No Loose Ends

No Loose Ends
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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What’s in a name?

My mother named me Ramsey Francis Venner after my father so she attached the sexy double I (or II) Roman numerals to give my dad his props. My dad’s Columbian pedigree or Spanish influences got my family to calling me “Papi” or Poppy because black folks change names just because. You know the drill, Tracy becomes Tracee or Tracie, Jason turns into Jaycen or Jaison, or sometimes we combine two or three names to make one. True story, I met a chick named De-la-shante and this chick named her baby Omarkavius. My people, my people.

The point is we identify by the titles our parents assign us at birth, and just as quick as we can take on nicknames or AKA’s for any number of reasons. Most out of love, or because they sound cute. Some out of hate, like my girl Nonosika that we called “Sneeze”. Some out of necessity, I’ve watched the Lifetime movies, sometimes shit gets real in a bad way. But I think something is lost in nicknames when our given names are what’s real.

With my Columbian roots I think I felt being anonymous was something that was bred in me. I blame movies like Scarface and the manhunt of Pablo Escobar. In 35 years I’ve racked up quite a few A.K.A’s…. Poppy, Francisco, Cisco, Zilla, Big Soop but underneath them all I’ve always been Ramsey. When I accepted awards, Ramsey. When my mother or women friends got pissed and started yelling I was RAMSEY!!!! Or sometimes Ramsey Francis. OUCH; Jobs, Ramsey; School, Ramsey. Everything real, Ramsey.

As life took this turn towards trouble, and I become familiar with lawyers and the judicial system, I was addressed as Ramsey and when it got bad only by my last name and an ID number. What I’ve noticed is, everything real and lasting, good or terrible in my life, has cut through all the cute and endearing that the various nick names conveyed. When it got real, credit score, medical records and even No Loose Ends, good or bad, the nick names and identities associated with them were worthless.

The music, rappin, trappin, club romances and one week stands, real and fake highs, fantasies and flights of grandiosity are all gone like the clownish way I behaved when I introduced myself with a stutter or stammer when it came to the name I referred to myself as.

I had to realize I am a grown man that no longer needs to hide behind an AKA. I have a ton of faults that I am happy to be working on, and I have done many things that I am extremely proud of. But that realization came with embracing the fact that who I am will never change no matter how I introduce myself and what I do, my actions, are who I am.

From birth to bad credit, outlaw, beast, father, new life, unsecured credit cards, and No Loose Ends, I am now and will always be Deloris & Ramsey Sr.’s only boy, Ramsey F. Venner II.

R. Venner

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fire in Ferguson

I had originally planned this post to be about the depth of seriousness of a name and how we identify ourselves. But there are far bigger issues going on in the world as I write. Even from this over censored, extra regulated, high wall and higher fenced-in sorrow factory, I hear and see the world is riddled with turmoil. There is usually always trouble and discord overseas, those folks have been locked into wars and struggle for centuries. They are not at issue we got bigger problems.

My heart is disturbed this morning as the images from Ferguson, MO are plastered across the screen on all the national networks. The stories are conflicting about why the young brother Mike Brown got gunned down in the street by the white cop Darren Wilson, but the face is that it happened and no amount of schmoosing is calming the tide of unrest and dissatisfaction of an injured and fed up people.

The images and snapshots of state and local police in riot gear, fringe tear gas canisters and flash grenades at American citizens and protesting youth makes me wonder what is the world gonna be like when I come home. What will be left if it’s already burning to the ground?

Vigilante-ism and movies like the Purge aren’t the answer, but when it comes down to it what other choice does the poor and pushed out majority have? Killing and incarcerating young black men with impunity may have gone on for a while prior to this incident but those atrocities can no longer happen in silence. Ferguson you have more than the National Guards at your borders, you have the eyes and ears of the world trained on you. I pray that the black leadership that shows up at all the camera clicks takes this opportunity to not only soak up donations for their private foundations, but that they use this enormous spotlight and bull horn to show the people the power they possess. And to harvest the energy and emotion of this unrest and channel it towards sustained efforts to improve not only their/our conditions but our methods and dealings on a daily.

Let’s not let this tragedy be in vain. The immediate problem appears to be black and white but the underlying problem is the division between the have and have nots. They feel we are worthless and thus expendable, but a national movement will make it crystal clear what our true value is. Keep fighting until they recognize and deliver justice. Fear not when your cause is righteous. 

R. Venner

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dare to Be Inspirational

Maybe it’s just me, but seems like as Americans, we are diverging into one of two schools of though. Either we are fame hungry or so starved for attention, we are willing to do anything for a little shine. Hence the shows like “Famous in 12” or all of the new naked reality shows (not that naked is bad. Naked mostly is good) it’s just the last resort, because the thirst for the spotlight is real.

The other school of thought is the total withdrawal, or the blasé beige apathy that is the strangest among the young and tech savvy types. The folks so absorbed in their own minutiae they rarely peek up from their devices long enough to make eye contact much less engage the rest of the world to participate in meaningful conversation. There are even some of these folks with a full handle of breaking news, the top trending stories, and the latest gossip, but they have been out of the practice of interfacing with other people so long that open exchanges are awkward and uncomfortable. To all of these folks on behalf of the rest of the world let me say, Hey we miss you.

For all the folks I mentioned, and the different varying degrees in between, I’d like to propose a challenge. Fame seekers don’t get undressed yet, pay attention. It is my sincere belief that you are so much more than your back shot, or than you may realize. Your ideas, insights, and experience are probably in most cases a was better story than your tan lines or the fact you dropped your towel in the presence of a complete stranger and let a camera crew follow you around, because some TV. exec has run out of quality creative writing ideas.

Same thing for the detached folks. Your real life stories have the ability to inform dazzle, entertain, educate, delight, and inspire others if you can find it in yourself to share it. And this may sound a little crazy, but share using more than 140 characters,0000! Don’t sneer at me; I’m not deterred by your gasps. I feel like I have to say it on the off chance people forget completely how to be courageous.

I dare you today, to say or do something inspirational. Dig deeper than the surface. When you inspire others to act, to think, to believe, to smile, the ripples from that inspiration can cause the world to change. Be better today than you were yesterday.

R. Venner

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Wake up Before it’s Too Late

I look into the blank stares and vacant smiles of my comrades (fellow inmates) and I’m, besieged by a cloud of despair. In a long procession of humanity we trudge single-filed to and from a concrete cafe under the watchful eye of a shotgun carrying trigger man. The landscape is bleak; barren brown and orange earth, with white and grey gravel stretched across the pitch in all directions as far as the eye can see. No green, no shrubs, no grass, no life. It looks like science fiction but it’s not. It’s a prison in Southern Nevada and it looks like the surface of Mars.

There’s an interruption to the monotony but nothing so pleasant as hope. No. It’s steel cages, razor wire and concrete cubby holes with plastic slits for windows. Housing units, or better stated, storage slots for human beings. Man, many of which will never leave this place packed away neatly and disregarded like Christmas decorations in the summer time.

That’s why seeing the blank stares and silly smiles sicken me. The majority of these men don’t realize how far away from reality we've fallen. But this docile acceptance isn't by accident. This is the meticulously designed plan and forecast fatal results of a villainous plot. A parade of young, fit, virile but unfortunate lost men, uniformed identically to shred away thoughts of individuality and independence, given the bare minimum of basic necessities to survive and cowed into submission by threats of bodily harm not excluding deadly force, which will be excused as justifiable homicide.

Sadist is an understatement. But my grief is a mere snapshot of the problem like the white froth of a crashing wave is snapshot of the ocean. The whole picture is miles wide on all sides and takes more ink than this pen holds to explain. I’m just doing my Richard Engle impersonation, but I’m not on a rooftop in Damascus. I’m incarcerated in an American prison, a car ride away from you, but ironically suffering from the same conditions as those he reports on so far away.

