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Daddy Daycare (cont’d)

10:40am I receive an email from a network president asking when I might “have a second to chat.”  He must not be following me on twitter today.

10:45am Diaper still not changed.

10:51am I ask Sabine a simple question: what’s that on your face?!  I eventually got it off, but I honestly don’t know what it was.

10:52am “Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog!”

11:00am No more Mickey.  We’re now watching Sportcenter.  I gently explain to Sabine that from now on, her only cartoon mouse options are Speedy Gonzales, Jerry, Pinky, or The Brain.

11:05am Diaper changed.  Wow.  I had no idea momma had Sabine on a high-fiber diet.

11:12am Pick up Sabine, and she immediately rests her head on my shoulder.

11:20am Little one is sleeping.  I have at most two hours to get work done.

11:28am This nap won’t last long if my upstairs neighbor keeps dropping s— on the floor!

Daddy Daycare (cont’d)

 9:45am Pulled out the FAO Schwartz “Big Piano” for her to play.  Neighbors lovin’ us right now.

9:52am Piano didn’t occupy her for long.  To the kitchen we go!  Pots and pans are all over the floor.  Our next homecooked meal will have a hint of baby feet.

10:05 First signs that it might be naptime.  Rubbing the eyes.  Getting a little irritable.  But I’ll be OK.  Where is Sabine, by the way?

10:11am Sabine goes into her room and closes the doors behind her. AND, turns on her white noise machine.  If I can get this kid to change her own diaper and cook her own meals, I’ll be golden.

10:21am Was attempting to make some notes for my commencement speech to the Clark Atlanta class of 2014.  Sabine has crawled halfway into the fireplace.  Hands are black with ash.

10:30am Is Mickie Mouse always on TV this much?!?!  Good lord.  He’s the Anderson Cooper of the Disney Junior Channel.  Oh, I should probably change her diaper, huh?

Daddy Daycare

I just cancelled my entire week.  No meetings, no events, no appearances, no travel.  Instead, I’ve been handed an assignment that will require my full attention.  And her name is Sabine.

This is our first child care emergency, I suppose.  We got late word that Sabine’s regular daily caregiver would have to be out for the week.  So, it’s on me.

But so far, so good.  Right?

8:20am Marilee leaves for the day.  I immediately hear Sabine say, “it’s on now, Daddy!”  (Though it’s baby babble, I’m pretty sure that’s what she said.)

8:45am Sabine has been in front of the TV the past half hour watching “The Bible” miniseries on BluRay. (Don’t ask)  I’m able to write a few emails and finish writing an article in that time.  This calm will not last.

8:55am Been chasing Sabine between the bedroom and the living room.  She can’t seem to decide if she wants to watch “The Bible” which is playing on the TV in the bedroom … or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse which is on the TV in the living room.

9:00am If I hear Mickey’s damn “Hot Dog” song one more time, I might actually have a breakdown.

9:23am I just heard the “Hot Dog” song again.

9:35am Sabine attempts a somersault off the couch.  She sticks the landing.

I didn’t do my job

In 2008, Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete gave me a simple task.  Six years later, I have yet to complete it.  Now, the tragedy of abducted Nigerian schoolgirls is a reminder of my failures over the past several years.

I was part of a delegation attending an international summit in Tanzania when I first met President Kikwete.  At that time, I was still working at CNN.  During a conversation with the president, the question came up about the limited coverage we (CNN & Western media) dedicate to what’s happening in Africa.  When I mentioned a possible lack of interest from viewers, President Kikwete stopped me.  He refused to accept that as an excuse and instead emphatically insisted: “make them care!”  I will never forget that moment.

Kikwete’s simple statement was at the top of my mind in 2011, when I walked into the New York office of one of CNN’s senior executives (he’s no longer with the network), and we argued about Africa.  Specifically, I wanted to do an extended segment about South Sudan gaining independence.  He was against it.  “We shouldn’t spend too much time on stories that people won’t watch,” he argued.  He attempted to placate me by explaining his philosophy this way:  We have to cover the stories that get us ratings, and then, get in a story like South Sudan wherever we can.

This wasn’t the first or last time I’d had a conversation like this during my career.  On countless occasions, my story or segment ideas were rejected because news managers and producers (and not just the white ones) thought the audience wasn’t interested, no matter how relevant, timely, or even interesting the story might be. READ MORE

“Like 80s Graffiti” (spoken word by Enmanuel Candelario)

They say it takes a village to raise a child

But I’ve heard and come to feel the opposite

It takes a child to raise a village

Young men on corners like 80’s graffiti

While the cops chase artists responsible for the gritty–my bad city

It’s synonymous but they don’t want pity

That’s why their stare is anonymous and the air ominous

Filled with broken homes and promises

Cus mostly you find police chalk line

Is the only time we figure a father so they figure might as well be a martyr

And we fly only to crash down might as well be mortars

The weight of the world is too much for our mothers

Young men on corners like Thursday’s trash

Waiting for government workers to pick them up READ MORE

Best Date Night Ever

What a night!  I was anxious to get back home to New York after 3 days in Washington, DC. The weather has been beautiful lately in NYC and lends itself to dining alfresco.  A night out at one of my favorite restaurants was in order.  No need to make a reservation.  They know us well there.  “How many in your party tonight, T.J.?”  “One and a half,” I replied.  “And, can we have a high chair, please?”

