Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dear Bro. Obama

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

Dear Bro. Obama
Mr. President,
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First, I’d like to thank you so much for reaching out to the people and asking us what WE want for a change. That alone is a refreshing change from what we generally see from our government. So you’re already off to a great start in creating a new approach to governance.
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Now, with regard to my suggestion. It’s time to play hardball with the GOP. You’re doing an excellent job in office, but the primary reason that your detractors can gain traction among the less informed across the country is because it's attributable to the exact same quality that makes you so effective as president - your laid-back and thoughtful approach to dealing with issues. Your approach seems to be, "never try to out-scream ‘em, out-think ‘em instead," and I’m in full agreement with that approach. But unfortunately, there’s so much anger and impatience toward the GOP among some of the people that nuanced thinking is lost on them. Their frustration with the Republican Party makes them yearn for a hardcore response. That’s what they expected on day one of your administration. They’re spoiling for a fight, so they're not just interested in simply winning in the end, or prevailing on policy issues, they want to bust somebody in the head, and your intellectual approach to getting things done is frustrating that yearning.
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So while I think you, personally, should continue in the mode that you’ve established, at the same time, you should create a staff - housed right next door to the Oval Office - whose sole purpose is to debunk Republican disinformation. Then, whenever any Republican appears on the news to distort reality, he or she should be able to look forward to the next day’s news cycle being flooded with information not only debunking his or her words, but also, examining every action that he or she has engaged in during their career that tends to be in conflict with their current position. In short, you should parade their hypocrisy before the American people.
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If you would take that simple action, Mr. President, you would not only drive home to the people the GOP’s hypocrisy, but you would cause individual Republicans to run away from the cameras instead of stumbling all over one another to be the first one to present the latest Republican assault on reality. In addition, it would appease the thirst for blood among the people in your base, provide writers like myself with grist for our mill, and also give us an indication of what areas of investigation would bear the most fruit.
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So again, Mr. President, I’d like to thank you for reaching out to us, and I hope that you seriously consider my suggestion. It’s simple common sense, so I’m sure you’ll see the rationale behind it, because common sense is something that you've shown that you have in abundance.
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Eric L. Wattree
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http://www.whitehouse.gov/webform/digital-survey?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=etsend5-text2&utm_campaign=survey&emaddr=ewattree@gmail.com

Eric L. Wattree
Http://wattree.blogspot.com
Ewattree@Gmail.com
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
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Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Hustlers

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

THE HUSTLERS
______________________________
It is not my intent to promote living outside the law.   I’m against that - period.   But knowledge is power, and the fact is, the hustlers of my youth had a tremendous impact on my life, just as the current wannabes have on the lives of many Black youth today.  So I want to do two things in this piece - first, I want to make it clear to the Black youth of today that most of what they think of as "hustlers" were not anything like they're being portrayed in the media; and secondly, I want to give the wider audience a perspective on how these Black "renegades" are perceived by Black youth by allowing them to view these hustlers through the eyes of my youth.
________________________________


Many young people in "the hood" are fascinated by the mystique of the hustler. While I see education as the preferred mode of upward mobility, I can understand how the renegade persona of the hustler mystique has captured their imagination. But their idea of a hustler has been forged by the media, where they're portrayed as murderous sociopaths who specialized in victimizing the community. As a result, many young wannabes seem to feel that they have to run around ravaging the community to build their "street creds" as a bonafide hustler.
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VALDIE WATTREE
But that's not how old-school hustlers were at all. I know, because both me and my late wife, Val, were children of this culture. She was the niece of Big Joe Langford, a well known hustler in Los Angeles, and I was the son of Mac McClain (My maternal grandfather insisted that I wear his sir name so I wouldn't grow up with unnecessary baggage), and they brought Val and I together as teenagers (My mother, and Val's aunt).
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When Val and I were about to go on our first date, a gigolo by the name of Shelton called me earlier that day from out of the blue and said, "Hey Eric, I hear you and Valdie are hooking up.  I was just thinking, man, you know, that's Big Joe's niece, so you're gon' have to come strong. So check this out. Why don't I scrape me up a chauffeur's cap and swing by your pad tonight and we can pick her up in my Bentley? We can give her a night she'll never forget. Just leave it to me" - and that's exactly what happened. We were in good hands with Shelton, because as a male escort, that was what Shelton specialized in, showing women a good time. He did it for the Hollywood studios.  My father had given me forty dollars to take Val out, but I didn't have to spend a penny of it. Everything was taken care of.
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The night started with Shelton pulling up to Val's house with me sitting in the backseat, and then he went to Val's door and retrieved her.  Thereafter, he escorted her to the Bentley, and as he opened the backdoor to helped her in, he touched the front of his cap - and from that moment on, she got the Cinderella treatment all night long.  Essentially, this was Shelton's date, I was just along for the ride, and Val talked about that night until the day she died. She used to say, "That Shelton was the prettiest man I've ever seen in my life!" But that night, Big Joe made absolutely sure that what I smelled what'n cookin'.  I didn't realize that Shelton was actually our chaperone until I was grown. I had been what they called "finessed" by the best. But when I looked in Val's eyes, I knew it was just a matter of time - a very short time - because even now, long after her death, I'm still trying to live up to the man I saw reflected in her eyes.
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When Val and I got married at 19 and 21 years old, our wedding reception looked like a peacock's parade. And then when Kai and Eric was born, in spite of our young age - and the fact that I was penniless - we always lived under palm trees and at the edge of swing pools. We never wanted for anything. Every time money got tight, something seemed to fall out of the sky. The guy at the liquor would say, "Hey Eric, I need some help around here. How'd you like to come help me out in the evenings after you get off from work?"  And I mean, from out of the blue!  I had just come to get a drink., not a job, but I sure could use it, because while the price of rent in the "Jungle" was only $165 a month, that was twice what most were paying at the time - and it was considered outrageous for a 22 year-old.
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Then after I started working at the liquor store the local gangsters started coming in and selling me top-of-the-line ten-speed bikes for $15 a piece, which I would turn around and sell for a $100 dollars or more. I never bothered to inquire where they got them, but I knew they weren't being taken from kids, because they were brand spankin' new. Before long everybody in Baldwin Hills knew that if they wanted ten-speeds that I was the go-to guy. And again, this just started happening from out of the blue - and I was making a killin'!
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Then we were encouraged by Big Joe to enroll Kai and Eric in Windsor Hills Elementary School. As a result, they went to school with the children of doctors, lawyers, and politicians. And once they got there, they were assigned a teacher, Ms. Faye Armstrong, who became their PERMANENT teacher.  They didn't change teachers every year like most kids.  We got so close with Faye that we used to go to dinner together, and Kai became so close to her that she began to take on Faye's Texas drawl. By the time Kai graduated, Faye had her so sharp that she was doing her class' valedictorian speech.
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So I strongly suspect that something was at work here, because when I look back on it, Kai and Eric grew up like royalty. It seemed like even when I did something wrong, it somehow, miraculously, turned out right.  As a young man, I always wanted to think it was about what Val and I were doing right, but was it? Today I'm almost certain invisible hands were at work in the background, because the chances of two kids getting married at 19 and 21 years old and managing to raise two children into adulthood without hitting even ONE bump in the road severely challenges the odds of statistical probability. When we were raising Kai and Eric, we literally, never struggled. Life was one big party. Our home was a house with four kids in it, running itself . . . or so it seemed.


