Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Blog of Usefulness: CD Review

Merry Christmas. My kids are at their Dad's house visiting with him and Grammy and Stepma and the rest of the family so I got a bit of free time.
I want to see Jamie Foxx (nee mr bishop), sing live on the circuit of small clubs and then record or produce the best live tour of small venues.
I bought his CD "Unpredictable"--which is also a DVD--for myself for Christmas.
He has a smooth-as-silk voice that is out of this world. I just love the way he talks to his audience. I already liked him as a sitcom and film actor but damn--the man is cut! I feel like a little girl reading "Right On!" all over again (Remember Prince's poster in the 1999 album?)
No longer do I long for Jodeci or The Ton-i-e-y's because now I have Jamie/Eric and damn, is it good. He is sooo good.
His body is bangin (watch out 50) and his voice is sooo smooth.
He is my rhythm & Blues singer for the new millennium.
And we always knew he could sing but dang it--it wasn't until this CD that we got to hear at least some of his range and breadth. We all waited for this one!
As my Christmas dinner cooks (it smells heavenly) I sit and watch the DVD and listen to the harmonies that are The Foxx.
"Love Changes," is the classic remix that should hit the airwaves next. Who can beat Mary and Jamie's voices together?? He should also check out a duet with Sylena Johnson. Any cut they made together would be tight. They could release it as a street single.
But I want to hear all of Jamie without outside influences. I want him to put all of his original songs and arrangements on tracks. I want HIM in the RAW.
Just him. I know he can do it but there is something or someone holding him back.
"Unpredictable"--do something you've never done before.
What else can be said?
I thought he and Ye (Kanye West) sat down and collaborated on that song and added Luda. It wasn't until I heard him unplugged on the DVD side of the CD that I understood his genius.
"Warm Bed" is another one that I like--except the brief intro (might keep it off of the radio with the name chanting and all) but it makes good driving/bouncing music. He speaks to a time where I thought I was the center of the universe. It takes me back and I love it. I love the beats.
It is nice to listen to and you can do a little dance to it.
He even have a sorta-steppin' cut on there with "VIP"-- a little Cha Cha and all-- and you know that steppin' is important to the Chicago area listeners.
"'Cause everybody in my party is VIP. Won't you come and step with me?"
Everybody in my party is VIP-- ain't he the nicest man you've listened to lately?
I'm steppin' to "VIP" right now!
(i've been drinkin' apple vodka mixed with the twisted apple so 'scuse me. By the way alcohol and a hot ass oven don't mix!)
I'm taking this up to the Cave and the Three Gs. I gotta get my step on!
My man/bf/ xbf just walked in the door. I called frantic this morning because I forgot to layer the lasagna and couldn't tell if the ham was done. We stepped to "VIP" right quick when he walked through the door. Remember the apple vodka?
Note: The CD/DVD is a great idea but sometimes it doesn't like to play on first try unless you keep it in the same machine, ie dvd player or cd player. I moved mine around with me and it became temperamental.

Monday, December 05, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, December 02, 2005

Stop Screwin' with My Computer!!!

This message is to the computer wiz who screwed with my internet settings and changed my ip address. It took me and hour to redirect your fu** up mister. If you aren't sure the changes are okay across the board, why would you ass with my existing structure that works EVERYWHERE but where you are?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

No More Blog Space for You!

Okay, bf/xbf is driving me to write about him.
I think he likes the attention. I know he must like reading his own press but all he is really doing is taking up unnecessary space on my blog.
In an effort to spare the reader every minute detail of my personal life, I will continue to write about my favorite holiday: Thanksgiving.
I like Thanksgiving because it is a no stress holiday. Alls ya gotta do is cook, serve, eat and watch the football game.
Momma and Dad had a pretty cool Thanksgiving. They were amazed I went to work but the day was basically over by 10:30 p.m. anyway. My Little Brother and my new Sister-N-Law came over. My Little Brother beat my dad in who hollers at the TV the most. I don't understand the hollering at the TV thing because the only players that hear them are already in the room with them! (And because I don't know when to cheer.)
But they always holler at the game. It's tradition and I like it.
The Kids ran amok throughout the house and then before ya know it, dessert was gobbled up and everyone laid down.
I went to sleep, happy and satisfied at another wonderful Thanksgiving.
(Take that bf/xbf! No more blog space for you!)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

It's Thanksgiving--time to get fat!

This day we should be thankful that it is all right to eat until you get sleepy and then go to sleep.
"Everytime I look at something on TV, I see White folk talking about how we killed up all the Indians and now we gone give thanks," Nicey said.
She called me this morning because she is tired of Thanksgiving stuff and anyone that gets on her nerve. She doesn't care for any race--just like Archie Bunker.
She didn't have to work on Thanksgiving so she gave thanks.
"Two years ago, I couldn't sit at my desk and read the Holy Scripture. Now, I'm sitting here writing pu**y and di*k and don't nobody say a word," she said.
She couldn't find a sweet potato pie.
"I wasn't buying sweet potatoes and making crust and standin' up over a stove and all that," she said.
"If you had a husband, you would," I said.
"That MOTH$*&$*R would have a cut throat. They wouldn't set there and let you cook. They want to get in the way and go in the 'fridgerator.
If you working an eight hour gig and come home and f**k with that cooking too. My mom would get off from work and stand up for 72 hours, cookin'," Niciey said.
I concurred.
Cooking for African American families and Southerners is a big deal on Thanksgiving.
It's an all day affair starting the day before.
"You don't have to buy a whole a turkey. You can buy a turkey breast," she said she told her mother.
But the huge spreads continue, even though there aren't as many to enjoy it.
"We got to get the Swan cake flour and the Carnation milk. Husband get out the shithouse and want to help and ain't washed his hands since the 50s," Nicey said.
"Git yo' nasty ass outta here. And they want you to to su*k they d**k too," Niciey said.
Whew! Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Yeah, I Wanna Be an Old @#% Baby's Momma

Copyright 2005LJM
Being held hostage in the car after work shouting answers to questions no one asked me on the Les Brown talk show, I began to realize that there were too many parallels between the people who I know and the ones being described on the radio.
The topic was teen pregnancy.
The host and several well-heeled guests and listeners had called in to say that their children were either pregnant early in life or refusing to go along with the plan of fatherhood long after the cow was out-of-the-barn.
I appreciated their candid responses but I know for a fact that women who decide to bear a man's child out-of wedlock don't have to be teenagers to do so.
There were too many parallels between the irresponsible, wayward teen parents being described on the show and the men and women who I know today.
These men and women are in their 30s and 40s and do not seem to mind being an over-the-hill Baby's Momma or Baby's Daddy. Matter of fact, at least one cherished the idea.
This man is a professional making in excess of $50,000 a year and college educated. He was raised with traditional values, albeit on the West Coast but he knows better than to invite a woman to have a baby out-of-wedlock.
At least he should have known better than to ask me.
He said since he was in his mid-40s and childless, he figured he'd better get moving on the daddy track before it was too late. He had even gone through fertility testing and yes--he has a few swimmers.
However, he is unwilling to marry, he said, unless I became pregnant.
(I tried to believe him)
Oh so negative buddy. No out-of-wedlock kids for me because I know better. I know that even the sanctity of marriage (be it shotgun or no) will not guarantee two people happiness or be a reason to have a baby or stay together. So why complicate the issue. Either you want to marry me or you don't.
He didn't want to marry me.
What I don't understand is why would anyone want to be permanently connected through children to a person they don't want to marry?
I wouldn't want to do that at all.
Love children at the age of 40. How dumb can you be, really? Foolish love games and tragedies are overlooked when you're in your 20s as youthful indiscretions. But two 40-somethings (I am 39) unwilling to commit to a date let alone a baby is just wrong.
There aught to be licenses issued to couples wanting to have children.
Yes, childbearing should be regulated because some of us just don't know what to do with our bodies, spare time or apparently our money.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

He's Not So Nice

Well, I haven't heard from my boyfriend in a day or so. We're broken up by my standards. I wonder if the fact that he is married to and divorcing a woman who he said is dying had anything to do with his decision?
It may have been my incessant whining about doing the things I want all the time. It could have been that I am demanding and began to get pushy.
It could have been anything.
The deal breaker was that he failed to bring me a Subway Italian BMT on the cheese bread with everything and oil and vinegar and a pack of cigarettes to my job when I had to work a double. That really pissed me off.
He was too busy partying to bring me some essentials. He even had the nerve to ask for sex that day.
Damn that, I'm a virgin as far as he is concerned--never to part my legs again for him. I can become really mean when I am upset or dejected.
(In some part of my cold, dark heart, I am weeping silently)
But he has a lot of nerve not calling or even reading the damn blog that has ended up being about him lately.
(Maybe that was the problem and he just backed away)
Any suggestions on what I should do? Did I handle this the wrong way?
Maybe I should stop laughing now.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

