Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Jena 6 Teen tries to off himself

They say you can't choose your family. Nor, apparently, can we choose our rallying points. Otherwise who'd really give a damn about Rodney King...or this kid? Read here. First he shoplifts, then he tries to shoot himself? Ah well, not everyone can be Schwerner, Cheney & Goodman, or Rosa Parks...

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Original Johnson

Not what you think from the title. If you are looking for a belated Christmas present for the thoughtful, creative person in your life--send them to Comicsmix for this graphic series interpreting the first superstar athlete of modern times: boxer Jack Johnson (whom James Earl Jones immortalized in "The Great White Hope"). 2008 is the centennial of Johnson rise to national prominence--in an era of unprecedented, virulent racial violence (and similarly immortalized in Doctrow's "Ragtime").
The Original Johnson is eyepopping and intelligent. None of the rote "fantasization" crap involving classic realfolk, as so decreed by publishers seeking gimmicks. This is visceral, exciting and enlighting stuff. Seldom does the New York Times laud a four color comic or graphic novel. They have. Check it out before the holidays end and the real world starts again January 5...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chicago Tribune: Black Women Shrinking?

OK, what is it? Diet/obesity? Poverty? Taller sisters not as fertile? Between the lines there--taller people often, not always, have better nutrition as well as genes on their side, are better off economically, and the studies show that wealthier black females have closed or exceeded height gaps with white females...and "wealthier" people tend to put off having kids.

Read it here and comment.

Friday, December 26, 2008

THE Infamous Christmas Post FINALLY

OK. Nothing amusing, nasty or even mildly Mencken-esque (he's spinning in his grave over what the barking spiders and oozing starfish on Wall Street have done to newspapers and book publishing). Nope it's this, from Charles Dickens. Something to think about for the next 11 months, and perhaps reflect upon as we look at 2008. Some say Great Expectations or Martin Chuzzlewit are Dickens' best work. For Literature professors, perhaps. Unh- unh, not for the real world. I say it's A Christmas Carol. Look at this pivotal passage. It will apply to so many things. And it's nimble: applies to each of us, and, in turn— each of can project it as a dodge or denial. Hope you had a Merry Christmas. Best for the New Year.Nat…

The Ghost calls, "Look here." From the folds of its robe, Spirit reveals two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment. They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing.

Scrooge recoils in horror. “Spirit…who are these children?”

"They are Man's," says the Ghost, looking down upon them. “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it." The Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city, cries, "Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end."

"Have they no refuge or resource?" cries Scrooge. "Are there no prisons?" the Spirit mocks in Scrooge's own words. "Are there no workhouses?"

Monday, December 22, 2008


Here is the reason that most gay men (not a clue what lesbians will say, but there's always Hillary and Janet Nap. to stoke their fires) will forgive the President-elect for inviting that Christian mullah Rick Warren to bless us all at the Inauguration. If you're straight (like Nat, as Mrs. Nat can attest), and you're digging Barack's swag, don't blush. The youngfolk call it "bromance."

12 More hours to 2008's infamous Christmas post....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Forget "The Spirit", Christmas Post Roaring in soon...

I know it's de rigeur to suck up to the fanboy and geek population--as seen at San Diego Comic Con back in July when we promo'd The Darker Mask. But come on. The word for this Sunday before Christmas is Saturation. Fitting. But not fitting from Frank Miller. We have "Sin City Lite" in this iteration of The Spirit. Sorry. Look the only reason I don't just shrug this crap away is yes, because of Miller, and Will Eisner. Eisner, being pioneer, icon, immortal. Those aren't hackneyed descriptions when it comes to Eisner. Period. Feels icky he's being exploited. Yeah, exploited. Oh well, such is the entertainment biz we have wraught.


Friday, December 19, 2008

RIP, W. Mark Felt aka Deep Throat

He broke open Watergate for Woodward & Bernstein and changed history. Snitches make the world go 'round. Seriously. Depends on the motivation. You're a hero. Linda Tripp is scum. Bravo Mark. Read here.

Why Brothers gravitate to PWT and Vapid sluts...

OK you can ask Reggie Bush, or dudes who liked "Black Snake Moan" or the brotha you saw hugging up some Britany Spears-sans-the-dough on the bus last week or the mall. It's no accident you see a kind of bamma-ghettofab black man hooking up with a chick like this so pre-dominantly in the military, or in the Dirrty-Dirty, rather than the civilized Northeast or a white collar workplace. Yeah I said it! 'Cause I'm an elitist jerk. (GRIN). Under normal, non-country conditions you see regular, garden-variety, sweet and innocent interracial romance between two sophisticated people. Closer to Seal and Heidi. Doesn't make you cringe, in other words...

Check this out from Nat's pals at Bossip here or click on video below (though I'm sure some of you horny negroes have seen it on youtube a billion times)...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Former Porn Star just wanted to keep teaching kiddies

Vineland, New Jersey (near the Pine Barrens, home of the Jersey Devil) parents were outraged that a former porn star is working at their elementary school. Louisa Tuck (aka Crystal Gunns ) worked as a playground and cafeteria aide and is studying to be a teacher's aide. She quit the biz five years ago. Some parents, as well as the local board of education president, wanted Tuck fired despite counsel's opinion that they have no legal grounds to terminate her. “We have no real legal stance or legal right to do anything for two reasons — one, it’s not illegal, and two, it’s not on school time,” Superintendent Charles Ottinger said. Officials continued to "look into the situation and determine their options, keeping the best interest of the children in mind." Ha!
Well, Gunns resigned in "good standing" over the weekend. Given the miserable state of public finance, she and her tits would have been furloughed anyway (and one of her old employers, Scores, has cut back due to Wall Street's collapse).
Porn is a billion dollar industry...hell billions if you count what's coming out of Eastern Europe and bound for the Middle East (so much for pure Islam). Who's to say some of her biggest fans aren't on the Board? Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another Victory for the Forces of Stupid

From "The Grey Lady" (the NYTimes, which is groaning under "bad times" as well), news of layoffs at Macmillian, the publisher which owns Holt and of course our friends at St. Martins and Tor/Forge.
Macmillian's owned, in turn, by a German combine, Holtzbrinck. Yep, Random House is owned by foreigners as well. Nice to see folks tasked with keeping American brains trained, creative, imagining controlled by Germans. Between that and cheap Chinese garbage folk are buying at Wal mart, I'd say it's "evening" in America. "Mourning" in America? How about that play on words? Nevermind their business model is warped--books aren't Beyonce CDs. Nevermind the real reason for this crap has more to do with, by analogy, Sam Zell loading the Tribune Company with debt from his leveraging spree, or the perfidy and non-regulation of the financial sector than with "young people not reading." The result is the same. Shrink. Dummi-fy. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy.
All of a sudden, that movie Idiocracy doesn't seem so amusing. Just like Office Space is hitting a bit too close to home now.

On Rightwing TV...and having a good time

Here's Nat on Tigerhawk, one of the most popular blogs in the huge paddock of Pajamas Media, and conceived by my fellow Princeton Tiger. See the full set of interviews here. I was shocked to find as many positive sentiments in the comments and feedback as were registered. Yes there was the usual wingnut crap, but if there wasn't, it wouldn't be fun. Many thanks to Tigerhawk for inviting me into his studio/kitchen.

Part I of interview:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Media Round-up Part II: Gwen Ifill's not qualified for THIS?

