Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Moving on

Since I moved to Louisiana, several interesting things have happened to me.

My mail kept getting returned to the sender because my apartment complex didn't put a lock on my mailbox for a month after I'd moved in.

The deposit check and application fee I spent $16.53 to overnight to my new landlords never made it there.

Half of the towels I owned were stolen from my complex's laundry facility after I walked back to my apartment to get a coke.

My neighbor leaves me love letters on my car.

Another neighbor leaves chicken bones on the walkway we share with two other tenents.

And I'm not allowed to sit in my computer chair on the patio. I'm told computer chairs are not acceptable patio furniture.

Friday marks the end of all that confusion. I plan to start the new year with a new apartment.

What are your plans for 2008?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

For Christmas, some happy stories

Since we journalists are known for spreading doom and gloom, I thought MSNBC's list of 10 happy stories was kind of cool.

As one of the reporters who helps put out arguably some of the most negative stories (I usually write about crime), I can see the value of lighter fare. So check out the lists, where you will read about twin moms giving birth to children on the same day, a stolen wallet turning up decades later and a man waking from a coma after 19 years.

Merry Christmas... and will it all be sad tomorrow?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reality television

Is there no limit to what they’ll put on T.V.?

I will admit, I’m a reality television fan. But this morning I turned on the television to find that R&B singer Mario has a documentary on MTV called, “I Won’t Love You to Death: The Story of Mario and His Mom,” and was a little disappointed.

Apparently, Mario lets the cameras roll as he confronts his mom about her heroin addiction, checks her into rehab and works to keep her sober.

I mean, I watch a little bit of everything in the unscripted genre nowadays. America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway and even I Love New York (yes, I’m ashamed), but I was sad to see Mario pimping out this very personal situation.

I then started wondering how this show came about. Did someone from Mario’s camp call MTV and pitch the idea? Or did someone with MTV hear of Mario’s troubles and pitch the idea to him?

Let's imagine someone decides to hold an intervention for you. Not only is overwhelming that these people that know and love you are begging you to get help and change your ways but SURPRISE!...sitting next to your crying, pleading loved one is an unknown man holding a camera, preparing to broadcast your pain and embarrassment to the entire world.

Some could say that all reality shows exploit someone – the weak, the sick, the unintelligent – but I really felt like Mario’s situation was one that should have been handled privately.

With all of the reality shows these days, I keep wondering what they’ll air next.

I almost feel like there's no such thing as reality television anymore because these participants are becoming more and more like actors, playing the roles established by some of the original shows - i.e. the mean girl, the smart girl/guy, the extra religious girl/guy.

Do ya’ll think reality television has gotten out of hand or is it just a sign of what viewers want to see?

(And so I don’t feel so ashamed, what are some of your favorite reality shows? Or better yet, what are some of the more ridiculous ones you’ve seen?)
Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

“Passing the Cheer”

So, I got a free cup of Joe, today. Really. The guy in the vehicle in front of me at Starbuck’s paid for my drink, and the lady at the window told me she “I guess they’re doing some sort of thing.”

Some sort of thing? Maybe it’s called “Passing the Cheer,” like the cup sleeve says. I remember this happened on Oprah once, but this had never happened to me before this morning.

So I handed my debit card out the window to her and told her I’d like to pay for the next order. She said “the next order is two drinks” and she told me what they were and that the total came to $5 and some change.

Her supervisor or another coworker, over her shoulder, told her just to offer for someone to pay for one drink rather than the full order behind them.

“That’s how it stops, usually,” she said. “One person behind someone will have 8 orders of coffee and the person doesn’t want to buy that many drinks.”

Okay. That makes sense. Depending on my sensations of holiday joy and giving, I may or may not want to pay for 8 other people’s cups of coffee.

Then I got selfish. I thought, "what if someone doesn’t have somebody behind in line? Like the last guy at the end of the line?" I guess he would get a free cup of Joe but not have anyone else to buy for. Well, I guess it's then his choice as to how he chooses to further, “Pass the cheer.”

So, ‘tis the season for giving, even among strangers in line at the local Starbuck’s drive-through.

Notable quotables for 2007

I didn't pick 'em, but I have to say Mr. Shapiro did a right nice job. Following are some of the most mocked, banned, hilarious and telling comments from this year.

The 10 most memorable quotes of 2007, according to Fred R. Shapiro, editor of the Yale Book of Quotations:

1. "Don't tase me, bro." — Andrew Meyer, a senior at the University of Florida, while being hauled away by campus police during a speech by Sen. John Kerry.

I've heard this one called out at ball games, parties and bars as a joke, and it's been seriously discussed in our newsroom and in personal phone calls with my friends throughout the country.

2. "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps and I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and Iraq and everywhere like such as and I believe that they should our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for us." — Lauren Upton, South Carolina contestant in the Miss Teen USA contest, when asked why one-fifth of Americans cannot find the U.S on a map.

You can't help but feel sorry for her.

3. "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country." — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking at Columbia University in New York.

This is shocking and believable all at once.

4. "That's some nappy-headed hos there." — radio personality Don Imus, referring to the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

An oft-blogged quote on this blog. He's back at work now.

5. "I don't recall." — former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' repeated response to congressional questions about the firing of U.S. attorneys.

Haven't we heard this from accused criminals in local courts?

6. "There's only three things he (Rudolph Giuliani) mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11." — Sen. Joseph Biden, speaking during a debate for Democratic presidential candidates.

Dang. That's funny and hurtful at the same time.


7. "I'm not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody who has a 9 percent approval rating." — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, referring to Vice President Dick Cheney.

BURN!

8. "(I have) a wide stance when going to the bathroom." — Sen. Larry Craig, explaining why his foot touched the foot of an undercover police officer in an airport men's room.

Dirty mental image. No matter what was really going on.

9. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man." — Sen. Joseph Biden referring to rival Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.

Biden makes the list twice? We'll see if no publicity is bad publicity.


10. "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history." — Former President Jimmy Carter, referring to the Bush administration.

Strong stuff.

Anybody got some quotations that didn't make the cut?


(This list comes courtesy of the Associated Press and Reuters.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Reducing hunger, building vocabulary

It's the week before Christmas, when charities are sending out more requests for help and you probably don't feel like working. Alleviate both issues with this website freerice.com.

I heard about it on NPR this morning and I've already killed a few too many minutes doing "research." (The highest level I've made it to so far is 41 out of 50.) The website is set up as a vocabulary quiz. For every question you get right, they donate 20 grains of rice to a UN World Food Program. Have fun.

Ode to John Legend, Verse 1

There’s no better way to make a holiday Scrooge-ette, i.e. me, smile during the holiday season like a concert performance by John Legend.

Most folks who know me know of my endless love for John Legend. When he first hit the mainstream music scene in 2005, that’s all I talked about, that’s all I was listening to. Period. I mean his CD “Get Lifted” stayed in my CD player for a solid year and six months. Even my editors and co-workers witnessed it because I had him on my computer screen wallpaper for just about a year as well. I was in love, and not so much with his aesthetic good looks, but with his artistry.

Before the hating and “clownation” begins, I must give this disclaimer: NO, I’m NOT a groupie. I just think John Legend’s music and his voice are like a beautiful breath of a fresh air that makes me swoon like I’m a teenager or something…(Ok, maybe that sounds slightly groupie-ish…)
I’ve had the pleasure of inhaling that cool breeze in person at two previous live shows (I even met him once! But that’s for another post…) And I got a chance to inhale it again last night when I saw his performance on TV One, in which he also introduced his new label Home School Records.

And just when I thought my love was dying for the man (I mean, is it me, or did he just kinda fade off the scene after his last album, “Once Again”?) I watched this show last night "Get Together with John Legend" and fell in love all over again.

Thanks to a text message from my friend and columnist Monica Carter Tagore, I tuned in just in time to catch him in action. And then, of course, I instantly text messaged all of my fellow friends who are John Legend fans.
It was pretty interesting, especially when he introduced a new artist who happens to be his little brother Vaughn Anthony. (Their vocal similarity is almost eery.)

