Friday, December 30, 2005

My 2006 Schedule:

As I looked over what I have to get done in the next year, I realized that I have to do something I really hate doing. I have to create a schedule. The problem is not having enough time to do everything, but I just need to get a bit more disciplined. I have grad school with at least two scripts to write, a book to write, and then a documentary project. I can't "luxuriate" anymore by getting started with my day at 10am. And, I need to get in shape. The belly is getting swelly (as my six year old likes to say) as a result of a ton of travel and bad meals (and king sized snicker bars). So that means 6am wake ups and everyday workouts. The goal is to lose about thirty lbs. between now and 2007. I'll feel better, which means that I will concentrate better. And that means I will write better.

I've been writing a few scenes for my Sloan script. The script, tentatively named LATIMER, is about the African American inventor Lewis Latimer. It's starting well. I will begin work on MONEY SHOT, a name by the way the publisher wants to change, after the New Year's. My first task is to go to the Adult Video News Award in Las Vegas this January. For three days, I will be interviewing every black porn star, business person, etc. in the industry. My plan is to do all of my interviews and research between January-June, and write the book during the summer.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Annie Hall...

As I've stated, I have to work at learning the language of film. I've never been a huge film buff. So I'm watching movies. And one of the movies I'm watching is Annie Hall. A great movie, it is also instructive in one great precept when it comes to scenes. The idea is: Get in late and leave early. Annie Hall does it great and I think I'll watch it over and over to make sure my own scenes are this tight.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa!

Tomorrow, I'm shopping all day, so I wanted to make sure I said Happy Holidays to everyone before I forgot!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Back From Vegas...

Hey y'all,

Just spent three days in Las Vegas to watch Cal wax BYU. A good time was had by all, but the old school Tropacana had no internet access, so I'm just now answering any posts. Check ya later!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Nine Months...

2006 is going to be the Year of Writing for me. I talked to my new editor, Anita Diggs, and my next book has a September deadline. That's nine months, kids. Oh well, JGTSD.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Finalist for Sloan Foundation...

It is official. I'm one of ten screenwriters at UCLA who's a finalist for the Sloan Foundation script contest. So that means a few changes. I have to write this script for my advanced screenwriting class next quarter. So I need to get cracking with my research. The script is due in April and there's a $10,000 prize.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Act One...

So for our advanced screenwriting course in the winter, we have to pitch. For one professor, he wants ten pages of your script instead of the verbal pitch. Fine. So I went over my ten pages with a fine tooth comb and discovered something. I like working on my script in ten page chunks. My Act One needed work because as one of my classmates correctly noted, it was too long. So I started cutting. Anyway, the effects of the flu are starting to wane, and now I can concentrate on working on it. Our classes begin on January 9th, so I have time get my Act One tight.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

This Week...

Well, the Ross family is down for the count with the flu. And it hit us all at once. Where it came from, I have no idea. Maybe it was from the airports or hotels? Anyway, the wife is knocked out, I'm delirious, and my son was so sick that he crawled up into our bed. If you know my son, who is damn near hyper, that tells you something. What else could happen this month? Death, flu, maybe locusts? But for all that, things are looking up.

1. My agent sold my non-fiction version of Money Shot on Monday. Not a lot of money for the advance, but it is a go. Plus, my agent was able to get a nicely sized kicker put into the contract if I reach a very obtainable number of books sold. That was nice. I sort of felt like I was an athlete who had to run for X amount of yards for a bonus! And for the first time in three books, I have a new publishing house and new editor. That's both exciting and scary. The tricky bit will be writing it while in school. But then again, I wrote my first book while working full time. JGTSD* is my mantra.

2. Grades are in for two classes, Hal and Richard: A's in both. I just turned in my final for my film marketing class. I'll find that one out later.

3. Met with the agent from Paradigm and had a GREAT meeting. He was REALLY cool, and I told him I'd send him my script this Spring. Next quarter, we write our full script in our advanced screenwriting course. I'm going to take the script I was writing in Hal's course, the agent liked the idea and even noted that he'd been reminded of my script's main character the day before, and then finish and polish it. My goal in Hal's course was to learn the fundamentals and not try to get cute with my writing before I knew what the hell I was doing. As I've been rewriting, I've gained more confidence that I know where I'm taking my script. But that's just Act I. I have Act II and Act III to write. Before I start writing those, I'm going to re-read Hal's book about those Acts.

4. BTW, we have to pitch our scripts to our perspective professors. That shouldn't be a problem for me since I talk alot, but I need to be precise about what I'm saying, and not rambling. So I've got to practice.

5. I'm still waiting on word for the Sloan, but I'm going to start work on my research anyway. My story is based in the 1920s and I need to do some research on Flushing, Queens and Harlem before starting the script. If I'm going to do a period piece, I want to see a photo of what a particular area looks like. I need to know what was in the neighborhood and what wasn't. I like accuracy.

6. UCLA MFA writer, MK Asante and UCLA MFA producer Ben Haaz (who is a dynamo) and I are working on a documentary proposal for next summer. We just got good news and it had nothing to do with Geico. We were looking at two directors for our project and we've just begun talking to them. One is a heavy hitter with NFL films and the other has won two Academy Awards. Ben and MK know them both and we found out that the NFL guy is interested in our project. Ben is contacting the Oscar winner during the break. It's a great project about sports and race.

Okay, time for Thera-ful and some chicken soup (I made it homemade. Remember, I can burn)

*Just get the shit done

Friday, December 09, 2005


Thanks everyone for your condolenses, both public and private. We had a beautiful memorial service for my father in law, and it was a testiment to his life that folks came from far and wide to attend. We got back this afternoon and it feels good to be back in my own house. After eight days in a Castro Valley Holiday Inn (that was being renovated CONSTANTLY!!), it seems like we haven't been home in weeks.

But December means royalites, and I had a royalties check waiting for me when I got home. That was cool and provides a nice Xmas for all. I'm still waiting on decisions for Money Shot, both fiction and non-fiction versions. Either would be nice.

For UCLA, I missed the last class of the quarter, but the professors were super cool about it. My intro to screenwriting class ended with the professor deciding to give everyone credit. Aces! With my marketing class, Terry decided that we all did so well on our midterms that we'll simply have to answer a few questions for our final. Aces again! And for my 431 with Hal, we got notes back. Each time I get notes about my Act One, it continues to be answers to questions I can't see. I'm not skilled enough to recognize problems in my scripts, at least not yet. I continue to have problems with on the nose dialogue. I think I can work on that. My goal for my 431 script was to learn. Again, this is a form that I'm not familiar with, so I felt it a bit arrogant to think I could start running before walking. So right now, after one quarter, I feel that I'm standing up straight and learning to balance myself. I can walk pretty cool and but still a bit unsure. I'm going to take this winter break to work on the notes for my Act One, plus I'm going to send it to some friends for additional notes. After that, I'll keep rewriting it.

We start our advanced screenwriting course on January 4, and we have to pitch it to our professors. I have a story I'd like to write, so I think I'm going to do something different than what I did this first quarter. But at the end of this year, I want three complete scripts.

Still haven't heard about the Sloan, so if my story has been accepted.

On December 13th, I have a coffee meeting with an agent from Paradigm. As an alum from Loyola High, there are numerous connections with Hollywood, and some have been very gracious about meeting with me. I'm not bringing any writing samples because they aren't ready, but we're just going to talk about what I should do to grow my career in Hollywood. When a script is ready, then I'll schedule a second meeting. As part of a second contact, another Loyola alum who's a CAA agent has asked to see my script when it is ready. I will vet that script FULLY before I send it out.

But for now, it is rest on my oh so sweet couch. Tomorrow, Cal plays Kansas in basketball and then Loyola goes against Esperanza for the CIF Division One Championship. I'll be there watching them win at the Home Depot Center.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bad News...

My father in law passed in his sleep last night, and so we're heading to Oakland. He was truly a great man, and I'll miss him like a best friend.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

re: Hal's Class...

Yesterday, I wanted to test out an alternative opening for my script. I have an opening scene that I'm pretty sure works (1b), but I wanted to see if I made my main character really vulgar, would it work. I think I confused my poor classmates. The idea was to make my main character vulgar, a bit blase about his subject, and a little above the frey. But it didn't go over well. Oh well, that's why you try it out in a workshop. But from that convo, I knew that I had to make his antagonist this vulgar character as a direct contrast to my hero. So those lines will be heard in Act Two. I'm going to send Hal opening 1b to make sure it works. Our first acts are due next week, so I'm not going to chance it. But I'm pretty sure that this first act will work.

What I'm noticing in our workshop is that there are quite a few scripts I don't get, but it seems like most of the other students get. Not that it is bad or good either way, but I'm wondering if each workshop will be like that? We get along pretty well, but I can see that our interests are widely varied.

Anyway, back to writing. I'm going to polish up my first act over the next few days. I want it nice and shiny by Friday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Full Metal Jacket...

I went to see Jarhead this weekend. Hated it. But it made me remember how much I LOVE Full Metal Jacket. Here's what I tell my six year old, which is paraphrased from FMJ.

"Son, all I've ever asked of you is that you obey my orders as you would the word of God."