What if this is a plan? Could you in the free world be affected too? What are the “prep-pers” getting ready for? The Netflix hit “Orange is the New Black” is a sensation, but what is it has another purpose? The Nazi’s called it propaganda.

The idea is to make the idea of incarceration cod or to romanticize it so there’s less resistance when its forced down your throat . Why are there so many “Locked Up” shows on television?

In the world, the media aggressively promotes tolerance of “all lifestyles” to the point of ostracism for anyone that’s resistant or that feels more comfort in a traditional relationship (heterosexual). At the same time the youth are trained to focus on and edify the insignificant, inconsequential, and sometime plain ignorant, through pop culture so the power and energy of a generation is wasted in trivial pursuits.

As Phylicia  Rashad so eloquently stated at the BET awards, all throughout history 20-30 year olds were the front line warriors that fought and demanded change. Now the voices of young adults have been replaced with words like LOL and Emoticons.

This article is probably more truth than the masses will have patience for which further proves my point. Our consciousness has been worn down to vines, hash tags and acting as ridiculous as possible to catch the cameras attention for a taste of fame. I used to think people that spoke about the plight of humanity were crazy until I saw for myself the end game of being asleep at the wheel.

If we’re not careful it won’t just be men being marched across Mars. If we don’t wake up, it could be everybody.

R. Venner 86053
P.O. Box 650
Indian Spring, NV 89070

Sunday, June 29, 2014

It Could Always be Worse

Wednesday morning a little after 3 am, I stirred to consciousness in a crowded day room. I was lying awkwardly on the top bunk of a bunk bed too short for my 6’6’’ frame, grumpily, but exercising silent respect for the other 9 dudes that have to be up at such an ungodly hour. I went to work in the culinary and fried over 1000 eggs through the early A.M. hours to feed the population of N.N.C.C. Not the best use of my skill set but not a terrible job either.

Later that day I bullshitted with my dogs, played chess, and waited patiently for the caseworker to show up so I could complain about my insufferable sleeping situation.  He arrived, listened and gave me the concerned looks and properly timed head nods like he gave a shit, and placated my gripes. Even told me he’d handle the bed more on his next work day. I jumped on the phone to promote #NoLooseEnds and finished my day in a fairly good mood. About 9:30 pm the unit officer instructed me to roll up all of my property because I was scheduled for transport the next day. WHAT??? It was odd, unexpected, and in the midst of all the book stuff unwanted.

I woke up Friday morning at High Desert State Prison. I was still on the top bunk, but I only has one person in my immediate space. My accommodations have switched from a day room to a cell. I was awake at 4 but by 4:30 a.m. the room was bathed in a bright orange glow, an officer controlled dome light signaled it was time to wake up for breakfast. A few minutes later a buzz and the slow roll of metal electrical doors opening urged my cell mate and I as well as a small group of men in this new place to the exit doors where we’d all stroll together to a chow hall somewhere for some of Southern Nevada’s early bird cuisine. But it was not to be.

While waiting for this hike to combat the overnight hunger a fight breaks out somewhere out of sight and a strange silence sweeps over the room. Only rough breathing and the sounds of hand to hand combat can be heard. The melee is around the corner s I can’t see the combatants but about 10 ft. away from me another scuffle breaks out and I’m befuddled by this whole scene playing out before 6 a.m. my first day here.
I don’t know any of these dudes so I can only think to give them their space to work out their issues. The time for confusion was short lived. From an elevated perch inside this building a shotgun blasts shatters the silence with a commanding BOOM! Followed by angry cop voices screaming “Get Down! Get on the ground! Get down!”. In the next couple of seconds cordite smoke and confusion are everywhere. More guards appear, more yelling ensues and my breakfast walk about is ruined.

In the end breakfast was postponed, there were a couple of people left bloody and the entire unit was locked down. My point in relating these unpleasant details is our situations may be less than ideal but in a heartbeat they can tumble into a bigger crap sandwich than the one we’re currently stuck in. My advice is simple; love the good that’s around you. Work to make your present predicament better, and don’t despair or complain about how bad things are, because trust me it can ALWAYS get worse.

I’m despairing right now because my location, phone and family access, move around freedom and honestly my physical safety arrangements have been obliterated, but I’m not in the prison infirmary with stab wounds and buck shot from a shotgun shell in my butt cheeks. This new set of circumstances suck dog balls but at least it’s not Iraq.

I’m just saying!

R. Venner

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Happy Fathers Day

What’s up world? I want to take the time to tell you all about the man that made me into the R. Venner that I wished I could be all the time. My father, Ramsey Sr. My dad was a quiet, classy, giant. Not exactly physically imposing, he stood 5’ 10”, but his presence was mountainous. He was orphaned as a child in Providence, Colombia and forced to fend for himself from the age of six or seven as the legend goes. He was born in 1930 so the world he came up in was miles away from the panoramic we have now. No technology or ton of distractions to syphon off hours of productivity. If history is accurate this is a little after the invention of the automobile, so the trickle down to my father’s part of the planet may have only been whispers, and radio fairytales.

Well this man, with no formal education and basically a child of the village, did odd jobs to earn his keep as he grew up; Helping on peoples land and property, tending to animals and crops, caring for the elderly in exchange for room and board in a spare bedroom or even an attic at one point. In his adolescent years, he worked his way into a deckhand position aboard sailing vessels or passenger ships and he left his humble beginnings to see the world.

My older brother recently told me there isn’t a place you could point to on a map that our father didn’t have a story about, like he has put his two feet in and on the soil of every spot on the globe. I remember some of his stories, but Ramsey Sr. was 48 when I was born, so my appreciation for his history came way too late in his years I regret not asking him more about his life.

What I did get from the time we spent together, was first, an amazing work ethic. My father always was the rock in my eyes, he never complained about much, never needed an alarm clock to wake up, and insisted we be early to everything we had to do. He wasn’t in a rush or swayed by trends, and didn’t keep too many close friends. The bills were always paid, there was always food in the fridge, and even if we were on the bus we got to where we were going.

The other thing that my father had before there was a phase that described it was swag. In every picture I can remember going back into the big photo album with the crumbling black and white joints, my dad never smiled or cheesed big in photos. He was always stern and serious but he stood tall. Broad shouldered, powerful stance, always sharply dressed, with a look that told the camera – “you are fortunate to have this moment with me”.

His accent, and classic world view, made me think he was dated and out of touch when we clashed during my adolescence, but I reflect on those scolding’s and words of wisdom with great admiration today. His views were forged in harsh reality, and staving off starvation, without a mother and father to counsel or cuddle you. His outlook came from having to become a man not because he wanted to, but because he had to.

He couldn’t always convey his thoughts to me in clear concise dictation, hell, English was his second language. But he would get emotional when he lectured me about my bad behavior, because he wanted the world for me. He used to say, “Hold your head up high and be Ramsey man. Know you are man, be proud, be Ramsey”. It seems cryptic when you just read the words, but it was powerful as he nodded tight lipped, starting into a future I couldn't see.

The way he had to bare down and choke back tears sometimes drove home that he was giving me something that touched the very core of him. Self-contained, reserved, respected, wise, funny and fly as hell, Ramsey F. Venner Sr. was all that. He was a man. Happy Birthday and Happy Father’s Day Jefe. Te Quiero Macho.

R. Venner

Saturday, June 7, 2014

My Man

In the movie American Gangster, Denzel Washington plays drug kingpin Frank Lucas during the 1970’s heroine holocaust in New York City. There’s a scene when he’s speaking to a rival, and then to a dirty cop, and when the conversation comes to an end he says “My Man”. Cool, jazzy, with a warm smile, even if the conversation didn't go well.

This week I had been reaching out to distributors, companies that sell “Urban Fiction” to find out how I could get #No Loose Ends to join the ranks of Wahida Clark and the books by Tripple Crown Publications. One of my calls landed at the offices of a real cool brother who coincidently happened to be in New York City as well. I could go into a rant about how hard it is to make phone calls from here, but that’s a whole other blog. Just take my word for it when I say connecting with the outside world is tuff for a million reasons but we persevere and overcome.

