Ten Things, Year by Year, To Expect By 2020

Today is December 31, 2009, the last day of the year and of the decade. That has a lot of television shows, newscasts, radio programs and blogs reminiscing over the past, detailing events that are no longer in our control.

I, however, want to take this opportunity to look forward. So in doing so, here are a few things I expect by 2020, year by year.

2010 – Political fallout.
Obviously, 2010 is just around the corner, so you probably don’t expect me to expect much in such a short time. Conversely, by the time 2010 is over, I expect the entire governing system to be in shambles. I know that’s not a very positive outlook, but I speak from the heart. With elections coming up in November, there is sure to be some reform enacted by American voters. That means more Democrats out and more Republicans in. Regardless of which party has power by the end of the year, it’s safe to say that neither party will have supreme control. Lacking the control in Congress, with a populist President, is going to make passing a bill harder than getting Martin Lawrence back on Saturday Night Live.

2011 – Darren Rowse will rule the media world.
For those of you who don’t know Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net, you will. He’s not the most entertaining guy, nor is he the most interesting, but he knows how to build followings and he knows how to make money off of them (he would have been a hell of a preacher). He runs a series of blogs, most notably “Pro Blogger,” in which he tells other people how to build good blogs. His face is on everything; from blogs and books to websites and ad campaigns. It’s only a matter of time before he’s making TV appearances in the U.S. and is giving you speeches at your Fortune 500 retreat. Believe me, Rowse is coming for you!

2012 – Palin Will Win the Republican Nomination.
It seems crazy to me, too. However, people love her. She just finished second in a poll of the most admirable Americans, behind only Bill freaking Clinton! Listen, I know there are a ton of people that dislike her, but most of those people wouldn’t have voted for her anyway. She’s beloved by her cult following, as proven by her record book sale numbers, and she’s got a way with words—no matter how misguiding they are. Believe it or not, “In Palin we Trust,” isn’t that far away from reality.

2013 – Barack Obama will be President Again.
If you thought a brotha was going to get in the White House and give it back to the man after just one go-around, you need to have another thought coming. With all that Palin talk, let’s not forget that there’s no way in the world that she’s beating Obama in a debate. With all due respect, I would buy stock in Saturday Night Live right now if I could, because the ratings they are going to get during that election season will break records. But who knows. By 2013, Obama may be the fodder of a few more punch lines himself.

2014 – Radio will die.
I love radio. I listen to the stuff everyday. It was a habit I picked up from having to sit at desk all day. Of course, I also worked in radio, so that probably fed my interest in it as well. That said, I don’t know anyone my age who listens to the stuff. Some people listen to it in cars, and I guess that is how it has always been. But with a big push to newer, leaner cars, and with incentives to get rid of clunkers, it’s all the more likely that new cars won’t have AM/FM radios anymore, opting for iPod docks and whatever the next generation of music creates.

2015 – Electric cars for everyone!
Speaking of cars, if we don’t have fully electric cars in 5 years, then we just don’t care. Seriously? How hard is it to make an electric car? The only thing slowing us down now is testing, testing and more testing. The monetary incentive to get all that testing over and done with will ramp up over the years, and somebody will figure out how to get these automobiles running on electrical energy—if not something even less problematic!

2016 – Americans will shift to a lower standard of living.
Sorry, but it’s going to happen. Economists are saying we won’t even get back to a level of 5% unemployment until around 2016. Even if that happens, and many aren’t sure that it will, it will only be because people aren’t looking for full-time jobs anymore. The fact is that China makes products more cheaply than we do, and that’s not going to change. We will have to go back to the days before we were such a global economy, when one parent mainly stayed at home and the other went to work for 12 hours a day. No more McMansions or intense credit card spending. Instead, America will go back to a time when we were actually prospering. Go figure?

2017 – College won’t be a child’s first option.
Because of that new economic outlook on life, I really believe college enrollment will decrease. I know this flies in the face of educational reform and the growing population, but given the craziness with which college costs rise and the diminishing returns graduates are getting on their degrees, people are really going to stop looking at college as the golden egg at the end of their high school careers.

