Saturday, June 02, 2001
I miss my camera.
The first sign of trouble came when I tried to tell my friends.
"Don't you love each other?" they asked.
"Yes," I said.
"You have fun together?"
"Yes," I said.
"Then why split up?" they asked. And asked. And asked.
"Because it will be time," I insisted.
But I might as well have been talking to a doorstop. I had no words to make them understand.
"Is it wrong?" I had asked Rick. "Is it wrong to cut someone loose to travel their own path?"
"I wouldn't call it wrong," he had said, "but it is weird."
"Why?" I had asked. "Why is it weird not to be selfish? Or maybe it is selfish." I had thought for a moment. "Maybe it is selfish to not want to spend the rest of your life with someone whose dreams are elsewhere and who wishes they were free to follow them."
"Maybe it is," he had said, "but I think it's a good selfish."
Can anyone really promise to love each other and stay together forever?
All we can do, all anyone can realistically do, is try to stay friends and give each other room to grow.
And a realist.
I firmly believe everyone, black/white/other, is a bigot at one level or another. Everyone has their prejudices.
To be honest about it.
Most people would like to think theyre not, that theyre good people.. and well, human.
Down south, I saw a place where people were expected to know their place. The code was obvious.
If you wanted to know the code, just ask.
People tried to get along, and people basically got along.. but you knew what time it was.
Before I got there, I dated interracially and freely. All races. Didnt even think about it. After.. I thought about it a bit more. A lot more.
Before I went down south, If I went to certain neighborhoods, my gut would tighten and I would talk to the cops who would check me out as to why I was in a neighborhood I so obviously didnt belong in.
After, I simply avoid the hassle.
So when a friend said I as becoming prejudiced, I was slightly incredulous.
She feels Im being unfair to people, maybe to her when I make passing references or cite examples.
Darling, I love you, and I understand how it feels...but you have it backwards.
Like most folk, I AM prejudiced. I am trying mightily to NOT be more prejudiced. I am TRYING to be fair to all. I am trying hard not to be bitter.
I didnt become this way overnight.
'White guy' mentality? She didnt like that term. Oh lord, I could go on for days with stories, RECENT AS LAST NIGHT< LAST WEEK< LAST MONTH< LAST YEAR that would illustrate as to what Im talking about.
By people I thought who were better than that.
That people wont go into certain neighborhoods because they dont feel comfortable?
Well duh. The example I cited.. I was talking to my cousin about it the other day... and before I was even halfway through, he finished without rancor or emotion:
"...and she didnt want to get it, even if she had a craving, because it wouldve meant going into an area she was uncomfortable in. And since most people dont like to feel like, admit, they do things like that, she is pissed at you for putting it out there in the open and making an example of her."
I didnt even have to spell it out.
And when I cited my friends example, I really wanted to tell her, why someone isnt thinking highly of her, frankly disappointed because she found excuses after excuses to not honor an invitation.
Lemme tell you the truth.
Sweetheart, even though they said it was ok when you didnt show up after you promised that you would? Its not ok. Trust me on this.
They truly thought you were better than that. Otherwise you wouldnt have been invited.
And the only way you can demonstrate that it is ok.. is to simply go to that neighborhood in broad daylight.
If you dont feel like it, or the prospect of going to that neighborhood bothers you.. SAY so.
Believe it or not.. they would appreciate a little honesty.
See, that is the thing about being down south. It may have been racist.. but for the most part - they tried to be honest about it.
And after awhile, even if I didnt like it, I appreciated being treated as if Im not a fool.
When the white girl I was dating, who lives out in Lake City warned me not to walk around her neighborhood, because all her neighbors had guns and could be trigger happy if they saw some unknown black person walking around the wrong part of town?
(note: Florida has a self-defence trespassing law. No one wouldve been charged if I were shot.)
I didnt take offense to it, because thats just the way it is. So she stayed over my place in the city after work more often than not.
And when I came back up North, I was glad to get away from the oppressively segregated atmosphere of the South.
To revel in New York City where people mix together because they HAVE to, whether they like it or not.
