The Real Disadvantage of Being Raised Poor.

Nice glasses.
Nice glasses. Smooth vest. And disco collars too.

You couldn’t pay me to live there today, but I understand Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter still goes on oral rampages about black kids not having opportunities to achieve the American Dream. He acknowledges that there have been some strides, including African American doctors, lawyers, mayors, governors, senators, and even a president, but Nutter believes that’s not enough. And he’s probably right. However, there are non African Americans who also lack upwardly mobile opportunities. Where Nutter has it wrong is that he’s limiting his scope to color — when the true problem is class.

My parents were immigrants from Latvia — a small Baltic country no one has ever heard of. It’s now becoming infamous for hackers and post-communist criminal syndicates. Neither Mom nor Dad had a dime in their pocket or spoke a lick of English when they arrived on Ellis Island as young children in the late 1940s. Fortunately, their parents had the wherewithal to fund sponsorships in the United States which allowed them to enter as refugees. That trip cost them everything they had left — everything that wasn’t stolen by Russian soldiers. Somehow, both sets of grandparents were able to forage a meager living in the greatest nation in the world. As I wonder if that would be possible in today’s economic environment, I feel for today’s refugees.

Dad was on track towards achieving the American dream. He went to Central High School in Philadelphia, which is still the only high school in the nation authorized to grant its graduates Bachelor of Arts college degrees instead of ordinary high school diplomas. He planned to attend college and study engineering. And then the worst thing in the world happened — his adoptive father died from leukemia when dad was just 16 years old. His mother barely spoke English and didn’t work. Dad had to drop out of Central and get a full-time job to support them while finishing his high school education at night. His American dream quickly became a nightmare. For the rest of his short life, he worked as a pattern maker (basically, a woodworker) who struggled to stay employed in a shriveling industry.

Mom was a homemaker, which is what Stay At Home Moms used to be called before they unionized. She held a clerical job at a Sears warehouse until I was born, and then decided she’d stay home and raise my brother and I. I can honestly attest that her contribution to my education was little more than preparing dinner. Mom never went back to work, citing severe depression well before it was vogue to admit you were depressed. Intestinal cancer chewed through her body in her early 50s. Although she survived cancer, in her mind, her ostomy made her return to the work world impossible.

My brother and I grew up on the mean streets of North Philadelphia, as the lone Caucasian family who witnessed the great white flight of the late 1970s. At the time, I didn’t understand why many of my African American classmates bullied me. Sure, I was small and smart, and the youngest child in my grade, but that wasn’t the reason. I wasn’t yet aware of the Civil Rights atrocities committed by other ex-European immigrants with whom I was mistakenly associated. What still doesn’t make sense is why I was mistreated by a large contingent of my Puerto Rican classmates. Looking back objectively, the African American kids weren’t all that bad. At least they had a conscience. Some of those Puerto Rican bastards were merciless. In college, it became apparent that the true monsters were my European ancestors. I concluded that everyone sucks. But that’s not what this is about.

What harms poor children the most is not the lack of Apple devices, Coach bags, BMW convertibles, or designer jeans. It’s not the missing high-end skin cremes, the mani-pedis, or professional hair cuts. It’s not even the missing suburban home with its white picket fence surrounding the sprawling lawn that has A-rated schools within walking distance. The true culprit is the lack of conversational aptitude. It’s the inability to fit in and converse with those who have the means to help you succeed. Back in the day, I was too poor to pay attention.

I remember interviewing with large companies like IBM, Staples, and Walmart during my last year of college. Since no 20 year-old student had really done anything worthwhile career-wise, manager trainee interviews were largely conversational. Raised by a family who wasn’t connected to American society, I failed miserably. I didn’t know what to say or where to begin. I couldn’t find any common ground. I discovered my poor ass couldn’t hold a conversation with any privileged American. After several failed entrepreneurial attempts, I begged for an entry-level job at an insurance company, convincing an empathetic hiring manager to give me a shot. I worked diligently and was rewarded with several promotions. Eventually, after a few years of working positions in which I was obviously overqualified, I got the job I interviewed for back when I was 20. In my management position, I listened very carefully and studied the art of business conversation. That in itself should be a college class.