2018 – Broadcast Primetime will be dead.
As someone considering a role in television, this prediction should scare me. Of course, I should qualify it to some degree. Primetime won’t be all the way dead. Plenty of live shows and reality programming will be available to amuse the masses from 8 to 10 at night. But all of those lovely, creative, awe-inspiring programs you watch on NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC? They’ll be gone. They just can’t afford them. By the time 2018 rolls around, those audiences will be long gone, and so will the advertising revenue. Shows on HBO, Bravo, Showtime, MTV and the like are already better than the shows you see on broadcast television. Thus, the big networks are really going to have to leverage their power otherwise, either by promoting their cable networks or integrating less-expensive shows into the digital world.

2019 – Harlem will look like Hell’s Kitchen.
And for my New Yorkers out there, you won’t have to wait until the Mayor’s anticipated NYC 2030 designation. By 2019, you will see some significant changes north of 96th Street. Anyone who lives in Central Harlem can already see the diversity that’s embarking on this part of the island. With condominiums being built like crazy, there’s no denying that certain demographics can better afford to buy housing than others. That’s going to mean a few more specialty grocery stores and several less fried chicken shacks in this part of town. I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad.

2020 – This goes into the next decade, so I won’t go into detail. But I will say four words. Facebook will own you!

Apparently, You’re Less Likely to Be Killed in New York City

No need to be weary, New Yorkers! You are safe!

One of the problems many parents have with letting their departing 18-year olds move to New York City is the metropolis’s history of crime. There was a time in this city when a New Yorker’s chances of getting murdered or victimized was higher than a black man’s chances of getting a cab ride to Brooklyn.

But all that time has come and gone. Since the city’s high murder tally in 1990, in which 2,245 people were killed, the murder rate in New York City has gotten lower and lower just about every year. And now in 2009, according to a report in the New York Times, the murder rate has reached its all-time low (since records were kept beginning in 1962) of just 461 murders through December 27th, as compared to the 522 peopled killed in 2008 and the 496 people killed in 2007, which is currently the record-low.

As I informed you earlier this summer, I moved out of Brooklyn this past May. Apparently, I improved my expected lifespan, as Brooklyn is by far the borough with the most homicides. So far this year, there have been 200 homicides in Brooklyn, nearly twice the amount of the borough with the second-most homicides, the Bronx, which had just 108 homicides as of December 27th. While Brooklyn’s sheer size and its dominating population certainly account for the excess homicides, I’m sure the drug cartel that was all but apparent in front of my building, and many others, has a lot to do with it.

Manhattan, on the other hand, is undoubtedly the safest borough in the city. Yes, its 58 murders this year trump that of Staten Island’s 16, but given that Manhattan’s population is more than 3 times larger than that of Staten Island’s, the murder rates are fairly equal, and the police force is much stronger in Manhattan. Of course, Harlem, my neighborhood, isn’t exactly the safest part of Manhattan. The safest parts were detailed in the NYTimes article:

The Central Park Precinct is the only one that has logged no homicides so far this year. The dozen that have had only one include the 123rd on the south shore of Staten Island; the 111th in Bayside, Queens; the 45th, in the northeast area of the Bronx that includes Co-op City, and the 50th, which covers Riverdale, Kingsbridge and other neighborhoods in the northwest Bronx; in Brooklyn, the 68th in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton, the 78th in Park Slope and the 84th, which includes Brooklyn Heights and Boerum Hill; and in Manhattan, the Fifth, in the Chinatown area, the Sixth, in the West Village, the 10th in Chelsea and parts of Midtown, the 13th, which covers Gramercy Park, and 30th in Hamilton Heights. – New York Times

But with so much apparent safety in New York City, do we lose our edge?

I don’t mean to sound crazy, nor am I trying to promote any kind of violence, but what happened to the days when it wasn’t safe to walk down street? What about the good old days when there were famous serial murderer names floating around, like the Son of Sam, “The Angelo,” and Seinfeld’s “the Lopper?” Remember the show New York Undercover? They can’t make television shows like that anymore. A show like that is much better suited for Baltimore, Detroit or New Orleans, where murders are actually on the rise. Now our shows should be more appropriately named, “CSI: NY Please,” “New York Undercover or Underblankets?” or the soon to be remade, “NYPD Who?”

No, I’m just playing. Of course, we’re better off when the streets are safer. Now we can send our dates home on the subway instead of paying for a cab. After all, we are in a recession.

