Tone .Are

Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

The Snow Blizzard of 2010

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2010 at 6:48 pm

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Imagine a town where fires burn themselves out through the dark of night; whole tenements broiling crimson, till what beams remain are having a smoke with the early bird, watching the morning off to work… A town where side walks collect the trash in bags cats will tear to bottles and banana peels that the garbage truck doesn’t come for, before the wind, the heat, and the rain does, a couple of weeks over… Where people die waiting for ambulances, all-the-time…

In the late 1970’s New York went broke! For some, the news was water to a fish; poverty had already put places like Harlem, The South Bronx, and Bushwick through the ringer for more than a decade by then… but in ‘77 Wall Street found himself shaking in his gray suit, waiting for a train that seemed like it’d never come. Times Square was smut town, minus the glamor of Vegas. It was every man for himself.

Turn the clock forward some three and a half decades and The South Bronx is still one of the poorest congressional districts in the country, Bushwick remains a slum lords haven, and you’d still better keep your eyes open in Harlem; the rent is too damn high and chances are evvverybody knows you’re the cause… on any given night you might work out to be someone’s solution!

Folks… Going into 2011 It behooves us all to pay close attention to the trains slowing down again; disappearing even. If the city’s handling of The Blizzard of Two Thousand Ten is indication of anything, it’s that we ain’t headed for the best of times. Time to put the Q’s up for Sanitation, FDNY, and other public services we are liable to the neglect of, with the imminent threat of budget cuts. It’s going to be every man for himself (for every man who swore he was doing himself already *stay tuned for exactly what I mean by that).

As was the case with thousands of other non-custodial Fathers, December 25th was a slow day with distant meaning. My daughter was with her Mom several hundreds of miles away, with plans in the works for me to come down and get her on the 26th. But Virginia storms a day or two ahead of us, and having traveled at the mercy of a blizzard a couple of years ago I was forced to assess whether It would be a good idea to try and beat it there and back. There simply would have been no way to avoid clashing with heavy snowfall, headed down the eastern seaboard on a Chinatown Bus. My lesson learned still serves in memory as a reminder of what it’s like to be stuck in a roadside ditch with wheels kicking up slush for 6 hours (and no heat). I sat before the weather channel, struggling with the decision for a day before postponing my trip; news reports projected NY collecting an estimated 12-18 inches. Sunday night and into the early morning I checked in and out at the window, as the white rose.

20 Inches! On the sidewalk, on cars, on the street. It took a bit of muscle just to push the door open. As I scaled the surrounding neighbors came to my attention; wandering scattered in helpless faces/ trekking with their heads down for an open store/ shoveling paths out of their homes/ stranded at the bus stop an hour, two, three…
The day went on and as the evening crept trucks continued to plowed up the main avenue, yet it became increasingly apparent that side streets were not being addressed. People had no choice but to chalk up Monday for a loss. Tuesday resulted to be no better. For most parts of the city sanitation still hadn’t come along. My landlord, whom owns two clinics next door to me, showed up for business to find his private contractor had not come to do their job. My brother, a Fireman, struggled to get down his block and waited for a bus that never showed. More than folks realizing they were going to have to work together to make things move, You began to get the idea that the workers the city depends on to run, didn’t have workers to depend on to get THEM to work!

The outcry began to rise like sweat beads, with all heads turned towards Mike Bloomberg. It has been four days since the storm’s onslaught and citizens glance around with the agitated expression one gives off at half a paint job. Middle class suburbia got a hint of what the town might begin to look like when the city shuts down…

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Growing up, I learned to appreciate hard times. They were kind of celebrated by my mother as a time to recognize that we have each other.
I lost 3 days with my daughter, but she is here safe sound and more beautiful than ever. I will have the second half of our planned week with her all to myself. We gon’ make it. If it wasn’t the snow it mightve been something else; everyday struggle. Thank God it was only snow…
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We are living in a time in which the economic ideology driving taxation and policy to distribute those monies, supposes to empower society by holding every one of us responsible to and for ourselves. Pooling resources is a notion which has been demonized, as has organizing at a very grassroots level; neighbors alienate themselves from one another; and ironically, just when we boast to be an independent society… a natural occurrence brings us back to reality. Low tax-pool = Low service! Those of us are pardoned from paying into the public (the wealthy) will be able to afford accommodations to make life easy in challenging times. Those of us who are expected to continue paying into the public, will work hard to do so and shouldn’t expect grade-A quality for our buck.. the elite services prioritize the wealthy customer *get it?*

Are you prepared to appreciate some hard times?
I should hope you are my friend… I should hope you are.