Kai Doing The Valedictorian Speech
So what these hustlers actually were, were flamboyant and bigger-than-life businessmen who didn't pay taxes - and that was during a time when Black people didn't have the opportunities that we have today. But, in spite of the fact they lived slightly outside the law, most were very responsible and caring people in many ways.
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Many of these people had a lot of class, wisdom, and knowledge. When my father was arrested and sent away, they came together and got my mother a job as a greeter at the world renowned Dynamite Jackson’s jazz club, and then, helped send her through nursing school. She later not only became a nurse, but a PA (Physician’s Assistant) - the closest you can come to a doctor, without actually becoming one - thanks to her close friend and mentor, Dr. Morris P. Atkins. They opened the 55th St Medical Group together. That's where I met Val. My mother hired her when Val was only 14 years old to send Christmas cards to the patients.
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In return for the assistance that my mother had been given by people in the community, when people in the neighborhood needed medical attention but couldn't afford to pay, my mother would treat them right there in our home - for free. And the community was good to her as well. A multi-faceted  hustler by the name of Big Eddie Carr pulled up one day with a huge box (I'll never forget Big Eddie; he was a very suave and elegant brother who used to always wear cummerbunds. He was also a singer - "It's Hard But It's Fair").  He told my mother, "Hey, Ver, I ran across this the other day and it had Verlee written all over it, so I thought I'd pick it up for you" - a FUR throw rug.  It became one of my mother's prize possessions - not only because it was so beautiful, but because Big Eddie was thoughtful enough to get it for her. And Buddy Cox, who dealt in clothing, kept me as clean as a young man could be in top-of-line slack suits.
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As early as junior high school I used to go to school dressed like a grown man.  I had acquired the hustlers' taste and style, so I used to go to school wearing expensive slack suits, Floresheim's, and jewelry - not gaudy and ostentatious stuff like you see today (quiet style was what it was about back then), but I dressed much too old for my years, and that caused me a few problems. It brought suspicion upon me, and I was looked upon by many of the staff as a bad influence on the "kids." Every time something went wrong at school they would come and pluck me out of class, even though I wouldn't know a thing about what was going on. And the irony was, I was probably one of the few students there that was there for the right reasons. The hustlers taught me to respect knowledge, so I was there trying to soak up everything I could get. But I was profiled, much like the hustlers themselves. None of the administrators liked my image, and that haunted me, and caused me a lot of trouble until I was 19 years old - but it also led to the event that changed my life.  
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So while old-school hustlers weren't all angels, and they were capable of emphasizing a point quite brutally when necessary - that was simply a matter of survival - that wasn't their preferred method of operation.  For the most part, they weren't vultures going around victimizing the community like they're often portrayed in the media. Many contributed to the community in many ways, including participating in assemblies and "May Day" parades that was put on by Holmes Ave. Elementary School. And I personally benefitted greatly from my exposure to them. They taught me a lot, which I try to pass on in my writings. So I look back upon them with much fondness.
 *
THIS IS WHAT IT WAS REALLY LIKE

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As I was strollin’ down memory lane, thinking about the old-school hustlers of my youth, I couldn't help but think about how different they were than many of the wannabes that we see around today. First, they weren't in it for show. They were hustling to maintain a lifestyle that society was doing it's very best to deny them.  No joggin’ suits, baseball caps and tennis shoes for these brothers, it was Florsheims  and very expensive Brooks Bros. suits all the way - and you’d never see ‘em in the same one for weeks. And they weren't loud and crude cutthroats. While they undoubtedly lived outside the law, they reflected a style that was all their own - elegant and laid back, although, with an edge that said to anyone with anything less than the purest of motives, "I not the one." 
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Billy Dee Williams would have fit right in with these brothers, because he has their persona down to the last digit. Their most pronounced characteristic was class and style, not brutish swagger as they're often portrayed. They were the product of an era where class was everything.  These were gentlemen . . . illegitimate businessmen. And again, unlike the young brothers you see today, they weren't in it for show. They were dead serious about what they did.
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My father explained it simply - it was all about surviving in a White man's world without having to carry a tin cup. It was about living with dignity. He told me that what he and his friends engaged in was no more criminal than what White business men do every day, within the law. He said, crime is robbery, theft, mayhem, and taking from others what doesn't belong to you. They didn't engage in that kind of activity. What he and his friends did was provide "services" for consenting adults, just like the White man does routinely, and legally, on a daily basis. According to my father, the only difference between what they did, and what the White man does is they don't have politicians in their pockets to sign off on it. So the crime wasn't what they did - the crime was not giving the White man his cut.
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My Father, Mac McClain, and Brother, Virgil, in 1966.
Mac was a good neighbor and loving father,