My BF Doesn't Like My Blog

My BF doesn't like my blog. He won't speak with me about it at all. I urge him to go to the site and read and listen to some of the things that I have written but he won't. He won't assist me in any way and I am getting tired of his resistance.
Ya know, as a Chemist, he certainly acts close minded at times. He even gets upset when I am out-and-about or suggest we date other people. (He can date others but not I for some strange reason)
Well, I get the feeling all of this is about to end very soon. I'm in a Kiss-My-Grits kinda mood.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Go to Church on Sunday

Here is my newest commitment: I will attend the Church of my favor on Sunday.
I will also plan to go to Bible Study on Wednesdays whenever possible.
I really like a good sermon where the pastor is educated on the issues of the Lord. I think it could help me become less shameless (giggle) and keep a positive mental attitude throughout the week.
I am officially encouraging all who are willing to find a Church to your liking and go.
Those who have decided that Church folk are too much for them, I urge you to reconsider because no one of us is perfect. If we were perfect we would cease to exist.
So go and take your children if you have them.
The very least that could happen is that you develop insight and new perspectives on yourself and the world around you. The very most that could happen is that you become spiritually edified by the Word of the Lord.
Add your comments on how you feel about organized religion. Please keep in mind that the people who reside within in the United States are free to choose their religion.
No one in this country will force another to attend church or to love the Lord.
Have a happy Sunday.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Hello to the People All Over the World...

Today is my father's birthday--Happy birthday Dad--and I would like to welcome all of the new visitors to my blog. Please enjoy your stay here, tell your friends and make as many comments as you like.

P.S. I'm still in love...

Have a good day.
Ms McCloud

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I am Shameless...

Discussing my trials and tribulations with an age old friend, we come upon the realization that I am shameless.
This is not new news to either one of us but I apparently top myself each and every time we discuss my inclination to get into devilment.
Nicey said I love to get into devilment.
We speak quite often by phone as she lives out-of-town. I have known her nearly 30 years. She has witnessed many, many scandalous situations.
"You go from zero to fool in less than 30 seconds. And it doesn't seem to be getting any better," she said one Sunday morning.
This is truthful.
"Fresh black pepper spices up my food. I like it hot," I said.
She groaned. She didn't want to hear the hideous details of my latest adventure.
And you shouldn't either.

Thursday, October 06, 2005





Monday, October 03, 2005

I love my Boyfriend...

...but I can't tell if he REALLY loves me.
I can tell this post will go on forever. Men have so much ego and pride--i really feel bad for them sometimes because they have to carry all of that stuff around. I think I get on my Boyfriend's last nerve sometimes because I'm so "out there" but he knows I truly do love him but I guess just not enough.
I know he doesn't love me enough to shut his trap about my numerous faults.
I know I'm flawed.
Tonight I told him his opinion just didn't matter to me anymore and I think that made him angry.
Maybe I should learn how to better walk on eggshells. One would think I'd know how by now--considering I've been doing it all of my life.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Observation #1

Matches don't burn forever so make sure you have a steady supply if you want to keep a fire going or stay warm.
Matches have but one purpose: to make a quick flame that burns short.
You have to make sure that whatever you are trying to light catches quick to make a flame because a match will do what a match does--burn out.
If you hold it too long, it will burn your fingers before buring out.
But why holla about it because at the end of the day, it was just a match and that is the nature of matches.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

Copyright 2005

People with mental illness still have many stereotypes to combat. Sometimes care givers may choose to ignore signs and symptoms hoping to manage their loved one his or herself.
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill member, Regina Richardson, said she felt that way

about her then 19-year-old son, nine years ago.
" He was at a party and someone put a mickey in his drink. I was told after the fact. He

didn't know and we didn't know what we were dealing with," she said.
Richardson occasionally wiped away tears as she recalled the years after the incident. She

characterized her son's condition as a "nervous breakdown" and said he wasn't connected

with reality.
"A person really doesn't know what they are doing to themselves or others. He became angry,

frustrated and his personality changed. He wouldn't listen to me," she said.
The breaking point came one evening after work. She told her son she was too tired to

take him to his father's house. He became incorrigible.
"He had just taken a bath and still had on his robe and gym shoes," she said.
Determined to get to his father's house, he walked outside dressed as he was in the middle of winter.
He was headed to the interstate--determined to see his father--and she said and the only immediate help was from a neighbor who drove around to find him. He was still dressed in his robe, waving his arms frantically while standing in the middle of traffic on the interstate.
Thereafter, Richardson said she knew her son needed help. She said the support she received through NAMI was invaluable.
NAMI is a nonprofit, grassroots, self-help, support and advocacy organization of consumers, families, and friends of people with severe mental illnesses. Mental illness is a growing concern throughout the United States and the local Gary Chapter works on issues most important to the community and state, the organization's web site read.
Richardson's son is 28-years old and he lives and works in Indianapolis. Richardson said she is proud of her son. He has his own place and his diagnosis of bipolar disorder is being managed with medication.
"He only has to take one pill a day," she said.
Although he couldn't make it to the second annual NAMI picnic Saturday held at Edgewater Systems for Balanced Living, Richardson was there working the grill.
"She's a good supporter of NAMI. What we want people to see is what biological brain disorder clients could be with treatment," Kathy Burney, a state representative of NAMI and local chapter leader,
NAMI has many programs. The Crisis Intervention Team which is a collaboration between the Gary Police Department and Gary City Court that train law enforcement how to interact with clients who are in crisis so that injury is less likely. There are also support group meetings held.
Robert Nagan, director of the Brief Evaluation and Treatment Unit at Edgewater, said

clients with head injuries may exhibit behaviors characterized as unpredictable while in

"Head injuries create damage that bring disturbances to the brain's chemistry and bring on

signs of mental illness," he said.
Burney said the socialization between clients at the picnic is a form of treatment that many may not often get to do because the symptoms they may exhibit--especially if in crisis--can frighten others. She said NAMI fights against the stigma placed on its clients.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The never ending story begins...

Lordy, now the news reports say that the governor of LA and the President weren't on the best of terms and their infighting delayed help to the hurricane victims.
Dang. Now all we need is a target.
Who will be this episode's fall guy?
Will it be the most selfish or the most incompetent?
I'm just waiting for a spate of wrongful death lawsuits, citing negligence and mismanagement of funds.
I could see how that can happen but I'm not a lawyer.
It doesn't matter that LA government officials didn't want to cooperate. A whole state was wiped out. A state of taxpayers. State, city and possibly local taxes taken out of your check goes to run your government. (Does LA state take taxes out of their worker's checks?)
On top of tourist dollars.
The money was supposed to go to government infrastructure--tax dollars help run governments.
Where did the hurricane victim's tax dollars go?
Was it to the repair of the levee or emergency evacuation plans?
I guess neither.

Volunteerism at its best...
• Louisiana residents who suffered losses from a natural disaster can claim a refund of state taxes paid.

It might help.

This morning, I heard one of the news commentators on Fox & Friends morning news show ask (hypothetically?) where are all of the Black rappers. Hers was the first face I saw upon awaking and I almost fell back on the pillow with laughter. I was so outdone.
She commented that since most of the victims are poor and black--and since that is mainly their audience--why don't they (step their game up) and help out with the disaster relief.

I will not issue an opinion on what this lady said. She has a right to her opinion as we all should have rights--in other words, I will hold my tongue on this one.

I just love it when we stop walking on eggshells.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I'm Not Walking On Eggshells Anymore, Either!

Borrowing an old Isley song lyric, " we go again. Here we go again--I thought what we had was over..."
I just don't understand the outrage. It seems la haute societe and bourgeoisie are always outraged and surprized by the afflictions of the poor.
Except this time it is really horrifying.
It's real life.
Like yall didn't know folks could be poor down in the Bayou. (ain't no such thing as workin' roots either.)
Anyone following the Hurricane Katrina updates--please pay attention. These stories will

not be retold. If you are reading about the blind patients allegedly abandoned by staffers

at a residence for the blind read slowly because it won't get replayed.

None of this type of tragedy is new, uncharted territory.
Understand that what you are watching is human nature, raw and uncensored. Self preservation. Looting.

Rioting. Prison escapees blending in with the others suffering in the flooded state of

Louisiana. (Is that story fit to print?)
It happens everyday in your city and you tune it out.
Rarely will it be reported truthfully.
Look, staffers caring for the blind have families and homes. And so do prison gaurds,

police, government officials, newspaper staffers, bank tellers and so forth.
The growing job sector in the service industry may lead some of the more unaware to belive

that they actually have handmaidens and butlers to be at their beck and call.
No such luck. These people have lives outside of serving you fries or handing you money.
I watched the news conference where the governor of Louisiana issued a mandatory evacuation order. Parents probably put their families and kids first.
Will I sit and continue to write knowing my child, elder parent, sick relative is somewhere helpless? I hope not. I'll leave work to care for my family. Will my employer understand?
Maybe. But all of Big Money's stuff is insured and after he has made sure to anchor his beloved yacht, he might call to find out if the business and its employees are okay.

