Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am spending this holiday away from home and family but fortunately with one of my best friends who knows how to 'throw down' with the cooking! We often get so caught up in the frenzy of the feast, that we don't pause to truly give thanks. Sure, we bless the meal. We may even donate our time to feed someone less fortunate. Do we however, really pause to acknowledge what we are truly thankful for? Do we even know what those things are? And should this not be done be done daily, not just on holidays?

Despite the numerous negative appearances in our world today, I am thankful for plenty. Family, Friends, health, happiness, travel, you to mention a few. I hope you take a moment to realize all that is right in your world as well. Never give in to the appearance of circumstance! Design your own destiny!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, but more importantly continue to express gratitude in your journey!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Culinary Institute of America's Recent Student....Me? Nah, Can't Be!!!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I avoid the labor of cooking at all costs! I do it on occasion, especially in George Bush's America where you gotta clinch every dime, but it is not an activity I particularly enjoy. My good friend Marcus (who's featured in many of my travel pics/videos) is a master chef so I enjoy watching him work his magic. I, on the other hand, do not find the joy. So why i the world would I end up in a classroom at Culinary Arts Institute? Why to change my negative perception of course.

Upon arrival at CIA's beautiful campus above New York's Hudson River, I was immediately taken aback by its brick architecture and soothing beauty. Changing leaves fell across the sprawling lawns providing a breathtaking backdrop. Arriving late to my first class (I did not receive an updated schedule), I was initially ill at ease. Soon after introductions with my fellow classmates our Chef instructor got right into it. We were hustling through techniques, recipes and lectures at what seemed a rapid pace. I never really gave culinary preparation and execution its proper respect. And at CIA, they do it best!

Can you imagine a place where the smell of delicious food greets you through all hours of the day? Simply fabulous. There are no waif like supermodels with ribs exposed here, baby! They tell me the average student gains one pound per month! I can see how that is possible since eating in REQUIRED coursework. Equally impressive are the knowledgeable, helpful staff and students. In an environment like this you only want to maximize your potential...not to mention stuff your face.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience garnering a whole new respect for food! Thank you to CIA and its wonderful, professional staff! Thank you to my fellow classmates who helped make the experience even better!

Here are pics from the various aspects of the course. I would not suggest viewing them if you are hungry. lol

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chicago 2008 Gay & Lesbian Hall Of Fame Awards Ceremony

Gay and Lesbian rights have come a long way over the years....or have they? With all the madness surrounding California's passing of backwards-ass Proposition 8 to Connecticut's legalizing same sex marriage, it appears the gays are everywhere...well they are...but that's another story. Unfortunately in mainstream media, the perceptions and images are marginalized (on both sides of the issue), so we end up basing our perceptions on stereotypes, sound bytes, and fear. The remarkable contributions of gays and lesbians continues to move our world forward...I mean, what would the Vatican be without the Sistine Chapel? What about the entertainment industry? the sports world? The church? You name it, gays and lesbians have contributed significantly to its success. During a recent visit to Chicago I had the unique opportunity to attend the 2008 Gay & Lesbian Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony where I was not so quietly reminded that beneath the rhetoric, dogma and protests, there are outstanding individuals standing in their light each and every day, pushing toward a world free of prejudice and ignorance!

The city of Chicago hosts this annual affair which usually features the city Mayor (unfortunately Mayor Daley has been ill and could not attend). He did offer this statement: "Chicago is a city of many faces, and the LGBT community is an important part of that diversity. The community is thriving and moving forward, helping to build a strong social and economic foundation for Chicago".

The Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame was established in 1991 under the auspices of the Advisory Council, with continuing support from the Chicago Commission on Human Relations and Mayoer Richard M. Daley. Its purpose is to recognize the achievements of LGBT Chicagoans, their contributions to the development of the city, and help the received from others.

Those inducted can fall into one of three categories: individual, organization, or friend of the community. Potential nominees comprise members of Chicago's entire sexual minority community, including lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender Chicagoans, past present, living and deceased as well as those who have supported or assisted the community. A committee of prior inductees makes each year's selections from nominations submitted by members of the public.

The mature crowd on distinguished professionals was a welcomed sight as so much of gay culture focuses on young, chiseled flesh. Beyond the stereotypes, were a group of accomplished individuals who make our country proud with their fortitude, fearlessness and forgiveness. Athlete to activist, entrepreneur to clergy the talent pool of the nominees was as refreshing to see as it was amazing.

