Ok, I know what ya’ll are saying…”Oh, he’s got a girl so now he thinks he’s too good to blog!” either that or “Gian hasn’t blogged in a while? Hmm…hadn’t noticed.” well either way my lack of blogging wasn’t due to her or any kind of blog hiatus. I actually rekindled the old flame with another former love of mine in the last week and a half.
It had been a while since I got in the casino and won some money, and the pockets were getting a little light so I had to go on one of my famous streaks and pick up some cash while I’m boycotting work because they like to shoot each other in schools. But I’m back for now.
So anyway, a friend of mine (Amos Barnes) died a couple of weeks ago. I guess some people might say I have a pretty lenient definition for friend after I describe my relationship with this person. Fact is I haven’t talked to him in maybe two years even though we live in the same city. But for me it’s just like that. I can go for long periods of time without contact with people and not lose my emotional attachment for them. Some of my close friends who move away and don’t hear from me for months at a time have a hard time understanding this. I think they assume sometimes that I’ve lost something for them due to proximity. And there have been occasions where I’ve grown apart from people, I will say that. But, emotionally I still feel as strongly for them. My very good friend O.Shane Balloun and I are the best examples of this. I probably only talk to O.Shane 5-6 times a year. We’ve become different people than we were when we last knew each other well in high school. And there’s a lot I couldn’t tell you about him right now when there was once a point when I could tell you everything. But I love him like a brother. And he’ll always be my friend.
I’m getting off task here though. This particular friend was also a friend from high school, but a completely different circle. I had a pretty interesting high school experience in that I would jump from one circle of friends to the next. Which isn’t to say that I ever left the circle of friends I had previously come from. Just that I would Divy myslef up between them. I’m sure I’m not the only person who had this experience because often these cliques would intermingle. But I would rarely jump from one to the other with anyone from the last group. If they swung cliques it would be separate from me.
The most intimate circle was mine with O.Shane. Me and O.Shane were pretty exclusive as friends probably cause no one wanted to join our lame group as we would only do things that would interest the both of us together, and outsiders probably would have thought we were losers. For instance during our study hall freshman year of high school we would go down to the library. Since there was no talking in the library we would have conversations with each other over the computer. “what’s so strange about that” you say? Well this was back in the day before the internet ruled the earth and so we weren’t on an instant messenger. We would sit at the same computer and type a message right there in front of the other person for them to read and respond to. And we don’t care if you thought it was lame, that just means you suck. Of course we used our own lingo (a necessary attribute for any circle) including anywaydo, and glo (game like O.Shane) He left our high school and moved to Washington state where we kept in touch via mail because cellphones with free long distance had not been invented and 15 cents a minute with south central bell was too much for either of our budgets at the time. Eventually our letters dwindled from once a week to once a month and then twice a year. Now that we have constant access to each other I hardly talk to him anymore but he knows where we stand.
I have known Leonard since I was born and he’s always been more of a brother to me than a friend. His mother and mine are very close friends so we spent much of our youth together. Going on vacations together, practically living at each others houses which were only two blocks away which made things even more convenient. Leonard is three years older than me though which naturally forced us into different circles. We didn’t go to school together so I had friends separate from him early on, but your circle of friends is your most definitive in high school so when he went to high school we lost each other for a while and then reassociated once I got to high school with him. Now being a lowly freshman and getting to intermingle with seniors, albeit at a different high school was pretty high status. He was in a high school fraternity which was some kind of derivative of Alphas and so I got the honor of being friends with most of his frat brothers including Marcus, Victor, Terrel and Harvey etc. He was also friends with some seniors at my high school including Michael Molina who I am not afraid to say, even now, was the coolest MFer on the planet. I don’t mean cool like the loudest guy in the circle cause everybody wants him to hear them laughing at his jokes cool. I mean he walks by you and not only you but everybody in your vicinity get ice sicles on their noses cause he’s so laid back. He was the first name you heard about when you got to Ben Franklin high school if you were a black person my freshman year so a kinship with the likes of him must have meant some kind of importance. But for the most part my friendship with Leonard was sustained more by our kinship with each other and less by the social aspects. He’s married now and away at Law school so our cantact has become even more sporadic than ever but he’s my brother so nothing will ever change between us.
