These Hands, That Oven, That Woman: I Made My Wife A Carrot Cake. I’d Do it Again

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I made a carrot cake for my wife on Sunday. It looked just like the one pictured, only the plate that I served it on was white porcelain, with a peacock painted on its surface. And there were no nuts. Three fifths of my family are allergic.

No frosting either. And there was only one layer, not three. I’m no showoff.

But I made it myself with ingredients that I bought from the store. No boxes were opened in the baking of my cake. Betty Crocker’s fingers weren’t up in that bowl. Just three solar yellow eggs, some brown sugar, all purpose flower and carrots. And love.

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A long time ago my wife told me that her father used to make carrot cakes. They had gained some renowned in their Staten Island apartment, but she had never tasted it. Her father is a traditional man, who made traditional carrot cakes. Carrot cakes unfit for a child with nut allergies.

I remember thinking that his act had an edge of cruelty to it. Create something delicious, only to make it lethal for one of your loved ones.

I had to bake her a carrot cake. I filed it away for years. It was on my relationship bucket list, below a real honeymoon, but above ballroom dancing classes. Had I known how easy it is to bake, I would have crossed it off sooner. It had to wait while a perfect domestic storm brewed. A beautiful day, not much to do, hours before dinner… let me go to Kroger to get some vanilla extract.

The mix was too wet. I used too much yogurt. While everyone else ate roasted chicken around the coffee table, I waited in the kitchen. Because the directions were precise. Between 20 and 24 minutes at 350 degrees. At minute 25 I stuck a fork in. It came out wet and gummy. I tried again at 27, and again at 30.

It was good, though. Moist, with a hint of spices that was more complicated than the artificial box cakes that I’m used to. My wife and I ate about a quarter of it. My step son passed. “No Thanks.” My step daughter took a slice. Her nose crinkled. She ate that sliver, and then said, “um… It’s okay.” Her polite was of saying, “Yuck.” Inside I did a fist pump.

About 20 minutes later she gave it another taste. And liked it. A lot. She had a few more small pieces, and then took some with her to school. All of the pieces were small. The net impact was large. The next morning, when we came downstairs, what remained of that poor cake was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand.

And then I realized why Michelle’s dad had never made a carrot cake without nuts. Because, to put it plainly, there are some things that are between a man and his wife. Like carrot cake. And while you can’t tell a thirteen year old girl, “no, you can’t touch that. That’s for old sexy people…” You can make it unpalatable, or yucky… or a little bit lethal.

I don’t normally write about food. I was inspired about the 300 sandwiches blog.

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That’s Him? I thought he was Carson Kressley, from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. At Least Someone thinks he’s worth 300 Sandwiches.

Here’s the hook. This woman in Brooklyn makes her boyfriend 300 sandwiches, and then he propose to her. Much has already been written about it. They always remark that she is attractive. Which she is. And only ugly chicks have to work to maintain and build a relationship. Right?

She has been criticized for a number of things, but most of it comes down to the notion that it is demeaning for her to do something so…mundanely subservient. I admit, the guy sounds like a bit of an ass. But that’s her man, and she isn’t the first woman to want to jump the broom with a douche. If she wants to exchange a bunch of bread and meat for a wedding ring, that’s her business.

But to hell with the ring. By the time she hits sandwich 300, this woman will have a book deal, a show in the Cooking Network and a movie. Some of the people throwing stones at her and her relationship – built on a firm foundation of sandwiches – are probably mad because they didn’t think of it first. I know I am.

If I could change this blog to, “Where’s My Carrot Cake Motherfucker!!!” I would. Instead I’ll continue to bake carrot cakes in anonymity. Continue to have my 13 year old take the lion’s share while my wife and I sleep. Carrot cake is easy. Life is hard.

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Story Prompt: Paris is Empty! My Wheels are Already Turning

I’ve been consumed by the idea of the apocalypse ever since Mad Max. That movie made the end times look cool. I guess it just stuck.
Hypocentre is the work of some folks from Paris who wanted to see their city in a different way. Free of people and all of the visual and mental static that we bring. That, and the Inception-ish soundtrack makes me want to go bang out some sic-fi.