– Tr

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– Don Jose Antonio’s Christmas Lyric- (A Short Story)

In Uncategorized on December 26, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Tone Are

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There had been a frigid Christmas or so, along with those warm to the bosom of holiday spirit. That much could be recalled by his two children although he never told a story twice. A prideful man; because it was that time of year again, and he was for the moment in recollection of a sentiment culminating in the surreal gathering before him, Antonio knew that if he didn’t stand and walk them off, tears would fall. So too, did his Antonia, as did his Junior.

He had never let one go, not before their eyes, all their lives they had witnessed him keep them like he kept his words. Glimpsing between he and the children, ravaging through gifts at the knees, his composed resignation in the fluster becoming his face was matter enough to forward mother a glance. She was already on it, bunching to the edge of her seat with the sense that finally, the man might have been touched, albeit several decades late of their wedding and the births of their daughter and son.

“Those are his babies,” she reasoned to a shaken Antonia, whom followed to the kitchen, dabbing at her eyes “What did I tell you the last time, when he was rolling on the floor like a dog? He gave you guys his name, but he gave them his weakness.”

Junior stood behind in the living-room. He wasn’t prepared to settle on the old man’s insistence that he was ‘ok’. There had been times in which he witnessed his father come to the cusp of emotion, but those moments occurred over a smile. Antonio meanwhile, had begun to drift back to his own childhood, and while his boy was precise in figuring nostalgia to be the source of the distance in his face, it wasn’t poverty as Junior and his sister had assumed, which was coming up for him. In fact, his struggle to keep from buckling to the memory had in part to do with he seeing himself, in their fortune.

As each of his three grandchildren returned over to thank him with wide arms in a kiss, Antonio cried.

The only time Antonio remembered ever seeing his grandfather fully dressed, much less over to visit, was on a Christmas-eve. How could he forget? He couldn’t! He never had. It was the night the whole family commenced, seated in morose contentment to listen as the 8 year old boy performed a timely dedication of Feliz Navidad, to their passing Patriarch. They had all aged with and aged under the simple yet consistent traits of his dominating character, thus, it would take those times of curious inquiry and subsequent reflection from his grandma, his mother Josephina, uncles, aunts, and family friends before Antonio understood that Don Jose Antonio’s life couldn’t be summed from where he lay bed-ridden, the way he had always known him to be.

The faces, many of which now rest along with his grandfather in ancestry, rung past in chatter that night, occasionally stopping young Antonio to measure him up cheerily. It was no more in his own interest to stray from the foolery of a game of manhunt, in closets, between chairs, under banisters, than it were in the interest of cousins and siblings streaking through the house. Most of those faces although recognizable from family functions, had never made their way around to those lengths of Brooklyn.. they had no reason to, It wasn’t where Don Jose had ever made it a point to be. And like Don Jose, it would be their last time around.

“What happened?” Tony asked John, little Josie rising with her brother and cousin like prairie dogs. “I don’t know.”

“Grandpa is ok honey, he is just thinking about something that made him cry, that’s all.” Antonia eased the children after a period of low confusion. Before the in-laws could join his wife and children in consoling him, and just as prompt he wanted to be per wiping dry in the crook of his elbow so that his grandchildren wouldnt concern too much, Antonio regained himself.

“I am ok my little monkeys. I am crying happy tears. Come over here and give Grandpa a BIG HUG! All of you.”

Dressing, as had become customary for Antonio every Christmas within recent memory: (three piece suit, shined shoes, cuff-links, and stetson,) his crisp handkerchief proved readily available. Even Junior began to well-up with a tense smirk, held together by virtue of how he couldn’t believe his eyes. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen Papi take his handkerchief out,” he laughed. “I couldn’t be more shocked if you pulled off a prosthetic arm.”

