Monthly Archives: January 2012
Josie Harris: Another battered Woman, expendable to the system… Floyd Mayweather Jr: Not just any Black Man!
It was a sad day in April for me in 2010, when at the height of the fight world’s demand for a Manny Pacquiao/Floyd Mayweather Jr. showdown for boxing supremacy, an obscure southpaw from out of Venezuela took his own life at a time during which word amongst many of the sports purists began placing him at it’s helm.
Edwin Valero was lightening in a bottle. He had yet had anything legitimately comparative to Pretty Boy Money or Pac Man‘s Hall of Fame careers, but his record of 27-0 with knock outs in every one of those bouts was nothing short of legendary. Valero had just defeated current champion Antonio Demarco in what was his 9th title defense reigning over the WBA superfeatherweight, then WBC lightweight devisions. Questions as to how he’d fare against fast-powerpunching contemporary Pacquiao were sufacing, with Valero himself calling the pound-for-pound king out.
We with an ear to the scene, and a considerable knowledge of geo-politics at the time knew if there was one thing preventing the man from slaying his way to complete dominance in capitalism’s most primitive game, it was more likely his notorious advocacy for his beloved Socialist President (Hugo Chavez tattoo’d on his chest), than his unmerciful fists!
Sadder than the loss of such an extraordinary talent, were the developments that brought it about. The story of Edwin Valero is not simply that of the modern gladiator, or class warrior manifest in the ring.. the day before his untimely suicide, the story of Edwin Valero ever tragically became that of his wife; 24 year old Jennifer Carolina. That was the day he murdered the mother of his two children, capping a tumultuously violent relationship which cited numerous hospital stays and police reports for domestic abuse.
In the wake of the sensational turn of events (Valero was found hanging in police custody), conspiracy theories flung about from every corner of the net. “drugs and alcohol”, “psychological effects of his motorcycle injury”, Even President Chavez chimed in to pretty much claim it all a right-wing political plot. Generally absent from the whirlwind of talk, outside of reactionary response from politicos looking to exploit anything that might undermind anything Venezuela, was a focus on Jennifer/her family/ the all too common plight of abused boxing wives/ failure of Valero’s circle to support him into getting help for his demon, and on a larger scope; a lack of attention and resources towards gender violence by legal boxing councils…
Here is the wife of a professional athlete. Even typical as one may project her to come, she is human as human gets; the unacknowledged superhero!__ balancing the barbarity of her husband with a nurturing spirit; feeding, cleaning, clothing and educating their children; keeping a stable home for him to come back to for his psychological and emotional well-being. She doesn’t just open her legs to him, and in fact it’s not even so much that she cooks, cleans, and handles very fundamental business tasks autonomous from those of the industry vultures.. as much as it is that she reserves an unconditional place for his human interests! __She lives subbordinated in the silent role of a superstar athlete’s wife; and if she should die, she dies silent; out of sight, and out of mind.
When in protest of the 90-day prison sentence inherited by Floyd Mayweather Jr. for battering ex-partner Josie Harris, World Boxing Council chief Jose Sulaiman put out a statement dismissing “beating a lady” as nothing akin to “a major sin or crime”; I could not be shocked.
Neither was I surprised to learn that in the interest of clearing May 5th for Floyd to fight an *as of yet signed opponent* (a fight that hasn’t even been made), Justice Melissa Saragosa had pushed his January 6th report-to-serve date back to June.
Such a travesty is to be expected. Women have always been expendable in the boxing world.
If they are not circling a ring showcasing huge placards over their bikini laced bodies between rounds, they are occupying comparisons to one another in the first row of our imagination, opposite sides of the ring, donning luxuries we rarely consider they might adorn on their own dime. Each, marrying into the sport to carry the mark of ‘gold-digger’ or glorified ‘groupie’; each, measured against expectations set to the likeness.
How many men saw a fighter’s manager when they were looking at Mrs. Shane Mosley? Heck, matrimony aside, how long will it be before we recognize the best trainer in the game might be Ann Wolfe?? We take them for granted, they’re tossed aside. We’ve never allowed ourselves to accept that boxing in it’s own right belongs to Women as much as it does men.
More times than not she is assumed to be a deserving victim, or no victim at all. We hear the chuckles of brothers at a Farrakahn rally, responding to his smirk, mocking the notion that a young Desiree Washington accepting a 3 a.m. invitation from Mike Tyson, did not ‘know what she was getting into’. Of course we do.. just earlier that day behind the scenes broadcasts have Mike meeting Washinton in a line of contestants during beauty pageant rehearsals in Indianapolis; bogarting back and forth before their wide eyes, he caressed his chin, dipping a scope up and down with design on their figures, smiling back at the camera; …expendable.