Anyway, we make it through to a live voice after about 5 minutes, and the person I needed to speak with was on another line. So we relayed messages back and forth, me through my patient team of supporters, and him through his polite office lady with that hot New York accent (I can’t wait to call back).  But the upside is the brother that runs the company finally gets on the phone, and I launch into my 30 second elevator pitch. The downside is as soon as he starts to respond, the digital operator on my end, announces we have one minute remaining. The brother is like “Alright Ramsey, send me a copy of your book and I’ll let you know what I think, and go ahead and leave your contact info in there so we can get back to you”.

I can’t lie, I was almost grateful at just being offered to send someone a copy of my book. Then as we were about to hang up my eagerness or maybe the hunger in my voice relayed that I wasn’t quite done with my pitch, or that I was really desperate to talk to someone and get some kind of direction or instructions, or maybe his ear was trained to recognize the plight of a fellow entrepreneur in distress. Whichever the case as we were about to hang up, he said “And if you need to tell me anything else put it in a letter with your book”.
“Alright, will do” I replied, overjoyed that this brother sounded authentic and actually interested in my work.
His last words on that phone call before the phone wench ended the call…… “My Man” just like in the movie, but not with malice. It was warm and real like the love in the 70’s. I could see big afros with soul brotha picks, bell bottoms and matching jackets with funky colored argyle patterns. But all the internal nostalgia aside, we hung up and I wasn’t able to shake the invitation I heard in the brother’s voice. He could have been jaded and reluctant like some successful people or even some of my exes sound when we speak. He could have been true to our projections of New Yorkers, he could have rude or mean just because, but he wasn’t. He was mellow and my every attempt to get into another project wouldn’t quiet the urgings in my head to call back. I felt like I could have got the stalker tag, or that I should have been content with the small progress and I was risking it by sounding too thirsty or desperate. But I overrode my own roadblocks and we called the brother back and even more shocking than my gall, he took the call.

I just told him “Sorry sir for taking up anymore of your time, but I’m in prison and it’s a rarity to get information much less critical or accurate details in this business. I’m just going on instincts here, but if you wouldn’t mind could I ask you some questions?” And he said “sure young brother, I understand your plight, go ahead. What’s on your mind?”

For the next 30 minutes I grilled the brother and became a sponge on every topic I could think to inquire about, from the presentation of my website and its layout, to having a contact page inside my actual book, which I would have never thought about. The conversation cost $5 but the information I received was priceless.

In the end, I may or have made a new business contact. But even if #No Loose Ends doesn’t end up on his “New This Month” list, there is a phone number and a real dude at the other end that’ll take a look at my next offering.

This whole episode, in my humble opinion speaks to the power of persistence, and one other thing, learn to listen to your instincts, sometimes the universe is trying to tell you something. Most walls and roadblocks are mental, stop thinking about it.

R. Venner

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Stumbling Blocks

Frantic – Jubilation, blissful excitement paid with exuberant whimsy and joyous elation. That’s how I feel at finally being able to announce that my first book (No Loose Ends) is available for sale. I’m happy because it was the first major thing of my adult like I’ve dreamt, plotted and followed through to completion. I’ve got absolutely no idea what kind of numbers (sales) this things will do. I’m confident in the writing and storytelling, but what people decided to like is beyond me. But no journey can take place without some turmoil, a bump in the road or a change of wind at least. And while the majority of this mission has seemed like rolling downhill with the wind at our backs we encountered the greatest resistance in the days where I thought coasting is all I’d be doing.

There was a minor battle with the publisher to get the website right ad launched on time, but after a two week tug –o-war with Table 5 avoiding the muddy pit, and all of the links to working perfectly we launched May 16, 2014 with a little bit of fanfare. Picture me cheesing because our National ad campaign on Coast to Coast syndicated Sunday Night Slow Jams w/ R. Dub was set to start 5/18/14 that Sunday night. Awesome right?  Kind of…. So the Reno affiliate that carries Sunday Night Slow Jams is WILD 102.9. On this Sunday WILD 102.9 decided to carry the Red Carpet pre-show for the Billboards Awards. I felt like Yosemite Sam curing Bugs Bunny for tricking him again. Glad I didn't have a six shooter.

So sorry my Reno folks and any other area that tuned in and got some staged interview with One Republic Direction Swift Timberbieber or whoever else was on the red carpet. I was super salty yesterday but just another lesson learned.

Check out and post your pics of you and your copy of No Loose Ends. The best of the cutest flic will be getting a $25 gift card for some fine dining courtesy of the Bomb team over at Table 5 (that’s us).

Now the real work starts. #NoLooseEnds

R. Venner

Monday, May 19, 2014

I’m Worried about Something

Shabherish – An adjective describing a rachette female or a poorly attended to appearance or state of affairs. It sounded authentic didn’t it? Well I guess anything can if you put enough effort and money into it. So my dream state came to life this morning and reminded me that as far as recent musical entries go creativity and good music are dying off fast. I watched 106 & Park for 6 minutes and got 240 seconds of commercials squeezing 120 seconds of some song by Wiz Kalifa where he was wearing biker shorts and a beanie and singing through auto-tune. I miss music that portrayed artists as factors or powerful figures maneuvering through an exclusive and/or forbidden entertainment medium and getting rock star bucks in the process. Now the lyrics are watered down to the point that a sing songy catch line for the entire song passes for music. And your memory isn’t even challenged to remember every word of 3014 different verses. Remember Rappers Delight or Tribe Called Quest Scenario?

Now “We Dem Boyz” for 2 minutes in between Community College ads passes for programming. Am I wrong? Or does it seem like they (the powers that be) are turning us into zombies. Think about it, give the current trend about 5-7 more years and music will be basically two words over a phat bass loop and ghettos all over will march to that awful sound. They play bullshit till you love it and then hit you with something even worse the next week. Want proof? How in the hell is French Montana in the game? Anybody please….. Give me 1 tight verse he’s spit. Think about it this way, what if the underground, or conscious rap, back packers or just thought provoking songs were streamed and pumped through the air waves at the same rate. All of a sudden we’d be singing shit that made sense and God forbid, we may even demand good music our of our artists. At the very least our brains would return to functioning enough that we could tell the difference between bad music and good.

Young people wake up! You are being programmed to be less than you are. Parents turn that crap off, feed your children’s minds anything that’ll make ideas and creativity take root. Don’t clap along when your baby says “he ain’t worried about nothing”. Put a book in their hands and tell them to worry about that!

R. Venner

Friday, May 16, 2014


     This week started with me “in my emotions." I was distraught, even sad, about my relationships with my family and some friends (I thought). Let me explain... Being in prison comes with an expected amount of popularity loss. Outta sight outta mind right? In this situation, I expect casual acquaintances, work friends, even smash buddies, to fall off to a degree, because I got a pretty huge sentence!

Six to15 years!  So shaky or non-essential relationships didn’t really stand a chance. Many of those disappearing didn’t bother me. My pain this past week came from the folks that called themselves my friends and even relatives.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Art Imitating Life

     I’ve been a bit shook up and on uncertain footing the last couple of days. My beloved Table 5 team has changed drastically in the blink of an eye....

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pride and Wonder/ The Secret to Getting Things Done

     O'Dark Thirty - 4:03 am must be my body and brains witching hour. I started tossing and turning at 3:40 am and was wide eyed in the dark by...

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Word from Ariceli

     Who can know why things in life happen the way that they do? I have a guilty pleasure in bad TV, particularly the show....

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Imagined Dragons

     I’ve learned a lot through this time in prison; from both observing and experiencing situations that were strange and new to me, as well as looking at familiar situations through wiser, more cautious, battle-tested eyes.

