Wednesday, June 29, 2005

my heroes

I know that sometimes I come off like a left-wing sheep. If it's liberal, I'm for it. Truth is, I would probably be Republican if Republicans acted more like Republicans.

When I heard about the Supreme Court's unfortunate eminent domain decision, my first thought was, if Thomas and Scalia voted for that, I'm gonna be pissed.

To me, that would have proven, once and for all, that it's 1984, and two plus two really does equal five.

Fortunately, they voted according to their principles on this one, and the liberal judges showed just how bad the left can get.

If KC is any indication of how things work everywhere else, the use of eminent domain is Democrat dumbassedness with devastating muscle. Our idiotic Dem leaders, like Mayor Kay and Crony Kohn, think that it's government's duty to step in and fix everything. Kay in particular has been clear that she wants to boost economic development so that more tax revenue will come in so the city can offer more social services. So, like insecure sluts, she and the city's so-called leaders cut into the tax base to give unbelievable deals to anybody in a suit willing to take a chance on the urban core. Meantime the budget's been shrinking while lawyers and developers have gotten rich.

And as if it isn't enough to steal taxes from us poor and give it to them rich, they'll even condemn the property of our fellow citizen to give it to the fat cats so they canb build an ill-conceived albatross that no one will ever want to visit because it's contrived.

This is my biggest problem with Democrats. They think the government can solve everything. When, in a lot of instances, the best thing is for government to just get the hell out of the way.

Ugh. I'm not being very articulate here.

I'm just glad Rehquist, Thomas and Scalia voted the way they did. A lot of times I think they're dicks. But sometimes you need a grumpy conservative around to keep things in check. It's just too bad they didn't win this time.

on the campaign

I've got some Nashville readers, so I can't resist sharing this. I read in my monthly leftist rag (actually, Allie read it to me, since I'm off the news wagon for a while) about your buddy Bill Frist:
(Frist) continued to stockpile campaign-commercial footage by touring the Sri Lanka tsunami disaster zone in a helicopter, at one point ordering a photographer to "get some devastation in the back."

Looks like he's drifted a fair sight from his school learnin'. Not very gentlemanly.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

rock n roll high school

Download this post and save it to a disc. This is the birth of a superstar. Jake Miller. Lead singer of the Paras.

The Paras were the final band to play at the Goshen High School Battle of the Bands. My grandma and I showed up late, so we only caught the last three acts. When we arrived, the Aviators were on the stage. They were a sort of dark, grinding rock band with a lead singer who seemed to have a Chloraseptic deficiency. The Aviators were followed by a band with an acronym name. I guess you'd call their music emo -- sort of slow, pre-suicide punk.

Then the Paras took the stage and everyone went nuts. Jake Miller was wearing his trademark red cardigan and pencil-leg cords and a thin tie. He jumped up and down, shook his moppy hair and the girls screamed. When he sang, his voice came out sort of British like. A little snotty, like Johnny Rotton.

Afterward, Jake said that God was on the Paras' side. A friend of his mom said, "If I didn't know you, I'd think you were on drugs, they way you were moving up their."

"That's how you're supposed to be," he said, a little annoyed.

Grandma and I went home before the votes were tallied, because we're old. We just knew that the Paras were the best band there, that it'd be nothing short of a scandal of Olympic-figure-skating proportions If these future titans of rock were to be denied their rightful place in the annals of rock history. But then, they were the last band. Folks could have cast their votes earlier for the dreaded Aviators.

But later, Jake called...

The Paras won!!

Meditate on these pictures, folks. Soon, all the kids will be stealing this band's music:

more grief

Right before I left for Elkhart, I had a conflict with a friend of five years. It was over a thoughtless and hurtful action on my part. I regret what I did. But I did it, so all that was left to do was to own up to it, apologize, offer amends to the extent possible, and, hopefully, grow in the relationship. But these efforts on my part were not received, and for now the relationship is on ice, and the longer it stays on ice the less likely it is that it will be revived.

This person has played a very important role in my growth as a person, and I refuse to sever myself from that past, even though the friendship no longer continues. Still, it brings up a slew of emotions -- more accurately stories that I'm continually concocting to manage the appropriate pain. Like most such stories, they're essentially insane: conversations I could have had or presumably would like to have at some future date, and they vacillate from absurdly Christ-like forgiveness to the most mean-spirited revenge.

These stories mask layers of truths -- more stories, really, just one's I'd rather not face. Religious types would likely sum them up in single words -- pride, ego, fear -- but there are also histories I have yet to pay for. As I said in an earlier post, I've been something of an intimacy assassin in my short time on this planet, and there are dozens of people with whom I've shared very close moments who are now exiled from my life. In some instances I banished them amid conflict, others were simply part of lives that I wanted to escape, so I just broke off without a word. So, I suppose, it's payback time.

A weirder story, one that might get me in trouble for sharing it here, because it would gloss over even uglier parts of myself, is that I did the thing I did to give fodder to stories that would mask feelings that were looming on the horizon. I'm in a between place, a hard spot for a guy who prefers things to be fairly well mapped out. With a new editor, the status of my manuscript and contract are less certain than when I began. And even if it were all going as planned, the process of this current book is temporary, and "what's next" draws closer and closer, despite its uncertainty. Harder still, the beginnings of "the next" all point to a long, difficult trudge through things I've pretty much chosen to ignore, or store in easily managed myths. I think I knew on a subconscious level that my trip to Indiana would be a painful one, regardless of how wonderful it is to be at Grandma's house in the springtime. And maybe I knew that the pain would be the sort of pain that reveals no story at first, but just is. So it's not out of the realm of possibility that I did what I did to end my five-year friendship so as to have something to channel the pain toward, an incident and an Other to blame.

It certainly worked that way. Each day, almost as soon as I woke up, I started writing my nutty stories about the lost friendship in my mind. At times I would pray for the other person to have everything I want (mostly peace of mind), which is an old tactic for battling resentments that I learned in AA, and that would give me relief. But the stories would kick up again after a while, and I'd find myself swimming in poisonously obsessive thoughts.

It wasn't until that last day at Grandma's, when I opened up the box full of letters, that I realized I'd been wasting so much of my trip in addiction to my drama. And realizing this, I felt for a moment what was under it: Full-on grief. Grief for the most recent stage of my career; grief for the spotless success story I thought I was living but no longer am; grief for my grandpa's death last year; grief for my dad's death 29 years ago; grief for my mom's three divorces; grief for the threads of disease that shoot through so much of my family; grief, grief, grief.

And I guess that it's only now that I'm coming to terms with this that I can feel the poison of my resentment dissipate from my body and soul. And, better still, I feel a sort of tenderness that can only come after emerging from a period of darkness. Possibility disguised as certainty. I'm a new man! Come and get me while I'm still soft!!

Ebony's been talking a lot about lately about the idea of death being necessary for change -- that the central myth of our civilization and culture, the sacrifice of Jesus, tells us that we must all die to… I'm not quite sure what. I've died a bunch of times, of course, and I'll die plenty times more. And the rebirth pretty much feels the same each time: The way I feel here in O'Hare Airport, waiting for my plane back home, where I can start working again in that maddeningly thick Kansas City soil.

How do I feel?