Anyway, I should stop here before my friends, particularly my hating guy friends, clown me yet again for my latest ode to Johnny boy. However, if you’re a John Legend aficionado and you missed this show, catch it again Thursday at 9 p.m. CST on TV One. It’s a cool pre-holiday treat.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

It takes a connection

Sometimes it seems like human brainwaves connect in ways I just never expected.

This week Ashley and I am some other Times staffers are volunteering at Shreveport’s Cherokee Park Elementary with the Junior Achievement organization. Each grade level learns something about free enterprise.

I am teaching fourth graders. The first day I was really concerned that having these students get a grip on revenues, expenses and capital resources might be kind of tough. But after today, I feel a lot better.

We were talking about economies, and the word interdependence came up. When I asked the class to define the word, I got blank stares. So I asked if anyone knew what independence meant.

“It’s what those guys signed.” One student said. I was happy the young man knew a little about the Declaration of Independence, but recognizing a word is not quite understanding.

Then I hear a little singing on another side of the room. The teacher, who stays in the room to help with any disciplinary needs, laughed and asked if I heard the song. I said no and asked the girl to sing it louder.

And she did: “I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T. Do you know what that mean? She got her own house. She got her own car…”

I couldn’t let her sing alone, so I leaned and rocked a little bit to uncontrollable laughter. (I didn't join in on the vocals, however.)

The song is “Indepdent” by Webbie featuring Lil Boosie & Lil Phat.



All the lyrics are not necessarily appropriate for fourth graders to sing in class. But at that moment I was just so happy that there was a connection. Fourth graders throughout the room started saying independent means standing alone. Not needing anyone. And from there, we moved on to interdependence’s opposite meaning and how many businesses need each other to thrive.

I couldn’t have planned that if I tried. And if I had, I don’t think it would’ve worked out as well. We got some good laughs, but more importantly, we had an understanding today in Ms. Thomas’ room.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Like the rest of us, Taylor was a victim

On the last night of his life, NFL star Sean Taylor settled in for a night of sleep in his suburban Miami home with his longtime girlfriend and his 18-month-old daughter.


Does that sound like someone who had it coming? Does that seem like a particularly wild night for a so-called thug? I would imagine not, because nearly all of us do the same thing, with some slight variations.


None of us are promised anything, even something as simple as taking another unaided breath in the morning.


It seems that some of us have forgotten that. I'll link to this column by FOXsports.com's Jason Whitlock as proof. I'm only picking on J-Dub this time because his piece generated the most conversation in our newsroom Thursday.


Now don't get me wrong: I have lots of respect for Whitlock, a second-wave pioneer in sports journalism and one of the most provocative media voices in the nation today. If, at the end of my career, I had a tenth of his juice in the news industry, I'd be certifiably big-headed (some folks may already believe this).


But to use Taylor's death as an example of some sort of epidemic, the so-called "black-on-black crime" problem, is another example of shallow analysis, anti-intellectualism and beating the same old drum.


The simple fact is that people usually commit crimes against the people closest to them and for a number of socioeconomic reasons too complicated to get into here, many neighborhoods wind up racially segregated. So, black people often kill black people in the way that white people often kill white people and brown people often kill brown people - but when has anyone ever heard the term "white-on-white crime"?


I would never minimize the problem of crime and its terrible effects on mostly poor and brown folks, but that's got little to nothing to do with why Taylor is dead today.


Another tired tactic is blaming hip-hop for many of the ills of society. Whitlock refers to this mythical "Black KKK," demonizing an entire, diverse and pioneering culture for yet another senseless death. It's a pretty large leap to connect those sort of dots - what does Talib Kweli or Wordsworth or Kanye have to do with a murder that Miami-Dade police have thus far considered to be a random tragedy? If Whitlock doesn't have rap music on his iPod, that's his prerogative. I get it, he doesn't like hip hop. But don't lie to folks by telling them Soulja Boy had something to do with Taylor's death when, as far as I know, Tony Soprano gets off the hook.

In the end, we're all vulnerable, weak, exposed human beings. Taylor indeed had a few rodeos with the legal system in the past but when he settled in for a night of sleep with his family Sunday night, he was like the rest of us. A potential victim.

And music has nothing to do with that.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It starts at home

I’m not a big football fan, but the news of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor’s murder shocked and saddened me.

After reading about 24-year-old Taylor’s death yesterday and the toddler he left behind, I read today about the death of LaTora Wiley,16, and the 25-year-old man accused in her death.

The seemingly senseless taking of lives is insane and seems to be getting out of control, especially with the younger sector of the population.

What can be done to stop all of these murders of people not even old enough to fulfill the dreams they’re still in the process of dreaming about?

I think most of us look to our elected officials and law enforcement, but I think the solution may lie on a much more local and manageable level.

It starts at home, with the family. I really feel that instead of hollering about the mayor or the police department’s handling of crime, families of young offenders should be held responsible. They can get to their children way before the police do, way before they even pick up that gun, knife, baseball bat, or whatever their weapon of choice is.

I know there are exceptions. There is no sure-fire way that will keep kids from attacking/killing each other in every case. In some instances there may be parents that do all they can to raise moral, law abiding kids but things happen anyway.

From there, it goes to the community. If you’ve got the time, patience and resources, why not volunteer with underprivileged or troubled youth in the city. I know sometimes it seems far fetched to think that we can make a difference, maybe change the path of another human being, but it’s been done. I mean, look at it this way, being a mentor to someone who doesn’t have it at home could save someone else's life – be it the potential offender or victim.

Before I start getting all of the negative feedback and folks start to think I’m crazy, let me just say I’m not saying that my suggestions are going to heal the world, make it a better place. It’s just one part of a solution that will need everybody’s input.

And while some people shake their head, mumbling, “That’ll never work,” I challenge you to spend more time coming up with helpful ideas than shooting everyone else’s ideas down.

I know what I’m saying is nothing new. There are volunteers and parents out there everyday doing exactly what I’m talking about. Much gratitude to those people for spending their time doing work many of us don’t even think about doing.

OK, I'll step down off my soapbox now, but would like to hear your thoughts.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is a recession on the horizon?

I'm worried.

I feel like every time I open a newspaper or Web page the country's financial health is examined. And for good reason I suppose.

From CNNMoney.com:

"After years of living happily beyond their means, Americans are finally facing financial reality. A persistent rise in energy prices will mean bigger heating bills this winter and heftier tabs at the gas pump. Job growth is slowing and wage gains have been anemic. House prices are sliding, diminishing the value of the asset that's the biggest factor in Americans' personal wealth. Even the stock market, which has been resilient for so long in the face of eroding consumer sentiment, has begun pulling back amid signs of deep distress in the financial sector."
(Read the full story here.)

Man, doom and gloom, huh?

I'm trying to figure out what I need to do. I've adjusted my attitude and don't even get alarmed anymore when gas prices creep toward $3. However, I DO get mad every time I go to buy a gallon of milk and it costs more than that gallon of gas.
The price of living has, and continues, to skyrocket.

I'm reading more and more stuff about a possible recession (though that threat always seems to be in the air) and I'm wondering what's about to happen. How hard will times get? What has to happen - initiated by either consumers or producers - to make things better? Is the country's financial situation the consumer's fault? Is the media just making too much of this?

