Gimme Shelter

The outdoorsy life has never completely been for me.  A day at the park here, a day at the beach there, a nice walk – these are all things I can rock with.  “Roughing it,” though?  No gracias.  It has never seemed like my idea of a good time.  One might argue that I can’t speak on this, since I’ve never gone camping.  Well, I’ve never been hit by a car either, but I’ll bet it sucks.  But if you need further verification, I had one too many Strawberry Hills at the Lakefront once and had to pee near a tree.  I could live my entire life and not have to relive that.

Air conditioning.  Indoor plumbing (with hot showers).  Soft, comfy mattresses.  Satellite/Cable television.  Are these things available in tents?  Would I be in one of those tricked out Harry Potter tents?  Then, no.  I’m urbanized without apology.

Do you know that there are special rules for camping in “bear country?”  Bears have countries.  Do you know how large and territorial bears are? Bears are not in the business of stamping visas; at least not in a way you’d like.  You have to be cautious about scents of ANY kind.  So you’re answering nature’s call in the woods, you’re not having access to hot showers, and you can’t leave behind smells.  Is the fun at will call?  I’ve already got deer and chipmunks on my case.  I am not going to put my life further in jeopardy by getting mollywhopped by a bear because I needed an apple wine candy (read: Jolly Rancher) to soothe my nerves.  You know where I don’t have to worry about bears?  The mall.

On, there is a writeup with the title “How to Survive a Grizzly Attack.”  There are three scenarios: 1. If you just happen upon a bear, behave in the most punkass manner possible; 2. If you encroach on the bear’s space, flop to the ground and make sure it tires of kicking your ass; and 3. If it as a predatory attack you must first try to escape.  They suggested hiding in a car.  A 600 lb beast with paws the size of frying pans is chasing me, and my Hyundai Accent is what you suggest as protection.  Awesome.  You know what the suggestion is if that doesn’t work (which it won’t, because the bear is probably going to punch through the window and snatch you out)?  Fight.  A bear.  You want me to fight a bear.

Let’s play “Bear Fun Facts”:

  1. Bears are big as hell.
  2. Bears are fast as hell.
  3. Bears can climb trees.
  4. Bears can swim.
  5. It is imperative that I reiterate they can be 700 lbs, have paws like frying pans and sharp claws.

How about we just let them have their country?  The only reason I even read about surviving the grizzly attack is because, if the caca hits the fan and a grizzly rolls into Chipotle, I plan on living to gell the tale.  Of course, with all that barbacoa beef, what would a bear want with me?  Fleshy chubby me, who smells good and could keep a bear full for days…*crosses Chipotle off the list of places to visit*

Another thing: when did beds stop being awesome?  I’ve stayed in quaint hotels, with some of the most scenic views imaginable.  Nice places, with gorgeous mountain views, cocoa and danishes.  I was able to enjoy nature’s wonders without waking up to bugs in my butt.

And I really hate bugs (except butterflies, ladybugs, and roly polys – they’re awesome).  Bugs can get into anything.  Nothing on earth should be able to get EVERYWHERE.  Show me the sealiest seal, and there’s a bug waiting to grind its muddy boots on that seal’s cream, suede couch.  There are certain bugs that country folks call “no-see-ums,” because *drum roll* you can’t see them.  As luck would have it, those bugs are not also called “no-feel-ums.”  They’re some of the worst, they’re virtually invisible, and you don’t know they’re on you until you feel like you’ve been pinched in the arm.  The happen to LOVE the great outdoors.  I just imagine getting in my tent, and bugs are waiting for me, like a violent offender cell mate.  The type who says I can’t eat until they finish eating.  (Isn’t that how jail works?  I only watched Oz for two seasons.)

So, I’ll take a pass on camping.  For those of you who think that my stance will leave me unprepared for the zombie apocalypse, think again, butt munches.  Who do you think the zombies will take out first?  The kid on the fifth floor of a brick building, or the macho man in the tents who thinks he can fight a grizzly?  I’ve already survived this:


Television is the land of make believe.  To accept that live is wrapped up in an hour or less requires us to employ what is called the “suspension of disbelief.”  You accept certain elements of the story as plausible, even though it would never happen in real life.  However, we all have limits.  When series of unfortunate events become too much, I can’t watch.

Witch leads us to my inordinate hatred for Spongebob’s hapless pal, Patrick Starr.  Patrick is so stupid, I want to punch him.  I could deal when he was simply none-too-bright.  The stupidity makes me wanna holler. I have actually watched Spongebob and said, out LOUD, “Ugh. THIS MF.”  Ridiculous.

I try to avoid Spongebob, and do breathing exercises when my kids insist on watching.  But until I really get my suspension under control, Patrick better not let me catch him in the street.

Weekends are made for Michelob

I’m not a party animal. What I do happen to be, however, is a good time enthusiast.  If you have a free day, why not leave that 9 to 5 up on the shelf, and give in to joy and merriment.  Today, I almost stayed in…because I’ve been having a good time.

Meh. I don’t know that I’ll be getting trashed, but there’s a 90s party with my name on it.