The better question is, Will it last? Not the feeling; feelings never last. But the new life borne on the feelings. My life's history seems to show that it never really does. I've gotten better, sure, but I've always stumbled.

And, sorry Jesus, but I'm not going to cut off my hand.

Monday, June 27, 2005


This morning I found in my grandmother's closet a box full of letters from the mid-1940s when my grandpa was serving as a conscientious objecter to World War II. I felt intense emotion upon seeing them, no specific emotion I can name, just a fieryness of sorts in the soft part of my gut just below the solar plexis. I later told my grandma how I felt, or tried to, and she said, "I know."

It's hard for me to accept feelings without clearly defined stories attached, the kind that are specific effects of this or that cause: a stubbed toe; an insult; a sad ending to a book. And of course these feelings I felt this morning had a cause, and, obviously, a long, mysterious story. But the incident immediately preceding it was the mere opening of a box and finding pretty much what I expected to find. Indeed, I espected to feel thrilled at unearthing such a treasure.

I've never done grief well. My tendency is to just shrug off loss and move on asquickly as possible. My past is scattered with relationships that flourished for a while before I simply let them die, turned away and never looked back. It's like I've continually divested myself of intimacy, and I feel sometimes as though I'm a gennocidaire, an eradicator of my own history, usually for reasons too stupid to recall. And I've been on the receiving end, too, quite recently in fact, excised with a machette slice of words over an incident that's bad, sure, but, in my mind, not worth nuking five good years, so I know that it hurts, but I do it anyway, probably will again.

And then there's death. My first response is usually, Oh well, what can you do? And I figure that ought to be enough. Shed a few tears (but more than likely not), share a few stories, and that's that. It's not like we don't expect one another to die.

But then you open up a box and you realize they're gone. Just that: gone, a presence in and of itself, like no matter where you turn the goneness will be there, because it just showed up, just then, when you didn't think it would. And it's just the feeling, no story through which to control it, name it, give it a reason to be. Those are the feelings that seem like they might never go away.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


I know this won't translate into blog, but I was at the QuikTrip today, and the old man in front of me was buying a case of Old Milwaukee. He was a scruffy old guy, clothes a little ratty, and he says to the cashier, "And five Quick Picks," adding, in a bored, almost annoyed voice: "Might as well get rich." I kinda hope he did, though he's probably better off not.

howard dean

Some stuff still gets through, despite my news fast. I just heard about the Dean comments on the GOP last night. My initial reaction to the polarizing generalizations about Republicans: "Right on!" And to Biden and Polosi's distancing: "Whatever!"

Ebony was over yesterday and he pulled Dean's Daily Show interview up on the laptop. Seems to me he's on the right track -- Dean, that is, though Ebony's doing pretty good, too. He's working up some good simple messages, especially about morality. He even said something like, "The Democrats' message is 'Love Thy Neighbor.'" or "Do until others as you would have them do unto you." And I liked when he said, "Last time I checked, the Bible had something like 3,000 references to the poor, and none about gay marriage."

Which is all good in my book.

The real issue, though, it seems to me, is that the current Republican leadership isn't really Republican. It's just greedy, lying, mean-spirited cronies all wrapped up in shiny patriotism and suburbanism. They must be stopped. The key is reframing the debate. Karl Rove is the top debater in the country. I think Dean is onto the right counterplan/kritik (forgive the jargon, please) to smoke his ass.

Frankly, I think Dean's more of a Republican than Rove et al. He's certainly right of center. Don't believe me? Read this. That's conservative, if you ask me.

BTW, I also like that Dean got a dig in about the Republicans' unwillingness to renew the Voters' Rights Act. I mean, for God's sakes, how much more proof do you need that the the GOP isn't Grand, ain't like they were in the days of Old, and they sure as hell don't Party? This was the party of Lincoln, the Emancipation and the 14th Amendment. Right! Their current mutation was spurred by racism, straight up. Goldwater, Nixon -- they cashed in on hate at Warren and never looked back.

Friday, June 24, 2005

an affair to remember

Back when I was pushing my skinny, beDockered ass around City Hall, the rumor was that he's boinking her. And one of my favorite memories was when I was interviewing a department head who accidentally referred to the lucky lawyer as "Herb Crone," and we both laughed histerically. But despite shouting "Holy shit!" twice during the first two paragraphs, my favorite part of David's story was Steve Glorioso providing a (lame) definition for patronage. Dude. You are patronage!

But seriously, Herb and Kay are premium Grade-A Kansas City dumbasses. I penetrated Kohn's lair just once during my time at the Pitch. He has a corner office on a high floor of One Kansas City. I was there to interview him about a young lawyer in his firm who was running for city council, but at one point he bid me to come by the window and check out the view. "We need to do something here," he said to me, or something like that, in a tone of voice like that of one engaged in a friendly argument.

It was an odd moment. I rarely got apointments with high-level cronies like Kohn. I usually had to mug them at public meetings, so there was hardly ever any banter. But here he was pulling me aside to make a point about our ailing downtown.

I've thought about the moment often. It says so much about our city. Few in the city's inner circle of leadership knew what to do with the Pitch. I think their preference would have been to dismiss it as hedonistic tripe, and a few of them did, but even the most disdainful among the Kay club had to admit that we carried a young demographic they had no clue how to reach. And, frankly, most of the time had no interest in reaching. Except when it came to the revitalization of downtown. My sense is that they were sincerely baffled that the alt weekly would continually shoot arrows at their revitalization plans. So there were a few of these awkward "Heh, heh, c'mere son" moments (not just with me, but with other reporters and editors on staff).

I have no idea what impression the exchange left on Kohn, if it left any at all. But for me it remains a defining moment in KC dumbassedness. I fantasize sometimes about responding, "No, we don't need to do anything here. Just let downtown rot."

There's an old saying, do what you love and the money will follow. I don't see why this couldn't apply to cities. KC loves to be a homey place, with big yards and porches and nice stores conveniently located nearby. KC loves places that sprout up with hardly any help from the city -- "Restaurant Row" on 39th St, River Market, Crossroads. All the big projects -- every last one of them -- have failed. They're like marketing blogs; no one wants to visit.

So we're gonna have this big, stupid arena with no tenant. H&R Block will have offices downtown (thanks to tax breaks), as opposed to office 20 blocks south on Main (thanks to tax breaks). And we might have a phony, tax-assisted entertainment district to go along with it (where black folks will be turned away for the style of clothes they wear). And it'll probably pull in a few Johnson Countians who are too scared to brave the 'hood and parallel parking arounf 39th St. or west Westport. But the life of the city will remain those areas that just happened on their own.

So here's my arrogant advice: Scrap the stadium and downtown deal. Chip off a few million for infrastructure improvements and small business loans for burgeoning commercial corridors like St. John Avenue, Troost, parts of Prospect. Declare KC a gay-friendly haven from the rest of Missouri (and really dig in on this one -- go national -- have renegade marriage-a-thons at City Hall -- wave a pink Rebel flag). Then market the city as a cozy-yet-cosmopolitan, cheap-yet-luxurious city that'll more than likely never face terrorist attack. And that it's a great place to raise a family, so long as you don't have kids in public school (hence the gay angle).

