Sunday, May 31, 2009


Good to see improvement in ties between the US and Cuba. A better relationship can only improve conditions within our hemisphere. Cuba's OAS membership is next on the agenda. We also have to resolve human rights issues within the little island country. How will the changing relationship between these two nations affect the legal status of African Americans who fled the US and found asylum in Cuba? Remember those old Black Panther days? Airplane hijacks? Will the US demand that these individuals be returned to the States for trials? Has someone seen the ghost of Robert Williams?

Here are the details of Reetika's book. (no press release as of yet.)

Reetika Vazirani's posthumous poetry collection, Radha Says, will be published by Drunken Boat Media in November, 2009. Edited by Leslie McGrath and Ravi Shankar, Vazirani's last collection contains poems spanning the last ten years of her life, which ended in 2003. With an introduction by Kazim Ali, the book will be launched in Washington, DC at the National Press Club. Details to follow.

Ichiro Watch:

4 hits today.

Streak at 24.
Ichiro finished the month with a .377 average. His .365 career percentage in May is the highest by any player since 1955.
Listening to music from my father's record collection:

Organ Grinder Swing/ The Incredible Jimmy Smith featuring Kenny Burrell and Grady Tate


What is Big Papi batting right now? I was thinking about this when I saw the new Ad for a movie by Eddie Murphy. Have you seen the trailer for IMAGINE THAT? One way of avoiding the making of bad movies is to make cute ones. Cast a sweet looking black kid and make the audience go "Ah" whenever they do wrong on make a mess on the screen. Murphy's new flick has that look and feel of an Obama kid sneaking out of the White House. I can't tell by the trailer what happened to Murphy's wife (in the movie) but he looks likes a single father trying to do good. A black man being responsible movie? You betcha! This is a Nickelodeon movie so it's already post-racial, which means there has to be a nice white woman Eddie has a crush on. Should someone recommend more animation?


The Cairo speech is coming up this Thursday. What will be in it? It will probably touch all the good Islamic points. Emphasis will be on the word peace. It will be interesting to see if Obama will discuss the term jihad. Will he attempt to reclaim this term from radical Muslims? How much attention will he give to Islamic law? Will he tip around Egypt's human right problems?

But let's go behind this story. Who is helping Obama write this speech? How many are Muslims?
Will Obama's speech this week be about ideas or politics? Will he challenge the Islamic world to modernize it's faith? Will he quote Malcolm X in his speech? Will he make reference to the growing number of African Americans who are Muslims? How will Obama's speech be viewed by Muslims who live in the US? Does Obama make the trip to Egypt without Michelle? If Michelle attends, what will she wear? A hijab? She didn't make the trip to Turkey - my take is she won't make the trip to Egypt either. One dress or new hairstyle can be a distraction and the media might just forget Obama's speech.

OK. Next stop Cairo.

Do you really care about Kirstie Alley's weight?

Look for "deep" race discussions around "The Princess and the Frog" which Disney is going to release soon. Oh, boy...and this is animation. Just color my butt purple again. Here we go, here we go...

How come a black princess without a black prince? Tavis will have to do a special on this one. Call a frog if you can't find a public intellectual.

I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished.

- President Obama

Why does Obama have to explain his trip to New York?
So General Motors is going bankrupt. Do you sit home and watch cable?
The Republican National Committee has nothing to do but complain. These guys might never get back in power if they continue to whine.
This is what's on the front page of The New York Times this morning:

Politics of Identity
In the heat of his primary fight, Barack Obama bemoaned "identity politics" in America. Many thought that his inauguration as the first black president would usher in a post racial age. But with his pick of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for an opening on the Supreme Court, identity politics is back with a vengeance. By Peter Baker, Page 20.

So, do I quickly turn to page 20? No, because I'm not buying this crap. Identity politics? What's that? Our nation was founded on identity politics. Geez - who kept the Native Americans, blacks and women out of power? Did we really believe Obama's election would usher in a post racial age? Who started talking about this? I didn't see it on the ballot when I voted in November. The silly media is responsible for all the post racial nonsense. Oh, and notice how identity politics is back with a vengeance. Are we talking serial killer here? This is the word that's suppose to make you turn to page 20. Soon Sonia Sotomayor will be cast as a crazy Latina momma. Look for a profile of several Latina women being interviewed in their kitchens and talking about recipes and their grandmothers. Oh, this is all so predictable. I need to turn against the media with a vengeance.
An old E-Note from May 5th:

Let's see who gets their team to the Finals?
Dwight Howard? Billups?

- posted by Ethelbert Miller @ 3:59 PM

Well it was Dwight Howard. As you can see I didn't take LeBron James.
Did you notice how quickly we were looking forward to LeBron against Kobe in the NBA Finals?
It was nothing but corporate marketing. Big investment in James. Now they will have to switch to Howard - a big man. Let's see if they use Shaq to introduce Howard during the finals. With the Orlando Magic back in the news we might even see Little Penny again. What will happen to James? Unless he wins a title he might go the way of Grant Hill. A great player - but no rings.

Let's monitor how many Shaq commercials run during the NBA finals. We should also see a quick James commercial talking about next year. That's like Clinton saying she has more popular votes.
Closing in on E-Note 10,000.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ichiro Watch:

A hit tonight.

23 games.
This equals the second-longest streak of his career. 2 games shy of the Seattle Mariners franchise record he set in 2007.
PETRARCH (1304-1374), The Secretum

I act like a man stretched out on a very hard bed who often seeks relief by changing positions although he never finds a good one. Tired of the place I live in, I go to another that is no better, although its newness makes me find it better (for a while). But then I leave in order to search elsewhere.

Much of the nonsense about race takes place in the media. It's either race or sex. With the decline in revenue, many media outlets need to put a spin on stories so that they sell. No one cares about the impact these stories have on our community or nation. We are also seeing power shifts among ethnic groups. The death of white privilege is not going to disappear without casualties. For years race conversations were defined by white people. That is changing. People of color are leading the debates and discussions. They are bringing with them a new language and vocabulary. A new style. Yes, we need the wisdom of Latina women. I'm tired of seeing Latina women cleaning law offices. It's time for them to write the laws too.