What do you guys think? What does the future look like in your minds?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The real reason to be thankful, 2007 edition

Every year has its twists, turns, peaks and lows, but it’s always important to give thanks through it all. Even for the little things.
So, us Link222’ers are back again with our reasons to be thankful this year. Enjoy and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm thankful to be home visiting my mother and to have a job
-Melinda

I’m thankful my birthday is the day after Thanksgiving instead of the day of this year. Now, I don’t have to compete for attention with family gatherings and turkey. Wait. There is an LSU game, and everyone will be shopping. Just a few more years until it’s on a Monday or a Tuesday, I guess.
-Adam

I am thankful for recipes. They can really save your life (if you don’t burn down your home using them) when you’re hundreds of miles away from a good grandma-cooked Thanksgiving meal.
-Ashley

I’m thankful for my family and friends. I wish I could say I’m thankful to spend the holiday with them, but I can’t, because I’ll be here working so that ya’ll will have something to read Friday.
I’m also thankful that this weather has kept up with my procrastination in buying a new coat.

-Janelle

I'm thankful for life, family, friends, good food and the good cooks in my family who refuse to let me test my "gourmet" skills. I'm also thankful for the advent of modern technology including mp3 players, smartphones and the computer - they change lives!
-Donecia

I’m grateful for people who believe in second chances, Vince Young, Houston and Internet cowards like dirtwater, dr. duke and Big Jonah for reminding us all that idiocy, shallow analysis and virulent racism are still alive and well…
-Joel

Monday, November 19, 2007

I'm just saying...

I’m sure many of you heard about the march on Washington Friday. In case you missed it, people from all over the country led by Al Sharpton marched around the Justice Department to demand more enforcement of hate crime laws.

The march was largely fueled by anger of the lack of federal intervention in the case of the noose-hanging incident in Jena and other recent noose-hanging incidents across the country.
I know we’re all not going to agree on the case of the Jena Six or its surrounding events, clearly. That’s not even up for debate specifically in this post.

And I know some folks across racial lines are going to always refer to people like Rev. Al Sharpton as troublemakers. (Just remember, Martin Luther King Jr. was commonly referred to as a troublemaker too back during the civil rights movement… Just something to think about.)

But if the federal government can deem it urgent and necessary to intervene on behalf of dogs (i.e. the Michael Vick dog abuse case) and baseball (i.e. the steroid case with Barry Bonds) can’t we at least agree that more federal action should be taken against a hate crime that symbolizes decades of gruesome, brutal, unjust murders committed throughout this country against a race of people?

If you still think leaving nooses around is just a harmless, kiddie prank, check this CNN special out. Or, better yet, watch it whenever it airs again and let me know what you thought.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

First Christmas card of the year

I just got it in the mail today. I suppose it's technically a season's greetings card rather than a Christmas card. But guess who it's from?

That's right, our friends down at Chimp Haven. The card unfolds into a calendar, and the newsletter part is modeled after the kind I get from extended family every year. There's an update on Baby Tracy, the mystery that captured national attention earlier this year. There are cute stories about chimpanzee's favorite toys and socialization.

I have to say it was pretty cute. All my more advanced primate friends really are going to have a lot to live up to.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

R.I.P Dr. Donda West...

Many Kanye West fans, and even those who aren't fans, know how close he is to his mama. He made it known in every way from bringing her as his date to the Grammy's, making her his manager and penning an entire song about her, "Hey Mama," on his sophomore album "Late Registration." So, running across this news is particularly shocking and you can't help but wonder if Kanye, his life or his music will ever be the same. R.I.P. Dr. Donda West.

Protect yourself

Predators beware.

Fellow Times staffer Stephanie Netherton and I took a women's self-defense class and we're ready to use our moves.
(Umm...excuse the cheesy picture, but we're pretty proud of ourselves.)
Shreveport Police Department has something good going with this class that they offer for free. It's about two hours long and you learn basic blocks and manuevers that help you get away from any potential attacker.
I will admit, I was a little disappointed when the instructor told us his goal wasn't to teach us how to fight a man. Apparently, a woman has less than a 1 percent chance at winning a that fight. But the instructor did equip us with some pretty nifty moves that would enable us to both hurt the attacker and get away.

We also heard some good tips, that we've all heard before, but it's good to hear again as a refresher:

Leave lights on outside and inside your house when you're going to get home after dark.

Lock your door as soon as you walk in the house.

Don't always follow the same routine. Sometimes take a different route home, etc. just incase
someone is following you in preparation for an attack.

To learn the rest, you'll have to go to the class. But ladies, it's worth it.

And this class is great for any age, race or class. There were teenage girls there as well as older ladies that wanted to protect themselves. One woman was taking the class after being mugged recently.

The next class is from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. Dec. 12 at the training academy on Greenwood Road. Call 318-673-7170 to register.
Also, check out Stephanie's blog for her take on the class.

Friday, November 09, 2007

He said something new -- that young folks can appreciate

Last time I wrote something about Cedric Glover I said he didn't say anything I hadn't heard. (This was at young professionals
gathering.) The next time I saw him was a press conference, and he was kind enough to point out he read the blog. He did so by asking if I'd heard anything new when he spoke to the group of reporters.

I don't think I gave him too hard of a time with the last post -- or he to me. But in case you missed it, the mayor of Shreveport undoubtedly said something new to most of us Wednesday during his State of the City speech. And I think it's something that people our age around these parts should be excited to hear.

His office is working with LSU-S to create a cyberspace research center that would work with and feed off of and into the Air Force Cyber Command Center, should it become a permanent fixture here.

That sounds like incredible news to me for the local economy. Anytime you have jobs that require advanced degrees, it moves your city and region onto a different tier when professionals look for a place to move. It's exciting to think Shreveport-Bossier City could one day be an industry center like some of the cities my friends are moving to: Dallas, Austin, Nashville and Charlotte.

And when you've got a booming economy, it seems to be a boon for the kind of culture you can buy -- a win-win situation. To me, that sounds like the kind of place young professionals want to live: where they can’t meet others like them. A place where others can appreciate what they brought back home from a college that may have been far away. A place where new people want to go, not just where you fall back if you can’t find a job right out of school.

I hope these strides spoke from podiums will have teeth – i.e. funding. And I hope it bites convincingly enough to make the Air Force keep Cyber Command here.

Thanks for saying something new, Mr. Mayor. Touché.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Striiiike

If you’re a TV junkie like me, you’re watching this WGA writer’s strike pretty closely. For some reason, I’m so fascinated by it on several levels. First of all, as a journalist, it’s interesting to see my fellow "writer brethren" take a stand for what they believe is right and owed to them.

Then, as someone whose DVR includes a daily mix of talk shows, soap operas, sitcoms and prime time dramas, it’s interesting to see how this strike could affect the continuity of my some of my favorite shows.

(In a side note, some of you may have read in Alexandry Kent's story that the strike won't affect local productions.)

Anyway, for my fellow TV junkies out there, here's a neat look at how the strike is affecting/may affect some of your TV viewing.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

He's baaack...

Just when I thought Halloween was over, I was scrolling through the headlines and ran across this...



Ok, ok, just kidding! (Well, the news is real though.)
But come on, are you really surprised? Happy? Ecstatic? Irritated? Thoughts anyone?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The year that was

There is almost nothing us young professionals enjoy talking about more than entertainment and celebrity news (if you can even call celebrity happenings news).

Over the past year, we’ve likely doubled the amount of blogs about celebrity deaths, awful comebacks and CD releases than any other subject.

Since we’ve gabbed about it so much during our inaugural year, we hope you’ll enjoy taking a stroll through our superficial and gossip-filled memory lane. Here’s our top 10 pop culture-related blogs, honorable mentions all about the celebrities we love and the ones we love to hate.

Top Ten:

1) Sunday, Sept. 9 and Monday, Sept. 10

"Even as her personal life spiraled out of control, the one thing I figured she could always do was dance.I mean, despite all of the craziness her life has been, the girl is only like 26 or something, right? So youth should be on her side, right?But her highly anticipated opening performance at the MTV Awards was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen."

So I cheated and name two blogs for No. 1, but c’mon, you already knew she would top the list.

2) Tuesday, Nov. 21
Richards has forever tainted memory of Kramer
By: Stephanie Netherton

"Part of being a stand-up comic is being heckled. I've seen comedians fire back at audience members and it's just uncomfortable for everyone else. After all, we go to comedy shows to laugh. Richards, as a long-time professional, should have been able to handle the hecklers. Instead, he fires off the "n-word" over and over again and with enthusiasm remarks about a time when blacks were victims of civil rights abuses."

