Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Army Recruiters: The Other White Meat

I know, the title of this post does not make too much sense, but hopefully it got you to click on the link.

The following news story is just another bad example of use of common sense:

published Tuesday, March 27, 2007 on
A man who posted his resume on the job-seeking Web site became involved in a spiteful e-mail exchange with an Army recruiter who was interested in hiring him before finding out he was gay.

Recruiting Sgt. Marcia Ramode fired off several messages to New Jersey resident Corey Andrew for three days after he told her he was not interested in joining the military because of its
"don't ask, don't tell" policy, the Jersey Journal of Jersey City, N.J., reported Monday.

She told Andrew, who is black, "Go back to Africa and do your gay voodoo limbo tango and wango dance and jump around and prance and run all over the place half naked there."

She also told Andrew, using her military e-mail address, that
being gay is immoral and that he must be "a total idiot and so stupid to presume that you do not know what gender you are."
Andrew fired back, according to the article, criticizing her poor grammar and spelling. He also took a jab at her admitted Native American heritage, writing, "So take that to your next rain dance."

Ramode's actions are under review by the Army Recruiting Command's staff judge advocate.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network on Tuesday called for Ramode's dismissal.
"Sgt. Ramode's comments were insulting and inflammatory to all troops now serving in our armed forces," said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of the group.

"Individuals from all racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds, as well as those who are lesbian, gay and bisexual, serve in our armed forces. This diversity not only reflects the diversity of our nation, but it also strengthens the military might of our armed forces. There is absolutely no place in our military for intolerance and bigotry." (The Advocate)

The situation for homosexuals serving in the US military has changed abit since the days that I entered the military. Come to think of it, I was actually asked if I was gay or not by my recruiter. This was after Clinton's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" went into affect.

By serving 4 years in this homophobic government agency, I know that there is still a long way to go, but imagine my disgust when I read the previous article.

It is sad to say, but I think the more that crazy recruiters like this are exposed to the public, the more that the US will see how much of an insult it is to gay service men and women who have to hide in the closet while voluntarily placing their life on the line for our country.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Cincinnati Park Board Unveils New Plan

Last year I sat in on a lectured at the Civic Garden Center presented by a government official from Chicago who was in charge of "green-up" the city. To my surprise, she commented on how well kept our city parks were.

I know that those things were good for something.

Of course I am kidding.

I love going to all the parks here in the city. Eden and Ault Park are great for running.

So I just wanted to let you guys know that if you are interested in the future of Cincinnati Parks and the Cincinnati Park Board, please come to the unveiling of the Cincinnati Park Board's Centennial Master Plan tonight. The unveiling/public meeting is from 6:30-8:30 at the Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park.

It's an exciting time for the Cincinnati Park Board. This year the Park Board is celebrating the 100 year anniversary of it's first parks master plan (completed in 1907 by George Kessler) and the inception of the Park Board of Commissioners!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Jazz In Covington (Article Published in The Covingtonian-2007 Edition)

Jazz In Covington
By Kareem A. Simpson

Telling people that you were born and raised in a city like Covington, Kentucky, people from other parts of the United States are more prone to ask the number of cows that you had on your farm. Surprisingly, Covington is a jewel all unto itself. When one starts to conjure words about Covington, Kentucky, many descriptions float to the tip of one’s tongue. If you are a visitor from out of town, you may only see Covington as a thorough fare to get to Cincinnati from the airport or simply, Cincinnati’s southern sister city. During the time when the United States enlisted to believe that slavery was economical, to African Americans, Covington was a welcomed stop.

This was because the slaves knew that the free state of Ohio was just across the water. Those of us, who have lived in Covington for most of our lives, conjure different adjectives depicting this northern Kentucky city. Instead of describing this city with supercilious adjectives, some may bring to mind some of Covington’s prize positions like The Madison Theatre on Madison Ave or Saint Mary’s Cathedral located a few block south. Though long gone, some may reminisce about the Latonia Race Track and there many, including myself who can call Holmes High School, the only public high school in Covington, al ma mater.

To lovers of jazz music, Covington was and still is the bedding ground for some of the most of the successful musicians of our time. Music is a large part of many people’s lives. Though pop and rap lyrics have largely popularized the Billboard charts over the past few decades, there has been several type of music that have stood the test of time. One of those statuesque musical art forms is jazz.

