Visit The Barber?

By: S. Davis

Funny how in the aftermath of the Michael Vick interview with Jason Whitlock people are now jumping behind a guy that was maligned for his play as a quarterback and the decisions he made on and off the field of play. So he’s the one to rally behind as it relates to Colin Kaepernick’s abilities under center? Oh the lines people draw….

Vick had to ingratiate himself to any and all who would listen. Furthermore he needed the vetting of Tony Dungy just to get the ball rolling on his NFL career when he was released from prison. His advice to Kaepernick was genuine and I feel that he was doing it for the greater good of the quarterback’s future – but you have to view it from Vick’s distinct point of view. There were steps to take; he had a list of objectives he needed to meet in order to earn his desired result: employment in the National Football League. His whole existence – as far as the NFL is concerned – is to redeem himself in the eyes of the power brokers. Even now, as a retired player, he’s still on the redemption tour when doing goodwill for his  youth camps and outreach for his commitments related to charities involving animals. These are the lenses in which he’s viewing Kaepernick – and the barriers he’s facing in resuming his career.

It is not even close to being in the same universe.

Football is my favorite sport but I personally may go without my favorite way to kill time – until Kaepernick is signed or he retires. So people who have taken lives, although not through convicted murder, can line up on Sundays. You can beat your wife and assault other human beings, drive drunk and kill animals but someone who happens to be African-American QUIETLY protests and that’s the line? That’s the transgression that the league deems as too extreme?

We can’t have that in our game!

How odd is that? Why don’t white people, by and large, understand that the American experience isn’t the same for everyone? It isn’t.

Hey, white people do you remember that tiny, secret, work-exchange program called slavery. It happened. No matter how much you want to forget it. Listen this isn’t a diatribe against white America but we all view this country based on our experiences. Your worldview is built upon those experiences – and the black experience is not remotely close to those who happen to be in the majority in America.

Why the hell are white people so sensitive about the truth of this country? This ridiculous stance the league is taking against Kaepernick is proof.

Vick needed a fresh start. He was convicted of a crime and went to jail. He needed to make things right and be redeemed. There was a legitimate stigma and baggage that followed him. He had a mandate to be presentable to the 32 owners and general managers in the league.

Kaepernick carries no such baggage and, no, he doesn’t need to visit the barber. He doesn’t need to apologize. He doesn’t need to seek redemption. He didn’t do anything wrong.

On the “Dan Patrick Show” yesterday Vick was thoughtful and apologetic. “I think it was taken out of context in regards to what I was trying to convey, but I only want to help Colin Kaepernick. I’m not a general manager, I’m not the guy who makes the decisions on getting him signed, and I’m truly sorry for what I said. I think I should have used a better choice of words. Obviously we all know his afro has nothing to do with him not being signed.”

Why isn’t he signed to a contract yet? It’s the end of July. There are not 32 quarterbacks in the league fit to start. Kaepernick was a handful of plays away from having a Super Bowl ring on his hand. He had 16 touchdowns against four interceptions last season when possessions/turnovers is the most important facet of football. There’s not a single job for him?

Outside of the game, he’s an activist donating time and money to the causes that inspire him. If Tom Brady led the exact silent protest I wonder how he would be viewed, covered and dissected. I know the answer, he’d have a church erected in his honor and the country would cite him as the coming of a new deity. People already worship him as if he is one.

If whites protest an issue that draws their attention they’re viewed as passionate and true Americans whereas any protest involving African-Americans (and other minorities) get labeled as malcontents, mobs, and breeding a dangerous element. It’s shameful and the media covers things in such a way where it’s normal for them to pass those adjectives out.

This country was started on a rebellion. Americans wanted freedom of expression, clear of tyranny and rule from Great Britain. America protested. America fought. American gained its independence and in that same vein mandated that its citizens do the same. Yet a quarterback staging a quiet and personal protest against the National Anthem – which was penned by a slave owner and anti-abolitionist – is wrong for exercising his right? What he’s doing couldn’t be more American in nature.

He doesn’t need to apologize. He doesn’t need to seek redemption. He didn’t do anything wrong.