Still, the most striking thing about the New York Times report, isn’t necessarily the drop in the murder rate, or the fact that Manhattan’s overall victimized crime rate is down. It’s the fact that 66% of those killed were killed by somebody they know. It just goes to show you that as safe as you feel around your New York friends and family, someone in the crew might be doing more than just killing you with kindness.

Why the uproar over "big bonuses?"

I understand that the American public is upset with executives of major banks that received TARP money and will get tremendous end-of-the-year bonuses. What I don’t understand is why they’re upset with the notion of big bonuses all-together. I’m the first guy out there who will hate on a brotha making too much money for doing way too little, but when you’re an executive at a major bank, you make big bucks, and that’s something the American public is going to have to deal with.

I wouldn’t even write this post if I legitimately thought that the only resentment for big-time bonuses was directed at banks that have yet to pay back their loans from the U.S. government, but it isn’t. First of all, those banks have restrictions on the big bonuses, so they couldn’t give them out if they wanted. And secondly, most of the vitriol is pointed at Goldman Sachs, a bank that has paid off its debt to the U.S. government.

I understand the sentiment that banks that have paid back their dues are only in existence because the government gave them money, and otherwise these banks and their executives would be out on the street. However, the reason the government gave them that money was to protect the investments that millions of people across this country have embedded with the B of As, Goldmans and AIGs of the world. Do you have any idea how many pensions, retirement funds and savings accounts are tied up with these banks? That’s why the government saved them—to save you!

Quite frankly, if it weren’t for individuals giving them money, these banks wouldn’t be in existence anyway. When we invest with these guys, use credit cards, get crazy mortgages and the like, we leave ourselves susceptible to their rise and fall. I don’t like it, which is why I can’t imagine myself voluntarily turning my money over to these banks, but many people do, and it’s the system we live in.

So when TARP money was lent to these banks in order to save them from extinction, I understood the ramifications. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded seeing them fail, “supposedly” that would have been bad for the economy, so I’ll let it go this time. That said, I didn’t have any misconceived notions that by lending banks money, these institutions would somehow turn over a new leaf. Actually, the government gave banks money so that they could get back to business as usual. Yes, the Obama administration will tell you that they want banking reform, but when they gave out money, they wanted that DOW back at 10,000 and they wanted money flowing, even if it meant returning to status quo…and that’s what happened.

And in order to return to the status quo, to get this nation’s economy back to being respectable, some of the old ways had to be carried over from prosperous times. So yes, big bonuses are still a part of Wall Street, and they always will be. They can be in different forms, whether it be restrictive stock or deferred payment, but the bonuses will be there. No bank wants to executives that don’t want to make money, and you don’t want your money being handled by someone without real motive to make your money grow. It’s how the system works, and rather than be mad about it, I take it for what it is—the vanity of capitalism.

Top 5 Brothas of the Year

While everyone is busy giving out awards that run the gambit, a quick little search on Google for “Black Man of the Year” fails to yield any significant results. So as a result, I thought I would compile my own little list.

Other than combing through the channels of my own mind, I didn’t do a ton of research on this, so I don’t claim to have the most comprehensive list there is. I also didn’t limit myself to people who were doing good. While I understand that the overriding connotation of “Man of the Year” represent someone doing good, I don’t think we should be so limiting. Thus, on my list you might see some characters that aren’t worth a damn in the opinions of some, but they do have a large impact on our society, and that’s why I chose them.

I’m sure I’m missing or forgetting somebody, but I’m only doing a list of 5 people. I hope others will chime in with their thoughts and opinions, as well as a few other suggestions. So without further adieu, and in no particular order, here are my five “Black Men of the Year.”

Tiger Woods – You can say what you want about Tiger Woods, but very rarely do you see a man on Tiger’s level go through the types of highs and lows that Tiger Woods went through in one calendar year. You’re talking about a man who earlier this year was dubbed the first billionaire athlete by Forbes Magazine. He also reaped his biggest year of endorsement money, going well over the $100 million mark, reportedly the most he has ever made in one year. He was named PGA player of the Year. He won the Fed Ex Cup. And the Associated Press has named him not player of the year, but player of the entire decade, in an era where sports has become a bigger part of society than ever before.