It had been a mystery to his wife as to how Antonio, raised without a father, turned out to be such a conservative man. Wasn’t like the notion of his mother being the strict influence hadn’t been apparent, it was just that in spite of the fact, it had always been difficult for her to break from stereotype to imagine that without a man in a boy’s life, he could go the extent Antonio could in repressing his emotions. But it wasn’t long after they began in a relationship, that she could recall the arising of tangents which pieced together the regal, and honorable man of distinction Antonio preferred to mention by name.

Antonio himself, though cognizant about whom he picked up after, was never perfectly aware of his grandfather’s and his own parallel direction as ‘intentional’, certainly not forced. After all, his actual memories of the man were scarce. Yet everything from his calendar of rounds for a feathered cut and manicure, to his liking for gandinga, were straight out of stories told about Don Jose Antonio; family man, man’s man, of veteran status, of underworld whispers, ladies man, behind family secrets… He looked and dressed the part, yet beneath, Antonio had grown indeed to be more a compassionate figure. A Josephina sculpted perfection of her father; whom spoke softly and carried a big stick, but left others to their own power.

So he cried?! Junior may have been taken aback… But it was something his wife, had long been waiting for him to concede to being capable of.

Don Jose Antonio was not the last to join the gathering that night. Of course much of the younger crowd would come stumbling in throughout the night to show face, before exiting to attend other parties. But he was the first and final presence to receive a uniformed welcome. The faces all turned and drew closer and closer to the living room, where he was slowly ushered to the corner seat of a couch which immediately opened up. The adults came with kisses, hugs, smiles, embraces at the hands, and brief words; the children were nudged forward to kiss their grandpa and tell him ‘bendicion’.

The bottle had been past it’s time in his life; it’s toll implicit in the denied mourning which mixed in strangely to the season spirit in the room. Where he sat, sipping lemon and tonic water, he received his grandchildren, with a careful hand and his voice a tender wooing. Upon receiving each, he would call on Antonio’s grandmother, Delores, to pass on their gift. Antonio already knew what he would be receiving. It was a guitar. He had no idea how to play one, yet in the impending weeks had been encouraged by Deloris whenever spending the afternoon with them, to perform regularly for her in the kitchen. From the bedroom, Jose would overhear his grandson’s screeching voice; lowering the television, or putting down his newspaper to focus in.

“Your grandfather likes how you sing Antonio. You hear? …Listen, Antonio, if we get you a guitar will you sing a song for your grandpa? Huh? …Don’t tell him ok?”

The only song with some hint of Spanish in it, that Antonio knew well enough to pull off was Feliz Navidad. Feliz Navidad was a standard which got airplay along with every other American ‘standard’, on radio, on television, in parties, in school. He knew it word for word. And though the lyrics of the song weren’t going to be sufficient enough to translate for word by word for the viejo, Antonio was going to sing it from the heart, and make it mean something!

The faces gathered ’round, and like a baking spot light in the dark, square before him sat Don Jose Antonio, with a stream of tears crossing a quivering lip, which broke into a humble smile, as he nodded for the show to commence.

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“Corazon!” Antonio hollered over for Naima to turn around.
“We want to dedicate this song to you,” little Tony, little John, and little Josie followed sturdy as they could.
Joined behind Antonio coddling the children within his arms, were Antonia, Junior, and their spouses, meeting her smile through it’s harboring hands shaking with recognition.
And met at her felicitous eyes, whispered Antonio: “I love you,” through the chorus of Don Jose Antonio’s Christmas lyric.

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Tone Are

In Uncategorized on December 26, 2010 at 8:43 am

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– Honest Obama –

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 1:43 am

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http://toneare.blogspot.com/2008/06/how-barak-obamas-presidency-will.html
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ I am still keeping score ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

There is no better way to start off political commentary, than by making a bold sweeping statement; get the people stirred up with expectation for what they’re about to hear. Although, it may not be the smartest way to begin, with declarations having a tendency to put optimists on their carousel and cynics in a bulldozer. Which perhaps should serve us right; we, with that stride for objectivity from a transparent first line. We ought to know better, than to attempt at an unbiased assessment in these times of polar politics, media, society… after all, the truth has no middle ground. Ironically, to follow such logic is to reinforce the assertion that there is no better way to start off political commentary, then by making a bold sweeping statement.