Sunday, November 20, 2005

New Savoy Magazine Goes on "Hiatus"

Well, it looks like I'll get paid when the moon turns to


New Savoy Magazine Goes on "Hiatus"

November 14, 2005

Underfinancing Halts Black Lifestyle Monthly

The new Chicago-based incarnation of Savoy magazine, which debuted in February, is on "hiatus" and unable to pay its contributors, but plans a Web edition in December, publisher Hermene Hartman told Journal-isms.

"I was underfinanced from the get-go," said Hartman, Publisher of the Chicago weekly N'Digo. "I'm waiting on some dollars to come in." Savoy's last issue was dated June/July.

"I can't pay writers and I can't pay staff. Advertising is wonderful; reader response is wonderful," Hartman said Sunday. The lifestyles publication had an unaudited circulation of 325,000, she said.

Savoy, which aspired to be a "black Vanity Fair," was the flagship publication of Vanguarde Media, whose publications were auctioned in bankruptcy proceedings last year. Others in the Vanguarde stable were Heart & Soul, a health and fitness magazine, and Honey, which described itself as "a fashion and entertainment magazine aimed at stylish urban women."

Hartman bought Savoy for $600,000 from the Jungle Media Group, a small New York publishing house that won the magazine at auction in May 2004 for $375,000 plus the assumption of consumer liabilities. Hartman hired as editor Monroe Anderson, a Chicago-based veteran journalist who had worked at Ebony, Newsweek, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago's WBBM-TV.

Hartman said the publication ran into higher-than-expected postal expenses when it failed to qualify to mail at magazine postal rates. "We missed it by a month. We were out of publication for a full year," she explained. "We were mailing out at full postal rates, and magazine status is half of that."

Hartman's debut issue in February featured Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and his wife, Michelle Obama. It ran 116 pages and carried 14 articles, features and columns. It planned to publish 10 times a year, with combined issues for June/July and December/January, as Target Market News reported then.

Anderson is editing the online edition of Savoy, which will be posted at, Hartman said. Writers who are owed money will be paid when "some dollars come in," and subscriptions will be honored, she said.

Of the other Vanguarde products, Honey was bought at auction in May 2004 by a company headed by Philmore Anderson, a former record company executive who has not yet relaunched the magazine, and Heart & Soul reappeared on Oct. 7. [Added Nov. 17: Anderson said he was still assembling financing for the magazine and "we'll be publishing in '06."]

The health and fitness publication had been purchased at auction by Baltimore-based Twenty-First Century Group. Publisher Edwin V. Avent told Journal-isms Sunday that "we had similar issues" as Savoy with its postal costs, but "you have to have enough capital to deal with it. It's something you have to budget."

The next Heart & Soul issue is scheduled for February/March, and after that it will publish every other month, Avent said. As reported last month, Yanick Rice Lamb has returned to the publication as editorial director.

Posting of material below was delayed until Nov. 16:

Savoy...Still No Pay...

Ah, it's been months after I was supposed to be paid by Savoy magazine, and still nothing. About two months ago, I began calling the editor, the one Hermene Hartman, who also publishes a weekly Chicago rag called N'digo. Now, my dealings with Ms. Hartman have been comical to a certain extent. The first time I talked with her, she said that I would be paid by the end of the week. Two ends of the week passed and I decided to give her another call. She couldn't remember having said that. Okay, common mistake. So I gave her another month and then decided to find out when I would receive my check. She then gave me a long explanation about how she had been paying high postal rates and now she was hoping to get a rebate and THEN pay me. I said, okay.

Two months go by, and not a peep. So, I decide to call again. Now this time I think she mistook my name, she called me Mr. Harris a few times. Mr. Harris must be an important person because she was extremely apologetic, which was a change. Normally, she was extremely abrupt and acted like I was really taking a lot of her valuable time from her. But when I corrected her on my name, she went back to her abrupt self. Again, I received the postal excuse.

I got off the phone the last time and became curious. One of the photographers for the Savoy issue is pretty much world famous. I sent him an email and he said that he hadn't been paid and didn't think we'd see a dime from Savoy.

Now this is the point where most folk would say, hey, chalk it up to experience and don't think about it. Write it off as a tax loss and move on. And since I'm a daily advocate of black business (I've kept a weekly journal since I was 15, detailing when and where I spent my money, and how much went to a black business), I would normally do that. But here's the thing. Freelance writers get JACKED all of the time, and we're constantly told to just lump it. I don't think I'm going to do that this time.

As I noted before, Ms. Hartman also runs a weekly. I may send every last one of her advertisers a letter about how financially unstable her publication is. I'm also going to send a letter of protest to the National Association of Black Journalists, which I'm a member. I may also talk to the Chicago Sun-Times and Tribune about this situation. Lastly, I may take her to small claims court and then immediately go to her offices and enforce the judgement.

In plain terms, what Ms. Hartman is doing is stealing. She is promising to pay for work, and once the work was done and used, she is refusing to pay. That's sad. What do y'all think?

Friday, November 18, 2005

My New Website...

Hey all,

I've finally put up a website. Check it out at and let me know what you think.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Kid in a Candy Store...

One of the great things about film school is that I get to listen to experts outside of writing. I love the business side of things, and one place I get to learn the biz is in a producer's class. Terry Press, Director of Marketing at Dreamworks, is a funny, gruff, and highly intelligent teacher of marketing, and she's been showing us the ropes of what it takes to market a movie. The woman can literally tell you how much any given movie is going to make before it comes out. She KNOWS her shit, and I like people who KNOW their shit. Today, she brought in Laurence Mark, producer of movies such as Jerry Maguire and As Good As It Gets. This is why I went to film school. He was great. He explained how African American movies are marketed and his movies in general, from the best to the worst. He's on my list of people to call once I have scripts ready.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Hal's Class Today...

We didn't have anything due today for my screenwriting class, but we watched the first acts of three movies: The Professional, Tootsie, and A Walk on the Moon (which was written in Hal's class). It was very informative as we watched how writer's wrote off the nose dialogue and how conflict was the center of every line, scene and the act itself. Again, it makes you very cognizant that you need to know your characters REALLY well. Right now, I'm doing a character sketch for my characters, and it's really making them come to life. Last week, I rewrote my story and started two scenes from Act One. But over the next couple of days, I'll first flesh out the characters, and then start writing better scenes.

Called Karen at Kensington to see if they were going to buy Money Shot. I sent an email to my agent, but I haven't heard back. Turned in my story idea for the Sloan Foundation ($10,000 prize) and I really like it.

Tomorrow begins my workout schedule. My knees are at 85% and I can walk straight without pain. Cutting, like a football player, is out of the question. But Lifecycle, here I come.

Friday, November 11, 2005

That's Better...

Sent my newly revised story to my professor and we both agree that it works much better. Still has some problems, but not huge. It's more writing this weekend, unless I go up to the Cal vs USC game.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Paul Haggis and Crash...

I went to see a screening of CRASH as presented by Creative Screenwriting magazine, and the writer Paul Haggis was in attendance. It was cool listening to someone rather than being on the stage myself. Anyway, each time I see CRASH, the more the impact lessens, but then again, that may simply be the nature of the movie. The plot twists, the emotional moments, the coincidences, are all known, so the surprise is gone. But still, I'm not sure that it's going to hold up over the long term. But I could be wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.

I have done a third revision of my Hal's class Project X and I like it. I threw away a LOT and I think I have a better, more logical story. I'm really getting into this throwing shit away. I'm not wedded to anything in my scripts, so I feel nothing if something doesn't work. Keep trying.

I also did a sketch of ACT ONE, and tomorrow, I will do a finish our assignment, which is to tell the story in the first person from our characters perspective. That'll help me understand my characters and their motivations for what they do.

One of the fortunate things about having paid for high school is that your fellow alums are extremely generous with their time and are willing to listen to you. Two of my high school alums are agents in this town and they've graciously agreed to meet with me once I have a script done. Remember, I want to learn the fundamentals, write a good solid first script, get representation, sell a script, and then begin to experiment while in film school. So this first script may not have many Charile Kaufaman moment, I'll save those for 434 advance screenwriting, but it will be solid, even if I have to re-write it over and over.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Had Hal's class today and we had to present a synopsis of our script. My synopsis showed flaws, such as folks were unclear as to where the story was going. Not too good. But that's what this is for. I look at each session as molding my clay project. So I'm going back over and throwing some stuff out, changing the direction in other ways, and then coming up with a better reason for telling the story in the first place. One thing though. I'm loathe to criticize the work of others unless I truly believe what I have to say helps. So, although I didn't say it today, I feel like some of the work read was a bit literary, when I am trying to move in the opposite direction. When I say literary, I mean a lot of description that could be action. I see some of the works as novels, but I'm going to be interested in seeing how they translate it to a script. My strategy is to take each and every description I write in a script and see if it can best be done as an action instead. So my descriptions aren't as long or flowery. Three words are my goals. Describe characters in three words. But make them good words.

More movies watched:

Mystic River
Catch Me if you Can

Projects to finish:
1. Revised synopsis and then continue working on Act One of Hal's Project X.
2. Work on the treatment for the Sloan Foundation: Due November 18th

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Backed Up...

I'm a bit backed up due to travel, so right now I'm doing my Hal assignments. We have to create a synopsis of our thirty page script, and we have to show how we'd adapt a story. Normally, I literally stare at the computer for a few days, relaxing while thinking about the assignment, and the tackle it. But Clemson set me back a bit. But neither of the assignments are difficult, so I should get them done by tomorrow night.