But what do I know? I'm certainly not schtoofing the mayor.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


My woman is named after a character from Kung Fu, played by Jodi Foster. We watched the episode tonight. It aired while Allie's mom was pregnant with her. Her parennts were both big fanns of Kung Fu. Inspired by this episode late in the first season, they decided to name their first born after the show's young hero. Might be the best Kung Fu episode ever. Could we have expected less?

Episode 10: Alethea

A very young and precocious Jodie Foster co-stars as Alethea, a girl believing she has witnessed Caine, who she had just befriended, kill a stagecoach driver during a robbery. Of course, Caine is innocent but her testimony sends him to the gallows, whereupon she decides to trust his word and "lie" about what she saw in order to spare his life. To prove his innocence to Alethea and thus turn her "lie" into a truth, Caine hunts down the real killers. A flashback story at Shaolin temple concerning Caine's childhood loss of innocence to a benevolent lie mirrors Alethea's predicament and makes for a wonderful tale about the difficult transition children are forced to make from a untainted world of absolutes to an adult world of ifs and maybes.

How perfect that Alethea, the one I watched "Alethea" with, should become a journalist.

Alethea is Greek for truth, and is also the name of the Greek goddess of truth.

In the show, Foster's Alethea testifies truthfully about what she saw. But both she and the jury draw a false conclusion from it. She ultimately realizes that the truth was a lie and vice verse. All reporters have experienced this at one time or another.

In the end, Alethea says to Kung Fu Caine, "I love you."

"I have never loved anyone more," Caine replies.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


So Iget an e-mail this morning from Geoffery:

get a job soon please!!!!

white Journalist who are 36 years old can't be broke

unless you like the sterio type that all writers are broke and horrible finance people

You know you're broke when a broke-ass kid from the 'hood is telling you to get a job!

evangelist sandra nura iv

I received an e-mail yesterday from Evangelist Sandra Nura's Nigerian attorney, Barr Mike Igbaji. I will soon have $6 million to give to charity.
Dear Josephine,

I recieved your mail with all the contents well understood and I have been in contact with Evangelist Sandra and she confirmed that what you said is true. I will want you to froward the following informations to me so that I will proceed to the Bank and change the beneficiary to your favour to enable that Bank release the funds to you.

Your Full name and contact address,

Your private phone and fax numbers,

A scan copy of your international paspport or national driving license for proper identification.

As soon as you send the above informations, I will immediately proceed to change the beneficiary to your favour. Do update me as soon as you recieve this mail.

Yours faithfully,
Barr Mike Igbaji {SAN}.

I responded:
Dear Barr Mike Igbaji,

I too have received your mail, and all the contents are well understood. As I told Evangelist Sandra Nura, my full name is Josephine Dwayne Miller. My address for all legal correspondence is:

Missouri AG Office
Supreme Court Building
207 W. High St.
P.O. Box 899
Jefferson City, MO 65102

Private phone: 816-241-4549
Fax: 573-751-0774

I do not have a passport nor national drivers license.

I am eager to receive the $6 million so I may beging helping Widows, Motherless babies and the less previledged around me.

I have not heard from Evangelist Sandra Nura in some time. Is she well? I so miss our chats.

Lastly, sir, what is your favorite song? Mine is "Two Tickets to Paradise," by Eddie Money. Are you familiar with this hymn?

Yours very legally,

Josephine Dwayne Miller


The manuscript arrived today, all marked up and with a long letter from the editor. His suggestions to improve the book are on point, and I'm eager to dig in and have the final draft to him by mid-August. The letter began with two pages of the most direct, informed and sustained praise I've ever received. Reading it in the parking lot of FedEx I was so overcome with joy that I began weeping, and I bawled the whole way home. I need to send a letter of gratitude to an old friend. I'll report more early next week.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Got the good e-mail today:

Hi Joe,

Thanks for your note. In fact, I'm Fed Exing out the manuscript and
editorial letter to you today; you should have it by tomorrow. I'm also
ordering the payment due on delivery of the draft.

It's a great read, and I don't think the manuscript requires too much work.
Let's talk if you have any questions.

All best,

Plus he e-mailed my agent:

Generally, I think the manuscript is a great read. The kids come alive, reveal themselves as compelling and distinct personalities, and the story is very engaging. With great agility he is able to stay close to the central narrative while explaining some thorny and complex issues about race and education. I've suggested some cuts and think he needs to be careful about how he interjects himself into the story, among other suggestions, but, really, Joe has done a great job. I hope you agree.

Comes at a good time. I was panicking all weekend. I had it all worked up in my mind that the editor's earlier nice comments were made when he was still in the earlier chapters of the book. I wrote those parts more slowly than the latter parts (some of which, truth be told, I wrote real fast, so as to hit my deadline). So I was just convinced that as he neared the end he'd start to hate it and ultimately reject it and that I would die friendless and utterly destitute.

Indeed, when I got the editor's e-mail this morning, my elation was tainted with a suspicion that he's lying, which is absolutely absurd.

BUt then, I know I'm not alone in the self-doubt department. Don't all we strange creatures do this kind of fretting from time to time.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

hip hop high school

There's this high school in a mid-market city in the American Midwest where kids smart enough to read Paulo Freire and Jacques Derrida's On Grammatology graduate without knowing how to construct a coherent sentence.

Some recent news from Hip Hop High:

The school's administrators decided that it would save money by firing the music teacher, thus leaving the students with not one creative course offering. They informed said teacher that he must leave.

But then someone higher up the Hip Hop School District food chain told the administrators that this was against the rules -- in Missouri, fortunately, it's forbidden for high schools to offer no music, art or theater classes.

So they went back to the teacher and said, "Wait a minute. You can't leave. We need you."

But, they decided to put the teacher on job target -- the classification of a person on the brink of being fired.

To avoid being fired, the teacher will have to establish a gospel choir. The teacher will not be allowed to teach a class on gospel choir, but will be required to assemble this beast as an extracurricular activity. Such activities tend to not do so well at Hip Hop High, where the drop-out rate is around 70 percent, and the few kids who stick around after school are literally being fought over by the few teachers who lead extra curricular activities.


The administrators at Hip Hop High have decided, in their effort to improve test scores, that students in Home Economics will no longer learn cooking and sewing but will instead read and write about cooking and sewing.

Somehow I have a hard time believing that kids who don't want to read to begin with are going suddenly take a shining to books about cooking and sewing.


I would like to know how many teachers have quit Hip Hop High this year. I've heard that it's a lot. Some teachers have simply walked out midday, no notice. From what I understand, one younger teacher was totallytornn up about the prospect of leaving. She told one of her colleagues that she's been unable to sleep because she fretted about leaving behind all the students, whom she'd grown quite attached to. But she simply coouldn't stand the administrators anymore. "It's a toxic environment," she said.


Hip Hop High's problems go to the very top, where the vanity of adults, not the needs of children, is the driving force.

For instance, Hip Hop Public School District has a contractor who runs its debate league. Every year, the debate league folks give a presentation to the board of directors sharing all of their wonderful success stories.

Not this year.

Hip Hop School District is in a budget crisis, and everyone is so freaked out that the administrators told the debate folks that they didn't want the elected school board members to hear good news about a program, persumably to not allow any political attachment to an inexpensive incredibly beneficial program that might have to be cut to save the incredibly expensive salaries of ineffective administrators.


