Alec Baldwin’s SNL Skits Were a Strange Omen for How People See the World Through Their Own Experiences #Hometown Chat


It wouldn’t be a stretch if I said there’re lots of raw emotions these days after one of the most contentious periods in American politics. My eldest daughter was a first-time voter so there was much explaining we had to do before and after. But there’s even more we can learn about America’s social ‘stars & stripes.’

This year will go down in history as one of triumph and of stump. With the past summer Olympics athletes like Simone Biles and Michael Phelps seen as champs. Then we had the Presidential elections. Alec Baldwin’s SNL skits were a strange omen for how people see the world through their own experiences.

As professors, pundits and fanatics try to explain the sequence of events they might consider an Alec Baldwin quote which said “I was taught in college that Americans choose their President like they choose laundry soap, with a knee-jerk brand loyalty devoid of reason.” That makes us go Hmmm (or Amen)!

This might also be a case where race and ratings took the day. It was like a pendulum swing in ‘swing states.’ It was also a case of the election results confirming our social biases, media preferences & pop culture tendencies. People were drawn to the ‘Reality TV’ aspects and if there’d be a train wreck.

Winning or losing the election is like flipping a coin. So we still have to keep rolling as a country. We still have to function and not lose our minds. In order to not become too cynical or counter-political, it’s important to ask ourselves ‘What are we looking for?’ in the next season of governing.

  1. Are we looking for a Superman to fly-in and save the day?
  2. Are we looking for a Scapegoat to blame for not wanting to play?
  3. Are we looking for Solutions to address the broader challenges that are in the way?

There’re many moments we’ll remember for how this campaign unfolded. One group bought into the superman model where what they saw gave new excitement to what they hoped for. Another group bought into the public servant model where the history-making they believed was in what they’d received.


The model that came out ahead was the one the pendulum swing helped to win the day. More people saw themselves with Superman because of wanting to save their town. Plus, when people see their lives in someone who acts, talks and is crudely ‘uncut’ like them they’re less likely give Superwoman a shot.

Over the past eight years effective governing was blocked by partisanship (I wonder why). It was a state of gridlock. But as the holiday season approaches, traffic experts know there’s a difference between gridlock and obstruction. Gridlock tends to happen organically. Obstruction tends to happen intentionally.

There’s a danger in thinking the ‘obstruction favor’ should be returned. Is that a scapegoat response for not wanting to play? Life isn’t fair. Politics isn’t pretty. If we depend solely on politicians there’ll be enough disappointment to go around. So let’s see how ‘decide & prosper’ fairs against ‘divide & conquer.’

There’re issues in our country that have been around for years. Elected officials offer promises that spin our minds like a merry-go-round. What we think we want gets fed to us like candy, sweet for the moment but fades over time. We have a build-up in excitement. But with obstruction, things fade into frustration.

What we need in order to address broader challenges whether in Urban America, Heartland America or Rural America is a social structure similar to how a software company handles change. There’s a platform that handles how things interconnect and there’s an operating system for how things work and play.

Political scientists and pollsters will be pinpointing the results for years to come. The next few months will likely be a bit fragile. But lest we get stuck in a depressed feeling consider this, #YesOurCountry. Yes our country is built on many groups that contribute to its greatness. So we should stick closer to the values and visions for a ride on the ‘Nation One’ love train. It’s been around longer than any other political campaign train.

Groove-tracks: Hall & Oates, Billy Ocean, Maxi Priest – Love Train –

Faith Evans – Fragile –


Doc Rivers Steps to the Mic on the Day ‘American Idol’ in Politics Left the Building for an Alternate Replacement #HometownChat


Over the past few months I’ve tried to observe the campaign season with two eyes: One looking at the concerns of those in Urban America and the other at resentment by those in Heartland America. I’ve been trying to figure-out and explain what’s going on these days. At times people want to throw-in the towel.