And then there was the cheating. Who knew, that Tiger Woods was getting it in on and off the golf course? This man was outted as a serial cheater, and now his wife appears to be on the verge of outing him from her life. In one two-week span of media blitzes, Woods went from being the perfect athlete, role model, endorser and family man to being the biggest jerk on earth. The funny thing is, he’s not the first man to go through this, and nor will he be the last. And despite the level of scrutiny that Tiger faces now, as long as he returns to the level of golf that got him named AP athlete of the decade, he’ll be back to selling golf equipment and endorsing gas-guzzling vehicles in no time.

Barack Obama – Barack’s biggest accomplishment really came in 2008 when he was elected President. In 2009, however, he has yet to surpass last year’s climax, and he has a long way to go before he’ll do so. Still, Obama has done more in one year then just about any black man in the history of the United States of America. From putting a timetable on Gitmo, to putting a time table on the war in Afghanistan, Obama is making is doing his best to eliminate any notion of George Bush from the public conscience.

Of course, Obama’s 2009 will best be remembered for his 6-month push to get health care reform passed. Whether you agree with the bill or not, and certainly I’m not impressed with it in the least, you have to admit that getting any type of health care bill passed in the face of 40 senators that want nothing to do with it is perhaps the biggest piece of legislation of the last 50 years, and there just happens to be a black behind its triumph. Amen to that.

Mike Vick – You might think my background in sports has contributed to Mike Vick’s inclusion on this list. After all, Vick doesn’t belong on the same list as the President of the United States, right? Wrong! In fact, 60 Minutes’ inclusion of Vick on their program this past summer only speaks to just how controversial and populous Mike Vick was in 2009. Of course, Vick was popular for all of the wrong reasons. His dog-killing past that brought legions of animal rights activists and women into the world of sports in 2007 did the same thing in 2009. But instead of the debate focusing on whether Vick would go to jail, the question in ’09 was what he would do when he got out of it.

After finally securing a spot on the Philadelphia Eagles roster, Vick was immediately deemed the devil by area-activists and by the national media as well. Many people said they would boycott Eagles games, protest in the front of the stadium and cast all types of aspersions on the Eagles franchise. But the only thing that materialized were a few boos in Vick’s first couple of games, and it’s been all gravy ever since. Still, Vick’s haven’t gone away. He has become a leading advocate to stop dog fighting in Philly and across the nation, and he has a new reality show set to debut on BET. And don’t you doubt for a second that only sports enthusiasts will be the ones tuning in.

Eric Holder – Obama didn’t waste anytime getting brothas into prominent positions of power with Erick Holder taking the position of the 82nd U.S. Attorney General as the first black man to ever hold down that title. Obviously, his designation had nothing to do with his skin color, as he previously served as the judge of the Superior Court of D.C., U.S. Attorney and U.S. Deputy Attorney General. This was just the next step in the path of greatness for a man that has already accomplished so much.

So what has Holder done since stepping in this position? He only gave one of the most controversial speeches that an Attorney General has ever given. ON February 18, 2009, Holder gave a speech on race relations in the United States saying, “Though race-related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion and though there remain many unresolved issues in this nation, we average Americans simply do not talk enough with each about race.” That comment and other stirred some people up, including Obama who backed off Holder’s comments himself. Still, it makes us all think about the kind of person that we have in a position that oversees the very department that has contributed to the plight of the black race for so long, the United States Department of Justice.

Michael Steele – Last and far from least, we have the RNC Chairman, and the man that serves as America’s anti-Obama. And even though I don’t have a single, black, liberal friend that considers Steele anything other than an Uncle Tom, the man still has a tremendous on effect on blacks and the American society as a whole. Steele leads a Republican party that is in desperate need of a singular voice. And while there are others who combat and challenge him for that leadership role, it stands to reason that when Steele talks, the GOP and the whole nation have to listen.

As I said before, Steele is the anti-Obama. Steele is against healthcare. He is against setting a time table in Afghanistan. He is pro-life. He’s against gay civil unions. He felt the need to apologize to Rush Limbaugh. And in 2004, he gave the counter speech to Obama’s 2004 speech as the keynote speaker for the Republican National Convention. Why do I bring all of this up? Because these are the very positions that keep black people from supporting Steele and his success with the “other” party. At the same time, however, his participation with the Republican Party has opened up many eyes and a few doors for black people to walk though. And who knows; by the end of Steele’s reign as RNC Chairman, there may be just enough blacks in the Republican Party to get the next GOP candidate into office. And who knows; that very candidate could be the very man who got blacks to open their minds to the idea of becoming a Republican.