We are going to lose the race about race if we cling to the past. We fool ourselves by saying we are going to have an honest discussion about race. How would this take place? Who are the leading scholars on race? I know several people I would never invite to a race gathering. You know which talking heads I'm talking about. These folks will just come and talk for an honorarium.

An honest race talk should take place in the street, in prisons and poor neighborhoods. Here is where the small fires must not spread. What we might discover is that everyone has a prejudice but can be taught to prevent racism in our society. We need to acknowledge and celebrate our differences. Race is a good thing. We just don't talk about it that way.
CHARLES M. BLOW's OP-ED, Saturday, May 30, 2009, The New York Times

Rogues, Robes and Racists.

Someone pinch me, I must be dreaming. Some of the same Republicans who have wielded the hot blade of racial divisiveness for years, are now calling Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court nominee, a racist. Oh, the hypocrisy!

The same Newt Gingrich who once said that bilingual education was like teaching " the language of living in a ghetto" tweeted that Sotomayor is a "Latina woman racist." The same Rush Limbaugh who once told a black caller to "take that bone out of your nose and call me back" called Sotomayor a "reverse racist." The same Tom Tancredo, a former congressman, who once called Miami, which has a mostly Hispanic population, "a third world country" said that Sotomayor "appears to be a racist." This is rich.
I didn't know this was going on in Puerto Rico. Did you?

On Friday, Puerto Rico eliminated the jobs of 8,000 government workers. Gov. Luis Fortuno has said he needs to cut 30,000 public-sector jobs. These layoff come while the island is facing an unemployment rate of nearly 15%.
We tend to think of the Depression as a time when families pulled together to survive huge job losses. The divorce rate, which had been rising slowly since the Civil War, suddenly dropped in 1930, the year after the Depression began. By 1932, when nearly one-quarter of the work force was unemployed, it had declined by around 25 percent from 1929. But this does not mean that people were suddenly happier with their marriages. Rather, with incomes plummeting and insecure jobs, unhappy couples often couldn't afford to divorce. They feared that neither spouse would be able to manage alone. Today, given the job losses of the past year, fewer unhappy couples will risk starting separate households. Furthermore, the housing market meltdown will make it more difficult for them to finance their separations by selling their homes.

- Andrew J. Cherlin, The New York Times, May 29, 2009
Quote of the Day:

According to the conservative groups that will drive right-wing reaction to the Sotomayor choice, she is a "liberal activist." Even if that were true, it is fair to ask why Mr. Obama should not exercise the same prerogative that allowed George W. Bush to choose justices who reflected his perspective.

- Joe Conason, The New York Observer

In the mail yesterday came a copy of Larry Tye's SATCHEL: THE LIFE AND TIME OF AN AMERICAN LEGEND. I immediately started reading about this great baseball player. I think I might have seen him pitch in the early 1960s. Having written a memoir that uses baseball as a metaphor, I was struck by something Tye mentions in his preface. Tye writes:

The mystery over Satchel's age mattered because age matters in baseball. It is a way to compare players, and to measure a player's current season against his past performance.

The above statement reinforces my understanding of how one deals with being in the 5th Inning of life. One looks at the aging that takes place during the playing of the game. How many outs do I have left?

Ichiro Watch:
2 hits last night.
Streak at 22 games.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Gabriel Garcia Marquez/ A Life by Gerald Martin.
642 pages.
Knopf. $37.50

Charles McGrath has written a very good article about the Kindle 2. See The New York Times, today - Section C. He's honest about the things folks need to know. Poetry is awful to read on its screen. The cartoons from The New Yorker are small and gray. Everything one's reads looks gray and much the same on the Kindle 2. Maybe I'll wait until the Kindle 6 is out.


Good to see Gil Scott Heron returning to play at Blues Alley (1073 Wisconsin Avenue, NW), June 11-14, 2009. For information call: 202 337-4141.

Will this team overlook Stephen Curry in the draft?
The guy is my pick at # 5.

Quote for the upcoming election year: A HEAD START?

In just the past few months, Mr. Fenty has immaturely refused to share baseball tickets with D.C. Council members; tried to hide details about an ill-advised trip to Dubai paid for by the government of the United Arab Emirages; selected a family friend of dubious qualifications to head an important government agency; fired his pars and recreation director with nary an explanation; and shed his security detail to move about unencumbered and, presumably, unnoticed. Mr. Fenty's dubious judgement has only emboldened some council members, who are all too ready to pounce on the mayor's mostly worthwhile agenda for political gains.

These mini-scandals raise the question of whether Mr. Fenty's rapid political rise and personal popularity have gone to his head.
- The Washington Post, Editorial Page, May 29, 2009.
Reclaiming the language and thinking free:

What's wrong with having a judicial activist? Why is this a bad term? Who is doing the defining?
Who is the equivalent to Russ Limbaugh on the Left? Really no one. Why is our nation afraid of the Left but not the Right?

Our thoughts and opinions are not really our own. Who are you quoting right now and why?

Oh, and what's with everyone "packaging" their roots. Should I start having people introduce me as a poor boy of West Indian descent - who lived in the housing projects of the South Bronx?
When did I first learn I was black? Did the C in ABC stand for Colored?


The end of the month is coming around, which means Sabor Sunday is just 'round the corner.

So come on through to Sabor Café and join us for an afternoon of music, poetry and art in a place that's family friendly and where the food is great.


music • art • poetry • food
Poetry: Ernesto Mercer & Samuel Miranda
Art: Ayo Ngozi & Chinedu Felix Osuchukwu
MUSICPepe Gonzalez - Bass • Mark Merella - Percussion & Friends


Sabor Catering & Cafe6209 Georgia Avenue NW • Washington, DC 20011(202) 829-3322 •

Hosted by Sabor Catering & Cafe and Tres Raices Arts CollectiveTres Raices Arts Collective • tres.raices.arts@gmail.com • 202-903-4611

In the old days, I hosted a television show in Washington D.C. Do you remember Humanities Profiled? Here is a list of the programs that were recorded. Contact the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C. for more information.

