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2013: The Year in Review

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I can truly say that this year flew by.  I feel that you have to set goals and try to accomplish them at my age because time waits for no one.  The year started off on a positive not for me job wise because I started working for United Communities on January 7th.  I had been driving for FedEx as a holiday driver when 2012 ended.  This was after two attempts at utilizing the CDL which I acquired in early 2012.  I am truly thankful for paid time off and benefits.

Shawn and I celebrated twenty-five years of marriage this year.  Mike II and Alonna are true blessing in our life and we work hard to provide for them.  I went to Jerome and Pam's wedding this  year.  Thank goodness I didn't attend any funerals.  I am concerned about the health of my brother Gary.  He is in a serious battle with cancer.  I feel aches and pains that I didn't feel at twenty-five but I am blessed to be here.
I need to be more consistent with my power walks.  I will golf more when the budget rebounds.

William Howard Day, Abolitionist and Leader in Tough Times

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I was in one of my favorite places yesterday.  The Free Library at 19th & Vine is one of the greatest repositories of knowledge in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  I am blessed whenever I get an hour to read and research.  The Department of Human Services had a Kwanzaa program there yesterday.  The Young Chances Foundation, which is supported by the South Philadelphia EPIC Stakeholders, performed yesterday during the first day of the celebration.  It was on the day dedicated to Umoja or Unity!

I got about ten minutes to run up to the history section while the opening acts were underway.  I found a book entitled African Americans in Pennsylvania.  This book explored the lives of ancestors from throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Most people know about Octavius Catto and Absalom Jones.  Also, I recently wrote a blog about the large amount of people of African descent buried in a grave on Weccacoe street in Philadelphia.  Pennsylvania was a major stop on the Underground …

Can Kobe Bryant Be Brave Enough to Walk Away from the Game?

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As someone who could only observe the life of a professional athlete, I wonder how the supreme ones in this group know when it's time to retire.  Michael Jordan retired and unretired twice.  Evander Holyfield and Roy Jones should have retired years before they actually hung up the gloves.  Derek Jeter is a shell of his former self.  Chipper Jones hung on for two years past the time when he could have walked away.  Allen Iverson, if he had taken care of his body, could have extended his career a few years.  When does Father Time make a call to Kobe Bryant?

I had the privilege of watching Kobe play when he was a senior at Lower Merion High School.  His team played a revenge game against Chester High School on their way to a state championship.  I loved the grit of the Chester players as they played man to man defense against this future Hall of Fame player.  I think the referees put him on the line a few too many times on their way to a win.  He was undeniably a special talent thou…

Duck Dynasty Controversy is Well Deserved

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I must admit that I do watch a few reality shows on television.  Basketball Wives did not make my list this season though.  After they got rid of Jennifer Williams, I was done with the show.  I gave up Real Housewives of Atlanta also.  Many of those women were living above their means trying to front for the cameras.  Kandi Burruss is a legitimate millionaire but not married to anyone.  Go figure.  I have watched a few episodes of Love and Hip Hop.  Peter Gunz would be cut up in real life for the stunts he has pulled.

I had never heard of Duck Dynasty before last week.  One of the main actors, Phil Robertson, created quite a firestorm when his virulently anti-gay statements were published in a GQ interview.  He has compared homosexuality to bestiality.  He made the same statements in a recorded interview in Pennsylvania in 2010.  He was suspended from A&E after the comments became national news.  This weekend, he continued with his tirade and refused to apologize.  He said he is …

I want to Understand Islam and Muslims Better during Christmas

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I am still in a euphoric mood.  My organization, the South Philadelphia EPIC Stakeholders, just hosted a Christmas party for approximately 55 children tonight.  It wasn't a holiday party.  It was a Christmas party.  I spent about 16 hours over the last three working days  shopping for and executing the party.  I wrapped gifts, returned gifts, purchased food and slightly emceed the event.  I give kudos to Angela Griffin for making sure that the children received the gifts they were supposed to receive.

One of my childhood friends was there tonight. Her name is Tina Smith.  She is now Muslim but she wasn't when we were growing up.  I professed to be Catholic but I avoided St. Rita's on most Sundays and went to the Wallace house instead of Sunday Mass.  I was a very intent altar boy at one time.  I did not foresee the troubles that Catholic priests were about to cause this venerable institution but my personal foibles were more than steadfast faith could stand.  Tina recount…

Philadelphia Homicides at Historic Low: What a Blessing!