Hip Hop High has a parental advisory committee full of decent hardworking folks who only want good education for their kids. This organization is so disrespected by administrators that, in one famous incident, the superintendent refused to shake the hand of one particularly active and well-respected parent.

Recently, the parents decided to address one fundamental problem in the district -- that officials at schools often refuse to answer the schools' phones. They sought to bring this perfectly reasonable complaint to the attention of the school board, but the superintendent threw a hissy fit and tried to forbid them from doing so. This man, who earns more than $150,000 a year and gets a free Lexus to drive, wasn't upset by the appalling fact that parents are unable to even contact the schools where their kids spend their days. He was pissed off that anything that might make him look bad would go public.

attention shoppers

I'm on a radish kick lately. I've been having radish and hummus on toast sandwiches everyday. Problem is they're not my radishes. They're store bought.

The more I grow food, the more I dislike the stuff the got in stores. It's too perfect. Like archetypes or ideals, symbols from dreams. Not real.

From a recent batch, these mutant fellows popped out. What made them this way? Are they two seeds that fused together? No two seeds of mine have ever fused together. In my mind, these are ghosts of the perfection machine. We Americans are so damned fussy.

I cut off their tops and stood them up side by side, like a couple in the mall. Then I photographed them. I thought about adding googly eyes in Photoshop. Instead, I beefed up the saturation to make them look nuclear.

My biggest struggle has been root vegetables. For the longest time I thought it was because the soil is too dense. I've been thinking of adding sand. Then I talked to the lady at Longview Gardens and she said it's a fertilizer thing. I will get this root thing down. All else is going gangbuster. I have officially found my green thumb.

Few things make me happier than gardening. I am pondering an essay about my struggles with root vegetables, which will be interwoven with anecdotes about my settling into this neighborhood and my relationship with Allie. But I am afraid it is too corny and obvious of a metaphor. I've even contemplated a sentence about my routes through the neighborhood becoming more and more intricate and satisfying. I keep discovering new things, feeling more and more at home, healthy, thriving.

Sometimes life is too faky, like totally contrived fiction.


This is a self portrait by my father. It hangs in the hallway of my grandmother's house, where it's hung for years. When I was a kid it really freaked me out. It is a scary picture, expecially when viewed by a litle boy who has been spanked by the young man it represents. Now when I look at it as an adult who has outlived my father by ten years I see youth -- lots of potential, a bit of self confidence, but also a whole lot of fear and awkwardness. I wonder what drove my father to paint.

On my birthday Friday, my grandma e-mailed me a photo of another painting my dad painted.

Technically this is the worst painting of my dad's I've seen. It seems hastily made, not very sophisticated. But there's a lot there. The harlequin aspect of the face reminds me of my own image of my dad at that time. The man pictured here seems at once kind and loving and mean and punishing. The red is very bloody, painful.

The picture doesn't appear to be have been drawn from a place of intimate familiarity with the subject. It's more like an archetype from a dream. It's too stark to connote love.

I'll never know for sure, but think my dad was scared when he painted it. This Christianity stuff must have been new to him. He knew he wanted it, but I don't think he really knew with the knowing of true faith and grace.

My grandma says she will bring this out to me when she visits in August. In an e-mail to me, she wrote, "It seems to speak so strongly of the black and white dialogue you are involved in, I think you may like it. "

I want it. And yet I don't want it. Where would I hang such a thing? I don't want to sound ungrateful or unsentimental, but how could I live with this face staring at me?

Yes, this is an important image in my life's story. And it ought to be archived someway. But still. I find it unsettling, like some of the letters my dad wrote in the last months of his life, when he was anguishing over the question of whether or not to remarry. This face seems to be saying both "Yes, get married" and "No, it's a sin."

How exemplary of what a difficult challenge being fundamentally Christian sems to be.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

i'm convinced

...and I've been convinced for quite some time. I have no doubt whatsoever that our president is a false prophet, and that he may well be The False Prophet. I wish the Pope were younger too:

Pope fears Bush is antichrist, journalist contends - Church - journalist Wayne Madsden - Brief Article

WASHINGTON DC -- According to freelance journalist Wayne Madsden, "George W Bush's blood lust, his repeated commitment to Christian beliefs and his constant references to 'evil doers,' in the eyes of many devout Catholic leaders, bear all the hallmarks of the one warned about in the Book of Revelations--the anti-Christ."

Madsen, a Washington-based writer and columnist, who often writes for Counterpunch, says that people close to the pope claim that amid these concerns, the pontiff wishes he was younger and in better health to confront the possibility that Bush may represent the person prophesized in Revelations. John Paul II has always believed the world was on the precipice of the final confrontation between Good and Evil as foretold in the New Testament.

Before he became pope, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla said, "We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel."

The pope worked tirelessly to convince leaders of nations on the UN Security Council to oppose Bush's war resolution on Iraq. Vatican sources claim they had not seen the pope more animated and determined since he fell ill to Parkinson's Disease. In the end, the pope did convince the leaders of Mexico, Chile, Cameroon and Guinea to oppose the U.S. resolution.

Madsen contends that "Bush is a dangerous right-wing ideologue who couples his political fanaticism with a neo-Christian blood cult."

COPYRIGHT 2003 Catholic New Times, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group

further adventures of a white trend in the hood

The invasion continues:

I'm at the local thrift store, and a young gentleman is trying to sell the proprietor a pair of clean Nikes. He must be about 18, with a sizeable 'fro. He looks down at my feet.

"Excuse me sir," he says. "Where'd you get those?"

"Bob Jones, downtown."

"How much?"

"Like, 25."

Afterward, Allie: "That's awesome! I think you're right. This is really going to catch on." (Which is critical for her, because she turned me on to the shoes and would therefore be the rightful inner-city trendsetter.)

Geoffery looks at my feet and says, "You need to move to Grinnel, Iowa. Everyone there's wearing them things." (Since visiting Grinnel, Geoffery has been referring to it as "KKK Town." On the way back from a debate tournament in Milwaukee, they stopped off at the town's Dairy Queen. Upon seeing the vanload of black kids, Geoffery says, the whole town went silent and stared.)

"Nah man," I said. "You need to get you a pair of these."

"I can't wear those. That'd be like wearing flip flops."

"Flip flops! Now you're just exposing your own country-ness." Then I told the story of the Brooklyn kids I saw at a debate tournament wearing flip flops -- two years ago.

"Yeah, but that's Brooklyn," he insisted. "I'm talking the 'hood."

Me: ??????

"Seriously," he went on, unfazed, "how you expect to wear those and be robbin' stores and jumping fences and stuff

"Geoffery, when's the last time you robbed a store and jumped a fence? These shoes are for the masses. The thug-free majoriity. Just wait. Everybody's gonna be wearing these next year."

kansas city bomber

This Racquel Welch vehicle isn't the best if you're looking for a KC hit. The film begins with Welch's character, K.C. Carr battling Big Bertha Bogliani in a roller derby showdown. The loser has to leave Kansas City. Forever.

Welch loses.

