Nothing Personal, Just Busyness

Great view of the New York City (NYC) skyline with a few high buildings and sun in the background.

“Feeling the New York City rush is rough.”


The month was August, and I was new to New York City. Up until this point, my only insight into Manhattan was the idea of what I thought I knew. My first experience of the big city was walking through the revolving glass doors into the Time Warner building located in Columbus Circle. With my exceptional Midwest courtesy, I figured I’d mosey my way through the doors. A tall gentleman about six feet five in height and rather stocky, barged in front of me. Thinking back to this instance, the experience made me highly upset. Who does that? Who muscles their way into a building without acknowledging the patron entering first? He gave me a slight smirk, as he turned his back to me. Once inside the building, I saw the sign which read, “Whole Foods.” The escalator led downstairs into the grocery store. The whole time on the escalator, all I could think about was how rude this guy was for pushing his way into the building. But then I realized, it wasn’t personal, just the busy movement of the city.

As I ascended on Whole Foods, the grocery store consisted of a plethora of selections. The prices were out of my range of affordability, coming from Southeastern Wisconsin, but I chose to purchase lunch nonetheless. Choosing from the variety of hot dishes, I waited patiently for the patrons to scoop their food into containers. I quickly learned my kindness was a weakness, as one-by-one people walked ahead of me. Wow, how could you not see me standing here? You saw me allow the lady to go first, being the gentleman that I am. Now be courteous to me, and allow me to retrieve my meal. Yet no one even made eye contact with me as they forged ahead. Once again, it was a feeling of nothing personal, just in a hurry. Eventually, I was able to choose my meal, and walked to the queuing system, which was colored coded to maintain order. This system was fair yet lengthy, as the television screen showed my color and register available. After paying for my $20 lunch, (yes, that’s right, for lunch, way more than I’m used to) I made my way out of the grocery store back into the Manhattan city streets.

Standing near the crosswalk, the light turned red. My attention shifted vertically as I became transfixed on the rich architectural structures. Next thing I knew, a wall of people came crashing from behind me, as well as in front of me. I felt as if I were caught in the middle of one of the occasional tornadoes I’ve experienced in small town Wisconsin. To keep from being a victim of the moving traffic, I crossed the street along with the pack. Once across the street, I thought to myself, “I’m pretty sure that light was red; who crosses on red?” No one acknowledged me, nor each other, as cars and bicyclist sped past who had the right away. But observing the scene, it was yet another case of, hey, nothing personal, just in a hurry.

Walking these mean streets, made me retreat to the underground. So I purchased my ticket from the metro machines in the subway system. Holding my single ticket, I walked through the turnstile and threw my ticket in the garbage. Standing near the yellow caution line, the train came barreling through the station. As the train came to a stop, I didn’t realized the barrage of people who emerged behind me. The train doors opened, feeling my body involuntarily move forward, I could tell it wasn’t all my bodily force. People were behind me, forging forward, for a chance at a spot on the train. I managed to get a seat, yet allowed an elderly woman the opportunity to rest her feet. She sat down, but there was no acknowledgement of me showing her courtesy. She sat down, without any regard for my kindness. The train ride left me flustered, as I rode the three train headed toward the Upper West Side, on my way home. Yet once again, none of the behavior was personal, just people getting where they had to go.

Once I got home, which at the time was a dorm room, I felt safe and secure. I had my television, my food, and my bed. The roommate was gone, and the room was all to myself. Contemplating about my first day experience in New York City, I thought to myself, “What a rude city?” At that moment, I turned to the local news. A fire broke out at a home in another borough, but the firefighting team risked their lives to extinguish it. Another story involved a car accident in which bystanders stepped in to assist the injured person. There was also a news story about how a child went missing from an elementary school, yet people quickly stepped in to find the missing child.