So what do you think of the list? I can already think of a few people that were worthy, but who do you think I should have included?

My Search for a Barber: Intro

So I need a barber.

Badly.

Really, this isn’t anything new. Since I graduated from Columbia in 2006, I haven’t come across a barber that was my regular guy for more than a year.

While at school, I basically had 2 barbers during my 4 year span on campus. At the outset of my collegiate career, I went to 125th Street, where at levels, I had my hair cut by a Jamaican with some real talent. It was great, and quite frankly, he ranks among the top 3 barbers I have ever had, easily.

Then, one of my friends on my football team put me on to a guy giving haircuts on 116th for a lot cheaper than what I was paying on 125th. While I loved my barber at 125th, being on a student’s income had limited my haircuts to once a month. By making the switch to the guy on 116th, who was charging $8 less per cut, it was a lot easier for me stay fresh, and get fresh every 2 weeks. So I made the switch.

When I moved to Brooklyn after graduation, the search began. Actually, the first barber I went to, on Kingston Avenue, would wind up becoming the guy I went to throughout my years in Brooklyn, but I was never 100% satisfied with the cut. He got better with each and every haircut, but it wasn’t until my 3rd year in Brooklyn that I really became comfortable with him cutting my hair on the regular basis. During those first years, however, I experimented with 2 or 3 other guys, none of which worked out, making the barber on Kingston my official go to guy. He wasn’t the best, but at least when I left his shop, my haircut was fresh and people knew I had a haircut, which is more than I can say about the people cutting my hair.

At the beginning of last summer, I moved back to Manhattan, back uptown, back to Harlem, and back near Morningside Heights, where the campus of my alma mater is located. Naturally, one would think that I could go to the same barber shops that I had frequented during my many years in the area. But one would be wrong.

Right from jump, abandoning any ties to my de-facto regular Barber in Brooklyn (hey, a 1 hour train ride will do that to you), I went to the barber on 116th Street with whom I had last cut my hair when I was in college. I asked him for skin fade, the same hair cut I always get, and the brother gave me little if any reason to believe that he was the same guy who had cut my hair all those times back in college. Seriously! This guy must have cut my hair at least 2 dozen times before, and I never recall walking away so disappointed with his work. But when I let him cut my hair on this occasion, I almost wanted to throw up in my mouth when I got a good look at it in the mirror.

So, I also tried going back to the spot on 125th Street. As expected, the same guy who had cut my hair all those times before was long gone. However, I had gotten my haircut from other people there prior to deciding on a regular barber, so I knew this spot had a reputation and a knack for cutting hair that was unparalleled to most places in Harlem.

Wrong.

I got my hair cut by some barber there that apparently had no idea what he was doing. His fade (or my fade) didn’t fade at all. His edge up was whack. And he had the audacity to try and charge me for trimming my goatee without even asking me if I wanted him to do that—of course, I didn’t pay him for that. I walked out angry and frustrated, and couldn’t believe that neither of the two establishments I had went to were viable options for getting my haircut.

So I tried other spots.

And spot after spot—from the one right my own apartment building, to places too far to walk, but too short for a subway ride—I was disappointed by each and every haircut I got. This went on from May to where we stand now, here in December. In total, I have had 10 haircuts in 7 months time, which is far below my usual rate, but it’s hard to pony up that money with so much uncertainty hanging in the balance. I was so desperate for a good, decent, worthwhile haircut, that I actually let the guy from 116th give me simple Caesar cut, and he even messed that up.

Yes, he couldn’t get the Caesar right!

Now maybe it’s me. Maybe, I’m losing my hair and haircuts will never be the same. But there’s no evidence of that. I have yet to have someone tell me that my hair is thinning, nor has a barber told me that my cut is going to look a little uneven because of my hair. Not to mention, when ever I grow my hair (which has happened a lot over the past 7 months), my hair looks as full and robust as it usually does, so I have no reason to believe that hair is the issue.

So I move forward, continuing my quest for a regular barber that can give me the simple, skin fade that I want and used to attain so easily. So if you live in or near Central Harlem, and you know a barber that can cut a nice fade, holla at your boy! Because I can only go through so many more bad haircuts before that 1 hour subway ride back to Brooklyn starts to look a little less wearisome.