From there, it's your standard story of cream rising painfully to the top. Welch is clearly the best rollerderbier on wheels. She rolls into Portland a little shy and apprehensive and immediately lands on the shit list of Jackie Burdette, who has been star of the Loggers for six years. Jackie get's pissy, starts drinking and they fight a bunch. KC gets snared by her pig boss, owner of the Loggers, and he starts trading away all of her friends on the team cause he wants her all to himself.

Jealousy. Such poison.

All the while our hero KC is naive and friendly, until things get really bad and she has to do some axle stomping. No doubt the entire Matrix series was inspired by the dramatic final slo-mo shot.

(As an aside: Is the current resurgence in roller derby games the same as it was in the 70s? Is it like pro wrestling on wheels? Man, that's like the weirdest thing I've ever seen. Just this mass of skinny-suited bodies rolling along, beating each other up.)

Monday, June 06, 2005

evangelist sandra nura iii

In my mailbox this morning:

Dear Sister Joe,

Calvary greetings to you in the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ. I am very gratefull for you response. I pray that God in
his infinite mercy will grant you the strenght to follow this up as the
Bible made us to understand that it shall come to pass that those that
work in the vineyard of the lord will be remembered by him. As you have
shown your full interest to do this good work of faith by forwarding
your contact informatons to me, I will forward them to my personal
attorney immediately for him to proceed to procure all the legal
documents that back up this transfer and I believe that he will be
contacting you soon. May the good God bless and keep you as I wait to
hear from you soon.

Below are his contact informations in case you
want to contact him yourself,

Name: Barrister Michael Igbaji

Address: Equity Chamber, 20 Burma Road Apapa Lagos

Phone: 234-803-7155756


Yours in Christ,
Sandra Nura.

To which I replied:

Dearest Evangelist Sandra Nura,

You will note, I am sure, that I am continuing our conversation via a different e-mail account. This is because last night I had a prophesy that the Devil has caught wind of our plan to do right by the widows and motherless children, and will stop at nothing to stop it. Angels spoke to me, evangelist Sandra Nura, and said that the devil at times enlists demons to use the Internets to do evil deeds. Satan intervenes in the form of a sheep bearing great gifts for the good of humanity but he is really a wolf from West Africa who will steal not only souls but all worldly possessions from unwitting and well-intentioned believers.

Bur we are safe here at this Yahoo! for Indians (subcontinental)[I opened a Sify account, like hers]. Praise God!

I could not help but noticed that you addressed me as "Sister" in your last message to me, whereas you greeted me as brother before. And I am so heartened that you finally understand that the Lord has blessed me with both parts!!

Oh my dearest Evangelist Sandra Nura, how I cherish these exchanges we have. But when, sweet sister, will we be able to pray together?

You have given me your lawyer's number, which I will call as soon as I figure out how to call Lagos, Nigeria, on a dime. But why, if we are to be bounded together on this mission, can we not truly work together, and leave the law out of it, especially the lawless law of Lagos? Can you not simply send me the $6 million? I will have to get a PO Box to facilitate the exchange. As I said, Lucifer is hounding us, and I don't want him coming by because I'm afraid his feet will scorch my rugs, and I just had them cleaned.

Lastly, Evangelist Sandra Nura, what is your favorite song? Mine is "I Feel Love," by Charlie Rich. It was the theme song for Benji!!!

Yours forever and ever,

Sister/Brother Josephine Dwayne Miller

Then I wrote her lawyer:

Dear Barrister Michael Igbaji,

God has guided Evangelist Sandra Nura to me to ensure that her fortune on $6 million will save the widows and motherless babies. Please send the money to me as soon as possible.

Yours In International Law,

Josephine Dwayne Miller

Saturday, June 04, 2005

hotel rwanda

While more than 800,000 people were being murdered with machettes in Rwanda I was finishing up my college education in Boulder, Colorado. My final semester was an easy one, just eight credits --an idependent study, Film History 2 and, ironically, African and Asian Film. Ironic because I didn't have clue what was going on on the other side of the world. Springtime is beautiful in Boulder. The only thing I remember from that time was when I picked up my cap and gown, probably on a day in early May, when the death count was well over half a million. I was driving back to my apartment from campus that afternoon and I broke into tears of joy, momentary elated at the realization that I had succeeded at something, that I'd managed to earn a degree a mere seven years after graduating from high school, and that I'd been sober for almost the entire time, and that I had God in my life. How grateful I was for His grace.

I didn't really learn of the genocide untiil six years later, when I was living alone in an apartment in Kansas City. I watched a 1999 90-minute episode of Frontline. It was the most incredible documentary I'd ever seen. Several images from it will remain with me for the rest of my life.

At one point, the narrator says, "Rwanda's dead had begun to float downstream into the outside world. The country was literally overflowing with corpses." A low-end video camera pans slowly along a quiet, sunlit river shore. By and by the hand of dead man comes into view, then his entire body, then another, then three more, until we see a dam of dozens of bodies. They're bloated, a bit bleeched by the water and the sun. The only sounds are chirping birds and gentle breezes through the reeds on the banks.

It was an image so shocking that it seemed my entire body and soul fell agape as I watched it, especially coming after a long section in the film detailing the West's overt avoidance of the situation. The section began with shots of white people pressing their way past crowds of Africans:

NARRATOR: In the first days of the killing, France, Belgium and Italy all sent troops to Rwanda, but they were under national rather than U.N. command. They'd been sent not to stop the killing, but to rescue their own citizens, like the white staff at Kigali's psychiatric hospital. But the hospital had become a makeshift refuge where Tutsis were hiding from the killers in the surrounding fields.

KATELIJNE HERMANS, Belgian Television: At a certain moment, they were shouting. We heard people crying. And I still remember now. I turned my head, and I saw tens, hundreds of people coming. They came just to ask for help. And then when they came nearer, they put themselves on their knees. They put their hands in the air. They knew there was shooting around. They told us, "There are military guys here around, and yet they are against us. They are there to kill us. So please take us away. Take us with you."

One woman started to speak and started to explain why they were afraid and what was happening to them. And she started begging us to take her and the others with us. She was speaking to me, a woman to a woman, saying, "I am afraid there are- those men, I am afraid that they will rape me."

It was very hard to say "I cannot help you." I was not talking to hundreds of people, I was talking to one woman, and that's very hard to say. But it's like that. I couldn't do anything. But they were as afraid as the white people over there. And they just said, "We will be killed. Please take us with you. Bring us to another place, but don't leave us here."

So we left. For the white people it's over, but we knew the hundreds that stayed, and we heard the shooting the moment we left. So it was clear for me that hell starts for them.

NARRATOR: Back at the airport, French soldiers were escorting their citizens to safety, along with French diplomats and the embassy dog. They did not evacuate the embassy's Tutsi staff who, were later murdered. The Americans, too, were airlifted out.

The new Western troops were only on the ground for a few days. UNAMIR commanders say that if their governments had ordered them to stay, the massacres could have been stopped.

Brig. HENRY ANYIDOHO, Deputy Commander, UNAMIR: Had they been deployed, we had enough troops.

INTERVIEWER: So there was a moment? There was a moment when there were troops on the ground?

Brig. HENRY ANYIDOHO: There was a moment. We just missed it. It was a fleeting opportunity, and we just missed it.

INTERVIEWER: Why was it missed?

