Hip Hop Pops: Judah 1


As the name implies, Hip Hop Pops is a series of interviews with Dads who’ve carved out careers in hip hop while raising a family.

That shit aint easy but some of us be bout it bout it. Peep my Hip Hop Pops interviews with Propaganda and Red Cloud, for examples.

Although some might be tempted critique hip hop culture as morally negligent (if not worse), one of the first verses I committed to memory was 2 Pac’s poignant critique of sexual abuse and unintended pregnancy.  25 years later, this cut still hits hella hard:

“Brenda’s got a baby but Brenda’s barely got a brain/

damn shame the girl can’t even spell her name/

‘That’s not our problem, that’s up to Brenda’s family’/

But let me tell you how it affects our whole community”

After listening to this cut again, I forgot how much of an impact it had on me as a youngster.  It’s another example of the conscious hip hop that was taking root in the early 90’s.

Today’s Hip Hop Pops, Judah 1, is an extension of that early hip hop consciousness.


Judah 1 hosts the monthly LionLike MindState in Downtown Pomona, CA and is re-releasing his second book, Child of the Sun and Man of the Moon.

Peep the divine science.

BBD: Tell us about the birth of your daughter.
Her crown was too heavy. We were at 3cm of dilation for 3 days. So, we opted to induce labor. We prayed, we were ready, we entered boldly, I think. Alas, Aariyah crown was too great so we delivered by C-Section. That when the most glorious scream happened. A star scream, truly. Bless God.
BBD: How did you decide on a name? 
Until the day before the ultrasound we were convinced we were having a boy. We just knew it. She wanted to named him David Jr.  I wanted to name him “Amun” or “Djeli” “Jonah” “Judah” I had so many names. Me and her Mom argued. It was not joyous. The night before her Mom said, maybe she’s a girl…and that thought had been resonating in my Spirit. She said “If it’s a girl, let call her Oriyah” and I agreed but the name sounded familiar. Ariyah is a name of a Fela Kuti song. I suggested, “Aariyah,” in Hebrew “Ari” is Lion and “YAH” is God or the air.
BBD: What’s the best piece of advice your Mom/Dad gave you about parenting?
My father really didn’t have much to say. My mom proud I finally had a child and overwhelmed that it’s a girl. Just love her and make the time for her. They are both convinced I’ll be a great Father with good lessons.
BBD: What’s your view on spanking? 
We will not spank our daughter because spanking is not necessary.  I’ve never had to hit anyone my entire life, my voice should be enough.
BBD:  What type of music does she like?
 I play classical for her and hip hop instrumentals and freestyle over them. She loves it. FELA! And her Mother plays Little Dragon for her.
BBD: How has your poetry been impacted by Fatherhood?
 I have yet to find words to describe the joy in my heart. I sing to my daughter. She literally takes my words from my lungs. I couldn’t say much more than “Hey You” for the first 2 months. Literally can’t talk. Strange. But we sing. Her eyes cause such a stillness in my spirit. No words. We hum.


Coffee Battle: Jack in the Box vs McCafe

It’s 5:30 a.m,  the wife and kids are asleep and  in between tossing and turning all I can think about is the first cup of coffee filling my gullet.

eye need coffee, now.

eye need coffee, now.

But I can’t get up and make my own.  I’ll make too much noise.   The click, click, click of the stove and the  electro-whir of the grinder is reportedly, ‘…too damned loud right now.’  Reportedly.

So, where should I go for my fix of Joe?  I had two choices: Jack in the Box or McCafe?  Since I’m a baller, I decided on both.

Jack In The Box

As it happens, In N Out isn’t the only spot with an off-menu, menu.  At JITB, you can order the unlisted, discounted Senior’s Coffee for $.75 instead of the MSRP of $1.19.  And they (usually) don’t ask for ID!  And if they did, you can say (as some reportedly have) ‘…it’s for my Grandpa!’

My Grandpa put the G in Grandpa...b/c he thought Randpa sounded wack.

My Grandpa put the G in Grandpa…b/c he thought Randpa sounded wack.

Now, I drink my coffee black, Jack.  Adding sugar and cream is like drinking a pink, mixed-drink….at a club named Metro…while wearing skinny jeans, nahmean?  But a friend of a friend likes sugar and cream and to my, er, his, er, her chagrin, JITB refuses to add them directly into the coffee.  They’ll only hand you the packets.  Now that’s some ol’ un-American bullshit if I’ve ever heard it.

Sip.  Sip.  Swish. Spit.

Judge Judy ain't bout that life.