Comment of the Day – December 23, 2009

Today’s comment of the day comes from NakedWithSocksOn.com.

In case you didn’t check it out yesterday, Naked With Socks On posted a very compelling commentary on black men and their relationships with white women. All the brothas out there are probably very familiar with this topic, but anyone else outside of that fraternity ought to check out this blog post.

That said, a whimsical, young brotha on the site had this to say in response to the post:

A wise (drunk, shit talkin friend) man told me there’s three things black men cant get away with in this country. Killing white women (O.J.)… Making white women cry (Kanye)… And fooling white people (Tiger).

Now, I’m not saying there’s truth in what the brotha said, but I’m not saying he’s lying either.

Over the Weekend (OTW): Let is Snow!

My options for the weekend were numerous. I had the opportunity to go to the Knicks game on Friday night. I had a friend’s birthday celebration being celebrated downtown the same evening. On Saturday, I had been invited to a house party by a new acquaintance. And on Sunday, a bunch of friends were watching football all day at one of my favorite spots, 1849.

So which of these events did I take part in and which was I unable to grace with my presence?

Why don’t you ask Mother Nature that question?

On Friday, I had too many things to get done, so making a 7:30 tip-off time for the Knicks was out of the question. Plus, I’m not too keen on supporting losing teams, even if I get the tickets for free—it’s a principal thing.

So I spent the majority of Friday getting myself ready for all of the other many, and some unnamed, events I had on the agenda. This included getting a workout in, buying some groceries, going to the bank and getting a haircut. Once again, I’ll get more into my debacle of finding a barber for myself in this city at another time, but needless to say, by the end of my haircut, I was none too pleased that I had to see people later on that evening.

So after getting some work in and watching the tail-end of the Knicks game on television, I showed up for a friend’s birthday dinner and party about 2 hours late. To be fair, for some odd reason I thought the dinner wasn’t until 10pm, when in fact it was scheduled for 8. Clearly, I need that corrective-eye surgery as soon as possible. The dinner was being held at Azuki Sushi, one of my favorite places to eat, where sushi isn’t just fish, “it’s an experience.” But because of my late arrival, the very food that I had been anticipating all day long wasn’t available to me. People were just about ready to go when I got there, and I had no intentions of holding anyone up, so we left and went to a bar, where peopled laughed and drank the night away.

The place we were at (to be named at a later date) was okay. Not necessarily my scene, but we came with so many people that it really didn’t matter. I wasn’t the most acquainted person among the people there, and a lot of people dipped out early, so I followed their lead, and grabbed some of the best burgers in the world from Blue 9 on Third Avenue before getting home at about 2am.

When I got to the front of my building, stunningly and not so stunningly, my key wasn’t working. This is a problem that had occurred earlier in the day, my super knew about it, it worked later on that day, and thus I assumed it was fixed. But here I was, at 2am in the morning, in the frigid cold, and my key wasn’t working. I wasn’t going to ring anybody’s buzzer, because quite frankly, I don’t know my neighbors nearly well enough (if at all in some cases) to wake anyone up at that time of my night. And of course, my super wasn’t answering his phone. I walked over to some slabs of concrete and some grass that passes for a park in Harlem, and ate my burgers, and when I finished I tried my key again. This time it worked, and I finally got to sleep.

Saturday morning, I had plenty to do. As I mentioned, I had been invited to a house party, and so that was pretty much what I had intended on being my nightcap. But forecasts predicting snowfall in amounts not seen in New York in years were all over the place, so it was hard to plan my day around that event and the many errands I had to run, while snow was sure to interrupt me in some form or fashion.

Well, snow killed my Saturday. I wanted to go to the gym, but it closes early, and because I didn’t want to come out of the gym and open the door to a reality of a snow-trenched, and un-shoveled 125th Street, I passed. I wanted to go to Queens for the house-party, buy trekking my way all the way over there on a Subway system known to be slowed down by freaking leaves, had me questioning such an exodus. And any plans I had of actually going to a bar to watch the Dallas-Saints game were virtually nixed. After all, leaving the house to watch a football game, in weather that actually caused deaths over the weekend, didn’t seem like the smartest thing in the world to do. So ultimately, I spent Saturday night at the crib!