Brig. HENRY ANYIDOHO: Because there was no political will?

KATELIJNE HERMANS: The only mandate was "Evacuate white people." It could have been another mandate.

INTERVIEWER: Could have been different?

KATELIJNE HERMANS: It could have been different. But somebody has to decide that it will be different, and nobody took the decision.

NARRATOR: At the psychiatric hospital, the killers had moved in after the Belgian soldiers left.

[The screen fills with a black and white images of people, hundreds of them]

Almost all of these people were murdered.

And those are the other images that'll stay with me forever, those still shots of people who knew they would be hacked up with machettes, of the white people running toward military vehicles, a couple of them pausing to lift their dog into the truck. Though I have to admit that when I first watched the program the majority of my emotions were a sort of buzz at having witnessed a brilliant work of journalism, and no small amount of pride at being a journalist myself.

Today Ebony's over and we're watching Hotel Rwanda. I've been avoiding the film since its release, mostly because I know the story well and I haven't mustered the strength to dive back into it for another two hours, especially at the hands of Hollywood types. After seeing the Frontline documentary, I immersed myself in the subject, reading a number of books. Last year, Allie and I watched Frontline's follow up, The Ghosts of Rwanda which is about as close to art as any journalistic work I've ever seen. And again I felt a pride of association to it, however distantly, through my chosen field, though the experience of watching it was more religious in nature. It changed me, or nudged me onward, along with other experiences that occured at about the time -- my grandfather's death, my reading of shifted Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains, planting my first garden.

Several of the film's stories are now permanent parts of me, stories that literally scream, Get off your ass and do something for someone other than yourself. Like this one, which might be the starkest description of our inhumanity I've ever heard:

NARRATOR: American officials worried that U.N. troops would get embroiled in Rwanda's civil war because the Tutsi rebels of the Rwanda Patriotic Front made it clear they would oppose a robust U.N. force.

NARRATOR: The U.N. told Dallaire he would get no more troops. And without a larger force, all he could do was to keep trying to negotiate a ceasefire between the Tutsi rebels and the Hutu government.

Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: I was also determined to continue to keep negotiations going because maybe it'll stop. Maybe, with a ceasefire, you know, between the two belligerents, we might be able to stop the massacring.

NARRATOR: When the ceasefire talks again went nowhere, Dallaire asked to meet directly with the commanders of the death squads.

Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: I had to crack the nut of the militias, and so I asked Bagosora, I said, "Listen, let me meet these guys. Let me negotiate with them."

NARRATOR: Inside a Kigali hotel, the leaders of the Interahamwe were waiting.

Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: And so when I arrived, Bagosora introduced them. And as I was looking at them and shaking their hands, I noticed some blood spots still on them. And all of a sudden, it didn't-- they disappeared from being human. All of a sudden, something happened that turned them into non-human things. And I was not talking with humans, I literally was talking with evil. It even became a very difficult ethical problem. Do I actually negotiate with the devil to save people, or do I wipe it out, I shoot the bastards right there? I haven't answered that question yet.

Or this story, which is my nomination for the greatest "Great American Hero" tale of all time:

CARL WILKENS, Aid Worker, Adventist Church: If people in Rwanda ever needed help, now was the time. And everybody's leaving.

NARRATOR: Carl Wilkens had put his family on an American convoy, but he decided to stay behind with Rwandan colleagues and workers who'd sought refuge in his home.

CARL WILKENS: That Tutsi young lady and that Tutsi young man were faces right there to me representing the country, and I felt if I left, they were going to be killed. And then-- and then I recognized, you know, how is it-- I've got a-- I've got this blue American passport. That means I can go. But all of these people don't have a passport. They can't go. And-- and while all of those things played in, the bottom line is it just seemed the right thing to do.

NARRATOR: By the evening of April 10th, Carl Wilkens was the only American left in Rwanda.


NARRATOR: The bureaucratic paralysis emerged from the administration's decision not to intervene. Seven weeks into the genocide, President Clinton restated his policy that the U.S. would intervene in a humanitarian crisis only if it were in America's national interest.

May 25

Pres. BILL CLINTON: The end of the superpower standoff lifted the lid from a cauldron of long-simmering hatreds. Now the entire global terrain is bloody with such conflicts, from Rwanda to Georgia. Whether we get involved in any of the world's ethnic conflicts in the end must depend on the cumulative weight of the American interests at stake.

NARRATOR: The one American to stay in Kigali when the embassy closed probably saved more lives during the genocide than the entire U.S. government. Carl Wilkens discovered the Interahamwe had surrounded an orphanage.

CARL WILKENS, Aid Worker, Adventist Church: One day, as we brought a load of water to them, this counselor, local counselor from the area comes ripping in in his-- in his little stolen Mercedes station wagon. And I-- as he got out of his car, I looked around, and here, surrounding the orphanage, just materializing, is, like, about 50 militia guys-- camo jackets or camo pants, but all of them with machine guns.

And I said to my Rwandan colleague, who was driving the truck, I said, "Siphon as slow as you can. We've got to make this last. I don't know what we're going to do, but it seems like they're not coming while we're here."

NARRATOR: While his colleague stayed at the orphanage, Wilkens went to the local government headquarters looking for help.

CARL WILKENS: And a young secretary I'd become friends with, he says, "The prime minister's here." And I'm, like, "So what's that mean?" And he's, like, "Ask him." And I'm, like, "Ask him?" You know, it's, like, that's the stupidest thing you could imagine, to ask this guy, who's obviously orchestrating the genocide, a key player. And yet I had no other options.

And door opens, everybody snaps to attention, and here comes Kambanda and his group, little entourage. And they're coming down the hall, and I'm-- you know, I'm-- and I stand up and I put my hand out and I said, "Mr. Prime Minister, I'm Carl Wilkens. The director of ADRA." And he stops and he looks at me, and then he takes my hand and shakes it. And he said, "Yeah, I've heard about you and your work. How is it?" And I said, "Well, honestly, sir it's not very good right now. The orphans at Gisimba are surrounded, and I think there's going to be a massacre, if there hasn't been already." Just tell him, you know?

And he turns around, talks to some of his aides or whatever. He says, "We're aware of the situation, and those orphans are going to be safe. I'll see to it."

NARRATOR: The orphans were saved. Years later, Prime Minister Kambanda would be convicted of genocide by a U.N. tribunal.

CARL WILKENS: You know, the genocide is so complicated. I was in so many positions that could have been interpreted as compromising or even collaborating with the enemy, huh? You know, who's going to believe someone who goes to court and says, "Well, actually, I asked Kambanda to help me save some Tutsis"? Huh? Who's going to believe that?

The stuff in the genocide just turns-- and that's why, you know, the thing about this is, is we got to recognize in each one of us there's such a potential for good and there's such a potential for evil.

This story floored me too:

NARRATOR: Soon after the killing began, [Phillippe] Gaillard [Red Cross worker] decided he had to challenge the extremist government. Rwandan troops had stopped a Red Cross ambulance and killed six patients.

PHILIPPE GAILLARD: I decided to call my headquarters in Geneva to tell the story. And my counterpart in Geneva told me, "Do you think we could make it public?" And then you think twice. I mean, because if you make it public, then you know that people might kill you, or would really decided to kill you because of what you told. It was [unintelligible] We decided to do it. So following day, BBC, Reuters, Radio France Internationale-- it was everywhere.

