Fast Food Independence
Soundtrack: Zap Mamma As Much As Possible
Eight years ago, on September 19, 2003, I gave up eating Fast Food. And I was a Fast Food junkie. I realized this one day when my brother said he was going out for food, and I responded, "Well, if you go to McDonald's, let me get a number seven with a raspberry iced tea, Burger King, a number one with bacon and cheese, and if you go to Wendy's, a number six with a fruit punch." This was a clear sign that my eating habits needed a revolution.
It happened while I was driving through what I refer to as "The Fast Food District" on Hillside Avenue, Queens, New York. This short four block strip includes a McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, White Castles, and Subways. This was one of those rare moments that so many thoughts come together that it appears as one seamless thought: "No More Fast Food!! Today I declare my independence." I hated the idea that I did not have the basic skill of bringing something recognizable from the earth through a process that would eventually contribute some semblance of sustenance to my body. I hated the feeling of being at the mercy of a multi-national, operation whose sole purpose was to ensure I stuffed their food products into my gullet to boast their corporate coffers. Both of my sisters were undergoing transformative (it's a word now spell check!!) nutritional changes, so I was already becoming aware of the food I was putting into my body everyday. Plus, I always had one of Dr. J's favorite lines, "Garbage In. Garbage Out," in my mind. Plus I had other bills, and I was convinced there had to be a cheaper way to feed myself than the value meal menu.
It was this day, all at once, that I decided to give up fast food. And I did. I cheated about half a dozen time in the first four or five years, but that was it, no more fast food: no more Big Macs, No more McNuggets, No more Whoppers, No more Chicken Tender Sandwiches, No more crispy delicious fries, no more apple pies.
It has been amazing what I have discovered since this time. I really enjoy several foods that I thought I disliked for no reason, like yummy avocado mashed up and spread on toast, or baba ganoush even though it was made of eggplant, or even eggs for that matter which I ate happily for the first time this summer when my good friend Miyo made an egg scramble with kale, feta cheese (also on the pre-independence food no-fly list), and cherry tomatoes. I also discovered a small Spanish restaurant that served a lunch special that was a delicious home-cooked, quality meal.
This moment taught me many things. One, you do not have to give your power away. You can make another choice. Two, make your own holidays if you don't like the ones that have been handed to you. Three, sometimes the road towards discovery is to give something else up. Four, Kale is the best food on earth.
Here's to a sovereignty that Wikipedia can't define - the one we each take for ourselves. Happy Independence Day. And Healthy Eating.
What are you claiming your independence from?
Shout Out to Jetsetter Jewels for expanding my life's palette, to Betsy B for homecooked meals, to Miyo for the delicious eggs, and to my sister, Almitra the Community Mogul for organizing the second annual Farmer's Blvd. Health Fair in our Queens neighborhood.
Have a Transformative Weekend!!
SOUNDTRACK: "Signs," by Badmarsh & Shri Featuring UK Apache, ALBUM: "Signs"
MOVIE: "Battle in Seattle," featuring Andre 3000 and some random white folks.
Transitions are hard: beginnings, endings, leavings, goings, growing, grinding, knowing, hustling, and going with the flow even if you don't really want to. Just waking up every day and going through the motions of brushing your teeth can be challenging. But living on the brink between the this and the that, is a tremendous challenge.
Transitions are a time for Big Decisions: planning, preparing, getting yourself ready for the next day, the next movement, the next rhythm. Like me, right now, I am moving into the weekend. Ready for community, relaxation, family, wine, and sunshine. But the week is still here, and I'm like "Damn. What am I supposed to do with this?"
This is the moment to recognize the desperate need to control the transformation, the shifts. Be aware of the shifts around you, and the ones you are causing.
There will be a cost. There's always a cost. Prepare for costs with the knowledge that they are coming, and learn to let go, fast.
You can't change everything all at once. You will notice more and more that you find yourself in a delicious conversation with the shifting, with the moving from the one to the next, that instead of wildin' out when it happens, you plan it out, you prepare for it, you play with it. Why not?
There is something in this process that begins to feel a little bit like the power you forgot you had before you even knew you had it. This Beautiful. Moment. Ours.
"Life is one big road with a lot of signs, signs and more signs. You gotta make up your mind to face reality all the time."
