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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Nothing 2nd Class About You

Rochelle in the UAE

A while ago, I read an article about Tina Sloane Green in the Daily News.  I immediately zeroed in on the fact that she is a Philadelphia High School for Girls alumna (Girls High )

How could I not think of Chelle, right?  But listen; there is a much greater element within her story that I find phenomenally in sync with my home girl. 

This expression came to me when I read a letter from Rochelle concerning the second-class treatment of women in Dubai.  I can only imagine how challenging this may have been for a woman of her ilk, but she has to understand her purpose is much bigger than that degree of a cultural experience.  Na mean?

A professor of culture and sport, Tina Sloane Green understands the plight of the black female etching her way toward success: “Who would have ever thought this little black girl from Elmwood would be able to achieve so much?” Most recently, professor Green received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Philadelphia Sports Congress for her work with Black Women in Sports Foundation and at Temple.

The legend of the diligent Sista defying all odds (Goody Shop to the Golden City) – only to make a positive difference in her community – goes far beyond being chronicle – worthy.  Every time my heart beats I feel Chelle’s occupational strides, but I always remind her that a stellar career does not begin to define the magnitude of her worth.  Ya heard?

When I think of Rochelle, I see someone who increases the morale whenever she steps into the room.  A phenomenal presence, a Phenomenal Woman who understands her purpose is a destination navigated by her undying will to help others recognize their true worth.  

Your timing is always perfect, and when your decisions are unpopular with those closest to you, the results of your decisions will vindicate your position.  You are a first class breed of woman, Rochelle.  A Phenomenal Woman, indeed.

The birth of a Lady is the celebration of a queen.  A queen who stood within the sands of a city whose beauty is acclaimed as gold.  Leaving more than footprints, her legacy registers a permanent mark, which adamantly states she does not need a man to grant her permission to be a person of significance.  

She is a queen who has stood in the sands of foreign lands, unleashing a righteous display of independence when it has been outlawed as contraband.  Yes! that queen is you Rochelle.

October 29th, the day a Lady is born.  All hail the Queen!

My gesture may be considered as extreme, but I am a Mann of my words, therefore I say exactly what I mean.  You own the love of your family and friends and your smile has been the gentlest touch.

The humble beginning of a Northern Liberties’ candy store is the reason the Sweetest person has achieved so much.

Happy Born Day Rochelle!!

Much Love,

NP 4 Life
Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann

Monday, October 20, 2014

It’s Like a Jungle Sometimes, Volume 3: 1st Mann


I consider myself to be deeply in tune with nature.  You know, the outdoors type nature; trees, birds, sky, etc.  But there are some days and nights when I choose not to see nature through the prison’s version of a window.  

I’ve come to the conclusion these slits within the concrete walls can have a psychological effect on a Mann in tune with nature. 

I mean, the ‘window’ is so small; it makes the visual experience of nature an extreme task-filled with limitations.  So, on those days and nights, I turn away from the visual sensation that nature has to offer.  I tend to lean on my mind’s eye, and relive the moments that my human nature was influenced by the nature I kept inside a box.

Asthma was a part of my nature, in the early years of my existence.  The dander of traditional pets, such as cats, dogs, hamsters and gerbils were forbidden to a lil’ Mann with asthma.  I wanted a pet that I could form a bond with, so fish were out of the question. Na mean?

Somehow my older brother, ‘D’ and I convinced my Moms to allow me to have a boa constrictor.  I was the only cat in the hood with a snake draped around my neck.  Kids my age were in awe of my connection to “Larry Boa” (snake’s name).  Adults would walk to the other side of the street whenever the 9 year old wrapped in boa coils, took to the sidewalk.  LOL.  I guess I don’t have to tell you that I was considered as a weird kid.  SMH.

I decided to enter “Larry Boa” into my school’s science fair.  I came in 3rd place, although I really expected to win.  I mean, some girls with a flowerbed, and some cat named Roberto (8th grader), beat me out.  By the way, Roberto made a volcano that spewed lava.  I can’t front; it was tight, but in no way did it eclipse the feeding of “Larry Boa.” SMH.

The entire science fair came to a halt when I dropped a white rat into the snake’s tank.  All eyes were on “Larry Boa,” as he snatched, squeezed and swallowed the unsuspecting rat.  Even the eyes of the catholic nuns assigned as judges.  Hence, my 3rd place blue ribbon.  For some odd reason, the nuns believed that I was going to feed Larry corn. HIA (hands in air).

The natural order of nature’s food chain is exactly what it’s supposed to be, natural.  But exhibiting this type of nature in a catholic school science fair might not be such a good idea.  Feel me?  I’ll never forget “Larry Boa.” He was a pet like no other.  

Possessing his nature made me an oddity, but it also made me the first in my bloodline to engage with nature in such an unorthodox fashion.  Today, owning a snake is almost commonplace, but I now understand what it’s like to be the nature locked inside the box.  Totally unnatural.  Ya heard?

Still Livin,’

Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann

Sunday, October 12, 2014

It’s Like a Jungle Sometimes, Volume 2: What is the Antidote?