In my upper-middle-class neighborhood, as in the business world, conversations among black, white, and yellow men are routinely liquor induced and circle around less than brilliant topics including college sports, financial conquests, and sexual trysts while traveling on someone else’s expense account. These are topics a non-financially gifted soul may not have the experience or ability to discuss. Women chat about their husbands, what sort of mistakes their child’s day care is making, the latest hair color, and neighborhood gossip. Although I could easily participate in either discussion, I usually find myself quickly bored and I’ll search for a quick escape. Most of the time, I’ll simply ghost out the door. During one of their chest-beating conversations, I realized these were the types of discussions in which a disadvantaged person could not effectively participate.

Not everyone with means is wise, as evidenced in my own neighborhood. What you need to do is become a bit wiser to play the game. The only solution to this problem is education. The problem again is the access to that all-important education — it’s still limited by the colorblind glass ceiling of money and power. A formal education will enhance your mind and elicit interesting questions, but my own Bachelor’s degree from Central High School and a second Bachelor’s from Temple University didn’t do squat for me. It simply was not enough. A more informal societal education can fill in the gaps. Activities including participating in volunteerism, charitable events, church functions, and every club you can join may help.

Mayor Nutter, I ask you to include us poor white boys from Philly in your next tirade. I too am just a squirrel trying to get a nut. I promise not to squander my chances by getting my skin inked up in obvious places, speaking in an inappropriate manner during business meetings, or wearing my britches so low that they display a large parcel of my underpants. Campaign to afford me the opportunities you wish to afford to your brethren. Then maybe, just maybe, I’ll set foot on Philadelphia soil once again.


That Sex Talk With My Adolescent Son.

French kissing is when you suck spit out of her mouth. Ewwww.
French kissing is when you suck spit out of a girl’s mouth with your tongue. Ewwww.

My son is almost thirteen. Fortunately, for both he and I, he’s still a young twelve. One of his homies is light years past him and already has a girlfriend, although he was born roughly two weeks after my son. My son thinks his friend has become weird, since he has suddenly decided to skip Xbox beasting and Airsoft battles, opting instead to watch a movie with some girl. Ewwwww. Personally, I think that kid’s parents are exercising bad judgment for allowing their son to date at twelve. And I know for a fact his goofball father will never give his son the “birds and bees” talk. This is my first go-round with that talk and boys… my prior talks have been on the fairer side of the fence. That crumpled up piece of paper I’ve already used three times is useless in this situation. I would let his mom do it, but she’s as clueless as my son is. Strangely enough, this blog post will be my drawing board and script. Yikes.

I don’t want to blow his mind, but I don’t want to sugar-coat it either. This information is critically important. As with anything a parent does effectively, you need to infuse a bit of spin to make sure your well-rehearsed points are communicated succinctly and digested properly. Your talk has to be cleverly interesting and not embarrassing, two tall orders in this particular realm. In Diary of an Angry Father, I talk about the rant I go on describing how girls should labor to keep their legs (and all other apertures) closed as long as possible, because boys only want that one thing. Now, I need to reverse myself and explain to my son why he will want it so badly. I realize I’ll have to be very careful in choosing my words, because they will become gospel in the event of any mistake. But you said I should do this and not that. You told me to do this! I certainly don’t want to get caught up in any funky kicks going down in the city, if you know what I mean. I need to craft this speech with a cup of brutal honesty, a teaspoon of spin, and at least four pints of outs.

I’m not going to make the mistake my father made with me. I was sexually clueless well into my 20s. I have to wonder how different my life would have been had he at least tried to sit me down and give me some advice. Now I know his dilemma. It’s much easier to ignore the whole thing and hope for the best, and many parents do just that. But I’m definitely not going to sell my own son short. I learned everything I learned about sex from a few misguided friends, a couple of bad movies, and a cornucopia of mistakes. And that was in a much tamer environment. Can you imagine the monster that might develop if your son’s first exposure to sexual relations is the 50 Shades of Gray movie on Netflix? The physical, emotional, and financial toll on me was tremendous. How could any father not want better for his son? We’re having that damn talk whether he wants it or not.

Without giving it away entirely and losing the bread and butter of my follow-up to Diary of an Angry Father, here are the bullet points of my discussion. Please let me know in the comments below if you think I’m wrong, if there’s a better way to put this, or if I missed anything. Thanks.