This incident got the nation talking and forced everyone to take notice. It served as a catalyst of several other incidents and a reminder that yes, racism and hate speech do exist.

3) Thursday, Feb. 21
Where is her mother?
By: Melinda Williams

"After a week that has included two less-than-daylong stints in rehab (yes, two, read about the latest one here), a shaved head and a couple of tattoos, Britney's mother is no where in sight.I'll admit, I don't know the inner workings of their relationship and maybe she's in this messy mix, desperately trying to save her daughter, but I haven't seen her and all signs point to her not being there.Maybe I'm overstepping my bounds, telling a grown woman how to raise her adult child. But I know if I had two young children, was divorcing a deadbeat husband and started partying all the time with some questionable characters, as soon as my mother got wind of it, she would be on my doorstep."

Another Britney Spears blog entry. Who knew her near-ruined life would warrant so many blog posts?

4) Wednesday, Feb. 28
Enough Tyra!!!
By: yours truly, Ashley Northington

"I think its great that Tyra can be a role model for regular-sized folks like myself. I think its cool that she often tries to encourage young girls to love themselves. But to flaunt around in a bikini and commemorating yourself in the name of (Black History Month) is a stretch to me, regardless of the message.I think I've had enough. Am I alone?"

Good grief. The one thing she does is try to relate to everyone, but she can't. According to her, she's fat, ugly, pregnant, historic, Spanish-speaking, homeless and dead. And she's none of those things. Need I say more?



5) Thursday, Feb. 8
Sometimes shock and Sadness travel together
By: Melinda Williams

"Anna Nicole was a nearly endless source of entertainment for us celebrity watchers, but beneath it all, she was a real person. No matter how crazy and unbelievable her life was, her death is probably the most shocking thing she's done."

Man, oh man. We never saw Anna Nicole Smith’s death coming. Mel said the most shocking thing she ever did in her life was die…

6) Wednesday, Dec. 27
Huh? Beyonce nominated for a Golden Globe
By: Janelle Rucker

"The only times I thought she was good in the two hour musical was when she was performing on stage and, hello, that’s no stretch considering that's what she does for a living.I will be shocked, and lose the last little bit of faith I have that these awards are truly based on talent, if Beyonce beats out Meryl Streep for The Devil Wears Prada, Renee Zellweger for Mrs. Potter, or others in the category."

We all know ‘B’ can definitely sing. But act? Janelle says that’s a different story. I guess sometimes its best to stick with what you know.

7) Tuesday, Nov 21
You know who’s really cool?
By: Joel Anderson

"Jay-Z is cool. Really cool. Probably cooler than Miles Davis, who might have invented the concept of being cool in the early 1950s.Today, Jay-Z released his ninth hip-hop album, "Kingdom Come" after a self-imposed, two-year retirement. And while it's a subpar album - by his standards, of course (it would be a masterpiece for someone like Lil' Boosie), Jay-Z could probably care less."

How could we mention Beyonce without her superstar, mega mogul boyfriend Jay-Z? Ah, the BJay duo (look how I just merged their names like entertainment media do names like TomKat, Bennifer and Brangelina) , I love it.

8) Thursday, April 5

"I’ll never forget their impromptu dance routine in a parking lot somewhere in Atlanta where they broke it DOWN as only they could, lip synching, pop-locking and such to the Black-Eyed Peas hit “Shut Up.”
I swear they seemed in tune, entangled in what appeared to be a blend of drug-induced highs, craziness and just plain ol’ ghetto foolishness that only they could understand. I mean, if it weren't for their union, we might not have had classic lines like "Crack is wack." and so on ..."


Wow. When you crash and burn, it really hurts. We’re wondering who’s going to end up looking wackier in the Bobby Brown/Whitney Houston divorce.

9) Friday, June 8
Someone had to post this on here sometime
By: Adam Causey

"OK, if you haven't seen the original, here's a speeded up version of this guy's rant. The name is Chris Crocker. Google it. There's lots out there."
Adam was right; someone had to post it to our blog. I’ve got one word for it: ridiculous.

10) Wednesday, May 23
Leaving Flav and the Girls Alone
By: me—again

"I became a loyal fan of the I Love New York show. I watched because I saw the pain on her face when she was humiliated by Flavor Flav twice when he decided to choose another girl over her. I watched her show because a big part of me wanted her to find a love of her own.Then she was dumped again. This time by a man of her own choosing. And the world watched as she cried. Now the search continues to find her a mate. Viewers can even cast votes for who they think should be on the show.I'm not watching. I'm tired.But the Charm School program takes the cake. I've watched all the episodes thus far and I am not entertained. I'm ashamed."


This show and its spin-offs have sparked more controversy among top-notch media moguls, pop-culture junkies and black leaders. There are still shows on now. When will it end? It already has for me.

Scroll our archives for these honorable mentions:
A little Common sense
Serial adopters trying to save the world
What would you do when face to face with the famous?
Female Chauvanists?
How could we have avoided… a Borat?
One last look at the week that was
Enough Already
Trick or Treat
A day in Hollywood South and many, many more…

What did you think of this year's celebrity news?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

We’ve had hits, but here are some misses

Like any younglings, new bloggers can sometimes make mistakes. Looking back on a year’s worth of posts, here are five we kind of wish we hadn’t done. Or that we at least would have done differently. This is only a list, not a ranking.

Nov. 4: Sunny skies...
By Janelle Rucker

“Man, I’ve figured out my favorite thing about Shreveport so far - the weather. I love it.

“I talk to my friends back in Ohio and Virginia/Maryland and they’ve been dealing with Old Man Winter pretty consistently already. I didn’t know how I was going to deal with a place that residents warned only has one season, but it hasn’t been that bad. Though it did get pretty hot this summer, it has cooled off without getting too cold. But I will admit, there were a few days last week that had me wondering if I was back up north.”

To paraphrase the writer’s own recent commentary on this particular entry, isn’t talking about the weather something older folks do? And she has since retracted her statement about liking so called one-season weather. She says she would like a little more distinction.

To be fair, though, this was not the only climate-related entry among the bunch. I contributed at least two (including one from Feb. 21 about driving with the windows down. We’ll try to keep our musings on sunshine, rain and wind to a minimum.


May 8: Want some Cocaine?
By Donecia Pea

“Ok, this is silly, but I was just wondering something.

“When it comes to energy drinks, is it just me or can folks can come up with some pretty random, strange names?

“I mean there’s Red Bull, SoBe, Full Throttle, energy drink-turned anthem Rockstar and please don’t remind me of that god-awful name Pimp Juice. But what do you know about that Cocaine? No, seriously, that’s the name of one of the newest energy drinks out there. Not for long though.

“Now, I’m not even into energy drinks and to me, this name tops ‘em all in craziness.”

This blog – like the product – is silly, according Link222 founder herself .Does ANYONE even drink this stuff?


Nov. 22: Grown and Sexy, No. 1
By Joel Anderson

“This is the debut of a weekly feature on the blog, somewhat childlishly dubbed “Grown & Sexy.” Every week, we’ll feature some of Shreveport-Bossier City’s most “desirable” young professionals, both men and women, on the blog. We plan to rotate weekly between the men’s and women’s picks, running the item on Wednesdays.

“There’s not much of a selection process here. Just whenever one of us sees someone who would make a good G&S model and we happen to have a digital camera, we’ll take their picture and a few notes.

"Here’s our first victim, er, choice. I met Melissa Dameworth through mutual friends, particularly since she used to work here at The Times. Unfortunately for us - particularly me, she’s moved on to a better-paying job with better hours. But we still think a lot of her in here. Certainly, I do.”