The Sublime Theater of the Ridiculous

Back when Beauty Jackson was just Cutie Jackson, I used to visit retirement homes and read the bible to residents.  (No. This is not a joke.)  There was one elder sister, a few pigeons shy of a flock, who just took a shine to me.  Whenever I was there, she’d seek me out and talk to me.  She was about 5’10, rather lean, with a booming voiceand always wore an elaborate head scarf.  Doesn’t this sound sweet?  Like the stuff Hallmark movies are made of.  We could have been the black Tuesdays with Morrie.

Except, she thought I was the help.  Not help as in helpful; help as in The Help.  “ANNA, I need you to bring my lunch.”  When I told her my name was Melanie, I got, “Wylangie?  Well Wylangie, I’ll need you to run to the market and fetch me a barracuda sandwich on Cuban bread and a lemonade.”   Then she stood and tapped her foot and gave me the “G’on” look.  For a split second, I thought, “How in the hell am I gonna find this sandwich?”

I learned two things:  1) Crazy broads LOVE barracuda sandwiches (she asked for one every time she saw me); and 2) Any demand, no matter how ridiculous, sounds viable when stated with authority.

This morning, I pulled into Shell, only to realize that I couldn’t find my debit card anywhere.  I can only presume it is somewhere near my computer desk, as the last time I remember seeing it was when I was talking myself out of buying a pair of shoes.  I didn’t have time to go back home, I had to scrounge for whatever dough I had in my car. Five bucks.

Part of me was ashamed.  When gas is $3.42 a gallon, who really goes in the joint asking for $5.00 worth?  I sat in the car for a moment and pondered this, and you know who asks for $5.00 of gas in 2011?  A damn G, that’s who.  I would not cower in the shadow of shame as I use my hard earned money, found in the pocket of a coat I forgot was in my car, to pay for gas to power my free Hyundai with butterfly doors. No SIR!  I decided this is how the scene would play out:

*kicks in door* GET ME THE OWNER!!! I am here to transact business! Salutations! My name is Wylangie, and I am here for the sole purpose of procuring $5.00 of your finest gas, reserved only for the realest of G’s.  I do not like to be kept waiting!  This cash register will not work itself.  Does this establishment offer free drinks for live goons? No?  They let anyone run gas stations these days.  You will be allowed to pump my gas.  Don’t tarry. *slams fiver on the counter, Naomi Campbell walks to the car, gets in and waits*

I submit that the attendant will be stunned into compliance.  I didn’t do it today, but next time, Shell.  Next time.

Chocolate Television Sevens

Dear Post Racial America: Your TV programming sucks for black people.  I don’t want to watch The Game, I thought Girlfriends was boring, and Single Ladies? BOOOOO.  Coming of age during a time where black entertainment was at its finest, leaves current programming wanting.  So for those of you unfamiliar with Sherry Carter, and have only seen The Fresh Prince and The Cosby Show in syndication, these Sevens are for you.  Seven Glimpses at Black TV History:

7.  “A Different World” – The Wedding Episode

A good friend of mine has a strong argument about why Dwayne Cleophus Wayne was one of the single most selfish and undesirable characters in black television.  Logically, I have to concede a bit.  However, the nerdy girl who loves nerdy boys will always have a soft spot for the Brooklyn kid who got an 800 on his math SATs.  Therefore, I loved the Whitley and Dwayne love story.  In real life, what Dwayne did was selfish and disruptive.  In TV Land though, hearing him plead “BABY…BABY PLEASE!”  Honey…loved it.  Really, that was the show reaching the mountain top, because it didn’t lost very long after they were married.

6.  “Martin” – Guard Your Grill

Deciding on my favorite Martin Episode was hard.  But I think the episode when he challenged Tommy “The Hit Man” Hearns to a fight was the most hilarious.  To this day, I can’t envision Martin and Gina praying “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep,” without laughing until I cry. I honestly can’t describe how funny this is, so I’ll let you watch.

And then, there’s this:

"My baby luuuhhhhh me..."

5.  “Living Single” Regine Plans An Ex’s Wedding

It’s hard to find one moment in this very hilarious episode of one of my most favorite shows.  Heavy D and Viveca A. Fox guest starred in this episode as Regine’s ex and his cheating betrothed.  My two favorite parts of this episode was when they all met up at the church (where Regine discovered Viveca’s character making out with the best man, Freddie*), Kadijah began to sing “Shout,” and Maxine whooped, hollered and danced through the pews. The second moment was, after Regine revealed Viveca’s cheating ways, and was reminded they were in the house of the Lord, Regine snatched off her wig and said “FAHN! let’s take it outside.”  When people engage the Girlfriends v. Living Single debate, to me, there’s no comparison.

Blurry, but still hilarious.

4.  “Family Matters”  The Urkel Dance

Listen, Family Matters had some of the worst acting I’d ever seen in my life, but it was light and fun.  In the strangest way, it was a very unique show depicting a black family.  I happened to like the black, nerdy anti-hero who was Steve Urkel.  The kids were at a rooftop party, and no one was dancing.  So Steve rallied the troops, and performed a very awkward dance accompanied by a nasally rap.  His joy so angered the other guys at the party, they spiked his drink and he almost fell off a building.  Did I mention that Family Matters was a bad show?  Yeah.  But it was ours, and for the season, that damn Urkel dance was EVERYWHERE.  They played it to DEATH.