This is courtesy of Aunt Jemima's Revenge. Old news, but smilin', clean David Shuster, he of pimpin' Chelsea fame, becomes host of the newest iteration of TV journalism shift into Ringling Bros. As you know, David Gregory's now the mayor of Meet The Press. Empty chair vacated by one toon means opportunity for an increasingly stupid set of network masters to pander to an increasingly stupid public and fill the seat with...you guessed it...another toon. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is MSNBC's "hard hitting, analytical news program" covering the White House. Of course there are folks like bloffer Paul Levinson who think it's peachy. Really? Here are your choices. The cliche of network news, the Dancing With the Stars/reality TV sensibilities of CNN/Headline News and MSNBC, and the wingnut drool of Fox. NPR and PBS you ask? Recall, NPR is cancelling shows and laying-off real journalists. Nobody watches Jim Lehrer except during Presidential debates (but Sesame Street's still on). But hey, there's always John Stewart. Oh and that's Shuster with his young wife--"rising star Julianna Goldman" from Bloomberg Television. Wifey, if you know, was outraged with NBC's suspension of Shuster for his Chelsea comment (reportedly Tim Russert was among those cross with Shuster) and was using her influence with the Tribe to get hubby a gig at Bloomberg. But hey, all's forgotten and forgiven, and he's now front and center on this "news program."

One nugget from MSNBC (yes I'm a hypocrite): the CEO mega-salary protections of the bailout, well, in a last gasp of W/Cheney, we see executive paychecks are sacrosanct. Regular folks' jobs aren't.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ravens, Redskins...

Both lost. I'm proud of one team. Disgusted with the other. Can you guess which? Details here at ESPN.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Auto Bailout & Christmas Cheer: Billions for crooks, not one cent for workers

That's a big bad corporate lawyer named Drierer, arrested in Toronto yesterday. He's could be any one of my Princeton or law school acquaintenances. He's accomplished much. Made billions, eh? Erected a mini white shoe law firm. Such a posterboy for Big Law,Big Capitalism...oh and did I say he was arrested? But union autoworkers, now they are the true villians. Read on...

...as I'm off to a string of Christmas parties...er...sorry HOLIDAY parties (as corporate America/marketing clowns have ordained) from K Street to NJ for the weekend, so I'll be scarce on the blog. Check me out as a regular contributor in http://www.blackpower.com/. I was wondering what "Joe the Plumber" would say about his beloved GOPs torpedoing of the auto bailout in order to screw the working man? The LA Times (in a last gasp of pre-Zell journalism) reported so. He's now already on record saying to fellow douche Glenn Beck that he felt disgusted after “being on the campaign trail and seeing some of the things that take place.”
So the Republicans love folk like my boy Drierer and Bernie Madoff . Scions of laissez-faire . Ummm...the GOP became socialists and have dispensed over $300 B from the TARP, no questions asked, to folk just a cut or two above Drierer and Bernie. Yet they go back to wingnut-sim and try to dismantle the UAW? Newsflash...even the workers hate the UAW. Umm...they hate it b/c they thought they were in bed with company executives. What's Joe the Plumber's take? Likely still anti-Obama? If so, I guess gaybashing, guns and the flag really ARE are more important than self-preservation and common sense. Imagine that. Perhaps the GOP is onto something. Or, Barack's about to pick up this one last stubborn demo?
New track. In a bizarre twist, it seems Fox personnel are acting more responsible on this Blagojevich thing regarding the President-elect, even Val, Rahm et al than the supposedly pro-Obama MSNBC and CNN. Thoughts?

Enjoy your weekends and Merry CHRISTMAS.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Media Round-up, Part I

If you haven't already read this blurb about layoffs at National Public Radio, then check it out here. Nice to read in conjuction with news of other layoffs in book publishing and newspapers.
I had a whole mess of analysis and supported opinion on the cancellation of News & Notes. Objective and hopefully thoughtful comments on it's evolution from Tavis Smiley's spot to Farai Chideya's, ratings, cost centers, promo, NPR's endowment & contributions. But ya know, sometimes you gotta shout and stomp to clear the air. Here it comes...

...can we be frank about the disease, and not go 'round about symptoms? We're plain dummer, so why listen to NPR? We're a nation of Ricky Bobbies, Lil'Jons & Flo Ridas , Gossip Girls, Video Vixens, Sarah Palins, Real Housewives, Plaxico Burresses & Mike Vicks, Rush Limbaugh Dittoheads, texting teenagers, et al. So what's Farai's target demo amount to now--5 intelligent people? When folk get their news, "analysis" and investigative reporting from the likes of John Stewart/Stephen Colbert, Sean Hannity and Tom Joyner, is there any reason to have an NPR? For too long we've pandered and lowered the river. Perhaps the infrastructure we need to revive is between our ears!

Whew. I apologize for the rant. But it's time for us to wake the hell up and stop holding our tongues when we do see ignorance simmering. The outlets which keep us smart and care about the truth are dying and all we care about is not sounding "elitist." Lawd...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Slavefish. The new superhero of color

I guess this would be great for The Darker Mask II. Jimmy Palmiotti, Mark Waid--can you white guys bring this life?

SLAVEFISH!!! I love the origin backstory, and his method of communicating with sea creatures. Watch out next time you sink your fat, Oxycontin-gourged spiderveined ass in the ocean, Rush. There lurks...SLAVEFISH. I just cannot stop laughing...

Gay folks & Black folks Part I

A queer...okay pretty much African American bull dyke... pal and former schoolmate of mine, embittered over the bobbled opportunity and loss in Cali's Prop. 8 told me: "Ellen Degeneres is our version of Sammy Davis Jr. So eager to fit in as an entertainer that she's become an irrelevancy to a larger movement and a response to a lack of civil rights, like Sammy in the 50s and 60s."

Unfair to Sammy, based on the research. Unfair to Ellen, too. But do you understand her point? My pal applauded Wanda Sykes. But she says other black gays need to step up, stop lying, and put a real, relateable face on things. She wasn't talking about "umasking" dudes on the DL. That stuff re: Tyler Perry, Shemar Moore et al is for another soap opera. Rather, what she's talking about is a wish that familiar names could humanize the yearnings of gays for the full civil blessings they pay for in the their taxes. They'd have the public megaphone of TV. They even, so goes the hope, would be eloquent spokespeople.

Or should they just STFU? Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Governor Blagojevich--Old School Chicago

Am I imagining things or did Blago get arrested the day after he was rightly demanding that Bank of America put up or shut after getting TARP bailout $$$ and then spending it bull and not loans--payback? Is it a means of embarrassing and taking the wind out of Barack's sails? Not so facile (despite what you think of Dick Cheney's evil empire, control of he FBI et al). Nope. This is all on Blago. He thinks he's back in the Serbian bad ole days. Look, if you're gonna be corrupt and power mad, do it artfully like the Republicans. Graft and meglomaina aren't rocket science. Some folks seem to make an art of being both evil and stupid. You see the result. Like Mike Vick and Plaxico tainting all black athletes, then this will be used to taint Obama, Dick Durbin, Daley, etc. But ya know, in essence, Barack & Crew are constructively responsible. You know these folk are dirty. You should take them aside and say you are f--ing this up for all of us, so we're gonna put you out of your misery...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Newspaper hari kiri...or opportunity to evolve?