But I’m moved to amend the format a bit. I’m feeling like the political atmosphere manifested in the turn of recent events, is calling for the coining of a nickname in such a statement’s place. Something cute, yet cliche; for, I’ve done enough in the past six sentences to have you clear that there will be nothing effortless, or original about this rant. …And now that I imagine you’ve been charmed enough;
as will anxious soles springing in place for the double dutch ropes, or, emcees leaning on their final ‘jEA’ before a verse… I’m gOINg In.

Call him Honest Obama!
(cheers . . boos . . roses . . tomatoes)

Two years ago the historic election of the U.S.’ 44th President moved me to predict where I envisioned at the time, we’d be today (see link @ the top of this page). My claim, that the country would be experiencing the advantages and disadvantages of an ordinary, albeit extraordinary President, rested on my calculation that:

“like a typical politician sometimes he will be on some BULLSHIT! and if there is one thing I trust about the man, it is his Will to move sh!t forward… so he will have his good legacy as well.”

And what would make him extraordinary? Why of course, his ability to bring people together! (recall that we were on the heels of the most storied campaign in history)
“little will change along the lines of poverty, the environment, war, health care,” I was sure to follow, having asserted earlier in the piece that “You can only make so much change when your support is the very structure of power you promise to compromise!”

…Not so bad if I might say so myself ^

Truth be told, if our political system worked to match the ideals we wave the flag for, we’d still be celebrating the wave of civic euphoria overcome a great many of us in November 2008. But the emotions we were living in were a testament to Democracy in action; we organized to voice what we wanted, and we got it. Of course, prevalent in that event was the symbolic ascension of a Black man to the Presidency; a manifestation of the potential of our professed ideals.

But modern U.S. Democracy is yet one which capitalizes on work towards integrity with our ideals. Because modern U.S. Democracy in it’s elitist representative fashion of governing, operates to prioritize market above all else. And being the status power structure is hierarchical, in prioritizing economics for us, those we’ve voted in (because they were the options presented us, because they could *afford* to be) are going to legislate based on how it relates TO THEM.

If our modern structure of gov’ment were to reflect the (Democracy in A C T I O N) which took form to put Obama in power, it would be accounting for itself in our everyday participation since. To fully conceptualize what i’m getting at one must accept that the power behind such democracy was not the result (Obama), but the process: (The People). Inversely, the culture of our democracy has evolved to one in which we accept and settle on a cyclical model of participation which allows us to elect someone whom we then depend on to have our interests at heart. With that, I challenge you to try on my assertion, that we’d still be riding the wave of civic euphoria alot of us hoped we’d be riding, today…

Freedom, then equality? Equality, then freedom? Freedom, or equality? Freedom AND equality?

All one has to do is take a look at the conditions politicians insist be included before agreeing to pass a bill, to see how measures which empower the market take precedence over -rights-. “Universal Health Care” for example, was a concept we witnessed being stripped of it’s essence. Because Health Care is a gigantic industry, having our taxes provide a subsidized system of healthcare would threaten the potential the elite benefit from in exploiting it. Really and truly, average citizens just want health care! But the old smoke screen takes effect when these same politicians begin to frame single payer health care impossible in the context of ‘our debt’: Some of us, packing for our second vacation of the year, in our air conditioned condos, come out of our bottled-water stacked fridges endorsing their position that we can’t afford it, while others of us default on over priced hospital bills that cost everybody, one way or another.
After more than a year of political theater, an exhausted process produced a compromise.

Indeed I have every right to imply that our expectations for “Change” were delusional, I am unapologetic about my smug insinuations (political theater)… The Obama administration had absolute rule over government, dominating all three branches, and yet in the time it did, they didn’t have the impact that the Democrat/Republican split did in the past week alone. Only per the suspended reality of an Obama favoritist would such irony work itself out to an explanation of chance. A sober rational points indication towards the fact: Our system is NOT built to change itself. The fact that the repeal of “Dont Ask Don’t Tell”, the ratification of the nucleur arms treaty with Russia, and an accord on the bill to pass health benefits to 9/11 first responders, were all blessed to pass at the ransom of Republicans who wouldn’t have allowed any of it without an extension of tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans is our blind spot pinned between the fridge and the freezer if we’ve ever seen it!

