Monday, June 19, 2006

Brothers on Fatherhood

Black Fatherhood. A complicated topic to be sure. As I contemplated what this week's Musing would be, I found myself troubled by the disparity between the messages I receive -- essentially that Black Fatherhood is an oxymoron -- and the reality I see with brothers throughout my life who, as fathers... sons... cousins... brothers... mentors... simply as Black men, have illustrated for me the beauty of Black Fatherhood. And there are so many men out there, so many whom I do not know. They prove every day, in many ways that Black Fatherhood is far from an oxymoron. It is a beautiful reality.

So, I decided to have the brothers speak (or write) for themselves. Enjoy.

What is a father…it is someone who takes care of his family and makes the sacrifices necessary for them to achieve the dreams that they may not even know that they have yet.

My journey to fatherhood began long before Thursday May 26th 2005 at 22:22, the time I officially became a father to a 5lbs 6.7oz beautiful baby girl named Jazz Laura Dow. It began long before my brothers and sisters combined produced my 8 nieces and 1 nephew…each of which I love like my own. Yes, I said 8 girls and 1 boy…by the way another one is on the way (my brother and his wife not Nik and Me) so if you’re counting, including Jazz that’s 9 to 2….yes it’s a boy. It began long before I was a Big Brother for Big Brother’s Big Sisters. Long before I was a mentor to children in the village outside of my Alma Mater Lincoln University in PA. It began long before I physically could produce a child. My journey to fatherhood began with my Dad.

August 1978 my father at the time 38 decided to move his family from Guyana, South America to Long Island, New York. Why would anyone do that at 38…let me set the scene? Frank Theodore Dow is a manager at the Sugar Estate; they pay him a very nice wage complete with a housing allowance. He is well respected in the work place and the community. His wife Winona “Molly” Dow is a stay at home mom who takes care of their children the youngest of which is 4 (Me). By all accounts Frank and his family are living a very nice life. Why move to a country thousands of miles away? Why put yourself in a situation where your wife now has to work outside of the home so you can make ends meet? Oh yeah not to mention you don’t have a job yourself…totally different culture, and then there is that thing that you have never actually seen live…snow…why do it? Education! You see Frank could have stayed in Guyana and his family would have been OK. His sons would have most likely followed in his footsteps working in the Estate. His daughters would have gotten married and raised families of their own. Sounds like a decent life to me…but what if he makes the move his kids could go to college become whatever they want to be…they could open a restaurant (Winnie’s Caribbean Café) be President/CEO of their own companies (Dow Mazur Group) (Body Sculpture International) or even teach the next generation of children. For Frank…I mean my Dad that was reason enough. Now don’t get me wrong this decision was not made solely by him. Part of being a responsible father and man is knowing that all decisions must be made jointly with your Wife.

Fast forward 28 years and my parent’s dreams have come true.

If I am 1/10 the father to Jazz that my father was to me she will be fine.

Happy Father’s Day to my Dad!!!! Frank Theodore Dow

You’re Son,
Kwame Jipco Dow

Hello Orlando,

Fatherhood just like ministry is a calling. I knew myself called to be a minister while still in my mid teens. I felt myself distinctly not called to be a father even before then. I had no way of knowing that pastoring a church for 18 years would provide a way of enfolding many father roles into my life.
I am grateful beyond words for the emotional and spiritual connection I have with several men and women I met. The reciprocity of ever growing affection and respect is a gift I cherish with all my heart.

(Rev.) Edward (Goode)

My little league team sucked. Really. But that never stopped my father from coming to my games, from playing catch with me, from squatting down like a catcher out in front of the house and calling for my fastball. (I was convinced at age nine that I had two great pitches. One was a “smoking” fastball. The other was a Ron Guidry-like slider.) It never stopped him from coming to the games and rooting for us, rooting for me.

It was an evening game. And we had a chance to win. I don’t remember the score, but I was the go-ahead run and I was on first base. The batter hit a weak grounder back up the middle and it got out of the infield. I took off running and decided that I could get to third base. Once I rounded second I knew that was a bad idea. My coach was waving for me to slide before I was halfway to third. And behind my coach, beyond the fence, my father’s eyes just kept getting bigger and bigger and…I ran as fast as I could. I slid. “Safe!” I later scored the winning run. We won that game.