Chicxulub for some is an opportunity for others. Dinosaurs die, but their cousins lived on and thrived. No, not mammals. Birds. FYI Chicxulub is the name of the asteroid that struck the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago. Without it, we wouldn't be here, not reading, downloading Flo Rida ringtones. Here comes the crater...
The Tribune Company, saddled with the M & A debt splooged upon its august presses by Sam Zell, a "real estate mogul" (aren't "real estate moguls" usually they dullard husbands in all these "The Real Housewives of___" on Bravo?) has declared Chapter 11 protection. Zell owns the LA Times and hired a huckster named Lee Abrams as "Chief Imagination Officer" to dumb it and the Baltimore Sun down to preschooler/cage fighting fan level. H.L. Mencken's rolling in his grave. The last season of The Wire wasn't too far off, was it, Sam? Read here.
The Gray lady...the NYT...is borrowing against its building. Huh? Haven't they heard that the "too big to fail" thing is so, well, 90s? Who'll buy the building once the note's called? A big Nike Store...now that would be poetic justice. Read here.
Like the publishing industry, newspapers tried to be all things to all people...this in an age where "all people" are geting, well, dumber. Good music on the radio has gone to XM and other outlets. Of course bammas who can't afford an XM unit or an iPod still can listen to their favorite T-pain "music" on commercial radio, but that's the evolutionary exception, like the coelacanth or horseshoe crab. Most people still want news-sports-traffic-weather on "free" radio. Staying cheap and stupid, news hence becomes psycho talk radio, sports becomes ignorant fan-driven "sportstalk"...traffic and weather, that's immutable.
See the pattern? Leave stupid to the stupid people.
Newspaper (and books) can be the medium of smart people. There is a silent resevoir of smart cool people...hell even YOUNG people who want the depth, analysis, punchy investigative work. And yes there are people who want the tactile, stable experience of a paper, of a book. You can even send texts, job folks' schedules to tickle them into newspaper content. This isn't old-timer or Luddite stuff, folks. It's common sense. It's smart. It's evolution. Soar like birds.

Barack plays it Cool...

I'm a fan of Fred Armisen but not his characterization of the Prez (Lorne Michaels hates black people...he doesn't want another Eddie Murphy). However, this is funny. Indeed, might even be the most realistic portrayal of the 44th President yet. Wingnuts on Fox, radio, Pajamas Media take note. He's ...coooooooool....

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Zimbabwe analogy

Proudly, dictator Robert Mugabe's finance stooge reveals the brand new $200 Million bill. Check it out here. Now, over here Congressman William Jefferson is trying to win re-election. Hip Hop Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is still grumbling how he didn't do nuthin wrong. Then there's Sharpe James...oh and Marion Barry's hanging in there. The jury's still out (figuratively...phew...don't trip!) on Madame Mayor Sheila Dixon in Baltimore. Of course African strongmen and African American crooks/demagogues didn't coin the phrase "L'etat est moi." That was Louis XIV of France. Sadly, the only way these clowns stay in power is by telling us the alternative is the evil white man (and yeah, they are evil--be they multinationals, colonial powers, Republicans, Palin, Limbaugh. Perfect dueling straw men, as they use us in return). A sick see saw, a sad game.
Thank God we are creating a new paradigm with folk like Derval Patrick, Adrian Fenty, Corey Booker...and the new President of the United States. Oh yeah there will always be fools who'll pine for Marion Barry or the return of Jesse, Sr. or remembrances of Mugabe the "Liberator." They'll die off eventually. But I worry about the youngsters (see my post on nihilism).

Friday, December 05, 2008


No OJ Simpson post for me tonight. (see my comment on Aunt Jemima's Revenge about a circle closing). Nor will I post on the perfidy of the book biz and how publishers acting like the music or TV or film industries was their death knell. Nothing on Barack, or Bush's Interior Department allowing concealed weapons in National Parks or the top of the Washington Monument (I think it was Reagan, paradoxically, who'd decided against that in the 80s). Or, speaking of the 80s, the GOP deciding to doom themselves to the same path as the Democrats back then by affirming bumpkinism just as the Dems embraced only trade unions and black folks. Palin-Huckabee '12? OK, maybe they dream of '64...
Nope, this is about Wall Street rebounding on the news of murderous job losses. Click here. Draw your conclusions, send me your thoughts. There's a difference between being hurt, and being injured. I think most Americans have crossed to over to injury...

New Free Comics

Just a pleasant distraction for Friday...

New on DC's Zuda (click) online comics (see my November 22 post on the groundbreaking historical-fantasy African American comic "Bayou" click here ): Tri-boro Tales by Chuck Collins and Keith Miller. New Yawkahs--be you nuyorican, negro, numbskull guinea or nose-hooked member of the Tribe--will like this. Not lil' kid appropriate (as with Bayou) but I'd say 16 and above is safe. Art and narrative are seemless; a nice story of life in the non-Sex and City, regular folk Big Apple. Urban geeks, really--Gabe, Suga, Sean & Phatdawg. You don't have to be a strap-hanger to enjoy it. And, like the groundbreaking Bayou, it's free!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Wingnut attacks Eric Holder. And?

I'd left the comment below on sibling blog ('cause we're all related, really) Jack and Jill Politics (click on the right sidebar Blog List). It was in response to a post today outlining wingnut columnist Richard Cohen's screed in the Washington Post expounding why the Senate Judiciary Committee should not confirm brotha Eric Holder as attorney general of the USA. Cohen asserts the coffin moment was Holder's honchoing the pardon of douchebag Mark Rich by equal douchebag Bill Clinton (also implying that Holder knows where other Clinton and my ex-boss Janet Reno figurative bodies are buried). Here's what Nat declared, fan boys and girls. It's safer over here as I only have the trickle of fanatical Kool Aid drinking Obamaholics (Field Negro's nomenclature) as the crew Rikryah, Christian Progressive Liberal & Co. entertains. What are your thoughts?
As a USDOJ mule back in the go-go 90s I can tell you yeah, the Rich thing, plus a whole lotta of other Clinton watercarrying, is troublesome for Holder, but no--when compared to Alberto and buffoonish John Ashcroft, it's a drop in the bucket. Holder's like the black dude in the
white political machine in the old flick "The Last Hurrah." Like a bag
man for Harlem. Would that make him a bad attorney general. Not really. Again,
not compared to the hacks and morons who've held that position.
My point is that we need a GREAT AG. A leader. Creative. Inspiring. Protecting the consumer again, ensuring the cleansing of markets without hiding behind "market ideology," protecting our kids and our wallets on the Net, fighting corrupt politicos and drug dealers alike. Putting oncentrations of power and money on blast (and you see what happened when we didn't, and there's still no accounting of the TARP meant to clean up the mess). Prosecuting pollutors, smugglers of contraband and of human beings. Locking up terrorists--including the home grown
McVeighs who seem to congregagte in Wissila, Alaska LOL. A Bobby Kennedy. A Nicholas Katzenbach. A Ramsey Clarke, a Charles Bonaparte who took his boss Teddy Roosevelt's lead and went after Standard Oil and the railroads. Eric Holder's a bureaucrat and insider. He'd be "okay." We can't afford just "okay." We need great. Imaginative. Bold.
There are dozens of black folks out there in firms, federal and state gov't, public service programs and in the judiciary now who could fill that role. But Barack wants to go for
safe and ok. Ok, then...
P.S.--the give away here--that Specter, Grassley et al are not bowing to the radio freakazoids
and folk like Cohen, the wingnut bloggers. Why? Because they know Holder will just be "okay."
Plain. Safe...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Ghost of Tim Russert...spooking gray matter anew

Mi compradre-ette Professor Tracey at Aunt Jemima's Revenge (a whole lotta revenge out there with Nat's) was tripping over the elevation of neo-cremepuff correspondant/ Mary J Blige fan David Gregory to honcho "Meet the Press" over Gwen Ifill and Lord, many other veteran reporter who don't get suckered into yelling "whoopie" on "The Today Show." Check it out here. Part and parcel of Auntie's editorial was a subsequent post on Luke Russert, son of St. Tim. St. Tim--the man who helped destroy TV news in the last decade. No, it really wasn't Rupert Murdoch/Roger Ailes. It was Luke's daddy. David Gregory's current incarnation is just as much Tim Russert's progeny as Aunt Jemima's target Luke. Her thesis: Luke ranks up there with W as talentless, whiteboy affirmative action product.