Then it dawned on me, New Yorkers are not any less compassionate than the rest of their fellow Americans; it’s just a busy city. I thought back to September 11, 2001, when citizens stepped in to help one another proceeding the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers, or even the helping hand from citizens to victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Complete strangers risked their own lives to save people they didn’t even know. Yet on any other day they might have walked passed these same individuals. It made me realize, it’s not because New Yorkers are rude or hateful; nothing personal, just busy. Busy with their jobs, busy caring for their children, busy in their marriages, busy in your personal lives. Don’t take it to heart because in the end, when faced with adversity and widespread disaster, the city is there for its fellow New Yorkers. 


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MAKING MOVES: SPORTS TEAMS THAT HAVE MOVED AND PLACES THAT NEED A FRANCHISE

“What’s with these sports moves?”
Growing up, there weren’t that many sports shake-ups regarding franchise moves. But, just in my small time as an adult, I have witnessed a few moves that were odd to me as well. There were the Vancouver Grizzlies to Memphis, Tennessee and the Charlotte Hornets to New Orleans, then Hornets to be renamed to Pelicans. Don’t forget the expansion team in Charlotte called the Bobcats. And how about the move from Seattle Supersonics to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now that’s just the NBA, don’t get me started on the NFL. In the past couple of years St. Louis Rams moved back to Los Angeles along with soon to be San Diego Chargers to LA. Oakland Raiders are now moving to Las Vegas. Well, why the moves?
In my opinion, the main reason for the moves are because of financial opportunities. Oakland Raiders might be able to make more money in Vegas than Oakland. Or how about the Supersonics leaving Seattle; could it be that more revenues are being generated in Oklahoma? Because to us as the fans, we just want to see our favorite sports teams play. But to the front office of these organizations, it’s a business like any other multinational organization. They are profit maximizing firms that must adhere to their bottom line. But, it is all about money for the moves? Or could there be another reason for the changes?
There is another reason, and that is that issues concerning the stadiums can run in excess of a lot of money. For instance, the team owners don’t own the stadium where they play. So there are a lot of tax dollars being allocated to these stadiums, and that means money from tax paying citizens. And if you’re a franchise that has not been winning games, you might have to move. People will grow to resent the organization because their money is being spent on a non winning team. Now, you ask, how does winning effect the economics of a city. Take Cleveland for instance, when Lebron James went to Miami, the city lost a lot of money. But later recouped money once he returned. Why, because local businesses were making money due to the Cavaliers winning. Places such as restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and hospitality services.
The third option for moves, are to build a new loyal fan base. When the Seattle Supersonics moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City Thunder, a new base was created. There is a whole generation that doesn’t even remember the Seattle team. And with the past few seasons making the playoffs, they have emerged in this new city as a basketball powerhouse. Could this be the direction more franchises go for? How about certain teams that should move? How about the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo, New York or how about when the New Jersey Nets came to Brooklyn, New York. Some of these places should move and it’s for their own benefit. More people are willing to jump on board, and the reach is not only in the city, but nationwide; along with global building. Trust and believe, Brooklyn, New York is a much bigger market for basketball than the state of New Jersey.
So overall, what now? Will we see even more moves in the years to come? Some of these teams are still in smaller markets. Markets that are not as attractive to people as the bigger places. Los Angeles is better than St. Louis and Las Vegas is better than Oakland. Now, not all moves are good, but for whatever the reason, dollars and cents are the bottom line. And will be the reason for changes unless there is a better deal for other reasons to stay.

STRIKEOUT!: Black Males Departure from Baseball

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“Where have they gone?”

It was April 15, 1947 when baseball player Jackie Robinson made his Major League debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. And for those of you who’ve been sleeping under a rock for the past 70 years, he broke the color barrier in baseball as the first African American to sign in the MLB (Major League Baseball). And for years proceeded numerous names popped up in the majors of Black males who would follow his path. Men such as: Willie Mays Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Reggie Jackson to Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, and Frank Thomas. But at some point the names slowed to a screeching halt; but why?