Eclectique Summers start in May

Listening to music from my father's record collection:

Don Byas - Les Plus Grands Slows de Don Byas.
Friday and June coming up. I'm a warm weather bird. Too much rain for me to swim in right now. A wet wing is like a used condom. I need to return my library books. Nothing but a clean nest before I fly.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

PRESIDENT OBAMA AND FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA will preside over the 9th National Book Festival.

The date is September 26th. The event is free and open to the public.

This was a wonderful event started by Laura Bush. I was honored at the first and third book festivals.
Rain Dance

When it rained it reminded him
of how much he wanted to dance
inside her. He wanted to slip and slide
and have her undress in the middle
of streets. Why did God make the sky
a bed and place it beyond the reach of lovers?

- E. Ethelbert Miller


So what's with this NATIONWIDE Tavis Smiley tour?? June 6th at the Washington Convention Center. Doors open at 9AM.

Can someone explain why the doors are opening? What is this event about? Tavis or the Tour?
Oh, and the highlights (see City Paper Ad this week on page 9) include the following:

- Meet & Greet Tavis
- Career Opportunities
- Wealth building strategies

The wealth building strategies must be just for Tavis. What is a person going to learn from attending this NATIONWIDE event? Might one attend for the complimentary lunch? Maybe Tavis needs to study Father Divine or Daddy Grace. Give me a free meal and you can talk black to me all day. Pass the Sweet T?
Mohammed Rasim Kasim (we met a few months ago) sent me a copy of BAGHDAD THE HERITAGE. This is a very nice photo book that captures the traditions of this historical city. It's proof that a society has not been completely destroyed. People survive and continue to give gifts to the world. Kasim has produced a book with pictures worth more than words. Here is a link to the Tawasin Cultural Society in Iraq:
They are the publishers of the book.

Neither Rising Nor Falling by Jeremy Voigt.

Voigt was one of my students during those old Bennington days.

Good poet. Wonderful person...
I had a morning meeting with Farzin Illich. Here is a link to his site:

We will probably do a few things together in the fall.

I keep thinking about the Email I received from a friend yesterday. Here is an excerpt:

"... I ventured on the Metro North to visit my mom's grave at Mount Hope Cemetery. I found myself breathless when, as we sauntered in the very warm sun to mom's grave site on the far end of the cemetery, I gazed to my left and read a headstone with E. Ethelbert Miller engraved on it. After reading the dates I calmed down. The kids and I reminisced about you and other DC friends and places. Mia left a single flower. "

So who is in the grave? Where is the birth certificate?
Oh, Oh, I see...
Yes, this is all a dream. I'm really not here and you're not reading this.

On my desk a copy of Michael Harper's USE TROUBLE.
I borrowed it from the Takoma Park Library (416 Cedar St, NW). Have you been to this wonderful little library since the remodeling? Beautiful. A nice place to visit during the summer.
E- Thought:
I wonder what Michon is doing? Maybe I should invent something call Twitter.

Ichiro Watch:
3 hits last night.
21 game hit streak.
The media won't follow this story unless it reaches 40 games.
Small news:
Checkout the article about teenagers "hugging" on the front page of The New York Times today.
Whew. Is this news? So much silly stuff to read these days. Do you gain or lose readers with a hug story?
Touch me back.
Tricycle's Daily Dharma

If it's not one thing, it's another

It is sometimes difficult to see and understand that changing conditions are not mistakes. They feel that way because we sometimes think that if we were only smart enough or careful enough, we could avoid all unpleasantness—that we wouldn’t fall ill or have misfortune. In fact, we usually haven’t done anything wrong. It’s just what happens. The Buddha talked of the eight great vicissitudes of life: pleasure and pain, gain and loss, praise and blame, and fame and disrepute. These changes happen to everyone. It’s just what happens. One of the great laws of the Dharma that I find myself often rediscovering is, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”

–Joseph Goldstein, from One Dharma (HarperSanFrancisco)

Last night my son and I watched the NBA game (Lakers/Nuggets) on my daughter's computer.
Funny, how quickly what we do changes from what we've done. Who will need a television in the future? I have to keep fighting the turtle syndrome. Keep my head outside the shell. Sniff. Sniff.
What does change smell like? What will it bring? Still, I'm a turtle moving fast in my own mind. Help me McLuhan. Massage me with the new medium.
ON THE MARGIN this morning at 10AM.
I will be hosting Jo Reed's radio program on WPFW.
My guest will be Lori Tsang. Tune In or Just Listen Out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


O.J. Simpson has appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court to overturn his convictions for armed robbery and kidnapping during a Las Vegas hotel room confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers.
Who is listening to this guy?
Why would he want people to fail? Why would he want the president of the US to fail?
Why would he want a person nominated to the Supreme Court to fail?
I can see if he was talking about specific policies and offering alternatives, but the guy just wants folks to fail. This is nothing but the embracing of chaos and the making of money. The more outrageous Rush becomes will only mean the death of his influence. The Republican Party needs to find people with ideas before it's too late.
Today I will visit Roosevelt High School. Students there have been reading my memoir - THE 5TH INNING. My visit is being coordinated by the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.


Chinese investors will be acquiring 15% of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The group includes JianHua Huang a major businessman. The NBA has been looking at the China market the last few years.

LeBron James has already made four trips there. The market is bigger than Yao. No way James will leave Cleveland with these new investors in place. The Knicks would have to promise him Times Square with the cars.
It fascinating to watch how AOL no longer tries to attract users with serious news. It's all tabloid stuff. Celebrity driven and scandal supported. Sex tease and tragedy. Blooper blues. Dumb down and hide. Click on insanity? One person's hurt is another's pleasure. Can you imagine if they conducted polls during slavery? Poor Nat Turner...
Yesterday I received in the mail Tim Mayo's new collection of poems - THE KINGDOM OF POSSIBILITIES. The publisher is Mayapple Press:
On the back cover I wrote:

There is a little Zen in this book. Is Tim Mayo writing with a third hand? We know this poet is one of a kind. In THE KINGDOM OF POSSIBILITIES, he writes with wisdom that comes close to prayer. Mayo's book of literary gems captures the pleasures of the moment.