On the Friend With Benefits front, Black Expressions (the Doubleday book club) has listed my book as a hot read on their website. Let's hope for nice sales from that.

I haven't talked to the agent in a week, and I need to do that. I decided to scrap my old book proposal for the NEVER ENDING NON FICTION BOOK PROJECT and start again. I found my favorite book proposal book and I'm going to take a week and re-read it. Hopefully, I can crank out something worth selling.

I've got to see if Karen wants to buy Money Shot. If so, that's a few extra dollars in the coffers.

Went to the Ortho pedic doctors today, where they twisted and turned my knees. I now need an MRI on the right knee, because it still hurts. They want to see if there are any miniscus (sp?) tears there.

Tuesday, I'm going to start working out again. I need to get in shape because my diet is terrible and I feel like a blog. The Wooden Center sit there on campus with all of the state of the art exercise machines (and only $50 annual membership for the wife. Go UCLA!) and I need to get off my ass for an hour and work out. Bad knees or no, there's no excuse.

Tomorrow, the wife is out for her sorority meeting, and I take the now front toothless munchkin to his morning art class. After that, it's finishing my stories and football all day. I'm out!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Last Night...

Right now, I'm typing from a hotel in Clemson, South Carolina. I spoke last night for the Greek community, but better than anything, I had the best Shrimp and Grits in the South at their restaurant. I spoke here four years ago and had them, and since then, I DREAMT about them. I just wish that I could have taken a doggie bag of them back with me to the hotel.

I'm about to get on the road and drive three hours to Atlanta, get on the plane, and then go to class this evening. Tomorrow, I'm going to talk to my agent about my troubles with my book proposal.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Friday, October 28, 2005

Four Pages...

We are writing the first four pages to our thirty page script, and I have never stared at four pages more than I have these past four days. I NEVER thought I'd say this, but I'm having fun cutting out useless words, lines, and anything that doesn't move the story forward. Each time I find that I can say something in three words versus a ten word sentence, I feel like a person doing a jigsaw puzzle and finding missing pieces. I know this must sound naive to established screenwriters, but this is new to me. BTW, my script is a sports comedy, but I'm not going to say the title because it's that good of a title. More later...

My Movie A Day...Continued...

I forgot to list the movies I've watched...

Sideways...about four times. I like to read the script at the same time as I watch the movies.
Foxy Brown...all hail Pam Grier

I have more, but I'm tired...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Friends With Benefits Pub...

AP wants to do a story on Friends With Benefits, so that is going to be great pub. On another note, Savoy magazine still hasn't paid me. Now the publisher's excuse is she is waiting for the US Postal Service to give her some money. She runs two different publications, but she can't pay me. Sad.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Today's Biz...

This morning, I got up around 6:30am and called my editor. I wanted to see if there are any numbers in for Friends With Benefits. The first printing was 24,000, and 19,000 are gone from the warehouse. We don't have any sales numbers, but that's a pretty good figure. Being that I'm an unknown in fiction, normally half would still be sitting in the warehouse gathering dust. So that was good news. Plus, Friends With Benefits was featured on the first page spread of Black Expressions, Doubleday's Book Club. Black Expressions has 200,000 folks, so that is real good.

Karen is going to her Wednesday editorial meeting with my Money Shot proposal, so I should know more within the week. That's where they'll sit back and see if the story is marketable, and how much they can afford to pay me. I'll let my agent take care of that.

I've got to put FWB and Divine Nine publicity on my schedule. I've been lagging badly in both areas.

In class, things are going better. Screenplays are a completely new form for me, so I'm trying to get the fundamentals down as quickly as possible. We have some really good writers in the class and I'm pretty impressed with their attention to details. Not an excuse, but we had an exercise where we took an antedote and wrote story in prose, and then in script form. I kept my story pretty generic, trying to work on getting the basic screenwriting form down. My descriptions were not as detailed as the others, and the story was pretty linear. The comments in class reflected that I could have started either before my opening or after. Fair enough. But we're done with that. Now, we're starting our first four pages for the thirty page script we're developing. That's what we've been waiting to do, and I can't wait.

With these scripts, we start them for thirty pages, and then the next quarter we can either throw them out or continue to develop them. I'm not throwing out crap. If I spend time on it, I'm working on it. So what am I going to write about? I haven't decided yet. I have a list of twenty stories I want to develop, but I haven't decided which one I want to spend time on right now. I'm close, but not yet. I'll let you know as soon as I figure it out (tomorrow).

I wasn't able to get to the building for the Black MFA Association, but I may do that tomorrow. Everyone is very enthusiastic about the idea and I think it will be a hit. Even if we're not able to get official recognition this quarter, we can still meet unofficially and bring in speakers from the industry. My hope is that we'll create a support system for Black MFA students, and a gateway into Hollywood via mentorships and new relationships.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Last night, I went to my first bi-monthly MFA gathering at O'Brien's in Santa Monica. Threw down a few Heinekens and met with the various writers, directors, and producers of the future. For the most part, most were pretty cool. We bitched about our various assignments, professors, and whether or not we'll make some cash from all of this. I talked a lot, but watched even more. It was kind of easy to see who probably drank every night, and who didn't. Still would like to see more MFA's of color in the program. Diversity is a good thing, ya know.

Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can start up the UCLA Black MFA Association. Technically, I missed the date for new organizations, but hell, ya gotta believe that they can waive a few rules for something like this. I heard that they tried to organize it last year, but it fell apart last year. The overall MFA program is VERY inclusive to everyone, but whether they realize it or not, there are some very special issues for black directors, writers, producers, etc. that aren't covered in the general program. I want to suppliment our education with real black folks in the industry, and that Black MFA Association will help get that done. I already have a lawyer friend at the William Morris Agency, who's agreed to talk to us. Hopefully, we can get more folks each month.

As for my assignments, things are finally rolling. My four page opening act feels pretty good, and I finished my "age" story. I'll probably work on both throughout the night, polishing them for tomorrow's class. Still a little vague on the style of writing Hal wants, but C'est La Vie.

Friday, October 21, 2005


I am, as the British like to say, knackered. On Wednesday, I took an overnight flight to Chicago on American Airlines. Big mistake. They put a full flight on a plane just larger than the prop planes they used to shuttle folks on in the 50s. My knees took a beating. I landed in Chi-Town at 6am and our conference started at 9am. It was GREAT to see all of my friends on the panel and I think we were able to get a lot of work done informing college advisors about Black Greek Life.

After the conference, I rolled BACK to O'Hare and flew overnight again to LAX. I've been sleep since I got home in the early morn, and I have a feeling that I won't be able to really get up until this afternoon. I had an Orthopedic appointment this morning, but I'm too tired to make it. I'll reschedule.

My agent Manie has been sick, so my non-fiction proposal is still in the same place. I need some advice on how to get this thing over the hump. I have two assignments due on Monday, but I haven't started them. I've been reading and re-reading Hal's book before starting so that I can apply his principles to Act Ones correctly.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hal's Book...

It's 2am and I'm reading my professor's book, Write Screenplays That Sell the Ackerman Way, and I've got to say that it is a great book. If any of you are trying to write a screenplay, he explains the nuts and bolts in a way that makes logical sense. Now I don't know if I'll be able to write a screenplay worth a damn, but I honestly can't put the book down. Right now, I'm about eighty pages in and I'm reading about the structure of a screenplay. More later...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Stuck on a book proposal...

For the first time, I'm stuck while writing a book proposal. I HATE writing them in the first place, but this one is especially hard because it is an investigative book and I won't find out a lot of information until I start interviewing people. So it is on my mind. My agent is sick and probably won't be available until Friday, so that means another week goes by with it not done. I need to get it out of the way so he can shop it. It's a great topic and I really want to do it, but again, I hate book proposals.

In Hal Ackerman's class, I'm really starting to get a feel for what a good screenplay should have. We're sort of dissecting other films and looking at them from the standpoint of a writer, and it is interesting what ten different people can see when watching the same movie.

In Richard's class, I think that he's going to use a few pages from the MFA student scripts as an example of what not to do. That should be fun, watching who's going to draw the short straw.

Today is devoted to reading Hal's book and thinking about what I'm going to write for my first thirty pages (first act) in Hal's class. I have a title: The Proper Englishman, and I like my general idea for a story. Maybe I'll detail it later.

As for the Sloan, I'm going to start writing the first draft of my treatment and then find someone like my mentors Yule and Andrew to help go over it. It's a $10,000 prize and I'd like to win it. In fact, I'm going to submit scripts for every damn prize UCLA offers. LOL I'm not independently wealthy, and if prizes can subsidize my education, then that's what's going to happen.

I'm off to Chicago for a brief appearance at the NPHC National convention. It's an all day thing with a book signing, but I fly back the same day. I just don't have much time to waste as I did way back in the day (last year).

MK and I are still working on our documentary about race and sports. We have a producer so we're getting ready to get started, to get ready. Now it's about connecting the dots over the next six months.

I still need to see if Kensington has made a decision on my fiction piece, Money Shot. I'll ask my agent about that when he feels better.

I've added an anthology to the work schedule. It's something I've always wanted to do but never had the time to do. Hopefully it'll work out.

