Cultural Differences or Systematic Divides

I found myself stranded downtown Chicago a measly, yet, 1.5 miles away from my automobile. I was celebrating with friends having drinks and singing karaoke, and before I knew it time had flown past. Dagnabit I thought to myself, now I have to walk my ass to my car and I wasn’t looking forward to it; although it was a very pleasant August evening. I was too cheap to grab a cab and too annoyed to walk. And when I looked around at my surroundings deciding my course of action I noticed the blue and white sparkling Divvy® bike rack awaiting me. Light bulb moment, “hey, I’ll take a bike!”

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This blog is not an advertisement for Divvy® or its sponsoring company. This blog is not meant to increase ridership of the bikes or to claim how health conscious I am (which I am not). Nor is it an exploration of how these bikes became so popular in my fair city or in a neighborhood near you. Incidentally, are these bikes as popular in other parts of the country and world? Feel free to educate me.

What I noticed about these bikes is there are not as many blacks or Hispanics casually riding these bikes between convenient locations throughout the city during their hectic days. As a matter of fact, this was my first time riding the bike. And it dawned on me that I was the only African-American on a bike riding through downtown Chicago to my destination; granted it was later in the evening but there were plenty of others out on a beautiful summer night.

I was thankful for this mode of transportation when I needed it. It was easy to use and it saved me a few bucks from taking a cab. Now I can use these bikes throughout the city and make my stops and get in shape at the same time. However, there is one problem – certain neighborhoods do not have the bikes. So what gives?

Maybe the bikes wouldn’t stand a chance from theft in these not-so-desirable locations. Or maybe the citizens in these areas don’t have aspirations to ride the bikes. The bikes are cheaper than cabs but they do cost and I am talking about areas where many folks do not have much disposable income. Maybe the company isn’t marketing the bikes in these locations because of preconceived ideas (judging) about what the people in these markets want. It is a sad commentary on how our cultures differ on something as innocent as bike riding.

I do know some African-Americans and Hispanics that ride the bikes all the time. I’m sure some of my readers and friends will vehemently disagree with me, stating, “Hey I’m black and I ride the bikes!” However, most of these individual riders are in neighborhoods where bikes are located. It is very obvious when riding through the city where holes exist in providing bikes.

I hope to teach my kids that this is a nice transportation alternative. I expect others will continue to migrate towards this decent way of travel. I recognize there are some cultural differences in acceptance of the communal bikes. I hope certain communities can positively influence good ideas to other communities and allow folks to take advantage of these opportunities. It was an exhilarating feeling to ride my Divvy® bike through the city with the wind blowing in my face on a wonderful mid-summer night. Everyone should have the chance to experience this feeling.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Why You Wanna Irk Me So?

I admit I’m more of a Speed Racer type when it comes to putting the pedal-to-the-metal; therefore my blabbing may irk you as I was irked by another. But I’m going to press forward and say what I gotta say anyway!

When you see me coming up on you like a well-tuned Formula 1 semi-rocket move outta the way and let me drive! Is it really so hard to let go of that control? You know you like what you see and admire my swag, but no, you wanna play games with me…tease me…control me, and you know it’s gonna irk me because you see the way I approach you. And as soon as I see you slip and you give me a lane you wanna go and block me again. This is not a game! You’re gonna make me scream “Jesus take the wheel” lest I do something I regret, like take another path. But hey, I should expect this cat-n-mouse foreplay because it is what happens during courtship.

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As for someone’s car antics, that irked me as well.

I sat in my car trying to progress at a reasonable rate and there he was purposely driving like Ms. Daisy. He would slow down to get under my skin knowing I was in a hurry. I said to myself “If I wasn’t a good Christian boy I’d pull you over and beat the freaking sh*t outta you and tear you a new a$$hole you S.O.B!” But I didn’t. And God forgive me for my rage.

But who is really in the wrong? Am I to blame because I can’t drive 55 or is he because he is purposely provoking me? And here in lies life’s crazy debate about balance and responsibilities.

Sure, I could have been driving a bit slower, maybe just a tad above the speed limit as I was in a hurry to not miss the cutoff for dropping off my kids to daycare. Or he could have moved over and let me pass as there were no obstacles preventing him from doing so. City driving causes road rage causing inexcusable behavior that might result in unfortunate circumstances. Who needs this?

Responsibility states we all share in creating a balanced and harmonic living environment for ourselves and the world. It ensures we behave in an unselfish manner prompting our brethren to relinquish control sometimes while other times becoming the beneficiary of a good act.

Either way, we must remember to take a moment and pause so we can compose ourselves and not make irrational or ignorant decisions purely based on selfish priorities.