Before Diego Chico Corrales lost his life in a Vegas motorcyle accident, he was immortalized for his classic battle against Jose Luis Castillo; The beating of his pregnant wife, in which he is reported to have delivered a deliberate blow to her stomach, was a fly-by-night headline. Just as the arm pulling, fist throwing assault on Jossie Harris by a seemingly teflon Mayweather is proving to be. It will not stick to him, nobody will reflect critically on it a year from now as we may, say.. a ‘suspect’ Miguel Cotto for wiping tears away as he recalled the passing of his father. Nobody, is even talking about it, now!
Backwards as it sounds, the entitlement we grant men in sports, almost lends deferment of Floyd’s jail-time as something Harris might feel fortunate knowing he received. It is afterall typical of the psychology of a battered woman to fear greater repercussion should her abuser be put to face punishment. And there are undoubtedly legions of fans who’ve grown resentful of Harris, as over the course of the trial Floyd has been persistant in declaring the accusations false and malicious. For his big date to be cancelled by default of the court’s ruling, we’d be hearing a backlash of public opinion put her to blame for his missing the boat on a potentially imminent showdown with Manny, before we hear anyone holding him accountable, for a crime his children testified baring witness to.
Sources have all around confirmed that what earned Floyd his reprieve is the potential revenue to be made off the long awaited Pacquiao super-fight (a fight which still seems a long shot from happening). There is no question an event of it’s magnitude, taking place in Las Vegas’ famed MGM Grand, on Cinco de Mayo would make good on his lawyer’s promise before the judge, to generate $100 million for the economy. In America, money talks.. (pun intended)
In fact, now we are hearing Top Rank Promotions’ Bob Arum float an offer for the fight to happen if Floyd agrees to a June 9th date, which by all accounts would be impossible to tend considering he is to report to prison on the 1st of June. Leave it to the powerful Arum though, to arrogantly suggest that he’d put up the fees to have it pushed back again; almost as if looking right past the grief stricken reality of Women who’ve befallen a heavy hand, to the man at the other end of the bargaining table. His rationale? There’s a chance that an extra $40 million could be made off additional seats constructed in that time.
As if though the same $100 million (plus 40) couldn’t be made after Floyd has justly served his time.
Sulaiman, Judge Saragosa, Floyd’s legal team, Bob Arum, we the public, are all responsible for the grave injustice given slack here.. we ought to all be ashamed about the precedent we seem so blood lustingly willing to set, to see this fight happen ASAP at the clap! This is bigger than Floyd, this is bigger than boxing.. the legal grace and public apathy towards it are indicative of a system working to the endangerment of Women and families. Despite the model of political or economic government under which it manifests, patriarchy victimizes individuals.. families.. societies.. humanity.
..When a man
has so much power that
no-one but he himself,
dare take him out.
Who knows what he is capable of…
Sweat was as Pa as the uniform Ma needed spread a sheet over, nights when attempts to wake him off the couch would’ve done little more than rouse a snore. You watched his sideburn bristle drip into a pour when an envelope took to his hands; beads perspiring from the nose as he went through shirts like cuchifrito does a brown paper bag.
Nobody racked up time and a half like that man; not a police officer, no fireman, nor anyone in sanitation, much less any of his co-workers in the Emergency Medical Service. Which is probably why he received so much love, as manifested per barbecue and pool party we were invited to attend when Pa wasn’t covering someone else’s weekend. Navy blue up, navy blue down everywhere we went; patches and the badge. If your name wasn’t Don Mattingly, no one in this city could say they knew you to hustle more doubles than Resto!
It remained to be seen whether I inherited that same work ethic upon being offered a cut for every job I tagged along to lend a hand with. After two decades which saw them maintain the kind of camaraderie withstanding every Giordano promotion that set hierarchy between the two, and every Giordano transfer Pa felt pressure to follow, Giordano and Pa went into business together behind his longtime partner’s lead for side-income doing home renovations. Giordano had the van, Giordano had the plan: he provided the tools he promoted the service he secured the contracts. Pa covered the labor, which would’ve provided me opportunity to earn money for school books while holding onto one last season of sandlot baseball; and did… until it didn’t.