I’m not saying the idea of this one actually missed the mark. I thought it could be fun, and maybe bring that local celebrity status some of us secretly hope for anyway. And I certainly don’t intend to disrespect Melissa, the reigning queen of our one-time contest.

The thing that went wrong here was that Link’s Grown & Sexy plane never really took off. I’m not really sure why. It’s not that we discuss it among the group. It was met with some opposition. But we probably should’ve planned better – or at least gotten consensus – if we were going to announce a weekly post that had only one real go.

Should we revive it?


April 18: Blown away…
By Ashley Northington

“Today’s my day to blog. But I just looked at Cho Seung-Hui’s video to NBC headquarters.

“I can not process my thoughts. Maybe I shouldn’t even be writing but its my turn.

“A part of me feels sorry for him. He was obviously dealing with some demons that he couldn’t handle appropriately. His anti-rich diatribe makes me feel sorry for his dry-cleaning store-working parents who probably worked hard to maintain life in their Washington suburb.

“I feel bad that Cho felt it was necessary to cause this magnitude of pain to absolve his own.

“But another part of me is upset...so upset I can’t even begin to articulate my feelings. He didn’t have to kill and injure all those people.”

Writing about this year’s tragedy at Virginia Tech obviously is tough. In Ashley’s on words since then, it was her “poor attempt at a stream of consciousness blog.” I don’t know if I totally agree. There was a lot of honesty in what she wrote, even if it was hard to pull together. But we’re not all William Faulkner, and that style doesn’t always work.

Even if the author thinks her blog will be forgotten, we certainly won’t stop thinking about the events of April 16 for a long time.


Nov. 10: Shameless promotion
By Adam Kealoha Causey

“Janelle and I got the surprise of our blog lives recently: Johnny Q. Public actually knew about Link 222.

“Granted, our new pal Goodwin thought the name was Link 122… but man, it was kind of exciting to find out people are reading this with basically no advertising so far.

“We met Goodwin at Stray Cat (which also happens to be located at a 222 address) through my dear little (but grown) sister. She told him we were Times reporters and he immediately asked if we blogged on … “122 or whatever it’s called.”

“But we knew what he meant.”

The title alone should be enough to say why this one didn’t work. Anytime you have to sell yourself so obviously, it makes you look kind of cheap. And that’s certainly not to say anything bad about Goodwin, who still reads our blog from what I can tell. Wait, did I just shamelessly promote again? Oh great…

Get Linked Up:Young professionals mixer

If you missed the last gathering of Shreveport's young professionals, the Northwest LA Young Professionals are giving you another chance to mix and mingle this week:

WHAT: After Work Party and Food Drive.

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. until, Thursday.

WHERE: Kon Tiki Lounge, 5815 Youree Drive.

COST: Free with a canned good. $5 drink specials.

CONTACT: 677-2505 to RSVP.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Getting hot and heavy

The past year has been filled with some good dialogue.
Initiated by crazy posts and followed up with even crazier comments, we (and by that I mean us bloggers and ya'll readers) have talked about a little bit of everything - celebrities, social issues and personal triumphs.

Below is a list of the 10 blog posts that really got us talking and received the most comments. And feel free to take this walk down memory lane with us. To read the full post and all the comments, either click on the title or check the archives to the left.

April 10: Say What?!
By Donecia Pea
21 comments
"I’m so sick of folks hiding behind everything but the truth. You can’t ever make me believe that (Don) Imus, a man who's old enough to have lived through segregation, the civil rights movement, the second wave women's liberation movement and a host of other milestones in human history, wasn’t fully aware of what he said or the ramifications of what he said when he said it. Words rarely roll of the tongue without some thought behind them.
Whether intentional or not, words reflect conscious thoughts held in your mind based on your own belief system and perception. They're ingrained somewhere in your psyche, waiting to be used."

April 29: No more excuses
By Janelle Rucker
19 comments
"Ashley, our new co-worker Velda and I were at a popular downtown nightclub Friday when we encountered something we’ve come up against many times before – a Caucasian girl doing her best impression of a black girl. Or at least, what they think all black girls act like...
As always, I excused her. Told myself she meant no harm. But I’m tired of that. They always get excused. Always."

Sept. 30: Dr. Phil and the Jena Six
By Janelle Rucker
18 comments
"I thought it was interesting to see the Barkers discuss what has happened. Justin Barker was in the audience, instructed by a lawyer not to discuss the fight, but he said he’s doing OK now.
Dr. Phil asked his parents if they thought his life 'hung in the balance' after the fight where the six students punched and kicked him, to which they replied, 'yes,' to which I replied, 'then why did you let him go to a social function later that evening?'

April 17: A solution for the murderous among us
By Joel Anderson
15 comments
"While reflecting on the almost unspeakable tragedy at Virginia Tech on Monday, I couldn't help but wonder if our country's obsession with gun possession wasn't a major problem.
No one should be able to buy a gun as easily as they can purchase a car or a stereo or a cell phone. If certain drugs are off-limits to our citizens for their own protection, why wouldn't guns merit the same sort of restrictions? We apparently need to protect ourselves from ourselves more than ever. Rolling back some of our gun rights would be a good place to start."

Sept. 13: Ode to Kanye, Verse 2
By Donecia Pea
15 comments
"Yes, he’s known for throwing the occasional public tantrum and saying whatever’s on his mind (i.e. “George Bush doesn't care about black people.) But have you ever really listened to his lyrics?
They’re clever, gritty, humorous and at times relatable.
In case you hadn’t figured it out yet by our blog posts and comments, Kanye has quite the fan base here with some of us Link222 bloggers.
It was difficult to do, but we picked out at least 10 of our all-time favorite Kanye lyrics as well as 10 of our all-time favorite songs."

June 3: Bad Service
By Melinda Williams
14 comments
"At the end of meal, everyone got their checks. Into the little check-credit card holder thingamabob, I slipped at $10 bill to settle up my $4.35 tab. What I got back was a $5 bill -- that's it. The waiter had kept my 65 cents! I would've just asked him for it (not that I should need to considering it's my money) but I had to go back to work. But what he did really, REALLY aggravated me and I remembered his name, so I wrote him a note basically saying that I didn't appreciate what he did and had he not done that, he would have gotten a slightly better tip."

May 1: The final frontier: Help!
By Donecia Pea
14 comments
"Ok, so I haven't fully joined the 21st century yet in terms of technology. As hip as I like to think I still am, there's still one frontier I haven't reached – the land of the mp3 player."

Oct. 5: Missing a meal or two or three
By Joel Anderson
14 comments
"I was only back home for a couple days and I definitely couldn't eat everywhere that I wanted to. Man, if only I could have brought a few of those places back with me to Bossier.
Couldn't we use a PF Chang's? Or a Pappadeaux's (I know my friend Nishia is feeling me on this one)? What about places like Chipotle, Pappasito's, The Aquarium, Black Walnut Cafe?"

March 16: Serial adopters trying to save the world
By Ashley Northington
12 comments
"I had to choke back chunks of vomit when I read Angelina Jolie had adopted her third child. Sorry to be so graphic here but I just don't get it. It's Jolie's right to adopt whoever she chooses but this trend of adopting overseas is annoying at best. Madonna, Mia Farrow, and even Josephine Baker come to mind when I think of the cheesy, "We are the world", rainbow and cookie-cutter families. Maybe these people have good intentions but it seems as if Jolie is working hard to become the poster child for the serial adopters. She's making me sick."

Nov. 7: CNN no news updates
By Diane Haag
12 comments
"CNN Breaking News: 'Britney Spears files for divorce from her husband Kevin Federline, citing irreconcilable differences.' First of all, didn't we all know that was coming? And secondly, since when does that (I refuse to call it "news") deserve to be urgently shipped to my inbox with headlines such as Saddam Hussein's death sentence or a plane crash in New York?"

Link222: One year later (Is it that time already?)

Wow, it’s hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since we let you into our lives, our thoughts, our world.