NARRATOR: The publicity embarrassed the extremists, and their government gave the Red Cross safe passage throughout Rwanda.

PHILIPPE GAILLARD: So these six people didn't die for-- for nothing. I mean, they-- because of their deaths, hundreds of other people could be saved.

NARRATOR: Gaillard cultivated a relationship with the extremist leadership, which he believes helped the Red Cross save 65,000 lives.

PHILIPPE GAILLARD: When-- when we talk about mass saving, I think that's best. And the only way is to talk with the people who want to kill them.

I remember one day, I met by chance Colonel Theoneste Bagosora. I told him, "Colonel, do something to stop the killing. I mean, this is-- this is absurd. I mean this-- this-- this is suicide. I mean"-- And his answer was-- there are words you never forget, you know? His answer was, "Listen to, sir. If I want, tomorrow I can recruit 50,000 more Interahamwe." So I took him by the shirt. I'm 58 kilograms and he must be 115. Now I took him by the throat, looked his eyes and told him, "Theoneste, you will lose the war."

NARRATOR: Gaillard's network of aid workers across Rwanda gave him the most accurate count of the death toll. He estimated that in the first two weeks, 100,000 Rwandans had been killed.

The Red Cross has a tradition of neutrality and public silence, but Gaillard decided that this genocide would be different.

PHILIPPE GAILLARD: The International Committee of the Red Cross, which is a 140 years old organization, was not active during the Armenian genocide, shut up during the Holocaust. Everybody knew what was happening with the Jews. In such circumstances, if-- if you don't at least speak out clearly and-- you are participating to-- to the genocide. I mean, if you just shut up when you see what you see-- and morally, ethically, you cannot shut up! It's a responsibility to-- to talk, to speak out.

And, lastly, but most of all, this one:

NARRATOR: As the outside world left Rwanda to its fate, one U.N. soldier in Kigali was taking matters into his own hands. Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal was an unarmed U.N. observer, renowned for his ability to charm his way past the killers.

ALEX GROMO: He's tall, a tall guy. And he had this smile, you know, a big, toothy smile. Even in all this gore and hatred, as long as you can have that brief glimpse of, you know, a smile or something to laugh about that's good, you grab onto it. And with Mbaye, I think that's what everybody did. At all those checkpoints, they all knew him.

NARRATOR: From the first hours of the genocide, Captain Mbaye had ignored orders to remain neutral. He had rescued the children of Prime Minister Agathe, hiding them in a closet while their mother was being killed. Based at the Hotel Mille Collines, a safe haven in the center of Kigali, Captain Mbaye was part of a group of U.N. observers whose very presence was often enough to keep the killers at bay.

Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: These guys didn't move, this heart of observers, the gang that stayed at the Mille Collines -- there were seven or eight of them. That particular group, on their own initiative, would go to places where people told there might be people hidden, and they would get them out and bring them to either the Mille Collines or another safe place that we had. And Diagne was one of those leaders in that. I mean, he was evident, courageous and risk-taking.

NARRATOR: But even General Dallaire didn't realize the full extent of Captain Mbaye's secret rescue missions.

GROMO ALEX: We could see in this back room in the Amahoro Hotel, the headquarters, they had large groups of people that all of a sudden appeared and then the next day were gone. We began to put together that Mbaye was bringing people from all over town to the headquarters and then evacuating them or having them picked up and taken to safety elsewhere.

MARK DOYLE, BBC World Service: I knew what Mbaye Diagne was doing. I had a very, very strong suspicion -- put it that way -- of what he was doing. And had I investigated, I could have found out, but I didn't want to find out. I didn't want to say, "There is a Senegalese officer saving people in this town." You can imagine what the impact of that would have been. He would have been killed.


NARRATOR: By late May, the extremists were running out of Tutsis to kill. They threatened to storm the U.N. sanctuary at the Hotel Mille Collines. Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal led 600 Tutsis to a safer part of town.

MARK DOYLE, BBC World Service: And the militia attacked the convoys. And I saw individual soldiers, including Captain Mbaye Diagne, actually kicking people off because they didn't have guns. The U.N. soldiers didn't have guns. They were actually kicking people off and saying, "You can't come up here. These people-- we're saving these people."

NARRATOR: A few days later, Captain Mbaye was driving from the hotel back to U.N. headquarters. He stopped at this bridge, a final checkpoint.

ALEX GROMO: A mortar had landed behind his car and shrapnel came through the back window and in the back of his head and apparently killed him instantly. They're calling around for a body bag, and there's no body bags, not a body bag. There's nothing left. There's nothing. And you wonder, you know, [unintelligible] at this time, we're starting to put it together and we're saying, you know, "Here's a-- here's a guy who gave his ultimate, did everything, and we don't even have a body bag," you know, nothing to, you know, show him some respect.

We had some UNICEF plastic sheeting and we had some tape. You know, we're folding him up and, you know, the creases aren't right, you know, because his feet are so damn big, you know? And you don't want that for him. You want it to be like, you know, just laid out perfectly so that, you know, when people look at him, you know, they-- they know that he was something great. [weeps]

NARRATOR: No one knows how many lives Captain Mbaye Diagne personally saved, at least 100, perhaps 1,000.

SENEGALESE OFFICER: Captain Mbaye Diagne is one of the best officers in my army. And the job he done here, none of-- one of us did it.

MARK DOYLE: I remember bursting into tears with a colleague of his, a Senegalese captain. And the captain said to me, "You're a journalist. I'm a soldier. Now you've got to tell the world what Mbaye Diagne did. You've got to tell the people that he saved lots of lives. Even while the U.N. was shamefully pulling out its troops, you know, he was saving people's lives and-- please tell the world."

Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: We carried the stretcher into the Hercules aircraft. It was a very, very low point, very low point, such an incredibly courageous individual, amongst others who were strong and courageous. But he seemed to be untouchable.

I didn't think that Hotel Rwanda would match these stories. Worse, I worried that Hollywood would somehow dishonor them. But I was moved by the film.

Part way in, Ebony, who also watched Ghosts of Rwanda and has studied the genocide, suddenly announced, "Here comes Operation Save Whitey." Nick Nolte, playing Gen. Dallaire tells Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), "You should spit in my face." Then, in a line that'll likely stick with Ebony for the rest of his life, "The West is abandoning you because you're black. You're not even a nigger. You're an African."

During the subsequent scenes, the dramatizations of whites being led past doomed Rwandans, I burst into tears, and I went all weepy during several later scenes, as Rusesabagina hustles to save nearly 2,000 lives. I suppose the tears could be shrugged off as side effects of movie magic, but I know it's deeper than that. There's a bit of the old Terrence in there, the "I am human; nothing human is alien to me." But there's also awareness of where I was in the spring of 1994, when I was giddy with a sense of accomplishment and fearful of what might come next -- afraid, above all, that I might not prosper or succeed at the level I felt I deserved.

evangelist sandra nura ii

I heard back from the Evangelist Sandra Nura today. That was fast! She's all ready to start turning the $6 million over to me so I can spend it on behalf of the Lord.