1 hit last night
20 game hit streak.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pictures of Sister Marie and Ginger G.
Photographer: Shyree Mezick

One can read for hours, days, weeks and not come across fresh ideas. Kevin Kelly's essayThe New Socialism in the latest issue of WIRED is a good read. Don't miss. Share with Socialist friends.
Quote of the Day:

"...when your approval ratings are as low as Mr. Cheney's, you have nothing to lose by saying what you think - and your ratings have nowhere to go but up."

- William McGurn, The Wall Street Journal

[Translators/Interpreters discussion group started in 1998 by a group of translators led by Lily Liu (group’s founder and driving force), meeting every second Thursday of the month @ Borders Bookstore -18 & L]

NEXT MEETING: Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 6:30 (until 8:00 pm) at BORDERS Bookstore, 18th & L Streets, N.W. - Lower Level. (Farragut North Metro Station).

Date: Monday, June 8th
Time: 5 pm to 8 pm
Location: 2121 14th St., NW, just across V Street from the original Busboys and Poets
Menu: “Southern comfort food” – and drink!

Who else is invited? IPS supporters and friends who are – or can be – in the “neighborhood.”

Agenda: Share solidarity and stories with IPS staff, trustees and fellow supporters.
Especially now, we simply couldn’t do it without you -- and we just want to say thank you for making our work possible.
Tricycle's Daily Dharma

Plant Seeds of Compassion

The mind is like a fertile field. If we contaminate it with the poisons of ignorance, desire, anger, jealousy, and pride, we will inevitably produce poisonous crops. Acting carelessly or harmfully toward others, or working for our own benefit at the expense of others, will only create limitation and suffering. Medicinal seeds—wholesome, virtuous acts of kindness, love, and compassion—will produce the fruits of peace and benefit. Actions that are both positive and negative will produce a mixture of happiness and sadness. This is the principle of karma. Karma originates in the mind. Our thoughts give rise to words and actions, and these have consequences. We cannot plant poisonous seeds and expect edible or medicinal fruit. When we begin to see the negative results of our self-centeredness, we understand why we must carefully choose which seeds to plant. Our future is in our own hands.

–Lama Shenpen Drolma, from Change of Heart: The Bodhisattva Peace Training of Chagdud Tulku (Padma)

This Thursday I will be hosting Jo Reed's ON THE MARGIN. My guest will be Lori Tsang. Don't forget to listen: WPFW. 10AM.
It's funny following the media and its attempt to "trap" the Obama Administration into a slip or an issue that might show a sign of weakness. It's also sad watching the Republicans and folks on the Right struggling to find some "tar" that will stick to Obama. Nothing but folklore? Just a few hours ago we were into North Korea and its bomb. Before that it was Iran. Oh, and don't forget the economy and the war in Afghanistan. In a few hours everyone will be "dissecting" the Supreme Court selection. Gosh, I hope the person did their taxes and paid their nanny on time. No need for something silly to torpedo a nomination. So who will it be? A woman? What ethnic group? Where will that person stand on abortion, presidential executive powers, etc. We will bounce the ball around for a few days until maybe Cuba or something else "pimps" itself back into the headlines. Hey - has anyone seen Bo the dog lately?

Ichiro Watch:

4 for 4 yesterday.

He has hit in 19 straight games.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Good to see Colin L. Powell speaking out against the Old Guard in the Republican Party. A few more defeats at the polls and this political party could become extinct. You can't govern from the extreme right or left in America. Folks also are not buying into 1 issues anymore. It's like watching one news hour or purchasing one newspaper. Things don't work that way .
A new generation of Republicans will have to reclaim their Party before it splinters. We also need to keep talk show hosts out of the room. These folks are entertainers and say things only to keep their ratings up. The more controversial the better. They are reckless when it comes to protecting America. Their rhetoric is Taliban in tone. Their way or no way. Whenever I see people angry and yelling slogans - I reach for a surgical mask. They don't really work but I feel protected by the First Amendment.

So Denver is down 2-1 to the Lakers. Both defeats we can place on the "genius" head of Nugget coach George Karl. Is this team named after him? Karl the Nugget? Fool's Gold?
Just learn how to inbound the ball. Don't you practice this? Coach? How many games do you need to get it right? Ariza must think this series is right out of the movie Groundhogs Day.

Orlando is going to be difficult to beat in Orlando. Cleveland might not make it to the finals.
James will have good stats but no ring. I do love the guy...

Tricycle's Daily Dharma

Step out of the Protected Room

Until we turn and face what we’ve spent our whole lives avoiding, what are we really doing with our lives? Practice is not some pretty thing we do just on a meditation cushion. Until we learn to observe ourselves objectively, we will remain looking with increasing honest at all the ways that we’ve held ourselves back in fear, we can also begin to experience the freedom of stepping outside our protected room and into the genuine life that awaits us.

–Ezra Bayda, from Being Zen: Bringing Meditation to Life.

I will be on WPFW this evening with Dwayne Betts. Abdul Ali will be interviewing us about our poetry and memoirs at 7PM.

Yesterday I finished reading BALLISTICS by Billy Collins. Here are the poems I enjoyed reading:

The First Night
The Idea of Natural History at Key West
The Little Piggy Went to Market

I read Collins for his humor and wit. I like how he cleverly crafts a poem out of the ordinary or even the language itself. Collins writes like a locksmith. After reading some of his poems you're amazed at what was behind the door. He also seems to find great epigraphs, like this one by Juan Ramon Jimenez that comes before the poem "The First Night."

The worst thing about death must be the first night.

I went down to The Studio Theatre last night. They are presenting August Wilson's RADIO GOLF. Wilson continues to be my favorite writer. In my home office I keep a picture of him, novelist Charles Johnson and myself. The photograph was taken in Seattle. Wilson had come to a poetry reading I was giving. Afterwards, we went out for a night of long conversations...

RADIO GOLF is the play Wilson completed in 2005, just a few months before his death. It's the last play in his legacy of ten plays about the African American experience. They are all set in Pittsburgh. This last play is very timely. It's about gentrification and a young black man running for mayor. How ironic to see Mayor Fenty's parents in the front row. Before the play begin I chatted with the mayor's father. I still cherish the beautiful letter he wrote me after he read my memoir FATHERING WORDS. I told him there was a sequel - THE 5TH INNING, and I would present him with a copy later this week.