Monday, March 17, 2014

New Cover Art

     It's blog-time again, and I’m having trouble keeping my trusty pen under control, as I try to articulate… to express the thoughts in my head. At 6:30 a.m. this morning, my publisher sent the email it feels like I’ve been waiting my whole life for; the words in the subject line were glorious: “No Loose Ends Front Cover”. WOW!!! Sitting here looking at it, I feel a mix of pride in seeing something I dreamt up actually take shape in the real world and a bit of something  else. I can’t lie; I’m as insecure as anyone asking the world-at-large to try or sample something I made. I’m not the type to buy into the negative, but statistics say most new writers flop. I’ve got other issues, too. Is it " 'hood" enough for the urban fiction folks? It’s a street story, kinda, with people of color (Black, White, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Italian); so, will it square with the squares? Who knows?

     With music, hip-hop especially, you’re supposed to act as if you’re the baddest ass on the block and dare people to not like it. But, this is so different from that. I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen. I’m just gonna put my sweat, soul, and the odd words that came together for me out there for you, and pray some of you feel the rhythm of my wordplay. That’s Ramsey-speak for: I hope ya’ll like it.

     It’s crazy. I’m almost in tears as I write this because it sucks to be stuck in this shitty-ass situation and know in my heart that I am capable of so much more. There’s 100’s of nonsensical ways to spend the days until parole is a possibility, but I’m trying with everything in me to keep taking steps forward in the real world. I don’t feel like prison defines me: "just because my body is trapped, my mind has to be". I don’t accept that because I’m here I have to give up on life until I’m free. If anyone reading this knows someone that’s locked up, send them a copy of this blog. You can do anything you put your mind to. The best part of prison is that you’ve got extra time on your hands to figure out how to get it right.

     I wasn’t a writer before this place. I didn’t know half of the stuff I do before I was forced to sit still long enough to read through a Wall Street Journal. I’m far from perfect. I’ve got a long list of flaws but, I guess if there is a difference I can point to, I try to be brave enough to work on my shortcomings.

     Having this book to focus on is a blessing. Having people in the world that are kind enough to give me a couple of minutes of their time over a phone-call is a blessing. Even being able to express my strange views and stories to the world via this blog and have anyone who cares enough to read it is a blessing; and I’m eternally grateful.

     So here’s the cover, and the new layout for Contraband Tales. No Loose Ends is a reality; whether it flops or flies high, I’m grateful for the journey.

R. Venner
Check out my interview with TigerLily about life and No Loose Ends! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Real Hardships – Like Asia

What’s up, World?

     So, while my hope is to give the streets (and the public, in general) a great book with an action- and comedy-packed storyline, one of my underlying goals is to give some insight into the mental states and psychology of men similar to Travis Smith, the main character of No Loose Ends (and, I guess, myself as well).

     The hardships of prison only start with the loss of freedom. To the person that’s never really gotten into this kind of trouble, you’d probably say, “So what, it’s your own fault”; and I don’t dispute that we do create our own chaos. But after the blame game is done, the reality is that men are sequestered to same-sex populations for years on end, and stripped of their basic human dignities. Initially, we're told to strip, squat, and cough under flashlights; no matter your crime, and at any guards’ request. We’re fed the minimal permissible amount of calories allowed by law, and further embarrassed daily because every manner of contact we have with the outside world is preceded by the scarlet waning that the person either writing or calling is in the custody of the Department of Corrections. The human injustices are boundless: from 50-500% price increases in basic necessities like food, hygienic products, and clothing; to premiums on local and long-distance calls, and outrageous connection fees so we can stay in contact with loved ones. It’s rough! And on top of the administrative wounds, you have the heartbreak of loved ones or family that reached their compassion and tolerance limits. I’m not assigning blame here, again, because I get it: when people won’t take the steps to fix their own lives, there is only so much patience you can spare to forgive their follies.

     So, let me try something here. Going to prison brings an abrupt set of life changes, and significant others are ripped from relationships without warning. When it happens, the trauma is sometimes too much to overcome. Let’s face it: unless a man/ woman has proven himself/ herself as worth the time, energy, and sacrifices you’ll have to make in order to wait for him/ her, having a man/ woman that’s locked up is kind of a bad deal.

     Now a great deal of women stand by their men, and we, the collective body of men still stuck in the gulag, appreciate and commend you ladies. I’ll say it right now, just in case your man hasn't in a while: Thank you, ladies, for sticking around. But, there are a great many women that don’t; and, though it’s understandable that your lives shouldn't be on hold while we are stuck paying the price for bad behaviors, learning that someone you love or care about doesn't feel like you’re worth the wait doesn't hurt any less. And the changes that occur in men (and women) that are abandoned in this situation are sometimes devastating, mostly critical, but always real.

     Soapbox aside… lets get back to the fiction. Travis Smith (of No Loose Ends fame) has a beautiful cocoa brown-skinned girlfriend, when he’s forced to make a decision: either keep his cousin out of a jam, or let his childhood mentor burn for a drug case (which would be his 3rd strike and cost him the rest of his life behind bars). Travis chooses to take the case, and gets a light sentence because it's his first offense. While in the big house, his girlfriend Asia sends him a letter not unlike real letters I’ve seen personally. And, though her letter is not saying it’s over, it's one of those papercuts that cuts the heart like a machete chop.

      Picture yourself in Travis’ shoes: alone in your bed area, smiling ear-to-ear as you hold magical words from the someone that still cares enough to write you. You open the letter from Asia and this is what she has to say:


     I had your last letter in my backpack for like two weeks before I read it. I knew it was gonna be some bullshit when you told me you got in trouble. You only had a few months left, and now it’s gonna be longer? I don’t know how long I can keep this up, T. I’m trying to understand your love for your cousin, but I’m just like… What am I supposed to do for another six months?

     I hate school without you here. My dad has been acting funny-style with me since I told him about what happened. He won’t even give me my car because he knows I want to visit you. Now, I’m walking to class, stuck in the house, asking for rides; I gotta get a job or something.

     Jayla, my girl from the Bay, told me she’s been getting money with this dude from Vegas since she left school. She’s traveling like crazy, and she asked me if I want to go to Florida with her this month. Dude is some kind of talent manager or something. He’s booked her hella modeling jobs, and she just bought an ’09 Mustang. T, I’m tired of these boring-ass classes and just being stuck in the house all the time. What should I do?

     I’m gonna take some pictures with Jayla if I go to Florida with them, so I’ll send you some shots of me in a bikini : ). (But you can’t be showing them off.) Don’t get in anymore trouble, T. You need to hurry up and get out of there. I’ll write you again soon.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


3:46 AM

     When sleep is this elusive, I am convinced that there is something genuine that needs to be articulated. So what’ll it be, brain? The biggest thing I've been dealing with is the constant flux of keeping momentum and motivation going for No Loose Ends; and, I have to tell you, I’m aware that we are in an era of super-short attention spans. If it’s not a six-second Vine that makes people laugh, or an up-to-the-minute tweet that happens because a celebrity did something in front of the camera that normal people are surprised by, it’s questionable if (in our packed lives) we’ll have time to pay attention. I don’t have a smart-phone. I don’t even have a dumb-phone at the moment; what I have is a boiling desire to change the condition my life is in. When I was stirred to alertness this morning, I thought it might have been the chili-dogs or a nightmare that woke me; but it wasn't. I’m awake right now at 4:00 AM because my brain realizes that I should go get a jump on today; because if I want a better life for myself, my daughter, my family, and even my friends, laying up and hoping things get better is about the biggest falsehood there is. We’ve got to get busy doing, and make our reality what we want it to be.