As for my driving – I will still drive like Mario Andretti until I am no longer able to do so, but I typically share the road (and in this case the greater metaphor for road – life) with others so we all might travel harmoniously. Life should always be about the greater good, therefore, I submitted to being greater even though he was not.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Lollapalooza Heads Invasion – Whoopee!

Ah, that carefree feeling to be twenty-something, basking in the sun during one of Chicago’s hippest, coolest and wildest concert venues – Lollapalooza!

While I might feel I am beyond the attending age of such an event I can’t help but think back to my own days of exploration when I would attend various events and get a taste of the culture of the day. However, there is nothing like what is going on this weekend in the Chi, as we Chicagoans affectionately like to call it. Our fair city has been bombarded by folks all over the world to come and see the numerous bands perform all within a handful of city blocks.

And I have to say it…is…A-W-E-S-O-M-E!

Feeling a bit like Scrooge I was hesitant to embrace this event like many others around me; no particular reason except the same as the locals talking about being past the age of enjoyment. Yet, part of me embraces this three-day event and what it means to everyone.

As I walked down the street I was passed by many people of all races, creeds, beauties, and backgrounds making their way to the field of dreams – rock ‘n roll dreams – hip hop dreams – and indie dreams, all in one field. And it excited me. Too cool, I thought.

Therefore, I won’t be the ole fuddy-duddy looking to rush out the tourist and other bystanders that are partaking in the festivities this weekend. While I may not be able to participate I appreciate the sound I heard from my office window and the euphoric feeling permeating in the air.

It isn’t every day that we all get to have feel-good moments in life but I am telling you to embrace them when they become visible. Grab a loved one, a stranger, a pal and dance like nobody’s watching and enjoy the music. I know I will be looking forward to the next invasion and I might even participate.

Loving life.

Celebrating Life’s Wonderful Moments

Today I celebrate my son’s birthday! I feel so honored to have him as my son and I am happy that God put my kids in my life. Through all of the turmoil I have experienced it is moments like these where I sit back and just give thanks. Whether you know who or what you are giving thanks to, just give it, it won’t hurt.

Then just celebrate those things around us that give us joy. Life can be beautiful.

COMMITAPHOBIA (kuh-mit-a-foh-bee-uh) –noun

1) A man’s irrational fear of being in a committed relationship; 2) Fear of “settling down” for a man; 3) Usually a condition found with men, difficulty being faithful; 4) A man’s emotional state when dreading the thought of only being with one female companion over and over and over and over again.

Sentence: Jason had been stricken with commitaphobia as he contemplated his future with his main squeeze Sheila.

We all have heard it a thousand times. Many of us have lived through it numerous times. And some of us men have been stricken by this disease in our lifetimes. How does it manifest itself in our lives and what can we do about it?

I have studied this disease among my male compadres and am puzzled by the same results – the fear I see in their eyes as they try to live a rich, deep, meaningful life by committing to the woman of their dreams. It doesn’t matter what walk of life this poor man comes from but any man is capable of contracting this condition. And once he gets the condition it is virtually impossible for him to recover. Or at least we know it will take him some time.

Symptoms of this ailment are usually the following: a) the inability of a man to focus on one single woman; b) a man backs out of conversations that deal with commitment when initiated by said female companion; c) the desire to sexually conquer a female – ALL females; d) lackadaisical attitude toward female companions when prompted for emotional intimacy [also known as “the arm’s length syndrome”].

Studies have shown more than 50% of men deal with this affliction yet help does not seem to be readily available. Some statistics have shown 2/3rds of the male population is screaming for assistance due to the onset of this terrible state. These numbers increase dramatically after divorce or over age 30. It is a serious epidemic in our communities. We need the government to take action and provide assistance – like mandated health care.

But wait; there is help for this affliction right around the corner!

I have personally enlisted the help of various psychologist and medical professionals to understand, dissect and learn more about our disease to see if there is a drug, similar to Viagra that can help a man overcome this fear. There seems to be hope on the horizon. I have found many times the affliction can be treated by mental stimulation. Other times it is best to wear a man down. It is also treated by constant catering to the man’s desires. Other sure proof methods show a way to a man’s heart (which is one source of this issue) is by his stomach and this still stands true.

Do not despair my female accompaniments. And do not act rash by switching gender teams (not that there is anything wrong with that). Instead, work with us men to eliminate this awful condition. Most of us men don’t want to be stuck with commitaphobia and are willing to go through treatment.