In the play RADIO GOLF is my favorite actor/friend Fred Strother. He plays the "Elder" Joseph Barlow. This is Strother's play. When he is on stage he brings the electricity the same way those Buffalo Bill offensive lineman once blocked for OJ (the juice). Wilson's language is built for an actor like Strother. Here is Wilson at his creative best - Old Joe's words near the beginning of RADIO GOLF:

America is a giant slot machine. You walk up and put in your coin and it spits it back out. You look at your coin. You think maybe it's a Canadian quarter. It's the only coin you got. If this coin ain't no good then you out of luck. You look at it and sure enough it's an American quarter. But it don't spend for you. It spend for everybody else but it don't spend for you. The machine spits it right back out. Is the problem with the quarter or with the machine?

Sunday, May 24, 2009


The writer Toure and his wife Rita Nakouzi are profiled in The New York Times today.


1. Might we see a Obama/Clinton ticket emerge after the first four years? This would place Clinton in a strong position to be president one day. Biden might excuse himself for health or age reasons or the typical statement crafted about spending more time with one's family.

2. All the fuss over Guantanamo is laughable. People talk tough about criminals but never want prisoners and prisons in their communities. Unless of course we start talking about the building of prisons and the economic benefits. How many small towns are hurting in America?

I remember going out to Youngstown, Ohio a few years ago. That city saw jobs run like stockings on a prostitute. They had to OK the building of a prison just for the jobs it created. Remember the prison industry complaints? Well, this might be the way to sell the public on Guantanamo. Talk about the building of new max-facilities in areas that have the economic blues. This puts a spin on the issue where economics overshadow human rights concerns. It's no different from getting a bill through Congress.
BORDERS breaks the budget. Yesterday I purchased the following books:

Ballistics by Billy Collins
Unpacking the Boxes by Donald Hall. This memoir is dedicated to the memory of Liam Rector. I had to buy it.

I also put a CD in the bag. India Arie/Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics.

Just before the Lakers/Nugget game, my son invited me along for a ride to Borders in Silver Spring. He wanted to check on some music; someone gave him a gift card for graduation. I decided to take a look at books. OK - so that was not in my weekly budget plan - but...

On the way into the Borders I ran into Betty. Beloved Betty. Sweet Beautiful Betty. Here was the woman my cousin Robert and I fell in love with back in elementary school - yes P.S. 39 in the South Bronx. The same school that educated the general - Colin Powell. Betty for Robert and I became the standard of beauty and all a person wanted in a girlfriend. Betty in elementary school. Betty at Columbus High School. Betty at Howard. There is no other person in the DC area that I share so much cultural DNA with. Throughout all these years this woman looks the same - so beautiful and funny. So cerebral comical. Her eyes filled with that wisdom associated with the old country. How funny to run into her with my son. She looked at him with amazement and in typical Betty fashion -says to him - "you are so beautiful." My son laughs and I can see him thinking - might this woman have been my mother in another life? We say good-bye to Betty- walk into Borders. My son walks over to the music section. I keep walking until I get to the poetry section. Of course Borders never has any of my books on their shelves. What else is new? Many years ago Betty was responsible for the first words I placed on paper. I didn't even know what a poem was. Maybe running into her again was just a reminder of how people do bless one's life.

One day left to catch the second part of the E.Ethelbert Miller Interview with Global Rhythms.
The show for Monday, May 18 will be overwritten by the show for Monday, May 25 at 4:am this Monday morning.
Here's how to access the show online ...
Online ~ Anytime at ... then look just below "Listen Again" and then click ... [(m 3u) for Windows Media Player... or ...(pls) for ITunes]

It looks like President Obama is going to select former astronaut Charles Bolden Jr to run NASA. He would be the first African American to run the agency. Bolden is a four-time shuttle astronaut.
Quote of the Day:

I think what Rush does as an entertainer diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without.

- former secretary of state Colin L. Powell
A man comes to the end of love...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pay-by-cellphone meters are coming. Here is how they will work:

Driver arrives at a parking space.
He/she would call the phone number on the meter and punch in the meter number, the amount it costs to park and a credit card number.

If time is running out on the meter, users of the service would receive a text message reminder. If they return before time has expired, they could get a partial refund.
Small News:

Major change in Kuwait? This year, 19 women were among the 280 candidates for 50 seats in Kuwait's parliament.

From my father's record collection:

This morning I'm listening to QUINCY JONES: GULA MATARI.

Remember that "Bridge Over Troubled Water" arrangement?

The book deal?
Is former Vice President Dick Cheney doing all this talking just to get a sweet book deal? No kiss - just tell?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Movies and Michael Moore:

Moore has a new film coming out in October 2009. It will be a comical look at the worldwide recession.

No Juice? A-Rod is hitting .171 with the New York Yankees.

How good is Joe Mauer on the Twins? Close to Ichiro in hitting?

If the Washington Wizards play better next season, look for Assistant Coach Sam Cassell to be a key reason. Sam is the type of guy who wins wherever he goes.
He has the making of a head coach one day.
When I was in Annapolis this week, I ate at Cantlers. This place has some great seafood.
Address is:
458 Forest Beach Road
Annapolis, MD.
MONK the play by Laurence Holder
The Life and Times of Jazz great Thelonious Monk
at Blair Mansion
Sunday, May 24th, 31st. 2PM
7711 Eastern Avenue
Silver Spring, MD

I must be missing something. Here are Cheney and Obama talking about terrorism and Guantanamo, while 4 guys are planning to detonate bombs in the Jewish neighborhood of Riverdale, New York. The guys are four ex-convicts. It's important to read the profile of these men. They might call themselves Muslims but all they might be doing is not eating pork. Prison conversion to Islam needs to be studied. The larger issue is how black people embrace the Islamic faith and mix a little Monk and blues into it. Islam in West Africa has this type of flavor but when you see African Americans they bring a stronger brew. Many years ago we thought we were Moors. Introduce Master Fard and some of us will buy silk no matter what the price. By the time Malcolm's brother visits him in jail - even Duke Ellington couldn't keep together all the different ways black people were practicing Islam. Too often we become a race of suckers when we have a little bit of knowledge or if someone speaks Arabic to us. We are impressed with robes and outfits the same way Garvey wore a hat and went looking for a parade. At the same time some of the most beautiful black men are men who have converted to Islam while in prison. The faith has turned their lives around. They are peaceful individuals and are some of the best ambassadors for Islam.