As I walked off the field, I yelled, “We won!” “Yeah you did,” my father smiled back, his melodic baritone dripping with pride. On the way home, as a treat for finally winning a game, my father stopped with me at a pizza parlor on Flatbush. I had a slice and an orange soda. I don’t remember much about being in the restaurant. But I do remember Pa laughing that I had no business going to third. I remember feeling that he was proud of me, proud that his son was the kind of guy who would take an extra base. I remember feeling like I had shown him I was a winner. I remember that was the best slice of pizza I’ve ever eaten. And I remember how good that orange soda was going down.

Every now and again, I will find myself in a pizzeria. And when I’m in the mood, I order orange soda. It’s never as good as it was, but it serves as a nice reminder of a little boy who took an extra base, giving all he had to be a winner…and of a father who took an extra moment, giving of himself to say that he was proud.

Orlando Bishop

[Celebrating his connection to his father, Gaspar Alejandro Bishop, Orlando Gaspar Bishop invested in some very personal body art. The canvas is his right shoulder. The Minister of Propaganda was inspired to create some art of his own based on that tattoo. Here it is.]

Hey Orlando,

Here is the poem that my father wrote for me when I was a 3 years old:

My Son

little guy, smiley brown

you've turned my whole damn world around

your curly hair and big, bright eyes

makes just seeing you each day

a grand surprise

your little hand, squeezing my finger tight

while we walk along talking

makes my life alright

you've trust and wisdom and innocence and joy

my son, my life, my little boy

"my daddy, I'm probably lonely,

will you come and play with me?"

why sure I will sweetheart,

right now and for always

may God grant that I'll always be around

to wipe your tears, guide your steps

and offer you a hand up

when life chances to tumble you down

we've got big plans and adventures

you and I

and the oceans, trees, mountains and the sky

will be our playground, while we grow

toghether - a man and his son,

a little boy and his daddy.

Marshall S. Gordon, 1976

and here is one that I wrote recently:

When It's Time to BE There

When it was time,

a simple man,

who wasn't offered

many choices

and wasn't exposed

to many voices,


to his soul.

'Cause no one

could control

that part.

And what he heard,

for some reason,

seemed absurd

to both those above

and below.


giving them all the finger,

he cashed in all his chips

for one little boy,

one little kid.

He gave up his job.

He gave up his wealth.

He gave up on this cold world

for sanity and health.

So that he could BE there.

He moved to a new land

where he worked with his hands.

And those hands gave

everything he made

as an offering

to the forgotten bond

of father and son.

Why do we make it so hard?

Why must it be a sacrifice?

I'd go through hell for my boys.

I'd fuckin' do it twice.

Or as many times as it takes

so that I can BE there

to put the locks in their hair

and give them trees to climb.

To listen to their stories

and have time

for their worries.

I was lucky

to have learned from the source.

An incredible, unmovable,

embraceable force.

Shown to me

by a man

Not afraid to love

And holding nothing in.


was my dad,

and now

I am him.

Here, always.

With my two little men

Who will BE there for theirs

when it's time.

Jason Gordon, 2006

Thanks to those who shared. And thanks to the fathers... sons... cousins... brothers... mentors... men who made that sharing possible. Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Say It Ain't So, Joe

First of all...Fuck Joe Theismann!

Some of you may be wondering, "Who the fuck is Joe Theismann?" Well, to answer that, I will first tell you who the fuck he was.

Joe Theismann was the quarterback of the Washington Redskins from 1978-1985. He won a Super Bowl and was once the league MVP. And if you ask anybody who was a football fan in 1985, they can tell you about the moment on Monday Night Football when Lawrence Taylor broke Theismann’s leg while sacking him. It looked like he had two knees. It was fucking gross.

Why am I cursing his stupid ass out twenty-one years after he was forced into retirement? I’ll tell you why by telling him why, in an open letter.

Dear Joe,

First of all…fuck you! I don’t say that because you were a Redskin and I am a Giants fan. I don’t even say that because I’ve had to listen to your inane dronings on Sunday Night Football for years.

Yes, we know. When a football is thrown, it often follows an arc. Do they actually pay you to sit there and marvel at the fact that that which goes up must come down? (Touchdown) Jesus. Good work if you can get it, I guess. The phenomenon is called gravity. Look it up and stop wasting my precious football viewing time with your bullshit.

Hey, may be next year you could do an analysis of that orange “glowy” stuff that is so hot. (By the way, it’s called fire.) Or you could do a segment on how when the groundskeepers turn on the sprinklers AND the sun shines, the fucking grass grows, you fucking idiot.