but he wasn't one to toy with. He had one mindset
for dealing with his neighbors, and another for dealing with
people on the street.
I remember how Ronnie, who was something of a hustler himself, would open up his barbershop just for them every Monday so they could get their domes laid. Monday was Hustler's Day at Ronnie's barbershop. The shop was closed for everybody else. What was funny about that, and the hustlers used to joke about it inside, was how the up-and-coming wannabes would try to get in there on Monday through hook-or-crook, because just managing to get their hair laid at Ronnie's on a Monday could make their reputation on the street. It would also allow them to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers, and maybe gain the attention of one of them, which meant a tremendous boost in both prestige, and pay grade.
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I recall how one Monday even a preacher tried to get in there. After Ronnie politely turned him away, they waited long enough for him to get out of earshot, then everybody fell-out laughing. Wakeen, who used to run "the book," said, in his slow and draggin' voice, "You should have let 'em in, Ron. He got more game than anybody in buildin' - and his game is Betty Crocker approved." Everybody started laughing. Then the ladies started telling stories about the good reverend. That taught me very early in life that no matter where you go, you just cannot escape politics.
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So every Monday around noon, the whole block would be lined with a row of shiny new hogs, and the beauticians who worked for Ronnie (only on Mondays) were the cream of the crop. They were the most fabulous sisters in the hood, and everyone of them smelled like a freshly picked rose after a Spring rain. I can still smell their aroma to this today. They were absolutely, the cream of the crop - they had to be - because they were servicing the royalty of the Black community.
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Robert Beck (Iceberg Slim) after he moved
to Los Angeles in the 60s.
 He was a little different - he had an East Coast
edge to him . . . a dangerous edge.
And these weren't silly wannabes with delusions of grandeur, trying to pattern themselves after someone they'd seen on television. These brothers were the real deal. They were the aristocrats of the darker side of the Black community, those who simply chose not to allow a racist society to hold them hostage. Any one of them could have thrived on Wall Street had they not been blessed with various hues of Black skin. And the community recognized this, so while many "mainstream" Black people weren't crazy about their lifestyle, they understood the rationale behind it. So the community not only accepted them, but they even treated them with a grudging respect and deferment.
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My father was a part of that lifestyle, but you would never have known it by the way I was treated as a child. When I was a young boy and visiting my dad, the neighbors wouldn't hesitate to whip my butt if they caught me doing something I wasn't suppose to do. I was treated just like the other kids in the neighborhood, because they knew they had nothing to fear from my dad. He reserved his wrath for the people who lived the street life.  
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Ronnie was a friend of the family, so during the Summer, every Monday at 11 a.m. I was headed for his shop. That was my hustle. Between working Ronnie's on Monday, and working the candy concession at Mr. Pierce's liquor store after school, I made a young boy’s fortune. At Ronnie's, just going back and forth to the store and taking messages around the corner to the various people who worked for these impressive brothers could fill my pockets up - all the way up - and all four of them.  But I didn’t just love the money, it was a thrill just being acknowledged by these bigger-than-life personalities who made such a huge impression on my life, and I'm not the least bit ashamed to admit it. Sometimes in my writings even today, I'll take on the persona of one of them to make a point, because they had a dry, bottom-line wit about them that cut straight through all  manner of bullshit. Listening to them taught me to look beneath a person's words and address the motive behind what he were saying. I also learned to never tap dance around the edges of an issue - get to the point. That's why I call my column "Beneath the Spin."
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One of the reasons I could see through Cornel West and that I'm so relentless against him in my column is due the words of a friend of my father that they used to call "Sweet Willie."  When I was about 16 years old he told me, "Never trust a brother who's always trying to be the coolest thing in the room, because he's using so much of his brain trying to maintain his image that there's nothing left for him to think with. The primary reason he's trying to be so cool in the first place is because he's insecure, which means that inside, even HE knows he ain't shit, and he's trying his best to hide that fact from the rest of the world.  It also means he scary, so if you're ever busted with him, he'll turn out to be a turncoat and a snitch every time."  And I began to read "Psych-Cybernetics," and later, majored in psychology in college based on the words of another hustler that they used to call "Genie Boy."  He told me, "The human mind was one of the most powerful forces in the known universe, so if you don't control it, it WILL control you." Later, as a student of psychology, I found that the words of both men were valid. Carl Jung, a protégé of Sigmund Freud said, everything we do, short of seeking to satisfy our homeostatic (biological) needs, we do in an attempt to reduce our feelings of insecurity.
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So yes, I really admired these people. I loved just hearing them say my name. It made me feel like I was a part of an inner circle, or a world that others couldn't gain access to - and indeed I was.  But I especially loved hearing those gorgeous and pretty-smelling women say my name - "Eric, honey, will you run around to the drug store and ask Mr. Reed to send me a large jar of this?" And then they'd hand me an empty jar of something. "Thank you, baby." How I loved that - especially when Harriett did it, and she'd rubbed her hand against my face or shoulder.
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Harriett was so beautiful that she didn't even look real. She was the finest and most refined of them all. She looked like someone had painted her. And when she moved she was so sensuous that as she walked, I imagined her thighs must've even made one another other feel good as they rubbed up against each other. That's right!  That woman was tough. Yet, she didn't even seem to notice how beautiful she was.  That's where the class came in.  Every man who knew her yearned for her, but they also knew not to cross the line, because Harriett wasn't the kind of woman that a man could just choose - she had to choose you.
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And Harriett was the one I knew best. We had a special relationship, because we had Jimmy in common. She was Jimmy's girlfriend, and how I envied him that accomplishment. But actually, it wasn't an accomplishment on Jimmy's part. Harriett just sort of dropped into his lap. Jimmy was a guy my father hired to teach me to play the saxophone. He had a serious heroin addition at the time, and he used to drink a lot too. So we'd see him nodded out in alleys and behind the pool hall, or getting sick and throwing up in public. So everybody used to look down on him - everybody, that is, accept Harriett. She went to high school with Jimmy, so you'd often see her waking him up, and scooping him up from behind the pool hall. He probably would have died if it weren't for Harriett, because his wife left him for another man, and she and the other dude would walk right past Jimmy nodded out somewhere without even looking down. So he didn't have anyone who gave a damn about him - except Harriett, the finest thing who ever lived. Go figure it.
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So just think about the character of that lady. Harriet was a woman who was so beautiful, sexy, and classy that she could, literally, get any man she wanted, at any station in life - in or out of the hood. Yet, she catered to the needs of a man who had been a dope fiend for years, and had degenerated to the point that he'd become the neighborhood joke. Jimmy wasn't simply at the bottom, the bottom was sitting on him.
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The situation with Jimmy was one of my first big eye-openers in life. Jimmy was a metaphor for the direction that many of our young people are headed for today. But Jimmy turned out to be a guy who had more character, more class, and much more talent than any of us (I tell his story in a link below). But when Jimmy was down and needed us most, we not only stepped over him, but laughed at him as we were doing it - and as young as I was, I was a big part of it. When it came to Jimmy, I was one of the most prolific practical jokers against him.  If I found him passed out somewhere, it seemed that I just couldn't get myself to pass by without playing some kind of practical joke on him, like tying his shoes together or something childish like that.  To this day I wonder if he knew that.  I'll never know, because he had so much class, that even if he did, he would have never let me know it. So as I sit here, I agonize over that decades later, because that miserable dope fiend ended up teaching me about everything I know about the importance of maintaining a sense of humanity, and he nurtured everything that sustains my life today.  But Harriett was the only one with the empathy to see the inhumanity in the way we treated Jimmy, and she had the courage of her convictions. She dropped lifelong friends over Jimmy, including Jimmy's wife - and I don't mean temporarily; I mean, permanently!  She even got on my ass over him once, but she gave me a pass because I was so young.
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But Harriett had the last laugh, because by the time that's being discussed here, Jimmy had become one of the most impressive and respected personalities in the community. While Jimmy wasn't a hustler, he could walk into Ronnie's any day of the week and command the respect of everybody in the place, and everybody loved seeing him coming - ESPECIALLY, if he had his gig bag slung across his shoulder. Harriett helped to make that happen - and not because she wanted him, but because she was a devoted friend. I think the only reason they ended up together was because Jimmy made such an impressive comeback, and so fast, that it made her fall in love with him, as it did the entire community, including his wayward wife - who USED to be Harriet's best friend, until she deserted Jimmy for another man and left him to die in the street. But when she deserted Jimmy, Harriet immediately dropped her as a friend, and due to Harriet's stature in the community, that meant Wanda also lost a lot of other "friends." She went from the A list to the Z list, almost overnight. The love between Harriett and Jimmy was one of those rare stories in the hood that had a happy ending. It was clear to everybody who knew them that Jimmy was the man that Harriett had been waiting for. It was also clear that Harriett was the woman who Jimmy needed. They were very happy and devoted to each other, because they DESERVED one another.  But that's another story - and a very tender one - but I digress.
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I used to hang on to every word of these ghetto aristocrats. I would listen to their stories, and live a vicarious life through theirs. But what I really loved most was their music. It literally painted a portrait of who they were. They’d fill Ronnie’s juke box up with coins and one monster after another would flow from it’s speakers - Miles, Trane, Bird, and they loved Jimmy Smith.  Areatha was the new kid on the block. She hadn’t really established which direction she was going at that time, but everybody assumed that she was going to be a jazz star, because the only thing by her on the juke box was "Sky Lark."
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Yeah, those were the days, but what I remember most was how suave and gracefully those enigmatic products of adversity would glide across the floor. With diamonds gleaming from their manicured fingers gently pinching the seam of their trousers, and the light altering the colors of their sharkskin suits, they seemed to be dancing on a cushion of air as they did the "Soft Shoe" to what they seemed to have adopted as their collective theme song - Killer Joe.
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No, we don't see nothing like 'em today, and I don't think we ever will again . . .  because they were the product of a bygone era - an era that I miss tremendously, and one that will continue to live, as long as I do.
The Eulipians
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Some of the greatest minds I've ever known
held court while sitting on empty milk crates
in the parking lot of ghetto liquor stores.
At their feet I embraced the love of knowledge,
And through their tutelage defined self-worth
In my own terms.
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These were the "Eulipians" — writers, poets,
musicians, hustlers, and uncommon drunks —
those shade-tree philosophers who
contemplate the fungus between the
toes of society;
Who danced with reckless abandon,
unfettered by formal inhibition,
through the presumptuous
speculation of the ages;
Who live in county jails, cardboard boxes,
alley ways, and luxury Apartments.
Insignificant here in Great Bruteland,
but of ultimate significance in the eyes of God.
.
While these obscure intellectuals
stood well outside the mainstream
of academy, I watched
with astonished delight as
they sang, scat, and scribed their various