2009 and counting.Within the black community there will be a struggle between faiths - sooner or later.4 guys wanting to attack synagogues today can be 4 guys tomorrow who want to attack churches. The bigger question is - what are people praying for( and to) in prison? One need not look to Guantanamo for the dangerous ones. Inside US jails men are being turned into guppies that eat their young. Soon America might have to protect itself from itself. Now might be the time to teach the Quran with a study guide. No need for jihads unless the struggle is with improving the human spirit. Our failure to see what's coming is a free ticket to the Terrordome wherever it might be located or built.
In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground.
- Dick Cheney


While in prison, I chose to believe more in the world of knowledge and literature than in the world of violence and insanity that surrounded me.

- Reginald Dwayne Betts, Class of 2009, speaker at the University of Maryland Commencement.

Betts is also the author of the forthcoming memoir, A QUESTION OF FREEDOM.

PL Work:

I thought I would have a free weekend but came home to several packets of Poet Lore submissions. Oh, well...
DC History Teaching Resources Curriculum Workshop:

Yesterday I spoke at the Historical Society of Washington. In my presentation to area teachers I raised several questions (points) for consideration. They included the following:

- Are we teaching more than history when we talk about history?
- How do we instruct our young people to become good citizens?
- What values should they develop as the develop a knowledge of historical facts?
- Are we assisting our children in learning how to define themselves? How do they discover their identity in relationship to neighborhood, city and country?
-How do we teach our children to see Washington, D.C. as home as not simply history?
- Are we teaching our young people about the "motion" of history?
- What are the major themes of D.C. history? What metaphor might we use to explain it?
One last program for the week - tonight (7PM) I will be at the Writer's Center in Bethesda. I will be talking about Operation Homecoming. That's the NEA/US Military literary project. Back in 2004 I conducted a creative writing workshop at a US base in Italy. I will be talking about that experience.
So my therapist (from the 1980s) hears me talking on the radio about my new book. She sends me a text that reads - we need to talk. LOL. Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio...
Ginger G sent me her photo yesterday. It was taken by the great photographer Chester Higgins, Jr. It would make a great cover for a magazine. Oh, Oprah - please consider. Seldom has eyes seen such beauty. A picture of note.

So there I was last night sitting in one of those rocking chairs in Eatonville (the new restaurant on 14th Street). Sweet Tea and friends keeping me company. I felt a little like Satchel Paige afraid to look over at Busboys and Poets and see many of those young voices gaining on me. It has to be an age thing. I feel better over at Eatonville. Is it the absence of laptops and the Spoken Word crowd? Is it the space between me and the political folks who gather in the Langston Room? I sat in Eatonville until about 10 PM - very late for me on a Thursday. But hey - last weekend my children graduated from college and law school. I deserve more Sweet Tea in life. Don't we all? So look for me sitting in one of those rocking chairs - gumbo and all. Maybe I might stay around after the 5th Inning. Paige thought he could pitch forever...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vocabulary Building time again. Our word for today is civilians.
Why do they always seem to get in the way of wars?
Civilians always seem to be killed by governments. Militants tend to hide behind civilians. Civilians are often women and children. Men are just listed as dead and given a number.
Hundreds Killed; Thousands at Risk in Niger Delta
Civil Society Groups call for Immediate Ceasefire

More information contact:
Joel Bisina: 571-213-4310;
Daphne Wysham: 202-510-3541;
Laura Livoti, Justice in Nigeria Now: 415-846-5797;

May 21, 2009, Washington, DC: On the eighth day of full-scale military assault in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, civil society groups around the United States are urging lawmakers and the Obama Administration to intervene and bring a halt to the violence and allowing humanitarian supplies to be brought into the region. The military operation is being undertaken in the guise of rooting out militants. However, a number of villages including Opuye, Okerenkoro, Kurutie and Oporoza, are reported burned to the ground and many innocent civilians are reported among those killed in military operations in the Gbaramatu region of Delta State, over the past 8 days. Journalists and humanitarian aid continue to be barred from entering the area by the military. In addition, first-hand reports are emerging from the Delta that Ijaw men have been targeted for arrest in the Warri waterfront; the waterfront is the entry point from Gbaramatu to the safety of the urban area of Warri.

“The continuous raids by the Nigerian military on villages and communities populated by innocent civilians does not justify their claim that they are trying to purge the region of so-called militants,” said Joel Bisina, conflict management and community development expert on the Niger Delta. First-hand reports suggest the military is burning entire villages and looting them.

Oil companies have made record profits in recent years. Yet the oil-rich Niger Delta remains impoverished, with no schools, no health facilities, or basic infrastructure. Most food in the region is imported due to the decades of contamination of the water and soil by oil and gas companies operating in the region. Thus, the military blockade ultimately means starvation for thousands of people.

“We need to ensure not only humanitarian access to the region, but full and free access by the media to ensure accurate reporting of the situation,” said Joel Bisina.

“Due to the media blockout, Americans may not realize that a rise in the price of gas at the pump is related to bloodshed in the Niger Delta,” said Daphne Wysham, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. “As one of the largest consumers of Nigerian crude, the United States government can not stand idly by and watch innocent civilians being killed, starved and maimed.”

“We are calling for an immediate ceasefire, and monitored independent third-party negotiations to seek a permanent solution to the inequities that are the root cause of the problems in the Niger Delta.,” said Laura Livoti, founder of Justice in Nigeria Now.

Dear E Ethelbert Miller,

My name is Pauline and I’m writing to you from Aesthetica Magazine, a UK-based international arts and culture publication. By way of introduction, I wanted to give you information about our Annual Creative Works Competition, which as a writer; I thought you might find interesting.

The winners and finalists from last year went on to secure further exhibitions, commissions and publications. The winners and finalists were published in the Aesthetica Annual, which is available nationwide through Borders Stores in the UK and from our online shop for our international audience.