Deep breath.


Eventually, if you haven’t already, you will begin to have strange feelings… down there. For some reason none of us may ever know, all men are hardwired to reproduce. And that’s what sex is for — the instinctual human urge to create more human beings. That thing we men pee-pee with is called a penis. And when your body is ready, which will probably be soon, your penis will also be capable of delivering sperm. That’s basically baby seeds.


You will begin to look at women differently, and your relationships with them will seem awkward. You’ll eventually want to kiss some of your girl friends on the lips hoping they might become your girlfriend. Although you are completely in control of your actions, you won’t be able to control the desire that’s in your head. And that is completely normal. But society and the law will expect you to control your actions. More on that in a bit.


You won’t find everyone attractive, and not everyone will find you attractive. There will be a look, a smell, a sound, or some words that will engage your gears. You’ll know it when it happens. Your heart will feel funny. Your face will become flush. Your brain might begin to malfunction, causing you to think about some girl all the time. Occasionally, a girl will feel the same way. Other times, she just won’t be that into you, and that’s normal too. Don’t take it personally, and just move on. That’s where “there are other fish in the sea” comes from.


Some women will find you attractive, and when you get much older, some may want to have sex with you. That’s where the trouble begins. Sex is putting your penis into her vagina. A girl’s vagina is a small hole located about where your penis is. I’m not going to lie to you — for a man, it feels incredibly good. It’s hard to explain. But all kinds of bad things can happen when you put your penis into a vagina.


There are quite a few nasty little bugs that can harm you, or even kill you, called sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, that you could catch from an infected woman. You can’t see these diseases, you can’t taste them, and you can’t smell them. You’ll never know she’s infected until it’s too late. Even if you think you know this woman well, there is the possibility that she may not know she’s infected, so don’t take her word for it. The only way to know for sure is to have a doctor do a test. Some of those diseases do not have a cure. That will mess up your life because you’ll have to tell all your girlfriends in the future that you have a STD, and they’ll avoid you forever.

Or, your sperm could attach to one of her eggs and create a baby. The last thing you want to do as a teenager is become a parent. Just because she carries the baby in no way gets you off the hook. If that child is yours, you have a moral, social, ethical, and financial responsibility to help raise that child that you cannot walk away from. Regardless if you and the baby’s mother stay together, you will be responsible for paying child support until your child becomes an adult. That’s 18 to 26 years in some states. And some women will avoid men who already have children. If you have a child before you’re ready for that kind of responsibility, it may ruin your whole life. So just don’t.


There’s something called birth control. Condoms, or rubbers, are rubber bags you put on your penis to keep the sperm from leaking into a girl’s vagina. They will also protect you and her from most STDs. Make sure you’ve got one with you before you get into a sticky situation, because once you’ve started to get into a sexual situation, it’s very hard to stop. If you’re too embarrassed to buy condoms, that’s no problem, I’ll do it for you. No one else has to know. It is important to know that sometimes condoms can leak or break. Some girls go on the pill, which is a drug that’s supposed to stop women from becoming pregnant. But that won’t protect you from STDs. Some girls just say they’re on the pill, and they’re really not. It’s impossible for you to know. What is important to know is that no form of birth control is perfect, and there is always the chance of contracting an STD or getting a girl pregnant. An abortion is where a doctor basically sucks or scrapes an unborn baby out of a girl’s uterus, killing the fetus. They are often dangerous for the woman, very expensive, and difficult to get. So always use a condom no matter what.


Again, some of the women you find attractive won’t want to have sex with you. You may be able to convince her otherwise, but you can never force someone to like you or have sex with you. That’s called rape, and you can go to jail for that. For a long time. I know dudes do it in the movies, but even if you force a girl to kiss you, that may be construed as sexual assault. You can go to jail for that too. The rule of thumb is keep your hands off her unless you’re positive she’s okay with it. Movies are not real.


Most women’s minds and bodies don’t need to have sex like you think you do. Between the ages of 17 and 25, a woman will have sex more frequently for one or more of these three primary reasons: experimenting, bragging, or making babies. And ain’t nobody got time for any of that… except for the first reason. That’s the funnest.