philosophies into the mainstream of human knowledge.
.
Their philosophy?
knowledge is free, thus,
will transcend attempts
to be contained through barriers
of caste or privilege,
leaving man's innate thirst
for knowledge free to someday
overwhelm his passionate lust for stupidity.

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The Eulipians
http://wattree.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-eulipians.html
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So yes, I'm the quintessential hood rat, but if you think that your education from Harvard or Yale is superior to my own, I hereby challenge you to bring it on:
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THE HOOD RAT
.
Baby,
I’m sure you know that I love you.
You’re everything I need.
You fit the bill of all my desires,
a perfect match for all of my dreams.
From the moment I first laid eyes on you,
You were everything I craved -
that luscious vision
from across the tracks,
that delicate flower,
just beyond this hood rat's blade.
*
But what you ask is foreign to me.
You need something that I’m not.
You said, just tweak my nature a little bit,
and you’ll give everything you’ve got.
*
But that "tweak" you need is who I am -
it’s my essence, can’t you see?
So how can you speak of loving my soul,
yet, not the hood rat that makes me, me?
*
While "hood rat" may seem trite to you,
it’s the very essence of my being.
So forget about what other’s say,
here’s what it means to me:
*
I’ve been brutally dragged through the pits of hell,
yet, managed to survive,
well educated, and fully functional,
when I came out the other side.
I scrounged the lessons taught at Harvard -
because knowledge, I found, was free.
But they’ll never obtain the lessons I’ve learned -
or my knowledge of adversity.
*
While the "elite" may have heard a mournful Trane,
or Miles muted on a Summer night,
not in the context of hunger and pain,
or hopelessness, hatred, and blight.
*           
So while I've lived the life of a hood rat,
I’ve reaped a knowledge that money can't buy; 
a knowledge passed on to my son and daughter,
which has greatly enhanced their lives.
Thus, I wouldn't change a thing about my life -
I’ve faced hell and passed the test.
I have a PhD in adversity, and
it's made me much more,
rather than less.
*
So unlike the people at Harvard and Yale,
who try to buy intellectual clout,
they only study the genius of Miles and Trane,
while I'm who they’re talkin' about.
*
So when snobs try to slur me as "just a hood rat,"
I say, "thank you," and don’t take offense.
I take great pride in surviving the pits of Hell -
That’s what gives me my confidence.
*
The Ivy League degrees of those of means
are only paper compared to mine;
they merely have a "receipt"
for what's suppose o be  knowledge,
while my  knowledge is ETCHED in my mind.
*
I can TEACH philosophy to Aristotle and Plato
with the adversity that I’ve endured,
and any snob who seeks to match my wit,
will come up short, and
that’s for sure.
*
Snobs walk about quoting Socrates and such,
because through their "education" they are prone;
but while they’re spewing the thoughts of various dead men,
I spend my time developing my own.
*
Because we should never give the thoughts of ANY man,
living or dead, priority over our own;
collect the facts, and think for yourself,
that’s where
Harvard and Yale has gone wrong.
*
Preacher, politician, potentate or monk,
whatever their tale or point of view,
God didn't give them anything,
that he failed to also give you. 
*
And being seen as a hood rat has its advantages -
especially against racists of limited wit;
I simply quietly wait for their condescension,
then show ‘em that they ain’t shit.
*
God made birds to fly, fish to swim,
and man to think and that's the key.
So any man who claims to be superior
will have to PROVE his wit to me.
*
Thus, knowledge is the key to set us free -
it doesn’t matter what the people say,
and there’s nothing more formidable than
a knowledgeable hood rat, and
that’s what you’re looking upon today.
.
Yet, these are the things you want me to purge -
you want me to spurn the life I’ve led,
but I’m sorry, my love,
as much as I adore you,
the soul of a hood rat is my edge.
.

.
RELATED CONTENT
.
 Eric L. Wattree
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
.
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

Sphere: Related Content

The Hustlers

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

THE HUSTLERS
______________________________
It is not my intent to promote living outside the law.   I’m against that - period.   But knowledge is power, and the fact is, the hustlers of my youth had a tremendous impact on my life, just as the current wannabes have on the lives of many Black youth today.  So I want to do two things in this piece - first, I want to make it clear to the Black youth of today that most of what they think of as "hustlers" were not anything like they're being portrayed in the media; and secondly, I want to give the wider audience a perspective on how these Black "renegades" are perceived by Black youth by allowing them to view these hustlers through the eyes of my youth.
________________________________


