THE PITCH


Driving in slow traffic is like drinking lukewarm coffee. I promised myself never to do it, but I was in traffic day dreaming of my pitch appointment. My limit was 30 minutes in stand still traffic and I would pull over, park or walk to the nearest cafe. Since there was no shoulder to speak of on the FDR I was eager to get to the closest exit. Gladly there would be many cafes to choose from. I pulled off at 59th and uncharacteristically there was a parking spot. It was strange but I parked and decided to walk north.

My appointment was at 10am but it was only 833am so I was in the breakfast rush. Why was I here this early? I knew the answer to that. My watch was an hour fast and so I was up and on the road much earlier than I should have been. Consequently, I was here at a cafe in the morning rush. Not my favorite place to be, but at least the line was moving briskly. I ordered a medium black coffee. It was very hot and my tongue paid the price for my impatience. The accompanying bagel was wonderful. It was a plain NYC style bagel with walnut-raisin cream cheese. I took a bite and the cold cream cheese cooled my scalded tongue. It was like kissing your high school sweetheart. You always have a sweet spot for her, but could never go back. However,  I was still wondering why I had stopped having this combo. I knew exactly why. I had just lost 30 pounds and was never going to let myself be deceived by this wonderful experience again. I decided not to sit in the cafe but to go back to my car and relax with NPR.

As I walked and admired the bustle of Manhattan street life I felt a twinge of regret. Why did I ever leave? I instantly missed the hustle, the ice-covered sidewalks and the sweltering summer subway. The walking, suited masses were hustling along. I was moving slowly and looked down at my watch and was nearly run over by an anemic looking blonde. As I side-stepped her I slammed into a crazy redhead. We made eye contact and recognized each other instantly.
“Jenny? Jenny Black?”
“Michael Gold?”
I smiled and instantly my mind was awash in terror. I started to sweat heavily and stutter. I had not stuttered since grade school, and only in her presence.
“Give me a hug Mikey?”
I obliged and she squeezed me tightly without my reciprocation. I was tense and she knew it. She was trying to put me at ease. It was not working. I was standing in the middle of the sidewalk in Manhattan being hugged by my grade school bully. She released me but I was not able to escape her penetrating gaze. Her eyes where still as distinctive, but she had definitely grown into an attractive women.
“Mikey it’s been a long time. By the way, are you going to get your bag?”
“Yeah”
“How long has it been?”
I was thinking not long enough, but I could not get the words out.
“20 years last month.”
I was surprised she was that precise.
“Where is your phone Mikey?”
I pulled it out, she tapped her phone to mine and her contact details were transferred.
“Call me.”
She smiled and walked away. After 20 years she still commanded me. As she walked away I noticed that I had dropped my coffee and my bagel had been trampled. Luckily my suit escaped the split coffee. It felt as if I had been there for a lifetime. I checked my watch and it was only 5 minutes.

As I continued to walk I saw a meter-maid writing me a ticket. I ran to the car but it was too late.  “$125!” There was nothing to do but pay it. I got into the car and sat there for the next 20 minutes reliving my 6th grade year. I was the eyeglass wearing, chess playing skinny kid. I was her “favorite” torture target. It had taken me years to forget and get over that year. In less than 5 minutes she had brought me back there. I turned my radio on and played some Bruno Mars for the next 15 minutes. It was all better now. It was 915am as I entered the highway and 15 minutes later I was downtown.

Wall Street always made me feel special. I loved this place, but my Cadillac CTS was out-of-place in a sea of limos. I pulled into the parking garage and made my way to the elevators. The morning rush was already over, so the elevator was empty. I followed my usual routine. I stopped at every 2nd floor until I got to the top. I stepped out into a magnificent lobby and was greeted by the reception staff.

“Good morning Mr Gold.”
“Morning. I hope will be a good one.”
He smiled and I was nearly blinded by the shine of his pearly whites. He handed me a bottle of water. I did not need it, but it was not a suggestion. I took it and placed it in my bag.
“Have a seat, they will call you.”
I continued my routine. I rehearsed my presentation in my head. I had made similar presentations many times. I was very good at it, but I was never very confident. This was my 13th pitch with 12 successes.

“Mr Gold, they will see you now.”
I got myself together and walked into the conference room. The room was smaller than I had imagined, but no less opulent. I took my place and made my presentation. It went well. They started asking questions which were easy for me to answer. They had a reputation of making decisions on the spot so I felt confident. Then she walked into the room and I lost my voice. 30 minutes later I was walking out without an answer.

THE CRUISE


The sun has been out everyday so far with just enough clouds to make the days perfect. Day 4 started like every other day. We awoke in a new country, showered, had coffee and prepared to disembark. The plan today was to find a cafe close to the port and just read and observe. I packed my laptop and a couple of books. As I waited for her I tried out my new bluetooth headset. The music quality was great. A few songs in she told me that she was not feeling well and would rather to stay onboard. I decided to decided to disembarked anyway.

