Monthly Archives: June 2008

ALVIN S. SIMPLETON SAYS OBAMA NOT A GENTLEMAN

Alvin was cutting Mr. Thompson’s hair. Mr. Thompson is a professor at the local college. We were discussing how Obama’s campaign had raised a shit load of money.

“That Obama is a smart man. I see in the paper he don’t want no help from the government.” Alvin paused and then went back to Mr. Thompson’s head. “But, man, I think he did McCain wrong.”

Our true Obama fan, Jabo, chimed in. “I tell you that boy knows what he’s doin. Didn’t I tell youall he was a heavy thinker, huh, didn’t I?”

“No, you did not,” said Leroy, “but he is smart. And he gon win.”

“Professor, what do you think,” I asked.

Alvin paused to let the professor speak. He couldn’t cut while the professor was speaking because the professor talked with his hands.

“Well, Obama is a very smart man, no doubt about that. But I agree with Alvin, he had agreed to take Federal money but then he reneged when he apparently suddenly discovered he could raise more money than he would get from the government.” The Professor waited for a reply from one of us.

Leroy obliged him. “Now, look here, Professor, if the guy could raise more money than them McCain, he did the right thing. I mean how come both of them got to have the same amount, huh, how come?”

“Look, my man,” I said, “the rule for public financing of presidential elections is not about both candidates having the same amount of money. It is about preventing the rich folks’ money from influencing the election. Am I right, Professor?”

“In part, yes,” the Professor replied, “mainly, it is about preventing special interest from influencing the election. The problem, you see, is it doesn’t stop groups from collecting as much money as they want and using it for negative advertising, such as the Swift Boat group did to Kerry.”

The professor was going too deep for us.

“Well, all I know is Obama can raise a whole lot of cash using the internet, and by God, his plan to do it is a good thing,” insisted Jabo. “I tell you the dude knows how to win.”

“Well, Alvin,” I asked “you gon voted against my man Obama?”

“Now you know what I do in the votin booth is private. Besides, how I vote is neither here nor there. I’m just sayin Obama ought to keep his word, as a gentleman.”

“Politics is no game for gentlemen,” I shot back at him.

“Amen,” said Leroy.

“You got that right,” added Jabo.

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ALVIN S. SIMPLETON ASKS WILL RACE PLAY A PART IN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

We were sitting around talking about nothing in particular when our missing club member, Jabo, pimp-walked into the barbershop.

“We won, baby, we won,” he smilingly announced.

Alvin, slouching in his barber chair, sat up. “Okay, Jabo, cut the jive. We won what?”

“No, no, not you Alvin,” replied Jabo, “we Obamamanics.”

“Obama which,” asked Leroy.

“I think what Jabo is trying to say in his roundabout way is that Obama is the presumptive democratic presidential nominee. The we are those of us who were for him.” I looked at Alvin.

“Look, you jive-time loafers, youall got to lay off Hillary now that she lost. Man, the poor sister got enough troubles. Youall better think bout Obama being the first Black president.” Alvin pushed forward in his chair.

Leroy quickly leaped into the conversation again. “Hey, he ain’t the first Black president.” We looked at him like he was crazy.

“Leroy” Alvin turned to him, “as your grandma would say ‘have you done lost your senses?’ When did we have a Black president?”

“Clinton, Bill Clinton. Youall member when that writer called him our first Black president.” Leroy looked puzzle.

“Leroy,” I said, “he’s white.”

“Oh, I thought she meant he was a mulatto.” No body bothered to reply to that.

“Look, guys,” I tried to reason with them about the label ‘Black president,’ “how come he got to be the Black president, huh. How come he can’t be just plain the president.”

Jabo spoke this time. “man, what the H are you talkin bout? Last time I saw his picture he was Black, anyway, what the White folks call Black cause his skin dark. And he gonna be President of the United States of America.”

“How come youall all the time got to bring race into it. Man, we done got beyond that,” I said.

Alvin started making his hand gestures, and we knew he was about to say something he considered very profound or as he would say heavy. “Now he Black enough for all of you Black folks who thought he wasn’t ‘fore he beat Sister Clinton. Now the White folks think he ain’t white enough. Hey, his mama was white, and his daddy was black, so take your pick. Dude can’t win for losing.”

“I pity poor Obama and his pretty wife,” said Leroy.

“Leroy, there you go again coming from left field,” Alvin said, “man, what you talkin bout.”

“I’m talkin bout race. This is America, and you’ll know they ain’t no way race ain’t gon be in the election. No sir, no way, no how. You’ll know I’m right. That mean Obama and his wife in for a big disappointment cause they just might lose.” Self-satisfied he made his point, Leroy reared back in his chair with a smug look on his face.

We all looked at each other and with head shakes agreed he was probably right.

Alvin got the last word: “Now youall listen to what I’m bout to tell you. I’m bout to school you fools. Them folks who say they would vote for a Black man for president, they lyin’. When they in the votin’ booth, they vote against Black. You can deposit what I’m tellin’ you in the bank and get interest. Youall know I’m right. I’m with Leroy on this one. Obama just might lose cause he Black.”

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ALVIN S. SIMPLETON TELLS HIS CREATOR TO CHANGE HIS BLOG

In my first post, I indicated that I would be discussing crime fiction novels by Black American writers. I changed my mind because I’m working on a book about Black writers of crime fiction. Instead, I think I’ll opine on national and world events through a character I created named Alvin S. Simpleton.

I hope Langston Hughes will not turn over in his grave but will forgive me for creating a bad imitation of the famous Harlemite Jesse B. Semple, the character he created in 1943 in the Chicago Defender, an African American weekly newspaper.

Alvin owns a one-chair barbershop he calls “Alvin’s Tonsorial.” He bought the shop to have something to do after he retired from his job with the Federal government.

The shop is located on a street that was once a main thoroughfare before the highway was built. In the window is a handwritten sign announcing the days and times the shop is open:

ALVIN’S TONSORIAL
OPEN TUES. THRU SAT. 10:AM-6:PM
CLOSED SUNDAY AND MON.

Alvin and his friends meet each morning in the barbershop to swap lies and non-expert opinions as ordinary citizens on the economy, foreign affairs, government, politics, women, and any controversial subject they feel incompetent enough to discuss.

Alvin’s friends are Jabo,Leroy, and me. Like Alvin, we are all retired. I’m a retired Federal civil servant, Jabo is a retired Marine major, and Leroy is a retired city bus driver.

Alvin’s nephew, we call him Shortman because he is only about five feet tall, cleans the shop. Shortman is slightly mentally challenged or, as Alvin would say, a little slow. Alvin helps his sister Maggie, Shortman’s mother, by paying Shortman a small wage to clean up the shop.

This column came about at Alvin’s suggestion. One day I was working on my blog as Alvin looked over my shoulder. He had never seen me working on the blog, though he knew I was always on the computer.

“Whatcha doin?” he asked.

“Writing in my blog.”

“Writing in your which?”

I explained what a blog is and told him I often put my thoughts in it so other people can comment on them.

“Hey, why don’t you put something about us four, you know how we argue bout stuff in the shop. Shucks, we be doing some heavy thinkin, you know that. Let folks know how heavy we in this city think.”

I agreed, and you will be reading the results in future posts.

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