However, our studies need money. There are ways you can help. For the price of a cup of coffee a day you can save a man from this dilemma. You can help him find his way. Or you can adopt a man to wean him of his commitaphobia. It will take time but believe me it can work. I know this because I, too, was afflicted by this disease. I was a commitaphobe.

Be Blessed.

Next topic: Why are men pigs?

Everything is AWESOME!

…when you’re living in a dream!

Yes, according to the fun kids movie Lego Land everything is awesome as long as you conform, keep life light, don’t focus on the hard stuff, and work as a team. Woo-hoo!

But seriously, life is awesome. It is full of beauty and magnificence. It is pleasurable and wonderful. I look around my wonderful city of Chicago everyday and I am reminded of these pleasures. Therefore, I enjoy taking a moment in my crazy world to acknowledge just how awesome life is.

Regardless of the trials we face and the pains we all feel – because they are real – we should always be reminded of how awesome life is. YOU are awesome! I AM awesome! WE are awesome together!

Now go tackle that day with all of your awesomeness!

Me and My Mojo Jangles

The following phrase should be sung in the voice of my favorite Blues artist Muddy Waters:

“My mojo done come and gone and come back again; I’m ‘bout to round that bend bringing’ my mojo from deep within! Oh, lord, yawl better watch out!”

At least this is what I’ve been told. Funny thing, I wasn’t even aware I lost my mojo, let alone that I had any mojo to begin with. And this got me to thinking, what the heck is my mojo and am I doing good or evil with it? Don’t we all have a bit of mojo? Shall we explore this idea of mojo together? Let us.

I hear the young-ins talk about SWAG these days and I quietly wonder how this word has grown and taken the place of similar words over time. Swagger, mojo, cool, and debonair are just a few words throughout history that describe the wannabe James Bond in all of us – in particular us men. However, many women desire a similar Je Ne Sais Quoi when ascribing to certain enticing characteristics that evoke appeal. Sex appeal is a powerful trait.

I never thought of myself having any sort of mojo growing up. I was just…me. Yet, throughout the years I would look at others who clearly exhibited some type of cool factor and I often thought these individuals set the bar. Sean Connery, Denzel Washington, and Johnny Depp have that “IT” factor; there are certainly others on your list but these exemplify having mojo on my list.

But, honestly, all of us really do have some type of mojo working for us. Regardless of your stature, your position, your nerdiness, we all have it. It usually is recognized by someone other than us. Someone may mention an endearing quality that we hadn’t thought of that gives us pause and might even make us blush. We take their words at heart and smile warmly as we are given the compliment. Everyone loves a good and sincere compliment.

So what happens when we lose our mojo? This occurs because of life and the turmoil we experience. Life happens, or as my brother says, “shit happens.” And when that poop hits the fan we stop living the life we once lived. We might find ourselves in a funk and begin to get lost in this insidious pool of disgrace and disgust, not knowing how to get out. Losing my mojo wasn’t on purpose – it just happened. And it was brought to my attention during my difficult days because my outer shell began to reflect my inner spirit. I felt there was nothing I could do about it. I accepted the pain and the pity secretly hoping it would just go away or that I would wake up and the nightmare would be over.

And as the story goes – none of that occurred. I still had to overcome and face the demons surrounding me.

The wonderful thing about overcoming is the peace you feel when you do overcome. Or the feeling of accomplishment that comes along with finishing a race. Also, there is euphoria and jubilation that fills our emotions as we look back at the road we traveled. It’s like grabbing a cold beer, sitting on a stump, and admiring God’s handiwork and your part in maintaining the masterpiece. This is where I find myself; through the storms I am recognize the positives of life.

My mojo is just heating up. It is that Godly feeling within that allows my Spirit to shine brightly. And for a moment after numerous challenges I finally believe I can overcome the storm. It is this newfound confidence that I wear so well. And I hope everyone can have this same suit of confidence as well. We all deserve a little mojo in our lives from time to time. So go find yours.

Daddy Dan

Get In Where You Fit In?

Kanye West’s song “Clique” says it best: “ain’t nobody f*king with my clique, clique…Ain’t nobody fresher than my clique, clique…” Well, some of you know the rest.

And what about getting in with a gang of folk? Who are my homies? What makes up my clique?

If you’re like me you might wonder whether you even fit in a defined group. I’ve never fit in just one group. I sometimes felt like an outcast searching my way through trying to get in where I fit in. Or should I fit in where I get in? Conformity. I tried this as well but it didn’t do it for me. Thus I was an empty vessel adrift at sea looking for similar vessels as me.