     Everything you see around you started from a thought. The brain is beautiful and powerful; but we've grown comfortable, letting it get lazy; watching YouTube and living through others’ experiences. Think about the life that you want… for yourself; and don’t wait to make it happen, start immediately to make it real. You want to write a book: do it; you want a better job: go get it; you don’t have skills: start going to school and get them; but don’t waste another hour on the Grumpy Cat. If we stop being charmed by the flashing and blinking lights of technology for a second, you might remember we make those devices; and it takes a beautiful mind to create something so complex. But just because you’re not in the Silicon Valley, doesn't mean your brain is any less capable of achieving great things. Who cares that Madonna used the N-word?!?! Take your attention span back, and make a better life for yourself. Learn how to bake a cake from scratch. Fix your own brakes on your car. Write a letter to someone special to you. Take 10 minutes out of a day to just appreciate the beauty of the world we live in.

     It’s not hard to wake up excited about the day when you know you’re moving towards a goal. When you feel progress, it will get harder and harder to sleep.

     The fire I feel in my belly could be the chili-dogs - there were onions and jalapeños - but I’m certain, as I empty out this ink-pen, that it’s something greater. No Loose Ends is my first book, and only one fictional story. But it’s my pride and joy, and a blessing to find purpose when hope in this place is in short supply. 

R. Venner

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Boston's Story

     What’s up, World?

     This book experience is a mixed bag of up and down emotions. When I think I’ve got one thing figured out: there are 25 new tasks and obstacles to overcome and navigate around. But, I think that’s why they call it progress. These experiences fortify the lessons learned like a hammer strike alters and strengthens metal; life is a blacksmith, and we’re being sharpened like steel. Throw in some successes and love and we’re made into shiny display pieces like ninja swords or katanas. Take too many or too much of a beating and we end up as broken, discarded or severely damaged floor adornments. I’m grateful for the process, and pray all these hard shots get me a bit closer to being a Hanzo sword (SEE KILL BILL).

     The next character from No Loose Ends I’d like to introduce to you is Chris “Iron Fists” Connoley. A freckly, red-headed Irishman. Slender dude, like Brad Pitt in Snatch; a rock-hard body from his training as an aspiring boxer, complete with a couple of battle scars from his times in the ring. He speaks with a thick New England accent, though his exposure to brothas is evident in his swag. He rocks T-shirts, fresh jeans and Adidas shell-toes; all white and only smudged if the love of his crew or Deborah, his high school sweetheart from Boston, is threatened. But, don’t take my word for it; I’ll let him holler at you:

     Yeah, Yeah, Yeah! Can you imagine a kid from Dorchester, one of the greasiest corners of Boston, makin' a name for his-self in the Biggest Little City? It’s monumental, man!  Reno is one of the bedrocks of boxing; I mean, they have a courthouse named after Mills Lane here. So, I came out to Reno with a traveling promoter that was telling me he’d open some doors, make some introductions; you know, help me make it to the big time. It sounded better than what I had going in Boston. Plus, back home I couldn’t put two days of training together without Deborah (that’s my girlie) going all whackobird about me working a 9-5 and getting my bowtie and ruffled cumberbun ready to march down the aisle. I think it was the pressure of her family back home. See, me? I’m a nobody, orphan and an outcast. The only kids like me back home were brown and black, and that’s who I ran with. Deborah’s people were kinda well-to-do out there, so her sisters are getting hitched and her brothers all hated me; but they didn’t want it because I had knuckled up all my life. Shit, you would have too if you had red hair, freckles and lived in a boy’s home in West Boston till you was 16. So, I parlayed the punches to a bunch of amateur matches, but I didn’t think anything of it until Ira Goldberg came along. He was a sham artist and traveling fight promoter back home. He’s actually how I got out to Reno.

     So, we’re throwing boxing exhibitions all ova. When I was green it didn’t matter; some fights that I won were rigged from the bellman to the card girls. But once I got good enough to know some of those early wins shoulda cleaned my clock, I approached Ira and he ran down the racket to me. So, I got on board because Ira cut me in on the fights; and when I dived like I was supposed to, I got a little extra envelope at the end of each night. None of these fights were sanctioned, so I didn’t trip on the wins and losses too much. I wanted to wipe the floor with a bunch of the bums I fought, but I had to bring something home to keep Deborah off my back. In the fights when there was lite action, I really got to mix it up. So, I get the notion that Ira shouldn’t be the only one winning; especially if I wanted to really make it one day. And a plan didn’t come together until we made it out to Reno.

     Now Reno is its own kinda place. Water from the Truckee River and this big famous Blue Lake people go crazy ova only about an hour away. Casinos, but not quite like Vegas or Atlantic City. I met Contraband and J Dub up at the University at a frat party. These two guys, forget about it! They had some herb like I had never seen before and they were partying in a big way. Contra has this huge 2-story house on the outskirts of town, and they would throw parties that lasted for days. Back then he was with this sexy chocolate sista named Asia. And she danced and worked in Moundhouse in one of the ranches out there. So, a bunch of her girlfriends were strippers and escorts. So shit always got crazy when they came around. Some of da shit I seen...

     While we were at the frat house, Contra had his eyes on this cool-looking chick, and J Dub was telling a bunch of youngsters one of his old country-ass stories. In the other room was these two mooks that decided they were tired of sharing their shine with the outsiders. Anyway, I took it as offensive; the frat-boys' party was cracking because Contra and Dub was supplying the party favors, and these preppies start back biting 'em. So, I confront them. Bear in mind: I don’t know Contra or J Dub at the time; I’m just peeping the haterism on what looks like some cool cats. So, I’m all “Check this out, Bobby or Billy: dem brothas hooked your weak-ass party up, and ya’ll ova here all salty and being haters?” So, they were sounding like surfers “Bro, you need to mind your business.” So, I didn’t wait; I just took off, and both of these dudes were no match. They shoulda called me KFC, the way I was handin' out two pieces. Extra spicy, you heard? The music stops, and these college types start freaking out. Well, Contra and J Dub are like the only brothas there and they’re carrying herb, so we all break out. I link with them, and we head out to Contra’s pad with some honeys Asia knows; and everything was everything.

     Alright, so that’s how we met; and here’s the deal now: I have still been training and getting the occasional bout here and there; and Ira was working on a match between me and this corn-fed shit-kicker from Elko (or somewhere in BFE Nevada). After I started getting money with Contra, I brought Deborah out; and she’s still ridin' my ASS! “Chris-ta-fa,” that’s how she calls me. “Chris-ta-fa, I know you don’t think you’re heading out with those thugs from the tire shop. Chris-ta-fa, all of my sisters are married and my mother wants a granddaughter. What we waiting for?”

     I swear, sometimes she dreams about naggin' me in her sleep; and the next morning is a sequel to the previous night’s bullshit. I’d like kids someday. I’d actually love them if I could get a chick like Con’s new girl. She’s got a little boy, and I like that little set up. His old chick was gone, or on the road or something, and he hooked up with this Mexican chick named Ariceli. But that’s his biz, you know? I’ve figured out that this fight with the Cowboy is gonna be a big deal. I overheard Ira with his people from back home, and he’s got a mint riding on me taking a dive; and I’ve been working on getting Contra to promote me because I’m gonna get old Ira cracked this weekend.

     I went down to see this kid I’m fighting in some exhibition in Fernly or one of those "blink once" cities way out in the desert; and, I’m just gonna say this: when ya’ll see the playbill for this fight, gather all your shillings, all your gouda and provolone cheese and put it in the Irishman. This kid must have had half of Nevada there to cheer him on. There were Ford F-250’s with horse trailers, dulleys and Wrangler-wearin' cowboys everywhere. Those people were whistling and yelling like it was bull-ridin' at the rodeo; and the kid was a'ight, but he’s not ready, man. Anyway, I got the front money to bet on me. There’s a bookie that knows about my arrangement with Ira, and he’s got his own axe to grind with Ira for something back in the days. And I haven’t convinced Contra to get into the fight game yet, but I’m sure after he sees the cash involved he’ll be on it.

     So my plan is this: keep everything the same with Ira, you know? Train, spar or whateva; and on the side I gotta get Con and Dub on-board, and get some more cheese to put on my exit plan. If Ira wants to get crazy after I sell Contra on the idea, at least I’ll have some back-up in place. Yeah, it’s gonna be a beast. It’s monumental, man.

