Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Can You Say Pat's In Spanish?

I don't like cheesesteaks. Don't like the consistency of the meat, and the Cheese Whiz they ladle on the meat looks just plain nasty.

But if I did like cheesesteaks, I wouldn't buy one at Geno's .

As reported today by my colleague, Gaiutra Bahadur , Joseph Vento, who owns Geno's, said he would refuse to serve customers who couldn't say "cheese" in English. "Why should I have to bend?" he asks. I have a business to run."

Well, Mr. Vento, I would argue it makes good business sense to serve your Spanish-speaking customers since a majority of them live in your neighborhood. And while it is your right, as a businessman, to refuse the right to serve anyone, it's quite another thing to parade around town with "Speak English" signs in your truck and admonishing business owners for hiring illegal immigrants, blaring it over a p.a. system. That's straddling the line between free speech and hate speech.

So, for those of you who crave a 'steak and happen to be in South Philly, do yourself a favor. Skip Geno's and patronize Pat's King of Steaks, which is located directly across the street at Ninth and Passyunk.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Oprah's Bridge to Now

Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball which aired the other night brought tears to more eyes than mine (see my May 24 column). Oprah honored 25 legends in the arts, entertainment and activism with a three day extravaganza, thanking them for opening the door of opportunity and allowing her to soar through.

The legends were equally appreciative of Oprah. I was in D.C. recently talking to Dorothy Height, president emeritus of the National Council of Negro Women and she couldn't stop talking about Oprah's spirit. "So many people use what they have for themselves but she brings us all in," the 94-year-old Height said. "She calls us 'a bridge to now, but I think she's the bridge in bringing us all together."

Height was one of the ones to whom Oprah gave spectacular diamond teardrop earrings. The youngins got diamond hoops.

What Oprah did teaches us a thing or two continuing a legacy. And gratitude. It's just common courtesy to say "thank you," to folks who've helped you.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Real McCoy

Philadelphia has always been, and still is, a hotbed for music: Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, John Coltrane, Bud Powell, Patti Labelle, Grover Washington, The Roots, Jill Scott, Musiq, The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Pianist McCoy Tynercomes straight from that vein. The West Philadelphia and keyboard virtuoso, who set a jazz standard as part of the John Coltrane quartet, layed new ground for the six years (1960-66) he was with the tenor saxophonist. The group's classic suite, "A Love Supreme" still reigns supreme.

Tyner returns home tonight to play at a Temple concert in his honor Saturday. On Sunday, organizers will laud him with a "This Is Your Life" kind of tribute.

At 67, Tyner still tours the world with his trio but he still thinks of his days with Coltrane.

He remembers one day Coltrane gave the band members some sheet music; it was "My Favorite Things." "I thought, this is from The Sound of Music. With Julie Andrews. Boy, how are we gonna do this? But John something in mind, and it became one of the signature pieces of the band."

Sure did. Thank you McCoy, for keeping up with 'Trane and keeping it real.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Star Gazing

It appears my May 17 column on the Rosie O'Donnell - Star Jones Reynolds beef elicited a few emails. Some agreed that Star is an over the top attention-grabber with no discernible talent.

But others think that Mrs. Reynolds brings a moral perspective to the show that Meredith ("I don't wear underwear") Vieira and the rest of The View crew lack.

Ajay Jones, with whom I had a interesting email dialogue with today, notes that "We has black women hate entirely too much when it comes to success...any success...So what if Star wants to be fabulous, the white women get away with it every day, with no talent or education (Hello! Paris Hilton???).

Good point, Ajay. But my problem is not with Star's fabulousness, her Payless shoes, or even her husband, the equally fabulous Al. When you write a book about health and don't write about how you got healthy, that's wrong. You cease becoming an author and turn into a product pusher.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A New West

Commentator Tavis Smiley is barnstorming the country with his new book, "A Covenant With Black America," which fell to No. 3 on the New York Times Bestseller's list after holding down the No. 1 spot for the last couple of weeks.

The tour for the book, which lies out a national plan of action for African Americans, has produced a new star pundit. He is Eddie Glaude, 39, a professor of African American and religious studies at Princeton University, who once studied under Cornel West, Princeton professor of religion and intellectual superstar. Now the two are colleagues and co-editors of Glaude's newest volume, "African American Religious Thought: An Anthology."

It was clear, from his appearance with Smiley on the Philadelphia stop of the tour at the New Covenant Church in Mt Airy last week, that Glaude has also picked up West's penchant for dynamic rhetoric.

The civil right struggle, he said, has made his generation's "political aspirations atrophy...People are saying, 'I wish we had Martin,' instead of looking to ourselves...What makes ["The Covenant for Black America"] so powerful is that it begins with a profound trust of everyday people."

That means me. Where'd I put my marching boots?

Monday, May 15, 2006

There He Goes Again

Subtlety is not Bill Cosby's strong suit.

On Sunday, during a commencement speech to the class of 2006 of Spelman University, a historically black institution for women, the comedian challenged 500 graduates to take charge because, "the men, most of them, are in prison."

Maybe the $20 million gift he and wife Camille gave the school in 1987 gives Cosby carte blanche to say what he wants. And certainly dire statistics bear him out -- more black men of college age are in prison than in class.

We get your point, Coz, but c'mon! The sweeping generalizations? What would the graduating class at Morehouse think?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Anybody there? Holla!

Yes, I have finally joined everybody and their cousins in the blogosphere. I will be writing the observations of a progressive, African American female wife mother baby boomer sports nut. In fact, I am watching the Suns-Clippers as I write this.

I have concluded, since my Sixers didn't make it and the incomparable A.I. is sidelined, that I don't have a favorite team in these NBA playoffs. I have favorite players, though. E. Brand is one. Nash. D. Wade. Big Ben Wallace. That kid who looks like Usher who plays for the Suns -- Barbosa.

My favorite is LeBron. He's so unselfish, but that could be the Cavaliers' downfall against the Pistons. I want to see LeBron truly take over a game, like Kobe. He can.