People who knew got out early. People with money had another home to go to.
Then who was affected? (think about it)
The poor will always be with us but it doesn't give anyone the right to ignore the needs of another just because they can't or don't feel like facing the truth about where we live.
No one really cares about the helpless--like children and the elderly.
Those people were poor, hungry, undocumented, unloved and mistreated BEFORE that levee broke.
Do you follow me now?

walking around unemployed right now who have the answers to problems that abound not only in LA but in

other situations as well. If they don't have the answers, they have enough brain power to figure it out.

But many of them have already given up and are unemployed or underemployed so some ingnorant goof can get a paycheck.

(What if you found out your doctor cheated his way through school and showed up at the office just for a paycheck?)
Sometimes, we have to do more than just our jobs.

And please understand Northerners--Southerners are different than us.
They have their own time

table on when projects should be completed, goals should be established and met or

developing ideas for the future. There is never a big rush but hey, it could have been the heat getting to them.
Stop following along blindly or working only to improve your bottom line. The poor and the Black are bound in one fight--equality.

Take about 45 minutes out of your day to think about that.

Hiring managers and human resource professionals: Start hiring people that can do things the right way and can actually do what needs to be done.
Without infrastructure, nothing in our world, North or South, will work properly.
Please look at the Hurricane Katrina aftermath as an example. Those people have been

working on that levee for more than 37 years, I read.

I have even read reports where funding on the ongoing levee work was cut to divert more money to the theater in Iraq.

When will we wake up? Maybe never. It's difficult living in the real world where people run off, saving themselves leaving the blind to drown.

It sure was funny when it happened on Seinfeld. (Remember what the character George Costanza did at his girlfriend's child's birthday party?)

Hee Hee. But then again, that's just good old-fashioned Jewish comedy. A play on human nature.
God knows if managers there had an emergency plan and or drills to prepare for flooding or violent weather.

Now, it looks like we've all abandoned each other.
So don't blame Kanye for what he said during the NBC telethon. Some of us never sleep.

Don't blame the President for Hurricane Katrina because he didn't cause the levee to break.

That state rakes in millions in tourist dollars.
Stand in the mirror and then blame the person you see staring back.

Have you really done all you've could to help, everyday, your fellow human?
When was the last time you actually stood up for what was right?
Well, join the damn club. We ain't perfect by a long shot and some of us are just downright evil and practitioners of deceit, cutting our own nose to spite our face, lovers of favoritism and hate, etc.

If you fit into the above category, please change before many of us disenfranchised end up dying and going to hell--and then who will you have to hand you hot fries and coffee?

Thursday, August 11, 2005


COPYRIGHT 2005 Leslie Jones McCloud

During the middle of the Great Depression, the Chicago Defender and the
Black Press found
itself in trouble with the United States government for it‘s stance on
World War II and the
outcome of an editor's conference called by government officials in 1918.
Specifically, Chicago Defender founder Robert S. Abbott was called on the
carpet for his
news coverage of lynching in the South and North and his effort that
brought more than
50,000 Black Southerners to Chicago during the Great Migration.
Near the end of the 1930s, the Chicago Defender, needed new leadership.
Before his death
February 29, 1940, Abbott called on his nephew, John Sengstacke to run
the newspaper.
And he did so, although, reluctant.
"I wasn't too keen on it," he told John Taylor, a Chicago Defender
reporter in 1975.
Graduating in 1933 from Hampton University with a degree in Business
Sengstacke went home to Savannah, Georgia instead of coming to Chicago
like Abbott had
wanted. Three months later he was in Chicago.
Upon arrival, he said he did everything from writing editorials to
running the presses.
In six month's time he asked Abbott for stock in the company because he
didn't' want a "long
legal hassle," he said.
But there were bigger concerns that needed his attention besides the
newspaper's growing
wealth and legacy.
Sengstacke had become alarmed by the growing threat of censorship.
by the United States government, who in turn, was serious about their
allegations of
treason against the newspaper.
Along with other African American newspapers, the Defender protested the
treatment of
African American servicemen fighting in World War II and urged the
integration of the armed
In 1942, J Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
provided Attorney
General Francis Biddle with lengthy reports on what he saw as seditious
activity by the
African American press.
It started innocently enough. A cafeteria worker named James Thompson,
wrote a letter to
the Pittsburgh Courier, troubled by the fact that he might be called upon
to defend a
nation in which he was treated like a second-class citizen.
He suggested that African Americans espouse a 'double V' campaign. The
symbol stood for
victory at war over enemies 'from without,' and victory at home against
the enemy of
prejudice 'from within.' When other readers wrote to congratulate
Thompson on his idea, the
Courier launched a huge publicity campaign, complete with lapel pins and
stickers, 'double
V' hair styles and songs.
The Chicago Defender picked up on the campaign.
It kept awareness of the injustices of segregation alive during the war.
It also brought
attention to Jim Crow-style segregation in the armed forces. The troops
themselves were
segregated, but black outfits were assigned white commanding officers.
Even the military's blood supply for the wounded was segregated by race.
White soldiers
brutalized black soldiers, and race riots took place in camps where
troops of both races
resided. The military tried to suppress word of these events, with
partial success; only
the black press reported discrimination and discord within the troops and
thusly, their
newspapers were banned from military grounds.
J. Edgar Hoover saw the double V campaign as an act of sedition. The
Chicago Defender had
once again, become the subject of a government investigation.
With President Franklin D. Roosevelt's approval, Hoover sought to indict
black publishers
for treason and shut down the Black Press.
May of 1942, Franklin Roosevelt told his Attorney General, Frances
Biddle, to instead, talk
to some of the black publishers and ask them to tone down what they were

Comments on this situation were discussed by Sengstacke, before his death
in 1997, with
Patrick Washburn. The film, The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords, by
Stanley Nelson is
based the interview.

"June, mid-June, 1942, John Sengstacke, the publisher of The Chicago
Defender and -- and
the top publisher, if you want to call him that, of the black press,
walked in the room at
the Justice Department and Biddle was there to meet him. There were all
these papers, like
The Cleveland Call and Post laid out on the table, included his own. And,
he looks at these
newspapers. They're all playing up the fact the blacks and whites are
killing each other
off at these Army camps in the South. And, ah, Biddle says, "See these
newspapers? These
are hurting the war effort and if you don't stop writing this stuff,
we're gonna take some
black publishers to court under the Espionage Act," Washburn said.

"Well, Sengstacke, who is incredibly tough and was also a college
graduate, like Biddle,
although he didn't go to Harvard and Harvard Law School, says to, Biddle,
"Look, we've been
writing' this stuff since the 1820s, since black newspapers started in
this country, and we
don't intend to stop now. And if you don't like it, just take us to court
under the
Espionage Act." And you -- you've got to realize what an incredible thing
that is for
Sengstacke to say to Biddle because Biddle's the Attorney General of the
United States, the
top law officer. He clearly has the right to take 'em to court if he
wants to," Washburn

"Ah, well,, over the next 45 minutes or an hour, the two men calmed down.
At the end of
that time, Biddle tells, Sengstacke, he says, "Look, we're not gonna take
you to court
under the Espionage Act, you or the other black publishers, if you don't
write anything
that's more critical than what you're writing right now on the federal
government. However,
I hope that you and the other black publishers will tone down what you're
writing." And he
also promised that he would get black reporters into these press
conferences of white
officials. That was another little kind of thing that happened," Washburn
Sengstacke spread the word within the Black press about what happened at
the meeting.
Two years after assuming the role of publisher of the Defender,
Sengstacke, negotiated a
compromise with the Justice Department that protected the First Amendment
rights of the
African American press.
It was the first of many firsts for Sengstacke, according to Thomas
Picou, chairman of Real
Times, Inc., parent company of the Chicago Defender.
"John Sengstacke's was my uncle by marriage but also my guardian until
age 21," Picou said.
"He was chairman of a committee that desegregated the U.S Military as
part of the Committee
on Equality Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Forces.
"Through that, he developed a relationship with President Harry S.
Truman," he said.
He also founded the Negro Newspaper Publishers Association in 1940 and
helped Harry McAlpin
became the first African-American correspondent at the White House,
through the agreement
with the U.S. Justice Department. He arranged a meeting with the Brooklyn
Dodgers that
helped Jackie Robinson become the first MLB player, Picou said.