When we started Link222 last year, we did it with the intention of giving you a chance to see the real people behind the bylines. We wanted to let you in on our thoughts, opinions, experiences, observations. And on top of that, we invited you to share your own thoughts, opinions, experiences and observations with us.

Sometimes you liked us and let us know. Sometimes you strongly disagreed with us and let us have it. Most importantly, you read us…again and again, making us one of the top read Times blogs.

So by now, either you see we’re just normal people, not that different from you or any other young adults you know. Or you think we’re absolutely insane. Whatever you think, we thank you for all of your comments, the mean ones, the nice ones and even the non-existent ones that you didn’t bother leaving. Most of all, we thank you for stopping by to check us out. And we hope you keep reading and keep telling your friends to keep reading as well.

Stay tuned for more. As you can see we’re changing things up around here and there’s a lot more to come. Don’t be afraid to give us feedback, positive or negative. If you don’t know by now, we love that.


In the meantime, check back here throughout the week as we take a look back at the best, the worst, and the funniest moments of Link222: Year One.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Boring, Bobby?

"If I go down as one of the more boring but effective governors, I'll take that as a great compliment. Our people don't want to be amused by our politics anymore. We don't want to be entertained."

--Bobby Jindal at an Oct. 21 news conference, one day after Louisiana voters here made history by electing him, the first Indian-American governor in the nation.

Is it just me, or am I the only one perplexed (and slightly amused) by his comment?

Nothing, and I do mean nothing, about Piyush “Bobby” Jindal is boring. With his name-changing, religion ditching and seemingly race switching, he is far from boring. I could argue that he is entertaining.

Maybe.

I mean I like that he’s vowed to clean up corruption and has embraced his image as a bureaucratic, methodical leader. I admire that he’s only 36 and has already achieved far more than most ever will in a lifetime. Ten lifetimes.

Jindal is setting himself up to be one of our nation’s presidents and I can’t knock him for his tenacity for running for governor twice before he won—outright this time. I can’t say anything bad about his ambition; he’s already served as a congressman and director of health and hospitals for the state. He’s got a young family and seems to have some good ideas about moving the state forward.

But what I can say about Jindal is that his background is storied: converted to Catholicism in college at Brown University. Ditched his given name of Piyush for Bobby (he got that from the Brady Bunch). He is a Republican when most Indian Americans aren’t. It all makes for very interesting conversation. I almost want some type of in-depth look at these things, especially now that he’s the state’s ambassador.

Call me crazy, but maybe Bobby isn’t.

Maybe all that swapping, likening himself to what most politicians are: white and male, is about just that. Maybe he thought he couldn’t win an election, especially in this state, without doing all the things he’s done. Maybe he hasn’t abandoned his culture totally, as some have already suggested, but maybe he was doing what he felt he had to win.

Is that so bad?

Maybe.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

When bad things happen to good people...

The whole “Sometimes bad things happen to good people” saying is a fact of life. I’ve heard this before. I know this. I understand this.
But it’s something about when that saying comes to life and lands on your doorstep that phrases like that become incomprehensible. And as you try to process something so horrific, the only thing you find yourself asking is “Why?”

That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. In fact, that’s about the only word that’s played in the background of my thoughts ever since Friday night. See, the spotlight story by Janelle Rucker that ran on Monday’s front page – that was about my church member. That was my church that was affected and those are me and my people that have been completely devastated by the loss of Sandra “Sister” Vanzant Campbell. And we’ve been functioning in a cloudy haze ever since.

See, we’re one of those kind of small, close-knit churches where our members feel more like family than random people we worship with every Sunday. And to know Sister is to know that this hardworking, fun-loving, praise-filled mother, daughter, sister, soon-to-be grandmother didn’t deserve to be shot down like a dog. That kind of stuff isn’t supposed to happen to people like that. Right?

I’ve known Sister ever since I was 7 years old. That’s when my dad became pastor at the church where he grew up in South Mansfield. And just as they said in the story, Sister always kept you laughing and she was one of church’s hardest workers. Funerals, festivals, holidays, fundraisers, whatever, Sister was always there helping out, planning, coordinating.

And she loved to get her praise on. I’m the musician at my church and there were many Sundays when I and the choir members would stifle giggles watching Sister up on her feet rocking her head with her eyes closed, bouncing her shoulders, clapping her hands and two-stepping from side to side enjoying the music and singing her heart out.

Her nickname “Sister” couldn’t have been more fitting because she was definitely like a big sister, aunt or cousin to everyone. Her daughter Jamia shares her same sense of humor and has always been like a kid sister to my own sister and me.

And that's why I struggle to understand what makes a man walk into a house of defenseless women and children, open fire on a woman he once claimed to love as she flees for her life, shoot her down like a dog, then come BACK in the house and shoot her pregnant daughter in front her grandma and young niece and nephew.

It’s taken me awhile to even come to the point of expressing myself on here because I’m so filled with shock, hurt and anger that some of my thoughts toward her killer are just plain inappropriate. I guess I’m in the anger stage of the grieving process.

I know violence is, unfortunately, a sad reality of life. And it’s so sad and wrong that people have to deal with this on a daily basis. That same weekend a 9-year-old honors student Treveon Hunter was gunned down in a drive-by shooting. And I know there’s probably hundreds more all over the country that died by gunfire just this past weekend alone.

And when I hear of this happening to other people I shake my head, I say a prayer and I go on with my day. But when it comes out of nowhere and hits you in the gut like this…The pain is indescribable.

I look at Sister’s mom and sister and brothers. And I visit Jamia who’s lying in a hospital bed crying for her mom, knowing she’ll never see her again and I wonder how we’ve come to live in a world where this is normal.

I mean, what’s the answer ya’ll? For real, what’s the answer?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Moms. Gotta love 'em.

My mom came to visit this week for a little bit of peace and relaxation, meanwhile sending me back 10 years and thousands of miles to Alexandria, Va.

When I would come home from work my bed would be made, the kitchen cleaned, a fresh garbage bag in the trash can.

One day she even gave me lunch money!

Don't get me wrong, I love being around my mom and always miss her. This is the farthest I've been from home and the longest I've gone without seeing her.

I went through that whole phase where I wanted to be very independent and didn't want my mother's help for anything. And, unfortunately, I'm not talking about the Terrible Two's. It was more like the early Troubled Twenties.

But an old journalism professor advised me to enjoy it while I can and let her help me, because it could also be helping her. (I guess he was referring to some kind of empty nest syndrome or something.)

So I look at it that way. Most of my friends call me spoiled, but I consider it helping my mother. Lol.

But on a serious note, moms are awesome - especially mine. It's nice to know I can throw my fits and try my hardest to be a successful adult, but she'll always be there to help me when I need it. (And some times when I think I don't.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

We’re almost a year old!

We can hardly believe it, so it must be hard for you to swallow, too: the Link222 crowd has been at this attempt at harnessing some of the area’s young energy for just about a year.

That seems crazy. But saying time flies sounds more like an old fogie instead of a hip twentysomething, right?

Either way, what’s a birthday without a celebration? To start, we’d like to get your thoughts on our first year of existence. Tell us what you like and what you don’t.

And since we and many of ya’ll seem to be fans of lists, let’s start some. What are your favorite 5 or 10 Link222 blog entries? Which ones did you absolutely hate?

Or how ‘bout the top news or entertainment stories we’ve blogged about? Or maybe even the best photos we’ve posted here?

So come on and digitally chime in to help us into the Terrible Twos. (OK, we hope not too terrible. But that’s why we need your help!)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Glover chats with young proz

Following up on a previous post from Donecia, three of us Link folks attended Mayor Cedric Glover's chat with about 30 young professional-types tonight at the Stoner Avenue Marina.

There wasn't a whole lot said that most of us probably haven't heard. But it was refreshing to be among other people in their 20s and 30s who care about the direction of the city with a mayor who was taking the time to listen to their questions. And no, it wasn't just other journalists and government staffers.