But your incessant babbling about the most basic of scientific principles is not why I say, “Fuck you!” It is simply why I should have long ago. No, I say fuck you for kicking Ricky Williams when he’s down.

Here are some of the quotes that particularly grabbed my attention:

“I don't ever want to be mentioned in the same breath as Ricky Williams as a football player. He's a disgrace to the game. The man doesn't deserve to play football. He should go on with his life and treat his drug addictions or go do whatever he wants to do.”

“He's been suspended from the National Football League on multiple occasions. Doesn't anybody have any class anywhere? For gosh sakes, let the kid go do what he wants to do. He doesn't want to play football.”

Here’s a question for you, since you seem so knowledgeable about drug addiction. Were you on the “Budweiser Hot Seat” (as seen on SportsCenter every fucking day) when you started bashing Ricky or was it during one of the Red Stripe commercials that run on your network ‘round the clock? Or may be it was during one of the highlight packages that used the “…and twins” melody made famous by a Coors advertising campaign featuring scantily clad twins. Or were you getting the scripts you and your colleagues read when Levitra or Viagra or Pleezstayhard flashes across my screen before some nationally-televised game? I just want some fucking context for your judgemental rantings.


I have heard Jim Kelly invite Chris Berman over for some beers on the fucking air. Was that a disgrace?

I bet you’re thinking that marijuana, Ricky’s apparent drug of choice, is illegal. Can’t argue with you there. But why is it illegal? Could it be that the government knows that if it were legal, it could be grown in the average backyard? We can’t have people getting fucked up, if Uncle Sam can’t cash in on it, taxing shit like crazy. Could it be that the tobacco companies are scared? That they’ve invested millions to keep marijuana illegal? No, it couldn’t be any of that. It must be that cirrhosis of the liver, as caused by alcohol, is so goddamn wonderful that we wouldn’t want anybody in this drugged out country to fuck things up by finding a high that is not physically addictive.

Ricky Williams suffers from social anxiety. Weed helps him manage that. Where’s the disgrace in that? I don’t see any disgrace in that.

But here’s some shit in the world of football I do find disgraceful:

Ricky, reportedly, did not test positive for marijuana. I do not know what substance was found, but his “drug addiction” apparently was not the issue. So get your fucking facts straight before you malign the man. You’re a member of the media now. And spewing half-baked analysis is just as ugly from an ESPN analyst as it is from the likes of Bill O’Lie-ly over on Fox News.

Your teammate, Dexter Manley, graduated from Oklahoma State University and couldn’t read above a second grade level. That’s just one of thousands of examples of how this sport uses brothers shamelessly, chews them up and spits them out. “Doesn't anybody have any class anywhere?” I don’t know. But they sure don’t seem to have any class -- or any classes -- at OSU. That’s a fucking disgrace!

While on the topic of education, allow me to turn to your alma mater, Notre Dame. That football program has all the integrity of a New Orleans levee. In 2001, the football program was recognized for having a 100% graduation rate. Before the end of that year , the head coach, Bob Davie, received his pink slip. Removing the “student” from the phrase “student-athlete?” That’s a fucking disgrace!

The coach who followed him, Ty Willingham, was fired after three years although Notre Dame had never in its storied history broken a contract, never failed to allow a coach the full five years to right the program. But then again, Ty was Black. And we already know that niggas have to be twice as good to get half as far, so there was no real surprise there. But that kind of blatant racism? That’s a fucking disgrace!

Our nation is so pumped full of pharmaceutical drugs that I know of an office of a respectable organization where Zoloft is referred to as “Vitamin Z.” That’s a fucking disgrace!

Apparently, some of the drugs that we pop into our kids like they’re fucking Pez cause suicidal thoughts. Warnings have been added to the labels, but that doesn’t mean that parents and doctors aren’t slangin’ that shit like they are the PTA version of Tony Montana. That’s a fucking disgrace!

And a guy changing the pronunciation of his name from THEEZ-MAN to THIGHS-MAN so that it would rhyme with “Heisman” (the award given to the top college football player in the nation)? That’s the kind of self-promotion that got Kellen Winslow Jr. blasted when he played at Miami. You remember, don’t you? He was a disgrace, too, according to some. Yeah, I think a guy changing his name so that it rhymes with the award he’s pandering for is lame beyond fucking description. That’s a fucking disgrace!