I never told him why I began to resist, and eventually, ceased lacing up boots all together that summer. Were it not for the game he saw slash and burn prospects of delinquency, to a future in his boy’s eye, my abled body would’ve had no alternative but to try my newly minted diploma from the get; believe you-me, there wasn’t a request Pa didn’t begin and end a response to with “MORTGAGE” and “CAR PAYMENT!” So it had to be to the dismayed welling of his own defeat, that despite Pa’s faith in me, I’d eventually turn down his proposal to split earnings for the sake of sparing me some 9 to 5 that might impede on practice. And it was in a sort of melancholy, projecting to be gracious humility, that I would sooner settle on a fulltime at The Nathan Boardwalk than seek the old man’s recourse.
Save for having to swallow a little sarcasm on my supposed golden arm’s supposed struggle to sand a wall, my decision didn’t draw the kind of reaction I had braced myself for. Of’course news of the Nathan hiring relieved me of ‘the real world’ speech on his 70 hour work week.. and he did gave off as if convinced I’d keep my promise to continue grinding toward our dream. Such absence of disappointment at any prior juncture would’ve shown passage for me to whistle off clean;
Stopped, whether by the stoicism contrasting such usual eccentricities as his ever-wincing forehead or how he’d normally clamp his lips curled into his teeth; …or by something more intuitive than the reading his pensive face gave off in its concentration, there was something it seemed, even he felt left to be complete between us.
At second glance I’m at a loss to explain
the space in which I found myself, between
offering up a hug and venting.
Pa had sacrificed for us too willfully to be exposed to the heart of my wallowing; the intensity of those veins and snapping tendons proving harder to detach from than I could have conceived. To think; how the bills reflecting off the ol’ specs bridged before him bound those providing hands to so demeaning a keep, so obsequiously. I have to believe he was uneasy as I, hearing what one the other heard, as we worked through the bigotry inundating from Giordano’s shadow the morning that would deter me from returning. Then again he’d survived nearly half of his life smiling through the shame, absorbing a word his son was just learning the pain of.
Throughout childhood, SPIC, whizzed me by in cacophony with MAMI, TE SIRVO, GRAHAM AVE, LANI!, LET’S CUT THE SHIT, WE’RE FAMILY, THE HIPOCRACY, JACK!, DON’T INTERRUPT ME LET ME SPEAK, DIME CON QUIEN ANDAS Y TE DIRE QUIEN ERES, PHILIP!, UNBEKNOWNST TO ME, DINKIN’, CLARO QUE SI, SAM! and IT’S SAD IT REALLY IS… Especially Saturday nights, when receiving a guest meant the bottle of soda erecting from a spread of Bacardi| seltzer| Tanqueray| and gin was off limits; those of us who’d long built tolerance to a drunken thumb ‘cross the gums testing the hour of company in our own irritable right, Saturday night!
For a time I couldn’t tell it different from any word that wasn’t my name, except that I can’t recall having traced it to a voice other than that of Uncle Ray’s. When I came upon it’s implication of disdain per the darting force with which he pinned it to neighborhood names that never came up favorably, nothing of its nature notioned it could pertain to me. Spic, was a lazy ignorant drug addict who lived off welfare, but back then it wasn’t Puerto Rican. According to Ray it was Carmen flopping a stroller forth with her knotty headed boys straggling shirtless behind. But it wasn’t referred to Rosa, who wore the same chancletas when she got home and out of her blazer to walk Tito; not usually at least, not unless she in some way gave him the inclination that she thought she was better, needed to be brought back down to earth. Such ambiguity might explain why it would be years before I found myself processing those four letters relative to my own identity. (Everyone owned a brown pair of slippers lettering the gold Puerto Rico!)
Back then people were people. It was a time enriched by naiveté when a child’s bliss was safe. We played until it was time to eat then were off again after we ate. Taught it our business to keep out of grown folk’ conversations I was trained on being seen, not heard. Thus, my listening had adapted to assume a like distance. For if ever I, stampeding in line past a powwow of elders or swarming in and out a pile of sibling limbs, were pulled to that chat in the kitchen it was when “T O N Y!” hollered out on mother’s whim.
As a seventeen year old elbow resting a palm full of chin, or lollygagging behind, from the ride to home depot < home depot back to the ride for our sheetrock stripped destination, it was no different. Unless I was present to a mention specific to me, nothing exchanged in Pa-and-Giordano’s discussion drew me aware to it. The same uncompromising trust my face gave the wind trailing passing scene; that music behind my eyes facilitated from hammer to nail I glanced between; was the trust my red light green light 1, 2, 3’s held, uncompromised by noise screaming from the kitchen back in my young’n day.