Talk-back topics ranged from downtown development to Shreveport Regional Airport and Cyber Command.

Glover on anyone who doesn't think Shreveport still can improve (referring to his "next great city of the South" slogan): "That's like me telling you I'm not fat."

The fat jokes may get a little old. But although that statement itself wasn't addressing anything specific, it was honest.

One announcement I hadn’t heard but that will be worth checking out: The mayor will give a state of the city talk Nov. 7 at Riverview Theatre. It starts at 4:30 p.m.

Aside from the good company, the food wasn't half bad. The marina apparently is catering now. I've never eaten anything there besides a burger, so I was pleasantly surprised with party food: meat pies, crab cakes, chocolate-covered strawberries and some kind of cinnamon twist dessert I really liked.

Some pics should be posted soon, but blogger's giving me problems tonight.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What's with rain and issues with my car?

This isn't really to gripe, but I guess it's just a little ironic. Overall, I am fortunate when it comes to cars and their related problems. My 2001 Grand Am is the fourth car I've driven. (When my parents were my age, they might have been sharing their second or third.) I've dealt mostly with flat tires, which I can handle, and they usually have been in my driveway.

But the last couple of times something has gone wrong, I've been stuck waiting for a tow truck in the rain. (Or for Pop-A-Lock, like in a previous blog.) Today I was taking my grandmother grocery shopping, and we stopped by the bank first. After handling the financial business I came back and tried to crank the car. And it wouldn't. I'm no expert, but it seems like a fuel-related problem. (And I don't mean I just forgot to gas up, all you wise guys out there.)

We had been talking as we headed west on Highway 80 about how it would be nice if the rain could wet her yard out in Doyline. We hadn't seen too many drops... until I stepped out of the car to look under the hood.

Fortunately a mechanic shop I have used in the past was within walking distance, so I headed over. And now I will wait for my sick car's diagnosis... and the dreaded bill.

The whole deal just felt a little like a movie. The conversation that seemingly jinxed our morning shopping trip. The slow but steady precipitation that soaked me as I scampered across the ditch-of-a-median to the car place.

But, hey, it happens. And at least I have a car to borrow during repairs. And at least I deposited a little money... that I will likely be spending soon. But I was proud I didn't get frustrated or even cuss. (OK, that may have been because Granny was with me.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Let your thoughts be heard...

So we’ve reported on it, we’ve talked about it on here plenty and we’ve heard many of your thoughts as well.

Well now, it looks like everyone may have a chance to be heard about what you’d like to see in “the next great city of the South.”

My fellow Byrd alum Jeff Everson has organized a meet and greet with Mayor Cedric Glover in which he wants to hear the city’s young adults on their perspective of Shreveport and how to make it better.

Jeff said the idea came from a conversation he and the mayor had about the young perspectives on the city, new ideas for the city and so on.

I thought it was an invite-only type of thing, but it turns out the event is open to anyone, particularly young adults, who want to share their thoughts with the mayor and maybe meet some other young adults in the city. (Yeah, as it turns out they actually do exist!)

He’s only asking that you RSVP just so they can plan appropriately. So here’s the breakdown of it all:

WHAT: Meet and Greet with Mayor Glover.
WHEN: 5:30 p.m., Tues. Oct. 16.
WHERE: Stoner Avenue Marina, 851 E. Stoner.
RSVP: Jeff Everson, 347-2554 or eversonjeff@hotmail.com.

Monday, October 08, 2007

P-funkin' at the Revel

It’s been two whole days since George Clinton tore the roof off the mutha at The Red River Revel Saturday night and I’m still recovering.

My mental playlist is on a continuous stream of George Clinton-induced phrases and choruses like “We Want the Funk” and “Make my funk the p-funk” and “One Nation under a Groove.”

If you missed it, I’m so sorry for you because it looked like all of Shreveport was there, all races, ages, everything. I even saw folks my parents age, black and white, getting DOWN!

I’m telling you, that was one of THE best concerts I’ve ever gone to in my life – and I’ve been to my share of concerts. And I’m not just saying that because I and fellow Times staffers Ashley Northington, Janelle Rucker, Nishia Livingston and Velda Hunter got a once-in-a-lifetime chance to actually dance onstage with George Clinton and ‘nem for their closing song “Atomic Dog.” (Yes, that was us on stage, purses and all.)

Two words for that moment: absolutely surreal! And of course, I didn’t have my digital camera to capture it. So, my blurry cell phone camera had to do. Unfortunately, I haven’t learned how to take a pic of myself while dancing, lol.


Me, Ashley and Nishia with Parliament band member Carlos before we went on stage.

Velda with Carlos



Btw, that's Ashley's hair on the left side of the pic. And yes, she's dancing with George Clinton.
Carlos and Nishia get down to "Atomic Dog."

Anyway, for better-looking, professional pics, check out the photo gallery by Times photographer Doug Collier.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Missing a meal or two or three

I've never had a problem finding a meal, oftentimes a good one, here in the Shreveport-Bossier area.

From Catfish Village in west Shreveport to the new Ta Molly's in north Bossier and all points in between, I've eaten at plenty of decent places during my year and a half in town. I love Ralph & Kacoo's, sometimes I get a craving for Guillaumes’ at the Chateau and every now and again I stop by Sushiko at the Boardwalk. And, hey, my one visit to the Village Grille was very nice.

Then again, after consecutive weekend visits to Houston and then Dallas, I still feel a little deprived. (Disclaimer: I was raised in Houston and lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for nearly eight years. Btw, the Metroplex is often touted as having more restaurants per capita than New York City).

I was only back home for a couple days and I definitely couldn't eat everywhere that I wanted to. Man, if only I could have brought a few of those places back with me to Bossier.

Couldn't we use a PF Chang's? Or a Pappadeaux's (I know my friend Nishia is feeling me on this one)? What about places like Chipotle, Pappasito's, The Aquarium, Black Walnut Cafe?

Sure, most of the places I've listed here are chains. But Super Target and Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney are chains and I don't here anyone complaining about their presence in town.

Are there any places that you all would like to see come to the Shreveport area? I get the feeling that Mayor Glover checks out this site from time to time, so maybe if we protest loud enough, he might look into our prospects for luring new eateries.

What places would you like to set up shop here?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pass the Kleenex

So, I’ve been all geeked and DVR-ready for the new TV season and was all too excited to catch the season premieres of my favorite shows.
My TV show lineup went a little something like this: Last Thursday night ABC shows “Ugly Betty” and “Grey’s Anatomy” on through Sunday with ABC shows “Desperate Housewives,” (Yes, I STILL watch that show,) and “Brothers and Sisters” and then rounding it off Monday night with my CW show “Girlfriends” and my latest addition “The Game.”

And while I enjoyed all the twists and turns of the storylines in each of these show’s episodes, is it me or were they a bunch of sad, tear-jerker storylines?

I mean, I expect to grab some Kleenex for Grey’s Anatomy - that’s just a given. But “Ugly Betty”???! That was one of the cruelest surprises of all because through most of the show, they gave me a false sense of relief that Santos was actually alive and recovering from what looked like a fatal gunshot. Then, in the last five to 10 minutes of the show, we realize it was all in Hilda’s head. I mean that was incredible writing, but so awfully heartbreaking…

And the rest of my shows pretty much continued the same way. I mean there’s Lynette’s cancer battle on “Desperate Housewives,” and the dangling cliffhanger on whether or not Justin survived the bomb explosion in “Brothers and Sisters;” the emotionally explosive and almost violent dissolution of Melanie and Derwin’s relationship on “The Game.”

Then, just when I really thought I was gonna get my laugh on watching one of my favorite shows “Girlfriends” it got all serious at the end when Joan’s fiancĂ©e is called to war! I mean, they coulda thrown Joan a bone after all the drama and insanity she’s gone through to find the love of her life.