The two of us have been out to restuarants together plenty of times before.  It’s always fun and interesting, but we’ve always done breakfast or lunch.  Her age, bedtime, and mood often dictate that she can’t be out so late.  On this night, we were making an exception.  This was actually our first ever dinner date.  Just the two of us.

And my little dinner companion was a hit.  We sat at a great table situated on the corner of 3rd Avenue in Manhattan.  With the steady stream of pedestrians, we made a lot of new friends who kept stopping to check out my date’s big smile, big blue eyes, and bigger-by-the-day hair.  I always love when people are impressed by my date!  This was a little different, however.

It was all a little different.  This date didn’t mind that I ordered for her, or that I cut up her food into little pieces.  The conversation was good and constant, even though we speak two different languages. (English & baby babble)  And, at the end of dinner, there was no awkward moment over who would pay the bill.

A few years ago, I might have been racing home from an out-of-town trip so I could hook up with (fill in the blank) for a date night of dinner and drinking, with every intention of taking her back to my place.  Well, last night, at the end of the night, I took my date home.  Took her home, changed her diaper, put diaper rash paste on her butt, put her pajamas on, read through her “My Itsy Bitsy Spider Tab Book,” and rocked her to sleep.  What a night!

I wrote an article a few months ago about giving up my perfectly good bachelor life.  Who knew that giving it up would eventually lead to much better date nights.

Ladies, we only need two minutes of your time

It will take you longer to read this article than it takes nearly half of all men to finish having sex.  And this is a fairly short article.  But consider, if two people start having sex right now, the man will either be asleep or smoking a cigarette by the time you read the last word I’ve written here.

Two minutes, ladies. That’s all you’re going to get from a lot of guys.  Two minutes.   

I imagine a few women just exclaimed, “No s—, TJ!”  The fact that many men don’t last long during intercourse isn’t necessarily worthy of a breaking news alert.  But, new analysis is shedding more light on the situation, and men’s sexual shortcomings. (Pun intended)  READ MORE

Messed Up a Perfectly Good Bachelor Life

“It’s funny that when a man hasn’t anything in the world to worry about, he goes off and gets married.”  — Robert Frost

What the hell was I thinking?!  I was 31, single, making good money, & living in Atlanta, a city that’s been described as “happy hunting” for a single guy.  I was living the life my grandfather told me, as a small child, to live: “Why get married and try to make one woman happy … when you can stay single and make them all happy?”  Granddad would have been proud. READ MORE

“The View”, Round 2

Some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my television career was as a guest host on “The View” in March.   You get to sit next to four incredibly accomplished women, but you’re also hosting the show in front of a live studio audience of about 200 screaming women.  And, you’re being watched on TV by millions of women.  See why this might be fun for me?   So, of course, I’m excited to be heading back to guest host the show on Monday.

Sitting there as the lone man on the show is one of the coolest but also daunting things about the experience.  No matter what, you’re going to stand out just because you’re the only guy, and your perspective is going to stand out as well because it will often differ from that opinions of the women on the show, as well as the women in studio and watching at home.  What you say can get you cheered, booed, or banished.  But what you say can also be of incredible value to the audience.

I’ve discovered on the show what is also true in my personal experience:  women want to hear from guys.  I literally get calls, text messages, emails, and even tweets from female friends, colleagues, and strangers every week and sometimes everyday wanting a male perspective about something.  Often times, it’s a dating/relationship question.  Women want a male opinion, and it’s usually better received when it’s coming from a guy who’s not trying to sleep with them.

You might think that being brutally honest while surrounded by so many opinionated women would potentially be intimidating.  But, the opposite is true on “The View.”  Even if the hosts and the audience don’t agree with what I have to say, it’s an environment where I always feel like my opinion is sought after, welcomed, and appreciated.  Too bad that’s not the case at my house.

See y’all on Monday!

Taking your suggestions (Commencement speech)

700 young adults about to step out on their own into the world.  And the last words of advice they’ll get before starting their journey … are coming from ME!  These poor kids!

I’m honored to be heading back to Atlanta in May to deliver the commencement address at Clark Atlanta University.  I’ve had a relationship with the school for years, and it’s a great compliment to be asked to come back for this important assignment.  But, it’s a little scary.  This is such an important moment for these young people.  It’s their college graduation day!  This is a day they’ll remember for the rest of their lives!  But, will they remember their commencement speaker 5, 10, 20 years from now?  Will they remember the message I give?

So, help a brotha out!  I’m fielding suggestions.  What should my message be?  What do you think these 700 graduates absolutely need to know before they go out into the world!?

T. J.