In 2008’s competition, the overall artwork winner was from California. Our finalists are a diverse group, originating from every corner of the globe including the Netherlands, Australia, Poland, France, China, Sweden and Romania – among many others

Please find details below of the competition. I hope that you find it of interest or perhaps you might know someone who would be interested? Click on the icon, and it will take you to the information page on our website. To download a poster for display in your local area, arts centre or gallery, please click here.

Thanks and kind regards


A very important quote:

Ever since Vietnam the prevailing ideology of grass-roots Democratic activists has been hostile to American military actions and skeptical of the military itself.

- David S. Broder, The Washington Post, May 21, 2009

This is why we often have problems with foreign policy positions. We operate as if our own military is always the bad guy. What happens when one has to use military force to oppose what can only be defined as evil? When is it necessary to take preemptive strikes? Progressives have to find answers to these questions. There are also times when one has to curtail the rights of bad guys. Sometimes even a pacifist needs a gun. Arm yrself or harm yrself.

All this brings me back to something that always irks me. I have a serious problem with black people who refuse to stand when the National Anthem is being played. What is that about?? In 2009 with a black president - what are we protesting? Get your ass up! I'm skeptical of folks who want to act like militants but continue to play the role of fools. Geez - show me the maturity and maybe I'll show you the love. Claim the ground beneath your feet as your own. The "black" nation unfortunately continues to sit on stoops and watch airplanes takeoff.
Travel Notes:
I will be going back to Norway in August. This time to the city of Sogndal.
Walkin' the Obit and waitin' for death to bark.
I'm livin' life on a leash.
- E. Ethelbert Miller
A renegade
behind the mask. And even
the mask, a renegade

- LeRoi Jones
Today I will be speaking at The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
They are hosting a DC History Teaching Resources Curriculum Workshop. My topic is "Using Poetry to Teach Social and Political Issues."

Morning music from my father's record collection:

WE GET REQUESTS by The Oscar Peterson Trio.
Peterson on piano.
Ray Brown on bass.
Ed Thigpen on drums.

Quote of the Day:

Bloggers are increasingly getting sued or threatened with legal action for everything from defamation to invasion of privacy to copyright infringement. In 2007 - the most recent data available - 106 civil lawsuits against bloggers and others in social networks and online forums were tallied by the Citizen Media Law Project at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, up from just 12 in 2003. There have been about $17.4 million in trial awards against bloggers to date, according to the Media Law Resource Center in New York, a nonprofit clearinghouse that tracks free-speech cases.

The Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2009.
Small news: Increase in fighting by the Nigerian army trying to destroy militant camps in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Will this operation affect the price of oil in the US?
Suggested reading:

"The Climate-Industrial Complex" by Bjorn Lomborg in The Wall Street Journal today.

Lomborg's article is interesting. Please note that he is the author of COOL IT: THE SKEPTICAL ENVIRONMENTALIST'S GUIDE TO GLOBAL WARMING that was published in 2007 by Knopf.
Tricycle's Daily Dharma

The Value of the Present Moment

Recognizing that past turmoil and future rhapsodies are projections of our mind prevents us from getting stuck in them. Just as the face in the mirror is not a real face, the objects of our memories and daydreams are likewise unreal. They are not happening now; they are simply mental images flickering in the mind.

Reflecting on the value of our precious human life also minimizes our habit of ruminating. Our wondrous potential becomes clear, and the rarity and value of the present opportunity shines forth. Who wants to ruminate about the past and future when we can do so much good and progress spiritually in the present.

–Thubten Chodron, from Taming the Mind (Snow Lion)
The very nature of marriage means saying yes before you know what it will cost.
- Kathleen Norris

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


By now, the internecine wars of eastern Congo have acquired a haunting familiarity: rebels plunder the country's natural riches, and the looting feeds a cycle of impoverishment, corruption and violence. But in Vitshumbi, more-elemental changes have been complicating the pattern. The hippopotamuses started falling first. Then the elephants. And now the fish are disappearing, too. An ecosystem seem to be unraveling.

-Delphine Schrank, The Atlantic, June 2009
Steven Soderbergh:

We continually have these fantasies that technology will solve whatever societal problem we have that every generation buys into. I just wish it was being used to solve the really big problems. You wonder if the ability of all the people in the Sudan to Twitter would finally tip the world into taking some significant action to stop genocide, then you'd think it was a good use of technology. If the ability to be in constant communication and the ability to connect to anybody anywhere in the world hasn't resulted in the solving of a problem like that, than what is it for?

This what you should be listening to:

Don't your ears feel better?

Invitation to a meeting co-sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center’s International Security Studies and Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies

Topic: Book discussion -- The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo's First 100 Days

Speaker: Karen Greenberg, Executive Director of the Center on Law and Security, New York University School of Law

“Legal scholar Greenberg covers the period from December 2001 through March 2002, when Camp X-Ray opened to house suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives captured in Afghanistan…. Greenberg's account is not an exposé of Guantánamo horrors; instead, she draws a lesson on the banality of goodness-that dutiful adherence to international law, not personal integrity, is the ultimate guarantor of humane policy.” -- Publishers Weekly

Date/Time: Thursday, May 28, 2009, noon to 1:30 p.m.

Location: Woodrow Wilson Center in the Ronald Reagan Building, ("Federal Triangle" stop on Blue/Orange Line), 5th Floor Conference Room

For directions, go to Please bring a photo ID and allow additional time to pass through a security checkpoint. Lunch will be served. Seating is limited.
In the future people will know me by reputation and not by touch.
- E. Ethelbert Miller
The best thing to happen to the Wizards was being awarded the the 5th pick in the NBA lottery.
Now they can't mess up too bad. No one is going to expect much from the 5th guy selected -right? If the Wizards trade the guy for some old/tired veteran - look for the 5th pick to become an All-Star. We live in Bizarro World. Never forget that.


We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.


Iran, North Korea - everyone wants a new bomb. Sooner or later somebody is going to do a first strike - and World War III will start. Tehran and Tel Aviv seem to be located on a fault. How many days are we away from bombs falling on these cities? Like Midnight in New Orleans before Katrina- everything seems normal on Bourbon Street. How long before the levees break and we are facing nuclear war and thinking about the unthinkable?
Small news: The Ethiopian military is back in Somalia.


