“Suckerpunch from a green-eyed thug”

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I’ll never forget the first thug I ever met who was light-skinned with green eyes.

The setting is the legendary and much emulated 1990 in Wynnefield, the small but powerful subsidiary of West Philadelphia. A geographical paradox. Some of the homes and foliage provided in the Wynnefield & Overbrook area were that of a dream. But you could travel just a few minutes on foot in the opposite direction down 54th street towards Parkside, and it would present the perfect landscape to be murdered. I digress…

Mann Elementary School. Fourth grade — Ms. Jacobs classroom. I sat next to Carmia, the skinny beau who was responsible for introducing me to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and ‘Cry Baby’ bubble gum. CotDamn 1990 was a pivotal year! I sat directly across from Roberta, who unbeknownst to me, would become my first ‘girlfriend’ in my human lifetime.

Short story — she penned me a beautiful note asking, “do you want to go with me?”

Circle One

Yes                         No                             Maybe So

I received the note, went home, fondled the message from days on end, bragged to my parents, performed celebratory long stroke dances to Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity.” My 8-year old swagger was validated. Life was good. Until I got to school one day and Roberta uttered that fateful sentence:

“Charles, I don’t want to be your girlfriend anymore.”

The very 8-year old heart inside my 8-year old body that I had come to know and trust with my 8-year old wisdom, was toasted. Broken sounds like an upgrade – I was shattered.

I looked up at Roberta – with her sweet brown skin, chubby cheeks that I was too young to know what to do with, luscious adult-esque hips that the metal kiddie chairs could barely confine, a head doused with barrettes of silky/swirly hair, real baby follicles lying on the forehead, and angelic overly lip-glossy glossed up lips RIPE for a first kiss that would never happen…

It occurred to me, at this exact moment — that she had never looked more beautiful to me. It was here on the brink of a decade of life that I learned a valuable lesson — “forbidden fruit is the sweetest, or so it seems.” 

In my deep state of shock, I asked my now ex-girlfriend, “why you don’t want to go with me no more?”

Her reply, simple.

“Because you never answered my question.”

Damn.

And here I was, celebrating for weeks! — a victory that I hadn’t even taken the time to confirm. That poor girl, she must have been miserable at home awaiting my response. Communication is so key. It was then and it is now.

So here we are in Ms. Jacobs classroom amid all my friends. Jameel, the green-eyed thug, sat way in the back of the classroom. He was my homie. Jameel was light-skinned – with curly hair – with light colored eyes. So he had three things going against him. Contrary to popular opinion of light-skinned cats not being able to hold their hands in the face of battle – in a lot of cases, this could not be farther from the truth. As a fellow light-skinned constituent, I conceded this. We are tested more by the general population of students and community kids due to our hue, which is ironic, because nobody chooses what they look like. We are mere products of the DNA afforded to us via sexual conquests of our foremothers and fathers who didn’t actually choose theirs. Being spawned from my neck of the woods, the lighter kids were considered “cuter” or “more valuable”, thus getting more attention from the young ladies, thus leading us to constant scrutiny, antagonization and in some cases, bloodbaths and physical warfare by our comrades. Self-hate and lack of proper education are some of the deeper rooted issues that lead to the fruit; but try rationalizing that with a jealous group of 11- year olds. Nonetheless, here we are, fighting for no reason at all.

Many don’t know this about me — but I fought, almost daily. In a given school week, I fought 4-6 times. Sometimes more. Was never suspended, because I got good grades |and knew how to finesse the principals| — but rest assured I fought my ass off. My homie, Jameel, was no different. And like I mentioned, he had the eye color AND the curly hair – multiply his battle scars by at least 5. His luck with schmoozing the authorities wasn’t so fortunate – he’d get suspended for days at a time due to his altercations.

Time passed, as it always does.

Life took us to Beeber Middle School. I don’t know about you, but we never called it “junior high.” ‘Middle School’ was the moniker. Perhaps that was a Philly thing. 6th, 7th, 8th grade — Jameel was always around. We grew closer. I admired his ability to rock the flyest sneaks, Reebok Pumps or huaraches, which were around $200 even with the 90’s dollar. I always figured that he was raised in a household with both parents. Either that, or he was an only child. Jameel had developed noticeable scars around his eyes and cheekbone area, wear and tear from the many fistfights over the years. Now, I never found Jameel to be a particularly handsome kid and the battle scars certainly didn’t help. I also noticed that he had developed an edge, quicker to anger, slower to forgive. The vessel of paranoia fueled by scorn and disdain was undeniable. The sweet young kid in the back of Ms. Jacobs classroom cracking mediocre jokes — Jameel was no longer. The troubling waters of West Philly had been unkind to my friend. It’s as if I was now witnessing him become the troubled water that would rock the ships of many.

