don’t do or put off today can be done tomorrow. It’s a general rule of thumb. And more than 99 times out of 100, it’s very true. Shit, you can put a task off for days/weeks/months/years at a time. Depending on what it is, that’s perfectly fine. You can still accomplish what needs to be accomplished – in time.
I love the Outkast song “In Due Time” off the Soul Food soundtrack. “Just keep all faith in me. Don’t act impatiently. You’ll get where you need to be, in due time. Even when things are slow, hold on and don’t let go. I’ll give you what I owe, in due time.” Big Boi, Cee-Lo Green, and Andre 3000 surely didn’t lie. This mentality is generally the best approach to life. Don’t let the constraints of time drive you insane. Do what you can do when you can do it. Just make progress. I like to say, “a fan a day.” If you stay consistent and persistent, you will one day achieve your goal. Prayerfully.
Ok, ok. I gave y’all my best Les Brown/Robert T. Youngblood motivational talk. Now it’s time to get to the meat and potatoes. Roll that shit up. Light that shit up. Come take this ride with me.
One of our biggest miscalculations as humans is assuming we “have all the time in the world” as Shareon used to say. I love the beginning of the last “act” of American Beauty, the part where Kevin Spacey (eww) is jogging and (as third person omniscient narrator) says something like no one wakes up in the morning thinking this is going to be the day I die. And it’s very true, outside of MF who woke up with death on their minds, whether it be because of (combat) war, living in a war zone (literally or figuratively), extreme paranoia, or a strong inclination toward suicide (I think I covered every base). But think about it. No one (who’s not delusional) wakes up on their Pac “Me Against the World” on the daily. Most of us, irrespective of socioeconomic status, look at a new day as an opportunity to accomplish any and everything under the sun. It is – until it isn’t. Unfortunately, death is certain, and in many cases sudden. My queen’s bestie (who happens to be my folk as well) lost a close family member a week or so ago, an individual whom my queen was acquaintances with. Bestie is devastated (love you Adelia; praying for you and the family). The deceased had just returned from a vacation and hadn’t even made it home yet. It’s a tragedy in every sense, as multiple lives were lost. I’m certain no one in that “situation” initially had death on their minds. God bless all whose lives were lost and affected. Rest in paradise Willette Marshall.
At times I reflect on my dead homies. Ten were fatally wounded; nine died from firearms and one was stabbed to death. I lost a friend to a motorcycle accident (a blood cousin too, sadly). I lost another two to automobile accidents. One of the healthiest and toughest hombres I knew (love you Kente) dropped dead without explanation. I lost two to suicide. I lost one by freak accident. Rarely do I think about all of them at the same time; it’s mostly isolated thoughts. At times, when I think about the guys, I wonder what was on their minds the entire day leading up to the moment they perished. I also wonder what their final thoughts were as death was imminent. I wonder if they had enough time to make peace with themselves and their God. Ultimately, I wonder what their precise thoughts were the moment they realized they were out of time. At times, these ponderings haunt me. I suppose they always will…until I see them again.
I don’t want the focus of this blog to be on death as pertaining to time and it’s mishandling. Death is certain, but it’s also the extreme. Many times, it’s not the worst outcome. Shit, most of the time, death isn’t even the consequence. Time can also be detrimental to those who have the inability to escape their past. They become their own victims. In no way am I trying to downplay or diminish trauma, especially when it’s the result of some sort of abuse. I know the feeling all too well. I’m referring to all the folk who are prisoners of time because of personal failure, as well as those who are prisoners of time because of the wrongdoing(s) of others.
When it comes to personal failure, I could (literally) write a book on self-degradation. I was the poster boy for taking ALL my Ls to heart and wallowing in self-pity. Progress took time, but the shift in mentality began with an OG giving me some of the soundest advice I’ve ever received. He told me that it was alright to beat myself up, but to do it with a feather. Ponder that. Seriously. Pause this blog for 60 seconds and ponder that shit. It’s mind blowing. I also learned the two rules of a pity party. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with throwing a pity party, as long as you keep it brief and don’t invite anyone else. These tidbits of wisdom are a must when attempting to overcome personal failure. It’s okay to fall on your face 99 times, so long as you get your ass up 99 times. The 100th time may in fact be a charm. Regardless, take the great, late Coach Jim Valvano’s prudent advice: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” As long as you’re alive, you have the opportunity to improve your circumstances. Carpe diem. Remember what Nas said about that dollar.
The second part is for the many of us who are still pissed off at someone for some shit that happened in Spring 1988. Of course, we’re not talking murder or anything perverse. A MF mighta stolen your Full Force tape. It coulda been over bad business on a used Datsun sale. It coulda been because someone didn’t give you your proper credit after you bust your ass for the cause. It doesn’t matter. Let that shit go. Why? I’m glad you asked. In plenty of cases, you’re just allowing the next MF to live rent-free in your swollen ass head. Your anger/hatred ends up taking over and consuming your thoughts. You grow more bitter over time. Without even realizing it, you’ve inadvertently ruined relationships, drastically changed others’ opinions of you, and even made yourself physically sick. And guess what? That MF you’ve dedicated your whole life (WAY TOO DAMN MUCH OF YOUR TIME) to hating is living their BEST life. Shit, 9 times outta 10 they haven’t even given you or the situation a second thought. Then you cross paths years later. They look spectacular while you have let the situation stress you to the point you look beat down (Bruh Man voice) – the stress eventually consumes you. It just doesn’t add up. It makes no sense whatsoever. Whatever it is, let that silly shit go. Yes, I’m talking to you. And you, and you, and you…
The last point I’ll make about time focuses on redemption. We all should embody the sentiment that everyday we’re living is a day we’re blessed (because it’s true). Regardless of whether you’ve made one big mistake or a metric ton of mistakes, survival means you (in most cases) have the opportunity to amend things. I implore you to forgive yourself as well as others. Any and all ground you’ve lost can be made up. Redemption and achievement are very possible. When Senator Mark Warner spoke at my university commencement way, way back in May 2000, he told us he’d made and lost a small fortune. TWICE! He took his tumbles, but he never gave up on himself. He stayed the course. If you’re wondering how things turned out for him, Wikipedia the shit. SPOILER: he’s doing his damn thing. Been doing his damn thing for well over two decades. He used time to his advantage. In a parallel reality, so did my big brother. Beloved read 10K books while incarcerated. He can hold an intelligent conversation with anyone about damn near anything. You can do whatever you want to do if you try and keep on trying. And believe. Keep on pushing. We gon make, I swear my nigga.
tymonday.com; @tymonday on Twitter & IG
crewunb.com; @crewunB on Twitter & @theunbearablescrew on IG