Democrat, Republican or American?

By: S. Davis

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Which are you?

It seems like an odd question to drop at someone’s feet or is it? I don’t think it is – and if I did I wouldn’t have much to write about honestly. When you take into account all the missteps that Donald Trump has, and will continue to make, you have to look at those still firmly in this corner. How does it make any sense at all? Maybe that’s another point because none of this seems plausible.

Is America an evolved nation? It’s hard to say that when half of the country is determined to bleed for a party whose current face is belligerent, hateful – and if not glaringly racist, then racially dismissive to frightening degrees while being a known bully to women. Republicans, are you really going to vote for this man?

Once it was clear that Trump would be the nominee of the GOP I considered the vision of him actually taking up residence in the White House. I know how divided this country is, across too many issues to count, so I took a moment and realized that enough dedicated republicans could make that a reality. The feeling that turned in my chest wasn’t one of comfort. The fact that he was doing well in the polls didn’t frighten me per se, I was far more alarmed at the support he garnered to boost him forward. He cultivated a following that would not mute themselves or sit idly on their hands waiting for their turn. There was a level of support that caught a lot of Americans – and those around the world by surprise.

What’s the conscience of this country?

Factoring the damning evidence, video and audio recordings that portray Trump in unflattering ways how can any American look to him as a leader; as the person fit to represent the entire country? His followers defend the indefensible, adorn him with praise at his rallies and keep up their fierce loyalty. It’s as if he’s a deity in their eyes.

From the time I could remember, I was taught in history class how church and state should be separate. I could also realize how that’s not remotely possible being that God and religion is intertwined in government and United States legislature at every level.

Americans scream to the mountains about keeping religion out of politics but isn’t following a candidate, strictly due to party affiliation, a form of religion in itself?

Believing in a message? Check. Ignoring the inadequacies a candidate may express? Check. Defending the most abhorrent transgressions? Check. Crying about being misunderstood when there are decades of evidence proving that the masses truly understand the human you are? Check. Acting with aggression towards a dissenting faction, namely, democrats or independents? Yup.

This isn’t a public service announcement for the campaign of Hilary Clinton, not at all. As a registered democrat I have no qualms about the fact that I will vote for her but I can say with a clear heart that I have voted across party lines in the past because I’m American before I’m a democrat. Is she perfect? No. Is she trustworthy? Maybe I’d let her baby-sit my nephews, maybe? The most important thing to me is that she seems capable of handling the highest office, she has experience – and above all else she seems reasonable.

Republicans, are you Americans or members of the GOP first and foremost?

I’d really like to know. How can anyone think that Trump is fit to be president? I find those that are unrelenting in their support of the republican ticket, knowing the platform – Does he have one besides bluster? – and positions he’s taken to be a kind of human being I probably couldn’t agree on dinner plans with. (On that hypothetical evening, she and I would have to avoid talking about politics at all costs which is fine in my book.)

Remove all political party ties from the equation and think to yourself, as an American citizen, can you vote for him to be president? If political parties did not exist, could you walk into that voting booth and select him?

I’m Just Black…Don’t Kill Me

By: S. Davis

I don’t like to write with anger. There are obvious reasons why but the last few days in America make it damn near impossible. So now it’s not safe to reach for my wallet…ok. How can I provide my identification without being pumped full of bullets?

We surrender and we die. We raise our hands in the air and you still shoot. I tell you that I can’t breathe because you’re putting pressure on my throat and I die. I’m fleeing arrest – and maybe I shouldn’t have run, I get that – but that’s no reason whatsoever to kill me in a hail of bullets that all enter my back.

Do you want us to leave your country? Because I honestly feel you still want us in chains, subservient and asking permission to look you in the eyes while we shine your shoes and press your clothing. Still, in 2016, we aren’t given the same respect as human beings. Pets are treated better in this society than the African-American male. That’s not a hyperbolic statement! An animal is treated badly and there’s such a vicious reaction and sympathy but a black man is gunned down by authorities and thoughts are expressed such as, “Well, he should’ve complied with the officer” or “Why did he talk back to the police?”