BTW, the knees are feeling a LOT better. I still can't move them side to side without MASSIVE pain. Today, I tried to swing my right leg over the bathtub rim and damn near crumbled from the pain. I'll NEVER do that again. But I can walk pretty much without pain, and only with a slight limp. The abrasion on the kneecap has almost healed. The MCLs are going to be the ones that take the most time. Hopefully it just will require rest. The patella has a fracture, but it's not tender to the touch. I'll find out more when I go to the Ortho doc on Friday. But thanks for all of the good wishes from everyone.

More tomorrow...

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Went to see Capote, the movie about Truman Capote and came away really impressed with Phillip Hoffman yet again. He's a truly great actor and probably will get an Oscar nod for this. But I also wondered why the screenwriter didn't get more pub for such a well written script. Screenwriters in Hollywood, for all of the money one can make, are treated like insignificant help, rather than the brains behind the whole joint. Guess I'll have to sneak in a year of directing so I can use a slash for my films.

I'm applying for the Alfred Sloan Foundation script prize along with about fifty other screenwriters. You have to write a script that contains science or is about a scientist. I've got my subject ready, so I feel pretty good. Yesterday, we had to go to an all day symposium, but that's hard for those of us with kids. You want to spend a bit of time with them, so I did a half day. Hope that doesn't hurt me when they make a selection about who goes in the final group.

Now it is off to Aunt Kizzy's for Sunday brunch...

Thursday, October 13, 2005


I have to see Capote for class, so I'm going to do that tomorrow. Also, I'm trying to see the Green Street Hooligans before it leaves the theaters. On Tivo (or the crappy Adelphia cable version of Tivo), I'm watching High Fidelity (Nick Hornby's joint. I really didn't care about this movie, but I LOVED Hornby's book, Fever Pitch. I'm not even commenting on the movie versions of the book.) and Judgement at Nuremburg. The movie a night thing is cool, but you really see how many crappy movies are being produced when you scroll through the listing. Ninety percent of these movies I'd never watch if you paid me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

My Movie A Day...

Now that I'm in film school, I've decided that I should actually start watching some films. So I'm watching at least one film per day. Some are classics. Others are obscure. Some I've watched, but now I'm rewatching in order to observe the screenwriting. And they are different as could be. Today, I watched 12 Angry Men and Goodfellas.

The Question of Race...

Have you ever noticed that when a black person is beat senseless by white folks, that the news anchors always ask the victim whether they think the incident was a racial incident. I always thought this curious. Everyday, reporters draw conclusions about everything under the sun. Whether Karl Rove will be indicted. Whether Bush knew there weren't any weapons of mass destruction. Whether or not the avian flu is going to kill us all. But when it comes to race, the reporter always wants the victim to make the decision. And if the black victim knows they are in a no win situation. If they say it is racial, then they will be accused of playing the "race card" (an illegitimate principle anyway). If they don't say it is racial, then it's like the anchor can breath a sigh of relief. White folks are off the hook! But why can't the anchor draw their own conclusions? Why can't someone say that we rarely find tapes of random whites people being beat down by black folks? Or that to the untrained or trained eye, it appears that a black man was being kicked, maimed, dragged, etc. by white people? Because a whole lot of commentators sure as hell declared black folks criminals from the looping of the looting during Katrina. I don't remember any of them asking those folks whether or not it was stealing. They just declared it so.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

MRI results...

Here are the results for the MRI on my right knee: (1) no meniscal tear (2) severe injury to medial collateral ligament (no tear) and (3) small, nondisplaced fracture of patella. I have an appointmentt with the ortho specialist tomorrow, so I'll know what I have to do for rehab. I really would like to know what's going on with my left knee too.

Today's Class...

Today, we had our class with Hal. The assignment had been to write short story based on one regret we'd had in our life. It could be funny, serious, or anything in between. It didn't have to be true, but interesting. So I wrote my piece and as soon as I started reading it, I knew I'd made a mistake.

Hal called it scaffolding and I call it fluff. My piece had too much descriptive fluff used to intro elemets of the story. I made the mistake of writing this piece as though I was in the MFA program for creative writing versus screenwriting. My words needed to move the story forward in a spare manner, with sights and sounds described as it moved forward, rather than paragraphs of words that kept the story stuck in one place.

If I had to set up my own screenwriting rule, it would be called the Tuco rule. In my favorite movie, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, Tuco (the Ugly) shoots a man in the right arm in the opening scene. About an hour later, the one armed man confronts Tuco with a gun in his left arm. Tuco appears to be helpless, as he's soaking in a bath. The one arm man gives a long soliloquy about how he'd been tracking Tuco down. Tuco says nothing. Finally, before the one armed man can shoot him, Tuco blasts him with a gun he's hidden underneath the soap bubbles. As Tuco looks down at the dead would be killer, he says simply.

"When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk."

And that is the same with screenwriting. Screw the long descriptions and move the story forward.

Now I'm rewriting it so that it follows my Tuco rule.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Where I'm At...

All right. Let's get going and recap where I'm at and where I'm going. Besides struggling to limp around the UCLA with two busted knees (which has made another UCLA MFAer named Dave a hero in my eyes. Dave walks with crutches and I am forever in awe. My temporary ass immobility will get better and I'll go back to not noticing the thousands of unnecessary steps at each building, or how far the ATM machines are from each other. Being permanently disable is a bitch and this world, despite ramps and auto door openers, ain't built for folks without full mobility. I'm getting a small taste of it now.)

From now on, I'm going to divide the blog into my two different lives: UCLA film school and my books. Both will be active over the next two years and it will seem like I'm doing a lot of stuff, but it's all about compartmentalizing. I did get burned out while on the Friends With Benefits tour, but that was mainly because I hate to do book tours, and I'm starting to detest travel of any sort. But knock on wood, I haven't even come close to getting burned out on writing. It's the pleasurable thing about this whole biz.

So for the next two to three years, I will be serving two masters, and this is probably the best time ever to read this blog. My wife knows that I'm going to be selfish with my writing over these next few years and so does my son (who is hilarious by the way. I did a lecture at UC Santa Barbara and he was silently doing his pencil drawings close by when he pipes up and says to the audience "You're a funny man.") So, if you're interested in writing books, this is the blog for you. If you're interested in going to film school, this is the blog for you. If you're interested in writing screenplays, this is the blog for you. If you're interested in how documentaries are made, this is the blog for you. If you're interested in black writers in Hollywood, then this is the blog for you. So here we go:


I'm excited, really excited. I have three classes this quarter and two are led by the co-chairman of the MFA screenwriters program. Richard Walter teaches 130A, which is a mixed course of undergrads and graduate students. Hal Ackerman teaches 431, which is a sort of intro to screenwriting course for grads only. It is much more intimate with about ten students per class. My last class meets on Wednesday evening and is a marketing course taught by Terry Press, who is the head of theater marketing at Dreamworks.

What I like about UCLA to date is the atmosphere. Per being a California institution, the professors and students in the program all seem casual and determined that the best way to get the best out of you is for you to focus on your work, give it your all, but still keep some perspective on life at the same time. Richard Walter is an example of that. Honestly, after having gone to his first class, I'm not too sure what we're going to be learning. Scratch that. I know that we're going to be learning about the craft of screenwriting, but Richard talks about screenwriting in a very eclectic style. One minute he's talking about communism, Aristotle, writing a personal story, George Lucas, and the right wing nut job David Horowitz. I figure that it'll clear up soon enough. He has a great sense of humor and knows what he's talking about.

Hal's class is more my flavor though. Small set of writers who each have their own life experiences that they bring to their writing. I like that. I don't want to only hear about my stories. I thirst for other people's stories. In our first class, we did a sort of "My Name is Earl" exercise, where we listed our regrets. Some were funny, others were poignant, but as you wrote them, it became very apparent that you could be a little bit vulnerable. And if you are, you damn well better trust the people in the room. I think that even though everyone in the room is somewhat nervous as to how they stack up against each other as writers, we still trust each other because we obviously had enough talent to make it this far. As we continue to write, that trust will help us write the best screenplays possible. At the end of Hal's class, we're to write a thirty page first act. It's going to be fun.

My last class is a marketing class and when I sat down in that class, it felt like was stealing from UCLA. I LOVE marketing. For three hours, we talked about how bad "The Island" was, why it is hard to get older men to get off the couch and go to the movies, etc. Then we watched trailers. I was in bliss. I have an Art and Commerce philosophy about writing and my writing career, and since I want to write a lot of scripts that put black folks in international situations, i want to learn how a studio will or more importantly, won't marketing it.

MK and I are working on our documentary. More info later...

So that's UCLA. On to my bread and butter.

My agent wants my non-fiction book proposal soon and I'm determined to get it done by this weekend. When it gets sold, I'll say what it is.

Money Shot, my next fiction piece, is still being read by Karen Thomas at Kensington. I expect to have an answer by the end of the month.

I am about to do a telephone interview tour Friends With Benefits and The Divine Nine.

That's about it. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Verdict...

Small fracture on the left knee cap. I have an immobilizer on it right now and an MRI is getting scheduled tomorrow. My other knee just hurts. I have crutches, but since i can't really put a lot of weight on my right leg, they're a bit useless. But life moves on. Hopefully, there's no ligament damage when the MRI comes out. I see an orthopedic doctor next week for an evaluation.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Almost Killed Yesterday...

Yesterday, I was almost killed. First day of film school and I decided to ride the motorcycle. Put the bike into first gear and it jumped out under me, leading me into an SUV. My knees are fucked and the bike is totaled. But I still made it to school. Right now, the pain is unbearable and I need to get them checked out this morning. I already know that there's some ligament damage. Updates later...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Little Things...