Judge Judy ain’t bout that life.

The Verdict:

I regret to inform you that this cup of coffee tastes like it was made at a Motel-8, biked over in the rain and then microwaved.  And I didn’t know microwaves had a lukewarm setting.  Keep your $ .75.  You might need it for later.


First things, first.  The McDonald’s drive-thru menu is a beauty to behold.  The colors, the images, the layout, the packaging…it’s mesmerizing…as if they’d spent millions and millions of dollars researching which layout compels us to spend more money [insert sarcmark here].

While the McCafe doesn’t offer a senior discount their Dollar Menu has fed more old folk than the local Elk’s Lodge.  Never mind Ronald McDonald House, the Dollar Menu was Ron’s  greatest gift to the world.

Strike that.  Putting cream and sugar directly into your coffee is Ron’s greatest gift to the world.

I grab the coffee, place it between my legs and drive-off while pumping my brakes intermittently.  Now this feels go000od.

I pull my first sip.  And then a second.  A third.  And then it hits me.

This is why they invented Starbucks!



Covina Eats: P&G Super Burger

Chris. Tommy. Jim. Victor. Manny.

Chris' sign is here rather than P&G because I have a disease called representationitis.

Chris’ sign is here rather than P&G because I have a disease called representationitis.

If you grew up in the San Gabriel Valley then your neighborhood had a local burger joint named after a fat uncle from Crete.

My gyro!

My gyro!

My approach to these greasy spoons (wait, that IS grease…right?) has always been to eat at the one nearest  you.  For us, that’s Covina’s P&G Super Burger on Citrus.

Now let me just come out and say it because I can’t restrain myself for much longer: these mofux straight charged me $.50 for a second 1 oz container of salsa.  My face turned redder than their watered down Tapatio.  I wouldn’t have been so upset if their salsa wasn’t so…damned…good!

With that said, the primary problem here is at the register. The women who know most about the menu knows least about the English--and that’s not a xenophobic, nativistic diss either.  It’s just the sober analysis of a former long-term substitute instructor for BUSD Adult Ed ESL  1-2 who had an impossible time adding bacon to a cheeseburger, nahmean.  I’d recreate a conversation below but I never know what in the hell any of them are saying–and that’s not a xenophobic, nativistic diss either.  It’s just the sober analysis of a former long-term substitute instructor for BUSD Adult Ed ESL  1-2 who had a hard time adding bacon to a cheeseburger, nahmean.

Peep game, I will not post pictures of their food.  You’ve seen a $3.00 hamburger before, right?  Same thang, right here.  Chili-fries, onion rings, pastrami…everything an artery needs to call it quits can be had here…or at Chris’, Victor’s, Jim’s…ad nauseum.

So, if you’re in the neighborhood and craving a burger….drive another two miles to IN N OUT on Grand.

Big Brown Dad




Play Date: Hollenbeck Park

The name Hollenbeck is enough to throw any Los Angeleno’s intestines into a tizzy.

intestinitus fortitudinis

intestinitus fortitudinis

It’s a legendary mammoth burrito from Boyle Heights whose namesake was one of Southern California’s earliest real estate magnates–straight tycoon status.

Hi, I used to own your entire hood.

Hi, I used to own your entire hood.

Covina’s Hollenbeck Park is named after the same cat.  And sho’ nuff, like the burrito, the park can be a tummy turner.

The playground is rated for kids 5-12 which means my 2 year old needs constant supervision.  I don’t understand the reasoning behind having any city park unavailable to such a large swathe of park-goers, kids ages 2-4.

The remainder of the park is a mixed-bag: it has a great basketball court that nobody uses; there are sizable green-spaces usually taken up by an organized sport; there’s great shade but zero BBQ grills; there are 6 swings but zero with  baby guards.

So, if you plan to make a playdate of Hollenbeck Park bring some water and some Tums and if you have a chance, stop by Manny’s and grab me one of these:

soiling sheets since 1849.

soiling sheets since 1849.

If my son can scale the Pyramid of Pain, I can do this!





To Whom It May Concern:

I’m writing to express my dissatisfaction with my recent purchase of Glad’s New and Improved Odor Shield Febreze Fresh Clean Tall Kitchen Drawstring Bags 110 Count.


In my admittedly limited experience with Febreze, I’ve known it to be effective in neutralizing the odors of less than hygienic college students.

I smell the way I look the way I smell.

You can imagine my surprise then at the less than neutral odor emanating from these bags. They smell like wet, baby powder and cayenne pepper.