Thirteen Year Old Kid Faces Expulsion for Doing the things Kids Do.

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Khalid Caraballo. Suspended for a year for waging an airsoft war. In his own yard

Khalid Caraballo was suspended from Larkspur Middle School in Virginia Beach Va. earlier this week. All because of that stupid looking green gun, a stupid neighbor and a dumb school administrator.

This kid was playing in his front yard before school. His bus stop is just down the street, so why not? A bunch of the other kids were there, all armed to the teeth, presumably with his arsenal. Maybe he fired on a fellow student who was walking to the bus stop. He says he didn’t. Other people say he did. And thirteen year old kids lie sometimes. Even good ones.
Then the bus came. And they all put their guns away and went to school. Armistice achieved. If only all wars were resolved so easily.

Eyes were on them as they played. A neighbor peering through bent shades, phone in hand. I think she had already dialed 9-1, was just waiting for a reason to drop that last digit.

She knew the guns were toys. She even says so on the 911 tape. She called because, as a mother, the the whole thing made her feel uncomfortable.

“He’s pointing a gun, and it looks like there’s a target in a tree,” she told the police. “…I know it’s not a real one, but it makes people feel uncomfortable. I know it makes me feel uncomfortable, as a mom, to see a boy pointing a gun.”

She called the police. Because she felt uncomfortable.

She could have simply turned around, walked away from the window and sat the hell down. Or, if the sound of boys playing grated on her soul that much, she could have walked outside and talked to the kids. If that was too far from her comfort zone, she could have spoken to Khalid’s mom.

She could have. But why, when the police are only three digits away.

The police came. The school was notified. And Khalid and two other boys were removed from their classrooms and suspended pending expulsion.

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Matthew Delaney, Zero Tolerance Educator

That was this guy’s idea. Principal Matthew Delaney. He runs a tight ship over at Larkspur Middle School. Joy is not tolerated, not even when the children are at home.

“…one child was only 10 feet from the bus stop and ran from the ‘shots being fired’, but was still hit.” said Delaney.

Although it sounds like an account from the DC Navy Yard shooting, we are talking about the same incident. A kid was hit by a neon plastic airsoft pellet. Thankfully, that child will pull through.

Can a principal take action concerning an event that didn’t take place on school property? That remains to be seen. I suspect there are lawyers on their way to Khalid’s mom’s house right now. The school board will hear an appeal in January, but this might be decided in the courts way before then.

Anyway, if there is anything the past few weeks have taught is, it’s that school administrators don’t have to be smart. Just yesterday, we found out that the superintendent of the Coatesville School District in Pennsylvania, loves to say nigger. And it wasn’t too long ago, that a little girl was sent home from school for another zero tolerance policy, this one concerning her hair style.

One more thing. There are just some women that you don’t want to make uncomfortable. This time it only led to a group of boys getting suspended from school for the rest of the year. It got a guy shot in North Carolina. He’d just pulled himself from a horrible wreck, and went to the first house he saw. Knocked on the door too vigorously, and the lady of the house dialed 911 and said she was being burglarized. The cops then gunned him down in the street.

One more thing about the woman who called the cops. Her son was one of the boys fighting an airsoft war in Khalid’s yard. I hope he’s sharing that one year suspension, too.

Please like my facebook page. Just click the chadvs. and then push that little button. Also, follow me. You won’t regret it.

Now, if I just said something that you absolutely disagree with, comment. If you agree, comment. And to that woman who called the police on poor Khalid? Please comment.