I slung my backpack on and climbed down to the 8th floor where I joined the line to disembark. Once off the boat I walked directly to the bright red Toyota taxi. She was very attractive with curves in all the right places. Her dark skin was beautiful and accentuated by flowing dreadlocks.
“Could you take me to the best cafe in town?”
“Certainly sir.”
As she opened the passenger side back door I continued to admire her curves. We started to chat and before I knew it the car stopped and we were in front of “The Cafe”.

“Honey, here you are. This is  “the Cafe”, it is the best cafe in town.”
“How much does I owe you.”
“Anything you think I deserve.” I gave her a 20.
“Will you be back to get me.”
“Just say when.”
“5?”
“See you sweetie.”
She smiled as I stepped out of the car. It was a mischievous smile, but I ignored it.

I did not remember the trip but I was very happy to be off the boat. I entered the cafe and my day got even better. The sweet, salty, spicy smell of the ocean washed over me as I tried to find a table. The tables were all triangle shaped each with 3 comfortable looking chairs with every person having a view of the ocean. As I sat at a table close to the entrance and looked out onto the ocean I noticed the triangular shape of the cafe. The point directed toward the ocean had a long narrow pier with a several tables. The view was magnificent, but all I could think of was beer. For a moment I thought it too early for a beer.

“White, Red or Beer?” I was puzzled.
“What are you drinking?”
“Beer please.”
He poured a warm pale ale into a chilled mug with just the right amount of froth. I picked it up and the taste transported me to the fine white sand of the beach. After the third beer my bladder started to respond and I needed a restroom. I noticed the bold colors of the restroom sign and quickly followed the directions. I relieved myself and noticed the time. It was half past three and I could only remember drinking beer. I cleaned up and tried to make it back to the table.

“Hey! Hey! Where are you going with my computer? Thief! Stop! where are you going?” Shouting did not seem to make a difference, it seemed as if no one was hearing me. It felt as if I was being ignored. I tried to run but fell and instantly there was the taste of blood in my mouth. I tried to stand but bumped my head on a table. As I rubbed my head I was startled by the hard spot I felt.

“Abe! Abe!” I looked up and noticed that she was shouting at me.
“What happened? Am I dead?”
“Dead? You are dead asleep again. We are going to be late for the excursion.”
“What time is it?”
“It is 9 O’clock and we need to be off the boat by 915am. Let’s go.”
“Okay”

As I got up from the sofa a small bit of paper fell from my fingers. It was a taxi receipt timed at 920am.

I WILL NOT BE INTIMIDATED


It has always been dangerous to be a black man in America and it continues to be. One day it will change but I am not likely to see that day. The most recent expressions of the disregard for my life as been expressed. This was a predictable outcome. Some will be perplexed and angry but for my survival I cannot be. The stress of trying to survive is enough to make me sick but I will continue to be respectful of those who are respectful of me. I will only indulge in practices that will give my family a chance to survive the maze we live in as people of African heritage.

I will not waste my time getting offended by show trials, because I know enough history. Our experience has not changed from sixty years ago, except that there is pretense that it has. The system now provides us with a trial, but will never provide us with a conviction. As a black man I know I am expendable, I know no matter what I think of myself I will always be viewed as less than. My ideas will be disregard, not because they are without merit, but because I am a black man.

In spite of the attempts to steal my life and my ability to progress, I will continue to strive for that 40 acres. I will not be intimidated nor will I allow my daughters or my nephews to be. No one needs to tell me that I am as good. I know I am better that most. I know I can compete. I know that my family will continue to compete and win. I know this because it is what my grandparents made me believe. I know because it is how my parents lived. I know I am equal because Darwin is correct. We have survived in spite of the attempts to eradicate us, because the fit will survive.

The opportunities provided by the American system are numerous and we must take advantage of them. Academic, professional or financial successes are no guarantee of survival or respect, but these are the routes to continued survival. I will always be distrusted by the majority, but I will not allow the small-minded and backward to derail my goals. I will not get angry and fulfill their ideas of me. I will channel my anger, because in the long view of history we have won.

BEST CAMERAPHONE


For those of us that love taking pictures there is nothing like a real camera. I currently own the canon 60D and it takes amazing pictures and video. The only problem is that sometimes you need to just take a picture. Sometimes I do not want to set up the frame. Most times I just want to point and shot. The truth is there are many great point and shoots.

My great discovery was the Nokia N95 8gb. Thanks to my little brother for the introduction to the excellent quality of Nokia camera phones. In  2007 the Nokia N95  took best in class video and stills  and today it is still better than most.  I am truly gutted that I gave mine away.  Fortunately Nokia continued to make some great camera phones which include the Nokia N8 and most recently the Nokia 808 Pureview.
As I look over my picture library I am amazed by the quality of both the N8 and the 808.
The 808 has many downsides as a modern smart phone, but video and still creation is not apart of that. I have been living with the stellar quality of the 808 for the last 3 weeks.  Wow! I love this device. Here are some unmodified pictures. Enjoy.

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