Here’s what the future stands to look like in the face of such compromise:
* A dependence on big business to create jobs they’ve never been known to pull out of the air in the first place; AS OPPOSED to a planned and coordinated national effort overseen by the federal government we elect to do the job.
* A perpetuation of war and foreign occupation, as exploiting foreign resources is where a great majority of that wealthiest 1% concentrate their investment.
* A lopsided health care system which allows private industry to monopolize good doctors and services, and leaves common tax payers to fund the public option, without the help of the wealthy we’ve pardoned from the responsibility of taxation.
* A lopsided Education system which evolves into the same have vs have-not system as the health care industry as dictated by the burden of the common man carrying the cost. (WORST CASE SCENERIO IS WE BEGIN CUTTING THE BUDGET OF ONE TO HELP THE OTHER)
* ^ A continual trend of cities/states cutting public services and non profit funding, with millionaire politicians telling us we cannot afford to have the amount of fire houses we have right now, etc.
* States competing in a race to the bottom, to cut workers rights in a draw for industry (which at this point is hollow noise through the straw)

Get the picture?

In Obama’s own defense he cites the following reforms as proof of the change his administration has brought to pass:

“billions of dollars that were going to subsidize financial service industries, under the federal student loan programs, are now going to be going directly to students.”

“If you have a mortgage, or a credit card, or any kind of financial dealings out there, as a consequence of the changes we’ve made, the credit card companies cant increase your interest rate without notifying you and they cant increase your interest rates on your previous balances.”

“You can’t have a mortgage broker steer you to a mortgage that is going to cost you more money because maybe they are receiving incentives to do so.”

He said he would come into office and cap the shenanigans with regulations, and all the above prove examples of how indeed, he has swooped in and designated a government intervention. Hand in hand, of course, billions of dollars were allocated to save the financial system from crashing. Thing is, you read between the lines of the three proposals he cites having won, put them up against the concept of progress and they fall short of such consolation. What they do in fact, is they overturn excesses constructed by the corporate elite in the era of exploitative freedom overseen by our past few presidents. Essentially, he has been ‘cleaning up the mess’.
By ‘change’, I dont believe the great majority of his support felt we were supporting a return to a better status quo… I believe what we were hoping for, was for something NEW

I’m going to pull my pants down, flip my sox, and toss my shirt off in conceding that I’m quite aware that the premise for where i’m going with all of this appears weak in light of the quantitative effort we celebrate in this “Season of Progress”. My knit picking of a singular ‘tax break’ hints at an unproductive cynicism, as we conceptualize a tax break something we’d all like to enjoy, what could be regressive about that? My defense, and I stand on it naked in the cold (hey now), pends on what i’ve indicated our almost certain future will look like. We as U.S. citizens have been spoiled till now, receiving privileges as granted us from the bounty of imperialism, and giving generations of descent to win legal determination of the rights one man deserves over it, in equality to another… never never never, have we had to imagine what might happen if the world begins to demand it’s fair share back, and we find ourselves picking apart the cheese. The only impactful change in such a time, would be structural change. And the Bush Era tax breaks are an extension of an outdated Reagan era theory of economics.

Legislation is wonderful! On paper, Obama has already established himself as one of the most accomplished Presidents in history. But such a feat deserves a ‘College Drop Out’ interlude (thanks Kanye).. WTF we gonna do with paper? While certainly the passage of Dont Ask Dont Tell is REVOLUTIONARY if we are talking identity politics and civil rights, and the 911 Health Care bill represents a dignity the government has righteously chosen to uphold, and the pact with Russia is cool for as long as it is relevant; Common American’s are expressing that we are not experiencing ‘change’. Worse, there is an impending fear that things have been getting worse! A somewhere our leadership is sneaking luggage off to a one way flight to Mars type of fear. Then, aside from those of us whom are actually doing quite fine, there are those amongst us whom aren’t doing so great, yet will go to the grave blaming it all on Bush; content with a Hawaiian I Told You So framed on the wall in all his handsome glory *aye.. the guy makes big ears look sexier than Beyonce’s legs*