I hoped against hope that our household would become desensitized to the smell but alas, no luck. I still have over 100 bags left and I’m afraid they are of no use to us.  I’m planning on throwing these trash bags in a trash bag without even the slightest sense of irony.  But I paid nearly $20 for these bags!

I’m hopeful that you might redeem my experience by replacing this box with one of Glad’s more proven products. I’d be happy to share my impressions with the readers of my parenthood blog.

Thanks in advance,

Play Date: Covina’s Secret Park

Listen, I can’t tell you where exactly this park is located.  Nor can I tell you the name.

Edna Park wide

It’s a secret.

All I can tell you is that we stumbled across this pleasant patch of paradise while looking for a shortcut to downtown Starbucks.

I know, I’ve said too much already.

Like most parents, I’m looking for a park with decent shade and age-appropriate activities.  The trees line the westerly perimeter and provide great shade in the afternoon.   And the park is one of the few in the city rated for kids as young as 2.

This means you won’t have to spend every second hovering over your yungin’ as he attempts to scale the formidable obstacles like the Wall of Death at Hollenbeck Park or The Ladder of Lost Tears at Joslyn Park.

This park isn’t without its problems though.  First, there’s a train track near the park (clue #3!).  This means a train is barreling thru and tooting its horn hella loud, hella often.  I’ve seen it scare kids with less than steely resolve.

Another problem is this shameful construction oversight, likely the result of a lazy supervisor.


they all…fall…down.

The design allows for an optional floor board to be placed between the two platforms.  The slots for the nuts and bolts are right there.  Instead, there’s a 18″ dip that kids fall into time and time again.

And then there’s this:

false advertisement much?

false advertisement much?

We searched high and low, on top of trees and under the litter that the grandmother who was babysitting 8 kids left (WE SAW YOU, LADY!). Yet and still…no see-saw.

Use the clues provided here to cruise the city and find your way to this park.  It’s a quiet alternative to the hustle and bustle of the Covina’s more visible parks.   And if you see a grandmother with 8 children, ranging from from 1-12 years old, reading a trashy supermarket romance novel in between flipping thru her phone and doling out Cheeze-Its, make sure she picks up her shit!



Flashback Fight Friday: Beaba’s Kids

From the archives, this is one of my favorite interactions with a corporation (Williams and Sonoma) mainly because an employee decided to go rogue and write a sarcastic note back to me on Yelp!

My initial email:

To Whom It May Concern:

I recently purchased the Beaba Babycook Machine from your store at the Santa Anita Mall in Arcadia, California.

baby food, poppycock.

baby food, poppycock.

I paid over $180 for the machine. Upon opening the box, I noticed the cookbook was missing and the instruction manual was marked with dry-food stains, presumably indicating prior use.

When I called and spoke with the manager on duty, she notified me that it was IN FACT Williams and Sonoma policy to sell open-box items at full price  (without disclosing such information) if the item in question was never used.

Is this in fact your policy?! If so, why not provide your customers the common courtesy of knowing they are purchasing previously opened goods?!

Many luxury stores like your own refuse selling open-box items.  And those that  do they offer full disclosure and a discount.

It’s a shame you don’t do similarly.



Then came their corporate response:

Thank you for contacting Williams-Sonoma.

We are disheartened to hear about your poor retail experience.

Please know we have contacted the store manager at the Santa Anita Mall in California. She has verified that you have exchanged your original Beaba Baby Cook for a new one. She indicated that she did check the replacement to be sure that it had not been used.

For future reference it is not our policy to resale used merchandise.

We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience that this has caused. We thank you for your patronage. Your business is appreciated.

That was straight-forward enough even while side-stepping the fact they in fact sold an open-boxed item.    But then came a response via Yelp where I posted my letter.

I work at that Williams-Sonoma and am sorry about your experience. Unfortunately we are low volume store with a small amount of associates. We often take the word of the customer when they return an item and ask if they “had a chance to try it out” a polite way of saying did you use it. Any item that comes back to the store is suppose to be checked for use. This particular one slipped under the radar. What you failed to mention is that we rectified the situation immediately. 

Just an FYI. Most customers get extremely upset when we ask if they have used the item that they return. They take it as an insult. If more people where honest these types of mistakes would not be made. Also when items are retuned to our store it effects our bottom line therefore the more items returned the less money we have to operate efficiently, like adding more associates.

I hope you won’t allow this one incident to detour you from shopping with us in the future. Oh and by the way the Beaba is 149.00 not 180.00. Sorry for your inconvenience.

Oh, no, she didn’t! Pass the mic back over here!