     Well, stay tuned-in. Shit gets real in No Loose Ends, and I’m happy to be able to give you a sneak peek. It’s ya boy Biggidy Boston Chris Connoley with the Iron Fists. One.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

J Dub's Story

Hello, World!

     I started this blog because I’ve found an amazing relief from all of my ills in writing. I can be whinny, creative, even informative if the right topic comes across my mind’s eye. But, I also want to open a window and expose anyone who cares to pay attention to my writing to all the many facets of light and dark that are part of me. My first book No Loose Ends is about to be out, and I want to try something different with this blog post. The story is about Travis Smith, his dealings in a new city (Reno, NV), and the folks he comes in contact with; but the story is only through his eyes. What I thought I’d do for you folks leading up to the book's release is to let you get to know some of the other characters of No Loose Ends.

     I’m not sure if this has been done before, but I think of it like this: We are all the main star in our own movies. So, for a few ticks, I’d like to turn the cameras on Jasper Dubois; or J. Dub, as he’s known and affectionately referred to. My mind roams free when it comes to writing, and J. Dub took the form of a light-skinned Louisiana Creole-type brother. If I had to describe him, I’d say about 6 ft. tall, 195-210 lbs., nice build, wavy hair, hazel-eyed pretty boy type; with a country/ Cajun accent and a habit of sucking and shining his gold incisor before brandishing it in his sneaky, slant-eyed smile. Old school chick magnet in the Al B. Sure, El DeBarge, Mario Van Pebbles mold; or Chris Brown or Kid Ink with wavy hair by today’s standards. There will be plenty of time for my rants, and I’ve got a lot cooking, but I’ll turn the spotlight over to Contraband’s (Travis Smith’s) road dog…. Mr. Jasper Dubois.

     Hey now, world. What’s happening? I’m glad ya’ll all been checkin' out Contraband Tales, but let me tell you one thing: one of the craziest takes in my 36 years on dis rock was how I meet Contraband. I hail from Oakdale, Louisiana, where my mama whooped my ass with a ping-pong paddle 'til I was 14. Back home, the days is long and humid, and about as close to a scene outta Huckleberry Finn as you can get for black folks. Think Eve’s Bayou, with flat-screen T.V.’s and the occasional caddy on big rims, and dat's Oakdale. I met my pops when I was 17, down by Spuds; dat's a waterin' hole where you have a few cold ones and shoot some pool. We look like each other so much, Jasper Sr. (or Jazzy, dey call him) and I, dat his new girlfriend mistake my back for his and start grindin' on me while he was on da john one night. He come out pissed off and ready to fight, and it’s like looking into a mirror.

     We get to know each udda fine enough, and he turn me on to a couple of odd jobs and the ins-and-outs of doin' dirty werk. Most folk bond ova playin' catch and fishing trips. Me and Jazzy got to know each other ova pool shots, and in-between heists and armed robberies. I catch my first pinch because most of Papi’s girlfriends either couldn’t tell, or chose to test drive the newer edition of the Dubois line. Jazzy always played it off like he didn’t care if I bedded his bitties; but I think he must have felt some real feelings for Gale. She was a college girl from Baton Rouge with family from 'round Oakdale. She had deep dimples and a great…. Uh….. smile.

     Anyway, Jazzy come home early on a day Gale had called me ova to take a look at a loose handle, or broken door knob, and I ended up usin' a lot more den my tool-kit to check her pipes, you know? And he didn’t make a fuss at the time, but I can see it in his face he’s sick about it. Well, few days passed and he tell me 'bout dis job of long money for short werk, and I’m eager to make up for beddin' his main girl. So, I buy into this scheme about robbin' a jeweler. Dis Jew-boy s'posed to have $80,000 worth of watches and loose stones in a briefcase cuffed to his wrist, with one bodyguard and a route we staked out for two weeks. I jump out with the mask on, and Jazzy s'posed to surprise them from the back; so we get the drop on 'em you know? Problem is, Jazzy never show up. The bodyguard reached for a gun, and I shoot him in the leg and try to run off before he kills me. The son-of-a-bitch Jew dealer is some kind of Quick-draw McGraw, and puts a bullet in my ass as I’m running away. Dey come cuff me in the hospital as the doctor is pulling a .45 slug outta my butt-cheek. I got 8 years for Jazzy’s jealous ass, and I high-tailed it to the West Coast when I gets outta prison. Shit, dat was a good one, but me and old Contraband meet in Reno. They got one of the shittiest county jails I dun been to; mostly cause dey wanna make you change your ways or whatever, but you know how dis shit go. Now, dis one wasn’t too long ago. I was in one of the big new pods on the hill up at Parr Blvd. And if you ever watched one of dem prison shows, it look like dat. A big pet store with sad faces pressed against the windows and movin' around in tiny tanks.

     Well, dey let us out to shower, use the phone, and watch TV and shit like that. And each race usually has their own TV. Dat way the Mexicans can watch dem soap operas, we can watch B.E.T. or sports, and the white boys can watch motorcross or Seinfeld or whatever.

     So, something happened to one of the TV’s where it was down or maybe the cops were playin' games, but it basically came down to English and Spanish TV. Now, the Mexicans was pretty deep in this one pod; it was about 40 of them to about 50 blacks and whites combined. Bottom line is, dey was gone keep watchin' dey soap operas and soccer and we had to figure out some kind of system for the Americans in the room.

     It started out cool enough, they watched the tube early morning while the brothas slept in, then we’d get it from The Young & The Restless till 106 & Park was off. But the shit hit the fan during the C.M.A.’s and a playoff conflict. We wanted to see LeBron in Prime Time, and they had Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift on the brain. Now der was dis tall brother kinda speakin' for us and trying to work out some kind of deal so we could switch between da two shows during the commercials or sumthin'; but there was a couple of grimy bikers and an old skinhead dat seemed to want it to be an issue, and it don’t take much to stir no pot in jail. They all had the look of seasoned prison dudes. All black tattoos, buff chests and skinny legs. The bikers were soldiers, maybe Aryans or Neo Nazis.  We used to rock-and-roll wit dem all da time back home. But this brother was younger, he look maybe 21-22. Big kid, like he play ball or should be, you know?

     He not cussin' and usin' a bunch of bullshit talk. He really tryin' to work out the problem, and most of these cowboys is going along. The skinhead got his arms crossed, and the bikers are leadin' the charge in the other direction. Eventually, the cops say fuck us all, and turn the TV’s off. But with no resolution, and no playoffs, we all go to bed salty, like Auntie Pam’s gumbo.

     Few days later, it’s early in da morning and business as usual; brothas is sleepin' in, white boys watchin' Good Morning America and the police are walking around. These two young brothas is up at the ass-crack of dawn for some reason and playin' dominoes. The table slams wake me up, so I get dressed and come out to wash up. They havin' a blast and doin' the dozens on each other. It was some good "yo mama" jokes and secrets about dey baby-mamas exposed, dat's fa sho'. But it was loud, and kinda outta line for 9:00 am; plus, dem youngens ain't have no filter for using the N-word. It's N this and N dat; again, kinda much for the early morning hours. So I got my face ova the sink, and I hear a white voice scoldin' the youngens and saying the N-word with the same venom of a Mississippi water moccasin. I step out, and it’s the skinhead going at the youngens, swastikas and lightning bolts ablaze. They are outnumbered, but giving it back as much as he’s barking. I jump in the fray and make the white boys back up. The commotion catches the cops attention and they start makin' they way towards us. We go in separate directions, but there is plenty of eye contact saying we gon' revisit the issue fa sho'. The white boys go one way, and I take a seat with the youngens and we run over the episode as some other brothas wake up and come over.