Probably much to my Mother’s chagrin, I was never a kid that carried a lot of fear. I didn’t have the space for it. I do, however, remember the first time hanging with Jameel where I thought to myself: “Hmm, being around him too much may get me killed.” He had just purchased a high pressured BB gun, off the black market, of course. This was one of those models, that was said to be able to severely hurt a human being if hit at point blank range. Emphasis on “severely.”

He said, “Take a walk with me.”

I laced up my sneaks.

The walk started off, shooting abandoned beer bottles, aiming at squirrels, you know the type. But then, Jameel loaded up what seemed like a special clip that he had reserved during the day. We walked around Wynnefield in the span of about an hour and a half. I watched him shoot out the windows of every-single-car of his enemies. That’s windshield, rear view, driver side front and rear, and passenger side front and rear. He was generous — spared the side view mirrors. Anyone who had ever done him wrong – beat him in a fight – cursed at him – or rubbed him the wrong way, your automobile glass was shattered that day. He nearly destroyed the car of a known small-time kingpin. I thought to myself that if someone saw me with him, it may not end up well for me. Notwithstanding, my fearlessness remained.

I lost touch with Jameel, the green-eyed thug, for quite a while. Maybe some years. Heard that he gotten into some trouble that almost resulted in him losing his life. I always kept him in my good thoughts and wondered how he was doing.

10th grade. I had a summer job sweeping hair at Butts Barber Shop. I developed a street rep from playing Chess — my last first hand experience of community in West Philly. No one could beat me, including the OG’s who were fresh out |of jail| and had nothing but time to sharpen their swords. I was a monster with the horses, and if I possessed both knights, you couldn’t beat me. I would sit down with the Ol’ heads, checkmate them after a few meticulous moves, and send them back into the world from whence they came. A lot of money was made off of me, but I wasn’t the one making it, unfortunately. It was a sport of love, for me.  Chess is the game of life.

Jameel linked up with me at the shop. He told me the story of his near death experience and how he was turning a new leaf. He was recently jumped and brutally beaten by a dangerous squad led by a cat named J, and wanted revenge but even thought of letting it go. I told him that I was happy to see him – and that we need to stay alive because there’s a lot of life out there designed for us to take.

We then proceeded to talk about Timberland’s and some of the latest fashions. Jameel had just bought some fresh sneakers that he was lacing up. We played a game of chess by the window when all of a sudden, Jameel’s senses started tingling. He looked around swiftly and said,

“Hold my bag.”

I grabbed the backpack. Jameel rushed outside, walking with purpose.

It was then that I noticed that J, a big burly known corner boy and street thug, was walking outside with his clique —

Jameel approached J and cocked back his right fist so firmly, that even thinking about it now, it looks like it happened in slow motion. Jameel, the green-eyed thug, suckerpunched J with the wrath of God. To this day, I have never heard the crackle of raw bones encased by flesh in the form of knuckles resounding on a man’s face so explosively. The sound could be heard inside the barbershop. I was awestruck. The result, was even more surprising to watch.

J, likely the brandisher of a firearm, who was known in the streets of Wynnefield and had done harm to so many – I witnessed fear overtake him. His entourage, who under normal circumstances of control would engage – subscribed to J’s fear and were absolutely powerless. They were out of their element. Jameel was in his. He made J pay for all of the sins that he had to bear since 4th grade, in Ms. Jacobs class. Finally, it all made sense.

The opposition scattered and Jameel came back into the barbershop.

“Is it my move?”

I wasn’t sure.

He then went on to say the fateful words,

“You don’t get to jump me then just walk down the street like everything is okay.”

Enough said.

I came across this story in my mental rolodex as I circumvented traffic. I found that Jameel, the light-skinned green-eyed thug, is us — and J, the bigger badder thug who travels with an entourage is life. As time goes on – with new experiences, adversities, trials, hardships, heartbreaks and all the other stuff, we naturally become hardened to the elements. This is the nature of a thug. Hardening to conform to the elements that made you hard. It’s not only a defense mechanism, but a survivalist instinct.

Life, while being a God-given blessing on so many levels, can be the greatest thug of all. In the midst of the Joys and Prosperities are the things that ultimately define us. These are the turbulent things that can try us — they can beat us, flog us, torment us, scorn us, and all the other stuff, naturally. Life sometimes will pull out all of its tricks until somehow it feels like you’re being jumped. All of this is fine, so long as you are refined from these things and do not allow them to destroy you. Life is so beautiful — you just need to be patient enough for it to have the opportunity to show you.