Even if a woman seems to love having sex now, that won’t last forever. Everything gets old. You’ll probably tire of her long before she tires of you. That’s normal too. Although, if you’ve chosen well, your woman will most likely be monogamous. That means she won’t sleep around with your friends. But you’re a man, and you’ll undoubtedly will find you will begin to have the desire to spread your seed to other pastures. That’s why God created internet porn and titty bars.

When you’re ready, I’ll give you the talk on why I think women do what they do. I’m afraid if I did that now, your head might explode.


Typical adolescent males will think about sex up to fifty times a day. That will definitely cloud your mind and judgment making it difficult to concentrate on school, or anything for that matter. Also, it’s dangerous to walk into a situation with a loaded gun, especially when you’re going on your first dates. At times, you may find it necessary to clear the chamber. Masturbation is basically, um, taking matters into your own hands. Some guys claim to do it two or three times a day. Women do it too. No matter what your stupid friends might say, it is perfectly normal and very safe. Just don’t leave towels or socks around for your mom to clean up, because that’s just nasty. Just let me know when you need me to run to the store for more hand cream or tissues.


Ugh. So that’s where I’m going to begin. Did I miss anything?

Five Secrets from College Admissions Officers

If you’ve read any of my books, then you’re well aware that I am an angry, sarcastic, patronizing, and pessimistic sonofab#tch. Why? Because our society has made life a deceitful game. Everyone seems to be out for their own interests. The Capitalist Creed is to get as much as you can while giving away as little as possible. Hold everyone else down so you can do better yourself. In this environment, it’s virtually impossible to find the truth beneath countless layers of BS. Fortunately, the world still has a few people like me. I’m like the Edward Snowden of parenthood. And I’m here to tell you there’s a secret back door to everything. I’m not afraid to ask questions that might make the typical person uneasy. While everyone else in a room is small talking about fishing or weather, I’m cutting through to the things that really matter. I had the opportunity to chat with three unrelated college admission officials off the record, and I found the secrets to getting your son, daughter, or self admitted to just about any school you want regardless of your grades or ACT scores. Here are five of the most important secrets I unearthed from these people in the know. There are more, but I’ve been told to keep those to myself so I can have a leg up on you.


Here in the Sunshine State, you are required to volunteer at least 100 hours during your high school years to be eligible for certain forms of financial aid. Personally, I think it’s a wonderful idea to give back to your community. Recruiters are well aware of this requirement. Even if you’ve spent 150 hours in a quarantined Nigerian camp treating Ebola patients, college recruiters probably won’t be impressed. What will impress them is if you have spent a few THOUSAND hours of your life doing something. There are countless volunteer opportunities, many of which may be in the field you’re going to pursue. Admissions officers are looking for serious students who make true sacrifices with their time, eschewing keggers and Kardashians in favor of something a bit more productive. One officer admitted that she weighs volunteer experiences higher than GPA or ACT scores.


Universities dig people who are, um, cleverer? If you’ve done something nouveau, by all means, let the world know! Create a new high school club that promotes something for the good of all womankind. Societies for minority or women engineering and programming seem to be the topics du jour. Or chair a new volunteer organization that helps someone or something less fortunate, and show your fund raising chops. Submit press releases to local news outlets and snip the resulting articles to attach to your high school resume. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, save the world, or create a new idiom, but you should always aim to build a better mousetrap.


Hold a job for more than a few weeks. Show that you were good enough at that job to get promoted several times. Flaunt all the glorious awards you’ve won including Employee of the Decade or Best Sales of the Millennium. Internships are wonderful opportunities to introduce yourself to potential employers as well as building a very respectable resume. Some internships are actually paid. And if you can keep your grades respectable while working a job, well, shucks, that goes even further to show what a wonderful character you are.


Join the band. Play a sport or two, even if it’s JV. Run for student government. Write for the student yearbook. Even prom committee (gag) may be helpful. One admissions gatekeeper agreed that well-rounded students with positive communal life experiences tend to be better students than academic types. They’ll take a busy well-rounded kid over a 4.0 introvert any time. Why? They’re better at talking up the school later in life and soliciting contributions from like-minded successful people. Everyone has their hand out.