Here’s a news flash. Ricky Williams wants to play football. That’s why he’s…(drum roll, please)…playing football. Instead of making up shit about what he wants or doesn’t want to do, why don’t you speak on shit you know about? There have got to be more scientific facts that you could share. Like may be when a bucket is dumped on a couch, you could point out that water is wet, you stupid muthafucka.

Ricky Williams has had a lot to deal with over the last few years. He is obviously a person in search of happiness, in search of something. He has been suspended from the NFL, where he wants to play, for a year. He will now be playing in Canada for a fraction of what he could have made in the NFL. And all this seems to have sprung from his use of a substance that in no way enhances his football performance. (see Bill Romanowski, the rabid ‘roid rager who pretty much ended Marcus Williams’ career – another fucking disgrace!)

Don’t pick on Ricky. He’s never said he wasn’t responsible for his own actions. He never pulled a Palmeiro and wagged his finger at Congress while he lied through his teeth. All he’s ever done is accept the consequences of his actions, which is more than can be said about a lot of people in this country, including the asshole in the Oval Office.

It is not for you to decide from on high (so to speak) who does and does not deserve to play football…even if it is for your former team. So, do me a favor. Don’t kick a man when he’s down. That’s a fucking disgrace!

A New Millennium Nigga

Monday, June 05, 2006

An Inconvenient Spring Break

An Afro-Euro-Asian girl screams into camera with a smile on her alcohol-slackened face.

AFRO-EURO-ASIAN GIRL: Hi! This is Afro-Euro-Asian Girl from California. And everybody I know is dead. So I’ll send my shout-out to the other 15 people on Ear—

Her friend whispers in her ear.


Her friend whispers to her again.

AFRO-EURO-ASIAN GIRL: make that 14 people left on Earth, WHHHEEEEEEEW!

The crowd around her joins her ear-drum piercing scream. NMN steps in front of the camera.

NMN: This is A New Millennium Nigga. And welcome to MTV's "Spring Break: North Pole."

Fifteen people, half of the Earth's remaining population, cheer.

NMN: For those of you who haven't yet drowned or died of dehydration, thanks for tuning in. This is the first time MTV has done spring break at the North Pole. And given the rate at which people are dying, I think it's safe to say it will also be the last.

Everyone boos.

NMN: But enough of that. Let's party.

Back to cheering.

NMN: But not too hard. You may never shake that hangover. Remember, we're almost out of drinkable water.

More boos.

NMN: Here to perform the hottest song to hit the charts in 2056, an updated version of a hip-hop classic, we've got Nelly III doing "It's Getting Hot Out Here."

Cheers. A production assistant trots over to NMN and whispers something in his ear.

NMN: Wow. Really? Sorry to hear that. Folks, Nelly III is dead.

A Frat Boy raises a red plastic party cup.


Everybody takes their red party cups to the head.

NMN: Apparently, he was on the wrong glacier at the wrong time. Now, he swims with the mercury-laden fishes. Rest in peace, Nelly III. We'll be seeing you soon, I'm sure.


NMN: But enough about that. Let's party!


NMN: Performing their smash hit "(I Want My) SUV", the punk sensation Carbon Die Oxide.

PA: Nope. Dead.


Everybody takes their red party cups to the head.

NMN: What happened?

PA: Typhoon.

NMN: I thought they were from Indiana.

PA: They were.

NMN: Can we get the guys who sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat (Right Up Ol' Broadway)."

PA: Dead. Dead.


Everybody takes their red party cups to the head.

PA: The short dark-haired guy ate the tall blonde-haired guy when they got trapped on an island.

NMN: What island?

PA: Germany.

NMN: So, let's get the short guy.

PA: No can do. Died of shock. Turns out he's allergic to human.

NMN: No bullshit?

PA: I swear. It would take a twisted mind to make that shit up.

NMN: Fine. Let's do the contest. Alright, listen up people. The person who answers this right will get a glass of water.

The Spring Breakers "ooh" and "aah" as they fight for position around NMN.

NMN: Name the 2006 film that warned that the world was headed for this tragic fate. And, for the added bonus, an ear of corn, the last remaining vegetable known to man, name the man who starred in it.

NMN scans the crowd.

NMN: The brother in the back.

BROTHER: Actually, I'm not a brother. I just have a wicked sunburn. I haven't found shelter from the sun in almost six months.

NMN: But at least you made it up here and that's what counts. It's only 135 degrees here. Imagine if you were someplace really hot. Well, do you have an answer for me?

“BROTHER”: The film was "An Inconvenient Truth" and the guy's name was...

