Friday, February 27, 2009

Black History Month Part II: "Still I Rise"

A recent gimmick by big publishers peddling their big brand name authors is spatula-ing them into graphic novels. That worked for a time; now even those sales are slipping. The new trend is "nonfiction" comics and graphic novels: biographies, biopics, historical events, sports or pop stars immortalized in black and white or 4-color sequential art. Folks like yours truly are getting tapped to quickly produce the African American version of this fad before it, too, passes in the minds of the publishing bigshots. But two writers were way ahead of--and way above-- the gimmicks long ago...
...for, yes, in 1997 authors Roland and Taneshia Laird published the first edition of a wonderful graphic history. In time for Black History being made on 11/4/08 and Black History Month, 2009, the Lairds updated the book with the contributions of illustrator Elihu "Adofo" Bey (artist on the first edition). The cover should be a hint.

Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans (Sterling 2009, republished from 1997 edition) traces, through two recurring avatars and vivid black and white panels, the social, legal, diplomatic and economic history of the United States. Yep, from grousing white indentured servants on the Virginia Tidewater, 1618, to the night of November 4, 2008. Note I said the United States, not black people. For even items such as the seizure of Florida in 1819, to the Mexican War in 1846 to the Recession of the mid 1970s--all were implicated and reflected and influenced--even caused--by the journey of African Americans. America as metaphor for black folks; our pain and rise, as allegory for America.
Sounds ambitious? Well, the Laird's pull it off in elemental images and script. Sure, both the words and illustrations read and appear a little amateurish. Perhaps that's the method to the madness. When Historian Joel Augustus (J.A.) Rogers did the same thing 70 years ago in Your History (which first appeared in serial form in the black newspaper The Pittsburgh Courier), the artwork and narrative weren't meant to be slick or professorial. It was meant to talk to us. If the facts are well-researched and the themes sound, such is all that's necessary for the work to move, to educate. And like Rogers' pioneering piece, Still I Rise is not trivia-question, George Washington Carver-peanut banality (of course, Carver invented the chemical processes which grew modern multinational agribusiness, irony being that the first black president of the United States has earmarked agribusiness as one of the bigshot sectors no longer on Uncle Sam's teet). No, this is a moving survey of history.
On the other hand, the "look" of the panels and the tone of the narrative might not tickle everyone's fancy. And we aren't talking about deep analysis. Likewise, august author Charles Johnson's Foreword seems to chronicle blacks in comics (more accurately, comic strips) from the late 19th through the 20 centuries, rather than address the pinpoint angle of illustrated black history. Indeed he doesn't mentionl JA Rogers. Digression: I'm glad he mentions George Herriman's "Ignatz and Krazy Kat." Note in The Darker Mask's Dedication, Gary Phillips and I gave a shout out to Iggie and Krazy as society's first interracial couple (Krazy and Ignatz were a lovey-dovey cat and a mean little mouse)! Herriman drew the strip at a time when real people would've been killed for such sexual tension.

These are minor gripes. Tackling the history of this nation from 1618 to three months ago isn't easy. The topics are complex, emotion-laden. The Lairds and illustrator Bey have given us--all Americans--an enduring standard to meet, not merely as a teaching tool, but in sequential art storytelling.
Still I Rise. Buy it. Enjoy it with your above middle-school age kids. Share it with any white folks who may need a different angle on the tale of this place we call home.

P.S., here is author Roland Laird's take on the latest addition to the book, Barack Obama:

"A Black man demonstrating excellence on a daily basis, in the highest office in the land, will bolster our ambitions; and equally important, it will soften the stereotypes of black people that still infect much of American society."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Love Blactually

This is a heart attack-producing episode. Enjoy the racial funnies. Doesn't Stewie look like a pale Bobby Jindal. Same height, too...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Black History Month Pt. I: Marita Golden does it again

Check out Marita Golden's compilation It's All Love is an ode to the heart, benefitting the Hurston-Wright (as in Zora and Richard; I was a presenter at the last gala at the National Press Club) Foundation. There's the black history tie. Marita needs no intro. She is one of our literary island treasurers in a sea of sludge. Aren't you glad I don't sugarcoat it? Ha!

My favorite stories in this volume (fiction and nonfiction): David Anthony Durham's, Felicia Pride's, William Henry Lewis's...poems by Kwame Anthony, Ethelbert Miller's. Not that everything in this book isn't great. A wonderful repose from the usually music video-paced collections out there (The Darker Mask excepting). And hey, if you're a white Obamaholic and need a nice safe means of parsing our take on the human heart, you can't go wrong with It's All Love.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