     There’s a point where we all head back to our cells, and then the police let us out for lunch-time. Word has spread from cell to cell; and, when the doors crack open for lunch-time, it’s like the "ding-ding" at a boxing match. In the main area of the pod, one of the youngens swings at the nearest white person his size; a biker takes a swing at an older brother; and bodies, food and plastic trays start flying everywhere. The police are on the radio screamin' for back-up; and the radio is crackling with static, emergency codes and panicked voices. The tall brother that was trying to make peace is in the mix with the youngens and wrestling and throwing punches at the same time.

     I go looking for the skinhead because he struck me as the pull-a-weapon-type. No need to let one of these kids gets stabbed because he decided to play dirty. Sure enough, I catch him in a corner of the mop closet about to grab something, but I get clunked in the back of the head by a big white boy with a broom handle. I turn around and mix it up with this guy, and he drops the broom after a couple of jabs and hooks I learnt from ole Jazzy back in Oakdale. He’s on the ground, not moving, and the police are shouting; but it’s only two of them in the unit, so they can’t get in the mix until back-up arrives. Outside the windows, we can see the goon squad all dressed in riot gear, with dey guns drawn, making their way down the hall. This scene was wild with people yelling and an alarm going off. Fists was flying, and I see the youngens doin' the most, beating up a couple of punks with tattoos. The tall brother is getting the better of a biker with a long beard. He can’t see it but this skinhead has something metal in his hand and making his way over to do some damage; I know the dirty dog was a weasel when I seen him.

     I grab the mop ringer from the closet and move across the room as fast as I could as the gooners break into the room. There screamin' at us “Get on the ground, get on the ground”, and I hear pops from gas canisters and bean-bag guns. The skinhead has his shiv ready and is about to poke the tall brotha, and I stop him dead in his tracks with a crack from dat mop ringer. He hits the ground, den I get hit with a bean bag that folds me over at the waist. Smoke fills the room, and we’re choking and coughing and getting handcuffed and drug out with our eyes and noses and running.

     It’s (how dey say out west?) all bad. So they hose us down and give each of us a cell in the hole; where there’s only a 24-hour light and a Bible, that’s it. I’m down here for a couple of days steaming angry and bored out of my mind. Then, randomly I hear this big laugh from a cell somewhere outside; like a grizzly bear was being tickled pink or something. I’m so starved for attention or anything to do, I call out to the laughing bear.

     “What’s so damn funny?” The laughing continues and actually gets a bit louder, like the brotha was having a real loony tunes moment over der. So I yell out to him, “Hey Slim, is that you?” He stop laughing a bit and yell back “Yeah! Who’s that?” I say “This is J Dub, who dat?” He holler back “What’s up, J Dub, dis Contraband, you alright?” I yell at him “Yeah, I’m good. What’s so damn funny over there?” He yell back “I can still hear that crack when you took off on that white boy.” At dat moment I could hear the rattle of the extra-strength plastic and metal smacking against that boy's back while he was trying to stick up da young brudda, and I start laughing too. We keep each other cool till we both get outta dat Parr Blvd., and we been friends ever since.

     I hope ya’ll enjoy dis No Loose Ends; and if you get anything from this story, know that sometimes help comes from strange places; and when you way down in ya deepest holes, still try to find something to laugh about.

J Dub

Friday, January 24, 2014

Another Day

I'm taking it all in. The headlines and opinions, the murmurs of minions the poorly hidden whispers. The idiotic convictions, people speak freely feeling common ideas bind them but I wonder if there really aware of the feelings behind them. The fake smiles and well wishes hide bad thoughts and intentions and the knife hidden til a backs exposed and foe reveal their hearts real mission. I'm a lot sadder today than I've been when more focused. It's because when love is absent in the heart the world seems more hopeless. I know people love me but its distance and time between us. The sun shines and darkness fades and my tough skin peels away. I'm bare in the day time. Still strong but exposed. I understand my predicament but wish it'd come to a close. I wish there was some confusion about why or how or what. But sobriety breeds clarity and the reality is I'm stuck. Stuck here, making peace with life's pittance. A mighty lion shackled and forced to eat kibble. I long for the feast of prosperity, for the hunt and the harem. I long for the long day of bathing in the sun with a full belly. Mission critical is survival so self control in all facets is a must and this release is that by extension. My mental anguish can only be temporary it ends with the final pen strokes and creation must ensue! Because until I told you, you had no understanding of what I go through. But hope exists, and my spirit is steel. I am blessed with the belief that there is no task I am not able to dispatch. At my frail, most vulnerable, worst or incensed with desire to conquer at my wide eyed best. In still my best hope, my best, my eternal clearest choice. In creation I will find, have and prosper my freedom.

Ramsey Venner

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mind Movie

I got inspired as 3:15am by a bright scene in ‘my minds’ movie theatre and I’d like to give you a play by play but I’ve kept my blogs fairly mild so I wrote a poem instead. I hope you enjoy.

My memories are vivid, I remember the kisses I remember the sights, sounds, and places we did it
I remember the whispers on my earlobe, and smiles on my neck
Your hands on my back, and the sweetness of your sweat
The moans in the morning, after bacon and eggs
Your fresh polished fingernails, making their way through my waves
How sometimes we were quiet, so we didn’t get caught
Or you roared like a lion, as I tickled your spot
I can’t sleep sometimes, cause your images haunt me
Lip gloss like candy, while mouthing that you want me
The attraction is haunting and I’m feeling aggressive
You fill me with wanting as we start a new session
You’re naughty little school girl and I’m the professor
Don’t trip, I know it’s cool girl, I love our connection

R. Venner

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


I learned something new about myself this week. And it seems like self discovery at this stage should have all but been over with, but it turns out there are still some secrets my old psyche has yet to reveal. In a circle of men, some young, some older, all different races and backgrounds we were having a group discussion about our greatest common bond, women. Warning ladies: I do my very best to give you true perspectives without being a douche, so take these words for what they are. I’m not speaking about any particular person or people; I’m just relaying the billet points from a circle of tough guys talking.

So the conversation started because a young brother made a comment about a woman on TV. It was all sex and slander. “Man, I bet she got a…..” or “Damn look at that…..” which drew some support and hell yeahs from everybody within earshot. Nobody knew this chick by name or hadn't ever seen her in other programs. But all the chatter spoke to this chicks sexual practices, proclivities, preferences, and possible favorite positions; crudely descriptive details about her undies and the girly parts beneath.

I listened with an uneasy pause in my veins. Anyone that knows me knows my……..hem….. appreciation for the ladies. But it turns out; listening to the crass commentary I discovered my appreciation for the fairer sex goes deeper than the physical. Don’t get me wrong the act of intermingling intimately is amazing. There hasn't, in the history of time, been an invention more awesome than the magic of bodies mashing. The complexities of the space shuttle don’t compare to the simplicity of the way we fit together. Hands down, it’s the best puzzle ever made of all times. But mechanics aside, my absolute best crushes or more to the point, actual experiences have been the ones where I was able to feel more than the moment, when I felt as much pleasure in my head + hurt as did with my other muscle.

But that didn't happen because I saw a phat ass at the club or managed to crack the code on some random new chick. The experiences that play in my thoughts and wake me up from a dead sleep are the ones where we connected in a way that’s deeper than anatomy coming together. You feel me? Where a conversation earlier in the day, or a glance at home or at work belayed naughty intentions; when the distance between lovers made desire dominant and anticipation intolerable. The experiences didn't happen with girls whose names I can’t remember, they came with the ones I got the closest to.

So back to the conversation. We all begin to bat around who was the hottest chick because videos were on. (Sidebar: Beyonce in the Drunk in Love video…WOW! No really WOW WOW! If I do say so myself, if I do say so myself). That turned into a discussion over women’s other attributes. Not just the physical but some of the other stuff: Honesty, loyalty, intelligence, ambition, nurturing, self respect, money handling; All very important pieces of the puzzle. So I concluded while the sexy sway of curvy hips or the beautiful bounce of the breasts or a bubble backside catches our attention initially. Sex without the rest is little more than mechanics, and nothing about robot sex sounds hot (Sorry sci-fi folks). I’m actually surprised “ability to cook” didn't come up immediately in the conversation, because bomb sex and a phat plate of delicious eats are the girlfriend holy grail in my book. But that’s just my inner phat kid talking.