We are so caught up in the hype of the issues today, however, it is critical we observe and honor our elders...for without their struggle, our country would have even much more work to do. Honor your achievements, walk in your truth! Thank you to all those in attendance! Here are a few photos from the evening. Always stand in your light!

Friday, November 7, 2008

My visit to Raleigh, N.C.

I am often pleasantly surprised when I visit this part of the country. While I often expect to be met with hostility, I typically find hospitality and people interested in the simpler things in life. Its like I expect to see the world in black and white, like many of the historical images captured before the days of color photography. I find instead that the colors are vibrant, the history rich (albeit painful), and the culture deep. This state recently voted Democratic for the first time in YEARS! And hey voted for a black..uh, I mean, bi-racial man! I could not help but be overwhelmed as I stood looking at the changing leaves, hearing the echos of our ancestors tell their stories of their lives on this same land.

We have a long way to go as a country, but lets acknowledge just how far we have come! There is no limit to the power of our collective potential! Keep it up, America!

Here is a slide show from my recent visit to Raleigh, North Carolina.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack On Top! Obama Becomes First Black President-Elect During Chicago Rally!

Wow! Damn! Really? Amazing! Sheeeeiiiiiiiittttttttt! Get in to this! These were just a few of my initial thoughts as chills ran down my spine when CNN announced its projection that Barack Obama was the next President-Elect of the United States! Standing in downtown Chicago's Grant Park with 200,000 plus fellow Americans, I was overwhelmed by the spirit, joy and hope this man elicits! Yes We Can.

If I didn't know better I would have thought it was New Year's Eve or the Super Bowl or maybe I was back at the height of pandemonium during Michael Jackson's "Thriller" era. This did not have the feel of a political rally. Oh no. This was a proud victory, a indescribable celebration, a relief...and to quote Michelle Obama, I too "am really proud of my country!" There is nothing like seeing the dawn after a seeming eternity in the dark. Yes We Can.

John McCain's concession speech was actually one of the evening's most touching moments. "That's how you go out!" I overheard an African American gentleman standing near me exclaim. While there were a few boos in the crowd, the overall tone was respectful and engaged; unlike what it sounded like was happening live in Arizona where he delivered his speech. Yes We Can.

Ok America....we did the damn thang! We did RIGHT this time! Let's recognize our achievement and what it symbolizes. More importantly, let us realize its just the beginning. There is much work to be done to unite this country and get it back on track. Be not discouraged for if we could accomplish the historic feat of electing Obama, we can heal the wounds of separation and angst that have brought us down as well. Did you see when the new First Family walked out onto the stage? So breathtaking I began to well up again. What an image for our country! What an image to the world! YES WE CAN!

We are all a magnificent part of history! Thank you to every citizen who voted in this election! To those in Chicago's Grant Park, thank you for showing up and showing out! How beautiful to see Black, White, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, Christian, Muslim, straight, gay, fat, skinny, disabled, you name it...all putting aside differences and honoring unity. America...Yes, we DID!

Get into these pics and video footage I took during Obama's rally.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Black Party 2008 - Atlanta Does It Again!

Last night I attended the annual Black Party (meaning the attire, not (just) the people) in Atlanta's Lindbergh Station. This fundraiser doubles as a toy drive for tots and proceeds are donated to this cause. Two organizations, Affair With Flair and 5Friends4Life join forces for this yearly blowout! Both teams deserve major kudos for the planning and execution of this successful event.

The men and women looked great in their black attire. We danced, drank, chatted, posed, cruised and partied the night away, taking advantage of that extra hour courtesy of the time change. As for the music...well we only heard 63 Beyonce songs and 42 Janet. LOL. In between those we got old school R&B, classic House, Reggae and Hip Hop. Something for everyone.

Get into the video below featuring some highlights from the eve!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween In Da CHI - 2008! Halsted Is A Hot Mess!!!!!

Halloween always brings out the creative and the freak in people! This year was no exception. While visiting Chicago I got the chance to view the madness! Street closures, traffic mean thousands came out to North Halsted and worked the crowd with their incredible costumes. An unusually warm evening meant more skin in many cases. Get into the video and pics of this hilarious event. Definitely a night to remember!