Many young people in "the hood" are fascinated by the mystique of the hustler. While I see education as the preferred mode of upward mobility, I can understand how the renegade persona of the hustler mystique has captured their imagination. But their idea of a hustler has been forged by the media, where they're portrayed as murderous sociopaths who specialized in victimizing the community. As a result, many young wannabes seem to feel that they have to run around ravaging the community to build their "street creds" as a bonafide hustler.
.
VALDIE WATTREE
But that's not how old-school hustlers were at all. I know, because both me and my late wife, Val, were children of this culture. She was the niece of Big Joe Langford, a well known hustler in Los Angeles, and I was the son of Mac McClain (My maternal grandfather insisted that I wear his sir name so I wouldn't grow up with unnecessary baggage), and they brought Val and I together as teenagers (My mother, and Val's aunt).
.
When Val and I were about to go on our first date, a gigolo by the name of Shelton called me earlier that day from out of the blue and said, "Hey Eric, I hear you and Valdie are hooking up.  I was just thinking, man, you know, that's Big Joe's niece, so you're gon' have to come strong. So check this out. Why don't I scrape me up a chauffeur's cap and swing by your pad tonight and we can pick her up in my Bentley? We can give her a night she'll never forget. Just leave it to me" - and that's exactly what happened. We were in good hands with Shelton, because as a male escort, that was what Shelton specialized in, showing women a good time. He did it for the Hollywood studios.  My father had given me forty dollars to take Val out, but I didn't have to spend a penny of it. Everything was taken care of.
.
The night started with Shelton pulling up to Val's house with me sitting in the backseat, and then he went to Val's door and retrieved her.  Thereafter, he escorted her to the Bentley, and as he opened the backdoor to helped her in, he touched the front of his cap - and from that moment on, she got the Cinderella treatment all night long.  Essentially, this was Shelton's date, I was just along for the ride, and Val talked about that night until the day she died. She used to say, "That Shelton was the prettiest man I've ever seen in my life!" But that night, Big Joe made absolutely sure that what I smelled what'n cookin'.  I didn't realize that Shelton was actually our chaperone until I was grown. I had been what they called "finessed" by the best. But when I looked in Val's eyes, I knew it was just a matter of time - a very short time - because even now, long after her death, I'm still trying to live up to the man I saw reflected in her eyes.
.
When Val and I got married at 19 and 21 years old, our wedding reception looked like a peacock's parade. And then when Kai and Eric was born, in spite of our young age - and the fact that I was penniless - we always lived under palm trees and at the edge of swing pools. We never wanted for anything. Every time money got tight, something seemed to fall out of the sky. The guy at the liquor would say, "Hey Eric, I need some help around here. How'd you like to come help me out in the evenings after you get off from work?"  And I mean, from out of the blue!  I had just come to get a drink., not a job, but I sure could use it, because while the price of rent in the "Jungle" was only $165 a month, that was twice what most were paying at the time - and it was considered outrageous for a 22 year-old.
.
Then after I started working at the liquor store the local gangsters started coming in and selling me top-of-the-line ten-speed bikes for $15 a piece, which I would turn around and sell for a $100 dollars or more. I never bothered to inquire where they got them, but I knew they weren't being taken from kids, because they were brand spankin' new. Before long everybody in Baldwin Hills knew that if they wanted ten-speeds that I was the go-to guy. And again, this just started happening from out of the blue - and I was making a killin'!
.
Then we were encouraged by Big Joe to enroll Kai and Eric in Windsor Hills Elementary School. As a result, they went to school with the children of doctors, lawyers, and politicians. And once they got there, they were assigned a teacher, Ms. Faye Armstrong, who became their PERMANENT teacher.  They didn't change teachers every year like most kids.  We got so close with Faye that we used to go to dinner together, and Kai became so close to her that she began to take on Faye's Texas drawl. By the time Kai graduated, Faye had her so sharp that she was doing her class' valedictorian speech.
.
So I strongly suspect that something was at work here, because when I look back on it, Kai and Eric grew up like royalty. It seemed like even when I did something wrong, it somehow, miraculously, turned out right.  As a young man, I always wanted to think it was about what Val and I were doing right, but was it? Today I'm almost certain invisible hands were at work in the background, because the chances of two kids getting married at 19 and 21 years old and managing to raise two children into adulthood without hitting even ONE bump in the road severely challenges the odds of statistical probability. When we were raising Kai and Eric, we literally, never struggled. Life was one big party. Our home was a house with four kids in it, running itself . . . or so it seemed.


Kai Doing The Valedictorian Speech
So what these hustlers actually were, were flamboyant and bigger-than-life businessmen who didn't pay taxes - and that was during a time when Black people didn't have the opportunities that we have today. But, in spite of the fact they lived slightly outside the law, most were very responsible and caring people in many ways.
.
Many of these people had a lot of class, wisdom, and knowledge. When my father was arrested and sent away, they came together and got my mother a job as a greeter at the world renowned Dynamite Jackson’s jazz club, and then, helped send her through nursing school. She later not only became a nurse, but a PA (Physician’s Assistant) - the closest you can come to a doctor, without actually becoming one - thanks to her close friend and mentor, Dr. Morris P. Atkins. They opened the 55th St Medical Group together. That's where I met Val. My mother hired her when Val was only 14 years old to send Christmas cards to the patients.
.
In return for the assistance that my mother had been given by people in the community, when people in the neighborhood needed medical attention but couldn't afford to pay, my mother would treat them right there in our home - for free. And the community was good to her as well. A multi-faceted  hustler by the name of Big Eddie Carr pulled up one day with a huge box (I'll never forget Big Eddie; he was a very suave and elegant brother who used to always wear cummerbunds. He was also a singer - "It's Hard But It's Fair").  He told my mother, "Hey, Ver, I ran across this the other day and it had Verlee written all over it, so I thought I'd pick it up for you" - a FUR throw rug.  It became one of my mother's prize possessions - not only because it was so beautiful, but because Big Eddie was thoughtful enough to get it for her. And Buddy Cox, who dealt in clothing, kept me as clean as a young man could be in top-of-line slack suits.
.
As early as junior high school I used to go to school dressed like a grown man.  I had acquired the hustlers' taste and style, so I used to go to school wearing expensive slack suits, Floresheim's, and jewelry - not gaudy and ostentatious stuff like you see today (quiet style was what it was about back then), but I dressed much too old for my years, and that caused me a few problems. It brought suspicion upon me, and I was looked upon by many of the staff as a bad influence on the "kids." Every time something went wrong at school they would come and pluck me out of class, even though I wouldn't know a thing about what was going on. And the irony was, I was probably one of the few students there that was there for the right reasons. The hustlers taught me to respect knowledge, so I was there trying to soak up everything I could get. But I was profiled, much like the hustlers themselves. None of the administrators liked my image, and that haunted me, and caused me a lot of trouble until I was 19 years old - but it also led to the event that changed my life.  
.
So while old-school hustlers weren't all angels, and they were capable of emphasizing a point quite brutally when necessary - that was simply a matter of survival - that wasn't their preferred method of operation.  For the most part, they weren't vultures going around victimizing the community like they're often portrayed in the media. Many contributed to the community in many ways, including participating in assemblies and "May Day" parades that was put on by Holmes Ave. Elementary School. And I personally benefitted greatly from my exposure to them. They taught me a lot, which I try to pass on in my writings. So I look back upon them with much fondness.
 *
THIS IS WHAT IT WAS REALLY LIKE