That's Tim's baby boy on the left, training in TV investigative reporting at UVA--in a pool. Oh and above that's Luke lending is Buffalo Bills schtick to James Carville's expert sports show...um...James Carville's sports show? Yeah, no typo fanboys & girls. But this is the age of no boundaries. Of revenue streams. Of infotainment. Luke's part of a brand. Like Cherry or Diet Coke. Why mess this up with thinking? Brands obviate thinking. That's why sharp TV reporters like Hoda Kotb are playing second fiddle to Kathy Lee Gifford, or, as contraposition example, Linda Ellerbee opted for obscurity before bulima and tit jobs, or remaining silent to fools telling her she getting too old and fat (do they tell Lou Dobbs...or Russert?), or selling out to The View. Sorry Gwen Ifill. Being black was just the nail in the coffin, not the actual coffin. You think too much. Analyze. Explain. Give context. Iz you touched, sista? That ain't what makes the sponsors happy or drives the producers to spoon-feed pap and blazing headlines, or forces what passes for "anchors" these days to editorialize with inanities as if they're at Bingo night...

Thinking? That's what Luke's daddy found boring and passe when he, a hack in the corkscrew world of Albany smoke-filled rooms and political machines, took the chair once occupied by Lawrence Spivak, John Chancellor et al. Who the f- are they? Not important. That was back when TV journalism meant something. Nothing Twitter worthy...
And Tim gleefully turned the analytical style of these folk built into a circus of cliches, confrontation, posturing--all whilst he hob-nobbed as if an insider himself. Talkin' 'bout Luke's grandad constantly. Talkin' 'bout the Bills. Shilling for himself as celebrity, as brand, and in ethical gray regions--many of the politicos he "engaged" every Sunday morning. The ratings climbed. NBC's hagiography was a forgone conclusion. What's the cheapest means of increasing ratings? Well, rather than enlightening the dullards and bumpkins out there, Luke's daddy conspired to be one of them--dumbing things down for all of us. Luke and the NBC bigshots are scrimmaging with a winning game plan.

And we loved Tim, thus we love Luke, right? Especially when NBC/MSNBC, in the style of Citizen Kane, shoved him down our waiting throats during the 2008 campaign. Made him one of "us," like dad. Massaged and overexposed the brand. No matter. You see, NPR caught hell for criticizing Big Tim, as if they'd danced on his grave, and likewise (but for Aunt Jemima and her boy pal Nat and few others) the dismay over Luke's elevation has been sadly muted. Interestingly, while Tim was alive his presence seemed to unite rightwing harpies like Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter (of all people) with lefty media critics in Slate.com and The American Prospect. Note when Tim moderated the first Democratic Primary debates before his death, this was the one observation that made sense to me, amidst all the congratz on Tim's acumen: "It substitutes the personal anecdote for the policy position, the sound-bite for the substantive answer. It distills the debate into a series of allegedly symbolic, supposedly meaningful moments that can be replayed. "

Another: "Russert knows that the way to the top is to pretend that for all the Georgetown cocktail parties you attend, for all the money you make, for all your heart flutters when the powerful treat you with deference, in truth you may be in Washington but you're not of it. No, deep down you're just a regular guy from the wrong side of the tracks, standing up to the effete swells of the ruling class."

Indeed, Bill Moyers (a thinker) asked Luke's dad if he relied too much on the word of Bush administration officials during our fraudulent march to the Iraq War. Russert, who's not a journalist, recall, answered, "Look, I'm a blue-collar guy from Buffalo. I know who my sources are. I work 'em very hard. It's the mid-level people that tell you the truth." Huh? WTF?

Well, hopefully Luke's got some training, ethics, standards, you query? Wait. He just got out of school. OK, in the spirit of making the news "relatable" to younger folks (like texting, bite-sized) he's branded as the spirit of inexperienced yet energetic youth. I must say even the 20 and 18-somethings (white ones!) I spoke to thought he was a bit dry, dull, smarmy at times, though. But they were tickled he was "one of them." Yes, NBC learned from dad.

Listen, Luke's eulogy of his father was heartfelt, was heartwrenching. But why was it at the National Cathedral? Why was every self-aggrandizing tool from Bill Clinton to W there to pay homage. Folks, you are a sucky reporter if bigshots and politicians come to your funeral to wail. They should come to your funeral to spit on your casket. Otherwise you haven't done your job. But that presupposes your job is to inform, explain, uplift, rather than posture. That's Ed Murrow 101.

Has Luke ever learned about Edward R Murrow and his famous 1957 speech presaging the rise of folk like his dad? Nah. He's thinking revenue streams and new ways to sell to "Millenials" like himself. Hell I'm shocked he wasn't given Meet the Press, quieting the shrieks of his father's ghost when boring ol' Tom Brokaw took over Meet The Press temporarily. NBC has its standards of expertise, we hope. The trouble is, do we?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Barack isn't black. So it ain't history?

So says Marie Arana, author of American Chica and outgoing Washington Post Bookworld Editor.
Thoughts? Read it here.

Commander in Chief Barack Hussein Obama

...as long as he doesn't try to land on an aircraft carrier. That's him with Princetonian proconsul Gen. Petreus, who's overseen the cutting of many checks payable to random Shiite militiamen in Iraq, thus making the surge a success. I've already said we can duplicate that here--flood the streets with cops WHILST buying off the thugs and drug dealers. Hey, fellow author George Pelecanos came up with that in his scripts for The Wire, third season (Bunny Colvin's "Hamsterdam"). Barack and Petreus, pay the man his royalties...

Anyhow, this photo and story are from MSNBC/Washington Post. Read here. The dek (sub title): President-elect tries reassure top brass that he will listen, do nothing rash. A lot of folk who voted for him did so in the hopes he would be, well, rash. As in turn 180 degrees from 8 years of bizarre homage to what brought down Rome, right down to supporting wars so we can can support our legionnaries...oops...troops.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Twilight--Another Harry Potter? Um...no

Yes, it's OK to hate on other authors. Venal, stupid. Sure. But it feels good. Stephanie Meyer is one I despise. I drool with vitriol. Twilight is made, manufactured, contrived, measured, alchemized, tailored for your average Ugg boot flip flop texting post-Hannah Montana tweener. Destroy every vampire convention and paradigm? Fine--that's cool. Just replace it with a new mythos, like my girl L.A. Banks has. Don't transform it into "The Hills" and "The O.C." and "Gossip Girl" meets a female verison of SE Hinton's/Francis Ford Coppola's "The Outsiders." It's not insipid as Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. But Sisterhood doesn't have any melodramatic pretense nor does it provide a crutch for a braindead generation. But hey, you know your audience. Such will spawn pretenders and editors who'll say "Hey, can you do a sort of Twilight?" Even in a recession, teenage girls will buy, buy, buy. And yet again, don't crow "At least they're reading." They won't graduate to other stuff. No. Please.
So here's the skinny on the film adaptation Twilight (click). Yeah, yeah. I'm hating. Jealous, even. But I'm not on this earth to indulge teenage girls. Be nice to challenge them. Insipire them. Teach them to think out of the box. Ummm...then again, we are talking about American teenage girls here...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Terrorists = Thugs on the Corner = Terrorists

Mumbai (update here). Baltimore. D.C. New Orleans. The ABLA Projects in Chicago. Philly. Peshawar.