NMN: Come on. You can do it. Rhymes with bore...but he wasn't a bore, was he? Well, he was when he ran for President, but--

FRAT BOY: Oh yeah, we learned about that in History. He lost to that "uniter, not a divider guy." What's his name? My professor said he was actually a divider after all.

NMN: Well, your teacher had it partially right. But before he got halfway through his second term his approval rating was 29%. That means he united almost three-quarters of the American people. They all agreed that he fucking sucked at being President.

“BROTHER”: Gore! It was Al Gore!

SKATER CHICK: My grandpa was telling me how he totally won and the Supreme Court just appointed Bush President of the United States.

“BROTHER”: Was that when we became a monarchy?

NMN: No, actually that’s when we became a theocracy. The U.S. didn’t become a monarchy until Halliburton bought the Army to reduce the skyrocketing deficit. It was really the government’s money since they had been handing it to Halliburton over the years. Anyway, those muthafuckas bought the Army and installed the Bush twins as queens.


NMN: Goddammit, Frat Boy! They’ve been dead for years. How many times do I have to tell you? If this game is going to work, we can only drink to new deaths.

Frat Boy hangs his head, disappointed.

FRAT BOY: Sorry.

NMN: Anyway, Queens Jenna and Barbara were installed. And that was the start of the monarchy. Unfortunately, they followed their father’s lead and hired polluters to oversee the environment.

FRAT BOY: Yeah, like Lee Raymond.

NMN: That’s right. After collecting $400 million to go the fuck home after using Exxon’s gas pumps to fuck a nation, Lee Raymond was bored. After all how many cigars can you light with hundred dollar bills before it just gets old?

“BROTHER”: Wait a minute. Didn’t you have him killed?

NMN: That’s an ugly accusation. But what the fuck? All the police are dead. Yeah, I had it done. That muthafucka should have taken me seriously when I told him I was going to shove all that money up his ass. Exxon and the other oil companies were fucking the American people from every direction. Energy crisis?! More like a crisis of decency. A crisis of muthafuckin’ morals! (suddenly sounding like Samuel L. Jackson) Yeah, Lee Raymond is dead. And I hope he burns in hell!

SKATER CHICK: But you drove an SUV. Why isn’t it your fault that the world is ending?

NMN: First of all, Skater Chick, fuck you! Don’t be comin’ at me like you ain’t got no fuckin’ sense just because it is the man-made end of days. Yeah, I drove an SUV. I bought the muthafucka in 2001. That was over twenty years after I sat in elementary school and listened to my teacher talk about alternative fuels and electric cars and solar power and a bunch of other shit that never came to fucking pass. For fuck’s sake, there was a gas crisis in ’79. Do you want to know what was done about the energy problems in the 22 years between the gas crisis and my SUV? Dick. Nada. Nothing. L’goose egg. And that’s because the car manufacturers and the muthafuckin’ oil magnates and the “for sale” politicians all greased each other’s palms and scratched each other’s back while they sentenced all of us to death. They flew in private jets. They were driven from here to there in town cars and limos. And what? I was supposed to pay ten grand over fucking sticker for technology that should have been available to me for years. I was supposed to drive my wife and twins around in a Prius like it was some niggafied clown car from the Univer-Soul Circus. Nah, man. Fuck that!

PA runs out and whispers in NMN’s ear.

NMN: I don’t give a fuck what the people at the MTV offices want. I’ll curse if I fucking want to curse. First of all, 1515 Broadway ain’t nothin’ but a fuckin’ people aquarium at this point. You know what? I’m out of here. There’s some brothers at Cape Canaveral who are looking to go to the moon. And one of their grandfathers used to read my blog. All those futuristic movies with nothing but white people and as it turns out, if it works, it’s gonna be with some niggas. That’s called irony. Did you learn that in school?

Frat Boy nods.

NMN presses a button on his watch and talks into it.

NMN: Let’s bounce like fake breasts.

A helicopter appears in the sky. NMN rushes to it and climbs in. The crowd looks on in amazement.

FRAT BOY: There hasn’t been any fuel for years. How…?

NMN: You ever heard of Soylent Green? Well, let’s just say that those Klansmen that died up here last week did not die in vain. See ya!

The helicopter pilot slumps over in his seat.


A hush falls over the crowd. The PA steps up and checks the pilot’s pulse.

PA: He’s…dead.


NMN bangs his head into his seat again and again.

NMN: Goddamn global warming!