In his exchange with the supporter whom expressed fatigue defending his tenure, Obama encourages that we keep our eye on our long term goals of:

“making sure that every family out there; if they’re middle class, that they can pay their bills and have the security of health insurance, retire with dignity and respect, send their kids to college. If they are not yet in the middle class, that there are ladders their to get into the middle class if people work hard, get an education, apply themselves. That’s our goal.”

And here’s the trick with the vision Obama lays out: It is a vision which has worked for the U.S. for a century, yet has withered considerably from the days in which one salary bought a home, a car, and raised a stable family. It lacks in ambition, what it doesn’t for jargon! What do I mean by that? Welp… have you ever REALLY wondered beyond the general visual conjured when the code ‘middle class’ is used, whom exactly constitutes such an ambiguous sector of society? Because you juuussssst may be assuming that it constitutes the majority of our country (I mean whom doesnt assume the majority of our country is paying their bills, has secure health care, can retire with dignity and send the kids to college?????). In which case of course, hey… Obama seems to be on target and within reach of bringing us back to the good old times. ….ehnt ehnt

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Please examine Exhibit C.
According to Economists William Thompson and Joseph Hickey (Wadsworth; Thompson, W. & Hickey, J. (2005). Society in Focus. Boston, MA: Pearson, Allyn & Bacon), the middle and upper class combine to constitute 48% of the population. As it were, MORE THAN HALF of the population is in need of those ladders Obama was referring to, if we in the working and lower class brackets of society want to be able to “pay their bills and have the security of health insurance, retire with dignity and respect, send their kids to college.”

My people…
think about that for a minute.
We are discussing the BASIC things!
The majority of us would stand correct, to start looking ground up.
We have a REAL base of power!

A win is a win and so it’s unfair to hate on Obama for doing what he’s been able to, within the constraints of our modern reality of governance. It’s not like he can sneak some kind of bill which radically redistributes power from its consolidation around him. He’d have to look over the shoulder of alot of corporate government agents, to make eye contact with us, the 52%. But in the same vain isn’t it healthy that we begin to get off of the notion that politics is some kind of sport? That we evolve from this state of dealing with our rights like each issue relevant to our happiness and well being is some kind of game played in the space between two dugouts, and playing into the role of cheerleaders for one or the other?

Whenever I hoist a conversation on the state of politics and power, I want to be certain that in addressing the status, I am implicitly provoking the populous to consider our role in it all. I blame Obama for nothing, that I wouldn’t have expected to be blaming him for before he got elected. I was never that naive! And that’s not to stick a thumb in anybody’s eye… At the end of the day the demonization of Obama can be used by the left OR the right; it can just as easily (MORE easily) lead to the election of an Ultra Right Wing formation of government as it can, to a Revolution!

What it means is that we must tread delicate… but we MUST KEEP TREADING, with out hands, with our sticks, with our votes, with our dialogues, with our arts, with our living arrangements and lifestyles, with our own systems and structures of economics, with our own sovereign (whether or not endorsed by the law) representations of leadership and governance, IN SOLIDARITY with the ideals we wish to push forth for our security and freedom.

An Elder I know, whom runs an adult education and ESL program in the South Bronx has a sticker in her office of Obama. It is subtitled “Make Me”.
Say what you want about Barack Obama, he has ALWAYS been clear and transparent about what he is doing and why he is doing it. I do not agree with 75% of it, or at least, I do not believe it the best possible solution 75% of the time. And yes he is an imperialist President with blood on his hands… Yes he is a capitalist president, with poverty stuck in the sole of his shoes… But I listened to him speak about the gains he’s made in the past week and the majority of his air time went towards remorse that he couldn’t pass the Dream Act….
And ive listened to him speak about every single policy he’s been able to pass, and every single policy he has booted, and on every occasion he could have kept his word choice to a minimum. Why be critical? People would love him either way…
In each one of those broadcasts he has set a precedent for a Leader (ON A WORLD WIDE LEVEL..) for integrity!
You haven’t heard ANYBODY walk away from a compromise, which put his/her popularity in the balance, stating the likes of “we acted like children”, “I am ashamed of how we’ve conducted ourselves”, etc. Nothing’s been swept under the rug in a fashion which insults our intelligence (wikileaks, etc. that’s another thing).