Dear Brother Joe,

I thank you very much for the way and manner you
replied the mail I sent to you, I appreciate all your efforts and
concerns towards my health condition. I want you to know that the bible
made us to understand that all things works together for good to them a
that love God and to them who are called according to his purpose. I am
happy the way you accepted this good work of faith because the bible
said that our light should so shine that people will see us and give
glory unto the Lord our God. In terms of the genuineness of this
donation, I want you to know that I cannot play with the things of the
holy spirit for the Bible also said that what shall it profit a man to
gain the whole world and loose his life to hell fire, God forbid that
any of us will loose his or her soul after our works here on earth.

So, I will want you to please fully indicate you interest to carry on
with this good work of faith by sending the following informations to me
so that I will forward them to my personal lawyer for him to proceed to
the Bank where the funds are and change the beneficiary to your favour
to enable you the release the funds to you, you are to send the
following informations:

Your Full name and contact address,
Your private phone and fax numbers,
A scan copy of your international
paspport or national driving license.

As soon as I recieve the
above mentioned informations, I will immediately forward them to my
lawyer for him to proceed with legal aspects of this transfer. One
promise I want from you is for you to promise me that if the funds
finnally gets into your account that you will use the funds on the
Widows, Motherless babies and the less previledged around you and I
assure you that by so doing God will lift his counternance and blessing
s upon you. Try in your life to give a little help to the motherless
children and the bible said that the little help will make them smile
forever. I believe that this is a very good opportunity for you to show
love to the needy ones around you and I know that this type of
opportunity is rare to find but it is at your door step now, I pray that
God will give the strenght and power as you take a bold step in this
good work of faith. May the good God bless and keep you as I wait to
hear from you soon.

Yours in Christ,
Evangelist Sandra Nura.

One thing I noticed about this e-mail was that it wasn't from the same domain name, the one affiliated with the site that says Q'urans and Muslim attire. Still, I was pretty excited to hear back from Evangelist Sandra Nura. So I wrote back immediately:

Dearest Sister Evangelist Sandra Nura,

Blessed are those like you who evoke His name and spirit only for that which is righteous. The way I see it, if Jesus is the way, then the way is one of great sacrifice, because to me Jesus is all about doing right by others. To me, the whole WWJD thing boils down to one simple message: “Don’t be so damned selfish.”

That’s why I’m so awed by your generosity, Evangelist Sandra Nura, that you would strive so hard in your final hours battling illness to ensure that your fortune of $6 million is directed to widows and motherless babies. And I am just so grateful to God’s grace that, for reasons I may never know, you randomly chose me out of more than six billion people on this planet. Obviously God is speaking loudly and clearly through this fortuitous online meeting, and I am ready and willing to avail myself unquestioningly your Mission.

So, you requested some informations. I will gladly share that which I have. My full legal name is Josephine Dwayne Miller. My private phone number is 816-550-7486. I do not have a fax number. Nor do I have a passport or drivers ID, because I am without legs.

But please, Evangelist Sandra Nura, I exhort you to please call me directly on my personal number so that we can pray together before you give me this money to give to the widows and motherless babies.

God Bless you!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

the soles of gray folks

So Ebony calls me today.

"Dude," he says. "Me and my girlfriend were up north, and you were right! Everybody's wearin' those shoes you got!!"


"Yeah. Blue. Pink. Black like yours."

"Black people?"

"No, they was white." (Duh. This was the Northland we were talking about.)

Then he says, dead serious: "I think I'm gonna get me some."

Peels of laughter on both ends of the line. (Though Ebony wasn't laughing as hard as he was a couple of weeks ago when I told Antoine -- immediately after I was informed that my shoes were basically the result of a top-secret project to define Whiteness -- that "next year, everyone in the 'hood is gonna be wearing these. Black folks are always copying whites to act cool." He's still laughing about that one.)

Ebony says he's going to get two pair, one pink, one blue, and wear a different color on each foot.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


I came home today to good news.

First, I hit the answering machine, and heard this:

Hey what's up joe, it's [Editor of The Slick, Dollar-a-Word Mag You've Been Dying to Write For]. Couple things I want to tell you, um, the front-of-the book editors are interested in working with you. They're not planning on accepting your pitch but they would really like to get you into the fold and have you start writing for them... Also we still got to figure out a story for you and I to work on [she edits the meatier back of the book], but I'm glad we're in touch. Be well.

Then I checked my e-mail, and got this from my book editor:

Hi Joe,

Good to hear from you. I'm just back in the office after a week away, so I
apologize for not responding right away. Indeed, I am deep into your
manuscript and enjoying it immensely. You do a wonderful job with the story
and poignantly evoke the aspirations of the kids at the center of the
book--all while giving the reader a sharp sense of the social and political
stakes here. There's certainly some cutting that could be done and passages
here and there that could be sharpened. Also, I think the voice--your
personal connection to the kids--needs some clarification. But in all, I
think it's a fine book. You should be very proud of your work.

I expect to have the manuscript back to you by the end of next week for a
final revision. I realize too that you are owed money once I have finished
reading this draft.

I'll look forward to being in touch soon.

All best wishes,


evangelist sandra nura

The most common junk mail I receive is from folks in Nigeria who say they've got millions to give me if I can just spot them $20,000 or so. But yesterday I got this weird e-mail that I couldn't help but respond to.

From: Evangelist Sandra Nura.


Beloved In Christ,


Calvary greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am Evangelist Sandra Nura a widow to Late Sheik Nura . I am 61 years old; I am now a new Christian convert, suffering from long time cancer of the breast. From all indications, my condition is really deteriorating and is quite obvious that I may not live more than six months, because the cancer stage has gotten to a very severe stage.

My late husband was killed during the Gulf war, and during the period of our marriage we had a son who was also killed in a cold blood during the Gulf war. My late husband was very wealthy and after his death, I inherited all his business and wealth. My personal physician told me that I may not live for more than six months and I am so scared about this. So, I now decided to divide part of this wealth, by contributing to the development of evangelism in Africa, America, Europe and Asian Countries.

I selected you after visiting the website for this purpose and prayed over it, I am willing to donate the sum of $6.000,000.00 Million US Dollars to the motherless baby homes, needy, poor, charity homes and widows too. Please note that, this fund is lying in a Security company therefore my lawyer will file an immediate application for the transfer of the money in the name of your ministry. Please, do not reply me if you have the intention of using this fund for personal use other than enhancement of evangelism.

Lastly, I want you to be praying for me as regards my entire life and my health because I have come to find out since my spiritual birth lately that wealth acquisition without Jesus Christ in one's life is vanity upon vanity. If you have to die says the Lord, keep fit and I will give you the crown of life. May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you. I await your urgent reply.

Yours in Christ

Evangelist Sandra Nura.

'There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is his final Messenger.'
Read, Learn, Implement!

I replied:

Dear Sandra,

I am intrigued by your letter. I work with kids in the inner-city. Six million dollars is probably more than any of the nonprofits I'm affiliated with would need. But I have been looking for ways to raise funds to provide more opportunities for those less fortunate in my community. In all honesty, though, these fundraising efforts are not for the enhancement of evangelism. But I still wanted to respond to you to learn more about you and your quest.

Yours very truly,


I'll keep you posted. (Check the link above; it makes it all the more peculiar.)