25 Movies for Conservatives? Can you laugh any harder?

As further evidence of the derangement/meltdown of the Right since 11/4...and just in time for the Oscars...I submit my take on The National Review's Top 25 Movies for Conservatives. Yes, you heard me. Compiled by such phony turds as Jonah Goldberg and, um...I dunno, it posits that movies such as "Juno," "Ghostbusters," "Forrest Gump" and Whit Stillman's odes to Manhattan preppies are ripe for conservatives. WTF? you gasp? I gasped that quite few times myself. (See especially "Team America, World Police.") Ha!
Now, are these folk just stupid, or too blinded by lunacy to get the fact that Hollywood isn't liberal. Hollywood is apolitical. It's about image, marketing, lies, greed, stereotypes, legalized payola. Infantilization. Cartoonish, not realistic, sex and violence. Come on folks. You got the right idea, but the wrong enemy.
I checked my opinions with my pet wingnut, my old neighbor who is a major in the USAF. We would utterly despise one another but for a love of film, Belgian Beer, and old Hanna Barbera action cartoons like The Herculoids and Jonny Quest (indeed this dude is a dead ringer for "Race Bannon"). He couldn't fathom some of these choices, and was as angry as me over "United 93" being something only for conservatives. He alomost pilked his Trappist No. 12 beer over "Juno," "The Dark Knight" and "The Edge."
He asked why John Wayne's fairy tale version of "The Alamo" wasn't there. Indeed, he says the 2006 version with Billy Bob as David (not Davy) Crockett was more historically accurate and he chided his wingnut Texan brethren for condemning the movie. Likewise, you wonder why a historical/war film like "Glory" is never listed. You wonder for about 1.2 seconds.
So here's TNR's list, folks. Try not to drink as you read, else you will spit-up, and quell your wrath. Think of the right as zombies in a Resident Evil flick. It ain't their fault...

1. The Lives of Others (2007): Set in East Germany in 1984. So? This is 2008.
2. The Incredibles. (2004): Yes, the animated film. Don't ask.
3. Metropolitan (1990): White upper class’s answer to Spike Lee (or Quentin Tarantino), Whit Stillman's debut was an amusing study of 1980s New York preppiedom. Remember he did "The Death of Disco," with Chloe Sevigny too? Hint: Stillman's limousine liberal, guys, not a prep school douchebag. Could a hedge fund manager pen dialogue as snappy as that?
4. Forrest Gump. (1994): Tom Hanks—and Mykelti Williamson—would shit. Forrest is named after Nathan Bedford Forrest. Cool for rednecks, I suppose. And Jenny died of AIDS. Served her right!
5. 300 (2007): This, I can believe. But watch out for the ol' homo warrior erotica, boys. LOL
6. Groundhog Day (1993): WTF? Bill Murray, like Tom Hanks, would shit.
7. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006): Will Smith, likewise, would shit. Possibly even Chris Gardner himself! LOL. Black man cheerfully suffers and lifts the world by his magic bootstraps. Now that's our kind of negro!
8. Juno (2007): Can you see Diablo Cody twisting her thong in knot over this one? I won’t call it a WTF moment because Juno decides not to have an abortion. But hey—she decides. Choice. Get it? LOL.
9. Blast from the Past (1999): They claim this comedy is the antidote to Revolutionary Road, thus showing that the 1950s were A-OK. Goofy Brendan Fraser emerges from his parents’ fallout shelter to find 1990s nightclubs. Whew.
10. Ghostbusters. (1984): I have nothing to say.
11. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. (2003): Peter Jackson (and Sir Ian McKellen, who can’t marry his partner of 15 years in Cali.) would shit, too. Maybe after drinking cough syrup and chasing it with meth & absinthe I could see Sauron as Saddam Hussein…snicker…Barack as Gollum. Lawd…
12. The Dark Knight/Batman (2008): WTF? About three million G4 watching fanboys are scratching their heads. Cautionary tale on drug use and bohemian gentrified living, perhaps? (Heath). OK, Christian Bale could, given his insane rant, sub for Glenn Beck or that CNBC clown/ Joe the Plumber hero for disgraced mortgage brokers, Mr. Santelli. LOL
13. Braveheart (1995): Maybe it’s the Mel thing, because, like "300," it ain’t history.
14. A Simple Plan (1998): Um…I didn’t know these loons liked indie flicks other than Kirk Cameron/Left Behind/"Christian" stuff ?
15. Red Dawn (1984): Commies (Russkies, Cubans, Sandanistas) invade Patrick Swayze (tehehe…but ok, he’s sick so I’ll stop laughing) and Charlie Sheen’s (hohoho)’s hood. Teenagers become high school Viet Cong. I loved this movie. Where’s C. Thomas Howell these days? LOL
16. Master and Commander (2003): The Royal Navy, ca. 1801, based on the O’Brian’ novels. Inspiration for War of 1812 battle scenes in my own upcoming novel Yella Patsy’s Boys. It was great. But what was so rightwing about Russell Crowe in a fucking chapeau-bras and oh so tight breeches? And didn’t Paul Bettany’s character presage Charles Darwin? Big no-no…
17. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (2005): C.S. would not have loved Rev. John Hagee, and my liberal Episcopal priest and her hubby, the Associate Rector, said it was "delightful." So the Lion is Jesus. Last I heard, Jesus loves all of us.
18. The Edge. (1997): This was going to get a WTF, but, OK, David Mamet’s become a wingnut. Is that any reason to embrace this silly movie? (actually, Mamet’s not so much a conservative as he is a misanthrope, per his close friends who surmise he may have even snuck a vote for Obama). Anyway, Bart the Bear reprises his “Legends of the Fall” role as mankiller; Anthony Hopkins is a billionaire, if that counts as right wing but he seems pretty erudite. Alec Baldwin is a lefty scum, I thought? He says the word “Charles” about 300 times, making him akin to the drumbeat nonsense of a Rush or Hannity—perhaps that’s the hook? And a whiny, dreadlocked over educated negro gets eaten. Sounds good.
19. We Were Soldiers (2002): Vietnam flick. Mel again. OK, this is a memoir piece recalling the battle of Ia Drang in 1965. Stand-up North Vietnamese Army, not sneaky Cong irregulars as the foe. I loved this flick, too. Frankly it was “The Green Berets” sans John Wayne’s Disneyesque bullshit. It was like any WWTwo flick. Gimme some R. Lee Ermey in “Full Metal Jacket,” though….
20. Gattaca. (1997): WTF? Gore Vidal plays a creepy bureaucrat. Other than that, Lawd!
21. Heartbreak Ridge (1986): Clint Eastwood at his best. Another WWTwo-type flick. But the black dude—Sweet, Sweetback’s baby boy—steals the film.
22. Brazil (1985): Terry Gilliam (the artist responsible for the weird graphics in Monty Python’s Flying Circus) directed, and he’d shit, too. He did "12 Monkeys" after all. I thought this was a rage against the corporate-controlled state? My bad.
23. United 93. (2006): Wonderful metaphor for the insouciance underpinning much of this derangement. OK, so why ain't it No. 1? It's 9/11, right? Muslim/Arab demons doing their most demonic deeds, right? Only an asshole would claim this film as a province of the right. This is about ordinary people thrust into the most extraordinary crucible. It’s about all of us, and Greengrass wanted it to have the documentary feel because any mawkish music score or big names or melodrama would destroy the simple valor. Shame on these creatures for saying it doesn’t belong to us all. Us all--Americans, remember?
24. Team America World Police (2004): Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, creators of those iconic marionette shows The Thunderbirds and Stingray, Captain Scarlet actually liked this satire and weren’t fans of Tony Blair’s alliance with W. Couple with that the absurdity (see above) of Trey Parker and Matt Stone—the demon geniuses of South Park—as wingnut heroes and yeah, yet another WTF? moment is born. Parker and Stone go after Sean Penn et al. sure. Who wouldn’t?
25. Gran Torino (2008): Clint Eastwood directed “Bird,” made the evil Japs look human in “Letters from Iwo Jima” and forever destroyed the rightie John Ford/John Wayne mythic Western in “The Unforgiven” (now we know how people defecated, screwed/got VD, spoke and had gun control for real in the 1880s). Yet for some reason these assholes think having him in a film makes it a must-see for their ilk? I ask you this: did they actually see this movie, or just the bait-and-switch trailer?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nat Turner's Annual Academy Awards predictions