And still I hold to everything I myself, have stated above. We need TRANSFORMATION. Obama is not that!

“Make Me”

For all we know, Obama is bolder than we think… perhaps he wants it our way too…
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– Tone Are

I Too, Am Singing America

In Uncategorized on December 23, 2010 at 12:09 am

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I too sing America

I am the subversive Brother
seated before the t.v. with the millions
like me, waiting for us
to rush the meet and greet, so
that we may settle into our seats
for the Presidents’ speech

They smirk and chuckle
wink and grin, then nod in agreement
and applaud for him
in contradiction of what they’ll represent
when it is time for the vote…
I sit and clap with everybody else

Singing America

With my Congressmen somewhere in
these chambers reprimanded in echo
for how they have let me down, with
how we whom represent have failed
to take our leader’s words to action
as opposition press a stalemate to plan

How some of our very own
refuse to take a stand, despite all
support received from their constituency,
I’ve been hoodwinked, we’ve been
deceived, relieved from overseeing and
sent home with a mirror like the Native Indians

But i will continue, to sing

Tomorrow, we, will need to see our word
in the ink, WE will be the work towards
it’s ends, when OUR government comes
to petition our demands at our committees
for it’s defense
; none will dare mock me
for listening in for his commitments, then

Besides, they’ll know
how powerful
I am
on the ground
with The People, and
they’ll be arraigned…

I too, am America

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– ToneAre

ToneAre’s Animated Instruction: Hitting A Baseball

In Uncategorized on December 22, 2010 at 10:03 pm

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Time will tell if baseball remains the traditional, time honoring game it has been over the past century. Ask a young teenager on the diamond: who is the greatest hitter to ever step to the plate? And he might give you a response favoring someone the likes of Alberto Pujols. The Machine, as sports journalists have taken to calling him, is far from a poor candidate for such universal appraisal, but, neither is Pujols the name followers of the game have been associating with that distinction for 50 years. Even in the 1990’s, when I was in my little league prime, consensus for the likes of Ken Griffey Jr. or Barry Bonds was fractured by a peer or two, prepared to join in my automated response for Ted Williams.

The history and the culture of the sport is one thing though; the fundamentals on playing is quite another. Hitting a baseball will always be the sweet science it has always been. One might encounter disagreement however, while instructing a young novice on their mechanics. It is typical for t-ballers to exhibit resistance to dropping emulation of their favorite player, up until the stage that has them swinging a 32 inch bat (some habits are hard to break). The host of problems born out of such stubbornness start as soon as their impressionable eyes register a glamorous at-bat on the television. My generation for example, struggled through early years channeling Griffey Jr. with what we perceived was a smooth uppercut swing. Because we didn’t have the twenty years it took his cut to evolve, behind ours, what we brought to each game were slow, effortless, strikeouts and pop-flys.

A guided intervention can gain commitment from your little Josh Hamilton, that practicing a quick, compact swing will take precedence over imitation from here on out. Still, as if drawing their attention to a focus on balance and coordination weren’t difficult enough, successful results rest on one’s ability to have that instruction translate effectively for them. Doing so requires coaches and mentoring parents to bare a facility for language that can conjure the imagination typical of the youngster. For, just because he/she has heard and followed through on the direction you’ve provided, it doesn’t mean they’ve internalized the information in muscle memory. In Theater it’s called indicating. If he/she does not ‘get it’ and ‘own it’, he/she may wind up having made the transition from posturing after a professional, to imitating you; and without the dynamic results.

Here is a roll call of pointers which may prove valuable to make, from behind the batting cage:
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Align All Joints & Settle In

Align All Joints
• Fingers:
It is most common for hitters, even in the major leagues, to align so that the knuckles of the bottom hand are lined up with the finger joints of the top hand. Encourage however, an attempt at getting comfortable lining the finger joints of the top hand with the fingers’ joints of the bottom hand. Some of the professions’ most elite hitters utilize this technique, as it allows more flexibility for enabling the wrists to play a impactful role in the swing.

