Save Classen Circle

The history of the Donnay Building stretches far beyond my 29 years of life. The building was commissioned by architect and its namesake, Matt Donnay, in 1948. Over the years, this landmark became home to many well-known establishments like the Patio Restaurant, the Drunken Fry, and the fabulous Hi Lo Club. Sadly, just a few months ago Braum’s announced their plan to demolish the iconic Donnay Building and the building where Classen Grill is located. Many Oklahomans are outraged and are doing everything they can to counter this plan.

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The Classen Circle at NW 50th and Classen Blvd. in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

In July, protestors gathered in front of the Donnay Building to protest. Generations of people showed up. I have read accounts from people who ate at the Patio Restaurant and others who have had their first drink at the Hi Lo Club. I absolutely love Classen Grill. The food is delicious and the staff is always welcoming. I had no idea that they’ve been operating there since 1980! I have passed through Classen Circle all my life and I always wondered why the ugly building in the middle was so popular. As an adult, I have enjoyed Classen Circle favorites like Edna’s, SpeakEasy, and of course, the Hi Lo Club.

A good friend of mine introduced me to the Hi Lo Club last year. I had never heard of the place, but I really enjoyed myself and met some pretty awesome people. Soon after I learned that the Hi Lo Club is more than an average “hole-in-the-wall”. This establishment has served as a place of refuge for LGBT individuals since 1956 and is historic to the entire OKC community. To wipe away something so special to so many people is unethical and contemptible. To make matters worse, there is another Braum’s that already exists on NW 17th and Classen, less than ten minutes up the street from the Donnay Building! How many Braum’s locations do we need? The food really isn’t THAT good and they always seem to be out of Butter Pecan and Rocky Road!

I’m asking all of you reading this to help us save the Donnay Building and Classen Circle. This space means a lot to so many people in our community, especially those who work there. So many compassionate and hard-working people would lose their jobs and plenty of warm memories. Braum’s isn’t going anywhere, and I don’t believe we need yet ANOTHER location here in Oklahoma City.

For more information on how you can help save this historical landmark visit facebook.com/SaveClassenCircle. I will also provide information on my Facebook page facebook.com/LandonsViewsOn, as well. Or you can contact Braum’s directly at 405-478-1656 or send a message at www.braums.com/contact-us/general.

Kiss and Tell Radio

In true Landon fashion, I’m late to the party once again. Recently, I’ve started listening to podcasts. For those of you unfamiliar with podcasts, as I was a couple of months ago, let me explain. A podcast is pretty much a talk radio show. You have some that are dreadfully boring (think NPR, I can’t stand it), and you have some podcasts that are ear candy. One of my favorites is “Kiss & Tell Radio”. Shar Jossell and Jayce Baron have amazing chemistry together and the conversations they have, make you wish you were in the room.

Shar Jossell and Jayce Baron are funny, informative and absolutely amazing.
Shar Jossell and Jayce Baron are funny, informative and absolutely amazing.

Knowing Shar personally, I can tell you that the girl can talk and is NEVER misinformed. I’ll be posting her show “Shar Says So” here as well. Visit her website SharSaysSo.com. She’s definitely someone you want to check out! When she says she’s “a grown ass woman, with grown ass opinions”, she ain’t lyin’!

Jayce Baron is a writer, social entrepreneur, and advocate for the LGBT millennial. (I got that from his website, but if that doesn’t make him sound absolutely interesting, you’re crazy.) Jayce is handsome, smart and very funny! To learn more about Jayce, visit JayceBaron.com.

These two have one of the best podcasts I’ve heard. If you’re new to podcasts or have never heard one, I’d start here. This is what good podcasts/ good conversations sound like.

So click here to fall in to Kiss and Tell Radio. I have to go catch up on Episode Three! Ciao.