The Bud Billiken parade started in the 1920s by Abbott but
Sengstacke incorporated Defender Charities in 1945 to help support it,
along with
By 1956 the Chicago Defender began daily production, in time to chronicle
the events of the
Little Rock Nine, the landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education school
desegregation case,
according to his son Robert "Bobby" Sengstacke, former photographer for
the Chicago
Defender. His photographs, many posted inside the newspaper, chronicled
Black Chicago
through to the Civil Rights Movement and the fruits of its success.
"He used the newspaper to go around the country helping to improve the
race, bit by bit.
He sent a team of reporters out of the Tri-State Defender in Memphis,
Tennessee to cover
the Little Rock Nine," he said.
Later, his father brought them to Chicago to make appearances.
"I don't know if they were here to raise funds or not. He put them up in
a downtown hotel
for several days. They were like any other kids. They didn't talk a lot
about it but they
all had to be gutsy to do what they did," Bobby Sengstacke said.

The 1960s found Sengstacke back to business as usual, serving the
community through
relevant news.
It also mean a more demanding schedule.
"There was so much responsibility with the paper but he found time to
come home. Sometimes
the press would break down and they would have problems getting the paper
out. My father
did a lot of great things but he wasn't easy to get along with because he
was very
headstrong," Bobby Sengstacke said.
But he always came out a winner, said Sengstacke, who is now the only
surviving son.” When
you are in charge, you want to make it successful so if people thought he
was a
dictator--we got paid and we made money," he said.
"You had to be persistent with him though. It was always about business,"
he said.
He was great friends with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said
Joslyn DiPasalegne,
Sengstacke family historian, granddaughter of John Sengstacke and Vice
President of Event
Marketing. He was heavily involved in the Civil Rights marches and
"Whenever Martin Luther King was in Chicago, he saw John," she said.
Sengstacke mostly focused on improving the Defender during the 1970s.
He expanded it's circulation as far as O'Hare International Airport. It
had a daily
circulation of about 25,000, according to newspaper records. He
criticized area merchants
for not wanting to handle his product.
"Some distributors just don’t want us The same goes for some hotels but
there are a lot of
Blacks patronizing their places," he told one of his reporters during an
He hoped for improved race relations.
"It provably won't come during my lifetime but I hope some day we will
graduate from
tokenism to become full fledged members of the American scene," he said.
He said African-
Americans as a race had to "keep the pressure on."
He reflected that his father never really got to chose his career path.
He said his uncle
Abbott was sick and there was no one else at the time, qualified to run
the newspaper.
"I never got to ask him what he wanted to do with his life. Nobody knew.
After he started
the daily, he slowed down," Bobby Sengstacke said.
John Sengstacke started Amalgamated Publishing, an advertising company
but when he turned
the company over to new leadership, the business went down hill, Bobby
Sengstacke said.
In the 1990s, the Defender rolled along on its own strength. Back in the
1950s and 1960s 90
percent of the youth had a Defender. You could always find a party going
on. All of that
dropped off," he said.
Near the end of his father's life, he began raising money for Provident
Provident had been closed. He opened it so that poor Blacks didn't have
to go all of the
way to Cook County Hospital. He wanted to make sure people on the South
Side had health
care. He raised $55 million but it absorbed all of his time for 10
years," Bobby Sengstacke

The paper ran into serious financial problems and John Sengstacke
returned his attention to
the newspaper. He was also fighting a lifelong battle with emphysema.
He was in his 80s. He went back to chain smoking and in about a year or
so after returning
to the newspaper. Soon after, he died," Bobby Sengstacke said.
John Sengstacke also owned the Courier newspapers of Pittsburgh and Miami
and the Chronicle
of Detroit.
Chicago Defender publication grew to become the largest African-American
daily in the
Besides being directly involved in the desegregation of the U. S. armed
force, he also
worked closely with President Franklin D. Roosevelt to create jobs in the
United States
Postal Service for African-Americans, according to the African American
Registry Web site.
He died May 28, 1997 of emphysema.
His brother Fred Sengstacke, who started out at the Defender in 1935 as a
janitor, took
over as publisher.


Copyright Leslie Jones McCloud 2005

African-American lawyer and publisher, Robert Sengstacke Abbott

(1868-1940) founded the Chicago Defender on May 6, 1905.
He was born to former slaves Thomas and Flora Abbott in a cabin,

in Frederica, St. Simons Island, Georgia according to a

Philadelphia-based Mount Union College Web site on Abbott.
Soon Abbott's father died of tuberculosis and Flora remarried to

John Hermann Henry Sengstacke and it is here the legacy began.

Abbott's stepfather John, was a hardworking, well educated man.

John’s father, also John Hermann Henry Sengstacke, was a German

sea captain from Brehman, Germany who settled in Savannah Georgia

during the late 1830s, according to Joslyn DiPasalegne, Vice

President of Event Marketing, Sengstacke family historian and

Abbott’s great-niece.
"One day while surveying his new home, he went to the factors

walk--an area where warehouses and factories were in town. The

(sea captain) stared in horror. He had never seen a slave auction

before," she said.
He bought Tama to keep her from being humiliated. Shortly after

her purchase, he married her and they settled in Savannah. He

started a dry goods store in an area near factor's walk. They had

two children; John, Abbott’s stepfather and John's sister Mary


Tama died shortly after giving birth to her daughter.
The German sea captain, not wanting his children to become slaves

if anything were to happen to him, sent them to Germany to be

raised by his sister, DiPasalegne said.
"The Civil War kept him from returning to see his children before

he died. After his death Abbott’s stepfather, John came to settle

the sea captain's estate. That is where he met Flora, Abbott’s

mother, who was a recent widow. Her husband Thomas, Abbott's

natural father, died of tuberculosis shortly after Abbott was

born. She was fighting her in-laws over the rights to her son,"

she said.
John Sengstacke married Flora and together they raised seven other


Abbott’s stepfather, John became a Congregationalist minister, and

operated a school for black children said the Web site, African

American Registry.
He also operated the Woodville Times newspaper in their home state

of Georgia--the predecessor to the Chicago Defender those in the

Sengstacke family believe, DiPasalegne said.
Abbott was sent Claflin University and then studied the printing

trade at Hampton Institute from 1892 to 1896.
While there, he made a life changing discovery on a trip to

Chicago, singing with the Hampton choir, according to a film by

Stanley Nelson, The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords.
James Grossman, who is in the film, said Fredrick Douglass at the

age of 75 delivered a speech at the Columbian Exposition but was

heckled by a crowd of rowdy whites.
He made his speech anyway about how blacks serve great a purpose

in the world and Abbott was there watching and learning.
He said that Abbott was in Chicago for the first time and Ida B.

Wells had recently emerged as a major leader and voice within the

African American community. And all three of these people were


Abbott went on to receive a law degree from Kent College of Law,

Chicago in 1898, but because of race prejudice in the United

States, he was unable to practice, in spite of attempts to
establish law offices in Gary, Indiana, Topeka, Kansas, and

Chicago, Illinois.

So he returned to his roots. His stepfather John, had a print shop

of his own.
Christopher Reed in the film, The Black Press: Soldiers without

Swords, said he believed Abbott's presence at the fair led him to

believe a change in American values could come through the


"Abbott invested the 25 cents he had in his pocket, his good

name and then borrowed money from a friend," DiPasalegne said. He

set his printing equipment in his landlady's dining room with a

folding card table and used a kitchen chair as his office.

On May 5, 1905, he started the Chicago Defender.
He sold three hundred copies of the four-page booklet by going

door to door, visiting every barber shop, poolroom, drugstore, and

church on the South Side of Chicago, writes Roi Ottley, author of

The Lonely Warrior: The Life and Times of Robert S. Abbott.
Local news was the thrust of the Chicago Defender, as it is today.

Abbott started his earliest reporting by gathering tidbits around

his neighborhood.
His newspaper was penned "The World's Greatest Weekly" and

eventually made Abbott one of the first black self-made

millionaires through publishing. He worked for fifteen years to

make the newspaper successful, the African American Registry Web

site said.
He also immersed himself into the world of the Black Press.
Black Chicago got to see their world chronicled in print.
"Our news and neighborhoods were ignored. We didn't exist in the

other papers. We were neither born, we didn't get married, we

didn't die, we didn't fight in any wars, we never participated in

anything of a scientific achievement. We were truly invisible

unless we committed a crime. But in the Black Press, the Negro

press, we did get married. They showed us our babies being born.

They showed us graduating. They showed our PhDs,” Vernon Jarrett

said, in the film, Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords.

More than 500,000 Blacks migrated from the south to the north with

more than 50,000 settling in Chicago.

Abbott used The Defender to encourage migration to the North. He

would post job

notices and writings about better conditions in the North. He also

used red headlines to

speak his mind on each lynching that happened in the South in

hopes more Southern blacks

would relocate to the North.
He sent the Defender into the South. There, the Defender had a potential
black audience

nearly 200 times larger than

in Chicago, an audience that was hungry to hear what Abbott had to

say, film maker, Stanley Nelson said.

James Grossman of Nelson's film said the Chicago Defender was

blatant with the truth.

The Defender would say things like, "When the white fiends

come to the door, shoot them down. When the mob comes, take at

least one with you." Those

were things that if you were a black Southern newspaper, if you

were a newspaper editor in

Birmingham, Alabama, you can't say that because your newspaper's

going to get torched or

you're going to get run out of town.”