There was however, that time and again
in which tensions flared on the drink and a counter slammed,
shouting slanted our attention still to it, and
You grow on to the grapple and roll of wrestle-mania from the cowboys and Indians chase. Then you learn roughhousing earned you a spot on front of the living room television glowing Sabado Gigante when things got carried away. Didn’t take forever to develop a rapport on how to avoid repercussions of hyperactivity, with a period in which G.I. Joe became the rave half decade before we sedated on video games. Passivity however is another thing, especially amongst a community in which it could be viewed as weak. After all, stores selling us Desert Storm Cards to trade during the first invasion of Iraq probably didn’t do as much to tame us as they did to engage us in war. No doubt it pissed our parents off that a transition to figurines wouldn’t eradicate the havoc to be raised. …Makes me want to go back and lift a mirror to show them who we were the children of; STOPPP STUPID!, INDIAN GIVER!, LEAVE ME ALONE!, and HE STUCK HIS MIDDLE FINGER AT ME!, caroming off the walls.
Soon as the day came Ma lit up to Pa divulging Giordano’s arrangement for us to go see a home, things were bound to change. That mammoth edifice of the old Brooklyn Army Terminal stood in the way of the harbor, across which sprawled suburban pastures to which we couldn’t imagine conforming our ways. Not that Ma ever pictured us doing so might resemble the manner she frightenly observed children behave during yearly visits to their cul-de-sac for Giordano’s son’s birthday; but that she had us speeched to an impeccable posture, in the balance of which hung privileges and a possible whooping dare we embarrass our father.
Days went by months gone by years past, and nowhere near as long had my refined demeanor come to lasting the guidette cadence Ma adopted an awkward variation of; not nearly as wide as that of my PRAP (Puerto Rican American Princess) knighted sister, had my own Staten Island circle grown; nowhere close to as high had I ever come to imagine our becoming selves, above the selves I looked back on leaving, as brother had, on a past he looked down on being. There must have been something resisting any like-allowance to succumb to the numbness my family seemed to embrace in overcoming our confronting transition.
Suddenly I was dealing with a heartbeat which had been chased before, but never through the terror of a plight unfamiliar as the wilderness to an urban animal. The weight of whatever collective adaptation we generated to repress idiosyncrasies within family at home, within our peers of the Spanish congregation at church, amongst classmates pooled at the lunch table end dominated by the accent of our lips, hair and shade; became the suppression of impulses discouraged from rising with the pride of our rooted heritage.
We had derived from a place from which I recall a scrap between biological sisters being triggered by one’s reference to the other as a “five dollar hoe”; where we arrived at school every morning prepared to fight for our sneakers; glance at the wrong person the wrong way and you could find yourself cradling your skull on the concrete. Now we were being muscled around by eyes on the bus, stalled on by the doctor and rushed by the deli clerk; observing our parents pussyfoot around signs that our youngest siblings were being singled out and spoken at in a tone adults reserve for other adults. …I had never felt so low.
There I knelt, knee deep in a rising tide of rage. Reaction to insult had always begged a practice in restraint. Here I faced a turbulence quivering deep in my soul, battling in question as to whether I’d be able to regain cognizance of the sunlight beaming into the patio and the smell of paint overwhelmed in the tension consuming me. I sooner became afraid I might not be able to stand up straight, than I had become of potentially confronting a man a quarter century my senior. Thwarted to the ashen planks of my surrounding I’d be missing the mark if I characterize myself having been beside myself – I was so beneath myself.
I had been in the way of that laugh before, now I was at its opposite end; I had accompanied Giordano’s eyes in mine, this time I kept them back from forcing their way in. Way down binaural drone-deep in double vision, a mirage of references dotting select experiences from my rearing to the moment, framed me pit between a double consciousness that summer Saturday morning…
One which set my soul into mourning while it sang to the sky. Looking back, that’s got to be the day, I killed my master. And the spic, began to die.
– Tone.Are (A Genesis of Brown__ work in progress/ chapter 1)
AT THE REQUEST OF AUGUST.. FOR KANA & KEIDERA!
> Pour a cap, or two of Olive Oil into a pot.
> Dice 2 cloves of garlic to begin flavoring the base.
> Throw a splash of water in there. (you need that accent, u need that Brooklyn: in thea’)
.Let it simmer a bit.
(let it brown just a bit.. coupla mins)
> Break a nice ol’ coupla pinches of fresh Cilantro.