Don't underestimate the power of nihilism. Oh, they claim Jews have starved and murdered their people. Or white people won't hire me. Or I'm poor. Or my program's been cut and I haven't anything to do. Or a Hindu farmer shot my goat. Or I'm just "angry." Oppression and poverty cause this? No. Nihilism. Utter disregard for anything. Not even "anger." You destroy your own community by selling drugs, you Deebo someone out of their school books for trying to advance themselves, murder someone walking by for disrespecting you, shoot up a restaurant, take hostages...
Nihilism in the dictionary: a doctrine or belief that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility.
Nihilism in practice: a destructive, ultimately self-destructive form of self-pity, self-indulgence, selfishness. Not cowardice or anger. Or even revenge. No: self-pity. Like Lucifer the Son of the Morning, shoved into Hell. God chucked me out. Woe is me. Let me mess shit up, then
I'm sorry. I see no difference between some teenager we're urged to mentor shooting another teen, or murdering an old couple for their car, and a fool who decided to hurl grenades in a hotel lobby yesterday. Listen to the justifications and rationalizations they spout. Listen to the ambivalence of families, communities (e.g. yes, they are destroying themselves, us, others...yes we march in defiance and to show we are fearless...but they are our sons...and well, if they only had love/jobs/respect...and we weren't oppressed...). No difference. If Kashmir was autonomous and Islamic. If the halls of every inner city school were sheathed in gold and classrooms stocked with laptops, if Israel was plain gone. If a black man was President--would things change? A Scripture-centered life? The Quran as lodestar? All that providing a purpose, an aim? I dunno. Perhaps there's only A Clockwork Orange's cure: Drugs and aversion therapy.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bonus Feature: What real black folks look like

(From Bossip, link on the right)

No L'Oreal lightening. No weave. No red carpet posing with bodyguards. Just a schlumpy bruthah and wife watching a game.
For all we regular folks--like them--Happy Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving, yet meanwhile...

...the world stumbles on. Welcome, President Obama.

On a lighter note (much), the Association of Black Princeton Alumni, DC Chapter, is holding its annual Hoops Party in the skybox high above the court in the Verizon Center. 12/1, 1pm. Come see the Coach Thompson '88 and the Georgetown Hoyas as you sip your drink and dine on gourmet lunch fare. Email me for details. Michelle, come on by with the Secret Service.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Source magazine

This got lost (as did most of Autumn...damn it's THANKSGIVING ALREADY?!) in the presidential maelstrom, but I figured I'd showcase it, as it's just plain harsh and amusing, and you know those are my weaknesses. Yeah, Denis Leary post coming soon. It's a response to the "new" incarnation of the Hip Hop mag The Source (originally conceived by another Princetonian, Brother Selwyn, back in the bad ole days) . Check this out here. I love this stuff.

There's always the "Video Vixen" or a phoned-in James Patterson book...

More on the denigration of culture. As literature goes, so goes civilization. Happened before. Happens every time. Read it here in Publishers Weekly. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt tells its editors not to accept any more submissions. Fahrenheit 451 in slow motion. Gee, does anyone even know who Ray Bradbury is? No biggie. Not important. Pass me my Madden Football 08 and my Lil' Wayne ringtones...tune in the Real Housewives, Heidi Montag. Now that's culture!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New Media, New Comics: Bayou

Don't let the image fool you--this is fantasy with a little bit of horror with a touch of the Dirty South, ca. 1933 (Charon, Mississippi...remember who Charon the boatman is in Greek mythology?) DC Comics' web comic arm, Zuda, recently posted this new work by Jeremy Love and Patrick Morgan (collectively, Gettosake Entertainment). View the work here. This is the wave of the future, and the shoehorn for new (and frankly better) talent to edge into notoriety. Bayou is amazing. Bayou is a long time coming, and I'm sure will jump to print very soon. I cannot think of a time when I used the adjectives dreamy, sweet, alluring, historical, fantastical, vivid, disturbing, prurient and terrifying all in one thought. Well...when you read this thing, absord the sequential art, you'll have some choice adjectives of your own. The narrative and dialog are sparse but that's a gem here. The pictures tell the story and story is of hatred and lynching and a little girl's quest to save her daddy. Trouble is, she must immerse herself in a netherworld of Br'er Rabbits and Crocodile men to do so. Not for anyone under 11-12 years old certainly, but then again this isn't as lurid/adult as the film Pan's Labryinth, which also featured a child. So fanboys and girls: check it out, enjoy. It's free, after all. Such is why the web sucks, hahahaha

Friday, November 21, 2008

Meanwhile, what are the bankers doing?

Hey, re-read my post from yesterday. Please. I agree with you. The Big Tois in De-trois don't derserve a bailout. But deserving don't got squat to do with it. Thursday I opined, with some juice from novelist, poet and rare public intellectual (he'd die if uttered the p-word no doubt) Professor Condrescu that presents a once in an era opportunity to transform an industry...even a nation. Tantamount to a new industrial revolution. What could be more fun, fanboys and girls? After all, back when I was a little boy people told me there'd be flying cars that ran clean. But you party poopers said no. I'm crazy. Hmmm. Like the all the finance and marketing and commerce doges and shamans have done better? Well what they did accomplish was pulling the wool over Congress's eyes and kept The Great Changer (Barack) silent on transforming our banking and investment sectors. Ironic, as even right wingers are committing blasphemy, i.e. Mike Huckabee on the record stating that the market should "serve the people, not the other way around."
As that quote digs into your brain like the earwig of myth, walk with me to the halls of finance and see what they're doing with your tax money. Oh, that's right. We don't know. At least Ford, GM, Chrysler had the good sense to pledge adherence to strings and some transparency.
Ready? Here's the awful ruddy rub, per Senator Christopher Dodd on NPR. Read and listen and then convince me on why we shouldn't restructure the automakers.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bail Out Detroit--then fire everyone.

Andrei Codrescu opines on America and Detroit the bail-out request from the automakers. As only a novelist can. Listen here on NPR and give me your thoughts. Moi, fanboys & girls? I say do it. In the spirit of real change, not just putting frozen Clintonians in the microwave (ya here me, Barack?), I say give them $100 billion. In essence, nationalize them. Then fire every senior executive. Re-bid everything from law firms to materials vendors. Hire go-getters, innovators, big thinkers. Tell the unions salaries will shrink and there will be hiring of minority youth in mandatory training programs, but benefits will increase--including nice touchy feely European massage and quiet room stations on the line. Go green--for real, not marketing b.s. Build smaller cars, smart cars. Cut production F-150 type redeck pickups, mini vans and any SUVs over a certain weight. 50% non-gasoline fueled. Put the example out to the Third World--which from all accoutns just wants to repeat our mistakes by importing muscle cars and gas guzzlers. Tell US communities we need smart roads with mag-lev technology within 15 years, and go about designing this new generation of vehicles. Yes--Minority Report and I, Robot. Impossible? SciFi? Hell no. It just takes will. And that's all it really about. What do you think?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What happend to Neo Soul?

Why is the latest iteration of ignorant bamma rap ascendant? T-Pain? Lil' Wayne? Come on. Whatever happened to neo soul? Too bourgie for the least common denominator? Too intelligent? Not enough $$ for white label executives (too expensive to produce)? Not escapist enough? What are your thoughts? Seriously--will this change? Can Barack and Michelle set a new aesthetic?
I know it's a function of youth culture, and every older generation harrumphs and grouses about the tastes of the younger one. Yet it appears we are reaching the end of that chain...a saturation point where you really CAN say that younger African Americans truly do have their heads up their asses? No taste? Fewer mores? Even more nihilistic...or in a fog of un-reality (e.g., "yeah when I get of school I'm gonna start my own club and record label and cage fighting league"). This is their music. The trouble is that there is little or no self-reflection. No critical thought. Hard to do when you're downloading ringtones instead of the reading. Neo Soul afficianados read...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cockroach in the Potato Salad

Ballot questions in Nebraska, California and Arkansas on affirmative action and gay rights expose ugly things about the country—and ourselves—which we’d rather ignore as we celebrate President Obama’s victory. But what happens when the dancing ebbs?

