Entries from March 2006 ↓

Long Range Planning

Im already contemplating some summertime activities with a few friends and am putting the word out to fellow bloggers to see who else might be interested.

First, theres the idea of another sky diving trip. We’d hoped to do this thing last summer, but it never came off. So we’re gonna try again this year, most likely in June or July. Back in 2003, EJ and I, along with other non-blogging friends and friends of friends, made our first jumps at this place when they were in New Jersey. Theyve moved the site to eastern Pennsylvania, so folks in NY, NJ and PA can even make the trip. Shoot me a line at Bernie@bernardjtarver.com if you’re interested.

Later in the summer, I might also make a trip north of the border to see some movies.

And on it goes…

A jury found Steven Pomie guilty in the brutal beating of Dwan Prince in Brooklyn last June that left Prince paralyzed. Police still have no leads in the violent death and dismemberment of Rashawn Brazell. Gay youth, most of them Black and Latin, hang out on the Pier in New Yorks West Village until all hours of the morning because they have nowhere to go. A suspect, arrested in the murder of a prominent Harlem minister, claims he was fending off sexual advances.

The sum total is that society believes certain lives are less valuable than others. Some people are perceived disposable, easily discarded, tossed aside, even killed, with little regard to consequence.

Sadly, while the Brazell case has received wide attention within the community, he was not the first, nor will he be the last victim. We need to be raising greater awareness about all of these cases, if only to demonstrate to the rest of society that we believe our lives matter.

Question Time

When it comes to relationships and how to find, form and maintain long-lasting meaningful ones, I have more questions than answers. I am often engaging in conversations with friends online and off about why it seems everyone we all know, including ourselves, is single, lonely and unable to meet anyone we can connect with.

It doesnt matter if Im having this conversation with men or women, young or old, gay or straight, Black, White, Latin or Asian. There is the desire to meet people, but also great apprehension about opening up, trusting and committing the time and energy to a relationship. We all want it so bad, but seem unable or unwilling to overcome past pain learned through failed attempts.

In addition to those common threads, there is also the reality that the world as we were all brought up to see it, has changed. Most people are independent and able to fend for themselves. We dont need someone to take care of us financially or to do the cooking and cleaning, but we certainly want companionship, intimacy, intellectual stimulation, or a shoulder to lean on during tough times.

This is the great paradox it seems. I see parallels in the search undertaken by both straight women and gay men. Many educated, professional women are self-sufficient. They have the means to provide for themselves. Many gay men are in the same boat, dependent on no one but themselves to take care of them.

Trifling men, with little to offer beyond a phyne body and a smooth line, wont get too far with either.

So how do you form a relationship when you want someone but dont need anyone in your life? Must potential mates now live up to a whole different standard that is more nebulus and less understood by both parties? Is it easier to break up and move on if a potential partner doesnt live up to this invisible criteria? If you dont know why you want someone in your life and what role you need them to play, can you ever find anyone that measures up? Can you ever hope to play the necessary role in anyones life? Is monogamy an anachronism? Are we all destined to have a pool of friends who serve various specific needs, but no one person to serve most or all?

As I said at the outset, I have more questions than answers.

UPDATE: I found this interesting take on the same subject, from a Black lesbian perspective, on a blog I’ve only recently discovered, Pica 12.

A Sharpe About Face

Just 11 days after filing petitions to seek a sixth term as Mayor of Newark, NJ, Sharpe James has surprised residents and political observers there by bowing out of the race. His departure leaves the door wide open for former city councilmember Cory Booker to win the office he narrowly lost to James four years ago by just 3,500 votes.

In making the announcement James cited as a reason the fact that he opposed dual office-holding in New Jersey, a common practice that allows mayors to also serve in the Legislature. James also is a state senator.

Whether you believe that reason or not, James was due for a tougher fight this go round. As a politician who had never lost an election, some insiders believed this could be the year, and perhaps James saw the handwriting on the wall. At this stage in the campaign leading up to the May 9 election, Booker has the most endorsements, money and the most firmly entrenched organization.

Newark Deputy Mayor Ron Rice now steps up to try to claim the James supporter base.

Inside the Numbers

At the beginning of the month, I asked readers to respond to a little survey Id developed. The purpose was to allow me to get a better sense of who reads this blog and what you get out of it. While hardly scientific, it was helpful to me and I thank everyone who took the time to fill it out.

My Extreme Tracker gives me a numerical profile of how many people stop by, how they were referred and where they may live geographically. But through this survey I hoped to learn about your age, race, sex, sexual orientation, religious and political beliefs, in addition to what you liked about the site. Needless to say, there were some things that surprised me and other things which met my expectations.

It came as no great surprise to me to know most of my readers are Black or African-descended (86%), male (85%) and same gender loving (77%). While I might think my writing reflects a diversity of interests, it clearly attracts a readership that resembles the writer. Having done zero marketing of this blog, I can only assume folks have found it through six degrees of separation.

Only 15% of readers are women and just 10% are heterosexual.

The blog skews a younger demographic than I assumed. Forty percent of you are between 30-40 years old. An equal number, 27%, are either 19-29 or 41-50.

Most readers identified themselves as politically progressive–71% versus 29% moderate, with no conservatives showing at all. There has been nothing Ive written to date that would even remotely resonate with conservative ideology, so theres no surprise there. Fifty-nine percent of you consider yourself spiritual but not religious, with another 9% agnostic, and 4% atheist or practicing some other religion than those choices listed. Considering the sexual orientation of most readers and the loss of faith in Christianity many gay men feel, this also seemed right in line.

An equal number of you31%–have been reading since I started the blog, or for the last 6 months to a year; 38% visit several times a month or at least once a week (33%).

As for those aspects of the blog you like the most, I was flattered to read that my writing does it for most of you (25%), with another 21% finding the topics informative and thought-provoking.

Concerning content, 16% found the editorials and commentaries most interesting, with 14% enjoying my news and informational pieces.

Now in three different questions, respondents expressed interest in knowing more about me through the blog. Fifteen percent, the third highest response rate, felt they got a true sense of the writer through the blog; 14%, also the third highest response, liked items about the writers personal life; and in answer to what you wanted to see more of in the future, 21%, the highest response, wanted me to reveal more about my personal life.

I think all bloggers wrestle with the question of how much to reveal about their own lives, and I am no different. Since anyone can read this thing, you just dont know who will see this and whether or not you want all your business on the Internet. Nevertheless, personal entries tend to get the best response in terms of comments. It is a balancing act I will consider carefully.

Finally, 8% of you wanted to see more sexual content. Ha! Yall must have me confused with some other Bernard.