> Slice some thin rings of onion; throw that right there in there.
> Chop up and add dices of a bell pepper.
> (May also add celery shavings _or_ seeds)
.Let it simmer a bit more.
(Get the aroma going)
> Now take out your jar of soft pickled red peppers. Let some of the juice from the jar into the pot and tear strips of the peppers in to follow.
> Add the few cube cuts of the potato THAT HAVE BEEN BOILING ON THE SIDE.
> Finally add a small can of tomato sauce, followed up by a refill of water.
.Taste what you’ve got so far.
(Add salt if you need to bring more flavor out. Add crushed black pepper if you like a little spice)
> Escort your black beans out to the dance floor and let them babies salsa away.
> OH WAIT.. at this point, you can also have Stedman roll out the chopped sweet plantain -OR- pumpkin piece. (both ought to be SOFT/Over ripe if possible)
.Let cook on low flame until the sauce has thickened.
SERVE AT A CRYSTAL HOUSE DINNER
AND WATCH BLACK PEOPLE GO CRAZY OVA YO SHIIT!!!
“PUNETA!” hollered the void become of a night mixing recollection of his children with the drink. Then through the void, falling between his fingers wrapping his face; reverb of a dripping sniffle. Cupped in his hands, again;; alone in the pork reeking breath of those murmuring walls;; New Years Eve…
He had tripped a mess a million times before and if his reaction were any different this time, you couldn’t tell by the ruckus of it; although if there were anything ‘Ando wouuuld make more sense out of than anyone else, it’s that you don’t throw the 40 oz in your hand to spite the one at your feet! If you knew the man like he knew himself, something was definitely off about the absence of so much as a flinch toward attempting to salvage something from the bottle propelling across the floor.
There wasn’t a concern in the moment. There wasn’t a thought present to the space. All he could see, sunken over, were the audible flashes of his eldest, his middle, and his youngest child as they brought him back to reliving an ache which had continued to tear, ever since the day he walked away.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ … _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Around the same hour just the year prior he had sat contrastingly placid with his eyes glazing evermore distant over the television, with every minute pulled closer to midnight. Of course, wonder about the kids took his mind the same, however the years stretched-about time to be redeemed and the time being, had for some time lent itself to impassivity. Interrupted by the fateful phone call he received from an unrecognizable voice that night, monotony was to be aroused to a hopeful gratitude, upon receiving pause, followed up by a name:
‘Ando always hated hearing back the sound of his own voice; to him it whined the tail end of each word with the most wretched intonation. But hearing his Junior behind it was sweets to his heart. Unexpected as it was, the senior did his best to keep a composed throat as his sinuses began to well up with the probability of tears. Which would have in and of itself had no affect on the conversation if not for the tension-to-rush waiting at goodbye.
Receiving the call was good enough to make his day, his year; albeit shameful in his attempt at making it to the call’s finish without having to tread through request for explanation as to why he cut out. And he was nowheres capable of ranging outside the discomfort enough to realize how so too had his son approached, a nervous wreck; a grown up man struggling to rise to a stand above his childhood, to be strong for himself.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ … _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
It was the 360th countless day ‘Ando had counted without hearing from them again; like a dying sunflower the calendar’s arc sloping heavy, twice finished, yet this time pending on the angst blossomed of a new hope gone withered, yet hopeful. The moon, the mood, the motion and the music, anticipation then cynicism, doubt, resentment; it all came up, it all came down with the Times Square ball popping in a sea of pandemonium. Puddles of shattered glass and a shirt collar wiped wet off his beard; the brisk winter air seeping cold as his blood, through two holes the wall hadn’t pocked into itself.
Finally, he hunted down that number; turning dresser draws inside out and shaking books upside down. He had had no clue where it was until finally Ando turned up the momento on which he recorded Junior’s digits that day, after chatting up a call that switched hands between each of his dear sources of grief; his seeds, flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone. It was meticulously scribed on the back of a photo of all three, smiling shoulder by shoulder on a day none of ’em had ever lost from picturesque memories of weekends with dad.
Up he held the flick, quivering in his fingertips, elevated to meet eye level. …Coney Island…
Then, down he placed it back, (from an arm gone tired up at his magnetized point of contemplation), covering it back over with the heap of mail, notes, receipts, and other miscellaneous nicknacks he was ever relieved to find it under;..wiping the tears and smile off his face, before placing a pensive moment far out on the horizon of a daydream;
then straggling off for another beer.