But there was one thing I wanted to keep from down south. I wanted people to be straight with me about what was up. Im a realist.
And for the most part people are.
I choose my friends carefully.
I try to be as open and accepting about them as I hope they are with me.
If I think about the people who show me loyalty and acceptance, there is no real pattern about their race or cultural background.
Doesnt need to be.
Race matters, but isnt AT ALL as important as the friendship, kindness, loyalty and acceptance.
These people demand the same thing I ask of them. That I am direct and trustworthy with them.
If that cant be, thats fine. I have enough friends who can.
So if you ask if Im prejudiced.. why, yes I am.
To be honest.
And like most people, I try not be.
Im truly getting tired of trying to explain myself and folk not listening.
Friday, June 01, 2001
I was up until 6am, arguing with someone about the project so that we could be on the same page.
Now my body is forcing myself to sleep, but Im just sleeping fitfully.
Im not young anymore. I cant even do 24 hours straight anymore, much less 72. My body will TAKE its sleep.. but still Im now in insomniac mode.
Heh. You get some odd dreams that way...
JPennant: Man. I still need some sleep.
Mcclint: take some sleepy-time pills
JPennant: Ick. Nonono
Mcclint: or go run around the block a few dozen times. THAT'll tire you out :-)
JPennant: or kill me :-)
Mcclint: minor details to work out later heheheheh
Ah well, lemme try this again. Mebbe Ive been thinking too much these last coupla days.
Mebbe I just need a drink.
Wow. The strawberry plants have aleady rooted....
Still got that greene thumbe goin'.... :-D
Thursday, May 31, 2001
To: George K.
From: Joe Pennant
Re: Your insinuation, lies and damned lies that Ive turned into a cat-kissing feline lover.
For the record, Im still a dog person..
As the late 'Biggie' Smalls put it on his song 'Warning'
Nah. They my friends.
Nah. Much love.
Nah. wouldnt disrespect.
Im just saying, I was under the misconception that cats didnt show real affection like dogs do, and cat love was more than border-line wacky.
I might have been wrong about that.
Granted, they only show it when they feel like it, and on their own damned terms.
And cats are sometimes plain nuts.. climbing the walls and curtains when bored, running madly through the house for no apparent reason, going spastic on catnip and splashing their water tray all over the place.
But tell me if you wouldnt feel da love when they're curled up on you purring, or like HappyCat would do.. come check up on me chirping when I had insomnia or would be curled up with me when Im sleeping.
Plus, their antics are fodder for people who are easily amused like myself.
Yeah, he would take a swipe at my head from atop the bathroom door when I came out, generally wreck the place if he smelled any trace of catnip or regard me as prey at the weirdest times, and his butt smelled when he would jump on you JUST after he did his biz in the litter box. Eww.
But, all pets act up and gotta be booted outside from time to time.
Nah, I wouldnt have a dog now, cuz dogs NEED their acerage, specially in New York, where it should be a crime to have a dog, and he doesnt have his little yard to call his own. Cats are just efficient pets.
And sometimes, theyre not half bad.
Even Tito, who loves his pet rotweillers, loves his mousers, his bodega el gato.
By the way, on the other thing - broiled is better than fried.
Two words: jerked chicken.
It aint just about the allspice.
Just so you know. :-)
I personally hate to see money change things, but the prospect of money brings out the greed and sleaze factor in some people.
Nancy: buenos tardes senor
JPennant: como esta senorita
Nancy: are ya a millionare yet?
JPennant: well, a few hundred here , a few G's there...
Nancy: every penny counts!
JPennant: well, now I know itsa good idea, because someone is already trying to swipe it.
JPennant: the fewl :-)
JPennant: yeah, he's done it before
JPennant: failed then, will fail now.
JPennant: he doesnt know the difference between a vague proposal, and the executive summary of a real business plan.
Nancy: and we both know there is a huge difference
JPennant: Its the guy I was trying to get to help with (snip)
JPennant: he tried to steal my lottery site and content ideas back when
JPennant: and I can already see his mind working on this one...