That admission essay is critical. Yes, they do read them. If you’re going to write it yourself, have someone who’s smarter than you proof it for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Make it personal. The best essays describe a personal situation — stories about overcoming hardships seem to work the best. Other great topics include your volunteer activities, your innovations, any jobs you’ve held, and your level of involvement in school activities. And if it’s a tear-jerker, you’re in. Just make sure you can back up your story if and when you arrive for the interview.

Sex Ed: Where Will Your Children Learn About Sex?

Your Health Today
The new sex-ed textbook.

Sure, it’s embarrassing. But it’s how you got here. It’s how your parents got here. It’s how we all got here. It’s a natural instinctual urge and desire imparted unto us by your god or some other intelligent designer. You can fight it all you want, but sooner or later, your children are going to have to deal with it.

You may have learned about sex from your peers in middle school. That’s where most of my generation picked up its information — that certain classmate who had an older brother or sister who was on the promiscuous side, and the second or thirdhand whispers which followed. Back in the day, sex in movies was still censored for the most part, and there was no internet. Today, the internet is our world’s Sodom and Gomorrah, and a few quick clicks could quickly and permanently program your child’s brain with some deviant’s form of sexual normalcy. The information on how to deal with your child’s unfamiliar new feelings should be disseminated, sooner than later, by you rather than the lies and fantasies of some movie. And with the next big bang of pop culture arriving this Valentine’s Day and then to Netflix a couple months later, I am completely convinced you do not want your sons and daughters learning that 50 shades of anything is even remotely close to normal sexual behavior. I can already envision defense attorneys salivating at all the new rape and false imprisonment cases they’ll defend in 2015.

B*tch Media,the self appointed “Feminist Response to Pop Culture,” opened up a chat session recently to discuss what movies, books, TV, and music taught us about sexuality. I was amazed to read that everything from Dirty Dancin’ to Rocky Horror to Judy Blume was mentioned. Movies and books sensationalized things like transvestites and rape, making them seem almost as if they were a societal normal. In several instances, folks admitted that most parents found the discussion awkward and avoided it. In the event parents approached the topic, most teens turned their heads away, pretending they already knew everything there was to know because they too were embarrassed to discuss the single most normal thing humans do.

Fortunately, most kids can dismiss information from texts Internet chat like Vines and Snapchat as unofficial. Common sense can and often does filter out the garbage. But once it hits print or the big screen, we are conditioned to accept it as normal. And that is the problem. There is no filter or mechanism to ensure children realize the difference between fact and fiction.

But we, as parents, seem to be accepting this easy way out. In Fremont, California, a health textbook that talks about masturbation, foreplay and erotic touch, among other sexual education topics, was introduced to the dismay of concerned parents who feel it’s inappropriate for their ninth grade children. “There’s a section that tells you how to talk to your prospective partners about your sexual history,” said a parent and school district employee who said she may sue the district if it does not remove the book. “How does that relate to a 14-year-old kid? I don’t see it at all.” Hopefully, this child is sheltered from radio, television, magazines in supermarkets, billboards, advertisements, and the world in general, or Mom may be in for a rude awakening. According to a 2012 survey by, over 30% of college women lost their virginity by age 17. That’s nearly one in three. Sure, you can think your kid isn’t fooling around, but how would you really know? Chances are he or she is not going to tell you the truth until it’s too late.¬† Shouldn’t your child be aware of the life-altering and unmitigated stakes of having sex including heartbreak, STDs, and pregnancy?

Unless you want to become the youngest grandparent on the block, and some wackadoos actually embrace that, you should talk to your children about sex and its risks. They’ll hate it at first. But someday, they may thank you.


Top 10 Jobs for Potheads.

Now that pot is almost legal, you’ve got to make some bucks for those buds. Long held secret in the underground economy, it’s time to flush out those jobs covered by pot heads. Having been married to a drug addict and dragged through that hell for a decade, you can guess I have no patience for anyone who needs artificial life sweeteners. Whether you support the legalization of bud or not, you have to admit the stereotypical pot smoker is… well… let’s just say pretty laid back. Anyone who has bucked our legal system and its consequences over the past several decades is either too dumb to think clearly, or too villainous to care. Either way, I ain’t hiring him. Based on a very informal and highly subjective intellectual survey of an unstatistically significant group of entrepreneurs, here are our Top 10 Jobs for you Marijuana freaks.