 

 

 

Cool for Cool’s Sake. A Time Lapse of Burning Man 2013

I’ve never been to burning man. I know only what I’ve read, so I don’t know very much. Some things have to be experienced, and even from 2,300 miles away, I know this is one of those things.
Nor am I a wannabe. As cool as I may think it is, I know that some things are not a good fit. I felt like capoeira was amongst the coolest martial arts ever. After six months of practice, I stopped. It’s still cool. It’s just not for me.
Same for Burning Man. I don’t like being naked. I haven’t worn a costume in years. Drugs? Not so much. Dancing? Meh. Burning Man is cool…but you will never see me on the playa.
Still, I dig it. I like knowing that somewhere out there, there is a bunch of costumed people dancing in the desert in the name of art and radical expression.
You won’t see any of that in this video. No plumes, no pasties, no bodypaint or art cars. None of those things that Burning Man has become synonymous with. What you will see is the synapses of a city that, days previous, exited only as an idea.
Which is cool.

Sherlock the Dog; Jedi or Sith?

Once there was a dog that quietly lay in my step son’s hands. He lay there for miles and miles, long after the rest of us had been driven stir crazy by the traffic on 20, driving up from North Carolina through Georgia. Accidents were just barely avoided. Brakes slammed on and then released. We broke the speed limit and then crawled along at five miles per hour. And then stopped. The dog lay still.

I was afraid he was sick. He was the smallest dog in a litter of eight, if I recall. I thought he would make it to our home, lay down and pass. I didn’t tell anyone; not even my wife. But I was prepared the speech in my head. The one where you talk about a better place, before you dig a discreet hole in the back yard.

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Sherlock in the impossible picture. Notice the feet? Without them, this photo could not have taken place.

He didn’t die. He ate and walked. That walk became a run, which over the course of the weeks became an elliptical, chaotic circuit around our coffee table, through the kitchen, into the dining room, up the steps. Stop. Into my step daughter’s room. Stop. Onto my daughter’s tiny bed. Pick up a toy. Stop. Run down stairs, out the back door, ears pinned back to his head, eyes wide in excitement.

I thought the biggest challenge would be the poop in the yard. It’s not. The problem is, four month old Sherlock is kind of a dick. He steals things and lays on top of the clothes in the closet. When you want him, he runs. When you want to get rid of him, he’s stapled to your ankle. And when you least expect it, he’s right there, looking up at you as you trip and stumble across the kitchen. Because you were so involved in doing the dishes that you didn’t realize that he was there.

I know this isn’t his fault. I’ve had three dogs before him. I’ve seen this before.

My parents brought Tasha home for me back when I was about six. I had her until after I’d gone to college. She saw me through the death of a brother, a move to South Carolina and another back North. She was there as I collided with middle school, and when High School chewed me up.

Emi was purchased from a pound in Delaware. She was a big, 110 pound Shepard…ish, thing. I had her for thirteen years. She was there with me through two breakups. My wife told me later, that part of the reason she thought I might be okay as a father, is that dog. She used to walk with us, down to the park. Emi would chase the frisbee while we got to know one another. She died about a week after Uma was born.

Then there was Tuco the pitbull. I had him about the same time as Emi. The devil on your shoulder, he was a dog lover’s dream. But, my wife isn’t exactly a dog lover. She’s more of a dog tolerator.

I brought a girl home. The next morning, he ran into the room and jumped on the bed, over and over. Up and down on the mound that her body created in the comforter. He was excited to meet her. He couldn’t contain himself. Had that woman been my wife Michelle, our relationship would have ended that morning.

Emi was the best case scenario for a woman who’s never had a dog. She was big and calm canine jedi; a doe eyed protector of house and home. I cross my fingers and hope that Sherlock follows her lead. But, I see the Tuco coming out. I see it in his eyes when he runs from us, mouth open in a delirious puppy smile. He looks like he’s high on chaos. Darth Tuco, pitbull sith.

This morning I woke up early so we could throw the tennis ball. It’s my strategy to make him a good citizen of the Glover household. Tire him out. Trick him into learning to come when I call him, by getting him addicted to that fuzzy, neon green Wilson crack. Yesterday we were out for about a half hour. I throw it, he chases it. Picks it up. Brings it over there… or there… but never to me. Not quite. This morning he came closer. But then, not quite.

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Miscellaneous dog catches frisbee. Note his perfect form.