What’s the excuse now? “We feared for our lives” is the common response. Fear? When you have the advantage in numbers and the benefit of the doubt in the justice system? You’re afraid? You should feel emboldened to keep the status quo in this country alive and well. I can’t even see straight right now, I’m seething.

Race relations in this country aren’t better; not at all. They’re far worse than at any time since the Civil Rights Movement. You shoot, we die, there’s outrage, it soon evaporates and then another African-American male is riddled with bullets while the world feigns concern and then the news cycle just motors forward. Race will always be a problem in this United States of Racist America. The country was founded on it and that stain can never be washed from the fabric. That needs to be understood before we can mend relations going forward.

We need authentic understanding, dialogue and action. Cops don’t have to kill but they’re trained to use lethal force in almost every instance when tensions are on the rise. Apparently death is the only way to remedy conflict of any kind. I get it. Why can’t training be altered? Is that impossible? Can you just stop pretending to protect and serve and just put on the white hoods already? At least cut out the pretense of justice and get right down to your true nature.

All Caucasians aren’t racists, obviously, but a good portion of their population doesn’t care about race because they say it doesn’t factor in their lives. That’s part of the problem as well. Hey racists, you do know that whites had important roles in the Civil Rights Movement, the abolishment of slavery (this does NOT include Abraham Lincoln) and all the protests currently? Ignoring race and color only exacerbates the problems for everyone in this country. Look at the faces in anger gathered together in the crowd, they’re not all brown and dark tinted.

The problem is too many whites in America just don’t give a shit about anything outside of their bubbles. They don’t feel that they’re part of the larger issue because they have black friends to prove they are clearly not racists. (Because having a minority friend is the end-all to these issues, right?)

I don’t feel American at all today and looking at that flag makes me want to fucking puke. Dialogue is full of shit, action is needed. A(nother) black man will be killed very soon…and America will do nothing about it.

My heart goes out to those in mourning today. My prayers go out to the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. My heart goes out to the families of those officers that died in Dallas. It’s just more tragedy…on top of tragedy. It’s savage, disheartening and not a single answer will come out of it.

Land of the free…

What Is Happiness?

By: S. Davis

What is “happiness”? How exactly is it measured?

Personal success? Financial stability? The amount of lovers you’ve had? Being a parent? Having a successful marriage/relationship? Having a great family?

I ponder it often. It must be answered, solely, by each individual. I try to think that “happiness” is relative to expectations – and how close you come to reaching those goals you set for yourself.

I haven’t arrived there yet.

Blood relation…

By: S. Davis

Blood relation is no indication of family. It’s just the random nature of birth tied to genetics. Chosen family members – absent of DNA ties – can, and do have, stronger bonds over the mere fact that a mutual decision was made to build a true connection to each other. A relative can be…just a relative. Friends can be all the family you’ll ever need.

Blood relation is proof of nothing but blood relation.

OK, America…

By: S. Davis

Several characteristics can be used to describe me: Handsome, funny, great in bed, silly, fair, confident…I mean I could go all night long with the superlatives. (See what I did?) Putting all that on the side, I consider myself intelligent and reasonable above anything else. That’s where my list begins when I honestly view the man in the mirror.

Reasonable.

How in the hell am I supposed to reason through the political climate right now? Is this country aware that it’s on the precipice of facing a 50/50 chance of Donald Trump sitting in the Oval Office? The United States isn’t a bad reality show – although even that can be debated – and it sure isn’t a beauty pageant or a chain of hotels or golf courses. This shit is really happening and America is casting the ballot that matters.

I’ve said on many occasions that I’m a registered democrat but I have voted across party lines. Politicians will talk you into anything that serves their agenda, granted. ANY politician will do that if allowed; republican, democratic or a true independent. A particular narrative needs a face; find a talking head to be the mascot. I tell you though, what’s going on in the red side of the political pie is disturbing.

People, Americans, are reasonably casting votes for a man that’s been racially insensitive and – in some cases – racist, specifically to Mexicans and followers of Islam. This land of ours is infested with and was founded on racism and the exploitation of it, so after electing the first black Commander-in-Chief, citizens of this nation are looking to vote Trump in?