Man…I need to them lighten up on these storylines. Is anyone else feeling me on this on any of these shows or any of the season premieres of your favorite shows? Or maybe I just need to freshen up my TV lineup.

Monday, October 01, 2007

One Year

I made it!

I've actually lived in Shreveport for an entire year. I can hardly believe it's been12 months since I packed up my familiar Nashville life to trade it in for a confusing, sometimes scary and independent Shreveport life. But I did it.

And I think I'm a better person for it.

Things I've learned: I've gained some culinary skills of which I'm most proud because my Grandmama always said I'd never cook anything. I've learned to find some happiness in silence and loneliness, which is also good because my Mother predicted early on that I'd get homesick and leave here. I know that family will help you through tough times--just ask my Dad's wallet.

A major part of my move was to prove to myself that I can live outside of my hometown. I got so sick while attending college in Chattanooga (which is only an hour and a half away from Nashville) that I left a tuition-paid scholarship to come back home to finish college there. My first newspaper job was even in Nashville, it's a part of the same family as The Times.

I still can't believe it's been a whole year.

It's been so fun. I've met so many great people and I get to cover a beat that I absolutely love. I've seen a new mayor take office (and even attended the party to celebrate), a school district superintendent leave and I'm watching the state's gubernatorial race unfold. I even had a birthday.

Wow.

I imagine these warm and fuzzy feelings will subside once I'm given my yearly evaluation.

Yikes.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dr. Phil and the Jena Six

Did anyone catch Dr. Phil on Friday? He had a mix of people involved in the Jena Six saga – a teacher from Jena Junior High, Justin Barker and his parents, Rev. Brian Morgan and Al Sharpton.

I can’t even get into everything that they argued about and discussed, but I’ll point out some things I thought were interesting. You can look at transcripts of the show here.


* I thought it was interesting to see the Barkers discuss what has happened. Justin Barker was in the audience, instructed by a lawyer not to discuss the fight, but he said he’s doing OK now.

Dr. Phil asked his parents if they thought his life “hung in the balance” after the fight where the six students punched and kicked him, to which they replied, “yes,” to which I replied, “then why did you let him go to a social function later that evening?”

Dr. Phil also asked if Justin Barker did anything to provoke the fight. Both parents said he didn’t, that they specifically asked him if he said anything that made the boys beat on him the way they did, and Justin Barker said he didn’t do anything. Hmmmm…Teenager 101: would he actually have told his parents that he provoked a fight that has thrown his family, school and town into the national spotlight as the 2007 poster children for racial tension? Or is it easier to put the blame on someone else?

* Bobbie Cornett, a teacher’s aide at Jena Junior High School, said she blames Rev. Al Sharpton for making Jena seem like a town full of racists, calling him the racist and a bully. According to her, “Our town wasn’t racially divided before this happened.”
Sharpton pointed out that he was called to Jena by the parents of the six students and other blacks in the town that felt differently.

I won’t get too detailed into my thoughts about Cornett’s statement, but I wish that she, and other white residents of Jena, would stop saying that. Just because you ignored a problem or because it didn’t happen to you doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. How can they keep saying that it didn’t, even in light of what’s going on?

Mrs. Cornett, the first step in fixing a problem is to admit that there is one. Then you can move on from there.


I will say I was a little disappointed in Dr. Phil. I expected him to call some of these people out on their B.S.
Known for his no-nonsense way of dealing with people and their problems, I really expected him to ask the tougher questions others haven’t asked already.

But, he’s got another chance. Monday’s show is supposed to contain footage of what happened when the cameras kept rolling. Also, Dr. Phil sent Bishop T.D. Jakes to Jena to talk with the parents of the Jena Six, so we’ll get to hear from them.

Check it out at 3 p.m. on KTBS 3 and let us know what you thought…

Friday, September 28, 2007

Someone had to post this on here sometime

OK, if you haven't seen the original, here's a speeded up version of this guy's rant. The name is Chris Crocker. Google it. There's lots out there.

Enjoy.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's not over

So Gov. Kathleen Blanco finally spoke out for real and put pressure on the D.A. Reed Walters to do the right thing concerning Jena High School student Mychal Bell and try him as a juvenile…And, apparently it worked.

Is it time to celebrate?

No, not even close. Last week’s march in Jena was just the beginning.

One of the things that’s annoys me most is when people attack the character of these teenagers and their families or bring up their past.

“It’s not like they’re innocent. They beat up someone.”
“Well, you know Mychal Bell had a record with the juvenile system.”
“Well, you know they were trouble already.”

I haven't heard anyone say these kids were saints. Nobody’s even said what they did was right. That’s not what last week’s march was about and that’s not what is on the table for discussion.

The point is that this kid was not given fair punishment for his wrongdoing and the case of the "Jena 6" reflects a historical pattern of racism that continues in many other judicial systems across the country.

Bell’s wrongful punishment has finally been made somewhat right about a year too late, but what about all the other Mychal Bells out there who receive unfair, inequitable punishment compared to their white counterparts? What about the four other “Jena 6” teens? Have we already forgotten about Shaquanda Cotton from earlier this year? How many other teenage boys and girls are sitting in adult jails for juvenile crimes while their white counterparts go free or get juvenile detention or even probation for the same thing?

It’s all about being fair and just, across the board, regardless of race. I hope that we as citizens begin to take a closer look at issues like this in our community. As one protester shouted out last Thursday: It’s time to wake up…and STAY awake!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Gov. Blanco and the Jena Six

I was ready to write a post about Governor Kathleen Blanco and her silence during everything - the arrests, prosecution, rally, bond hearing - going on in Jena, but a quick Google search slowed me down.

I stand corrected.

Blanco has issued statements on the situation in Jena, the first one looking like it was Aug. 10:

"I have received hundreds of calls, letters and emails from citizens concerned about the situation involving the case of the high school students in Jena, La. As Governor, as a citizen of the State of Louisiana, and as a mother, without rushing to judgment, I condemn racism in any form, and I fully expect that those involved in this case, including all parties, will act with fairness and in complete good faith."

She goes on to clear up the "misconception" that many people have about her ability to fix the situation, saying that not one branch of the three branches of government - executive, judicial and legislative - has power over the others.

Blanco issues another statement on Sept. 17, encouraging free speech that the Sept. 20 rally would demonstrate - and oh yeah, subtly reminding folks that the State Police would be out in full force.

(Sidenote: During a pretty significant time for race relations in her state, instead of being somewhere on Louisiana soil doing what she can to protect the reputation of her state, Blanco is in Madrid, Spain on a "business development mission"...sending e-postcards like this one posted on the day of the rally.)

And finally, Saturday, she issued a response to news that hate groups were publishing contact information of the families of the Jena Six on the Internet.

So, yes, Blanco has responded - somewhat - to the situation in Jena, but you know me. I'm never satisfied.

With exception to her last response, calling for law enforcement to investigate the hate groups, her statements have been pretty bland. I'd like to see her take a stand and maybe call for an investigation into how this situation in Jena came to be.

But that's just me.

I mean, what does she have to lose? Votes toward her re-election?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

More from Jena

video

The signs (Click on pics to make the bigger.)



















Two things that are always a relief to see in situations like this:


Cold water! (Provided by the American Red Cross.)


Port-a-potties!

People marching to Jena


State troopers



Jena resident sits on her porch and listens to protesters
While her daughter, a Jena High School student, talks to an ABC news reporter. (below)




Below, she talks to Times reporter Loresha Wilson about what she thinks will happen after this protest.
video

And I'll leave you with a quick funny story about the guy in the video below. This guy was walking around waving this piece of wood in the air, proudly declaring to anyone who would listen that he'd found the final piece of the infamous tree at Jena High School... Unfortunately for him, his moment of fame last about 15 minutes when another guy came along waving a branch in the air, proudly proclaiming the same thing - that he had the final piece of that same tree.

Below he talks to Times reporter Ashley Northington about what he hopes will come out of the day's events, but he gets drowned out by the chants of the protesters.
video