Persevere through the thuggest parts of life; show life that you are not one to be conquered. If all else fails, just like my friend Jameel did, crack that Mu’F*cka right in the forehead.  That’ll give it some perspective.

May your 20|20 be one of perfect vision.

This was written on the first draft.

 

 

 

“The Flip”

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|West Philadelphia| Once upon a time, my primary source of income was a makeshift car wash in front of my house on Columbia Ave. alongside my business partner — my younger brother, Christopher. Shoveling snow for the neighbors was seasonal work so we prayed for heavy downfall and long winters. Yes, 1993 was good to us. Very lucrative. Research “Storm of the Century” if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

Aside from washing the cars of our regulars, the Jamaican drug dealers — we were scared to death to even leave a hairline scratch or swirl marks on their Nissan Maximas and Acura Legend Coupes — and longing for the type of winters that came early and stayed late, I spent a lot of time writing as a “youngin.” God put something in me that I couldn’t even control, because the pencil in most cases, moved without my permission. The little bit of monies that I did receive were allocated to what you would expect a 12-year old boy to allocate them to — the skating rink on Elmwood — the large capri suns — hoagies — sneakers — and lest we forget, the copious amount of quarters that fed the Street Fighter Arcade at the Papi Store. I was quite nice with Ryu. But if I picked Dhalsim, you couldn’t beat me. It was quite known in the community.

I used to write on scratch paper and floppy disks at school. This was at a time when the Apple computers were bigger than apple tree trunks, unlike today. I wrote – mostly poetic pieces. At other times, anecdotes and short stories. Though I never really anticipated my writings to culminate to anything as a youth, I oft fantasized about keeping every word that I ever put on paper. My efforts to retain a scratch paper portfolio were futile and floppy disks were ridiculously untrustworthy. It was at this moment in my childhood that I discovered the importance of “The Flip.”

I got a side job: fetching cigarettes for some of the old ladies in the neighborhood. A couple of my gigs were pro bono with promises of some financial generosity the next go’round. Times were hard and I catered to my market. But, the others were good to me. My rate ranged anywhere from 50 cents to my personal favorite, “keep the change”, especially if Mrs. Thomas gave you a ten dollar bill for a pack of benson and hedges gold and a Pepsi — which you knew would only total about $4 back in the early 90’s…at best. Whenever they said “keep the change,” I sped off until I was out of sight, nervous as hell that they would come to their senses and reverse the offer while I was in view.

I used my wages for cigarette runs, and flipped them into my first journal. It was a beauty. I wrote in this thing/raced to fill it up like there was no tomorrow. Of course, I no longer have this book, but the ideas that were created, recorded and inspired were flipped to new ones … and then again … and again.

And once more…several times.

Here we are 20 years later, and I’m a published author of “The Book of G.A.M.E. (Getting a Major Edge)” — a book that was originally founded on various scratch papers doused with soft soap from my little baby car wash in the 90’s. So I guess in a way, the early journals never left me even when I thought they did. I flipped a few coins to finance my dream.

Wherever you are in your life, there’s a momentous flip that awaits you. Take risks and the rewards will take you. If it’s in a business sense, make that flip toward something better. If you’re in a poisonous relationship, remove yourself from it and flip all the heartbreak to a new refinement that will sharpen you like a sword and make you undeniable to new prospects. If you’re an artist like myself, keep creating to the best of your ability and flip yourself to mastery. Why wouldn’t you? Keep flipping toward the better. You deserve it.

That’s all. Evening.

|Comments as always, appreciated|

~Charles Kellam “The Philly Cat!”

an ode to the two-ply

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Tissue paper is like success — it’s mandatory.