On the night Barack Obama made history Nebraska voters approved a vaguely worded ballot question dubiously labeled “The Civil Rights Initiative,” making affirmative action illegal in public employment, education and contracting. In California, Proposition 8 passed, banning gay marriage. Similarly, the Arkansas Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban makes it illegal for gays to adopt or serve as foster parents. African Americans danced in 1776 and 1863, despite the misery, bondage, war. In 2008 our jubilation knows no bounds. And that’s the problem. We cock our heads away from anything party-pooping or nettlesome and this cloud of euphoria seems obscure what scurries at our skipping feet. Indeed, the cockroach jumping in grandma’s potato salad may say something ugly about ourselves more so than any insidious enemy vanquished at the polls last Tuesday.
Despite a lack of identifiable “victims,” all black conservative Ward Connerly had to was get petitions signed and place an anti-affirmative action question on the ballot. Quietly. White voters would do the rest. (http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/03/18/affirmative_action_foes_point_to_obama). Allegations of chicanery in the ballot petitions abound, and no there was no indication that affirmative action efforts were abusing white students, employees, businesses. Still, the measure passed easily. And quietly.
Many African Americans outside of Nebraska remain oblivious at best, insouciant at worse. Don’t step on my Barack high, we hear. And who cares anyway—how many black folks can there be in Nebraska other than in the Cornhuskers’ backfield and secondary? Indeed one longtime pro-Obama blogger states “There are what, 25 blacks in Nebraska?” Another Obama supporter in Washington, D.C. shrugs “This isn’t on my radar. I’m too busy celebrating.” Some of these opinions are from the same folk who mobilized thousands for the Jena 6. So where is the love for Nebraska?
Shawna Francis, lobbyist and former director of Congressional Affairs for the Democratic Leadership Conference, laments the result in her native Nebraska, and the muted initial response from African Americans nationwide. “Nebraskans are good, caring people,” she says. The state is home to a large, dynamic black community and culture there. Nevertheless, certain racist notions and power relationships remain. As for Nebraska not being on anyone’s map as opposed to Atlanta or D.C., she reminds people that Omaha is the cradle of Malcolm X. To Francis and many others, it is ironic that an outsider, Ward Connerly, could invade Nebraska and change lives, while some African Americans outside of the state scratch their heads or just don’t understand what’s at stake.
Newly elected Nebraska State Senator Brenda Council is certain Connerly coordinated the effort with conservatives in the state government to prevent key actors like the University of Nebraska from creating awareness and lobbying against the ban. Likewise, the initiative’s wording was “fraudulent.” One young black voter came up to her, frantic with apologies for voting for the ban because he thought it was a civil rights ban on discrimination. Council is certain this practice of artifice and muted TV coverage was central to the ban’s passage, as well as cloaking the issue for blacks nationwide. Nevertheless, she’s flabbergasted that African Americans in more populous states or urban areas ignore or shrug off this story. “It’s like what happened in Nazi Germany. You can sit back and say it’s happening to those folks but it won’t happen to me. Guess what—it will happen to you.”
And it did happen to someone else, in California and Arkansas. Not owing to a lack of knowledge or inaction by black folks. This time it’s with our active participation.
Student Jina Mowery is an Arkansan and proud of it. Her mother was a canvasser for Bill Clinton in ’92 and ’96, her stepfather is a retired police officer and deacon back home. The Mowery family voted for Barack Obama on November 4 and even drove elders to the polls. John McCain took the state overwhelmingly. But Jina’s parents voted for the ban on any gay couples adopting or acting as foster parents. They said the Bible is clear, and there is a gay agenda being pushed by white activists. Jina’s brother is gay. He moved out of Arkansas when was 16. Jina’s roommate in Washington, D.C. is a bi-racial lesbian. Jina volunteers for an advocacy group watchdogging what critics have a called dysfunctional D.C. Department of Child and Family Services—the same agency which paid accused child killer Renee Bowman to be a foster parent. Renee Bowman is charged with murdering and mummifying her adoptive daughters. But at least she isn’t gay.
“My parents didn’t want to hear that. They didn’t want to hear that the governor [Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe] is dealing with similar crisis back home, and this ballot thing comes along. Gay men and lesbians want to open their homes with love, most of them have more money and resources than average a lot of towns in Arkansas and a lot of them will raise children with special needs that no one else wants. But you say they are unfit?” Jina says the taxes they pay go toward a foster care system in which they cannot now legally participate and that system is stressed to the breaking point. (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/09/us/politics/09arkansas.html?ref=us)
“How many children will black people who voted for this adopt? How could they be allies to the same people in the state who openly hated Barack?” Of course, we don’t want to have such a thorny questions posed.
The President-elected posed it indirectly, of course, Tuesday night in Chicago, stating that this was our America, all of us, “gay and straight.” In California, Proposition 8 would not have but passed for black folks who asserted they were only keeping the faith.
Of course no one wants to check that moving speck in the potato salad—that more than a few African Americans don’t practice what they preach regarding the “sanctity” of marriage, monogamy, adultery, lying—not to mention “thou shalt not kill.” But that’s not the point, in the minds of some of our people.
The Washington Post quoted young Obama voter Jasmine Jones as saying “I think it's mainly because of the way we were brought up in the church; we don't agree with it," said Jasmine Jones, 25, who is black. “I'm not really the type that I wanted to stop people's rights. But I still have my beliefs, and if I can vote my beliefs that's what I'm going to do. God doesn't approve it, so I don't approve it. And I approve of Him.”
Michael Brown, a black AIDS activist in Maryland with married gay friends in San Jose angrily calls out “mega-preachers” like T.D. Jakes and Atlanta’s Eddie Long and others in the black pulpit for fostering this attitude that marriage isn’t about civil rights. “They [mega preachers] have long been associated with conservative white Republicans who stood against Obama but now they want to cheer for Obama.” Their duplicity matches Ward Connerly’s in Brown’s mind.
Even to someone lost in the fog of celebrating November 4, there’s one very simple notion about marriage that shouldn’t confuse or distract: rendered to essence, marriage is a civil and legal construct, not a religious convocation. You need a license from the government, not God, to perform one, and you need a license from the government to get one. When the government singles out a person or group in that context, the question becomes constitutional, not Biblical. And yet it appears many African Americans remain ready to deny one group a civil, legal right based on religion…or in Brown’s view, simple ignorance and fear. The irony is not lost on him. “The Civil War was fought and thousands died so black people could be citizens and have equal protection under the Constitution. This vote is like our Dred Scot. How could our own people abandon us?”
But don’t step on my Obama high. One blog and listserv commenter who fiercely supported Barack is still celebrating and doesn’t care about Proposition 8. “I’m entitled to be selfish now.” Another opines, “We should show solidarity to President-elect Barack Obama and not raise this kind of thing right now. But also, we are a very conservative people that should be respected by people who do not attend church regularly.”
Derek McCoy, a black Mormon and African American outreach director for the Protect Marriage Campaign stated in the Post, “What the church does is give that perspective that this is a sacred issue as well as a social issue,” he said “The reason I feel they came out so strong on the issue is one, for them, it's not a civil rights issue, it's a marriage issue. It's about marriage being between a man and a woman and it doesn't cut into the civil rights issue, about equality. The gay community was never considered a third of a person.”
Maybe it is now.