I appreciate the response. And I empathize with the challenges of working with customers who aren’t always honest. But when you say you ‘rectified the situation immediately’ what that really means is I had to make the half hour drive to return the item, walk half a mile around the mall and into your store, explain the situation, walk the half mile back to my car and drive another half hour home. In all candor, you didn’t do much. 

With regards to returned items effecting your bottom line, that seems to me precisely the reason your store doesn’t more thoroughly inspect returned items. You have a vested interest in selling as many as you can.

Lastly, I paid $180 total (tax included). If you’d like refund me the difference I paid then I’d be more than happy to collect.

Big. Brown. Dad for the win!


Jumpin’ Jeho$haphat

Let’s get this out of the way right now.  Hands down (and pants backwards) the best song with the word “JUMP” in the title is from the dynamic duo that was miggidy-miggidy-miggidy-miggidy-Mac Daddy and Daddy Mac.  Spare me the House of Pain and Van Halen apologetics.

Let this doozie ride out for ol’ time sake:

By now, many of us heard the story about the ‘bounce house’ in upstate NY that was swept 50 ft. in the air by a gust of wind…with kids still inside of it!  Two boys suffered serious injury.

actual photo

actual photo












We’re hosting two birthday parties this summer.  Concerned that I might be held liable under similar circumstances, I contacted my homeowner’s insurance agent, Shelly Padilla from Farmers, and asked a few questions about liability, parties and bounce houses.  Peep game.

1.  What kind of liability do homeowners assume when hosting a party?

A homeowner always faces potential liability when it comes to guests on your premises. It’s a difficult question to answer, however,  as it depends on whether the homeowners are found to be negligent due to actions or inaction.  

2.  Do ‘bounce houses’ expose homeowners to additional liability?

 A bounce house can absolutely expose a homeowner to additional liability. Adult supervision is necessary. And  you must follow the rules of the jumpy house business or manufacturer, as well as monitor activities to ensure there is reasonable caution.

3. What happens if your kid gets hurt at someone else’s party?

If your child gets hurt at someone else’s party, you may hold the owner liable amongst several other tortfeasors such as the business owner, manufacturer, attendees, etc.

4. Is there any special event coverage a homeowner might consider getting before hosting a party at home?

 I would advise a homeowner to purchase an umbrella policy.  These policies start at $1 million dollars and can be as low as $25 per month.  Depending on the nature of the event, you might consider having guests sign liability waivers, too.


In my experience with these deathtraps, some kid, somewhere inevitably gets hurt.  And if you’re host, your best bet is to pray he’s from a rub-dirt-on-it family, lest your pocketbook get caught in a gust of wind.

Shelly’s information just saved the $150 I had budgeted for a ‘bounce house’ rental.  I’m so happy right now.












Review: Bark Place Dog Grooming

This is our dog, Birdie Covarrubias Aguilar.

WWF Intercontinental Champ: The British Bulldog!

bow wow wow yippy yo yippy yay!

Maya named her and we still don’t know where she got the name.

But it is of some linguistic interest to note that 8 of the 10 top female dog names of 2013 had a similar phonetic ending as our beloved Birdie (e.g., Lucy, Bailey, Daisy, Maggie).  Theories?

The sobering truth about Birdie is she sometimes stinks.  She’s a big girl with a big head who seriously sweats.


sorry, couldn’t resist the chris christie dis.

While I’ve bathed her,  she’s never as clean as when she returns from the groomer. The same truth that governs sandwich making, whereby a sandwich always tastes better when someone else makes it, can also be applied to dog grooming.

I’ve tried out a few places in the area but was referred to Bark Place by a fellow Covina bulldog owner.  Wudup, Frankie Bulldog?

Bark Place 934 N Citrus Ave Covina, Ca

Bark Place 934 N Citrus Ave Covina, Ca

I knew Bark Place was a different kind of joint as soon I walked in.  It didn’t smell like bad perfume, wet towels or dog piss.  In fact, for a second,  I thought I’d walked into a photo studio in Santa Monica.

yes, i’m here for my close-ups.

Kathy, the co-owner,  is knowledgable, nice and has a genuine love for dogs.  That was apparent after watching her interact with customers.  Kathy worked at a veterinarian’s office for several years and is fast to share knowledge gleaned from her time there.  Did you know that bulldogs can get acne from playing with plastic toys?  Dammit, neither did I!

Kathy & Birdie.

Kathy & Birdie.

 Bark Place uses organic shampoos, hand dryers and freshly washed towels (uhum, which is apparently an exception in the area).