Nancy: and you let him in on this one????
JPennant:: "If I can do what he cant, shit I can make money on my own, screw him."
JPennant: eh, doesnt matter anyway. my plans are 'booby trapped' if you dont understand exactly the reasons why things are being done.
JPennant: Thats why I dont tell everyone everything.
Nancy: that's fine... that's how you should be...
JPennant: but Im disappointed in the guy tho.
Nancy: these are the times when you find out who your "friends" are....
JPennant: he's not a BAD guy.. but when push comes to shove, the 'white guy' mentality shows
Nancy: white guy mentality?
JPennant: the best way I can put it...
JPennant: if the train was crowded, and an old lady needed a seat.. in the real world.. in NY..who would be the last to get up and offer a seat?
Nancy: white guys in suits.
Nancy: got it - "all about me" kinda person
JPennant: there you go.
JPennant: they tend not to give respect unless its something they fear, want or are in awe of.
Nancy: or it makes them look good
Nancy: i know a few people like that - they make my skin crawl....
Nancy: but remember - what goes around comes around...
Yeah, sure does.
Heh. I thought it would be sheer poverty that would weed out and seperate the idjits ... now its getting clear that money itself is sterner stuff to deal with.
I get a VERY hearty welcome when I go get coffee now.
Granted, some of the ladies faces would shatter if they cracked a smile - but "Good morning!" and "Have a nice day!" is pretty damned close to "Come over and meet my daughter!" for sicilians.
Or so Ive heard. :-)
I think they approve of my thrifty ways.
"Yes, he too gets-a thee day-old... he's smart.. thatsa thee best way." is what one said to another customer.
"Thee italian cookies.. DONT buy-a them fresh. They SOOO much better when they bout a week old."
"Dont-a worry.. I'll throw in another for free."
Even the mobsters give me a perfunctory nod when I go by now.
How old is your daughter?
Wednesday, May 30, 2001
I was grumpy and well on my way to 'Fuckit. Screw Everybody.' mode.
I was nailing that chip on my shoulder but good....
So, I took a timeout and got myself some green tea.
Odd. Havent had any in weeks.
Mebbe Im trying to ration the honey Fred sent me...
When I came back the princess was trying to get my attention.
By the time we got disconnected, I wasnt feeling as combative.
She was there when I needed it, listened and steered me to somewhat more positive ground.
Although Im not removing that chip off my shoulder (its useful for motivation), I needed a little reassurance today when there was few there to do that for me.
No no no... not that stereotypical "clean everything" shytte.
(Most Virgo's I know arent particularly neat anyways, dunno where they got that crapp from.... prolly from those anal-retentive Pisces people).
Im restless. My mind is going a mile a minute and I cant focus because my emotions are all over the place.
Im bouncing off the walls.
I want to NAG somebody.
Nudge somebody. Get something done. Cause chaos for the fun of it....
I know, I know - I need to focus and deal with one thing at a time.
I want to get the equipment I need RIGHT NOW to start my venture.
I want The Artist in Brazil to ANSWER HIS MAIL so I can get this t-shirt and posters stuff started.
I want to talk to the database guy so that we can get the specs down so that he can get his coding started, but he IS at work, so he wont have time till later.
%$%# hurry up and wait.
*look around* I guess I SHOULD clean up, the place is starting to look particularly messy....
Shit. The pollen is getting bad again.
Where did I put those meds?
In fact, it had taken over the whole corner, with the distinctive yellow flowers and red buds.
Exactly what I was looking for... so I asked if I could get a cutting.
She was like, "Oh yeah, go ahead.. I was trying to kill them last year because they were taking over my grape vines. But theyve come back."
Kill those beautiful things????
Hey, she's a Virgo too. Along with the earth sign green thumb, she can be coldly logical as well.
She's not into eating strawberries and they do grow wild when theyve settled.
Heh. Soon EVERYBODY at the BBQ were getting me to dig up strawberry patches with strong roots. Except for LilBro, who is so much of a New Yorker, thinks its pointless to grow anything if you live in an apt.