• Elbows & Knees:
Yes you had Jeff Bagwell, who batted with his elbows inside of his bottom stance, and adversely, Julio Franco, who framed both elbows behind and above him. And yea, they had success, but such unorthodox styles are highly dis-encouraged for learners. It’s all about distributing balance. The strike zone is quite literally a box, and ought to be imagined so. Having one picture him/herself conforming their body to harbor that box, will set them in a simple, closed stance, in which their elbows and knees square up to project the space in which their bat will meet the ball.

And Settle In…
• GRIP: Firm but relaxed bottom hand, looser top hand.
• PIVOT: Feet planted with toes pointing forward with weight leaning towards the balls of the feet; toes smudged.
• SHOULDERS: Squared up over feet, relaxed. *front shoulder nestles the chin.
• KNEES: Bent to a degree which feels comfortable enough to spring off of. Gentle.

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Watch For The Ball
Focus on the shoulder of the pitchers throwing arm. Wait for his release point; see his hand.

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Wind The Axe – Flick Your Hip

Wind The Axe
• Step Apart From Your Hands:
Upon picking up the pitcher’s release, generate motion by stepping forth (while) cranking your hands back. From this quick subtle point the force of your swing will follow.

Flick Your Hip
• On an Egg, Squish The Bug:
So that the front foot doesn’t drag too much weight forward (no lunging!), set it forth quick yet gingerly. The timing of when the front foot sets down is crucial. It should be in place by the time the pitcher’s arm is down * no sooner, not much later. The step is a trigger to then “squish the bug”, with the back foot. The back ankle twists, JUST AS you flick your back hip towards the pitcher; explode forward.

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Head Down
It is crucial that one doesn’t pull their head with the motion of the swing. This will almost certainly result in weaker contact, as power gives loose. We want to keep a compact swing.

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Punch The Ball – Wrap Around

Punch The Ball
• Swinging:
I’ve heard the swing described in an array of descriptive manners which can prove effective in conveying the form necessary to maximize the potential for contact and power. A level, coordinated swing can be likened to swinging an axe down on a tree, or initiating a basketball chest pass. Ultimately, it cannot have too much top or bottom hand. Too much bottom hand will result in a lazy swing. Too much top hand might result in too aggressive a swing. Aim to shoot the ball up the middle by punching at it.

Wrap Around
• Follow Through:
Being primed to finish a swing before starting one, will ensure that all of the mechanics I’ve mentioned follow suit all the way through. A complete swing constitutes moving the bat, and all of the nuances of the swing, from shoulder to shoulder. The chin should rest on the front shoulder when the swing sets into motion; the chin should rest on the back shoulder at the swings completion. Both hands ought to remain on the bat.

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The language I’ve recommended is figurative and subjective to the imagination of whomever it will apply. Codifying your own set of directions will be just as effective, so long as the language used encompasses the basic tenants of hitting a baseball, and can make sense for the learner. Film of major leaguers can be utilized to then reinforce the points I’ve run you through. I recommend you use YouTube to your advantage. In fact, I absolutely endorse using Albert Pujols as a model of good mechanics. Neither would it hurt to take your youngster out to the local library for a browse through Ted Williams’ book, “The Science of Hitting”, which presents intricate instruction fit along with visual diagrams.

Bat speed dictates the authority with which a ball is hit. Form, vision, and timing determine the probability of contact. Having command over how to direct the ball where one wants the bat to send it is dependent upon adjusting the posture of the stance mid-swing, so as to angle the bat properly. Accelerating a quick, compact swing is the basic goal you want any prospective hitter to master. Have your little slugger take on the assignment of taking 100 swings a day. Monitor as he/she carries out the assignment, and stop them whenever you see a need to have them distinguish a flaw, or if you wish to encourage an adjustment. Use the points I’ve provided above as a frame of reference. Keep what works, throw away what doesn’t.

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And good luck!
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-Tone