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There was an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on December 15th, 2013 which referred to a historic decrease in the murder rate in Philadelphia.  There are numerous families in this city which are going to be celebrating a better Christmas because they didn't have to bury a loved one due to the senseless violence which has wracked the city for years.  Although there had been 238 slayings city wide as of the Saturday before the article was published, this number was the lowest since 1967.  I would like to thank whatever factors that are presently in effect that led to this.

In spite of the decrease, I want to take the time to put this low number in perspective.  At the minimum number of 238 persons per year, Philadelphia has seen almost 11,000 murders since 1967.  I know a few people who have succumbed to death by gunshot.  Mark Tarboro was a guy I grew up with on Latona Street.  He became a solid basketball player and someone then took his life.  Lester Rogers was also a young …

Publius Sittius: Roman Knight and Mercenary of African Descent

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I got a chance to visit the Free Library at 19th & Vine today. I love that place. I always read the Daily News and the New York Times. I then go to the magazine section and read National Geographic, Time and History Today. I was intrigued by an article that mentioned an African soldier that helped to save Julius Caesar from certain defeat in North Africa. It was an article full of references that will make me want to explore this subject further.

Publius Sittius was a Roman knight and mercenary who was originally from Nuceria in Campania. Julius Caesar went to Africa after Pompey was assasinated by two of his own soldiers. Caesar' forces were not faring very well and he took some major losses. Publius Sittius then assisted Julius Caesar by taking on King Juba of Numidia. A short history of Numidia follows, courtesy of Wikipedia:


Numidia, under the Roman Republic and Empire, a part of Africa north of the Sahara, the boundaries of which at times corresponded roughly with those of …

Russia's Anti-Gay Policy will make the Sochi Olympics Intolerable for Many Athletes

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I always looked forward to the Olympics when I was growing up. It was a time for me to realize how high some humans could jump, how fast they could run and how much weight they could lift. Two of my favorite Olympic athletes were Carl Lewis and Nadia Comaneci. I haven't been as impressed with the NBA pro players participating but they had to level the playing field for our college students. I also used to like Olympic boxing. Teofilo Stevenson was memorable to me because he was Cuban and was unbeatable over a number of games. I liked Roy Jones Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya also. They represented the USA well and went on to respectable pro careers.

The U.S.S.R. decided to boycott the 1984 Olympics held in Los Angeles as retaliation for the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Olympics. They were the largest of almost 13 countries that decided to not participate in that summer's games. The other countries included Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary and Cuba. I would surmise that the …

The Eagles Snow Game versus Lions: One for the Ages!

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I was going to be perfectly content going to Rab Hamilton's house to watch the Eagles versus Detroit Lions. After we broke our 10 game home losing streak against the Washington Redskins, we have been consistent in our football parties.  Nobody wants to break up a good luck charm for the team.  The party still went on at Rab's.  Shawn, Mike and Alonna represented the Bell Family.  My homey Kevin Wallace called with the ultimate opportunity and I couldn't pass it up!

One of the best memories of my life was attending the NFC Championship Game in 2004 with Kevin and another friend.  We played the Atlanta Falcons who featured Michael Vick at the time.  It was extremely cold.  Donovan McNabb was at the top of his game at the time.  He came out with no sleeves and pumped up the crowd.  Mike Vick, who is an Eagles quarterback now, looked like he wanted to go back inside to the heat.  Brian Dawkins laid a hit on Algee Crumpler during the game that stunned the crowd.  Mike Vick als…

Eric Utsey: Rest In Peace

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My first post this morning was going to be about the Philadelphia Eagles.  After my early morning perusal of Facebook, I discovered that one of my childhood friends had passed away.  Eric Utsey was a really smooth Brother.  He played ball at the YMCA and various other venues in South Philadelphia.  He always dressed nice and was always positive when I saw him.  He had a great outlook on life and made us proud.



He moved to the DMV area years ago and had started his own business.  I heard that he had a stroke a couple of years ago and I did reach out to him.  I remember back in the day that his father owned a club called the Fox Trap.  I enjoyed the club for the few times that I was in there.  I know that Eric had children.  I am awaiting word of his Home going services.  I think he was at least a year younger than me.  I do not have to be reminded to appreciate the time that I have left on this earth.  Eric Utsey, you will be missed by your Family and Friends.  Rest In Peace!

