everyday life: 5:30 a.m. on the green line (chicago)

5:30 a.m.  About to hop the Green Line “EL” @ MLK Drive ( A word of caution, if you think that you might at all look like a vic/mark, I wouldn’t advise that you do this).  The train comes and I board. The car is empty except for one dude (let’s call him, ol’ boy). He’s a hype. I ain’t trippin’ though. I knew that @ 5:30 a.m. I was about to board the hype express.  So, I cop a seat on the same side of the car as as ol’ boy, but 4 rows back.  It’s early, I’m tired. I need to close my eyes for a minute (again i wouldn’t advise anyone to do this).  I look around – survey the area to make sure things are cool.  Coast is clear.  I drop my bag to the floor, put my leg through the shoulder strap to prevent a snatch and grab, and close my eyes.  I’m trying to doze, and then I start to hear what sounds like water – alot of water hitting the floor of the car.  I sit up – open my eyes – look around to see where what I assumed to be a leak might be coming from.   It stops.  Nothin’ on the floor.   Just me and – ol’ boy.  Coast is clear.  I shut my big browns.  Soon as I close my eyes the water starts again.  As I’m sittn’ up to investigate – my legs/feet shift, and I hear a splashing sound.   Mildly startled and severely puzzled, I look down to find what I think to be water/beer on the ground, and on my bag (cold-ass leather Kenneth Cole briefcase).  And — it’s coming from where – ol’ boy – is sitting.  I yell out, “yo – WTF is you doin!?!”  He jumps up, his back to me, mumblin’ and fumblin’, actin’ all perplexed and shit.  And then he starts talkin’/slurin’ about, “Damn man, what’s goin’ on?  What’s that shit on the ground?!?”  He keeps on mumblin and fumblin – lookin all around…  And then he turns in my direction and slowly staggers toward me before the train turns causing him to fall into a seat.   He’s keeps goin on and on and on…  Now by that time I done already figured out that – ol’ boy – done pissed on the ground, and on my bag.  How did I solve the mystery?  Well, when he turned and started in my direction — his joint was hangin’ out.  Still drippn’ with pee pee…


Dig Chicago: Maxwell, Digable Planets, World Music Festival 08, Mixteco

Good Day Chicago.  I’ve got a few items that might help satisfy your entertainment/food jones.

And on the food tip:  Mixteco Grill is the SHIT!!!  Seriously, the food was outstanding.  The restaurant owner/head chef worked under the famed Rick Bayless before stepping out on his own.  The outside appearance of the spot is very unassuming.  kinda looks like a n’hood diner.  Don’t let that throw you off.  The food and service was top notch.  It’s BYOB.  The staff at Mixteco will promptly pop and pour for you.  And the prices are very very very reasonable.  This is coming from a brotha on a budget.  Anyhow, if you go – MAKE A RESERVATION.  There is always a line to get in.  The lines aren’t usually too long, but there is always a line. I do have to mention that seating can be a bit crowded as the dinning space is relatively small.  Great food, great reviews, great prices = crowds/success that the owner hadn’t anticipated (not a bad problem to have).  They are working on it.  Again – I had a gr8 dinning experience there.  I suggest you check it out.

That’s all.  Enjoy.

kdizi kdizo

Dig Chicago: the school boycott (an act of love)

This post isn’t about Rev. Meeks or the CPS Boycott.  If you want an in depth analysis of Meeks and the boycott, just google them, I’m sure you’ll come up with way more info than you need.  I’m writing to call attention to the students, parents, and families – low income and working class Black students, parents, and families – that participated whole-heartedly in the boycott.  I want to shine the spotlight on them because they did so much more than just ride a bus to the suburban New Trier High School.  They volunteered their time, energy, and resources to call attention to the myriad issues plaguing urban mis-education.  They printed and stuffed and folded.  The canvassed door to door and at numerous “EL” stations.  They compiled and emailed and phoned.  They donated and fund-raised.  They sang and prayed.  They educated themselves on the issue.  They educated others on the issue.  They mobilized and organized.  They took action.  All this from the same group of people that “experts” and politicians have implicated time and time again as the “real” problem in urban education.  All this from the same group of Black folk mis-labeled as NOT caring about school – NOT appreciating the value of education – parents/families that are NOT actively involved in their child’s education.  And I myself would like to personally commend these brave and caring souls.  This may sound a little dramatic, but what they did this week was an act of love (something else that “experts” and the media would have the world believe we are NOT capable of).  Love of little Black boys and Black girls.  Love of family.  Love of self.  And I hope to never again have to hear/read some crap about working class and low income Black folk being fingered as the “real” problem with urban education.


Dig Chicago: A Prayer for the 1st Day of School..