It seems like just a matter of time before someone decides that the bad prisoners at Guantanamo will have to be sent to the moon. Nobody seems to want the bad guys living next door. In the old days one looked for a penal colony at the end of the world. Well, why not another world? Our space program was going to shift to the establishment of a moon settlement in the near future - right? How often has prison labor been "exploited" in the past? One could quickly start an online movement like Mecca on the Moon. My fear is that hatred and racism often results in things like this. Speak Japanese to me if you don't understand.

Don't look for a Middle East change anytime soon, unless some deals are being made in the back rooms. Netanyahu is a tough cookie. The media just mentions Hamas. We never seem to hear the names of their leaders. It's as if we've given the entire leadership of a people a thug label. Hamas needs a PR makeover. Meanwhile the two state goal needs to be pushed without restrictions and excuses. A halt to the building of Jewish settlements, the lifting of the Israeli embargo, a stop to knocking down Palestinians homes (I've never understood the thoughts behind this - or maybe I do), and big time economic assistance to the area. Oh, and Hamas has to acknowledge Israel's right to exist. This isn't marbles. Suffering and maybe "history" in this region must end. Close the chapter. Heal and grow. Move forward. Please no quoting of scriptures for a week or two. Just view one's neighbor as a distant lover.


Are you a writer who hasn't actually written in some time? Are you looking to re-ignite your creative passions or branch in a new direction? Then this is the workshop series for you. Ethelbert Miller kicked off the series with a workshop on Memoir. Now we continue with workshop #2 led by Smithsonian jazz expert and noted poet Reuben Jackson.

Lyrical City #2Reuben Jackson, author of Fingering the Keys, continues the Lyrical City writing workshop series with a class titled Ghosts...City as Memory. The workshop will take place on Sunday May 24 from 4-6:30pm at Busboys & Poets, 5th & K, in the Cullen Room. The cost is $25 and pre-registration is required.

Additional workshops take place 6/14 (Thomas Sayers Ellis) 7/5 (Toni Asante Lightfoot), 8/23 (Sharan Strange), /9/6 (Holly Bass). For full workshop descriptions and faculty bios see attachment.

About Lyrical CityLyrical City is a six-part writing workshop series facilitated by outstanding writers with a strong DC connection. The workshops focus on the African-American poetry tradition in DC and various cultural aspects of the city. The workshops are open to all. Participation is limited to 12 people. The cost of each workshop is $25. Some partial scholarships are available. You may apply for any workshop in the series, but you may attend no more than two. This series is funded by the DC Arts Commission with public monies and as such we are committed to bringing in a wide spectrum of the community. Feel free to forward this message to friends. Registrations are accepted on a rolling basis, so the earlier you apply, the better your chances.
To apply for any of the workshops, please send an email to with:1. your name2. a brief statement (50-150 words) explaining what you hope to get out of the workshop 3. writing sample (one poem or short prose piece)Applicants may attend up to two workshops. If applying for more than one workshop, please list three choices in order of preference.

Accepted applicants will be notified on how to make advance payment.

This workshop is funded in part by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts


Andy Shallal's new restaurant is open and jumpin'. How many people will rediscover their southern roots? Or maybe just a taste for them. Blues people are hungry people. Eatonville is sweet, sharp and looking at being special. This is going to be a hangout for dates, after church Lawd Today folks, and those Zora queens. You know- those sisters whose eyes have been watching God. I saw Dean Richardson from the HU chapel there the other day. I teased him about the place being secular and for folks who loved the blues. He was having none of that - and neither would have Zora Neale Hurston. Eatonville is where we all can gather. 14th and V Street now belongs to Langston (Busboys and Poets) and Zora. Andy Shallal seems to be turning the Alain Locke key and starting a new Renaissance. If you see me eating the gumbo (or those Po Boys) you'll know that I'm just acting like a New Negro in public. Someone should text Ginger G and tell her it's time to leave Harlem. Eatonville is the place. See it and believe. Watch the goober dust...

The Drifting Nomad on 314 Carroll Street, NW is where I've started spending more time. It's in the same location where the old Savory once was - near the Takoma Metro Station. This place makes some good sandwiches. I had a fun morning there (yesterday) talking with my friend James Robinson. He is working on the 2009 Folklife Festival. His project is the GIVING VOICE: THE POWER OF WORDS IN AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE. The Upcoming dates are June 24-June 28 and July 1 - July 5, 2009. For more information visit:

Whenever James and I get together our conversations are filled with laughter and deep thoughts. I shared with him the following paragraph that was in The New York Times:

Shirtless and smirking, LeBron James whipped a looping, two-handed shot from the corner baseline seats - behind the court, at least 25 feet away - and watched it sail, over the backboard and through the net.

I asked James where were our black intellectuals that could do the equivalent?
Can anyone tell me who the point guard is for the black community? Obama put together his own Dream team. DuBois in the old days had a nice squad at the NAACP. Are we suddenly out of our league? Whose ball is it anyway? What's the score? Do we need a new bible - the King James version?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

HAITI 101:

Good to see former president Bill Clinton appointed U.N. special envoy for Haiti. He will try to attract private and government investment and aid for this nation. Might it be possible for him to establish a nice Harlem to Haiti connection? Maybe all those Black people who love Bill will help give support to Haitians. No reason why schools like Howard University can't be mobilized to help too. Money needs to go to improve the infrastructure of this nation. A serious tree planting project should be undertaken. It will be important to move a "lost generation" of Haitians out of gangs and into positive productive activities. Focus on housing, roads , energy and education is on my short list. Bill should do a commercial with Wyclef Jean and Edwidge Danticat. Help Haiti.
I'm feeling so Dessalines right now.
I spent the day in Annapolis teaching a memoir workshop at a home for seniors. It was a workshop run by the writer Janice Gary. I think we met several years ago when I was giving a talk at Goucher. The workshop went well; a number of good writers in the group. They shared things they had read. I provided them with some useful tips on how to construct a memoir. I sold several copies of THE 5TH INNING.