It worked with Emi. Fetching became her thing. She was that dog in the park, leaping into the air to catch a frisbee. Tuco, on the other hand, only chased Emi. She was chasing the ball, he was trying to bite her on her ankles. He was kind of a dick.

We’ll see about Sherlock. The force is strong with him; he’s smart, and he’s growing like a weed. In a year or two, he’s going to be one little powerhouse of a dog. But whether he chooses the light or the dark side remains to be seen.

Coatesville Superintendent Loves saying Nigger

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Former superintendent Richard Como

That’s Richard Como. For about eight years, he was the superintendent of the Coatesville Area School District.

Coatesville is a steel town, about an hour from Philadelphia. The guys from The Dead Milkmen grew up there. So did a bunch of other celebrities that I’ve never heard of. In fact, if I hadn’t grown up thirty miles from the place, I don’t think I would know it existed. But after today, a lot of people are going to know exactly where it is.

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Former athletic director Jim Donato

Como stepped down about a month ago, along with athletic director Jim Donato. At the time it was a head scratcher. Who steps down at the beginning of the school year?

His resignation letter was warm and professional. He thanked the right people, and then kind of rode off into the sunset, leaving people to wonder, “what the hell?” The district is one of the most diverse in the Philadelphia area, with close to fifty percent Black students.  Like a whole lot of other districts, it’s faced some troubles. But nobody expected this.

Today some texts came out. A lot of them. You can seem them here.

I tried to read through them all. I didn’t make it. Not all of it makes sense. There are a lot of inside jokes going on, mixed with shop talk and veiled references to people I’ve never heard of. And a lot of “n words”.

I counted the word fifteen times, and then gave up. They also referred to the firings of Black staff members as, “good lynchings.” They spoke of a woman who was in a relationship with a Black co-worker, thusly, “What the fuck with all these white pieces taking nigger cock? Me no understand!” They called her lover Caesar. Planet of the apes reference?

This is what they said about the kids.

“All should just have whatever first names they want…then last name is N—-R!,” Donato wrote to Como. “Leroy N—-r, Preacher N—-r, Night train n—-r, clarence n—-r, Latoya n—-r, Thelma n—-r and so on.”

“Great idea!” Como responded. “Joe n—-r bill n—-r snake n—-r got a nice ring to it.”

It goes without saying that they didn’t say, “n dash dash dash dash r”.

All of these texts took place on district issued cell phones. If they hadn’t, nobody would know they existed.

Now the superintendent is under investigation by the district attorney. Why? I’m not sure. It’s not because of the texts, though. They are reprehensible, but not illegal.

A local TV reporter, Jenn Bernstein, referred to the texts as “racially insensitive.” See for yourself, here.

I remember asking a Japanese student if a lot of the people at her High School practiced karate. I was genuinely curious. I was also racially insensitive. That time when my white coworker said that my “dreglocks” made me look just like Buckweat? Insensitive. (She came in the next day, red faced, and embarrassed; holding my hand as she apologized.)

These two guys are straight racist. It doesn’t matter if tomorrow we find out that Como saved a whole orphanage of little Black kids from a burning building. If and when a few Black athletes come out, calling Donato the best coach they have ever played for, it won’t change a thing. Their texts show their intent plainly. They’re both racist. And the kids in Coatesville deserve much better. And I mean all of the kids.

Last month I wrote about the lengths my wife and I have gone to find the best school fit for our kids. You can read that here.

This piece is about my troubled relationship with the word, nigger. I don’t use it often. To me it is a slur, not a term of endearment.

I wrote this piece about another school district with troubled leadership. Their dress code all but excluded natural hair for their little students. As a result, they sent home a straight A student for having locs.

They were Black. Incompetence knows no color.

I Wrote this About Lynchings in 2002. They Haven’t Gone out of Style

I wrote a piece for the Philadelphia Metro. It was about a plaque that was being dedicated at Park Central Square in Springfield Missouri. That plaque read, “On April 4, 1906, Three Black Men, Horace B. Duncan, Fred Coker and Will Allen were were lynched without trial.