There was once a book called "It's the Little Things" and it detailed how the little things between blacks and whites make us distrustful of each other. They are little slights. One little slight is that I tend to believe that the humanity of African Americans is only grudgingly acknowledged by American society. Examples: Hurricane Katrina and the lack of a timely federal response. Former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett using African Americans as a hypothetical example of how abortion could cure the crime rate. Etc. But one little thing still bugs me. It is an honor delivered to different people in two different ways.

Ronald Reagan National Airport
John F. Kennedy International Airport
LaGuardia Airport

Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport

Notice the difference? About six months ago, the state of Maryland fought about how to honor the late Thurgood Marshall, and they finally came up with a plan to rename the BWI airport after the Supreme Court justice. But notice that they decided to basically keep the old name and tack on Marshall's name as an afterthought. Now is this something that will change the world? No. But in some parts of the black community, this is another thing to point to when we look at whether we are second class citizens in this country. It's the little things.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Still Waiting on Savoy...

Boy, getting paid for a magazine gig can be amazingly slow. Savoy STILL owes me for an article I did in June. It's really getting pathetic and I really feel bad for the writers they've stiffed who really depend on their freelance check to survive.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

re: Television Saga...

Went to Fry's with my "no negative info" check with no problem. And got a better deal. So take that Best Buy!

Remembering Names...

I am horrible with names. I do my DAMNEDEST to remember the names of people, and I'm just terrible. But I think I've come up with a solution. I'm going to try to learn five names of my fellow film students each week, and then learn another five the next, until I can remember them all.

On the lit front, I have to finish my non-fiction book project proposal asap. I want to get my feet wet with film school, but that project needs to be shopped. I know where my bread is buttered. Karen at Kensington has my latest fiction manuscript, so a decision on that will come within October.

I'm going to lecture only a little bit this year. But I still have some to add to the schedule.

MK and I are going to start working on the doc, and he is helping me out by designing my website. Five years with books, adn never a website. That's terrible marketing from a cat who prides himself on marketing his books.

BTW, Friends With Benefits is doing nicely in the Amazon rankings. It is consistently staying under 50,000, and that's without a single interview having been done. I have a slew of interviews set up in the next month, so I hope to get it under 10,000 on a regular basis. If I can do that, then I think I will have created the momentum I need to get some good sales this year. Kensington sent me about 3000 FWB postcards, and I'll distribute them with the galleys.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


We're still unboxing stuff and I found a box full of uncorrected galley proofs of The Ways of Black Folks and Friends With Benefits. Instead of just keeping them in the box, I think I'm going to put a note in each copy and then leave them in a public place. I'd like to track where the books go and who is reading them.


All right. I am officially excited about film school. I just completed Day One of our orientation, and it just felt good to be around folks who write, and think about writing. I have this feeling that I'm really going to grow in this program.

Met four black folks who are in the acting part of the MFA program. Virginia Union, Spelman, and two Howard grads. HBCUs are representing! I think I'll organize a nice little bbq for the black mfa folks. Just so we don't feel isolated.

But even though the numbers of black folks are sparse, I must say that the folks are diverse occupationally and experience wise. So I look forward to listening to new stories outside of my community.

Ticked Off...

Has anyone else had this experience? For the past month, I've been contemplating a big ass plasma screen television. I want it Magic Johnson theatre big. I deserve it. The wife thinks I deserve it. And so I've been looking at televisions, comparing pixels, and HDTV versus EDTV, etc. So finally, I'm ready to buy. I go down to the local best buy, stare at two different televisions, and finally make my decision. I want that one.

Cool, the saleman says. We get to the register, and I write a check for about four large. I just sold my house in a boom market. I can splurge a bit. But as the cashier puts in the check, she goes to the phone. I'm like, what the dealio? She talks to someone and then comes to me and says my check is declined, but for NO NEGATIVE REASONS. I'm like, well we haven't bounced a check since I was copping Blondies pizza slices at Berkeley in the 80s, so I know there's negative reasons. But if there's no negative reasons, why can't I write the check. She slides me a number to a company called Cetergy. I talk to this cat who tells me that Cetergy has "200 factors" they take in before authorizing purchase. I'm tripping. So some random computer is telling me how much of my hard earned money I can spend???? I go off. I ask for the criteria. He tells me that check sequence is one factor. I'm using check 102 and the last check used was 109. I tell him that my wife uses some checks and I the other. Then he said the length a bank account has been open. My account has been open for ten years straight. So the reporter in me started asking questions. I wanted to know whether or not "zip code" which is a way to racial profile folks, is being used. There's a silence on the other end. He tells me that he doesn't know all of the criteria. This may be a good story to pursue. I can understand if you write bad checks and then get put on a list. But when you get put on a list for NOTHING, then I have a problem.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Back at Home!

Got in and hugged the wife and kid. Picked up the motorcycle from the shop. Too tired to ride it. Had to go to a UCLA film school party. Nice to meet everyone in my class. Twenty five people in my class, only two black folks, me and a cat from NYC. But a WIDE variety of occupations and experiences, so this will be nice and interesting. I've got two days of orientation beginning tomorrow and then...I help my mother move to Dallas. Twenty hours on the road.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


I'm officially done with this tour. Got up this morning at 3am in NYC and drove over five hours to DC. Hotel didn't have a room, so I couldn't change for the CBC. Oh well. Can't sweat what you can't change. Did a signing at the AKA event, and that went very well. One woman bought seven books (Divine Nine and Friends With Benefits combo) as gifts. But enough about books. I went to Georgia Browns and got some fried chicken and now it's about waking up and getting on a plane for home. I'm going to sleep for a few hours and then roll for the airport.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Pleasant Surprise...

Did my last NYC booksigning at the Green Acres Mall and had a great time. Got a nice surprise when my AE chapter frat brother Eric Stephens and his beautiful fiancee Isis, came through to visit. Nothin' like selling books with friends. This signing was at a Waldens and it was fun to simply sign and talk to folks. A LOT of sisters came through and where intrigued by the Friends With Benefits concept, and the research I'd done before writing the book. Each one brought their own experience to the convo. The book has tapped into something, and this signing was very encouraging. Now I have to get a tiny bit of rest and then drive five hours to Washington DC. I'm going to be absolutely knocked out after signing at the CBC, Howard, and then at the AKA stepshow. I'm going to only stay about an hour at the AKA show and then get to the hotel and sleep. I leave EARLY for LA on Sunday.

Pleasant Surprise...

Did my last NYC booksigning at the Green Acres Mall and had a great time. Got a nice surprise when my AE chapter frat brother Eric Stephens and his beautiful fiancee Isis, came through to visit. Nothin' like selling books with friends. This signing was at a Waldens and it was fun to simply sign and talk to folks. A LOT of sisters came through and where intrigued by the Friends With Benefits concept, and the research I'd done before writing the book. Each one brought their own experience to the convo. The book has tapped into something, and this signing was very encouraging. Now I have to get a tiny bit of rest and then drive five hours to Washington DC. I'm going to be absolutely knocked out after signing at the CBC, Howard, and then at the AKA stepshow. I'm going to only stay about an hour at the AKA show and then get to the hotel and sleep. I leave EARLY for LA on Sunday.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Winding Down...

The tour is winding down and despite the usual issues with bookstores, I'm close to calling it a success. Books are being moved and I'm starting to get media requests, which I will tackle when I get home. This tour, again, was about momentum. I reintroduced myself to booksellers, and that's important because I was basically rolling colleges and university bookstores for the past three years. I needed to get back in there.

My Amazon rating has been moving too. It's starting to stay under 50,000, which means that there's a bit of consistency in the purchases. It could be one or two per day, but that's enough to get the attention of prospective readers.

Now I'm going to target book clubs, groups and conventions. I HATE multiple author shows, mainly because it's a contest to gain the attention of readers, rather than having conversations with them and then letting the reader make a decision. But I'll do a few of those too.

This weekend should be pretty cool. I have the Congressional Black Caucus and then the AKA Stepshow. Both should be very good for my books.

Next stop, grad school party on the 25th

Spoke too soon...

Note: Kensington told me I should sign at this bookstore...

Left Long Island at 4:30pm.
Knew I would catch mad traffic getting to Newark and did. But didn't think it would take two and a half hours. Holland Tunnel is a bitch.
Get to Penn Station in Newark.
Get to bookstore.
Clerk stares at me when I tell her I'm there for booksigning.
Looks at calendar. The date is circled with my phone number.
They don't have a single copy of my book in the store.
I turn around and go back to Long Island.
Total time traversing the LIE and Manhattan bridge, four boroughs, and two states: four and a half hours.
Total books signed: 0

Life on the road...Ya gotta love it.
Tomorrow will be better though. I KNOW this bookstore.

Things are looking UP!

Had a really nice booksigning at the Hue-Man bookstore in Harlem (one of the nicest looking black bookstores I've seen) last night. Got a bunch of students from Columbia and Hofstra at the signing, along with regular readers. As it went, I ended up talking about all three of my books, and we got into a nice discussion about the African diaspora.