That’s why social media and local radio are buzzing. Sports radio too, as pros who played sports all their life are a little frustrated for how they’re seen by some fans and public figures. As if the spotlight on Colin Kaepernick wasn’t enough, now it’s NBA coach Doc Rivers who stepped to the mic on ‘locker room talk.’

There was a time we’d sit, watch and cheer our favorite performers. Not just as families watching American Idol on TV but also as citizens watching the Presidential debate. With Idol now a recent past, it seems the day we see politics as an ‘American Idol’ has left the building for an alternate replacement.

The voter frustration level can be hard to put into words. This leads people to throw logic out the door and attach themselves to things on an emotional level. In a sense that’s how the second Presidential debate went off the rails. It was over-run by Alt-Right venom and low-brow antics of insults and miss-information.

It can be entertaining to see insults fly. But it’s even more frightening to think how miss-information is a great threat to society. This makes it harder to learn much in civic affairs. Still, without the benefit of a real scientific poll, it seems the main frustrations of American voters include the following:

  1. The political system (i.e. stalemate) isn’t working for enough regular citizens.
  2. The social/justice system isn’t serving some communities fairly.
  3. The census demographic changes create fear that the country is becoming more diverse too fast.

Recently, President Obama had the first veto override in his Presidency. On the next day, sponsors and supporters of the Bill in Congress said it would need to be modified. It left some political commentators to think that this was just a way to have an override on record during the President’s two terms in office.


Even one of the Bill’s supporters laid blame at the President’s feet. This example of legislative wrangling was a reminder of how the political system sometimes seems to be more about posture than main purpose. It’s become a kind of run-around that isn’t working for enough regular citizens.

Then there’re communities that are left feeling like ‘nobody.’ This may go as far back as America’s early founding where the Constitution recognized African-Americans as having a three-fifths standing. It was a sort of ‘Class-B’ citizenship with ‘bogus’ reasons for unequal legal protection under the law.

Today, some citizens are seen as a threat instead of an asset. For example, how is it that an alleged terror suspect known to be armed and dangerous is captured alive, but an innocent unarmed Oklahoma resident whose car is disabled doesn’t get to see another day? This creates a social strain in community.

Other things might not be obvious but sure seem curious. Increasingly there’s a different despair that’s floating in the Heartland America air. As a broader set of immigrants enter our shores there’s a fear of the census demographic changes. It’s as if America’s diversity is seen as a threat instead of an asset.

Pittsburg Steelers fans know something about the ‘Terrible Towel.’ It’s a way they rally the team with a wave of towels in the air. Sometimes the fun of the game is also seeing fans create a ‘rolling wave’ around the stadium. This might start off in one section of the stands and roll around in a complete circle.

Maybe that’s the kind of vision we need from the next leader of the Free World. This would mean having public policies and hometown synergies where citizens participate in a ‘Great Wave.’ It might start from one end of America’s shore and travel around the coastline to the other end. This way more people get to experience the full fun and ethnic flavor from rolling together.

Groove-tracks: Common – The People –

Alicia Keys – In Common –

What the Olympic Games & Presidential Campaigns Say About The American Dream in ‘Spaghetti Gymnastic’ #HometownChat


The America I’ve come to know isn’t quite the America I first knew. Some of this is from a false image of ‘streets paved with gold.’ Now that I’ve emigrated here for 35 years and seen the streets, I’ve come to my senses. So let me explain using a couple top stories from the Olympic Games & Presidential campaigns.

The dust hasn’t quite settled yet in Rio. Many athletes have returned home to big cheers. That wasn’t the case for Ryan Lochte who’s doing damage control. Meanwhile, the Presidential campaigns have been like a roller coaster of fact checking. So how do the Games & Campaigns jibe with the American Dream?

The Games were exciting. The Campaigns have been mind-blowing. This might seem absurd but who really feels Lochte was robbed? And who really thinks that the best way to handle immigration is to build a wall? What we’ve learned from these situations is the difference between straight-shoot and street truth.

As we look at the Olympics through the ‘media engine’ we see a commercial bonanza. But when we look through the social lens we might wonder about the ‘citizen effect.’ It is the citizen effect that tells us the street truth. For some communities the American Dream feels less like a commercial bonanza and more like ‘spaghetti gymnastics’ because:

  1. They feel like they’re competing against a system of inequities.
  2. They’re faced with setback after setback of event injustices.
  3. Their emotional sanity is challenged by repeated inconsistencies.

A recent report revealed American towns where local authorities use excessive enforcement to balance their books on the backs of citizens. The net result is a build-up of animosity and distrust. Then after a while the pressure cooker boils over into skirmishes and civic disturbances that catch officials by surprise.


Much attention is given to what’s happening on Wall Street. It seems there’s so much on the line. Others are pretty concerned about Front Street in support of small businesses. But maybe the folks on Back Street USA feel left-out or overlooked. Maybe the word on those streets gets lost in ‘campaign hustle.’

Some might say building a wall is a closed-door old-school approach. Others might see it as a gated-community ‘Wall Street’ kind of solution. Either way, in local communities it’s seen as another way of speaking over or speaking around the real issues and not addressing chronic social injustices.

It’s hard to explain to those on Back Street why folks from the other side of the tracks can catch a break but they don’t. That’s how some people felt on social media regarding Lochte. If it wasn’t for video he would have been believed. But even with video, folks on Back Street USA get the short end of the stick.

These days political campaigns can put us through ‘spaghetti gymnastics’ in trying to separate straight-shoot from street truth. Yes, straight shoot might be unscripted and happening in ‘real time.’ But it pulls us in conflicting directions. Street truth is what Dr King gave us 53 years ago with ‘I Have a Dream.’

So while the American Dream is alive and well in Olympic stories, it feels out-of-reach for others. We celebrate those who made it to the biggest event on the world stage. But for folks whose streets aren’t paved in gold, there’s a potential disconnect with the Games, Political Campaigns and living in America.

Groove-tracks: James Brown – Living in America –

– Dream On –

3 Major Reasons Why This Election is the Most Deeply Concerning (+ Significant) in My ‘Immigrant-American’ Lifetime


Douette ‘Doc’ Cunningham

This summer marks 35 years since arriving to America from a Caribbean island. It feels almost like a coming-of-age as a naturalized citizen. A lot has been learned about the revolutionary history and civil rights story. So it feels like this election is the most deeply concerning and significant in my Immigrant-American lifetime.

In a way, the recent party conventions were like a day in the sun. For the GOP it left some viewers with sunburn. For the Dems it seemed to be a boost to their energy. A day in the sun can be good for all the enjoyment and vitamin ‘D’ benefits. In time we’ll see which one did the most to set voters on fire.

Soon we’ll have to choose between the political candidates running for President. Their positions seem to reflect a certain level of ‘knots-in-the-stomach’ among voters. As the campaigns unfold, the candidates try to tap into the pulse of the people. So what have I learned about America’s beating heart?

  1. The undercurrent of race keeps affecting our rhythm.
  2. The clash of cultures creates some schism.
  3. The voice of reason seems to be getting lost in the noise.

I think about the Rodney King and OJ Simpson incidents that riveted the nation. I consider events in Baton Rouge, Minnesota & Dallas and see how an undercurrent of race pulls us back and forth like ocean rip currents. This has some, including ‘Dreamers,’ dragged-out of rising with the tide on America’s shore.

That back and forth happens sometimes as a clash of cultures. It’s seen in how some issues play-out on the battleground for Middle Class America. Just ask comedian Jon Stewart and Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. It’s seen in how social trends get fused into the storyline of our times. Just look at the popular hashtags.

The media tries to provide a snapshot of ‘the prevailing narrative.’ But these days it’s as if the narrative can become a bigger factor than an agenda for everyday people. Social scientists might explain this ongoing dilemma in human terms. Imagine if the left-brain and right-brain couldn’t co-exist in our heads?


The more extreme ends of the cultural spectrum attract social media trolls, clicks & views. Plus, there’s a Left & Right Brain battle for the American mind. Maybe within the past two to three decades we’ve seen the citizen mindset pulled here and there such that ‘to disagree’ and ‘to hate’ have gotten confused.

There’s also the ‘bumping-of-heads’ between ‘the Establishment’ and ‘the Grassroots.’ This is sometimes described in economic terms in the issue of income inequality. It’s also presented in social terms through criminal justice concerns. These aren’t ‘either-or’ issues but ‘both-and’ that people want to see changed.

It would be interesting to poll the public on the question: “Has the vibe in some circles become more reckless rhetoric than rhyme or reason? Over recent years it seems the voice of reason is becoming more and more out of season. That might explain the Reality-TV kind of fascination in this election.

Here we have in the red corner a candidate who’s a marketing mogul. His claim to fame in Real Estate comes from being profit-driven. In the blue corner is someone who’s on the doorstep of becoming the first female leader of the Free World. Both have prior backgrounds that’s been checked and re-checked.

They’re vying to become President of the United States of America. That’s a role usually fit for someone who hopes to advance a broader purpose with reforms that support the Constitution. So a question in voters’ minds is “who’s best suited to make the shift from Campaigner-in-Chief to Commander-in-Chief?”

This isn’t the first time I’ll vote in a Presidential election, having chosen from both sides. Whether that makes me an Independent is anyone’s guess. But one thing I’ve learned about America and the democratic process is that it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Too many bleeding hearts before us paid a high price.

If Leno Can Invite Letterman on His Show, Surely R’s and D’s Can Come Together as Us? – #HometownChat


Trivia: What’s the name of Jay Leno’s CNBC show? (Answer below)

It’s been a series of tragic events in Orlando that hit home everywhere. The scope of which might take a long time to sink in. Even Late Night hosts took a break from political fodder to offer words. Some might wonder if Jay Leno can invite David Letterman on his show, surely R’s and D’s can come together as Us?

After leaving the Tonight Show Leno began a new CNBC show featuring exotic cars. When asked by Extra about his old gig and the current presidential campaign he said “It’s just a different time. Now it’s all nasty, it seems like we’re going backward.” This was almost the same thing Letterman said not long ago.

While neither of them misses the late night grind, they both seem to have made similar points. For one, there’s the feeling that people aren’t impressed by what sounds like a battle between political animosity and public policy. One side wants to stick it to the other side while citizens feel like things are stacked.

There’s a famed Nobel prized economist who lays out a view for rewriting the rules of the American economy. Other elected officials have campaigned on the idea that things are unbalanced. In one sense it’s like someone who’s beyond being boozed or snoozed. There’s a wobbly feeling in moving along.


Leno knows this feeling. When the tire on his car is unbalanced this causes a rough ride. If it’s not corrected, other parts of the vehicle will be affected. Eventually this could lead to a total breakdown. The fix is having the wheels rebalanced. This is true for cars and for an unbalanced life or economic system.

The campaigns are about to enter the Conventions phase. There might not be a magic answer for fixing the social inequalities of today. But if not addressed they’re likely to become bigger social inequities tomorrow. So there’s something to be said about not having citizens feel it’s just another Reality show.

Leno thinks Letterman would be great on the new season of his show. While they were past competitors, they seem to be on a similar page today. That’s something everyday citizens hope to see among public officials as well. Wouldn’t it be fun to catch both white-haired, gray-bearded guys revving their engines?

Answer: Jay Leno’s Garage


Groove-tracks: Harris J – Good Life –

Kindred and the Family Soul
– All My People –

Ice Cube & Common Bring ‘Barbershop’ Talk from Same Ol’ to New Day Solutions – #HometownChat


Trivia: Who was Major League Baseball’s first ever rookie of the year? (Answer below)

The Bad Boy Records family is back on the block. That’s what Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs wants folks to know with an upcoming tour. Tickets sold out in minutes so they’re adding more shows. On another front, Ice Cube and Common bring some Barbershop talk from same ol’ community to new day solutions.

In a statement, Diddy said “The Bad Boy Family includes some of the biggest names in music and songs that helped define a whole generation of music. Also, we are celebrating one of the greatest of all time – Notorious B.I.G.” So what if Barbershop & Hip-Hop (or old-school & new-school) helped us jell as working class heroes?

Well that might call for a 21st century Juke Joint. Back in the day that was where local peeps did the social thing. They’d hangout and get the scoop on happenings around town. Some of that is seen today on social media. But a new ‘joint’ would do a community good, just as milk does a body good.

Another throwback that might fuse ‘new day’ solutions into communities is a M.O.D.D. Squad. That name reminds us of a popular TV show back in the ‘70s that featured a diverse ethnic/cultural mix of ‘street players.’ They came together to address some stubborn problems affecting the community.


This new MODD Squad as a ‘mix of defenders and dreamers’ learns from past Civil Rights efforts and those community super-heroes. They made change happen with defenders of the cause and dreamers in the movement. That’s why Dr. King knew who he was speaking to in saying ‘I Have a Dream.’

But if King’s dream of social change and national unity is to filter ‘left and right’ across society, there’s something else we can do to make ‘smart community’ a reality. This requires the kind of hometown solutions that work like smart phones. So people, businesses and communities have more ‘zoom zoom.’

Recently there’s been lots of talk about equal pay for women. The U.S. Women’s soccer team plus others in media and Corporate America have chimed-in. As the old saying goes “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” That’s true for equal pay as well as for communities around the way.

So as the political season heats up for the NY Primary, the candidates try to explain their platform. Some are buzzing about Super PACs, Super Delegates and having flashbacks to the term super-predators. The question people need to ask today is “who’s helping us reach new heights as super citizens?”

Answer: Jackie Robinson


Groove-tracks: Ceelo Green – Working Class Heroes –

Jamal & Hakeem Lyon (Empire)
– Good People –

What’s Missing in America Seems to be What America’s Missing


Trivia: Which U.S automaker broke Consumer Reports’ scoring system? (Answer below)

It’s hard to imagine that things have come to this point. People are still reeling from the senseless tragedy in Virginia with that WDBJ7 TV station. Still others are amazed by the sometimes insulting nature of the GOP presidential campaign. Nowadays it seems what’s missing in America is what America’s missing.

Many feel we’ve grown numb to what was once seen as vile and vicious. There’re those who say it’s due to a coarsening-trend in our culture. True, everybody isn’t affected by the same issues in the same way. But maybe politicians and citizens no longer have mutual connection or relationship with the real issues.

A relationship is understood as a connection between two or more parties. Experts who work with marriages or with parent-child interactions point to the importance of listening. They emphasize things that individuals can do to strengthen the partnership. With parents it’s about role modeling for their kids.

Things don’t work well when there’s less listening and more battling. Strengthening the relationship takes better communication and less one-upping between the parties in order to achieve greater synergy. Being there for one’s spouse or child is about having a relationship with them and those issues that matter.

If only there was more of this on social media and places of power/influence. It’s hard to come by when shock value gets ‘likes’ while solution value is passed-over. It’s easier in relationships and politics to get hot-headed and trade insults to the point of having a stinging sound-bite. This gets turned into marketing.

Sometimes it seems there’s more battling and less listening that’s occurring in our political and social discourse. There’s a tendency to try to “one-up” the other person or event as opposed to a commitment to strengthening and empowering. Maybe the marketing we see is the modeling we repeat and celebrate.

A lesser known philosopher once said “if you keep on doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep on getting what you deserve.” This might hold true in different ways within life’s many challenges. Plus, what’s good for getting raves might not always be good for a reality-check or America’s prospect.

Answer: Tesla Model S

Groove-tracks: Goo Goo Dolls – “Better Days” –

The Roots Ft Raheem DeVaughn – “Tomorrow” –