There is a plaque in Missouri. A plaque with a few terse words on it. That is what their lives were worth. I speak of three murdered men. I speak of a town full of African Americans forced to take to the trails and woods like fugitives. I speak of nearly 5,000 documented dead, but far more who just disappeared and were never seen by their friends or children or parents again.  A plaque.

The plaque, according to Denny Wayne, a city council member in Springfield Mo., says that three men were lynched without trial. The words are neat and economical. Compared to the event, they are almost a comfort. It was dedicated Saturday.

In 1906, Horace B. Duncan, Fred Coker and Will Allen were pulled from their jail cells and dragged to the town square. They were black men accused of having raped a white woman, so their fates were sealed.

Duncan, Coker and Allen were lynched. Hung from a tree in front of a mob of 7,000 citizens of Springfield. They were burned and then dismembered. Women and children were there. People who called themselves men were there. They all watched.

In the following hours, most of the Black citizens of Springfield were driven from their homes by that same mob. Most never returned. That plaque, in its economy, doesn’t mention that.
It also doesn’t mention the 4,743 documented lynchings in the United States between 1882 and 1968. Three quarters involved African Americans. At least a portion, 61 just betwen 1889 and 1918, were women. Women like Laura Nelson, who was hung from a bridge over the Canadian River in Oklahoma with her son. She had been accused of killing a deputy sheriff. Her son had been suspected of no greater guilt than having her for his mother.

An exhibit has brought the ugly truth of lynchings back to the fore of the American psyche. The exhibit, entitled “Without Sanctuary” is on display at the Martin Luther King National Historic Site in Atlanta, Ga.. It casts an unflinching eye upon this dark aspect of Americana. It is not easy to look at. Hanging is a grisly way to die.

More chilling are the spectators. They weren’t miscreants or criminals. They were just people. Mothers and fathers packed picnic baskets. In some cases, people lined up to take pictures with the corpses. It was not uncommon for the spectators to take “souvenirs” from the victims, nor were postcards unheard of.

It would be naive to think that all of those eager accessories to those horrendous crimes are now dead and gone. Yet calls for justice are seldom heard. In a country where a formal apology for slavery has yet to be offered to its own African American citizens, I don’t have much hope.

It is far too late for justice for Duncan or Coker or Allen, or Miss Nelson or her son. For now, they and the others whose lives were taken by angry mobs and a thick rope will have to be content with a plaque in Springfield, Mo. A plaque that doesn’t name any names or place any blame. One that says, simply, that three were lynched without trial.

And though it may not be much in the face of such horror, few communities are willing to acknowledge even that.

That piece was written in 2002. I recently found out that the plaque did, indeed, list the names of the victims. And it’s small. So small that when the writer of blog, KenyaSpeaks, visited the site to see the plaque, nobody could tell her where it was. That includes site security.

It is pictured below. Please note, the book is not part of the memorial. It is a document which depicts the town history. The plaque, which is about the size of an envelope, is on the front of the stone.

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By the way, lynchings are still a thing. In 2010, a young Black Wesley College student was found hanging from two belts, linked together, from a tree in Dover Delaware. His name was Charles Conley. Local police called it a suicide, despite the fact that there was no suicide note, nor any indication to believe that he was suicidal. Then came John Clark, who was found hanging from his belt less than a quarter mile from Conley, in 2012.

In 2011, leaflets were found in downtown Dover. They depicted of a man hanging from a tree along with a Nazi swastika and the statement, “CLEANING UP THE STREETS, ONE NIGGER AT A TIME.” You can read more about what is taking place in Dover De, here.

Also in 2011, a man named Frederick Jermaine Carter was found hanging, lifeless, from a tree in Tennessee. And in August, a Kenyan man named  was found hanging from a tree in New Jersey (I couldn’t find his name). His hands were bound behind his back. It was ruled a suicide.

I suspect I’m only scratching the surface. That’s fine with me.

Click here to find out why I don’t use the word Nigger. (I object to the N’ word as well.) And click here to find out how some lawmen are going all retro on us, and bringing back the posse.