Thats why he's so hyper. :-)
Eh, everybody else went home with strawberry and lily bulbs...
Hopefully, he'll understand why it feels good to garden....
"... and the whores are us."
- PJ O'Rourke
Parliament of Whores
PJ O'Rourke, the conservative political writer and satirist, came to this surprising conclusion in his hilarious tome on power.
This book, along with his "Holidays in Hell" as well as Mike Royko's "Boss", Cole's science fiction drama "Sten" and Machiavelli's "The Prince", should be on the bookshelf of any poli-sci student as well as anyone who needs to understand how power really works and affects us.
O'Rourke's point was that.. essentially, things are the way they are, because collectively we want them that way.
If we want things to change, we will make the changes, by any means necessary.
I'm grossly simplifying, but thats the essential point.
Im starting to get the point.
When I tell young folk that, before they know it.. they will be in charge, they pooh-pooh the idea.
Unless power is their ambition, they never realize or appreciate that they will become The Man.
Most people fight it. :-) Some people dont.
Some all their lives.
You can fight The Man all you want. The irony is, eventually, it will be your turn to be The Man.
When I see former flower children of the 60's and 70's struggle to hold on to their ideals, and yet eventually graduate to becoming capitalists, while denying that they sold out.
I believe most of them now.
You grow up.
You start to appreciate things.
You take your place. Do your thing. Make your choices. Assume your responsibilities. Whatever they are.
But at some point, you have to face what is.
".....and The Man, is us."
Actually, I think PJ O'Rourke is more accurate in his choice of words.. but I think I will fight a little bit longer before Im there.
Monday, May 28, 2001
Route 440 North from New Jersey, about to enter the Staten Island tolls...
"Ive got a disease
'Leave me the FUCK alone'
its already full blown"
- 'Mount Up' by M.O.P
There was a pause inside the SUV... and then everyone busted out laffin...
LilBro: Them Brooklyn folk are SO creative...
When LilBro went to my grandfathers funeral a month ago, basically as the only representative from his oldest daughter's family, he came back having met family members we were only vaguely aware of.
Hence the BBQ today at BigSis's house where I met an aunt and her children and grandchildren for the first time.
I kept looking at my aunt.. seeing my mothers chin, height and build, my late Aunt Ellen's East Indian hair and asian single-fold eyes, and my late Aunt Cherry's bosom, light skin and thin lips and face.. and all of their voices and Runaway Bay accent.
I just kept staring. At the face of my family. All descended from a wandering half-indian man I never knew, never met, and occasionally saw riding his bicycle down the road.
No-one fully answered my question about how many children this man of 90 ended up having. They mentioned 4 girls and 5 boys.
I suspect there are more, as they did not mention names Ive heard.
But at his funeral they announced him having 35 grandchildren.
And FIFTY-FIVE great-grandchildren.
There is a running joke in Runaway Bay, that you dont get enamored of the pretty boys or girls .. cause it might just be a relative.
He took it a bit far.
I stared into the face of a daughter of a man I never knew and who my mother always called Mr Gooden.....
BigSis loudly complained.. "I only have one niece and no nephews. When are you men going to do something about it?"
LilBro and I looked at each other and went.. "Uhmmm..."
Youd think we'd get credit for being responsible.
But we never told her why. Really.
Being the children of divorce and grandchildren of a grandfather we never knew... we do know why.
We want a *family*. Not just kids.
Not just kids to have a family.
She'll have to wait.
We might have to wait.
I might have to wait.
I have to go see my grandmother, who never seems to age, but wont not age forever.
She always asks for me, I hear.
I left the house this morning feeling old and tired and in pain.
I came back tonight having laughed loud and freely all day.. feeling fine.
Damn, that's good medicine.
Sunday, May 27, 2001
No, I dont sound Jamaican.
Neither does lilbro, having been here since he was 4.
By the way.. he's grown and 25.
Anyway, although I rarely flash any Jamaican patois, it sometimes catches my Born Jamerican sibling by surprise when I do, specially as he tries hard to feel like a native Jamaican.. which he is, but not really.