Or here’s another way to look at it:
The absence of tissue paper = the presence of failure.
I nearly had a cardiac arrest when I found out from a cohort that men, in 2015, invite Damsels over their quarters for courtship with NO tissue paper in the house!
It is IMPERATIVE that men have a bountiful stock of tissue paper available for her comfort and protection. Catch a damsel on a good day, and she’ll ex you off of her prospect list if her hind parts wasn’t properly accommodated.
After all, women have a lot of operations to maintain their beauty and most of those things involve tissue paper consumption.
Any man who has a stack of Quiznos or Chipotle napkins on the back of his toilet in place of benevolent tissue paper should be ashamed of calling himself a man. Insult to injury, these aren’t even the good napkins like the ones you find at a summer BBQ. These are the brown, watered down recycled napkins — which are probably equally as effective as using the old school Happy Meal boxes to make a clean sweep.
And so you ask — what is a good amount of tissue paper to have on hand?
Have at least 7 rolls on deck.
That’s a healthy inventory for at least one evening of wooing.
I should know.
I spent most of my early childhood years with three women in the house.
Do you know how long Tissue Paper lasted in my home?
11 seconds.
And not the roll, I’m talking about the entire package.
Go and Get a Major Edge on your paper products:
They’re not too plush to buy
They’re too clutch to shy
This is an ode to the two-ply
~Charles Kellam

New Look | Same Great Taste

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The One That Got AwayI sat and pondered about this post while sipping from a coke can that read the words “Dreamer” along the side of it. A lot has happened since the last time we met. I published The Book of G.A.M.E. (Getting a Major Edge) in January 2014 — which has done quite well by the way and I thank every and each one of you for the sales and support. Yes, I said “every and each.” I also experienced Africa for the first time, and then a second — traveled across the globe and proposed to the most gorgeous woman in the world — spoke to some kids — stood on a few stages to a few groups of strangers and told some stories that elicited laughter — travelled some more — and of course, bought a few new suits and hats along the way. Needless to say, time has gotten away from me. And time, whether you’re having fun or not, flies, doesn’t it? So…you might as well enjoy it. You owe it to yourself.

Life has been more than a blessing and I’ve been enjoying every second! A dear friend and brother of mine inspired me to keep the blog alive, not so much for own benefit, but to pay the inspiration forward. I took some time to get my thoughts in order and realize that I come to you now as a better, more polished man. A man in love, first of all. A man who has seen some of God’s green earth’s most necessary sights with mere dollars in his checking account. A man with no tattoos on his spirit. A more vulnerable, giving man who is more polished, self-aware, fearless and unapologetic. A man who is funny sometimes — a man who is letting his beard grow in for the first time because She likes it. A man with the edge that he spent 6 painful years writing about before the book was published. I’m excited to bring this man to you on a regular basis. I’m all in.

Thank you for continuing to support me and please do share.

Anticipate me.

~CK

 

 

 

Yes, please.

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Here’s a long status for you. Yes, please. So I’m embarking on an incredible voyage tomorrow — ETHIOPIA. I’m terribly honored at the opportunities that God & Jesus Christ has made ajar up for me. It’s always been a lifelong dream of mine to be able to go to Africa and use my gifts to impact people. I still can’t get over the fact that tomorrow is the day. It’s been 8 years since I’ve stepped on the stage as a stand up comedian — and as an unorthodox style with unprecedented purpose — I thank God for every fan of the art form who has lent me their ears throughout the years. Part of why I’m taking this pilgrimage is that I’m burnt out. As some of you care to know, I published a book recently. I’m sure that I’ve inundated your newsfeed with its promotion long enough. Well, this book was hands down the most arduous task I’ve ever accomplished in my life. It feels rewarding now but honestly, IT BURNT ME OUT. So much of my life experiences, my soul, and my bone marrow went into this piece — that sometimes — it feels like I don’t have much more to give. And anyone who knows me knows that I’m anti-LA despite the fact that I’ve been there over 9 years. Most of the residents are opportunistic, pretentious, and ungrateful — some of the most inauthentic people I’ve ever come across. A lot of people are not happy for you when you reach your Zenith, but then again that’s anywhere. But also – you must know that I’ve met some lifelong friends and comrades from LA — both in the biz and outside. Notwithstanding, Los Angeles is burning me out. Hence, my writing has taken a toll, my stand up comedy, and even my body. I’m going to Africa to recharge — spiritually — mentally — creatively — physically. There’s so much more to life than self-gain…I’ve embraced this notion…and it’s important for you to do the same. I plan to work with children, promote literary awareness, tell jokes, build playgrounds, and immerse myself into a culture that is admittedly so less fortunate than my own — all, without pay. I don’t want it. What will be paid to my heart I know is so much more valuable than cash. Iron sharpens iron. And as an artist, it is my job to sharpen myself so that I can bring it to whoever’s listening, reading, or watching.

Life is but a vapor. Don’t take your days for granted. Africa doesn’t have Starbucks with free wi-fi every two blocks — so please don’t fret if you don’t hear from me via text, email, or status. Don’t worry. I’ll come back wavy. But if by chance I don’t, the Nissan and the Acura is in the will for you Daniel Auspicious Hunter. Joke. Okay, maybe not. Be wavy and I love you — all of you. I’m happy for anything positive that you’re doing. Yes, please. ~Charles Kellam “The Philly Cat!”