The nick name of public defender, still sticks in the minds

of those in the community who need help today.

Abbott’s editorial creed was to fight against "segregation,

discrimination and


The Defender reached national prominence during World War I, when

the paper's banner headline for January 6, 1917, read

"Millions to Leave South." The Defender became the bible of many

seeking "The Promised

Abbott used the full resources of the paper -- articles,

editorials, cartoons, poems, and

even songs-- in a campaign to urge the Defender's readers to come

North. The paper even

printed train schedules, one-way to Chicago, Nelson said in his


Abbott advertised Chicago so effectively that even migrants

heading for other

northern cities sought information and assistance from the pages

of the "Worlds Greatest

The Chicago Defender was a remarkably successful in encouraging

blacks to migrate from the

South to Chicago, often listing names of churches and other

organizations to whom they

could write for help, such as the Bethlehem Baptist Association in

Chicago, Illinois,

according to information from the Library of Congress.

Still, White southerners did not take the migration seriously.

“When the great migration really first began in the fall of 1916,


Southerners were sure that when blacks

went North, they would get cold. and they'd come back. That didn't

happen. Landlords and other employers began to realize that

their workers were

leaving so they began to try to stop people from leaving, which

meant trying to confiscate

The Chicago Defender. They would even have the police go up onto

railroad platforms and

arrest people for vagrancy,“ James Grossman said.

Nelson said with more than ten thousand black people leaving each

month, the South's economy

suffered and its leaders grew desperate. Some towns, ignoring the

Constitution, even banned

the sale of black papers to try to stem the tide of the migration.

In Somerville, Tennessee

a petition ordered that "no colored newspapers be circulated" and

that "every darkie must

read the local white paper." Abbott, asked for help from

the one group of African Americans who traveled freely through the

South--sleeping car porters.

“He hands them bundles of his newspapers, which they hide in the

train, and as these trains roll through the South,

instead of being put off at the stations like they used to be,

which are in the town limits

or the city limits, these porters would step out between cars or

at the back of the train,

toss 'em out in the countryside and suddenly all these Southern

cities found they couldn't

stop the black newspapers, no matter what they did, “ Patrick

Washburn said in Nelson’s film.
Thomas Picou, Sengstacke in-law and Chairman of Real Times, Inc. parent
company of the

Chicago Defender, said the train's path wound through New Orleans making
stops in Jackson

Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee then on to Chicago.
"It was called the chicken bone express because blacks

brought boxes of fried chicken with them. The train's dining car

was segregated," Picou said.
He said the people from the south also traveled through Indianapolis,

Detroit Michigan Cleveland Ohio to work in the steel mills,

automobile factories and stock yards.

As a result, thousands of prospective migrants got help with the

task of finding housing and employment.
During the years to come, Abbott was simply telling black folks

what to do when they made it north during the great migration.
Abbott, being a self made millionaire, cared about the social

graces of the new migrants and wanted them to fit into their community.

"Abbott himself was formal and reserved, writes Nelson.
“ He was 50 years old before he married. He

would allow neither his first nor his second wife to address him

as other than "Mr.

Abbott". He did not drink and avoided social activities. What he

enjoyed was the trappings

of wealth -- the gold- headed cane, the grand tours of Europe, and

even though he did not

drive, the Dusenberg convertible and Rolls-Royce limousine. Like

many in the black middle

class, Abbott was enamored of the social graces and attempted to

use the paper to teach

them to his readers. He even published a list of rules for

migrant's behavior. Such as:

"Don't promenade on the boulevards in your hog- killin' clothes."

"Don't clean your fingernails and pick your nose on the street."

"Don't flirt with the grocery, especially if your hair is still

chunky and full of bed

lint." " Nelson said.

The Chicago Defender and Mr. Abbott played a major role in

changing the face

the North. Using its pages, Mr. Abbott

was able to influence more than 50,000 African-Americans to leave

southern states and come to Chicago.

But like with all fast change comes conflict. There were riots and

allegations by the Unites States government of sedition during that time.
The Chicago Defender came under fire, starting with World War I.
Abbott was the first target of the intimidation effort on April 13, 1917,
only a week after

the United States entered WWI, according to information from Elliot
Parker of Central

Michigan University on the CataList Reference Web site.
Worried that repressed blacks would refuse to support World War I, the
War Department held

a conference with 31 of the nation's leading black editors in June of

The gathering was a seminal event in the relationship between the black
press and the U.S.

government in wartime. It led to President Woodrow Wilson making a
public denunciation of

lynching and commuting the sentences of 10 black soldiers who had been

sentenced to death for rioting," Parker wrote.
However, in 1919, race riots exploded across the United States and

of people were killed. It became

known as "The Red Summer".

Grossman said a riot broke out during the summer in Chicago, July

of 1919.
In the end, more than 30 people died. Hundreds were injured and

The Chicago Defender ran a box score. At the top of the front page

it would keep track, day-by-day, of how many people on each side

had been killed.
The government's first attempt to solve the black press problem,

which it instituted more than a year before the editors conference,

involved intimidating editors, writes Parker, whose publications it

Members of the Black Press capitalized on white and black soldiers

fighting each other during both World Wars.
The Chicago Defender went so far as to send a reporter undercover

to a military camp to capture what was going on, Picou said.
During the First World War and the subsequent Red Scare years the

Justice Department and its Bureau of Investigation, the

intelligence branches of the Army and Navy, the State and Post

Office Departments, and other federal agencies engaged in

widespread investigation of anyone deemed politically suspect.

Black Americans were special targets because they were perceived

by some as particularly receptive to the radical ideas.
And, it wasn't a secret.
Theodore Kornweibel Jr., a Professor of

African American History in the Africana Studies Department at San

Diego State University, wrote about it in an article entitled
"The Most Dangerous of All Negro Journals": Federal Efforts to Suppress
the Chicago Defender During World War I."

Abbott, created the "Bud Billiken" picnic in the early 1920s to thank
the children who helped sell his newspapers. The picnic is held in
conjunction with the Bud Billiken Parade, the annual South Side
celebration named for a mythical, squat comic character that serves as a

The parade, held in mid-August, honors black children on a route along
Martin Luther King Drive from 39th to 55th Streets. It is the nation's
largest African American parade, drawing thousands of spectators each
The thousands who heeded Abbott's call to move North created new

urban communities and in city after city, other black newspapers

were established to serve them. Nearly 500 black newspapers were
in print by the early 1920s

Government estimates of the Defender's circulation soared tenfold, from
12,000 to 120,000,

between 1916 and 1918.

The government cited Abbott's efforts toward migration during the war and
because the

Defender became available nationwide.
But it wasn't just the circulation of the Defender and other black
newspapers that

concerned the government but the eloquence of the editors and their
ability to sway the

public, in the role of journalist.
The Justice Department issued a report on October, 1919, on the threat to
public order from

what it considered radical publications. The section on the black press,
"Radicalism and

Sedition Among the Negroes as Reflected in Their
Publications," mentioned how articulate many black editors were.

(The citation on the report's reference to the black press:
"Investigation Activities of

the Department of Justice," 66th Congress, 1st Session, Senate

Document XII.)
Other editors under fire included W. E. B.DuBois of the Crisis, J.H.
Murphy of

the Baltimore, Afro-American, J.E. Mitchell of the St. Louis Argus ,
Cyril Briggs

of the, Amsterdam News and A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen of the

The group of black editors signed a resolution that asked for black
loyalty towards the

country and a belief that the Germans needed to be defeated. In return,
they asked for

President Woodrow Wilson was asked to create a federal law against
lynching but he
only denounced

it. There were slight improvements for black soldiers and officers
because of the

conference but overall, Parker writes, the conference failed to produce
concrete civil

rights results but it had an important psychological impact on the
editors and the militancy would continue during World War II.

As a result, soldiers' reading was curtailed.
"The Army said, "We don't think this is good. You can't read it."