Fuck party unity! I don’t give a shit about that. Aren’t we all Americans before we fill out a voter registration card? We are Americans first and foremost – and the person we choose to work in the highest office is representative of our beliefs, goals and ideals. Are we ready to pull this one, fellow Americans? Will you all be able to live with yourselves if he’s elected?

He’s not a reasonable man. I know republicans that are frightened that he’s the leader of their party while others like his bull-headed candor. He’s going to cause larger divisions among races in this country. Mind you, he kicked off his campaign insulting Mexicans loudly, never really apologized and yet there’s support, the real tangible kind; polling numbers for a presidential bid.

There’s a loud counter argument that Barack Obama is the reason race relations in this country are as toxic as they’ve been since the Civil Rights Movement – and I’ll listen…for a moment. It isn’t his fault. The reality is America’s original sin could no longer be swept under the rug when the house boy controls the whole damn show. Obama isn’t a deity. He has no superpowers that I’m aware of. The vehement opposition he’s faced politically, hasn’t been just disrespectful, crass and littered with racial double-speak, it’s obviously racist. A large portion of this country will never accept – and never accepted – an African-American in that house. It scares the establishment and makes everyone uncomfortable, well the racists that is.

That’s ending soon so the pivot is to…this republican? Other republicans have had some policies that I’ve agreed with or they were introspective at the bare minimum. Trump’s like a terrible cartoon villain – but people are clapping and cheering for him at rallies. None of his agenda is fictional. I’m not shocked that people are voting for him, I’m not. It’s painting a clear picture of the divisions in this country. How can an intelligent, educated, cultured adult fall into this web?

Am I missing something? I’m not saying Hillary Clinton is the golden candidate by any means but doesn’t she seem like someone who has a semblance of a plan? Doesn’t she do more than bluster about generalities? Is she petulant when Bernie Sanders refuses to bow out even though it’s mathematically impossible for him to unseat her position?

At the very least, doesn’t she seem reasonable? Maybe so, maybe I’m wrong. That’s ok.

So you’re going to let this shit happen, America? The fact that he’s a nominee is scary enough but it opens a window into the mind of half of this nation. That’s frightening.

If I see another billboard with that “Make America Great Again” slogan laced with subtext I might drive my car off the Pacific Coast Highway. I’m depressed; time to call a girl now so she can tell me how handsome I am.

Heroes Kill, Sometimes…A lot

By: S. Davis

So we’re in an age of superhero movies where killing is being directly addressed and it’s about time. Recently I got around to seeing Captain America: Civil War – which I thoroughly enjoyed – and anyone following Marvel Studios knows how important the film is in regards to their larger cinematic ambitions. This isn’t about that. It was always odd to me how dismissive death to civilians or collateral damage has been dealt with in comics (and definitely the movies that are birthed from them). It’s basically served as lip service or points to drive a plot but it usually falls to the side when the hero and the villain must finally square off.

That’s not going to be enough anymore and that’s satisfying. The comic genre – at least when it’s translated onscreen – has always had to fight for legitimate standing alongside other traditional dramas. Civil War was a drama that just so happened to feature super humans, otherworldly beings, and humans with super abilities.

Why the shift in tone? The public at-large has – and still – acknowledges comics as juvenile. Funny because I always see more adults than teenagers or children at these movies and the ratio is not even close. The characters may be powered, some are gods, but they’re tortured, stressed, and overwhelmed. That sounds like all humans beings; we can connect to that.

Death and killing is serious now in these movies. The impressive battles, the powers which are wielded and the destruction caused are no longer held in a higher priority than the innocent people who are lost. The people matter. The heroes mourn and have to consider their place in the world. I do think it makes the characters more human than their abilities otherwise express. It brings them down to the same level as vulnerable humans.

Is it disturbing that death is no longer being overlooked?

Directly addressing Batman V Superman, I’m not bothered all with Batman taking a few lives. It’s Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the character – not unlike a new writer taking on the Batman title every couple of years or so. He chose to make his version lethal, akin to what Tim Burton did when he had control of the property. In Batman’s early years it’s been well documented about the lives’ he’s taken.