Back To School Encouragement

I remember my first days of school like yesterday. The most vivid is the year I went to sixth grade. Everything had to be prefect; my haircut had to be fresh, my school uniform needed to be clean and crispy, I was so serious, I even needed my school supplies to be top notch. Although none of this kept me from being bullied for the gaps in my teeth and not having facial hair, I still managed to be one of the coolest kids in school.

Sixth grade was a turning point for me socially. Here I was, this eleven year old kid who didn’t feel like a kid anymore. This was my first step into adulthood (or so I thought.) I remember feeling like one of the “big kids”. I wasn’t in elementary school anymore. Middle school was a Rite of Passage for kids at my school. Most of us had been there since Pre-K. Since I was a third grade import, I was always a target for bullying. By sixth grade, I had made my mark. No more bullying, no more confusion as to what my place was in the grade school food chain, I had finally made it.

My only trouble was, I was so busy keeping up with my peers that I failed to keep up with my studies. I was an extremely smart kid. I had some trouble in math but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. When I was in 1st grade I was reading at an eighth grade level. But being a smart kid didn’t make me cool.

Everyone else was goofing off so, of course, I went along with it. I skipped class and tormented substitute teachers, pulled girls by their ponytails and bullied the weaker species of children. I was a riot. My friends loved it, my teachers hated it, and my mom was stressed out. It wasn’t until I was a junior in high school that I started taking my education seriously (that lasted until sophomore year of college, but that’s another story for another time.)

There are a lot of children going back to school today and I’m sharing this story to let them know that it’s okay to be smart. Don’t be ashamed of your desire to learn. Let the talents and skill that you possess grow without hindrance. Think of yourself as a seed. The more water you consume, the more you’ll flourish. Allow yourself to grow and don’t let the other seeds in the garden block your sunlight. That incredible genius inside of you is ready to thrive. The athlete that you want to be is restless and ready to get out there and impress everyone.

There will be some distractions but the more you focus on the positive things, the better off you will be in the future. The same people who bullied me for being a “dork” are the same people who want to work with me now because I’m great at what I do. I didn’t make all of the right decisions to get here, but I made it. You can do the same, but you have people like me who learned the hard way so you don’t have to. Be smart, be fearless, and always be amazing; because that’s exactly what you are.

Cultural Appropriation Crash Course

I’m not someone who takes offense easily, but when I do, I get pretty pissed off about it. I watched a video posted by sixteen-year old Amandla Stenberg about culture appropriation. “Culture Approriation” is defined as the adoption of elements of one culture by members of a different cultural group, especially if the adoption is of an oppressed people’s cultural elements by members of the dominant culture. Basically, it’s when White people put dreads in their hair without understanding the cultural representation of them.

Watch this video that Amandla posted. She can explain it better than I can:

The question at the end of this video has haunted me since I first heard it.

“What would America be like, if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”

Amandla has faced some backlash. (Mostly from people missing the point altogether.) This girl is not stirring up the pot, but rather pointing out black culture. I am also thrown off when I see people who aren’t Black exhibiting Black culture as a fashion statement, but dismiss the social ills coming from that culture. Don’t get me wrong: I love LEARNING from other cultures. But you won’t catch me wearing a bindi, commercial use of Kente cloth or using Chinese characters without respecting the history behind it. It’s cultural appropriation when the culture is watered down, commercialized, and used in a comical manner. Period.

Now before you all start flooding my comments, let me make this clear; This cultural appropriation is not just about Black hair, style, music, etc. It’s about understanding and respecting the culture behind it. I have seen so many people miss the point entirely because their ignorance won’t allow them to see the bigger picture.  It’s not simply about culture, it’s also about the race of the people behind the culture. We’re not just talking about Black people, but people of all races.

Respect the culture, respect the race of people it comes from and treat them like human beings. We have much to learn from each other if we could stop the hate and ignorance we constantly display against on another.

Ray Tennyson: Artist Extraordinaire

I love to see my fellow Oklahomans doing great things! So am I am super excited to feature Mr. Ray Tennyson.