As I was driving to Harlem, it dawned on me that this was the first time I'd signing at a NYC bookstore. I've signed at a ton of NYC colleges all through the boroughs, but I'd never taken the time to sign at an actual bookstore. Unless I've forgotten, and that's a possibility. Anyway, I was treated nicely and Melony the owner is from LA (Fairfax High, FAX CITY!), so she was coolio.

I have a Newark signing tonight, and then another NY signing on Friday, before I head out to DC for a full day of signings. After that, I'm adios for LA and my own bed!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Black Kids in the UK...

The Daily Telegraph
Black pupils 'victims of racism by teachers'
By Liz Lightfoot, Education Correspondent

Black pupils are no longer judged to be the most advanced when they
start school and unconscious racism by teachers could be to blame,
according to a professor of education.

Prof David Gillborn, of the London Institute of Education, said the
performance of young black children has apparently declined since 2002
when a new method of assessing four- and five-year-olds was introduced.

Before 2002 teachers were told to administer baseline tests in their
pupils' first few weeks at school but now they tick a series of boxes
based on observations of the children.

Prof Gillborn told a conference of the British Educational Research
Association at Glamorgan University yesterday that data showed black
children were no longer doing so well and that the trend may have
emerged because of the new emphasis on teacher assessment.

There was evidence that many teachers tended to have lower expectations
of black children and graded them accordingly, he said.

Well-meaning, white professionals who simply did "not see equality as a
major concern" were guilty of institutional racism, he said.

A previous study by Prof Gillborn and Prof Heidi Safia Mirza published
in 2000 challenged the preconception that black children entered school
poorly prepared when it found they were the highest achieving of all
groups at the start of their school careers.

Since teacher observation replaced the tests white children have
attained higher marks than all other ethnic groups, Prof Gillborn said.

He added: "Here's one area that black kids were doing well and it has
disappeared, almost overnight. There is no evidence of conscious intent.
There does not need to be."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Penn Article

Author tells life of black bachelor

[Chris Poliquin/The Daily Pennsylvanian]
Author Lawrence Ross discusses his new novel about black male relationships in the Penn Bookstore.
Lawrence Ross' new novel goes into detail about the lives of 'friends with benefits'
By jessica fisher
September 20, 2005

In the midst of a tour that has included more than 500 speeches, Lawrence Ross spoke yesterday about bachelor life in graphic detail at the Penn Bookstore.
"Only money and power gets women, my brother. ... Everything else is just a distraction," Ross said, reading an excerpt from his latest novel, Friends with Benefits.

The book chronicles what Ross has found to be a current trend in dating among African-Americans. Ross based his fictional work on interviews with several single black Americans.

"What I found was that for what seems to be the first time, women are really in control [of the relationships]," Ross said. "But is the 'friends with benefits' trend in the African-American community going to eventually create long-term relationships?"

In fact, Ross said that none of the relationships he studied lasted more than six months.

Friends With Benefits is Ross' first fictional novel.

Ross went on to read a few excerpts from the novel, including some dialogue between the characters.

"Look at Jay-Z and Beyonce. ... Is she even going to look at Jay-Z twice if he's not a rapper and a multi-millionaire? The brother's talented, but he ain't the most handsome man in the pack."

His nonfiction works include The Ways of Black Folks: A Year in the Life of a People and the Los Angeles Times bestseller The Divine Nine: The History of African-American Fraternities and Sororities in America.

A brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., since his initiation at the University of California at Berkeley in 1985, Ross spoke passionately about black fraternity life.

Ross said that he did not include the issue of pledging and hazing in The Divine Nine because it was the first widely circulated book about black fraternities, and he wanted to give readers a positive view of the organizations. However, he did condemn hazing during a question-and-answer session with the audience.

"I don't have a problem with pledging, but the problem is that there's no program I've seen to date that doesn't include ego or danger," Ross said.

Throughout his speech, Ross reiterated that membership in black fraternities and sororities is perpetuated well after college graduation, as many members stay involved after they get their degrees.

In Long Island and ready to go...

I had a talk with my editor today and feel a lot better. Karen is great, both as an editor and a friend. Frankly, I don't know how she's not burned herself out over these years. So I'm ready to go. I start with Hofstra tomorrow morning and end with Hue-Man in the evening. If I can have a small group at Hue-Man, I'll be cool. I rarely venture into NY for booksignings unless they are connected with a college, so this is going to be different. But what the hell. Only about four days until freedom. Four days before I ride my motorcycle down Crenshaw saying "What? What?" I can't wait.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Bad Day Yesterday...Great Day Today...

I'm in the City of Brotherly Love and things turned up decidedly from yesterday. I had a VERY enjoyable booksigning at the University of Penn and got to see a bunch of folks I know. This is how a booksigning is supposed to go. A lesson I shall learn. Work with college bookstores.

Second. My son got a 100% on his spelling test, plus the bonus words. I am more hyped about that than anything. To date, he's not missed a single word since school has started. And since he's the biggest negotiator on earth, he has leveraged his scholastic achievement into a trip to Shakeys (his favorite) for pizza.

Third, I bought a Genos and Pats Philly cheesesteak and ate them both. I'm still trying to figure out which one I liked better. I think I liked the bread from Pats, but the onions and beef from Genos. Each could have used some black pepper on the beef. I think I declare it a tie.

Next stop: Hofstra.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

I Couldn't Make This Up...

I remember when I was about fourteen, and I became addicted to old Monty Python skits. There was one skit that used to have me on the floor giggling. It was a skit where a man woke up and everything he did was a disaster. Finally, at the end of the day, he walks away from his house and the house explodes, ending the day. His day was my day today. For all you authors who are jonesing to be published and then have a "spectacular" book tour, remember my day.

9:30am: I'm checking out from my beautiful Atlanta Holiday Inn when the brother behind the counter decides that he wants to charge me a dollar for local calls. Now, I didn't make that many, just to the bookstore, but they add up. So I tell him that I'm a priority club member and he stares blankly. Finally, a manager decides that Holiday Inn will survive without ten dollars worth of calls. Good, it looks like I can make my 11:25am flight to Tampa. That booksigning begins at 4pm, plenty of time for me to land at 1pm and relax for two hours or so. May even get to check out the NFL before the signing. Frustration level: 2 out of 10 with one being relaxed and ten being ready to explode.

10am: Atlanta Hartsfield airport. I have reservations for my tickets, but haven't purchased them. I'm in line, but the line is really long and not moving. I estimate that I'll still be able to get my ticket by the 10:30am cut off. The iPod is on eleven and I'm chilling. Frustration level: 1

10:20am. I'm still ten people from getting to a ticket agent, one of which is having a long conversation with a customer about where she got her shoes. The agent is now taking off her shoes and showing them to the customer. Frustration level: 3

10:32am: I get to the ticket counter and the ticket agent interested in getting new shoes informs me that my flight is now full and I missed the hour cut off time. I tell her politely that if she'd not had a ten minute conversation about shoes, I would have made my flight. She's not amused. The next flight to Tampa leaves Atlanta at 3:30pm. Not a good thing when I'm supposed to be signing at 4pm. I ask her about the closest airport to Tampa. She then has a twenty minute conversation with another collegue about whether the miles they were looking at were actual miles or flight miles. I get booked on a flight to Orlando, about 80 miles from Tampa. Cool. I leave at 11:25am and land at 1pm, get in the hooptie, drive for about an hour and a half, and get into the hotel a little after 2:30pm. Cost of the ticket: $300 Frustration level: 5

11am: My boarding pass has the infamous SSSS, so I'm lucky enough to get picked for "special" security screening. After the security guard feels me up, I'm good to go. Frustration level: 3

11:30am: I'm on the plane, and it is full. The woman sitting in the middle seat suddenly decides that she just had to talk to me now. About anything that came into her head. Flying. Sitting. Drinking water. Eating peanuts. People. Luggage. Landing. Anything. Me? I like to put the iPod on eleven and zone out. Thanks, lady. Frustration level: 4

1pm: Okay, we land. I rush through the Orlando airport and damn, another airport shuttle. I don't know what it is about airports in the South, but they are addicted to shuttles. They get on my damn nerve. I'd rather stroll through the airport and get to the rental car agency asap without the middle man shuttle. Anyway, I get on and off the shuttle and walk five hundred miles to the rental car agency area. Except there's one problem. Hertz is no where to be found. I ask, and the kind woman from Alamo tells me Hertz doesn't have a station in the airport. They are off the airport. I have to take another god dang shuttle. A shuttle that as I turn to look, is just pulling away from the curb. I run like an OJ Simpson girlfriend out of the airport but miss the shuttle. Another will be around, the kind Hertz lady says. In ten minutes. Frustration level: 6

1:30pm: I'm on the Hertz shuttle bus, and wondering how long it will take to get to the Hertz club gold station. The bus driver holds a conversation with her Hertz friend (the one that told me another bus will be around) for ten minutes or so. I start thinking about how long it takes to drive eighty miles. I figure an hour or hour and a half with traffic. That puts me into Tampa around 3pm. Cutting it close, but I'll still have time to shower and get to the store on time. Frustration level: 5

1:48pm. I'm panicking like George Bush at a Nation of Islam convention. I'd originally reserved a Hertz car at Tampa, but unfortunately, I'm not IN Tampa. I'm in Orlando and I didn't have time to call Hertz to let them know of the change. Uh oh. Now the beautiful lady behind counter says that they may not have cars. Huh? She goes through her roster and finds a car. I pull out a credit card, hoping to be on my way. Uh oh number two. Card declined. What? I guess I forgot to monitor the balance on that card. I pull out another card. Whew, that one works. Camry in L29. Sign my contract and run to the car. 95 degrees outside, but I'm on my way. Rental car cost: $89. Frustration level: 7/2 It was a 7 at the beginning and 2 at the end.