As for Sunday—well, with 1-foot of snow on the ground, and without any little kids of my own with which to go sledding in Central park with, I opted for a quick stint at the gym and took advantage of the last day to exercise my right to a $5.99 large pizza from Dominos.

That was my weekend in a nutshell. Sorry, I have no preposterous incidents or new reviews to bestow upon you, but the snow derailed my weekend like leaves on an MTA track. And so we’ll get it another go this weekend, as I spend Christmas in the City!

Sightings in Harlem: December 19, 2009

Okay, I don’t really have any pictures for these “so-called” sightings, so I will do my best to use as much imagery as I in describing some of the things I saw in the neighborhood today.

Old lady buying lingerie – Okay, so this isn’t exactly newsworthy, but I did see it, and I had really never seen it before. I was at Conway trying to buy some of the cheapest sweats I could by to work out in on my way to the gym, and while I was waiting in line, this old, overweight, black lady in her 60’s kept holding up this piece of pink lingerie, as she measured it up and down and pressed it against her body to get a feel for how it would look on her. While I know old people are having sex too, the image of her doing whatever it is she plans on doing in that piece of lingerie was quite disturbing. Not to say she doesn’t deserve to have some romance in her life, I just need to go to Foot Locker the next time I’m looking for workout pants.

The Delivery Man with no orders – Okay, so I’ve been going to barber shops in the hood all of my life (on a related note, see my latest series, “Search for a Barber”), but this was a first for me. I was at the barber shop, getting my hair cut and watching a bootleg copy of “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins,” when middle-aged, black man with a chef’s uniform walked into the barber shop with like 3 thermo-bags in his hands. Now mind you, I have seen almost everything there is to sell sold in a barber shop; bootleg movie, CDs, DVDs, posters, watches, jackets, comforters, jewelry, knives, guns, socks, gym memberships, and believe it or not, toilet paper.

However, this man in a chef’s uniform was selling something I had never seen sold in a barber shop in this manner. The dude was selling food! Granted, I have seen money exchanged for food in a barbershop, but it usually entails an order being placed, somebody going to pick it up, or something of a more traditional sort. But this guy apparently just goes from door to door, selling food he cooked at home to people in barbershops and other retail outlets in Harlem. His menu? Some of the usuals; bean soup, grilled salmon, gourmet chicken sandwiches, pasta, and fresh squeezed apple juice. Yes, the brother was bringing a finer taste to this side of 96th Street, but it will be a cold day in you know where before I buy food from a brother selling salmon platters as if he were a door to door salesman selling tube socks.

I Rebuke Thy Assertion: NYC Condoms Should Be Free!

Aren’t free things great?

Remember when you were little, and you used get “free” toys with your Happy Meal?

Or how about when you’re at a restaurant, and the waiter gives you something on the house?

We New Yorkers do our best to take advantage of free entry at the local museums, especially the Brooklyn Museum’s monthly Saturday Night shindig.

Frequent clubgoers love free open bars, which makes myopenbar.com the Holy Grail for starving artists in Williamsburg.

Of course, the best things in life are organically free, such as love, friendship and sex. And in college, whenever you could get a free meal it was the equivalent of an orgasm, because free food always seems to hit the spot.

But some people aren’t as happy about free things as you and I are. In fact, some people would tell you that programs giving things away for free should be stopped. Including those programs that help keep the organically free action of sex completely devoid of any monetary costs.

Danielle Alio, apparently of TheLoquitur.com, expressed her (I’m assuming Danielle is a she) opinion that condoms should not be given away for free. I came across her piece when I was researching perspectives on New York City’s condom wrapper design contest that is challenging New Yorkers to come up with designs for the $40 million or so condoms the city will disperse in 2010 free of charge. Needless to say, Alio’s perspective shocked me. Here are a few points from her piece. Don’t worry; I will dissect her argument piece by piece.

“In my opinion, giving out free condoms does not promote a healthy sex life in any way. I believe that the free distribution promotes promiscuity because it is making condoms easily accessible to everyone. It is almost like shouting to the world that everyone can have as much sex as possible without worrying about sexually transmitted diseases or unplanned pregnancies.” ~ Danielle Alio

Alio’s assertion that free condoms don’t promote a healthy sex is life is absurd. What do they promote? Unadulterated and unprotected sex? Please! Free condoms absolutely promote a healthy sex life, which is why governments across the world use the marketing of free condoms as a way to increase awareness of the protective value of condoms. The idea that giving away condoms somehow tells people to have sex without worrying about STDs and pregnancy is like saying free hand sanitizing pumps encourages people to not worry about contracting or spreading germs and viruses via their hands.