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Ray Tennyson creates the most beautiful works of art! He’s also created one-of-a-kind pieces for Kim Zolciak and Keri Hilson among others! It’s truly incredible.

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Ray & Keri Hilson
Ray's portrait of Kroy Biermann on Bravo's
Ray’s portrait of Kroy Biermann on Bravo’s “Don’t Be Tardy”

From OKC Thunder players to beautiful couples, Ray Tennyson has made quite a name for himself in Oklahoma City and beyond. Like so many others, I’m a huge fan of his work and I especially LOVE the OKC Thunder paintings! He captures the athletes in a very powerful way. His paintings command your attention and are always immaculate.

Ray's portraits of the OKC Thunder. Full collection on display
Ray’s portraits of the OKC Thunder. Full collection on display. Pretty dope right?

As I’m writing this I can’t help but to think of how awesome it must be to see your work on television. I’d freak out every single time. I just want a local news anchor to plug my blog one time. Lol! But this isn’t about me…

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Chris Brown showing love on IG.

So Ray just painted an adorable portrait of Chris Brown and his daughter, Royalty. It’s one of my favorites because I think Royalty is just the cutest baby. I said it’s ONE of my favorites because of this next masterpiece… (keep scrolling)

Look. At. This. I'm not even a Lebron fan, but I appreciate the beauty of this painting.
Look. At. This. I’m not even a Lebron fan, but I appreciate the beauty of this painting. I just need a wall to put it on… *sigh*

I’m not going to show you all everything. I think you understand just how incredibly talented Ray Tennyson is. You’ll have to check out his website to see more of his gorgeous art. If you want a portrait of your own, head over to www.RayTennyson.com for prices. Print of his paintings are available as well! You can also follow him on Instagram (RayTennyson) and follow his process. It’s pretty cool to watch him work. Ray’s passion for art definitely shines through in his work. Thank you, Ray, for continuing to inspire others and adding beauty to the world!

You can also catch him at Studio XII on June 26th at 7pm!

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Rachel Doazal & the Media Circus

If you have been living under a rock you don’t know about Rachel Dolezal, head of the local NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington. Dolezal is a White woman who has lived and identifies herself as an African-American woman. Her estranged mother claims that she is “being dishonest and deceptive with her identity”. Dolezal has built a successful career as an expert on and advocate for the black community. Not only is she president of her local NAACP chapter; she is also an academic expert on African-American culture and teaches many related classes at Eastern Washington University.

Rachel Doazal (pictured) has been exposed for “being dishonest and deceptive with her identity”.
Rachel Doazal (pictured) has been exposed for “being dishonest and deceptive with her identity”.

In my opinion, I feel this entire charade is a well-timed distraction from the recent event in McKinney where an African-American teenage girl was attacked by a White police officer. This young lady has been scarred for life, but we’re more worried about a White woman wanting to be Black and is actually doing some good for our community. Don’t get me wrong, I am not justifying Rachel Doazal’s actions. It’s alarming to see how easily distracted our society is when it comes to things that matter most.

I’m sure most of you didn’t know that Rachel Doazal has also appeared alongside Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who has filed charges against police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man. Is it a coincidence that this story of her deception in regards to her race is coming to light now? Are we not to believe that those who worked closely with her and her family didn’t know about this? The NAACP is standing by her saying:

“One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership,” the group said. “The NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind Ms. Dolezal’s advocacy record.”

To me that says not many members cared (if they knew) about her secret. Her service and dedication to the organization stood out above her color.

Without further digression, I’d like to go on record as saying that a lot of us have small, one-track minds. Our society is so fickle and inconsistent in the things we stand up for and care about. We’re all standing up and protesting for Black lives but we destroy Black lives in the media every day. Developments have been posted about the case of the little girl in McKinney and a lot of us are so busy discussing “the fake Black lady”, we’re losing momentum on a greater issue.

Wake up, friends. The media is playing a game with us and we can’t let them win. Black lives matter and they will always matter. Let’s notbe blinded by the smoke and mirrors. This is all a circus act.