When you come from a diverse upbringing it may add to these feelings of exclusion. However, other people come from a homogenous environment and still feel the same. Those of us who feel this way usually fumble our way using a trial and error approach hoping and wondering whether we will find that friendly clique there for us. It is only human nature to belong to something; defining that “something” is the key.

I went through my punk rock stages but I didn’t dress the part.

I tried on hip-hop fashion, but didn’t dress that smart.

I even bought a pair of cowboy boots only to realize I wasn’t a Southern bunk.

It wasn’t even the clothes I was wearing that would hide my dismal funk.

When I was a young lad my father said to me and my siblings, “ya’ll are different because of your life experiences. You will forever have to deal with this.” He was right. We traveled around the world due to his job and always found ourselves trying to get in where we fit in. But what I didn’t realize is that eventually I would find my diverse clique merely by the laws of attraction. When I stop trying to fit in the universe guided me to where I needed to be.

The journey has taken me some time over my years and now I am lucky to have such a diverse group of influencers. These friends and family are all unique and I suspect we have all felt very similar with this journey. And the great thing is recognizing our uniqueness and cherishing it. It has made me a more enlightened individual who understands the value of being unique brings to our world.

So I finally found my clique, clique, clique. And ain’t nobody fresher than my clique, clique, clique.

Cheerios in My Pockets

As I came into work this morning I grabbed a bag I hadn’t used in some time. When I got into the office and pulled the small bag from my computer bag much to my surprise I found something…

A few remnants of cheerios.

These small morsels have been there for a while. I’m certain they were there when my babies were…literally…babies. It made me smile and I realized how I missed them at that precious age. I’m sure many women can relate. I wonder if men relate to this as well – I know I feel sentimental when I am reminded of my kids during the early years. The time passes by so fast. Enjoy it for sure.

To our kiddos! Love them to pieces.

Daddy Dan

Sexual Performance Indicator©

I am a finely tuned Maserati blasting on all cylinders. When you hit my gas and push my clutch I perform as I was meant to – full, unadulterated, lasting pleasure. I am a magician in the driver seat seducing you beyond expectations and fantasies. I give you all I got to push you over the limit and feel your blood rush through every vein as you scream with…well, you know the rest.

Then I wake up. Another day. It is time to go make the donuts.

In a recent online conversation I had you would think every man was built like a Maserati when it comes to sexual performance. When it comes to pleasing your loved one…your mate…no, your dip…well, uh, or even your just-for-the-moment chick all of us men believe we are masters of orgasms. Yet, according to some studies the majority of women rarely have orgasms during sexual intercourse. As a side, this number decreases if the woman has first read 50 Shades of Grey (but that’s for a later discussion). Thus, which one of our species is off base; the well-tuned, well-defined hunk of a man or the chick?

We are aware of the facts – we just choose to ignore them.

The challenge here is a man’s ego. Well, frankly, my ego. I, like any man, want to know that I provide pleasure to my woman. I want to believe that during the act of making love (and yes, I like this phrase better than using “sex”) I make her feel special, appreciated, comfortable, and desired. Thus, when I do make her feel all of these things it pumps up my ego – and we all know how fragile a man’s ego can be. But how do I really rate on the scale of sexual performance? Is my 60 minute sexual performance just in my mind and the reality is a mere 5? Inquiry minds need to know. My bright idea is to create some type of measure, a way to gauge how good the sex is. Maybe create some type of indicator that moves up and down (no pun intended) during performance.

A Sexual Performance Indicator (trademarked hereinafter).

This indicator idea is a bit tricky. It is a valiant effort to introduce the indicator to our bedrooms or kitchens or living rooms or public restrooms but it needs to be tested for accuracy. We cannot allow us men to tamper with such a device; this will skew the results. There is no need to trick our women into believing they just experienced the performance of their lifetime, or at least until the next performance comes along. We should just keep it real. And I believe I nearly have the device invented. Or, I can suggest we introduce another way to measure our performance. It is more of an old fashioned way – a way which focus’ less on devices and more on judgment. We can ask our partner for feedback. Gasp.

When we get feedback it opens us up to critique. Criticism is the number one killer of ego cells in America. It is hard to overcome. It can make a grown man cry. It can make a human withdraw. It can hurt. Yet, knowing an area of our lives that could use an enhancer we might actually find ourselves in a better, ahem…position to perform (there goes more puns). It takes a strong individual to listen to criticism and then make adjustments. There is nothing wrong with that. I, for one am willing to swallow my pride, take it where it hurts, and go with the flow to improve in an area of life that we seldom want to speak of – our sexual performance.

If this doesn’t work I will have the SexPi™ available soon for a mere $19.95 (shipping and handling not included).