The departure of Black males from baseball is more sinister than you might have guessed. My theory that I have come to as to way Black men have departed from baseball is from the most unlikely of reasons: welfare. That’s right the welfare system had a lot to do with Black men exiting baseball. Now you wonder, why the welfare system. Well, let’s analyze baseball as a sport and what it means to men. Baseball is a sport that you learn to play with your father.

When a boy is young, he and his father go outside and toss the ball back and forth. It’s kind of reminiscent of a typical television commercial or feature film where the mother stares out the  kitchen window. She looks on at the little boy with his baseball mitt tossing the ball to his father. All the while, dad is giving son advice on how to properly catch and throw. From the house mom looks on and smiles as dad says, “Throw it like this son.” “That’s my boy.” Once play time is over, they walk into the house, dad’s arm around son in a loving embrace.

And for the longest the previous description was the face of the Black community. But as times got rough for families in financial straights, some men left the house. Meanwhile the majority stayed in their child or children’s lives. But the government came up with a solution for the moms whom the father had left the household. They stated, “To the Black community, we’ll give you mothers aid for the man not being present.” Then again, women were still rare in the workforce, so him leaving was a major blow to the family.

Well, as you would guess Black women received money, but for the man not being there. As for the houses where the men were present, they struggled as well. But the aid was not for families, but more so for struggling single moms. So in the homes where a Black man was present a plan was devised. He would say, “You (meaning to Black women), go downtown and tell them you need assistance.” “I’ll leave the house so when the social worker get here she won’t see me.” “As a matter of fact, I’ll remove evidence of any man living here.” And that’s what got the ball bouncing.

As you would guess, social worker came and he was not there. Now this was also a time of major racial divide and strife for Black men, so even though a man was present, Black men were denied employment. So with limited work options in this tumultuous time period, stress and depression opened Black men up to drugs and alcohol, as well as other hosts of problems. Still, there was a family to raise. Now for the most part a lot of Black men kept it together, performing odd jobs to make ends meet. But a day away from the house when the social worker came turned into a week. A week into a month, and so on. Eventually there was a full departure of Black men from the household.

This was problematic considering a new wave of trouble was about hit the Black community. And that wave would effect the Black community more than Jim Crow and that is narcotics. Fatherless homes made young Black males turn to creating gangs and cliquing with each other. They formed their own bonds and brotherhoods. With these brotherhoods, the rise of gangs took hold along with Heroine, then powder Cocaine, and next the Crack Cocaine Epidemic of the 1980’s into the 1990’s. Before you knew it inner cities went from quiet low key hard working family environments to crime infested killing fields.

Now you ask, how does baseball fit into all of this, the father. As Black men left the household, Black women were forced to work long hours, so they weren’t coming home playing catch with their sons. Boys were left alone in the world, forced to take on other sports that didn’t require having pop to play with; like football and basketball. Black boys in the community who formed various cliques would get a ball and go hooping with friends. Image result for 23 wallpaperBasketball courts turned into places for gambling and trash talking. Everyone wanted to be the biggest baller/trash talker for respect of their peers and onlookers.

The game of football would soon take hold as well where Black boys developed relationships with their coaches. The coaches would take the place of the father. What’s odd is that none of these boys got together and formed their own base to teach each other the game of baseball. Not in baseball, but they did in Image result for marshawn'football and basketball; but why? Well, for starters today, baseball, hockey, and golf are not only father son sports, but expensive as well. A lot of Black males are still growing up in poverty where finding a basketball and a court is cheaper than playing baseball. A football and a field is cheaper than baseball.

So what happened over time, Black men departed and Latin men entered, as well as White males who continued on strong in the sport. What’s shocking is that Black men fought the system so hard to play baseball. We took hatred in the form of being verbally abused, spit on from crowds, and even sent death threats to our homes. So today, we look back and go, what was all of that for; was it for nothing. What was the use of all that fighting if today we just vanish like we were never there. Will the greats who played eventually be forgotten like it never happened? Or will someone new come up and move aside football and basketball.