Kingdom of Luba: An Extinct African Empire

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History offers an interesting insight into existing civilizations.  Most civilizations in history have a beginning an end point.  Some suffer conquest at the hands of invaders.  Some civilizations are felled by natural disasters.  Others blend into the dominant culture over a period of time.  I took some time to spend in the library on Black Friday and came across the Kingdom of Luba.  I started with research on the Civil War and ended with this extinct kingdom.

The Kingdom of Luba was a pre-colonial Central African state that arose in the marshy grasslands of the Upemba Depression in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.  I think the term pre-colonial is important because it denotes the fact that this country formed before the influence of invading cultures like the Portuguese, French and Italians.  This country's origins were based on fishing people who lived on the lake shores and traded palm oil and wrought iron products.  The pre-cursors to the established kingdom  e…

Paul Walker: Art Imitates Life?

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I read with surprise about the death of Paul Walker.  Paul was a 40 year old actor who found continued success with the Fast and Furious race car franchise.  Vin Diesel will probably be remembered as the face of this series when they finish filming.  Until then, Mr. Walker, Tyrese and Ludacris will also be connected to this series.  Why was I not shocked when it was stated that Mr. Walker was in a car driven by his financial advisor at a high rate of speed.

Dwayne 'the Rock' Johnson also played in Fast and Furious 6.  One of the members of the crew who had supposedly been killed, was really living and working for some car thieves.  It happened to be Vin's girlfriend.  He is actually living with his current girlfriend.  Only in the movies would your main squeeze encourage you to go find you old 'dead' girlfriend.  Go figure.

In Fast and Furious 3, Tokyo Drift, Bow Wow also played in the movie.  Paul Walker did not play in this episode.  There is a type of racing ca…

Lana Felton-Ghee: Rest in Peace

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I read with sadness about the passing of Lana Felton-Ghee.  I met Lana while I was Director of MBE/WBE Development at the Redevelopment Authority.  She had been involved in contracts at the airport and was trying to get work on a printing contract.  She was savvy and intent on being part of the myriad of work that we oversaw.  She was also a very sharp dresser.  She was interested in working on Convention Center contracts also and had attended opportunity meetings when I was part of an oversight committee for the expansion.

She was also credited with running the election campaign of W. Wilson Goode.  He was the first African American Mayor of Philadelphia.  She won a 1976 Bicentennial contract and worked with John Street and Ed Rendell.  Any of us who had an interest in minority participation on city contracts knew who Lana was.  For her husband, children and grand-children, I wish you Godspeed on the healing process after the transition of Ms. Felton-Ghee.  She left a legacy of achi…

St. Barnabas and South Philadelphia EPIC: A Great Match for Thanksgiving!

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Yesterday was a pretty exhausting day.  I started delivering products to the Church at 8:00 AM.  I then went to pick up Terry Carpenter and Earl Boyd to begin the process of preparing Thanksgiving meals for Seniors and shut ins in the South Philadelphia area.  After dropping the products off, Terry and I went to Dunkin Donuts and Pathmark.  My organization was also sponsoring a Thanksgiving dinner at Vare Recreation Center with the Young Chances Foundation.  Thanks to Tracy Montgomery, an ELITE representative, for assisting with the meal preparation also.






















By the time that we returned to the Church, Earl had it smelling like heaven.  My running around was to continue.  I had to pick up Kim Smith and go to Esposito's to pick up additional chicken leg quarters.  Kim made sweet potatoes and donated carrots and peppers.  I found out that Terry and Earl had an orange glaze for the carrots up their sleeves.  It was a heavenly taste.  One issue that we had was how to turn a project that o…

Boardwalk Empire Season 4 Finale: Why Maybelle?

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The finale of Boardwalk Empire addressed a couple of story lines last night.  I wanted to see Dr. Narcisse meet his maker but it didn't happen.  He was holding Chalky's daughter Maybelle hostage after a chance meeting at the Club Onyx and she unfortunately did not make it out of the club alive.  Chalky's bargaining chip was that he knew where Daughter was hiding and Narcisse had to have her back.  This was a twisted relationship because he had killed her mother during an encounter for hire in the story line.

Last night's episode was also the end for Richard Harrow.  He was a killer extraordinaire.  The scene where he rescued little Jimmy from the brothel will go down in cinematic lore for me.  He needed closure regarding the whereabouts of Jimmy Darmody's body.  The episode began with him testifying to the fact that the person Gillian claimed to be Jimmy was actually the soldier that she drugged and killed.  Harrow went to Nucky and volunteered to do whatever it …