So there’s something ugly and dirty creeping about as we dance. How we address it will define our marrow. And our joy will either cement itself as an affirmation of our fortitude and belief in justice, or will betray itself as merely self-indulgent, temporary and fraudulent. Our new president is counting on the former.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Miriam Makeba RIP

Another loss. Mama Afrika. You saw a dream realized in South Africa (with notable deficiencies and inequalities still). You saw the U.S. elect Barack. I'm sure you're singing. But why're we loosing so many like you? Can't just be age, as there are plenty of old, souless, stupid people running around.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Real Housewives? Nah, Real Sad

"Real" Housewives? And this is the real Atlanta? Check it out at Bravo. Atlanta now calls itself Black Hollywood, Black Mecca. The former's true, if you define it as an artifice, fake, frivilous and plain dumb. Rappers, ballers, rump shaking vixens and posers with 5,000 sq ft homes/gas guzzlers--yet will no furniture but a 72 inch flatscreen, a stripper pole...and foreclosure/repo letter from the bank shoved in the stainless steel LG fridge. The latter would be an insult to Muslims. Mecca implies a holy place...a place to journey for knowledge and spiritual awakening. Ha! Guess that's DC again, eh? My story "Doggy Style," reprinted in Zoetrope about two stray dogs--one a Pit Bull escaped from sports-star financed attck kennel (hey this was two years before Vick--am I Asimov or what?) making their way outta da ATL into "lil Mecca" DeKalb County during a sleet storm was my way of lampooning that notion of ATL as place of Renaissance for blackfolks. And this was before the finacial crisis/Recession, and The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
What a lovely bit of metaphor, indeed allegory, is this friggin' show! It's like the toast to Tyler Perry's jelly! Low class, noveau-riche hoochie wives of NFL and NBA players, "real estate investors" (ha! what's that these days?) and alimony divas. Dentists, doctors, school teachers, engineers? Naw, gurl. Grown-up exemplars of Spelman Women? Huh? A Princeton Tigress like our new First Lady? Please! No, these are the REAL housewives per the white male producers on Bravo who have corrupted the image of women nationwide and figure black folks now need a dose like we need a hole in the head. Conveying the tackiest image of this mythic place called Atlanta. I love it when you fanboys & girls call me a snob, so keep it coming. My time in Charlotte and running back and forth to da ATL was painful, folks. Nothing but traffic and endless burbs, surrounded by malls, rendecks and smiling blond rightwing evangelicals. Like Hip Hop, I was a stank shell of myself when I moved to the Dirrty South...
If I were the mayor, I'd try to put the kabosh on this crap. Having these suburban hookers as ambassadors along with ballers, rappers and rump-shaking club owners is a double-edged sword, as good burghers of te metroplex are discovering. Needless to say, those true working single moms down there--doing checkout at Piggly Wiggly or driving school buses--love the show as entertainment, and then shrug and lament their true lives. Some have teenage sons literally killing themselves emulating the "real" husbands (baby daddies?) of Atlanta: it's not cool being an architect, but if I can show my hoop skills or get a demo to whatever strutting, body-guard/entourage traveling fool I see on the street outside Platinum 21 or Magic City, well my life will be golden! Some have teenage daughters mezmerized by a phony lifetstyle who end up seduced by it, degraded (whether they understand or not) by it, spat out. Now that's real.
Perhaps ...and this is part of the magic of Nove. 4...our young women and men can now look a little farther up I-85, then 95 to the White House for inspiration. Whether it will be a tonic for this tacky sh*t, this gildened ghettofabulousness, who knows. They certainly won't find it on Bravo.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

RIP Michael Crichton

From the Andromeda Strain to Jurassic Park and every in between and since--a master. Not pulp. Not resting on laurels and phoning-in best sellers. This man invented a genre. Asked us to care about the future beyond our on selfish needs. Dr. Michael Crichton, MD. As with too many authors, actors, intellectuals we've lost this year, the industry won't develop anyone of comparable talent to replace them. But hey, many Americans these days are too stupid to comprehend the classics anyway.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The N***** in the Woodpile

Amid the euphoric shouts, a few hacking coughs. Ward Connerly's anti-affirmative action ballot question wins in Nebraska. He makes lemonade out of lemons by declaring that Obama's win vindicates him. "Finally we are rid of the scourge of race." In Arkansas, gay couples can't adopt or atc as foster parents. Better to send the kids--and the state $$$--to scumbags who abuse and ignore these kids, and make a living treating them like cattle, than put them with affluent, caring, committed people. People. American, human people. Or in Cali, 7 out of ten black voters who voted on the gay marriage ban voted YES. I'm sure TD Jakes and the rest of these mega pastor turds are behind this (I wonder what these bamas would say when they realize their idol, Tyler Perry, is a fagolah as the Jews say!). When will we value people as people, as Americans?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I hear my mother, and many others...

She passed in 2005. Others died as long ago as 300 years ago, at Jamestown. The first. Or in 1987, or 1999. Or on a ship headed for Jamaica. But I hear them. You can too, if you open your mind...

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod, Felt in the days when hope unborn had died; Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet, Come to the place for which our fathers sighed? We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered; Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Day

You do what you must. I will find my inner Nat. And I don't mean vis. race baiting. That's McCain's dilly. That's the pandora's box he opened by giving Sarah Palin the limelight. That's not the McCain I supported in 2000. He's dead. He has deluded himslef into thinking he can lead a nation through this shifting universe of the 21st Century by pandering to ignorance, fear, what's comfortable to a minority of Americans who've been conditioned by Pavlov's dog to the flag and cross (the analog of mindless Islamic extremists). Barack didn't run a cagey campaign; naive or stupid mistakes were made. But he says believe in me, and I'll lead. Not to hell with the other guy. Not they are traitors, unworthy.
Now we raise cutlass and musket, figuratively, to show that this old America must die if America must endure undivided as in 1861, or with the Roman Empire, splitting into moribund West and vibrant Byzantine East. No. Now we stand and be counted, and say "enough." Vote. Demand your time off to do so--even if the Wal Mart managers and the Diebold machines are stacked against you. Put Barack in and let's see what he can do. Let's invest. Let's rebuild and explore. We have no choice...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

RIP Studs Turkel

Studs, you almost made it. Pulitzer Prize winner. Father of the oral history style of chronicling our various American stories. Stories of true working men and women, from the Depression to today. Hard Times, Working--if genuine Joe the Plumbers would wake up they'd see that their heritage was in progressive labor and farmer politics, not wingnut fantasy.

A few more days and you may have seen the the dawn of a new New Deal. Or more grist for your steel trap mind and Depression-hardened wit. Either way, we'll miss you. We're left with people like Hannity or Bill Maher. Yeah Studs, I know, I know...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Higher Learning