So ladies it all started with gutter remarks and crass cocktails but in the end, the way men in this circle collectively feel is bravo and braggadocious until the greatness of your true worth comes to the surface. We love, respect and desire you. And even during guy talk we can’t help but admit it.

R. Venner

Sunday, January 5, 2014

If not you, then who?

This week in the gulag has been enlightening in a new way. My housing area has been changed and I'm in a dorm setting with a new group of youngsters in my immediate bed area. The first days with new people is always contentious. Everyone is figuring out their place in the social hierarchy and whether the new additions are friendly, to be feared, or forced out. We (the new group) didn't find any major discrepancies so the uneasy peace settled in. Within a couple of days true identities began to surface. A couple of my dorm mates, the youngsters, were more prone to social mixings. They were and are currently mostly in the company of others swapping war stories and playing the biggest whoppes game. A contest that prisoners engage in where each inmate in turn tries to bolster their rep and gain status by cooking up the biggest and best pot of bullshit about the lives they led before prison. Great fun but always leaves streaks of resentment in and stinky cocked eyebrows.

There are a couple of older dudes who are closer to bed ridden and tuned into every broadcast hour beaming through charters wires and satellite signals. These dudes are low key, don't talk a lot and are content in their own space.

Then there are the in-betweens, which is the group I fit into mostly. I don't mind the occasional visitor, but its just as good to be able to read, write, or watch a show without a crowd or block party on my book. The easy peace was shattered about day 4 , when one youngster got knee deep in the biggest whoppes games and started using the N-word with every other syllable he spoke in place of commas in his sentences and with the boisterous enthusiasm of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh spreading the news of an upcoming birthday party all over the 100 acre wood.

I'm not or I hate to be a fogie but, in the presence of white, Mexican and Native American men of different ages, the rant which was animated and filled with scandalous women and step by step instructions of how to consume multiple drugs and drinks before during and after driving, the constant N-word utters hurts my ears through headphones and my earnest attempts to watch Sleepy Hollow. So to spare the waning shreds of dignity us in-between brothers had cultivated before the young-en got going I pulled him to the side and tried my best to let him know how bad of a look that was for all of us. Him especially because judgments were passed as soon as his lips parted and that madness begin to flow out. For us as a whole, because if we didn't stop him it speaks to the groups collective acceptance of the term.

I know I know its 2014 and everyone should be over the N-word. Especially here, right? We're all supposed to be hardened thugs and hoods. The very picture of what the N-word is, now that's not it. hearing the young man go into a loud reckless tantrum filled with the N-word and bullshit stew was the most uncomfortable and embarrassing two minutes of the week. Its risky business injecting social corrections in this place because many youngsters don't have the filter or the basic rules of the road I learned before I left the safety of my mothers shadow. And calling them out for corrections could draw young misguided fire in my directions. But if not us, who?

Sitting by idly while the ignorance flows out is the same as engaging in the bad behavior. Even if the young man didn't get the lessons my mom taught me, Even if his peer group all act the same, even if my advice and urging's fall on deaf ears. If i didn't try, I might as well roll up my sleeves and dig into the vaults of my gin soaked episodes and show the cheeseburger children what a whopper really is.

Trust me there's 40-50 plus dudes here that do just that. But I learned from this one episode that even here, I, we and by extension you.... Can make a positive change in someones life. I'm not sure if that what I'm here for. But while I am here I'm positive its what I'm gonna do. You can be the example at work, in the mall, at the restaurant or while driving of a positive way to behave. Not saying be a busybody, but if you see the opportunity to be positive or help someone that may not see the picture you do, share some of your awesome with them.

If not us, then who?

R. Venner

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What's real?

What makes the real you appear? Many folks are quick to say I'm always real, or this is the real me, but I beg to differ. We wear more shades than the Sunglass Hut, more hats than the Lids store, more skins than the new Droid X, and try on new looks like the senior class reunion was right around the corner.

In today's America its a rare occasion that we are able to see the true stripes of the people around us. Your girlfriend watches her food intake or wont spend the night to keep the no bathroom lie in tact. Your boyfriend hasn't invited you to his place because then he'd have to introduce you to his wife and kids, or his keys only open car doors in which case the last time you were rolling around the lack seat you were also getting the grand tour of his living room.

I was a hero by accident one time. My friend Fire Pie fell in Lake Tahoe whole we were both rolling on pretty pink pills. I jumped over rocks and puller her out of the beautiful blue water before the tide pulled her away for good. But I've also had moments of shame so crippling its changed my actions and even inspired me to renew pledges to God or in really crummy situations, mainly over losses, where I couldn't scream and being angry would only get me in more trouble. So I pulled out  a pen and some paper and found a glimmer of light. No matter how odd the angle or how uncomfortable a position I'd have to put my big body in, and I'd write to ease the pain of that loss.

I lost again tonight. I lost the smile I brandish when people ask me how I;m doing. I lost the bounce in my step, I lost the euphoria I usually am so proud to show off. Because there is snow on the ground, carols on the radio, presents under the tree, and all the people I love and might love me, might as well be a million miles away. I cant get to them, I can call but phone calls end, and I wont be sad forever, but in this moment I'm sick.

The list is infinite of who I miss and where I'd love to be. But instead of going there let me say this. Don't take your family and friends for granted. Those fights and arguments, those quirks and bad food that drive you crazy are a pain now, but they can sometimes hurt worst when their gone.

R. Venner  

The Grey Area

This week in prisoneyland presented a unique set of challenges. For the most part the world outside has been a movie that I watch with a chuckle in my heart and a reluctant appreciation in my mind, because I know there's only so much I can do before the reality of being away makes itself known. But  decided to stop being a bystander because my heart and my duties as a father demanded. My daughter kick-started my weekend in about the best way possible. She lit up with joy (over the phone) while telling me about a triumph she has in sports at school. She had been having trouble running the mile in P.E. and it was causing her otherwise stellar report card to sag in an area that should have been the easiest "A" ever, in my opinion (her being the daughter of a pretty awesome athlete and all). The problem wasn't in ability, the problem was attitude and effort. I had no doubt that she could do the mile in the required time, or maybe even in "kid record time" if she practiced, but the challenge is trying to convey that message and belief through words when my physical self is stuck behind concrete walls and barbed wire. 

So I said the hell with my budget and maybe I'll have to find another way or do without my snacks for a while, but I increased my calls home and poured as much positivity and motivation into my mini-me as possible, and this past Thursday those seeds bare fruit. i called randomly to check on her and she gushed with "Daddy, guess what's" about the great time she had with completing the mile. She has trimmed 3 minutes off her time and granted she may have never actually tried to run the whole mile before, but improvement is everything. I'll take it. 

So I was feeling like the tallest mountain in the Sierras, knowing that giving my daughter love and praise, even over the phone, may have been the support and urgings she needed to step it up when a challenge presented itself. And then...... she told me she got her nose pierced. 

The point is the same from here, as it is in the world. I don't know of a playbook or instruction manual for parenting. There's really no script for being a strong father when my high moral ground is dressed in prison blues. 

No matter how cute f a fashion statement the face jewelry may be, the man that remembers first steps and sippy cups is having a hard time dealing with it. And from here, barking or making "Big Bad Daddy Threats" only shines a brighter light on how helpless a lot of thissituation is. For the record babygirl, I'm not on board.  You are beautiful- bright and you don't need to add piercings to shine. You are already the brightest star in the room. I have to admit world, this is a battle where I'm having trouble seeing a road map to victory. I'll keep fighting and praying and maybe this stupid thing will fall out while she's running the mile in "kid record time". One can only hope. Until later.....

R. Venner