Hey people.  I haven’t had a new post in about a week.  I apologize.  Chalk it up to the Labor Day Weekend and the back to school frenzy.  Anyhow, I’m back at it and I’d like to introduce a new category: “Dig Chicago”.  This category is all about the people, places, happenings, etc., that make Chicago – Chicago.  Today in Dig Chicago:

“Prayer for the 1st Day of Chicago Public School” – by Chicago poet and activist Kevin Koval (the angriest white man i know).

May the twenty-seven students who lost their lives last academic year eat their grandmother’s cooking in the after life, go to prom in the next world, their lives and deaths not be forgotten in vain.

May the bullets intended for the chests of children this year veer into Lake Michigan or fall from the air like dice. May the fingers on those triggers, rash or tickle before fire. May we humanize the gun holder, many of them kids whom school didn’t speak to, who were left behind, kicked out, dropped out, pushed out by our failure to educate. May the gangs that take them in return to their political street organizing roots and give to the community more than they taketh away.

May the police who patrol the neighborhoods protect themselves, yes. But may they not harass and degrade, may they not brutalize and make false arrests and false judgments. May their nightsticks sock them into thinking before use. Let sergeants not coerce confessions, let judges not convict the innocent, let our children not be criminalized.

Let the teachers teach this year. Let them teach to educate and inspire life learning not manipulate to standardized tests. Let them individualize their lesson plans based on the learner, not on a bureaucrat’s stat book in Springfield or Washington. Let the teachers dream and share what they love about learning, let them listen to the kids in their class, give them time to engage and disagree and come to school everyday not just to receive a check and a pension but to challenge and grow themselves, their students and their institutions.

Let the architects and engineers of the Chicago Public School system leave their offices and luncheons and travel in the same day to Northside College Prep or Walter Payton and then to Wells or Clement or Kelvyn Park or the school formerly known as Orr, or most public schools and the alternative schools like Prologue and E Cuarto Ano or Bronzeville, which seek to serve the forgotten, and let all these suits swear they believe in equity. That this gross disparity is abhorrent and unjust, that kids on the West and South Side deserve what kids in Lincoln Park and Lakeview deserve.

Get Arne Duncan out of the health club. Let him and the progenitors of Renaissance 2010 do more than revamp failed plans. May they consider the whole student body of CPS, not just those with clout and high tax bases. May they find the wisdom that the closing and redistricting of schools sends kids across gang lines they are not accustomed to crossing and that this might be one of the factors in the rise of deaths this past year. Let them admit this system is inadequate, that only fifty percent of CPS students who start high school will finish and of these only one third will go to college and of these a small percentage will graduate. This is not the education they would want for their children. Even Obama’s daughters go to private school.

This year, may the parents of CPS students have sick days and health care, may they have job security and livable wages, may they take interest in their son’s and daughter’s lives, ask them questions about what they learn, have time to take them to the library or Millennium Park or read with them for an hour a night while the TV rests, or cook with them and laugh with them and have time to attend their chess matches or swim meets. May the parents of CPS students get tax breaks and flex time during the summer and spring and winter break to spend more time with their kids. May they let their kids live their own lives and only demand they walk the world fairly, that they are loved and the future is more endless than CTA lines, the world, theirs to explore.

This year, on the first day of CPS, please let State Senator Meeks act just as hard and righteous when the cameras are off, let his crusade continue beyond week one. May the students he brings to Winnetka see the gigantic inequity in public education, and have the courage and communal counsel not to feel bad about where they come from but to demand wrongs turned right. Perhaps they will not be turned away by fire hoses and German Shepherds, but they will still return to a quarter of the public funding spent on some suburban schools, they will still return to racial-profiling, a proliferation of prisons built to house their bodies and non-livable wage service sector jobs, they will return to the shackles of neighborhood segregation and canyons of disparity which have not disappeared since Little Rock but have grown and will not magically vanish when a democrat is in the white house.

May this year be about the students we seek to educate. May they be asked questions as much as and more than they are told answers. May their lives be made relevant and visible in the educational space. Let us ask them to become present in the classroom by bringing their present circumstance into the learning process. May those who put on blue jeans and white tees, those whose uniforms look like training for a life-time of institutional living (whether it be fast-food or county jail) let them transcend the expectations this system has of them. Let them walk safe to school and home to their stoop or ball field or playground or mother’s arms, let their interest in learning perk and peak and lead them into the library or museum or oral histories of their families and communities, let them strengthen their language and critical thinking to prepare themselves for the wars waged against them by Mayor Daley.

Let them speak for themselves and may we listen. May they learn that Chicago and America are brutal and beautiful in the same moment, let them care deeply for their minds and bodies, may they know they are and can be great and extraordinary individuals and citizens, that the world is bigger than the block, that we live on a Great Lake and if they go to the shore and look to the east, and see the point where water and sky merge, that their imagination is bigger and wider and more beautiful than that, and that meeting of the heavens and earth is where they are from and where they are free to dream and realize the immensity of who they are and who they will become.