Their prices are eminently reasonable. I paid $25 for the Birdie bath and met a couple who travelled from San Dimas to get their large, Golden Retriever some love.  Their price was $25 less than what they were charged at a pet-store.

And this summer, Bark Place is throwing BBD readers a bone! Tell them Big Brown Dad referred you and you’ll get a 5% discount!

Now, excuse me, I have some dog poop to scoop.


Wiping Ass and Taking Names

Forgive the delayed posts.

In all fairness, tho, I spent the last week hand-counting the ballots in the Big.Brown.Dad tagline poll.

Indeed, wiping ass, er, ME wiping ass, was high on your list.  Great.  I can see the sponsors heading for the exit now.

Then again, diapers (and potty related goods) are a billion dollar industry.  Huggies, hollar at me.  Pampers, get to pampering.

While I haven’t posted, I HAVE been thinking about ways to deliver fresh, funny and useful content to y’ll.

One way is through the Big Brown Dad Facebook page which is a great place for YOU to post cool home and family related content.  One my Facebook friends has been posting dope graff inspsired drawings from his daughter’s lunchbag.  Another friend is raising kids abroad and a few are single-fathers making it happen; they’ve posted interesting articles on their timelines recently.  I’m asking them (and you) to consider posting them here, too.

The summer draws close and that means a couple of Pinterest-powered birthday parties, a few swim lessons and a heatstroke are in my future.

Pray for me, Tupac.

wipe'em and weep.

wipe’em and weep.




This Week in Big.Brown.Dad

Today marks the 1st week of Big.Brown.Dad.


I’ve toyed around with a few log-lines for the site.  Which is your favorite?

Thank you all for reading and sharing and laughing (and voting) and then for  coming back to read and share and laugh some more.  And special thanks to my wife, Angie and my aunt, Deborah, for encouraging me to start the blog.

We’re already the premiere Fatherhood blog in the East San Gabriel Valley, N of the 10 and S of Foothill!  And that’s because of you and your prayers.

And who can deny that we’re doing the Lord’s work here?

This past week alone, we covered how to eat for free– forever, whipped the wayward Wisk into shape, partied with the head cheese of a melting pizza empire, got a $100 haircut (for $16) and had macro-fun at a micro-park.

I’m really excited about using the platform to explore and highlight home and family life in Los Angeles (and in the San Gabriel Valley, more specifically).  I’m also looking fwd to partnering with local government and businesses to promote their activities, goods and services.   More than anything, though, I’m looking forward to making you laugh.


Review: Kids Styles Hair Salon (The $100 haircut)

How much is too much to pay for a good, kid’s haircut? $15?  $50?  $100?!

Joaquin needed a haircut, badly.  His quasi-hipster steelo was impinging on his cuteness which, in turn, impinged on any trickle-down love I might receive.  We needed an immediate remedy.

Joaquin looking like Samson.

Joaquin looking like Samson.


About a week ago, we stopped by two ‘standard’ barbershops wherein Joaquin had his haircut previously.  Both places charge $10 for a haircut.  At the 1st location,  Joaquin was moving so much the barber couldn’t finish the haircut (hey, a free partial haircut is better than no haircut at all).  At the 2nd, it never even got started.

So, yesterday, I decided to pay the 60% mark up at Kids Styles Hair Salon in Covina to see if one of their stylists might work some of their tot-targeted talents.  To my pleasant surprise, they did.

As the name suggests, Kids Styles caters to kid styles by having actual kids cut your kid’s hair!

I kid.

Each child sits inside a race-car, barber-chair of choice.  As soon as we we walked in, Joaquin ran to a car.  Once seated, the stylist asked him to choose a DVD that would play in front of him while getting his haircut.  Brilliant.

The stylist asked if we wanted to use scissors or clippers or both, something never asked at the other shops.  She then went ahead and spoke calmly and pleasantly to Joaquin as she wet his hair by first wetting her hand and then her hand on his head.  She was nicer than Greg Nice, smoother than Smooth B.

Whenever Joaquin seemed to get bored, she placed one of over a dozen small toys at her ready in his lap to keep him occupied. Shake this. Squeeze that. And on and on, ad infinitum.

15 minutes later and the universe was made right.

So fresh and so clean clean.

So fresh and so clean, clean.


Joaquin liked the place so much he wanted to stay and play.

play on, player.

play on, player.

The haircut was $15 + $3 tip = $18.  Not bad considering our rate of one haircut every 8 months!

What’s the most you’d pay for a kid’s haircut?  Your haircut?









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