At the start of each calendar year, we are all busy with wrapping up lose ends left by the holidays while trying to re-charge our lives by just thinking of the upcoming New Year. Very seldom do people see this time of year as a period for reflection, or looking into our past. In retaliation to this time of year’s urgency to look forward, with jazz’s beginnings is where we will begin.

The true origins of jazz have been disputed over the years, but most musicians and lover of the craft believe that this style of music spawned from the combination of African and Western traditional music. More specifically, the clash of New England hymns and European music with the spirituals, blues and ragtime music originating from West African people. The musical style of ragtime morphed into jazz in the 1920’s due to many factors including the onslaught of World War I and the popularity of railroad travel as opposed to traveling via riverboat. With Ragtime being the popular entertainment on riverboats and Cincinnati being a riverboat town, The Queen City was a perfect breeding place for jazz once it became popular. Fats Waller, a talented pianist with a knack improvisation made waves in Cincinnati in radio long before he went on to popularity with the songs like "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now", "Ain't Misbehavin'”, "Blue Turning Grey Over You", "Honeysuckle Rose", the piano cutting piece, "Handful of Keys", "I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling", and "Jitterbug Waltz". Some would even go as far as to comment that Cincinnati’s Cotton Club, rivaled its New York City sister entertainment club bearing the same name. The Cincinnati version of the jazz club hosted the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Dixie Lee, Kid Draper and Billie Holiday.

There are few people currently who could provide first hand accounts of Cincinnati’s jazz hay day, but one Covingtonian was there and found himself nestled in the midst of the great musicians and singers who traveled around Cincinnati during this grand time. In his book My Life In Jazz, Nelson. Burton recounts his life long love of music and how it fostered his childhood in Covington, KY. Growing up on 9th Street on the east side of Covington, through My Life, Mr. Burton tells us the story of his youth by speaking of times when he sneak away from his house while his mother though him to be asleep and creep through the back of a local jazz club on his street. Once there, he would listen to famous musicians such as Fats Waller.

Like in most African American areas of major metropolitan areas during this period, juke joints, hot spots and speak easy came and went with the frequency of a riverboat floating on the Ohio River, so very few of are documented to have existed in Covington. Mr. Burton did mention that his musical partner Clarence Washington (A.K.A. Tubby), after they both toured the United States with Jack Johnson and the Jumpin’ Jacks, returned to Covington and open The Corner Pocket at the corner of 9th and Greenup Streets in Covington.

In his own right, during his career Nelson Burton established himself as an excellent performer by providing drums for the accompaniment of many outstanding and successful vocal artists of all time. As stated before, Burton was born into humble beginnings in Covington, KY. And though loosing his father at a young age, Burton watched as his mother worked long hours to support him and his family. It is inferred from My Life that his mother’s gumption, coupled with his own intelligence and his love of fancy clothes, Burton set out to help the family, by finding odd jobs as a teenager. Though most of Burton’s opportunities were found across the river in Cincinnati, Burton retells the story of a cow floating in right into his work area while he was a dishwasher at Booth Hospital, located in Covington’s historic Riverside neighborhood during the flood of 1937. Though not having to worry about a lack of intelligence, Burton never managed to graduate high school. Despite this, he was able to attend Kentucky State University, a historically African American university located in Frankfort, KY, on a football scholarship. With a wife and child to support at the time, Burton decided to for go his career in academia to follow his passion for music, which provided a more stable and immediate source of income.

My Life goes on to depict the music scene of Cincinnati in the 1930’s. A bustling, pork driven town, the city of Flying Pigs also was a music-filled metropolis, enhanced with a sense of history and grandeur, though crippled by a distinctive division between the races. Burton recounted that Vine Street, a street in downtown Cincinnati that still runs North and South, separated the African American part of the downtown Cincinnati area from the white part. If you were an African American musician looking for a playing gig, you would have better luck spending your time “at the rail” outside of the Cotton Club on the east side of Vine. Later in life, Burton traveled the country with Jack Johnson and the Jumpin’ Jacks. Though his travel kept him away from his family, with the Jacks, Burton was able to perform with such musical greats as Nat ‘King’ Cole.