We have seen the talent from young up and coming juniors like Little League female phenom player Mo’ne Davis from South Philadelphia as well as the Jackie Robinson team out of Chicago, Illinois. But these are just the Cinderella stories we here from time to time. Stories that will continue to come and go, not remaining as long as the constant trend of fatherless homes stay the norm in the African American community.

It Cost What To Live In NYC!!!!

IMG_20150914_160034$39 per hour is the amount! $39 per hour is the minimum one must make to live comfortably on average in New York City. That is the amount per hour when observing over all five boroughs. Now when breaking down each individual borough it could be an even higher wage, especially if you live in Manhattan. And finding an apartment can be the worst, with landlords refusing to lease space to an occupant who isn’t making at least 30 – 40 times the rent amount. That’s right 30 -40 times, some places are as high as 50-60. This sounds ridiculous considering the average rent in New York City is approximately $3,000. So, you mean that if my rent is $3,000 per month. I must make in the range of $90,000 to $180,000 to pay for a basic apartment. Now, to add insult to injury, this doesn’t include the utilities, transportation, food, personal items, and God forbid you have children. In some neighborhoods upwards of $1 million income is still considered middle class. Whose making an income which allows themselves the ability to afford such a high priced city? I remember when I first went out into the city looking for apartments. There was one landlord who told me I must make at least 40 times the rent amount each month. Really, 40 times, ok, I’m not staying in that place. So what did I do, with my $9 per hour job and assistance from back home; I decided to rent a sublet.

And for those of you who don’t know what a sublet is, move to this city. In your city, a sublet may sound crazy, but not in New York City, especially living in Manhattan. Uh huh, I placed the key into the door of my sublet, turned the knob and for $900 per month I got myself a nice 150 – 200 square foot apartment. (Loud coughing noises) Oooo, pardon me, but when I was informed of this amount, coming from the Midwest I thought the broker was out of her mind. I pay how much for this here? They just say it like that, and with a straight face. I thought to myself $9 per hour for about 25 hours on the job and I got $900 before taxes each month. Then I asked my neighbor, how much she was paying for her spot because I’d rather have that one. She agreed to swap because she needed the extra space, so I now pay $750 for 90 square feet.

How nice, and to think there are more expensive, less spacious apartments in New York. There’s no wonder why the homeless population has risen so high over the recent years. Wages are remaining at an equilibrium while real estate is increasing. The question I need to ask is, who in the hell is purchasing in this city? I mean supply and demand drives a marketplace. If the prices are rising, is that the sign of more buyers coming into the market, right? I know what it is, those damn foreigners; that’s who. When looking at a country like China for instance, they have a middle class population the size of our country’s population; maybe that’s whose moving into the city driving the prices up. And let’s not forget all those Europeans flocking to New York City. You’ll see them if you come to New York City; with their Canon cameras and long lenses. They call themselves admiring the architecture and basking in the culture, but I know what they’re really up to in this city; they’re scouting. They are gazing at all the opportunities this city has to offer before piling in and moving us all out.

Whatever the case may be, New York City is not only expensive, it’s too damn expensive. Hell, at this rate I may have to resort to taking on a side job as a phone sex operator or gigolo; I hear they make descent money. Some people would say not to complain; living in New York City is a privilege not a right. No one is making you live here, and they would be right. This land we call America is vast and wide. Hell, I could throw a dart and land on any place I’d like to live. But you know what, I don’t want to live just anywhere. I love the masses of people, the culture, the variety of ethnic cuisines and diverse groups of people. I love seeing the models dressed in all Black with their portfolios in hand, running to their next shoot. Or how about the bright lights that make up Times Square. Oh, and what about long walks through Central Park, lounging in Herald Square, and people watching in Union Square. When thinking of the positives that come with the city they outweigh the negatives. Well, as expensive as the city may be, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I miss my city back in the Midwest, but would still keep my part-time job here and crappy apartment, for millions of dollars and a mansion back home. Wait, wait, wait, let me correct myself.; but would still keep my employment position here and studio apartment, for a little more income and living space back home.