2:20pm. The ride from Orlando to Tampa is a straight shot on I-4. Nothing strange about the route, which is great. Because I don't get Florida. I've traveled to forty five states over and over, but I never can get a handle on Florida. The one thing you'll notice when you drive in Florida is that there are no motorcycle helmet laws in Florida. Look, even Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson wore helmets, so to watch folks ride without helmets at 90mph is like a freak of nature. Anyway, I digress. It's 98 outside, but it's cool in my car. The Avis rental I had in Atlanta was a Chevy POS (but only cost me $1.98 because I received a $50 coupon when I told the guy in DC that my car needed a jump) but the Camry rides like a Deuce and a Quarter. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on and even though I hate Jon Gruden with a purple passion (die hard Raider fan), it's good to listen to the NFL if I can't watch it. I'm feeling good. Frustration level: 1

2:55pm: Entering Tampa city limits. I'm mentally singing Blur right now. But where's the airport. Oh, just ahead. My Holiday Inn is supposed to next to the airport. But the signs keep point toward the airport, but it doesn't seem to be getting closer. Doesn't matter. I've got to run into it soon. Frustation level: 2

3:05pm: I'm on a frontage road right next to the airport, and unlike 99% of the airports in the world, there are no signs pointing to the hotels. None. Also, Florida has decided to put as many confusing signs at this airport junction as possible. I do what I know to do when I'm lost. I flag down a cabbie. The first cabbie rolls down his window as though I asked him to turn his head and cough. "Where's the airport Holiday Inn?" I ask innocently. "There's no Holiday Inn," he sneers. He drives away. Doubt creeps into my head. No Holiday Inn? My Powerbook says different. Cabbie #2 suggests that I get on 275 south and I'll run into some hotels. Great. I'm on my way! Frustration level: 5

3:14pm: Okay, there's 275 South toward St. Petersberg. I CAN see hotels across the way, so if I get on 275, I can get off closer to the hotels. I'm on 275 South. Hey, where's the exit? Where's the fucking exit? You know how Tampa is sometimes called Tampa Bay? Well, that's because there's a Bay between the cities of Tampa and St. Pete. I'm now on a bridge heading toward St. Pete and there's no turn around. You just have to drive fourteen miles to St. Pete and then turn around. Frustration level: 10

3:23pm: I've turned around and now I'm heading back to Tampa. The first hotel I see is a Clarion Hotel. Initially, I think about going there to see if they know where the Holiday Inn is, but now I don't have time. "Do you have any rooms?" I ask. The Clarion hotel employee answers me in German. She training. On me. Who needs to get to book signing at 4pm. She doesn't care. She taps out my room info using some sort of German Morse code. Finally, I get my key. Cost: 109.00 Frustration level: 7

3:40pm: I throw cash at her like I'm George Bush meeting a Louisiana Congressman, and soon I'm in my hotel room, stripping, ironing, and showering all at the same time. Dressed, I call the bookstore to tell them that I'm going to be a bit late, but don't worry, I'll be there. A kind sounding college student answers the phone but seems remarkably uninformed. No time for that. I gotta get on the road. Frustration level: 6

3:55pm. The road out of the hotel leads to the 275. I expect there to be a "275 South to the left, 275 North, keep straight" sign on the ramp. I get on the ramp. I get a sinking feeling. This muthafucka gets me BACK on that damn bridge of no turnaround to St. Pete, and now I have ANOTHER fourteen mile trip to St. Pete to look forward to. Fuck. Double fuck. Frustration level: 11

4:10pm: I'm back pointed the right way and heading toward Tampa and the bookstore. The one thing I do love is Florida traffic. Everyone thinks they are Mark Martin, so the traffic flows quickly. I'm zooming at an 80mph clip. Gotta love that. What's that up ahead? Remember I told you that I was listening to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game a while back? Well, it's let out and 500,000 cars have now gotten on the highway. I'm in a parking lot. Frustration level: 14

4:25pm: I'm off the highway and only theoretically four miles to my destination. I think of things I'm going to say to make sure folks are not angry about waiting. All the while, I'm looking for something that will dry the sweat on my forehead. I'm FLYING down the street, looking for 56th street. I'm at 17th. Frustration level: 8

4:35pm: I make the turn onto 56th Street and squint trying to find the street numbers and my bookstore. Finally, I find it. There are cars out front so I'm happy. I jump out of my car and run to the door, and still try to keep my composure. I open the darkened doors and...there's no one there. No one except for a kind little college student who is reading her text book. "Hi, I'm Lawrence Ross and I'm supposed to have a booksigning today." She looks at me like the Clarion hotel trainee. She picks up the phone and calls the owner, who I thought would be at the store to greet me. She hands me the phone. "Hi Lawrence!" she says cheerfully. "I thought we were on for OCTOBER 19th, not today." I stand stunned. I hand the phone to the kind college student and sit down. She gets back on the phone and says that the owner would love for me to sign stock. I mindlessly signed ten books and walk out into the 99 degree/99 humidity heat. Frustration level: Off the charts.

I fumble for my keys and make my way back to my hotel, being careful not to make that St. Pete bridge trip again. So after around $500 spent, a day of aggrevation and frustration, I sit in a Clarion hotel with a slow internet connection. Welcome to the glamour life of an author. I need a drink.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


I'm burnt y'all and I think I'm going to cut back some of my NYC signings. Kensington has not done a good job with my publicity and unless they have a better plan when I hit the NYC, I don't see a reason to do these signings. The Atlanta signing went okay, but then we went to a book club conference and I sold a bunch of books.

But beyond all of that, I've been on the road for about five years straight and this tour is letting me know that I abhor traveling. Not dislike, but abhor. I have been in almost 500 Holiday Inns over these five years and if I see another one, I'll puke. There has GOT to be a better way to promote ones book than being on the road. The sense of isolation, the monotony, and the neverending boredom is all encompassing. Each city melds into another and even if you're not well traveled, things really begin to look the same.

And you're constantly tired. I fly to Tampa tomorrow and I have to get up at 5am for a 7:55am flight. It's nearly 1am right now and I feel like an insominiac. Honestly, I don't know how rock stars do it. What I DO understand is how they take drugs to numb themselves. It's that bad.

Here's what I'm dreaming about right now:

1. Hugging my wife
2. Wrestling with my son.
3. Sleeping in my own bed for about twelve hours.
4. Getting on my new motorcycle and riding for no reason to nowhere.
5. Not writing a damn thing for a week at least.

What am I listening to in order to get myself straight: Prefab Sprout: Bonny. Why that? It's the music I have in my head for a script I'm writing. I can't get away from it.

Life on the Road...

I'm sitting here in the lounge of the Atlanta Holiday Inn. It's 6:55am, which means my body thinks it's 3:55am PST. This is the part of an author's tour they don't tell you about. I flew out of LA at 9pm and I've been on a plane ever since. I arrived into Atlanta, and of course there are no rooms ready because the hotel is sold out, and no one has awaken to leave yet. They're all warm and snuggly in their beds, the bastards. But even if they'd left, I still wouldn't have a room because the cleaning staff doesn't arrive until 8am. So I wait. In the meantime, I have to get some sort of rest because I have a signing at 3pm regardless.

This tour has been particularly taxing for me and I'm not sure why. Over the years, you get used to having nice sized crowds at one signing and then one person who randomly walked in to your signing at the other. You treat those two imposters just the same. But I think the travel is starting to wear on me. Too many cities and too much time in airports combine to make you weary to the bone. The one saving grace is that I still LOVE talking to people, so the signings themselves are fun. But everything else can go to hell. For example...

Two days ago, I signed at Howard University. Lovely, lovely people. For some reason, I'd gotten a hotel room in College Park, Md rather than in DC because the Roberts hearing had pretty much locked down the hotel rooms and rental cars (until I got an Avis hookup from the in hotel Avis office, which is BRILLIANT by the way). No biggee. But that did make it a bit further to Dulles airport (45 minutes away without traffic) and I had an early morning flight. So, after I speak at Howard, I get up at 4am, shower, and then roll out of my Holiday Inn room around 5pm, which theoretically should be plenty of time to get to Dulles at 6am for my 7:05am flight. But when I get to my car, insert the key into the ignition, there's nothing. Not a peep. Apparently, the lights have been on all night. Uh oh. So I run back to the hotel lobby, call AAA (thank God for that) and then wait for the jump. And wait. And wait. Finally, the guy from AAA comes around 6am, and I'm off to Dulles. I miss my flight, so instead of getting in at 9:30am, I get in at 12:30pm. That wouldn't be a biggie, but I speak at Cal State Dominguez Hills at 7pm the same day.

My eyes are bloodshot, and I'm tired as hell, but the Dominguez lectures turns out really well. A day later, I'm chilling in Atlanta at the beginning of the end of my Friends With Benefits tour. At 4:00am PST. I'm tired.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Back On The Road...

I'm back on the road after having to cancel three booksignings this past week. We had a bit of a scare with my wife, but things look fine now. Her family has a history of heart disease, so we are VERY vigilant about her health. But things look fine now. But those are the things that you go through. This is the first time in five years that I've EVER cancelled a book signing gig, and I've done nearly three hundred of them. But family over business.