On a number of bases you had papers that were taken away from

newsboys, black newspapers. You had paper burnings, Patrick

Washburn, who appeared in the film, The Black Press: Soldiers

Without Swords said.
Along with other African American newspapers, the Defender

protested the treatment of African American servicemen fighting in

World War II and urged the integration of the armed forces.
As a result of their protests, the U.S. government threatened to

indict African American publishers for sedition and treason, again.
But Abbott's health was in decline.
His 25th anniversary message to the public outlined what Abbott intended
to do when he started the newspaper.
"Before I started on my life's work--journalism, I was counseled by my
beloved father that a good newspaper was one of the best instruments of
service and one of the strongest weapon ever used in the defense of
race." Abbott said.
Abbott began a new magazine from October 1930 to September 1933

entitled Abbott's Monthly. Later the name was changed to Abbott’s

Weekly and Illustrated News. Inside were stories written by new

writers such as Richard Wright and Chester Himes. Abbott also

accepted submissions from Cook County, Illinois judges, like

Circuit Court Judge Joseph Burke. He wrote a piece called "Divorce,

the Great American Pastime," according to the cover of the

magazine, found on the Galactic Central Publications Web site.
Seven years later, Abbott died at the age of 70.
He died of Bright's disease, an inflammation of the kidneys, on

February 29, 1940.
By then, he had become the father of three newspapers; The Chicago

Defender, The Louisville Defender, and the Michigan Chronicle in Detroit.
However, he did

not have any children, so he left his business with his nephew, John H.
And just in time, because by 1942, near the end of World War II, there
were new charges of sedation against the Chicago Defender and John
Sengstacke would find himself following in his uncle's footsteps.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Help for the Addicted

Copyright Leslie Jones McCloud 2005

An act of defiance 20 years ago saved Juan Deas from a life of misery. He diagnosed
himself as an alcoholic at the age of 14.
"I felt early on I would be an active alcoholic for the rest of my life," he said.
Eventually, his family slipped away and a chance after high school to attend college.
He methodically recounted his history of being addicted, as if he was discussing his own
case history with colleges at a staff meeting.
He remembered how many times he went to dry out at a men's mission before being confronted by a counselor for fighting, then getting put out of the program. He hit a wall with drinking at his next treatment program where his problems continued.
"She was screaming at me. The director told me I would never amount to anything," he said.
He entered a 30-day program to prove her wrong.
Now at the age of 46, he is Program Director at Discovery House in Pennsylvania and has
been counseling others on the jagged path of addiction for 16 years. He has earned a
certification in addictions counseling and a master's degree in health science. Deas was on
hand Wednesday for an open house at the local Discovery House located on Cleveland Street.
Richard Heidenreich, the program director at that location, said Discovery House is a
national methadone maintenance treatment program for those who are addicted to
opiates. They have 13 clinics in five states.
He said that their clients are people who are addicted to painkillers like oxycodone HCl
controlled-release (Oxycontin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine (Tylenol-3), heroin, morphine
or any other opiate. They are one of the few outpatient clinics who enroll teenage
"We offer methadone maintenance and counseling services. For those persons in the program
that need to be stepped down off of methadone gradually, we offer medically supervised
withdrawal," he said.
Mark Besden, a Discovery House program director in Hatboro, Penn., said Oxycontin is the
drug most patients use because it is more powerful than Vicodin.
"Doctors don't like to give pain medication to methadone users," Robin Schulte, a LPN at
the local Discovery House said, and it becomes an issue in pain management.
Methadone, like the drugs it combats, is an opiate too and the clinics often carry a bad
image because of it.
"People are so ashamed to say they come to a clinic," Schulte said.
She said county police officers sit in the parking lot on Cleveland Street and GRIT
officers use the huge space as a staging area. It houses commercial property where a beauty
shop, barber shop, tax accountant and a flea market call home.
Discovery House patients can be detoxed off of illegal drugs in about 30 days. The
average length of time on methadone varies from 12 to 18 months.
Discovery House plans to offer in the next year, buprenorphine (Suboxone) treatment where
patients would come to clinic less frequently.
Including Heidenreich, there are three counselors who provide services to 120 patients for
$63 per week who live in the surrounding areas. The clinic can comfortable service 350.
There weren't any who signed up for services Wednesday during the open house. He hopes that
will change in the coming days.
"They're lives are out-of-control because of usage. We are starting to see more and more
teens as heroin addiction takes off. The family dynamics are askew or there might be a
predisposition to use. The key element is the environment at home, he said.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

...more importantly (read this)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Is My Book Boring?

1:35 PM 7/21/2005 Copyright Leslie Jones McCloud 2005
"I stink."
" And anyone who lookin can tell that my hair isn't
combed." Marion said aloud.
It sort of just stragled along her shoulders, like straw as she clip clopped down the street, clumsily.
No job.No man.No cares.
Marion hefted her bags up the stairs to a waiting cafe table to
order several of Wet Willy's special frozen drinks and to look at
the men.South Beach shopping and drinking made her forget all of her
problems--which was the purpose of living in Miami instead of
Indiana.But it's really no place for little kids, she thought.
"I'll have a large strawberry margarita, please." she told the
waitress who bounced away to fetch the order, blond pony bobbling
Shopping gets respect in South Beach--not everyone can do it.
Marion relaxed a bit. It was humid and she tried to smooth her
black, parted-down-the-middle-60s-layered-do with her open palms.
"This is like exercise." she said to herself.
She looked down at the loop of flesh oosing around her midsection.Now, that ain't a cute look.
She pulled out her new leather large Coach Shopper from the box. (Now, that's a good look.)
Camel matched her new mules that she so countrily wore out of the
store after buying them. But country is okay in Miami--it is still the south.
She took her time transferring the contents of her black Coach
bucket into her new purse. The leather smelled good and mixed well
with the sea mist in the air. The sun on the balcony of one of the most well loved bar on the beach gave little protection from the noonday sun.
"I love me" she said audibly and shaking around the contents of
her new purse and fanning a little.She rumbled in her new bag for her phone.
"Ma, what chal doin'?"
Nothing Marion, why. What do you want now?"
"Nothing just calling. How are the kids?"
Fine, when you coming to get them?
"Next week. Next two weeks. Gotta find another job.
"Again? Girl whats wrong with you? Your daddy had the same job for
40 years," her mother said.
She eagerly reached for the drink and handed the woman her card to
open a tab.
"Ma, I'm a writer and things are different for me. Didja get that
money I sent?"
"Yes but you really ain't sending me any money cause most of it goes
to feed and clothe your kids."
I sent $1,200. I ain't broke. You need more?"
"No, but still. A woman down there by herself at your age.Why don't you stay up here and do something."
"What ma, like get married?
"Yeah, and have some more kids."
"It would be nice but that's just not the path I'm on right now. It
would be nice though.I'm gonna make some roots here in Florida so in about 20 years you and dad can have someplace nice to live,"
"And watch your kids too, right?
"Bye Marion. Grow up. You are a 35-year-old divorced woman writing
God knows what for whomever will pay you,.
"And I get paid well too ,ma. Bye. I'm gonna grow up. Don't worry," Marion said, taking another brain freezing slurp out of her drink.
"Are you drinking?"
"It's just a frozen drink ma."
"Bye Mari."
Momma hung up. Marion could hear her children and her nices and
nephews in the background playing. They seemed happy. One big
happy family.And here she was on the deck of a bar drinking in the hot
sunshine.But she knew she didn't want to stay in Indiana so she had to make this work.Someone had to have need for a corporate writer.
"Hell I can commercialize or spin anything. And still a pretty
decent news reporter," she thought to herself.
Continental paid her pretty well when they were done with her--$100,000 is enought to pad the way until the next job.She slurpped on her drink. It was good. Couldn't even taste the
grain alcohol.