He was born there, but his formative years were all in New York.
His feeling like an outsider often shows when his older siblings do the Pennant thing (long thing about us outwardly quiet and reserved folk displaying a surprising -until you get to know us - gift for the gab)and start talking about shared childhood and teenage things that he wasnt a part of, using language thats not in his vocabulary.
So, when he emailed me to make arrangements about coming to pick me up in the morning for a BBQ at BigSis' place in Wherethefuck, NJ.. I used a word in patois, because I couldnt think of an apt english colloquial equivalent.
I said I was going to 'wedge' and have the front door open for him to be able to come up to my apartment, as my intercom and buzzer is still busted.
So, I wrote in colloquial patois "Im goin' to kotch the door for you."
I swear to god, he was SOOO chuffed when I used that term.. that he wrote back "yeah cotch the door for me. that sounds good".
He hasnt stopped using that word since, prompting BigSis to ask him, "what IS it with you and the word 'kotch'?"
I dont know, I just find that funny and endearing at the same time. :-)
Havent had many (cept mebbe that one night in April I got soaked going home) in the New York area all year.
Turned out the lights.. to enjoy the sudden reddish-darkness of a thunderstorm at sunset.
New Jersey sunsets, specially seen from New York... its like the sky is on fire, cloud edges burning fiery gold.
I have some pictures taken from a roof in Chelsea looking over the Hudson in my pennantspages diary from October or november 1999....
I remember my first thunderstorms in America.
Not like the ones in Jamaica, where they all occur high in the mountains. I heard 'em more than I saw them.
Noo.. these midwest rollers had flashes that would streak all across the skies, and you could see them for miles. They often produced industrial-strength thunder that literally shook the ground and rattled buildings.
This shit had BASS when storm fronts battle for hundreds of miles.
Talk about quaking in your boots when God went bowling. :-)
In the South, particularly in Florida when you could set your watch by the daily 4:30 thunderstorm, thunderstorms were up close and personal.
*Ka-boom-boom-booooom* was thunder high up or hitting a coupla miles away.
*KRA-KAH-BOOOOOOM* is what you heard when lightning hit the ground a few miles away.
*kra-kaka-KAPOW* is when that shit hit a few hundred yards away, invariably setting off car alarms all around. Sounds like Gods artillery.
And when you felt weird and tingly.. dont think..DROP. It is about to hit YOU.
It sounds like God has a personal beef wit you then...
Lightning is so endemic in Florida, pop up so quickly, and hit so many people, that the state and TV stations track actual lightning strikes minute by minute.
Here, by comparison.. it doesnt happen as often. There is no set pattern. You may get a sudden front and get a light show for a New York minute.. several fronts will pass through, setting off sudden storms or it'll pour for days. No pattern.
But fun when it happens.
A friend sent me some seeds in the mail to start my herb garden.
Im a little older, so I appreciate that more.
Now Im starting to understand why my father dreamt of growing stuff when he retired...
Should I sow them indoors or out?
All I know, is that a certain energy is felt when I deal with growing things.
Next, a bonsai tree.
I decided to try cookin some vegetable risotto....
I like my rice richly flavored.
For instance, when you cook Jamaican rice and peas, to cook the red beans.. you almost have to stew the stock before the rice is added.
I used to get so impatient as kid when you the process started at 9am to have the rice ready by 2 or 3 or even 4 pm.
Now, as an adult, I see why its so important to take so much time on the base, the stock.
I boiled that stock of chicken broth, garlic, pepper, olive oil.. to which I added a can of vegetable, pasta and chicken broth soup.
I left it to boil for an hour, reducing the stock and intensifying the taste.
I then added the rice, putting foil beteen the pot and cover (paper bag paper works better for rice and peas, no really) and left the pot on VERY low heat for the rice to cook.
It was good. I didnt even miss making any meat dishes.
I didnt realize there was so much involved in making stock, the base for dishes.
Yep, the age of appreciation.
When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
- Yogi Berra
There is a point to all of this....