Right now, I'm scheduled to sign at Howard University. My travel agent thought I was signing at the University of Maryland, so I'm actually in College Park, Maryland rather than DC, but then again, with the Roberts hearing, DC hotel rooms are a premium. For the first time ever, I couldn't find a single rental car anywhere. So I'm going to need someone to pick me up from the hotel.

But for now, I'm about to take a nap.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Just a Bad Week in General...

My wife got sick so I had to cancel three of my signings this week as I rushed back to LA. I'm rescheduling them and getting back on the road for the Howard signing on the 14th. The only thing good out of this week is that I was able to get my Ducati, which almost didn't happen. Other than that, I've got a huge headache, and I'm feeling a bit tired and weary. I need a pick me up and a bit of a vacation from writing and things dealing with writing.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Bad Racial Week For Me...

I'm in Seattle and about to go Oakland for the third day of my tour. The crowds have been small, but that's not surprising. This sixteen day tour is about building momentum for the book. Word of mouth begins when folks you don't know talk about you and your book and then become your saleperson for the book. And that's what I'm banking on.

But this has been a bad racial week for me. Look, I'm not a racial paranoid at all. I basically believe that most folks are cool people who want to love their family, have friends, and carve out a little space in the world for themselves. On a one on one basis, most folks I've met can share a joke, a laugh, a smile, or a warm moment, no matter what their background, prejudices, or ignorances. But then there are circumstances where that's not true. This week, my son began school at a nearly all white school in Westwood and the chill was evident from the moment we walked on campus. More later because I have to catch a flight.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

My Government Did Not Care About Me...

The comedian Chris Rock puts it best when he talks about African America's relationship with America. "America is like the uncle that put you through college but molested you as a kid." With every incident that occurs affecting my community, my relatives, my neighborhood, I try to not come to the conclusion that America doesn't care for me. When my grandfather told me that after serving in World War II in the Japanese Theatre, he came home and had to ride on a segregated train to his home in Waco, Texas while German POWs were granted first class citizenship as whites, he still told me to believe in America. When my mother told me about traveling from Texas to California as a child and hoping that she didn't have to worry about mistaken going into the white bathroom (as she was wont to do), she told me to believe in America. When I was in the sixth grade and transferred schools, my new white teacher automatically put me in the remedial reading group despite the fact that I read three grades above grade level, my mother again told me to believe in America. But as I watch African Americans, MY PEOPLE, MY RELATIVES, MY FRIENDS, who I ate po boys with, played golf with, laughed with, all in the humidity of New Orleans, being treated worse than DOGS, then it makes it hard to believe that my government cares about me. Because in reality, it doesn't. Kanye West was absolutely right. George Bush doesn't care about black people. Condoleeza Rice, compromised by ambition and power, doesn't care about black people. And everyone else in this administration is as callous as it could be when it comes to my black life, my wife's black life, my son's black life, and my African American community's life. In less than three weeks, I start UCLA film school. This hurricane has changed everything in terms of what I'm going to write and how I'm going to write it.

Monday, September 05, 2005

You Couldn't Make This Up...

Barbara Bush: Things Working Out 'Very Well' for Poor Evacuees from New Orleans

By E&P Staff

Published: September 05, 2005 7:25 PM ET updated 8:00 PM
NEW YORK Accompanying her husband, former President George
H.W.Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in
Houston, Barbara Bush said today, referring to the
poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated,
"This is working very well for them."

The former First Lady's remarks were aired this
evening on National Public Radio's "Marketplace"

She was part of a group in Houston today at the
Astrodome that included her husband and former
President Bill Clinton, who were chosen by her son,
the current president, to head fundraising efforts for
the recovery. Sen. Hilary Clinton and Sen. Barack
Obama were also present.

In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of
evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: "Almost
everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to

Then she added: "What I’m hearing which is sort of
scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is
so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you
know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she
chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."

Gearing Up For the Tour...

It's Monday, and I woke up this morning with a thundering headache. But things had to be done. Groceries had to be bought, last papers for the house had to be signed, and boxes unloaded. And last but not least, I have a sixteen day tour to get ready for.

Kensington says that they are sending me 3000 Friends With Benefits postcards for publicity. That's cool, but it would have been nice to get them a bit earlier. However, I'm going to send them out to all of the bookstores prior to my signing. Right now, things seem pretty good, but I am a little worried about my Seattle signing. Not about whether anyone will show, but about the venue. The owner emailed me on Saturday, wondering if she needed to order my books. I speak in less than a week and she's just now asking. Yes, she needs to order. I never bring books, but I just may bring the copies my publisher sent me just in case.

For me, booksignings aren't glamorous, nor are they particularly exciting. In fact, they tend to be very lonely. My typical day is: airplane flight (most likely Southwest), to Hertz Club Gold to Holiday Inn. I do the gig, find a Chili's or Outback Steakhouse for dinner, and then back to the hotel room. You would think that you'd have plenty of time to write with that empty space and time, but not so for me. I pretty much stay bored.

I'm a people person, so I do like meeting readers and people in general, but I've never looked at booksignings as being an added benefit of being an author. And they are hit and miss. You can have a booksigning that is overflowing with people, and then the next day, have three people show up. You can't get too up or down with either.

So what am I going to do this week? One, I'm going to start talking to the reporters that want to do interviews. Kensington is working on getting me more interviews in the cities I visit. Remember, the goal of this tour is to create momentum for the book. That means being interviewed, dropping in on bookstores and signing stock, and taking as many pictures as possible. Hopefully the end result will be Friends With Benefits on multiple bestsellers lists and a new fiction readership loyal to my work. See you on the road!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

What George Says...

An Open Letter to the President from the New Orleans Times-Picayune

Sunday, September 04, 2005

OUR OPINIONS: An open letter to the President
Dear Mr. President:

We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we’re going to make it right."

Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.

Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It’s accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718.

How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.

Despite the city’s multiple points of entry, our nation’s bureaucrats spent days after last week’s hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city’s stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We’re angry, Mr. President, and we’ll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That’s to the government’s shame.

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still don’t know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the city’s death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why weren’t they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isn’t suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn’t have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn’t known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We’ve provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they’ve gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don’t get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "You’re doing a heck of a job."

That’s unbelievable.

There were thousands of people at the Convention Center because the riverfront is high ground. The fact that so many people had reached there on foot is proof that rescue vehicles could have gotten there, too.

We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We’re no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn’t be reached.

Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again.

When you do, we will be the first to applaud.

Copyright 2003 All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Moved...but in escrow hell...

I hate incompetence. The buyer of my house has an agent that seems to not think that closing dates are really relevant. A 35 day escrow has now stretched into another week. I'm so angry I can even express it. Anyway, we've moved next to UCLA and that went smoothly. My son Langston is happy with his room and we're about half unpacked. More later.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Media and the Hurricane...

Hurricane Katrina is already a devastating event, and I fear that the old media trick of focusing in on black and brown poor people as they loot is rearing its ugly head again. To see how the media can guide perception, read these two descriptions, one with a white subject and the other with a black subject. Notice the difference in description.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Almost Moved...

We're getting to the end game of the move, but my broker tells me that the buyer's agent has lagged on getting their lenders info in, so escrow may be delayed a day or two. That really gets me. I like having things done when they're supposed to, and I have little tolerance for others not getting their stuff done on time. My agent has been GREAT, hand delivering papers, explaining the process etc. but you can't really control what the buyer is going to do. So I'm pissed, but shit happens. It just means I have things spread out before I go on tour. But in any case, we're out of here on Wednesday.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

This Weekend...

Got the house fumigated to kill all the termites and we lamped at the LAX Holiday Inn for two days. The six year old loved it. Cartoon Network, a bed to bounce on, and watching the planes go by while eating fast food, priceless to him. In the meantime, I fought hellafied traffic to commute back and forth to Universal City to lecture and sign books at the Delta convention. Not a bad sale. My identity is as a non-fiction author, so I have to get folks into the mindset that it's not impossible to do both non-fiction and fiction. The response was pretty darn good and we sold a lot of books.

So things are going to be mad hectic over the next five days. We close escrow and move by September 1st, so hopefully I can get prepared for the tour. During the tour, I post how things went. Sometimes I'll have a bunch of folks at the event, and during others, only a few. You can't let your ego get either inflated or deflated either way.

Friday, August 26, 2005

My G4 Broke...

After four years of steady service, my G4 finally broke. Literally. The hinges cracked and snapped, which continued to put stress on the case, which created an inch crack. But I love the reliability of Apple, so it was off to The Grove for another one. This one looks better constructed and I hope I can get a good five years out of it. Even with the destruction of my old one, it still lasted much more than any Window machine. Apple rules (even if it costs a bit more!)

Monday, August 22, 2005

This Week...

This week is going to be havoc on my writing schedule. My non-fiction book proposal is going to be hit and miss as we go through the final death throes of moving. Today, we spent all day window shopping, and we have another stack of papers to sign, notarize and send off. Savoy magazine still owes me money from an article I wrote (Thanks Savoy!) and the house is being fumigated on Thursday. Slowly but surely, we are boxing up everything in the house and Goodwilling anything we don't need anymore.

Manchester United is off to a 2-0 start, football is almost here. Life is good.