 

Mom-Meezy & I @ 5Guys

RSVP FOR THE BOOK OF G.A.M.E. SIGNING AND FUNDRAISER

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This is A Wavy affair.
RSVP FOR THIS ONE DAY EVENT: A classy event that will have you laughing and inspired by the end of it.

The Official Book Signing for The Book of GAME –a universal handbook that destroys the outdated rules of dating and life.

A selection will be read from the author followed by open forum to have any of your questions answered. And then it REALLY gets wavy…

Comedy Show and Live Music.
Stand up by celebrity comedians London Brown , Dejon, the Author and of course, a special guest lady. (Gotta have a damsel!!!!!) Music by William Hawkins.

NOW YOU PROBABLY HAVE A FEW QUESTIONS…

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WHEN AND WHERE IS THE EVENT?

GARDENIA RESTAURANT & LOUNGE

7066 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, California 90038

8:30-10PM PST

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WHAT ABOUT PARKING?
The Chase Bank Parking lot across the street from the venue will be rented out for this event — and it will be free for the evening.

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IS THERE A COVER CHARGE?

Admission is free with purchase of the book at the venue. If you already own “The Book of G.A.M.E.” – bring it and use it as your ticket. There will be a signing and photo ops after the show.

To be respectful to ownership, there is a TWO ITEM minimum at the Gardenia lounge which is easy considering they have a delicious menu and a full bar.

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IS THERE A DRESS CODE?

No. Dress fresh. If you’re proud of how you look when you step out the house, then so are we.

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WHO SHOULD I BRING?

A date. An ex. A husband, wife, sister, friend or stepson. Anyone you know who enjoys laughing and being around good energy.

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HOW MUCH IS THE BOOK?

The book will be on sale for $15 and available for purchase at the door. 70% of the proceeds will benefit the Swings for Dreams Organization — which builds playgrounds for kids in Africa.

If you haven’t already, you are encouraged to peruse the book during the show just in case you have any questions for the author during the open forum.

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WHAT IF I CAN’T MAKE IT?

Then, don’t.

This will be the only book signing in the Los Angeles area but keep in mind that “The Book of G.A.M.E.” by Charles Kellam is available worldwide on Amazon.

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WILL THE SHOW BEGIN ON TIME?

YES! And it will end on time.
In other words — if you’re late, you’ll miss something good.

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The Book of G.A.M.E. (Getting a Major Edge) is trailblazing it’s path of becoming a national bestseller. Released in January 2014, the content has captivated audiences by its sleek, universal and modern approach to dating and life. The author and renowned comedian, Charles Kellam “The Philly Cat!” has been heckled by his fans — in a good way — about commencing the first official book signing. Well, here it is.

After the show and book read, the author will be conducting a book signing. 70% of book sale proceeds will benefit Swings for Dreams — an organization that builds playgrounds for impoverished children in Africa.backCoverImageFinal

BUY ME FOR UNDER A DOLLAR!

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SET YOUR CALENDARS FOR MARCH 29TH!

“The Book of G.A.M.E.” is having a 12 hour sale for Kindle this Saturday for only $0.99!

The early bird gets the whale. You can own this masterpiece for only $0.99 between the hours of 7AM to 9AM and the price will increase every 2 hours thereafter. Take advantage. ONE DAY SALE ONLY. Tell everyone you know.

Buy me for under a dollar. Yes, please.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Book-M-E-Getting-Major-Edge/dp/1490369325/ref=la_B00HLR7EHM_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395747932&sr=1-1I will cost $1 on March 29th!

The Human Mannequin — an excerpt from “The Book of G.A.M.E.”

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Chapter 9: The Human Mannequin

DON’T THINK AS A MAN. THINK AS A MANNEQUIN.

You may recognize mannequins as pieces of fiberglass that pose in the mall. Pale skin and skinny calf muscles. Take the time to study them one day. I promise you, they’re so much more than that. Mannequins are the prototypes of style and fashion. They’re trendsetters. Mannequins are arrogant, and for good reason. They know they look great. Mannequins don’t speak much. But even if they did, they wouldn’t need to. They have silent presence—which is what you strive for.

(This chapter is a brief reinforcement to men that presentation is everything — how you present yourself will be the determinant factor of your professional and love lives)

Charles Kellam
The Book of G.A.M.E. (Getting a Major Edge)
Available on Amazon

The Human Mannequin