The origin of the DPG is a sordid one. There are many people who claim to be members of the original DPG foundation. I myself do not even know the offical origin of it because it’s leaders honesty as to the name is in question. However to my understanding the original DPG (and yes DPG does stand for dogg pound gangstas. Why we stole that from snoop I don’t know. But I don’t make the rules I just accept them) was Me, Brandon Johnson (now Brnadon leblanc) Evlondo, and Derek. Derek went to Cohen and Easton and the rest of us To Franklin together. We would congregate at Brandon’s house on the weekend, wake up early Saturday and go play basketball around the corner from his house (our basketball team was called Dogg food) then hang around til Sat night and go to whatever local high school dance/event was the most popular that weekend including All Franklin dances, The occasional 35 dance, All dances at mathstar/biostar/chemstar on Xavier’s campus and the holy grail of high school events…The St.Aug talent show. This was the one where we could count on seeing all the catholic school girls including the afore blogged about Jade Pappion, and her circle of 7th ward creole friends. That was back when I used to get jitters every time I walked into a social event. Sometimes I wish I could still be nervous like that just for nostalgia’s sake. Nowadays I’m usually ready to go as soon as I get anywhere. Most of our group lingo was derived from inside jokes. Golden Bird was a symbol of basketball supremacy. The golden bird was what you received if someone dicked you. Of course I distributed the most golden birds in the group. And one time Brandon was telling us a story about some party he went to and he started talking about some guy there. Evlondo asked “he was shive dog?” now we all knew what Evlondo meant by this. He wasn’t interested in whether or not the guy was attractive for his own personal info. He was just wondering for the sake of understanding what kind of character were we talking about so he could understand the story. But the way it came out was hilarious. So from that point on Brandon would always make sure to ask if “he was shive” (shive being a colloquial term from that era for tight) when a story involved some guy he didn’t know.
According to Brandon he decided to call us the DPG one day. Now according to Shaneika DPG is her creation and was in reference to Me, Brandon and Evlondo not Derek cause she didn’t know him. According to Brenton the original DPG was me, him, Brandon and Jared Williams. Who knows the truth of it, but as you can see being in the DPG was the thing to be. I can proudly say I never used my powers for evil. DPG’s extended family was basically the black population at Ben Franklin High. All of the separate cliques would come together like Voltron and make up the super DPG. Don’t get it twisted this was still a fairly small group. There were only 11 black males in the senior class of 96 (I was honorary graduating class since I switched high schools) and among them only half were actually assigned to the DPG. Shaneika and Jamylah comprised our female counterparts “the kittens” along with the bourgeois members of our group via Chip “the aristocats” consisting of Kelli, Ashley, Kristi and Ronald. The aristocats mostly served the function of window dressing and made minimal contact with us without their buffer (Chip). Our lingo consisted of mostly gibberish words and catch phrases most of which I can’t even remember much to my dismay.
A spinoff of the DPG which had it’s greates strength in my college years but has its roots in high school. A conglomerate of groups of friends from both my high schools brought together through me and mostly Brenton, the links between the two high schools. Responsible for the concept of “Chalk.” This ended up being the core group of friends I still adhere the most to, but because it’s foundation wasn’t laid til summer after my senior year I’ll digress about them.
Before we befriended the McMain students Jeroddo, John Broussard (who went to neither school with us but hung out with us all the time) Quantrell (known as Bill) Eric and Brenton and I stuck together fairly tight when we changed schools. Less Brenton though since being a former McMain student he already had plenty of ties to their student body. Having very few classes together we were forced to make friends on our own but we would rarely miss a lunch trip to Domino’s together.