Does it not seem odd that humans will make movies about animals in order to better understand themselves?  I’d find it extremely difficult to ignore the parallel of animals in cages, and humans locked away in prison.

If you haven’t seen, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” I strongly suggest you do so.  This film exhibits the gruesome undertones of living inside of a box, and allowing your circumstance to be the deciding factor in who you were meant to be.

Why would any being grow content with 3 hots, a cot and the “privilege” of going to the rec yard for 1 hour a day?  Life just wasn’t meant to be that simple. Na mean?

A pivotal scene in this film was the primate exchange between Caesar and the circus orangutan.  Caesar’s “Cookie rocket” tactics was their topic of discussion.  

The orangutan couldn’t ingest the concept of Caesar having the intelligence – as well as the desire – to escape their “sanctuary,” but instead, settling for the pilferage of his captor’s chocolate chip cookies.

I’m inclined to believe the writer of this script saw the significance in knowing and embracing your purpose.  This particular writer was also well aware of the differences between aggressiveness and the natural instinct to protect those whom we love.  A very clever means of displaying the human flow of fearing what we don’t understand.  Feel me?

This is a movie in which a chocolate chip cookie was used as a tool to form an alliance amongst potential foes.  Only in Hollywood, right?  Well, dig this: twice a year, several churches donate baked cookies to the prison: a gesture of identifying the humanity that has been forgotten by many.  I’m most appreciative of this gesture.

Some residents will make it their business to get the heads up on the unannounced deliveries of these cookies.  For some reason, the chocolate chip cookies are always in high demand.  So, there’s rarely enough to go around, and with anything in prison, if there’s not enough for everyone, then nobody should get any.  Believe me, this is no code of mine.  It’s just something I’ve witnessed during my time in this box.

Most prisoners simply accept the peanut butter and sugar cookies offered.  And then there’s the handful of inmates more than willing to come to a compromise for the distinguished consumption of a chocolate chip cookie.  

If this compromise was a means of showing others that a cookie is simply a cookie – through the gesture of sharing – their compromise would rarely be seen as an allegiance to the provider of this sugary treat.  It would more so be embraced as a diligent act to taint the overflow of selfishness with the antidote of giving.

Why is chocolate chip such a big deal?  It’s not the antidote to our reproof.  The genuine gestures of a church shouldn’t be so easily road blocked by the complexities of “one-upmanship.” The chocolate chip cookie is merely a metaphor to our reality. 

So I ask; what is your chocolate chip cookie, Blogosphere?  Are you using it as a resource to teach others how to view a much bigger picture, in the direst of circumstances?  Or, are you just taking the bag and chalking it up as just another come-up?

In any case, the chocolate chip cookie seems to go a long way.  Word is bond!

Still Livin,’

Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Its Like a Jungle Sometimes…Volume 1


“Wilderness & Razorwire: A naturalist’s observation from prison” is a gift to anyone behind the wall, deeply in touch with the life forms existing around them.  Reading the works of Ken Lamberton, and all his talk about nature, has got me open like a window.  Na mean?

My “Boss Lady” spent two years on assignment in Kenya.  Living on the continent of Africa – The Motherland – has been a lifelong dream of hers.  It’s been a blessing for both of us.

You see, she understands my connection to nature, and knows that I’m deeply fascinated with lions.  So, she sent me some pics from her day (12 hours), touring the Kenyan safari.

The lion is a beautiful species of feline. The battle scars of a lion’s maturation can be an artful display – depending on how you look at it.  Battle scars give a history.  Living to grow a full mane is an accomplishment within itself.  But it’s an accomplishment that bears its fair share of battle scars.  Feel me?

Even with a baldhead, my soul bears a full mane – groomed in spirituality.  I wear my emotional and physical battle scars with pride, as I etch my footprints in this jungle of an existence.  Know that!

The lions in these pics look nothing like the lions I’ve seen at the zoo or circus.  These lions are in touch with their environment.  They walk with pride’ not shame.  Captivity is foreign to them.  

To be fed by human hands would be the ultimate disrespect to these lions of the Kenyan Maasai Mara.  The human logic is not applied to the dietary habits of these lions.  They eat WHATEVER they want; a gazelle, an impala, or even the occasional water buffalo.

Well fed.  Walking on paws of thunder and balanced by a tail that resembles a steel cable.  These lions are the undisputed kings of the beasts.  It’s simply their nature.  Ya heard?

Some may ask: how does this analogy play out?  How do you maintain the wildness and commanding presence while you are incarcerated?  Simply put; I remain sucka-free, because every eye can’t see, even if they are zoomed in on me.  My mental knows no shackles!  Word is bond!!

My paws of thunder will push this pen and pound the soils of the blogosphere, until the human hands that attempt to break my spirit recognize that I refuse to walk in shame.  I’m well fed on life experience and it’s simply in my nature to hold my place at the top of the survivor’s food chain.

This is my free mind at work, Dr. Kuhns.  Your mission.  My mission.  Our journey.  The roadblocks ahead have already been dismantled by the Creator and quenched the bonfires surrounding our paths.  That’s what’s real!!!


Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann