Millicent’s Costa Rican Kitchen; Caribbean Flavors in America

I was recently blessed to write the Foreword for my mom’s new #cookbook, Millicent’s Costa Rican Kitchen; Caribbean Flavors in America”.  Details will be coming soon on how you can purchase one of the first autographed copies. I can just smell it!

Millicent’s Costa Rican Kitchen; Caribbean Flavors in America”, is a lifetime of food, flavors, seasonings and traditions unique to Costa Rica and Jamaica all accumulated in one repository, this cookbook.  It includes unique recipes handed down from generation to generation from her early beginnings in the Central American Province of Puerto Limon with the added benefit of being rooted in the spices and traditions of Jamaica.  This unique combination of Tico and Jamaican influenced cuisine makes her cookbook stand out among all others. When I learned she was going to make her succulent traditions available to the world in the form of a cookbook I, at first, licked my lips in utter desire then recalled what it was like when her dishes were a part of my daily life.

As a growing young boy my mouth watered in anticipation as the aroma of brilliant Caribbean flavors emanated from the kitchen. I laid in bed which was located at the furthest point from the kitchen, but I had a keen ear and nose for the sound of cabinets opening and closing, the sizzle and smell of plantains on the stove top and the circular stirring sound of mom whipping up a fresh batch of goodness in one of her many mixing bowls.  It was at this early age that I developed the reputation of being the plantain bandit in the house.  I would walk into the kitchen to conduct a little small talk with my mother and at the moment she turned her back, I snatched a plantain from the finished batch and in one swoop…gulp!

There was no better sound for three developing boys and two girls than the audible ring of the dinner bell. To us it was the sound of royal trumpets at Westminster Hall. It was at this moment we entered into complete pandemonium to be first at the dinner table.  Legs and arms flailing; pushing and shoving; blocking and tackling all to be first to experience what was on the menu.  My father prayed for what seemed like hours and then, finally, we all reached ecstasy and ultimately, a food coma.  We sat at the table for hours, talking and indulging in seconds and most times thirds.  I am of the opinion  good food promotes table conversation, laughter and more laughter.  This was our daily pattern.  This cookbook will bring joy to your life, family and friends.

plantains arroz con pollo

Her recipes will transport you to a Caribbean island without the hassle of a passport, plane and TSA agent.  However, if you turn your back while preparing one of her amazing recipes in your kitchen be acutely aware for the plantain, arroz con pollo or curry chicken bandit; they come in all shapes and sizes. Buen provecho!

Mortimer George Aldridge

Blogger: http://www.tito61.com

Guest fashion writer: http://www.evokesocks.com/blog

Adult plantain bandit

Los Angeles, CA

Top 6 things that need to poof, be gone in 2015 !

We decided to give you a few days to get the 2014 backwash out of your system because we knew when the clock struck 12 o’clock on New Year day (Cinderella) you wouldn’t suddenly come to your senses and truly leave 2014 in the past.  So, in no particular order, we’ve put together the top 5 things that need to poof, be gone in 2015:

1.  Twerking –  Somewhere around Miley Cyrus the twerk industry went south, figuratively. Ok, ok, ok, technically it was 2013 but it gained a head of steam in 2014 with #twerkteams that included both men and women.  I lived in Georgia back in the mid-90’s where twerking was an art form not yet known to mainstream America, and only select booty’s were called forth to go up and down.  Twerking did not start in 2014.  Let’s go back to yester-year shall we?  Not all booty’s are made to clap. I think the picture speaks for itself which is more like the snaps at a poetry slam than a full-blown ovation.  To put it lightly…can we bring Hannah Montana back?  please? Love you Miley! Back that thing up.

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2.  Men in Black…socks - Guys, there’s a new norm.  Let’s get out of the middle ages and enter into the new millennium in 2015.  This may shock you but Troglodytes are not in vogue. It’s acceptable, wait, it is encouraged to brighten up your life and emerge from your cave with a modern, stylish sock game that speaks to your personality and lifestyle.  Just to clarify, there is still a need for plain black or brown socks so keep a pair in the back of your drawer for that funeral or maybe a…funeral, RIP.  You might find it useful to look through the collection of bold cashmere socks at evokesocks.com, and, get an additional 10% off by using the coupon code: titosixtyone.  So, how’s your sock game?

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evokesocks.com for Breast Cancer Awareness

3.  Charles Barkley social and political rants – Chuck, love you to death and as an avid NBA on TNT fan, I look forward to the post game banter between you, Shaq, Kenny and Ernie, but please, please, please do not provide your opinion on anything in 2015 other than basketball!  You have made millions playing the game.  It’s what you know, sorta.  It’s your money-maker.  We don’t care for your thoughts about, well, anything else.  Chuck, when the media approaches you for comments on the next issue America faces, and we know they will, please resist the temptation to answer your phone.   Chuck it’s ok for you to continue making millions and talk basketball.  In other words, no 2015 freebies Chuck.

4. Replacing an “S” with a “Z” –  I thought this one would go away in 2014, but it just seems to persist.  ThiZ Zhit haz to Ztop.  Zee how that workZ?

5. Selfies - My selfie game is on fleek. This one is near and dear to my heart and it is with deep and utter penitence that I must say (gulp)…selfies are dead in 2015. I pride myself on being an intermediate selfie taker-er.  I glamorized my selfie game by writing a post about it, here.  You see, when selfies first became popular, we thought it was just a photo someone took of you, but now it is beyond obvious because your right arm is horizontally in view while your left is posing.  The selfie rookies have taken over the game. Let’s just say, it is time to post quality, SLR pictures.  By the way, an occasional “usie” is ok in 2015.

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6. Snarks –  Checkout the popular pictures on Instagram.  Examine anyone who has made a major transformation in their life.  Check out anyone who has socially or financially upgraded.  Checkout anyone who is not basic and there within the confines of his or her mother’s basement and behind the safety of a computer monitor you will find folks who insult, belittle and spread negativity on social media in the very feed of those who are progressive. It’s time for snarks to “get a life” in 2015.

There were many others we could have added to the list, but we stopped at 6 because we stopped at 6.  Here are a few more.  Let’s call these the honorable mention “poofers”:

  • Facebook videos – ghetto fisticuffs videos to be exact.
  • Using the words: “haters”, “awesomeness”, “rachet”, “Bae”, “THOT“, “yassss”, etc.
  • Ice bucket challenges or any challenge for that matter.  Just give!
  • #Hashtagging #every #word or #Hashtaggingeveryword – I’ll do better.
  • Facebook Chain posts – the posts that give you the guilt trip if you don’t share it…Poof, be gone!

So tell us, are there others you would add to the list?  Tell us about your top poofers?  and don’t forget to share this article, the world needs to know.

Why I can’t breathe

Inhale,

Quite honestly, I’m genuinely tired of the bullshit!  I’m an exhausted black man. I’m not any different.  I’m not angry.

In order for you to understand why I can’t breathe you will have to take a trip with me and live my life for just a brief moment.  I’ll help you with this journey by recounting events that led me to this current state of oxygen deprivation.

@titosixty61

Finally! there’s nothing like hearing the last bell ring for the day in high school.  It was like sweet music to my ears.  It brought a smile to every pimple ridden student’s face regardless of culture, color of skin or socio-economic status, yet unknown to me, this day would leave an indelible scar on my life.  I learned more about life this day than in the prior 10 years of attending school within the Los Angeles Unified School District.

As I left campus to hitch a ride with my homies, I was confronted by a grown man. I purposely used the word confront.  Confront /kənˈfrənt: meet (someone) face to face with hostile or argumentative intent.   The man was a white LAPD cop.  My friends and I were sitting in the car waiting on one more to drive home.  The car was filled with a virtual melting pot of teenagers with me being the sole black student.  To put things in perspective, I attended a high school at the time that was roughly 80% white,  10% latino, 5% black and 5% “other”. The cop walked up to the car and asked me who I was and what I was doing.  I told him my name and explained that I was getting a ride to work. At the time I worked part-time bagging groceries like any other high school kid with a plan. He abruptly told me to get out of the car.  He checked my high school ID and drivers license.  He then proceeded to tell me I “fit” the description of someone who assaulted and robbed another student in the high school bathroom and that he would have to detain me.  He asked me for my “nickname”.  I told him my  family calls me “Tito”.  He asked me if I went by  any other nicknames and I replied, “no”.  Apparently the cop knew the nickname of the black boy they were looking for.  He told me to place my hands on the side of his vehicle and he proceeded to “pat me down”.  Keep in mind school was just over and this incident occurred right outside of  one of the main exit gates.  There were several students walking by, looking and shaking their heads my way.  I was completely embarrassed as the cop continued to search my pockets, spread my legs and do his thing.  He found nothing.  He told my friends they can leave but I would have to stay.  He then handcuffed me and sat me in the back of the cop car.  Yes, I was effing handcuffed!  I literally sat in the back of the cop car for what seemed like hours as my fellow students walked by and peered in at me in disbelief. I felt like a caged animal on display.  He continued to question me. I told him I never had a real fight, robbed or assaulted anyone in my life.  I told him my dad was a pastor.  I told him I was an honor student.  I pulled out all stops to get out of that car because not only was I innocent but the embarrassment was overwhelming…and it continued.  He told me he was taking me to the Foothill Division to ID me.  As a matter of historical content this is the same division that was involved in the Rodney King incident years later.  I knew about the division because prior to this it had a negative reputation among us black boys.

Never once did a tear drip from my eyes, never once did I attempt to incite the cops.  It was as if, to me, this was expected and long overdue because  eventually it happened to all black boys.  After arriving at the Foothill,  I sat in the holding cell as the cops talked among themselves.  Real criminals were in the precinct.  They were around me.  I was confused.

Finally the “arresting” cop came in and took me to his boss.  The boss looked at me, he sized me up, grabbed me by the chin, turned my face and then turned to the arresting cop.  He yelled at him and said verbatim, ” this boy has no f*cking facial hair, a baby face and has never shaven a day in his life…the witnesses claimed the criminal had a f*cking beard”.  He proceeded to tell the arresting cop to take me home or wherever I needed to go ASAP!  That was THE single most awkward ride I ever received to work.

Inhale,

Six years later while a college student, I picked up my date and headed  to Beverly Hills for a night of fine-dining. I drove a gold sports car.  I clearly remember being dressed in a black suit, tie and  Ferragamo shoes. I always had a penchant for style. My girlfriend was elegantly dressed in a black evening gown.  I made a right turn on a side street to make a legal 3-point turn and arrive at our destination in the Hills.  Before I could complete the turn I was blinded by the oft familiar LAPD blue and red lights glaring both behind and in front me. I was hemmed in by two LAPD cop cars.  My girlfriend was in shock!  All 4 cops approached  my Z hands on holster.  The cop on the passenger side asked my girlfriend if she was okay.  I was enraged, but she remained calm and told me to relax and told the cops she was fine.  She was not black. The cop on my side asked me for my registration and this was where I learned a vital life lesson.  As I reached toward the glove compartment  I heard the sound of four guns being released from their holsters. I halted. I was staring down the barrel of four cocked 9mm guns! My girlfriend lost it emotionally.

They questioned my destination and eventually told me I “fit” the description of a burglary suspect in the area.  I wasn’t the same black boy of five years prior.  I was annoyed.  The guns did not phase me.  I questioned the cops as to how I could again “fit” the description of a burglary suspect while driving a sports car dressed in a suit?  With a date? What criminal does that? What was stolen and how could it fit in my 2-seater?  All this happened while still at gun point.  I questioned them in a non-confrontational manner. They interpreted my questioning as an encounter. They told me and my girlfriend to get out of the car.  They made us sit on the curb while they proceeded to search the trunk of my car, back seat,  between the seats, glove compartment…every nook and cranny.  The contents of the trunk and glove compartments were pitched to the ground as they continued their search. When they came to the conclusion there was nothing to be found,  I asked them to return my personal items back to where they were.  They scoffed at me.  The lead cop told me to do it myself.  My date and I just continued to sit on the curb as they drove off. I already had a negative feeling towards cops, but from that day on I held a disdain for any and all badges.

Inhale,

So I understand today’s anger, protests and confusion.  I’ve matured exponentially.  I realize all cops are not the same. Most importantly, humans are different and I refuse to place them in a box because of the color of their skin, badge or economic status.

I want you to understand black boys are not all the same too. They are humans just like you.

I realize the vast  importance to “protect and serve”.  I must remind you public trust is also part of your Oath of Honor.

I want my black boys to think twice before puffing out your chest. You ignite when there should be no flame. It goes both ways.

The life lesson I learned was to deliberately inform a cop exactly where my registration is located and tell them I am going to reach. for. it. now.

I talk to them as if they are a child because I don’t know the mind-set of this human with a gun.

I realize this first-world country we share is laden with ignorance. I want my black boys to seek knowledge.

I’ve been told I’m different by my “peers” as a compliment?  I want you to understand you are uninformed for saying it.

Because you don’t know where I came from.  Mr. Obama and I are not the only ones. Mr. Obama and I are not the only ones…

I understand the need for law and structure.

We do not all “fit” the description.  We are not clones. We do not all look alike!

Stop me, but don’t kill me. Stop me, but don’t kill me. Maybe if I live I will mature and understand.

Just maybe you will change and then live.

I shed a slight tear thinking of the night in Beverly Hills… if I made a sudden move would I be here writing this post?

This unhealthy relationship boils down to lack of trust. This unhealthy relationship boils down to lack of trust.

My aspiration is to exhale one day and simply. just. breathe…

Vamping Vegas

Last week, I was honored to chaperone my daughter and friend to a national dance competition in Las Vegas. The type of high level competition where extreme dance moms hover like vultures, living vicariously through their teenage children’s every move. I don’t fit in to this environment. I look different from them. I don’t levitate, I give the kids space…to be teenagers.

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The vultures encompass me like the Brides of Dracula ~ @titosixtyone

I learned a lot on this trip. I thought I was current, hip and up to date for my age. After living in a hotel room with my daughter and her BFF and the occasional “meet up” in our hotel room, I was quickly brought back to earth, rather… I was downright humbled!  I felt my age for the first time in 10 months. These teenage girls live a digitized life well beyond what I envisioned in my youth while watching, Lost in Space or The Jetsons. Their mastery of selfie’s, editing and social media is beyond OUR ability by light years, trust me! After all, my daughter has over 10,000 followers on Instagram (@yourdancepiration) so there’s much to be learned here! After one day in the same room, I came to the conclusion that they weren’t merely dancers, but Digital Artists who so happened to possess dancing skills.

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Vamping has several meanings to this generation. It could mean pulling an all-nighter (aka Dracula), or a woman who uses her God-given talents, looks or sexuality to get her way  with men (aka suck the life out of you financially, Lol…well, not really Lol). So after learning this little tidbit I decided to go “vamping” after tucking them in one night. Sincity never sleeps.  Armed with my wrist game and my first SLR camera, I took to the streets of Vegas, late, late night:

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Vamping accessories

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Vamping with fresh breath

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Vamping with Britney

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Vamping Hollywood

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Vamping Paris

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The next night after Vamping Vegas, I told my roommates to put on something cute and lets grab dinner and vamp. One thing that is universal to teenage girls and women in general regardless of their generation or the century is the offer to dress cute and a free meal. Its a timeless, universal expectation that puts a real smiley face on a females face.  But the difference with this generation is they wanted a profile picture walking away.

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vamping backwards

 

The selfie game; single in L.A.

Living in Los Angeles does not help! Well, not this time.  Yeah, I know, it’s L.A….LA LA land, a melting pot of beautiful people, erotic weather, beaches, models, stars, cars, swag, entertainment, the scent of cannabis at every turn, earthquakes…And I should be happy like a room without a roof.  Like, totally, I get it but…ahh…like I dig it and all…but…Do you get the point that I haven’t made as yet?

It goes something like this: Me, being single and living in L.A., after so many years is akin to boarding the Shanghai Maglev train while at its top speed from a standing broad jump position…Chances are I’ll fall flat on my face or go splat against a side panel while the train keeps going without an inkling.  Unless of course I’m Superman, but the last time I checked I didn’t see one of these hanging in my closet:

As time went on and  after feeling at peace with who I am there came this urge to explore jumping the train.  The opportunities  in L.A. appear limitless, but if you were accustomed to a different lifestyle or recently lived in states considered more conservative or like me (all of the above) then this sexy place  will swallow you up.

So what’s next? Where do I go to meet people? What do I wear? What’s my type? What do I like to do?  Will I need a new car? Where should we go?  Just a shit load of double U’s.  I decided to talk to some of my friends for their perspective, take notes and put a  game plan together.  I’ve been a leader and process improvement champion for many years so how difficult will it be to put some bullet points on my whiteboard, prioritize, delegate and wait…delegate?

I still had a perplexed look on my face because after further thought, I had no single friends!  I decided to go straight to the source, why not?  Where else in So Cal can you find a think tank of social rhetoric?  That’s right, The gym!  My plan was to ask single #teamfit people:  where and how do you meet new people in L.A.?  Simple, direct and to the point I thought.

My first and last conversation went something like this:

suave single Latin dude: ok, so you need to meet people, new friends, start fresh…I. Got. You.

me: yep, where should I go? what’s happening in L.A.?

suave single Latin dude: go?

suave single Latin dude: dude how’s your selfie game?

me: game?

suave single Latin dude: give me your phone

suave single Latin  dude: < double tap-tap tap double tap-tap double tap-tap tap…>

suave single Latin dude: ok, you have a profile

me: huh?

suave single Latin dude: take a selfie, wear sunglasses that’s always Cali chic.  As a matter of fact, take a bunch of selfies.

me: ok

suave single Latin dude: take them now

me: <blank stare>

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@Armani Exchange sunglasses

suave single Latin dude: wow, you don’t look a day over 40…kinda cute actually

me: yeah, no!

suave single Latin dude:  This is how it works: if someone likes your selfie and you like their selfie the app creates a match and then you can chat and maybe hook-up, blah blah blah

me: hook-up?

suave single Latin dude: and if you’re traveling it will locate hoes in what ever city you’re in and you can match and hook-up that way (he really said this)

me: hoes, really?

suave single Latin dude: what gender do you prefer?

me: huh?

Ok, so I embellished it a hell of a lot tad, but you get my drift?  Without giving it  much further thought I decided to play the selfie match game.

Fast forward…

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Reloading ego…

A couple of days later I was peering at several  random selfie matches wondering what to do next?  I mean, after all, they picked my selfie didn’t they?  There must have been something that caught my eye when I saw their selfies, right? And I didn’t even need a new outfit, or require  Clive Christian “C” for Men.  So, why didn’t I reach out to connect and build friendships?

Heck, I matched while sitting on the toilet, multitasking.  I wonder how many filters they used on their pic?  Hmm, is the pic even of them? Photoshop? which one was sitting on the potty when they liked my selfie?

I continued to read a bio…

Hmm, interesting, she likes the NBA, NFL, fitness, popping bottles, traveling, outdoor activities, social media, reading the Wall Street Journal, twerking and quiet evenings rolling in the sand…um, ok….

Days later I looked  at the selfie matches again.  I still did not “chat or hook-up” because somehow this felt completely and utterly awkward to me.  Is this the new game in town…mobile hook-up apps?  Is this where conversation, cologne and Cali chic ends? A couple selfies, a roll of toilet paper and Boom! 26 hot chicks…I think?

Here’s what I learned.  It can be difficult or impossible in most cases to jump on a train while its going full speed.  At times you have to slow down, buy a ticket for a specific travel date, exercise patience and prepare yourself for the trip of your life.

tito61.com

me: up up and away…!!

 

So, tell me dude, how’s your selfie game ?