- UK Apache
Jesus For Brooklyn (www.gonzalezforassembly.com)
This Summer I felt glory in the knowledge that there is a young man named Jesus running for office in Brooklyn. His name is Jesus Gonzales and he is running for State Assembly in New York State’s 54th Assembly District (AD). The 54th AD is made up of a handful of diverse, mostly working class neighborhoods. I first met Jesus as a member of Make the Road By Walking (now merged under the name Make the Road http://www.maketheroad.org), a grassroots, community organization that focused on economic protection and empowerment of Bushwick, Brooklyn’s growing immigrant population. Young Jesus, pronounced with a hard “J” by the unilingual kids he grew up with, was a leader in a powerful youth contingent that shaped pre-and-post September 11th hip-hop generation activism.
I reconnected with Jesus earlier this year through my wife, Julia’s project, East WillyB. In addition to being a visionary, Julia, aka Jetsetter Jewels is also a go-getter. East WillyB includes a documentary series called “The Real Bushwick” as complimentary content to the six-episode series centered around a bar in Bushwick, Brooklyn. You can visit the East WillyB (www.eastwillyb) website to see a glimpse into Jesus’ vision of community empowerment, and then stay and watch an episode from the series - a well-rounded, yummy media snack for the day.
Jesus as Featured in "The Real Bushwick" on East WillyB
It is Monday morning. This morning, I wake up and write. My wife is in the other room sleeping. It is not every morning that I make it to my desk to write. As I start this day off focusing on my art practice I can feel small pangs of guilt and doubt creep in, “what about all those other mornings I didn’t wake up and write.” I tell myself, “you won’t wake up every morning and write, so why do it today.” I meet these corrosive thoughts with my new commitment to grow my artistic practice without punishment and self-torture.
I listen to Bjork’s Hyperballad several times this morning. It is playing on a YouTube video somewhere behind this word document holding my words to the front of the screen. Bjork is one of my favorite artists. Whenever I drift away from my writing practice, I listen to her song Hyperballad. It is part of my journey towards recommitting.
Bjork begins the song by setting the scene. She wakes up every morning, walks to the edge of a mountain, and throws small metal objects from the top. From listening to Bjork’s music or the interviews with the worldwide network of musicians who respect her work, I know that Bjork is obsessed with sound. From the top of the mountain, she watches each object fall to the bottom and listens to the sounds they make as they crash. No doubt, this exploration of sound is her morning art practice.
Bjork goes on to sing, “I go through all of this before you wake up, so I can feel happier to be safe again with you.” These lyrics remind me of the importance of my writing practice. It is my process of throwing words around, and listening to the crashes they make, that allows me the peace and clarity to approach the rest of my day.
This track is my remix of Malcolm X's "Ballot or the Bullet" speech . . .
It’s not about separation, segregation or they integration,
it’s about us participating in our own liberation.
We tired of waiting,
it’s time to build up this Afrikan nation
plus we lacking in patience.
Before we go back
to sitting on the back of your bus
we’ll bust back at you
our crews is ready
for whatever means be necessary
keep your month of February.
We don’t need your 28 days
just to discuss your hate
your lies and your genocides
‘cause we got pride – 365.
Manning Marable: Scholar, Activist, Historian, Community Organizer, Teacher, Lecturer, Mentor, Friend
"We all "live history" every day. But history is more than the construction of collective experiences, or the knowledge drawn from carefully catalogued artifacts from the past. History is also the architecture of a people's memory, framed by our shared rituals, traditions, and notions of common sense. It can be a ragged bundle of hopes, especially for those who have been relegated beyond society's brutal boundaries." Living Black History
When I first heard the news that Dr. Manning Marable passed away, my first thought was of his book Living Black History. This book has been foundational to my thinking about the awkward, yet necessary scholarly endeavor, of re-framing history. We each do this in our own lifetimes, re-visiting our pasts and shifting our perspectives to empower our present thoughts and behaviors. This is almost second nature to the Hip-Hop Generation. Like my homey Leilani (@leimatic) told me, "that was like three Leilani's ago," referring to her own ability to reinvent herself. We remix our names, identity to identity like Malcolm Little to to Detroit Red to Malcolm X to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Each part of ourselves that we claim, a step closer to claiming what BX emcee Intikana (@intikana_ who recently changed his name) refers to as our "infinite selves."