Yes. That is a very young Larenz Tate.

3.  “Good Times” The Punchbowl

I know most of the shows come from my tween and teen years, but this is one of the most epic moments in black history, because every black child knows it.  The Evans family spent every episode almost getting out of the projects, only to be stomped out by the man within the last five minutes of the show.  The Evanses were about to head for the promised land of Mississippi (what?), when James was tragically killed in a car accident.  Florida held it together, to the point that she angered her kids with her calm.  But then, shit gets real

2.  “The Cosby Show” Grandparents’ Anniversary

I’m certain I don’t have to explain why The Cosby Show was ground breaking for how the African-American family was viewed.  Whether you could relate to the lifestyle of the Huxtables or not, it was incredible that a upper middle-class black family was so wholly embraced, not only amongst black programming, but dominated its time slot for YEARS.  And when the family celebrated Cliff’s parents’ anniversary by lip synching Ray Charles’ “Night Time is the Right Time,” that was all we talked about at school the next day.  I still get excited when I see it.

1.  “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” C’mon man…you know which one

Rapper turned actor was still a relatively new phenomenon when The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air came out.  It was funny, super light, and Will Smith was downright goofy.  He was supposed to be my husband (life’s a funny thing).  Then came the episode when Ben Vereen came into my baby Will’s world as his father, turned it upside down and broke his heart by abandoning him again.  There is not one child of the 90s that doesn’t get broken up and sheds thug tears when they hear, “How come he don’t want me man?”


What would you add to the list?

*We won’t discuss WHY I can remember Best Man Freddie, but NOT Heavy D’s or Viveca’s names.


When an artist is so overcome by inspiration,they’re electric, the feeling is incomparable.  The feeling when I’m spilling over with ideas is indescribable.  Temporary euphoric paralysis, perhaps?   I’m so caught up in the awesome potential of a great idea, I fear any sudden movements will break the spell.  I love whirlwinds.

I recently happened upon a bonus track on one of my favorite albums, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Stadium Arcadium.”  It was audio commentary where they discussed the majority of the album.  Two things about “Stadium”: 1) You need this in your collection.  It’s amazing. There’s a bit of everything that is good and righteous about music. 2) John Frusciante is giving Flea a run for his money as second favorite Chili Pepper by saying he sought inspiration from Wu Tang’s “Enter the 36 Chambers” during the writing of this album.  But what struck me more than anything was what Anthony Kiedis said regarding one of the songs:

You start to sometimes get the feeling that the music was already there before you walked into the room.

And that’s inspiration.  When art seems to come alive in a consecrated space, and you’re merely the instrument.  I never feel more connected to the universe than when I’m truly struck by inspiration.

However, if art was only about waiting to be struck by random divine moments, everyone would be artists.  Every soul has a moment where they’re touched by divinity.  Inspiration is akin to the lusty, love at first sight moment:  your future someone standing across the room, bathed in a warm glow, simply waiting.

To truly be successful though, is to grind in the muck for those few exquisite lines, perfect lighting, soul-rending notes.  There are days that I plead for the absence of fear and the use of my voice.  The fear doesn’t really come from underestimating the power of my voice, but rather, being acutely aware of said power.  The responsibility that comes with being listened to is humbling.

I’m obsessed with saying, not necessarily the right things, but the things that will echo my truths.  Sometimes I take breaks from blogging because I know what I’ve written was disingenuous.  If only one person reads my blog, that one person deserves better.  I try not only to write from joy and objectivity, but also pain and not so pretty emotions.  Praying for the balance to display both honestly is one half of the battle; working in harmony with those prayers is the other.

If inspiration is the infatuated love at first sight, then actively pursuing and honing one’s craft must be the marriage.  My craft is my voice.  Til death do we part.


My sisters and I are friends.  Last night, my son asked who, out of the four of us, was the best cook.  It dawned on me that we never rolled that way.  I’m sure we had some jealousy and rivalry as we made room for each new addition, but once we were old enough to know better, being in competition with my sisters didn’t interest me.

We were raised to be loving toward one another.  We fought, of course, but that was never accepted in our house.  You’d do better to rip out your arm rather than fight your sister.  Now that we’re older, I’m thankful for that.  I see adult siblings, who are still fighting one another, and I can only feel bad for them.

When I don’t connect with those crazy girls, life isn’t right.  I was thinking about them today and got teary.  They not only support me, but care enough to call me out on my crap if need be.  I’m not homesick.  I’m sistersick.  I’d sit in a cabin in the Himalayas if it meant laughing with those broads. Friends are awesome, but some hugs, only sisters can give.


If you are driven, inspiration comes. Today I lacked discipline. Tomorrow, I will prove that I learned from today’s mistakes. I leave today, unafraid to be flawed or fall short. It’s not that I have nothing to write about today; I just realized how personal today’s thoughts are. 

I’m sending good energy to all of you, and wishing your weekend begins with joy.

Be well.

B Jack