Sources: CNN, Buzzfeed

Who Wants To Be A College Graduate Anyway?

Job hunting is a daunting task, especially when you need one in a hurry. Presently, I’m looking for a job. Preferably a day job with good hours, friendly co-workers, and an exceptional benefits package. I’ve written professionally for thirteen years. Seriously, since the tender age of thirteen I’ve been blessed to have my own column in my local newspaper. I wouldn’t call it a job since I’m not being paid for it, but I love to do it. If I could do what I’m doing now and make money doing it, that would make my entire life. What’s the problem? I don’t have a degree.

Most people will tell you that a college degree isn’t necessary to get a good job. That is true in some cases, but in others you absolutely need that paper. College is expensive and is extremely time-consuming. A lot of students (myself included) have questioned whether it’s even worth it to go to college. In my opinion, it is absolutely worth it.There are plenty of skills that we learn in college that aid us in navigating the real world,

In my case, I dropped out of college after five years of struggle. I wasn’t motivated and I despised those General Study courses. I just wanted to write, I couldn’t understand why the hell I needed math and science to be successful in the world of journalism. None of it made sense to me. All of my friends were going to class and actually passing while I was constantly playing catch up. After dropping out twice, I decided I was fed up with college life, it was time to integrate into society.

After about two years of working dead-end jobs and making excuses for not completing school, I had my light-bulb moment. All of those “extra for no reason” classes were much-needed. Writing is my passion and I want to be the best at what I love to do. You can’t be a good writer if you don’t know much of  anything. To be the best in any industry, it’s best to be well-rounded and knowledgeable on multiple things. I despised math in college, but I need it for when I’m doing business. Think about it. Would you rather have knowledge of accounting for yourself? Or would you rather put all of your trust in an accountant that could potentially screw you over?

I understand that college isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. There are plenty of other great ways to give to society and be successful without obtaining a college degree. This piece is for that struggling college student who can’t see the pot of gold that’s at the end of the rainbow.  If you’re having difficulty in a certain subject, the best thing you can do for yourself is to let someone know. My biggest regret is telling myself that I was incapable of learning something I didn’t understand. We’re so much more than we give ourselves credit for, even if we aren’t aware of it yet.

My story is the same story for a lot of students and dropouts. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start over. I’m going back to college because I want to learn everything about journalism and writing. Math and science be damned, I will graduate and I will have a job that I love. I challenge any one struggling or putting off going back to college to take on that mindset. Especially if you’re tired of working dead-end jobs. Nothing worth having comes easy. Stay encouraged and see the bigger picture. It’s impossible for you to know everything. Put your pride aside and open yourself up to other like-minded people. Life will amaze you once you start living it.

Good Luck!

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Single Parents & Children of the Opposite Sex

Today while scrolling through Facebook, I read a status from a friend giving a shout out to all of the men being good fathers. He began his status by saying that he appreciates being called a “good father”, but doesn’t recognize it as an achievement because it is expected of him. I felt it was very commendable for him to recognize that and pat other young fathers on the back for the same.

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As I’m reading the many comments, I came across one from a young lady who replied,

“What about the mommies who have to be daddie too?”

Aside from the awful spelling I was annoyed that she took away from the moment shared between these young men to voice the plight of the single mother. Ma’am if you are reading this, I would like for you to understand something. You being “daddie” is impossible.

For a while, my mother raised my three brothers and I with the help of an incredible support system. It could not have been easy. I have the best mother in the world, but she couldn’t teach me how to be a man, like only a man could. In my opinion, there is no way a mother can take the place of the father, and vice-versa. If you’re raising a child of the opposite sex, I’m sure there are challenges that are met.

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I’d love some feedback here. I’m not a parent and I do not intend to offend anyone. My positive energy and love goes out to all of the incredible single parents and parents in general out there raising our future.

As a single parent, what kind of issues do you face raising a child of the opposite sex?

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