Meanwhile, her friends could join her in her search for a new her. Momma could hold out a little longer with just a little bit more money.
She text messaged Nicey. Her husband would let her out of the
house. Hell he was never there anyway. One advantage to holding off on childbearing. Her phone rang in the middle of the message.
"Yeah, fool where you at now?"
"You moved to Florida?"
"Yeah, I'm sitting out here right now sippin' on a margarita. Yall
coming down here?
"Me and Toni--I don't know about Sheila. She got a job and a man."
"She ain't no fun noway. You bringing Tom?"
"If he want to go. You know how you two fight."
"Shit I ain't married to him. I don't have to do what any ol' man says for
me to do," Marion said, wriggling her neck. She took another long suck of margarita.
"Well if yall come down here look me up."
"I'll be down there Wednesday but Toni said she can't come until
this weekend."
"Okay. Where yall staying?"
"We got a time share down there Toni said she staying with us."
"Okay. I should be totally moved in by tomorrow. We can have a
"I hope this is the last time you have to move."
"Shit, I needed a job."
"Unhunn, 1,500 miles away."
Marion was silent. She knew why Niciey was hedging.She didn't want to get serious with Tom's friend Bobby.
"One of us stuck in Indiana is enough."
"Okay dear. We'll see you Wednesday."
"Alright, bye. "
Chapter Two
The house was a mess but it was hers. She bought it because she
really wanted to put down roots.All homes came with an inground pool in Miami. The kids would love
it because they've never had much more than an inflatable pool in the courtyard. The grill disappeared, somehow. Apartment living wasn't big on outdoor privacy.
Grandma's house was only temporary but at least they had a
backyard. And the same inflatable pool. And Grandma's grill.
But Marion had just purchased 2,450 square feet of South Florida sunshine--for just about all of
her 401K.
The white piano in the corner, wet bar--it was so 60s--master bedroomand bath would keep her just fine.
The children each had their own room and there was a dining room, guest room, family room, a huge professional kitchen screened patio and huge vaulted ceilings in the living room. To top it off it was in a gated community. Marion wondered why it came so cheap but she didn't care if someone died in the house. There were plenty of pastors in town that would bless the house for a good tithing church member.
Everyone decent in Florida had a home in a gated community, a pool
and a screened patio.
"Maybe they won't notice I don't have any furniture, yet," she wondered.
Besides a black barstool, and an Asian-inspired room divider,
the house was empty but for love. She managed to move with her three beds and three dressers and two televisions.
She didn't have the DVDs and other electronics because she was never home enought to think to buy them when she was out. Her feet never stayed at home, where a good woman's belonged. Marion never fitted in well with the old-fashioned values that surrounded her.
It was dark in her house too. She left much of her favored lamps and other lights her mom gave her in Indiana.
Marion, in her fit of shopping, didn't even bother to look for
things for her home when she arrived in Miami. She bought more clothes, some luggage and
accessories. None of it reflected a need for putting down roots. And it's difficult to live in a Coach Leatherwear handbag.
She hadn't bothered to check to see if the children were in a good
school district or if there were good day cares in the area.
She was living in a weathy area and wealthy people had nannies.
"I need a job," she heard herself say aloud standing in the middle of her house, surveying all that needed to be done.
Chapter Three
Niciey and Tom were the most popular couple in the city. They went
to all of the right balls and galas, donated to the right
charities, had the picture perfect life--and above all they still
loved one another and got along.But they rarely spent more than 30 days straight, together. Alone.
This trip to Florida would be more like a mini spring break than ahoneymoon.Niecy and Tom liked to have fun together. And bringing Bob would
make it all that much more fun.They might even meet some more swingers while they were there.Tom got Niecey into swinging exactly 45 weeks after they were
married. It's almost as if it were planned that way.She resisted at first but after meeting Bobby and his wife Tammy
then LeAuthur and Clea she knew she would never go back to regular
married life.
And a good thing for Tom because he knew he couldn't love anyone else.She got used to watching her husband glare at the breasts of other
women. At least he picked for her, attractive, endowed men who
were nice before plowing into another man's wife. He had nerves of
steel to introduce her into his lifestyle.But to look at Tom, one would ever know and he liked it that way.Niciey sat up in the bed and gently shook Tom.
"Is Bobby still going?"
Anymore, they didn't have much sex without the swinging.Tom was sound asleep.
"What. Yeah, he's going. He ain't got nothing better to do."
Bobby's wife left him after a particularly interesting coupling
with a West Indian couple last year. Hadn't seen or heard from
Tammy or Rufus, since.Marion helped soothe some of the pain but now she was gone too and
Bobby looked to only float through life now.Still, no one dared tell Marion about the swinging. Besides it was
married couples only. She didn't need to know just yet.


Leslie Jones McCloud
Copyright July 2005
GARY--Passersby grabbed for shirts and other promotional items Tuesday at a Soul 106.3 live remote held outside of Mercantile Bank on Melton Road.
The event, sponsored by Edgewater Systems for Balanced Living, was held to promote a concert Friday July 29 at Marquette Park Pavilion featuring artist Angela Bofill and an array of classic automobiles.
However, to get free tickets to "Vintage Night on the Lagoon" Bofill fans will have to listen to the radio.
James Ward, Director of Marketing for Edgewater, said 12 pairs of tickets to the event will be given away this week to listeners during 106.3 radio contests.
"Dr. Hughes is excellent at building relationships. (she) also likes music from the 70s and 80s," Ward said.
Tickets to the event are $50 and the attire is white, Ward said, because it promotes the idea of a summertime beach concert.
The event is being coordinated by the Ambassadors of Edgewater, a group of community members and business owners who are committed to supporting the non-profit behavioral health care company.
Roosevelt Haywood III, President and CEO of Haywood and Fleming Associates, is one of the many Ambassadors for Edgewater. He said their numbers swell and shrink but at least 12 members are working on the concert. Haywood specializes in insurance and risk
management and is helping to promote Vintage Night through his business.
"It is the prominent health care system in Gary and Northwest Indiana. Ambassadors support the mission of Edgewater and raise funds," Haywood said. He also said the concert gears community members up for the annual Ambassadors Ball held in October.
Ward said they have had as many as 21 Ambassadors at one point.
However many, CEO of Edgewater, Danita Johnson Hughes, Ph.D, is a fan of classic songs and the Ambassadors of Edgewater. She said she was thrilled to find out Bofill had been booked for the event.
"I love her. I remember her from back-in-the-day. The Ambassadors are extremely helpful because they have been in the community for a long time and they are very active," Johnson Hughes said.
Funds raised will be used for new and enhanced programs such as shelter and care for homeless teenagers and educational or prevention programs at Edgewater.
The concert, for the most part has become an annual event that the community as well as Edgewater employees have come to enjoy.
"Its a chance to mingle and get out and have a good time. Last year they had the Spaniels I believe and vintage cars. It's really a good time," Armelia Johnson, who works in the finance department for Edgewater, said.

I'm Getting Old

It was a snowy day when I took this picture of myself several years ago. I had braids with strands of blonde intertwined with my off black and brown hair.
Sometimes I forget what my real haircolor looks like because it's been dyed so much.
Until recently.
I went to part my hair in the traditional down-the-middle-60s-look and there it was: a wirey patch of gray strands.
It was almost white.
Well, I haven't dyed my hair yet. I just find another area that is grayless in which to part my hair.
I am REALLY getting old...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play

Saturday, June 25, 2005

I Know Some Really (nice) People...

I Know Some Really nice People and They Act Like I don't Know.I don't want to have to write this blog but someone has to say it.And I'm only saying it because I really like you. Thank you for being so nice up but find some way to be humble.
Humility is God's gift to us. It prevents us from being insufferable know-it-all, pains-in-the-ass idiots to the rest of the human race.Humility stops other folks from disliking you.Humility brings knowledge and self discovery. I no longer avoid humbling experiences but welcome them. The single most important lesson learned: how to develop good news judgement.
Not every word, idea, is "fit to print," to quote the New York Times.But back to you. Do things the right way, damn.
Ask the Washington Post editor who was in charge during the Watergate Scandle. He's still a little skittish. (I know. I tried to congradulate him at an SPJ convention in Florida one year and he nearly jumped out of his skin. The man literally skittered away out of the crowd.)He don't want none--okay?Ask him why if you can catch up to him.
Okay, be the judge of this:I read in well-respected Florida newspaper about migrant workers who are beginning to have babies born with birth defects. However, this phenomena has been reported among Latina and Hispanic workers as far away as Ohio--or somewhere in the Midwest, thousands of miles away from Florida.
I guess knowing about it at all, is good. Thanks reporter in Florida for the series. I really had to search the Website to find it. (although, that ain't yo fault)

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Copyright LJM 2005
Buy the auctioned items at ebay sometime in the near future:
Upon first look, there was nothing exceptional about Melnic's.
A brief glance at the rows of candles, oils and incence inside the store at 3700 Arthur Street, may be lead customers to believe that they were just a mixture of colorful dyes,some oil and wax.

However, for George Christ, owner of Melnic Corporaton, the preparations he sold for the past 12
years were unique religious items. His customers came from near and far through the years
and most of those who attended an auction at Melnic's Tuesday came to buy the incence and

religious candles--although everything was on auction.Inside, there were bundled stacks of dream and lucky number books. Erby Tucker of Gary was
a faithful customer. He said the lucky numbers really work and credits the books for
winning a state lottery."If you have a certain number, stick with it," he said.There were shelves of candles and incense up for sale in the mix of items for auction. An
entire shelve of religious candles sold for as little as $5 to $8.Those candles may be
found for as much as $12 elsewhere.Amy Spencer bought some of the candles and said she planned to donate them to a social
organization.Some of the candles were labled,"Love Drawing Power Candles" and one read, "evil woman be
gone." Some had Spanish words on them. One candle was called a Tobacco candle and said to
aid in a person's release from jail or winning a court case.There were bottles of colored
powder called sachets, used to ward off evil spells, jinxes or confusion.Some of the chubby vials were labled "Stay Home" and "Do As I Say" but no one in the store
at the time wanted to discuss their purpose, in depth. Regular customers said they knew how
the more obscure items like, Mandrake root, could be used.An older gentleman, bidder number 50, bought some red and black "reverse" candles, that the
owner said customers used to reverse bad luck and spells. Highland resident, Tim McKenny bought two boxes and said he would give his candles to friends.Carey Andrews bought a display case and a pallet of products. He said he would share his
find with friends too.Some who were there made a habit of going to auctions and reselling
items.Margot Alfaro said she planned to sell the stacks of incense she bought at a flea
market."It's hard to watch your business being sold piece by piece," Hebron resident
Danielle Torkleson said.She figured, many of the items were specialty and not marketable to
a wide audience.Many of Melnic's customers were said to be appreciative of the advice they'd get from the Christ and the high-quality products. Christ said his father made all of the potions, oils, incense and candles himself.