Although Nelson Burton no longer resides in Covington, the love and passion for the art of jazz has not strode far from this far city. Some would go as far as to say that it had never left. Covington currently boasts a number of jazz venues that would rival Cincinnati’s former Cotton Club. One example can be found with the restaurant Dee Felice, located on the corner of 6th and Main Streets in Covington’s historic Mainstrasse district. Since 1984, Dee Felice has provided both food to fill your stomach and music to tickle your ears. Such noted singers as Mark Murphy have graced the stage at this establishment. Other noted musicians include Ed Schonessy, from the Tonight Show during Johnny Carson’s era, and Bill Gimmer who played in the Count Bassie Band. Local favorites include Kenny Poole, Bill Berry and Frank Vincent. With a performance scheduled every night except Tuesday, Dee Felice announces the fact that on any given evening, you can see couples having a quiet dinner and listening to a great jazz band or you can find music students experiencing their craft.

Just across Main Street, Chez Nora restaurant marches to the beat of a similar drummer. Just over five years after they expanded and added a rooftop performance area, Chez Nora has hosted many jazz performers to include local favorite Rickey Nye and the John Zappa Quartet. Making continuous move into the future by turning an old strip club into a restaurant/club, The Ave is Covington’s newest jazz establishment. Located just south of 4th Street on Madison Ave, The Ave hopes to broaden their repertoire of musical guests in the upcoming year.

As with Ragtime, time has caused Jazz to produced offshoots of its original form, from Swing and Be-bop to current day crooners such as Jill Scott and Norah Jones. As a Covingtonian by birth and heart, it is wonderful to think that those who have cut their teeth in the craft of music in this fair city had such a great influence on today’s music. A note to lovers of jazz, men like Nelson Burton should be saluted. There are more men like him than you think.

Monday, March 19, 2007

4th Year of War....What Have We Accomplished?

It was a bright and clear day in Cincinnati on the morning of September 11th, 2001. I was feeling particularly good that morning for some reason. I walked in to my student aid job in the Veterans Certification Office at the University of Cincinnati and began my daily routine of making sure that vets returning to school were getting paid.

As I just completed another veteran's file, my student co-worker walked into the office and announce, "A plane had just flown into the World Trade Center!" Me being the skeptic that I am, I immediately retorted, "How can that be? There isn't a runway in that part of the city." Too my surprise, he was correct. Of course I am depicting the dreadful morning that terrorist made the mistake of causing harm to the citizens of the United States.

Just a few weeks after this attack on American soil, we attacked land on the other side of the world in efforts to "get back" at those who caused so much grief in the hearts of Americans. There have been many theories as to why this all came about, but like with most theories pertaining to politics, most of them are unfounded.

Today marks the 4 year anniversary of Prez Bush sending our boys (and girls) half way across the world, into harms way. OF course, being an Army Vet, I only see the horrors of sending our men and women into war. Is there anyone out there who think our war is a good idea? I want to hear from you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I have done it!

After several weeks of tutiledge, I have figured out how to get pics from my phone on to the internet!
These are pics that I took at the Bacchanalian Event at the Contemporary Arts Center.

Here are picsof Shina's basketball game.

And finially, here are some pics I took on the hike in Hicking Hills.

Look for a lot more in the future. Maybe now I can stop ripping off other people's

B&E: No, this Does Not Stand Fro Breaking & Entering (Or maybe it does)

Cincinnati NAMjA is taking a new avenue when it comes to blogging.

For the past year, this blog has attempted (some would say feebly) to bring to you the thoughts and ramblings of a single, African American gay male living downtown Cincinnati. I review of this minimal reviewed blog, it looks like I have not achieved what I set out to do.

Taking into account what my goals are, I am in the process of revamping this rag. First on my list, are throwing a bit of spice in the content that I place here.

What a better way to spice it up than by relaying the fact that one of my favorite blogger will now be the spokesperson for Ginch Gonch underwear! (Ben is the Blond)

I have been following Ben's blog and his career for several months now. At one point, I was trying to get him to dance here in Cincinnati at Club Adonis, but talks fell through with ownership. Him and his partner Even have some of the hottest bodies, and are pictured in some of the most erotic positions, without being too naughty....I luv it!

I want to hear from you.
In this transition, I plan to have more interesting content and better graphics, but still keeping the Queen City in the root of it all (at least I hope) and I would like to hear from your every step of the way.

Holmes Wins Reginal Title

This year, my al ma mater won the 9th Region Boys Basketball Tourney

Congrats Bulldogs!