“Modern movies, music and television promote sexual promiscuity as “cool” and something to do because everyone else is doing it. I think that now having a free distribution of condoms supports all of the messages in today’s world that promiscuity is cool; therefore, they are now available to everyone so everyone can be placed in the same category.” ~ Danielle Alio

I agree with Alio on this to some degree. Giving out condoms for free, and encouraging a wrapper design contest on top of it, does make sex sound cool. However, in the process, it makes the use of condoms sound cool. And the fact is if movies and TV are going to continue to promote sex as a cool thing to do, then condoms should be promoted in the same way, since we know that sex is going to be well-receiver with or without the help of music and television.

“I also believe that handing out free condoms is like saying that one does not have to think through their actions or show responsibility because they are so easily accessible. I know that condoms are pretty expensive to purchase, but at least when they have to be bought, one can think through the purchase about what may or may not happen.” ~ Danielle Alio

This has to be one of Alio’s silliest points. Is she really serious? Giving away free condoms eliminates the thought process of sex? Au contraire, it actually enhances the thought process. I you have a free condom on your person when you are about to have sex, aren’t you more likely to use it than if you didn’t have one.

Free condoms are targeted for people who would otherwise buy them, because those people are already considering their safety. They are targeting people who wouldn’t necessarily go to the store to buy a condom, either out of a lack of money or a lack of concern, in order to make sure they have a condom on their person the next time they have sex. And even if they don’t, at least the act of receiving or being offered a condom would have that type of person thinking about condom usage.

“Because of these defective condoms, a countless number of unplanned pregnancies end in abortion each year. About 54 percent of women who have had abortions blame the pregnancy on a failed contraceptive. Sexually transmitted diseases are also easily spread. The most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States is the human papillomavirus also known as HPV in which a condom gives virtually no protection.” ~ Danielle Alio

Here’s where Alio’s agenda begins to kick in. Now she’s talking about how often condoms don’t work, as opposed to how they do work? I don’t need to see the stats to know that condoms prevent more STDs and pregnancies than allow for, but Alio doesn’t want to present those facts. She mentions how HPV is the most common STD in the US because of the condom’s lack of protection against it, but she fails to mention that the spread of many STDs, most notably HIV/AIDS, has been dropped significantly as condom use has become more and more prevalent.

In Alio’s piece, she also mentions how mass produced condoms given out for free are not safe, uses a Christian faith sponsored company as one of her resources, and asserts that Trojan condoms are safer than those given out businesses or schools. But here’s the kicker:

“I am not one of those people who are completely against sex. I am just against the idea of promiscuity, which in my opinion is defined as sleeping around with many different people and engaging in what is called the “one-night stand.” I believe that one should only engage in sexual acts with someone they trust and have deep feelings for. It also does not hurt to get tested for a sexually transmitted disease before possibly infecting one’s partner.” ~ Danielle Alio

First of all, Alio does appear to be one of those people who are completely against sex. Maybe not necessarily all sex, but one who is against young, unmarried, unadulterated sex many of us enjoy on the regular basis. However, Alio does admit to being against promiscuity. But why?

What’s wrong with promiscuity? All it really means is having many partners. Granted, that’s not the safest way to go about having sex, but having sex with one person for your entire life really isn’t the sign of these times, or the sign of times in decades, centuries and eras past.

But that’s not even the point.

The point is that condoms don’t promote promiscuity. Sure, they make condoms more accessible, but that doesn’t make sex any less accessible. Anybody who wants to have sex is going to have sex, whether or not they have to buy a condom. And in reality, people are going to have sex with or without a condom, even in casual cases. That’s the world we live in.

So, Alio, instead of being against free condoms, be against the non-use of condoms. Next thing you know, you will be telling us to close soup kitchens for the homeless because it encourages obesity, when the fact is that people have to eat, and as much you don’t want to hear this, people have to have sex, too.

You can read Danielle Alio’s piece in its entirety at TheLoquitur.com.