.
So as I was strollin’ down memory lane, thinking about the old-school hustlers of my youth, I couldn't help but think about how different they were than many of the wannabes that we see around today. First, they weren't in it for show. They were hustling to maintain a lifestyle that society was doing it's very best to deny them.  No joggin’ suits, baseball caps and tennis shoes for these brothers, it was Florsheims  and very expensive Brooks Bros. suits all the way - and you’d never see ‘em in the same one for weeks. And they weren't loud and crude cutthroats. While they undoubtedly lived outside the law, they reflected a style that was all their own - elegant and laid back, although, with an edge that said to anyone with anything less than the purest of motives, "I not the one." 
.
Billy Dee Williams would have fit right in with these brothers, because he has their persona down to the last digit. Their most pronounced characteristic was class and style, not brutish swagger as they're often portrayed. They were the product of an era where class was everything.  These were gentlemen . . . illegitimate businessmen. And again, unlike the young brothers you see today, they weren't in it for show. They were dead serious about what they did.
.
My father explained it simply - it was all about surviving in a White man's world without having to carry a tin cup. It was about living with dignity. He told me that what he and his friends engaged in was no more criminal than what White business men do every day, within the law. He said, crime is robbery, theft, mayhem, and taking from others what doesn't belong to you. They didn't engage in that kind of activity. What he and his friends did was provide "services" for consenting adults, just like the White man does routinely, and legally, on a daily basis. According to my father, the only difference between what they did, and what the White man does is they don't have politicians in their pockets to sign off on it. So the crime wasn't what they did - the crime was not giving the White man his cut.
.
My Father, Mac McClain, and Brother, Virgil, in 1966.
Mac was a good neighbor and loving father,

but he wasn't one to toy with. He had one mindset
for dealing with his neighbors, and another for dealing with
people on the street.
I remember how Ronnie, who was something of a hustler himself, would open up his barbershop just for them every Monday so they could get their domes laid. Monday was Hustler's Day at Ronnie's barbershop. The shop was closed for everybody else. What was funny about that, and the hustlers used to joke about it inside, was how the up-and-coming wannabes would try to get in there on Monday through hook-or-crook, because just managing to get their hair laid at Ronnie's on a Monday could make their reputation on the street. It would also allow them to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers, and maybe gain the attention of one of them, which meant a tremendous boost in both prestige, and pay grade.
.
I recall how one Monday even a preacher tried to get in there. After Ronnie politely turned him away, they waited long enough for him to get out of earshot, then everybody fell-out laughing. Wakeen, who used to run "the book," said, in his slow and draggin' voice, "You should have let 'em in, Ron. He got more game than anybody in buildin' - and his game is Betty Crocker approved." Everybody started laughing. Then the ladies started telling stories about the good reverend. That taught me very early in life that no matter where you go, you just cannot escape politics.
.
So every Monday around noon, the whole block would be lined with a row of shiny new hogs, and the beauticians who worked for Ronnie (only on Mondays) were the cream of the crop. They were the most fabulous sisters in the hood, and everyone of them smelled like a freshly picked rose after a Spring rain. I can still smell their aroma to this today. They were absolutely, the cream of the crop - they had to be - because they were servicing the royalty of the Black community.
.
Robert Beck (Iceberg Slim) after he moved
to Los Angeles in the 60s.
 He was a little different - he had an East Coast
edge to him . . . a dangerous edge.
And these weren't silly wannabes with delusions of grandeur, trying to pattern themselves after someone they'd seen on television. These brothers were the real deal. They were the aristocrats of the darker side of the Black community, those who simply chose not to allow a racist society to hold them hostage. Any one of them could have thrived on Wall Street had they not been blessed with various hues of Black skin. And the community recognized this, so while many "mainstream" Black people weren't crazy about their lifestyle, they understood the rationale behind it. So the community not only accepted them, but they even treated them with a grudging respect and deferment.
.
My father was a part of that lifestyle, but you would never have known it by the way I was treated as a child. When I was a young boy and visiting my dad, the neighbors wouldn't hesitate to whip my butt if they caught me doing something I wasn't suppose to do. I was treated just like the other kids in the neighborhood, because they knew they had nothing to fear from my dad. He reserved his wrath for the people who lived the street life.  
.
Ronnie was a friend of the family, so during the Summer, every Monday at 11 a.m. I was headed for his shop. That was my hustle. Between working Ronnie's on Monday, and working the candy concession at Mr. Pierce's liquor store after school, I made a young boy’s fortune. At Ronnie's, just going back and forth to the store and taking messages around the corner to the various people who worked for these impressive brothers could fill my pockets up - all the way up - and all four of them.  But I didn’t just love the money, it was a thrill just being acknowledged by these bigger-than-life personalities who made such a huge impression on my life, and I'm not the least bit ashamed to admit it. Sometimes in my writings even today, I'll take on the persona of one of them to make a point, because they had a dry, bottom-line wit about them that cut straight through all  manner of bullshit. Listening to them taught me to look beneath a person's words and address the motive behind what he were saying. I also learned to never tap dance around the edges of an issue - get to the point. That's why I call my column "Beneath the Spin."
.
One of the reasons I could see through Cornel West and that I'm so relentless against him in my column is due the words of a friend of my father that they used to call "Sweet Willie."  When I was about 16 years old he told me, "Never trust a brother who's always trying to be the coolest thing in the room, because he's using so much of his brain trying to maintain his image that there's nothing left for him to think with. The primary reason he's trying to be so cool in the first place is because he's insecure, which means that inside, even HE knows he ain't shit, and he's trying his best to hide that fact from the rest of the world.  It also means he scary, so if you're ever busted with him, he'll turn out to be a turncoat and a snitch every time."  And I began to read "Psych-Cybernetics," and later, majored in psychology in college based on the words of another hustler that they used to call "Genie Boy."  He told me, "The human mind was one of the most powerful forces in the known universe, so if you don't control it, it WILL control you." Later, as a student of psychology, I found that the words of both men were valid. Carl Jung, a protégé of Sigmund Freud said, everything we do, short of seeking to satisfy our homeostatic (biological) needs, we do in an attempt to reduce our feelings of insecurity.
.
So yes, I really admired these people. I loved just hearing them say my name. It made me feel like I was a part of an inner circle, or a world that others couldn't gain access to - and indeed I was.  But I especially loved hearing those gorgeous and pretty-smelling women say my name - "Eric, honey, will you run around to the drug store and ask Mr. Reed to send me a large jar of this?" And then they'd hand me an empty jar of something. "Thank you, baby." How I loved that - especially when Harriett did it, and she'd rubbed her hand against my face or shoulder.
.
Harriett was so beautiful that she didn't even look real. She was the finest and most refined of them all. She looked like someone had painted her. And when she moved she was so sensuous that as she walked, I imagined her thighs must've even made one another other feel good as they rubbed up against each other. That's right!  That woman was tough. Yet, she didn't even seem to notice how beautiful she was.  That's where the class came in.  Every man who knew her yearned for her, but they also knew not to cross the line, because Harriett wasn't the kind of woman that a man could just choose - she had to choose you.
.
And Harriett was the one I knew best. We had a special relationship, because we had Jimmy in common. She was Jimmy's girlfriend, and how I envied him that accomplishment. But actually, it wasn't an accomplishment on Jimmy's part. Harriett just sort of dropped into his lap. Jimmy was a guy my father hired to teach me to play the saxophone. He had a serious heroin addition at the time, and he used to drink a lot too. So we'd see him nodded out in alleys and behind the pool hall, or getting sick and throwing up in public. So everybody used to look down on him - everybody, that is, accept Harriett. She went to high school with Jimmy, so you'd often see her waking him up, and scooping him up from behind the pool hall. He probably would have died if it weren't for Harriett, because his wife left him for another man, and she and the other dude would walk right past Jimmy nodded out somewhere without even looking down. So he didn't have anyone who gave a damn about him - except Harriett, the finest thing who ever lived. Go figure it.
.
So just think about the character of that lady. Harriet was a woman who was so beautiful, sexy, and classy that she could, literally, get any man she wanted, at any station in life - in or out of the hood. Yet, she catered to the needs of a man who had been a dope fiend for years, and had degenerated to the point that he'd become the neighborhood joke. Jimmy wasn't simply at the bottom, the bottom was sitting on him.
.
The situation with Jimmy was one of my first big eye-openers in life. Jimmy was a metaphor for the direction that many of our young people are headed for today. But Jimmy turned out to be a guy who had more character, more class, and much more talent than any of us (I tell his story in a link below). But when Jimmy was down and needed us most, we not only stepped over him, but laughed at him as we were doing it - and as young as I was, I was a big part of it. When it came to Jimmy, I was one of the most prolific practical jokers against him.  If I found him passed out somewhere, it seemed that I just couldn't get myself to pass by without playing some kind of practical joke on him, like tying his shoes together or something childish like that.  To this day I wonder if he knew that.  I'll never know, because he had so much class, that even if he did, he would have never let me know it. So as I sit here, I agonize over that decades later, because that miserable dope fiend ended up teaching me about everything I know about the importance of maintaining a sense of humanity, and he nurtured everything that sustains my life today.  But Harriett was the only one with the empathy to see the inhumanity in the way we treated Jimmy, and she had the courage of her convictions. She dropped lifelong friends over Jimmy, including Jimmy's wife - and I don't mean temporarily; I mean, permanently!  She even got on my ass over him once, but she gave me a pass because I was so young.
.
But Harriett had the last laugh, because by the time that's being discussed here, Jimmy had become one of the most impressive and respected personalities in the community. While Jimmy wasn't a hustler, he could walk into Ronnie's any day of the week and command the respect of everybody in the place, and everybody loved seeing him coming - ESPECIALLY, if he had his gig bag slung across his shoulder. Harriett helped to make that happen - and not because she wanted him, but because she was a devoted friend. I think the only reason they ended up together was because Jimmy made such an impressive comeback, and so fast, that it made her fall in love with him, as it did the entire community, including his wayward wife - who USED to be Harriet's best friend, until she deserted Jimmy for another man and left him to die in the street. But when she deserted Jimmy, Harriet immediately dropped her as a friend, and due to Harriet's stature in the community, that meant Wanda also lost a lot of other "friends." She went from the A list to the Z list, almost overnight. The love between Harriett and Jimmy was one of those rare stories in the hood that had a happy ending. It was clear to everybody who knew them that Jimmy was the man that Harriett had been waiting for. It was also clear that Harriett was the woman who Jimmy needed. They were very happy and devoted to each other, because they DESERVED one another.  But that's another story - and a very tender one - but I digress.
.
I used to hang on to every word of these ghetto aristocrats. I would listen to their stories, and live a vicarious life through theirs. But what I really loved most was their music. It literally painted a portrait of who they were. They’d fill Ronnie’s juke box up with coins and one monster after another would flow from it’s speakers - Miles, Trane, Bird, and they loved Jimmy Smith.  Areatha was the new kid on the block. She hadn’t really established which direction she was going at that time, but everybody assumed that she was going to be a jazz star, because the only thing by her on the juke box was "Sky Lark."
.
Yeah, those were the days, but what I remember most was how suave and gracefully those enigmatic products of adversity would glide across the floor. With diamonds gleaming from their manicured fingers gently pinching the seam of their trousers, and the light altering the colors of their sharkskin suits, they seemed to be dancing on a cushion of air as they did the "Soft Shoe" to what they seemed to have adopted as their collective theme song - Killer Joe.
.