Read the story here.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Good Job Surya! Good Bye Apprentice

well its all over for the Cincinnati boy on the Apprentice. Last night, Surya gave a good fight but was not able to miss the swing of the Trumpster's ax. You gave it a good go, though!
I received an email from Surya about the entire ordeal the morning after his final show aired. The show did not depicted everything that occurred (of course)

I hope to talk more about it with him when I see him speak at NKU in a few weeks.

Hocking Hills: A Recap

I have to say, if you ever just want to take a small weekend getaway without spending too much money but still want to be close to nature (with out the risk of being attacked by a one legged Wilda beast) Hocking Hills is definitely the place to vacation. Littered with hot tub furnished cabins and miles and miles of trails to hike through the woods, Hocking Hills was WONDERFUL!

We left early Friday afternoon. Taking the scenic route via Route 50 east from Cincinnati, we traveled trough several small towns. Living in the "big city", you sometimes forget that most of America is farmland, and that's just what we saw as we traveled.

It wasn't until we turned into the small town of Hocking Hills that we were transported to, what seemed to be, another dimension. Filled with hemlocks and sycamore trees, inter laced with each other, the frozen water still trailed down the several story cliffs that encased the winding road as we drove. I was in awe. I guess to people who live in this area all of their lives, this sight is nothing, but to me, I was in another world.

Several minutes later, we came to Hocking Hills Resort and it was only another few moments that we were checked in to our two story cabin and had already christened the hot tub!

After a 15min Hot tube break, we got our walking show on and took the dogs on a hike. Our first destination, Ash Cave. Now, my idea of a cave and what we experienced were two totally different things. I thought caves to be dark, bat-filled holes in the ground. Ash Cave was far from that. If was more like a wall with a slight indentation. When I saw wall, I do not mean a 15ft wall, I mean a 4 story tall wall with ice still hanging from the top. Thought the "hike" was only about 10 minutes, it again took me away from reality.

Not much more to say we did after the hike. We cooked a fabulous dinner in the cabin and fell asleep. The next morning was a total waste of a day. i thought I would be sike to go for another hike, but I just laid around and watched TV. It wasn't until later that evening that I decided to get off the couch, but it was because I had to run out to the local town and get some things that we have forgotten. That's OK though, sometimes, you need days like that.

The day was capped off with a night of movie watching. Somehow, I was able to get the gang to sit through SAW III. I had to do a good deal of explaining because I was the only person who had already witness the first two installations of the film. It was OK thought, it helped me to stay on my toes.

The next morning was a blur. Up at the crack of dawn, we made the most incredible Korean pancakes, filled with scallops, shrimp and an assortment of other goodies.

After breakfast, we packed up and headed for the hills. This morning, we hiked 1/4 of a mile to Old man's Cave and the took a 2 mile hike to see Rose Lake, where there is a damn. It was pretty phenomenal. I took pics of it with my phone, but for the life of me have not figure out how to get them off my phone and onto the net so the pics on this post are generic ones I found from the Hocking Hills website.

So if you are looking for an excuse to get out of the city, this is a great place to go!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hocking Hills: A Trip To Remember

A few of my firends and I are planning a weekend get-a-way to the beutiful hills of Hocking, just a few hours drive east of the city of Cincinnati. Sometimes, this city boy likes to pretend to rough it out in nature. I am not sure how much roughing we will be doing while staying the weekend in a cabin, fully equipt with a hot tub, but I am sure that it's close enough!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Cincinnati's Contemporary Art Museum: Yet Another Diamond In the Rough

GQ Magazine has always intreaged me, mostly because of its homo-erotic undertones but more because it gave distinguished and stylish men to stay acrest of the current fashions and issues concern metropolitan minded men around the country and the world.

I was flipping through the March 2007 issues when I came across an article highlighting some of the most archetechualy astounding museums located in the US. I felt compeled to actually read this article, istead of settleing for simply looking at the pretty photograghs of the museams, but my interest waned as I reached the 3rd museum that was highlaighted. So I moved on.

What was I thinking!

Half way through the magazine I rememberred that the Contemporary Arts Center, here in Cincinnati is one of the most famous tou be build in the US in recent years so it should be somehwere in that afor mentioned list.

Sure enough...I almost missed it. There it was, smack dabb at the bottom of page 178 of the issue. Still not a very flattering picture compared to the others, but at least it made the list!