Yesterday an official at a local university patted me on the back after chortling, "Students are customers. We provide a commodity. We have to keep the customers happy." And the pat came when I said, "The customer's always right." This person nodded.
When the official removed his/her hand from my scapula I wasn't chilled, chagrined or confused. I laughed in his/her face for that was the dumbest thing I'd ever heard from a college official's mouth. Oh yes, that's a dominant "business model" now, whether you're at an elite instituition or a large public land grant university or community college, competing for bucks and bodies with proprietary online diploma mills (which indeed help a select few yet rip off the great mass of both hopeful folk and near- do- well retards alike, enticed by slick prime time commercials or low budget offers during Judge Hackett or Maury).
Let me repeat. Customer, like a someone in Wal Mart or Safeway or Carmax. Commodity, like cooch and crack and slave labor and packages of bacon and Jimmy Choo slingbacks. OK, I'd agree are "consumers." Consumers who must have access to accurate information so they may informed choices, and be protected from chickanery. We homo sapiens have been on this planet a mere pubic hair's breadth of time. Even in our own pitifully short tenure, it's only been in the last 9,000 years that we've truly re-invented ourselves as farmers, herders, then urban dwellers and true creators of great things. One of which is formal schooling, and its supreme expression: higher education. A pillar of our civilization.
Usually the "customer" paradigm is the province of bean counters or moronic politicians and loudmouths who want to short-shrift education. Indeed many of the latter two groups' denizens where dumbasses in school anyway, and such is their revenge. But to hear college officials who should know better recite this as some mantra, or worship it as golden calf, well, I just have to laugh. Laugh till I puke. Education is exposure and engagement, not pandering. We see the pander element destroy or news media, our political institutions and parties and set our religious sects to war. Hey, why leave university educations out? A workforce flows from enlightened people, not a least common denominator pipedream whereby everybody learns Excel and takes multiple choice exams, and are thus ready for an "Office Space"/Dunder Mifflin nightmare (only to be downsized or outsourced to Mumbai). Indeed, places like India are merely cheap. many of the folk doing the work however, have struggled hard to attain top flight university educations while we figure out to challenge students the least, or work around their desires, prejudices, entertainment schedules. Oh, and put butts in the lecture hall seats. Get the $$$. That's the most important. I mean what's next--the new proprietary "DillingerOnline University" for death row convicts? The experimental Princeton-Harvard-Yale funded The MS-13 get a B.A. in materials management and human resources based on gang experience? Or better yet, a large state system opening a distance learning center at Gitmo. Get your accounting degree with GI Bill money and it'll only take a hour a week away from the ennui of walking a post and the occasional thrill of waterboarded a raghead!
There HAS to be something mystical, wonderful, semi-unattainable about higher education, else it becomes trivialized, even abandoned. We have enough twisted anti-intellectual crap in this country, teenage wannabe hip hop moguls to Ted Nugent, from Sarah Palin to "Gossip Girl" and "Dancing With The Stars." And of course it shows in our economic, scientific and political standing abroad. But we've been lucky. Our size, our resources have been hedge and prop. That won't last. We must invest--if you like business terms like "customer"--in our physical and intellectual infrastructure.
So aren't customers but rather they're instruments. Securities. Seeds. And that official who patted my back would be wise to think of his/herself as an investor, a farmer, a nurturer, a herder, and not a carnival barker with an E.d. or Ph.d. By the way, I don't work for that college. I just know this official. But I'd laugh at anyone one else who comes at me with this customer bull. Better still I'll just give "A's" to lazy fools, send them out in the world, and then we'll see what happens to a college, university or community college's rep then. No matter, as long as the conveyor belt puts butts in the lecture seats (or online), and robots in the workplace. Nobody loses, eh? Except civilization.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Jennifer Hudson: the hood closes in

The South Side. Where life is cheap? No, but the quality of life's cheapened, too often by the very folk who tolerate the mess. Look, sorrow is a facile, weak term for what we're feeling for Jennifer Hudson now. Her mother and brother shot to death, her nephew missing. Just yesterday we were shrugging off "The Secret Life of Bees," and laughing at her engagement to "Punk" of I Love New York. Black drag queens were emulating her full lips.
But we seem to forget one thing. Jennifer is a Chicago girl...from the hood. The hood's like a werewolf's curse. It never goes away no matter how many Oscars or appearances on The View. And then there's all the stuff you think you've left behind. The place, the people--even family. The pathologies--of place. Of the people. Too much sorrow. Are you mad at me for these opinions? You've had them too. Don't lie.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"W" and "The Secret Life of Bees:" Were it not an election year...

W ere it not for our Third Post-Reconstruction period in America (e.g. McCain-Palin campaign's vile march to the right, rather than the unified middle), these two flicks would've held a tad more impact. Mediocre, yet still important. Now, they seem quaint. Yes...quaint. Tugging us back to a time of the rotten Tootsie Pops, perhaps? 1992-2007 America. You know--flick the ants off and the candy shell's still sweet. The stick's white and not soggy so it must be right, right? But the Tootsie Roll center's been rancid since it left the factory.
"W": Freudian father issues. Nuff said. Oliver Stone has cooked, warmed over and diced into hash this tale in what--about five of his flicks now? It's got nothing to do with liberal vs. conservative, or destroying Bush's legacy or Hollywood snobs offending O'Reilley's America. It's plain Ollie working out his issues on us, which would offend anyone regardless of politics. Ultimately, however, the film proffers empathy...then sympathy. I liked it on that level. A cross between Hamlet and an SNL/MadTV skit.
"Secret Life of Bees" is based on Sue Monk Kidd's paeon to post-racial sisterhood. Oprah's favorite novel. Of course, per my thesis, this was Oprah pre-Barack, as with Al Roker when he railed against Don Imus. Before the white housewife magic was gone. Director Gina Blythewood (who I met this summer) does the material proud. But make no mistake, this stuff is the next level of evolution vis. Donald Bogle's thesis of black woman as magical symbol/mammy/transformative benign necromancer/sassy sexual alter ego for a white female protagonist--and by implication white female audiences in middle America. The mamy stuff's been with us since "Gone With the Wind." Male counterpart: most Will Smith flicks from "Bagger Vance" to "Hancock." Indeed, the construct here is Black male as Peter Pan fantasy antithesis to The Color Purple's buffoons (Harpo) or brutes (Mister). There's pathos galore in the film. No banal reality, ugly reality. The film's set in the 60s when stuff expressed at Palin rallies or Southern wingnut churches was a daily occurence. And yet, womanly co-sanguinity and love conquers all. This is the old paradigm. Pre-Hillary vs. Obama. "Bees" is essentially a Lifetime movie on 'roids. Bring your box of tissues to collect your tears of angst and joy. And even Sarah Palin pre 2008 would have sniffled for a thick armed hug from Queen Latifah, right? The honey metaphor discussion at this point would be facile. Still, like W, it all seems quaint these days. Lifetime movie or not, conveying quaintness was neither the goal nor intent of Kidd or Bythewood. Ironic huh?
Too bad. We're coming to the gist, grist and graveman of my thesis. It stings us with why the DiCaprio-Crowe flick was a flop, as was "Miracle at St. Anna" (okay, Spike's style has something to do with that). It's why "Max Payne" and "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" rule the box office and "High School Musical 3" will rule them all. In our 2008 milieu of cognitive dissonance we retreat to ignorance...to things that tickle our base emotions. Ignorance is warm, safe. Mindless fear is energizing. In good times, calm times, even scary times like 9-11 mediocre flicks like W and Bees become pleasant distractions. But there's a difference between a distraction and pathological escape. Distraction, dear fanboys & girls, seems quaint these days...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

National Book Award Finalists

Not that anyone cares in our so-called texting- and- short- attention- span- lemme- read "Superhead" -and- watch -Tyler Perry culture, but here are the nominees. Bravo to all, especial Peter (Mr. Matthiessen), Annette, Drew--


Aleksandar Hemon, “The Lazarus Project” (Riverhead)
Rachel Kushner, “Telex from Cuba” (Scribner)
Peter Matthiessen, “Shadow Country” (Modern Library)
Marilynne Robinson, “Home” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Salvatore Scibona, “The End” (Graywolf Press)


Drew Gilpin Faust, “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War” (Alfred A. Knopf)
Annette Gordon-Reed, “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family” (W.W. Norton & Company)

Jane Mayer, “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals” (Doubleday)
Jim Sheeler, “Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives” (Penguin)Joan Wickersham, “The Suicide Index: Putting My Father’s Death in Order” (Harcourt)


Frank Bidart, “Watching the Spring Festival” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Mark Doty, “Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems” (HarperCollins)
Reginald Gibbons, “Creatures of a Day” (Louisiana State University Press)

Richard Howard, “Without Saying” (Turtle Point Press)
Patricia Smith, “Blood Dazzler” (Coffee House Press)

Young People’s Literature:

Laurie Halse Anderson, “Chains” (Simon & Schuster)
Kathi Appelt, “The Underneath” (Atheneum)
Judy Blundell, “What I Saw and How I Lied” (Scholastic)
E. Lockhart, “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks” (Hyperion)
Tim Tharp, “The Spectacular Now” (Alfred A. Knopf)