10. Car detailer.

Wax on, wax off. Two incredibly simple motions for a head devoid of a functioning brain. There are no real educational requirements for a detailer. The labs have done all the chemistry for you, all you’ve got to do is slap the crap on and wipe it off. Plus — where do you think all that spare change you dropped between the seats goes? That’s right — munchies. I wouldn’t be surprised if the detailer eats those stale fries under the seat cushions too.

9. T-shirt maker.

It’s a well-known fact that most well-known artists were higher than kites when they created their well-known masterpieces. Art appreciation is insanely subjective and artists are typically vetted by unscrupulous capitalists, so you can surmise I’m not going to make any excuses for them. The lowest form of artist today is the T-shirt artist. Simply find yourself a used silkscreen at a garage sale, set up shop in a sweaty garage, hire a couple of like-minded tokers, and you’re now an enterprising business person creating concert t-shirt knockoffs.

8. Sign shop workers.

As a budding entrepreneur who frequently enlists the services of sign shops, I once thought sign shop employees (and owners) were on crack. Close, but no blunt. From spelling errors to late deliveries and broken contracts, there’s not much your typical sign shop can’t and won’t fudge up. Since real businesses use sign shops, you’ll make a few more bucks here than you would silkscreening or airbrushing t-shirts.

7. Tattoo parlor peeps.

Whilst on the topic of bad judgment, this is a double-hit. And that’s exactly what makes this a perfect job for a toker. You’ll get to display your artistic talents (or lack thereof) while taking an obligatory bi-hourly smoke break. What’s even better, you can compare hydroponic methods with your customers while you’re defacing their skin. What other job can you collect tips for permanently scarring the skin of another human being?

6. Quickie Mart.

Smoking dope leads to… MUNCHIES! This is the only case in which the “don’t get high on your own supply” mantra need not apply. Sure, they count inventory. But there’s always spoilage. Whoops! How did that bag of chips break open? And whoops — wow, that hot dog fell on the floor. Waste not want not! Some of the bigger chains do enforce drug testing, but I’m sure you can find a random Indian who is looking for a fine young American to exploit. They’ll even sell you wrapping papers. Thank you, come again.

5. Disc Jockey.

Since most of these overrated fools who play other people’s music are employed as contractors or subcontractors, guess what — there’s no employee pee testing! You’re your own boss! I suppose you could pee test yourself, but that might be the beginning of a laughing seizure, and you know how those get — WINK WINK. Fire up your bong in the parking lot with a couple of your closest friends, then bust out that iPod and play songs that only intoxicated fools could appreciate.

4. Investment broker.

This has got to be the coolest job in the world — gambling with other people’s money. And the best part — zero accountability! WOW! That’s got to be incredibly boring, you know, raking in all those commissions from stupid rich people with nothing to lose. What’s a broker to do? Why, get high! Party with prostitutes, drug dealers, pimps, chiropractors, defense attorneys, and other like-minded individuals and don’t worry about the real world. Whatever, bro. Go get that Bimmer detailed.

3. Politician.

Similar to an investment broker, only with limited accountability, things can get pretty boring in politics. Opposing parties, elections, lobbyists, demonstrators, budget shortfalls, and countless other distractions will impede your ability to do anything constructive. So what’s a brother to do? GET HIGH, MAN! Who’s going to pee test a politician?

2. Sales.

Any kind of sales will do. Think about it — it takes a certain kind of slimy sociopath¬†to willingly lie, cheat, deceive, and do whatever it takes to close a sale. From cars to vacuum cleaners to medical equipment to adult toys, these fake facades often need a little 420 to take the edge off and make the world a little more palatable than it typically seems. The more they make, the more they take.

1. Landscaper.

Finally, forget drug testing, because most landscaping companies will hire anything with a pulse. Especially in Florida. Hydroponics or not, there’ll always be a need for farmers to produce that sweet fake Hawaiian bud. And what better way to get closer to green than by becoming a landscaper? After all, weed is weed. No schooling is necessary. You’re cutting grass, bro. As a matter of fact, no IQ is necessary. It’s always low stress too, dude. It’s not like that crooked hedge won’t grow back, Mrs. Smith.

So no matter what you do and how you toke, don’t worry about it! Just chill, bro. There will always be a job for those who are up in smoke, dudes.