The basketball team
The Mustangs. My senior year when I was finally eligible to play high school basketball I tried out and made the team. I already knew the team having played on the courts in McMain’s yard with them the whole previous year and having classes with the team leaders Broderick and Dario (my nemesis) But being on the team was like being welcomed into some elite company. They had a very group specific language which consisted of speaking in shorthand. For instance if someone did something that they found undesirable what they would mean to say is “You’re making a fool out of yourself” what they would say in their language would be “you’re killing yourself. DO you hear me?” and then the final product that they would speak out of their mouth shorthand would sound like “You killin yo! ere?” When outsiders would try to speak like them they’d be greeted with unwelcome looks and jest. But know being on the basketball team afforded me all the rights therin including shorthand speak privleges. I didn’t really use it too much, even though I found it hilarious, still sometimes feeling like an outsider. But I was embraced when I did.
James and Amos etc.
And finally the reason for all this reflection. James Barnes was an older cat who I had been seeing various places around the city for a while before I ever met him. The place I most frequently saw him was the bowling alley across the street from my house. He was probably about 4 years older than me but hung out with a lot of people in my age range. His little brother Amos was about a year younger than me, just as if not more popular than his brother and probably more well liked too. James used to drive a red dodge all around the city, always carrying a carload of negroes to whatever event was most popular at the momment. During the afternoon hours he could often be found at local high schools (including Franklin) hanging out with his friends, or driving he and the others to basketball courts for pickup games. I was always curious about this group and how they found the time to be in so many extracurricular activities since they were all my age. They seemed like they had a damn fun life always riding around looking for the next good time. I was already acquainted with a lot of their group members through playing basketball. John Riley, Brian Bowers, And Brandon Cooley were all people I had played on summer league teams with in junior high. John is most notable for coming to Franklin to slap fight with Kodi Roberts my sophomore year for messing with his then girlfriend who went to Franklin at the time. At the time (no longer) I hated Kodi, He was obnoxious although he’s since gotten cool, but I felt sorry for him seeing him get punked so bad by John. Brian Bowers was the younger brother of high school basketball star Dale Bowers and already had instant basketball fame. Brandon Cooley is the only person my age I have ever looked up to. I can still remember watching from the bench and my dad teaching me things about basketball watching him play. “See how he throws that pass with some air under it so that the only player who can catch it is his team mate?” I’d sit there and watch Cooley and listen to my dad and learn how to play point gaurd. Even Leonard, revered Cooley. Leonard was quite a good point gaurd himself and he would be tickled watching Cooley penetrate through the lane. Then there was Guy, and Mike, who drove the mustang, Sidney who drove the cadillac and looked like he was probably the Godfather of the group and his cousin Steve who was the youngest of all of us but acted like and probably did know more about sex than the rest of us, Boogie who had a decent game himself, Tke, sometimes Dwight who was the first man I had ever applied the term city-wide shive to, etc.. Well as I mentioned Franklin was one of the high schools that they frequented the most. Sometimes coming over to play ball. Me being among the best ball players at Franklin always got the nod when it was time to match ours against theirs. I always held my own with them and gained enough favor that they began inviting me to tour the cities parks with them on Saturday afternoons when they finished hanging out at the bowling alley. For me that was the ultimate compliment. So I started hanging out at the bowling alley while Amos Bowled and his brother and friends tried to talk to girls. Then we would all leave together to hit the park. Amos wasn’t much of a ball player. He had an ok jumpshot but he was more into the hanging out. He was however the most sociable of the group. Aside from Cooley, Amos was definitely my favorite because he was always in good spirits. While the others might be looking for trouble he was looking for the good time. He would often dance his way around the bowling alley and seemed like the most well adjusted high schooler anywhere. Eventually, my days hanging out with them fizzled out when they started frequenting less basketball courts. But I would still always look forward to seeing them out whenever I went to a party or high school event. Amos was like the Icon for the group for me and I’ll always think fondly of him and my days of friendship with those guys.