Friday, May 13, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Remember what Bill Cosby said last year?

Copyright LJM 2005

Vincent Lavar is 22-years-old and lives with his girlfriend Nicole Gordon, 19 in the Dixie Manner Apartments—which is subsidized housing in Boca Raton, FL. Neither had heard about the comments made last month by actor and comedian Bill Cosby.
When Cosby gave impromptu comments on the state of the African American community--he could not have realized the whole world was listening.
During a speech last month in Washington D. C. Cosby criticized poorer African Americans for reportedly, “not holding up their end of the bargain.”
Cosby made his infamous comments in front of a mostly well to do, well heeled, crowd at a gala commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.
Reportedly the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Kweisi Mfume and Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert were present.
Essentially, Cosby validated the perception that African-Americans who are economically disadvantaged have bad work ethics, low morals, misplaced priorities and distasteful lifestyle choices.
And they have no one to blame for their predicament but themselves.
Cosby, in effect, validated a stereotypical African American image that is hard to shake.
However, Levar and Gordon might not have heard of the unfortunate comments because they are too busy raising their two children.
Gordon has a 3-year-old son James Swain and the couple has a 9-month-old son who is named after his dad, Vincent.
Lavar is caring for his girlfriend’s oldest son as any stepfather would—accept that the couple is not married and epitomize some of the negative images in the black community that Bill Cosby spoke about last month.
But the pair feels as if they are good parents.
“I don’t care because I handle my business,” Lavar said.
Gordon said she doesn’t mind that Cosby made the statements because it’s not important to her and it doesn’t apply to her.
“It will probably make Black people look bad,” she said.
Locally, prominent and working class Palm Beach County African Americans gave comment on Cosby’s views. Many had only heard very little about the statements but enough to know that they were unvarnished comments.
Wayne Barton, founder and Chief Economic Officer for the Wayne Barton Study Center in Boca Raton said he agrees with what Cosby meant to say—that the disintegration of the Black family has taken its toll.
“We’re getting away from the original way African American families were raised years ago. Everything we did center on the church. Now, we just go there to die,” he said.
“Bill Cosby didn’t candy coat the issue. We need to really stop and think about what is going on in our households,” Barton said.
Barton said Cosby might have made the comments to, “wake up the black community,” because African-Americans are living in liberal times and youth are, at times, encouraged to be disrespectful when parents withhold discipline.
Dixie Mannor resident, Pollie Shivers, is a single mom and she agreed with what Cosby meant to say but not how he said it.
“What he said is true some of us are giving excuses for not getting a job—I don’t think his comments should have been broadcast. It’s bad enough we have (people outside of the African-American race) saying those things let alone some one of our own color,” she said.
But it's not as if Cosby's life has not been touched by tragedy.
The actor's late son, Ennis Cosby was killed in 1997. That same year he was accused of having a child out-of-wedlock. A woman named Autumn Jackson allegedly tried to blackmail the comedian. Cosby admitted he helped her financially.
At the height of "The Cosby Show" popularity, he was heavily criticized for not realistically portraying African-American family life.
He defended his characterizations of upper class blacks and so did the rest of America.
“He has more leeway to say it because he was talking about African-Americans and he is African-American--but Cosby now has the burden,” Nelson Hall, a Professor of music at Florida Memorial College in Miami said. Hall is Cuban-American. He is also the Director of Music at First United Methodist Church in Boca Raton. He said many of his friends are African-American and they seemed to agree with Cosby when he charged that some blacks don’t take responsibility for their actions and like to blame others for their bad decisions.
Rivera Beach City Manager, Bill Wilkins said that Cosby has the right to express his opinion and that the furor surrounding the comments is counter productive.
“Criticism will minimize the ongoing struggle for equal rights…everyone knows the strides we've made. Sometimes controversial comments wake up the consciousness in people,” Wilkins said.
Delray resident H. Ruth Pompey, widow of the late local civil rights activist Spencer Pompey, said she agrees with Cosby’s comments.
“I think people should think more about education. If it were me, Id’ be putting that money in a bond or something so my child could go to school. We don’t like to hear things like that--sometimes because we think that people like that don’t care--Cosby wasn’t born rich, he made sacrifices,” she said.
Pompey’s husband helped to bring an end to racial pay disparities between white and black teacher’s salaries in Delray during the 1940s.
Cosby’s comments at least have inspired spirited debate among members of the African American community.
Two friends talked about it after leaving work Tuesday in Boca Raton.
“I don’t think he should have said those things in public,” Paul Rollins said. He was dropping off a friend from work--a man who identified himself as Johnnie R.
Johnnie R said Cosby spoke out loud what is often only whispered within the African-American community.
“There are certain things you don’t say in public--but what he said is true,” he said, stating that the family unit is no longer a priority among some—even when children are involved.
However, he cautioned, “no man should judge another.”
Joe Smith, of Delray is 45 years old and says he didn’t marry the mother of his children until the youngest was 3 or 4 and he doesn’t see anything wrong with it. Cosby’s comments about lifestyle choices offended him.
“That’s why he made those comments—he doesn’t know and he is on the outside looking in,” he said.
In fairness, Cosby is familiar with certain lifestyle choices. He has had struggles of his own but a boot-strap mentality isn’t always reserved for the born-rich. Sometimes, we just forget from where we come.

Monday, May 09, 2005

If You Get Me

If You Get Me
Sometimes it's good to stop and think--do a little reflecting.
Measure what you're doing by reviewing your value structure. But
make sure you've established one.
A good value structure can keep you on the right track and out of
a lot of hot water.
Let's start with relationships. I don't have one.
I decided that I can only have a relationship with a man who gets
me. This is why I am alone.
But it's okay. I can do alone. I can't do nagging, worrying and
sour disposition.
Women who display these characteristics are often with men who
don't get them. Being in these relationships is better than being
alone to them or they've just given up and too tired to get out of
Alone is better for me than just putting up, shutting up and
putting out. But it's not just because I think I'm a better woman
but because I really just don't know how. I'll
stay on track with the quiet woman routine but then I'll lose my
concentration and forget who I'm supposed to be and before you
know it, I've opened my mouth, closed my legs and grabbed an
Then there goes the relationship.
But, I guess in the long run, it wasn't really a relationship but
just sex. A bit of passion.
Several men expected me even to carry out a pregnancy under the
quiet woman routine. But because I was playing a role and not
being myself, they thought that I would make a good baby's momma.
None had given me a ring and proposed marriage. Just wanted a baby's
momma on the side 'cause that seemed to be the thing to do.
And these men aren't slouches--by any means.
They'd have much more to lose than I if their potential love child
would have come to light.
Because I'm not a teenage girl and know the difference between
love and lust and passion and loved them enough in my own way to
do what was best--even when it was painful to do--I remained
chaste. No extra babies for me--as cute as they could be. (In my
own mind of course)
These guys, I love, figured I wasn't doing anything better (in their
mind) than to add to my responsibilities. And that they would be a
good catch for me and that I should be grateful men of their status
would even bother with the little match girl (see French
children's fable Allumette who froze to death outside of a French
bakery dreaming about food as she tried to sell matches to
passersby on Christmas Eve)
But that they wanted a piece of me forever, laying claim to me to be their
baby momma (not mama).
In a really immature way, I appreciate d
the sentiment.
It's a good stroke for the ego.
But that's all that stroke should be--good for the ego. It doesn't
need to be a life long commitment to a permanent situation where
I would be looked upon to explain how it all came about--as soon as the
potential love child grew up.
They're not always infants, babies and little kids. They become
12-year-olds with a high intellect (I told you none of the men I
know are slouches) and they would want to know why my ex-husband
isn't their father too, like their brother and sister.
Why would I want to put myself through that? Or them? Or that
potential baby daddy. He'd only be mad at me in the end when the thrill was gone and then there would still be the baby to raise, with or without a dad.
I now know the love for a child demonstrated by
their father only may go as far as the love they demonstrate for
the child's mom--whether they stay together or not.
Upon reviewing my value structure today, I figure I'm doing the
best I can with what I have. And it's nice to know you have some
value in the world--even if it is as a baby momma.
However, I have one question: how did this phenomena of baby mommas come about?
Why not marry and have a whole and complete family unit?

Monday, May 02, 2005

Oh my eye

My contact lense slipped into the back of my eyeball Sunday while in Sunday school. I put another in so I can't tell if I have two in my right eye or not. When it slips into the back, it's hard to notice it's there.
I've started going to Sunday school. My son expressed an interest in church, so we started to go. He's seven. However, we have age appropriate classes so I'm in the Adult class. We discuss world events as it relates to religion and hold all sorts of interesting conversations. They don't make judgements--or at least they don't voice them to me. It would be difficult for me to explain why I'm out dancing and stuff way past 10 p.m. sometimes.
I guess they too were once young and in the world.