Friday, October 19, 2007

A New Barbershop

I just found my new favorite radio feature, called “Barbershop: What’s the Buzz.” It comes courtesy of NPR and Michel Martin every Friday on her mid-talk talk show Tell Me More.

There’s nothing like four brothers hanging out at the bastion of masculinity, the barbershop. Let the opinions run. Speak off the top. Say it like you feel it. No reserve no caution, only a atmosphere of respect and fair word play.

The barbershop, where men come for haircuts and shaves. No styles, no curlers - only natural curls (well, for the most part anyway). We’ll do our best to watch our language if ladies or children are present, but the shop is mostly for the men.

Coming up on the election of 1980 I produced a radio story on blacks who didn’t vote. First stop – the barbershop. It was all there. Men who never voted and men who never missed an election. Anger and frustration. Hope and optimism. And total apathy.

Anchored by Jimi Izrael, Ruben Navarrette and a couple of rotating bloggers, these guys tackle topics like Isiah Thomas’ sexual harassment case, Bill Cosby’s book on black responsibility, Bill O’Reilly’s meal at Sylvia’s in Harlem and other newsy fare. It’s a gold mine of new black thought from some strong communicators.

A closing word from Cedric’s character “Eddie” in the 2002 Barbershop:
“There are three things that Black people need to tell the truth about. Number one: Rodney King should've gotten his ass beat for being drunk in a Honda a white part of Los Angeles. Number two: O.J. did it! And number three: Rosa Parks didn't do nuthin' but sit her Black ass down!”

Hey, why do hair professionals have the most jacked up hair? I’m just wonderin’…

Link to “Barbershop: What’s the Buzz" on NPR’s Tell Me More.

(photo: 2002, Metro Goldwyn Mayer)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Stand in the Gap 2007

To paraphrase Duvall's Lt. Col. Kilgore in "Apocalypse Now," "I love the smell of men in the morning. It smells like victory."

On Saturday mornings, thousands of men gather in small groups all over the country. Some take in hard coffee, some slough down burnt pancakes. During the summer, some guys are at Promise Keepers, where the Saturday morning music is red-hot and vertical (upward in complete worship).

On Sat. Oct. 6, 2007, I was with an estimated 20,000 men at the Washington Monument for Stand in the Gap 2007. (Hard to believe it's been 10 years since the huge gathering on Oct. 4, 1997.) The vision was totally unique, from David's Psalm 145:4 "One generation shall commend your works to another. They shall tell of your mighty deeds." They put together a six-hour program with four generations of men participating (Builders, Boomers, Busters, Mosaics). It made sense, surrounded by the Vietnam and WW2 memorials.

Yours truly got to take the stage and represent for the 30 and 40-somethings. Here's the resolution I read, on "Renewal":

1. We renew with conviction our commitment to seek first you and your kingdom, above all else.
2. We renew with passion our resolve to live according to the purposes for which we were created.
3. We renew with courage our calling to stand against sin, disease, poverty, and injustice in our world.
4. We renew with boldness our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and are unashamed to be identified as His followers.
5. We renew with dedication our desire to reject passivity and irresponsibility and to live as godly men who lead others into eternity.
6. We renew with resolve our surrender to the authority of your word and its truth for our lives.
7. We renew with hope our vision of the future because of your presence, promises, and eventual return.

Check out the Stand in the Gap 2007 website for more inspiring words and photos. (
The D.C. area guys are planning to host a gathering every 10 years, in perpetuity. See you on Sat. Oct. 7, 2017.