.
No, we don't see nothing like 'em today, and I don't think we ever will again . . .  because they were the product of a bygone era - an era that I miss tremendously, and one that will continue to live, as long as I do.
The Eulipians
.
Some of the greatest minds I've ever known
held court while sitting on empty milk crates
in the parking lot of ghetto liquor stores.
At their feet I embraced the love of knowledge,
And through their tutelage defined self-worth
In my own terms.
.

These were the "Eulipians" — writers, poets,
musicians, hustlers, and uncommon drunks —
those shade-tree philosophers who
contemplate the fungus between the
toes of society;
Who danced with reckless abandon,
unfettered by formal inhibition,
through the presumptuous
speculation of the ages;
Who live in county jails, cardboard boxes,
alley ways, and luxury Apartments.
Insignificant here in Great Bruteland,
but of ultimate significance in the eyes of God.
.
While these obscure intellectuals
stood well outside the mainstream
of academy, I watched
with astonished delight as
they sang, scat, and scribed their various

philosophies into the mainstream of human knowledge.
.
Their philosophy?
knowledge is free, thus,
will transcend attempts
to be contained through barriers
of caste or privilege,
leaving man's innate thirst
for knowledge free to someday
overwhelm his passionate lust for stupidity.

.
The Eulipians
http://wattree.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-eulipians.html
.

.
RELATED CONTENT
.
 Eric L. Wattree
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
.
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

Sphere: Related Content

A Message to Dr. Boyce Watkins

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree
A Message to Dr. Boyce Watkins
.
Dr. Boyce Watkins said the following:
.

If You Really Love Your People, Why Not Share
This Knowledge With Them Over the Internet -
For Free?

"One place to start might be with the political neutering of Dr. Martin Luther King, who was a radical freedom fighter who has been reduced to a snippet in a McDonald’s commercial. Dr. Cornel West has taken issue with the morphing of Dr. King and is speaking regularly to resurrect the real Dr. King from the spiritual grave. Despite being hit by propaganda of the worst kind (most of those who try to write off Dr. West as worthless aren’t actually listening to his speeches), Cornel West continues with a kind of persistence that has to be admired. If anything were to undermine the legacy of this extraordinary scholar, it would be that the purity of truth is just too much to digest in a world that is built on hurtful and ugly lies."
 