I don’t have such a hard rule for Batman killing. Do I want him to? No. However, I like a Bat that has been through the ringer and has now resorted to lethal means (in this universe). It gives a different look to a classic character. Think of it as a new Bat-title on another Earth.

It always cracks me up when people have this fallacy that Batman won’t ever take a life or death is a line he won’t cross…at all. Remember when he attempted to kill Darkseid? Which led to “Battle for the Cowl” and his “death”?

The Justice League has engaged in vicious battles where Superman and Batman turn a blind eye when beasts, monsters, demons, and the like are being slaughtered by their comrades. Wonder Woman has some notches on her belt and will resort to lethal force when necessary. Should that be ignored? The big two sure have a fluid stance on death depending on the circumstance. Bruce Wayne beat Darkseid damn near to death – he would’ve succeeded if his mech-suit didn’t almost kill him in the process – when he retrieved a revived Damian Wayne. Batman was also close to killing Lex Luthor when he thought Luthor ended Dick Grayson’s life.

How many times has Superman destroyed Brainiac? Isn’t an evolved artificial intelligence such as it worthy of existence? Yet Superman repeatedly tries to wipe it out – and succeeds most of the time…until Brainiac returns. He’s also destroyed life forms on Apokolips. He also had to “kill” Doomsday to save Metropolis at the cost of his own life. (The comic event, not the travesty perpetrated on us in BvS).

There’s no way Bats hasn’t taken a life even being as careful as he is. He throws people through glass, smashes skulls against brick walls, rubber bullets from the Batmobile, hitting thugs with his car, breaking bones, concussing punks, etc. There’s no way that every criminal survives encounters with him. I don’t believe that. Is it acceptable for Batman to beat criminals close to death, probably to the point of paralysis, but retain his level of honor because he didn’t kill?

He’s been extremely lethal and has felt – over the majority of his existence – that vengeance isn’t justice but this version has dealt with loss. Even in BvS though, he could’ve branded Luthor with the bat-signal yet didn’t, which would’ve ended his life while in prison as the movie explicitly stated in the first 20 minutes.

An argument can be made that Batman is negligent for not killing some of his rogues, especially the Clown. He’s gone too far on too many occasions – yet the Bat plays the infinite cat and mouse game. Now we know this is all fiction and Joker is too popular a character for DC to leave dead but Batman should’ve put him down after his assault on Barbara Gordon, the “killing” of Jason Todd, and on…and on, and on, etc.

As much as it was a hero movie, BvS was not something young children should see. It’s gloomy, heavy and overwhelmingly serious in tone. Civil War was just as serious but it did find a way to encapsulate lighter moments into a deep film experience. Warner Brothers cannot match the Marvel formula – and it’s fine that they don’t attempt to as then they’ll be labeled as imposters. I didn’t have a problem in going to a movie where both leads are beaten down, haggard, and almost buckling under responsibility, duty, and birthright but it was a glaring 180 from what Marvel has laid out over the last eight years. BvS was for adults that wanted to see their heroes without the gleam of hope, it seems, whereas Civil War was just light enough where you could see a family sitting in the theater together. Batman and Superman are my favorite two superheroes but I can definitely admit that the movie wasn’t fun to watch. The kid in me was astonished that I was actually seeing them, together, in one movie but the adult was bothered by the elements of the script. I did like it but I could see someone rating it with any number on a five-star scale or a ten-point scale – and being completely justified. I gave it a 7/10. It’s divisive. Civil War was a nine; my issues concerned the coincidental nature of the villain’s plan. Too many decisions – by other individuals that couldn’t be predicted – had to fall in line for it to ultimately be achieved…yet it was mostly accomplished.

Consumers have defined expectations of what a superhero movie should be – and that’s fine. I do think the negatives of BvS are warranted although I know many of those displeased with the two characters that – by any measure – are the pillars of the comic book industry viewed it through eyes that couldn’t help but measure (and compare) it against the Marvel slate of titles. It’s undeniable. These movies aren’t just for kids anymore and that’s fine. People mature and want their childhood heroes to as well – and like it or not, killing is going to be apart of the equation.