.
Dr. Watkins, there are none so blind as those who refuse to see.
.
The Black community wasn’t doing great under Clinton, but we were doing a lot better than we are today. And one of the primary reasons that we find ourselves in the condition that we’re currently in is during the 2000 election Ralph Nader and Cornel West teamed up and got Bush elected.
.
Clinton’s vice President, Al Gore, lost the 2000 election to Bush in Florida by 537 votes, and the Nader/West coalition peeled off 97,488 votes from Gore in Florida alone. So, again, West is one of the big reasons that the Black community is in the shape that it’s in today. Under Bush, the country was hemorrhaging 850,000 jobs a month. So by criticizing Obama about the condition of the country, Cornel West is like a guy who walks into a restaurant and shits on the floor, and then calls the Health Department because the owner can’t get it up fast enough. 
.
And please keep this in mind - the worse the Black community is doing, the more money that Tavis and West make talking about it, because Tavis owns a publishing company where he and West write books about it, a production company, where he and West do televisions shows about it, and he owns a speakers bureau, where Cornel West makes $30,000 a speech just to talk about the Black misery that he helped to create.
.
It’s easy for West to espouse his intellectually pure, but existentially impractical ideals that divide the people by advocating that we be so demanding of the Bogeyman that we promote the Devil. He doesn’t have to live with the disastrous results. Once he and Ralph Nader helped to get Bush elected in 2000, West simply slithered back into his Ivy League cocoon while the Black community went through eight years of pure Hell under Bush, and continue to suffer the consequences.
.
In addition, Cornel West preaches a better sermon than he’s willing to live. In spite of all of his rhetoric about his love for Black people and the community, he's never taught at one Black school, or even a school that the majority of young Black people can even afford to attend, or even go to have lunch at without mortgaging their family’s home, in his entire life. If West truly loved Black people like he claims, he’d be teaching third grade in the hood, or at the very least, teaching at one of our great Historically Black Colleges or Universities. Black colleges and universities are good enough to drive by and pickup bloated speaking fees, but beneath his stature when it comes to teaching at one of them. His ego requires that instead of living among the people and teaching Black students, that he don the costume of the resident "Negro radical" and tap dance and gesticulate at Harvard or Princeton for the entertainment of the children of the very corporate manipulators that he’s railing against. Hypocrisy doesn’t come any more glaring than that. But, believe it or not, it gets worse.
.
Isn’t it also funny that Tavis and West seems to Talk about everything bad that’s happening to the Black community, EXCEPT, Tavis’ part in the Wells Fargo "Ghetto Loan" scam where Tavis helped to herd over 30,000 Black and Hispanic homeowners into a situation that led to the lost their homes AND their life savings? The Department of Justice said that it was the second largest housing discrimination case on record - and this from two individuals who try to associate themselves with Martin Luther King.
.
"On July 12, 2012 Charlie Savage reported in the New York Times that Wells Fargo Bank agreed to pay $175 million to settle the discrimination suit which, according to the Department of Justice, targeted over 30,000 Black and Hispanic borrowers for subprime loans with a higher interest rate than for similarly situated White borrowers between 2004 and 2009."
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"Smiley was the keynote speaker, and the big draw, according to Boston [host of "Moneywise"] and Keith Corbett, executive vice president of the Center for Responsible Lending, who attended two of the seminars. Smiley would charge up the audience — and rattle the Wells Fargo executives in attendance — by launching into a story about how he hated banks, and how they used to refuse to lend him money for his real estate projects in Compton, Calif., and elsewhere... But what appeared on the surface as a way to help black borrowers build wealth was actually just the opposite, according to a little-noticed explanation of the "Wealth Building" seminar strategy, contained in a lawsuit recently filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan." 
http://wattree.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-question-for-both-tavis-smiley-and.html
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But in spite of these isues, in response to President Obama's remarks on race in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict, Tavis Smiley tweeted, "Took POTUS almost a week to show up and express mild outrage. And still, it was as weak as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid."
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That was a very curious remark considering the fact that Tavis Smiley and Cornel West traveled all across the country on a bus under the pretext of being so passionately concerned about poverty in America that they just HAD to take a stand - but of course, that was BEFORE the election, and when they had books to sell. But after the election was over, and they didn’t have any new books to sell, they couldn't bring themselves to walk down the street from Tavis' office to support the Black Friday demonstrations taking place all across the country against Wal-Mart - Tavis' major sponsor, a member of ALEC, and the biggest abuser of the working class in America today.
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And not only did they fail to attend ANY of the demonstrations taking place across the country against Wal-Mart, they didn't even issue a comment of support. All we've heard coming from the Smiley/West camp are crickets - and as everyone knows, that's extremely uncharacteristic of Cornel West, who's renown for being willing to trade a kidney for a sound byte. Thus, that just about says it all about those two. All subjective assessments aside, the facts alone suggest that Tavis Smiley and Cornel West are two of the most blatantly self-serving hypocrites that the Black community has ever suffered.
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According to Scott Collins in his article, Tavis Smiley's bumpy 10th anniversary with PBS, in the Los Angeles Times:
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"Such is the life of a public-television personality. Unlike most TV hosts, who simply do their jobs and collect a paycheck from a network, Smiley has to go out and raise most of the money for his program, which costs between $7 million and $8 million a year to produce. PBS generally contributes about $1 million of that sum. The rest comes from corporate sponsors, which Smiley has to round up himself.
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The sluggish economy and reduced corporate spending have threatened the show's viability. But luckily for Smiley, Wal-Mart, a longtime sponsor, stepped up again, this time with a three-year commitment. (PBS can only offer a maximum of two years on renewals because, as a government-supported entity, it must be periodically authorized by Congress.) But Wal-Mart covers only about a quarter of the costs.
(http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/showtracker/la-et-st-tavis-smiley-pbs-20131212,0,6312121.story#ixzz2ndW5CAp5).
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And therein lies the problem - and, the reason for the prescription in the Society of Professional Journalists' code of ethics that "Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know." You cannot serve two masters. In the instance above, Tavis Smiley had to choose between the public's right to know, and his personal self-interest, and the public lost - and it's not the first time the public lost to Smiley's self-interest.
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Now add the following to the mix.  In his article, "My Republican Party has Abandoned Me," Black Republican activist, Raynard Jackson, says the following (http://www.freedomsjournal.net/2012/10/31/my-republican-party-has-abandoned-me/):
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"For many years, I have approached the party and its supporters about underwriting programs to bring together Blacks who are Republican or lean Republican so we can weave them into every facet of the party structure. The answer is always, no! But, twice this year some of these same people have approached me about funding for some election year tricks that they (White Republicans) have conjured up and simply need a Black face to execute the plan. On these two separate occasions, these funders were willing to spend upwards of $20 million to have me organize a national campaign to identify Blacks who would be critical of President Obama." 
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Now, you do the math.
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A CALL FOR BOYCE WATKINS TO COME OUT OF THE REPUBLICAN CLOSET
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Boyce (Let’s lay the Marcus crap to rest. I know who you are),
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I’m not a shill. I have absolutely nothing to hide. I’m flat-out against the Republican Party, and any Black man who can’t see why is a fool. Only an idiot would condemn the Bogeyman to embrace the Devil.
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But speaking of shills, when are you coming out of the closet as the Republican you are. As long as you don’t, everything you do or say is a fraud. If you profess to be “The People’s Scholar,” the people have a right to know your political persuasion. You might as well come on out with a sense of dignity, because if you don’t, I’m going to put the evidence together and drag you out of your Republican broom closet – in fact, I fired the opening salvo today. (http://wattree.blogspot.com/2014/02/a-message-to-dr-boyce-watkins.html).
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People have been begging me to do it for well over a year now, but I’ve been reluctant to do so, because I don’t believe you’re PURPOSELY trying to deceive the people to feather your own nest like Tavis and West. I think you’re simply deluded in your beliefs, and you don’t have the courage of your convictions.
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And finally, please don’t take this in the wrong way. I know how this sounds, but it is NOT my intent to threaten you in anyway. It’s just my way of giving you a heads-up on what’s on the horizon, because in spite of everything, including the fact that I view you as grossly naïve, I still sorta, kinda, like you.
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So I’m putting you on notice, brother. Well-intentioned or not, by not telling the people who you are, and what you truly believe, you’re engaging in a form of deception – and I’ve made it my personal mission to make deluding the Black community a thing of the past, and other writers have agreed to joined me on that mission. So if you don’t come out of the closet on your own, and have to be dragged out, you’re going to lose all of your public credibility – just like Tavis and West are in the process of doing right now.
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So there you have it, something to think about.
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Peace, brother.
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Eric L. Wattree
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
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Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.


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