Oscar time. Here're my picks: (1) who will win, (2) who should win:

Best Actor:

Richard Jenkins
Frank Langella
Sean Penn
Brad Pitt
Mickey Rourke

Who will win: Sean Penn. Need you ask why? Who should win: Richard Jenkins (dead dad from Six Feet Under, The Visitor is GOOD!) ...or my man Mickey Rourke. The Wrestler's like an animated Springsteen song...

Best Supporting Actor:

Josh Brolin
Robert Downey Jr.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Heath Ledger
Michael Shannon

Who will win: Heath Ledger, because the Academy is full of shit. The Joker is an iconic character, but damn. Who should win: Michael Shannon. The supporting winner should always be the best quick hit powerful performance. This is it, folks. His character--a manic depressive prof on screen for maybe ten minutes--steals the flick and is the only character with sense.

Best Actress:

Anne Hathaway
Angelina Jolie
Melissa Leo
Meryl Streep
Kate Winslet

Who will win: Meryl Streep. The role was amazing, but Cherry Jones did it better on Broadway and the Academy is ill. They just see the name and vote yes. Who should win: Melissa Leo or AnnE Hathaway. Too bad AnnE's only recognized by dumb red state chicks for them silly-ass romantic comedies. Why fuck was Angelina even considered?

Best Supporting Actress:

Amy Adams
Penélope Cruz
Viola Davis
Taraji P. Henson
Marisa Tomei

Who will win: Viola Davis. In the age of Obama, she's the dark face they'll annoint. Who should win: Viola Davis. In the age of Obama, because she's the best. No conspiracy theory "She and Taraji will cancel each other out." Unh unh. Sorry--Taraji just AIN'T that good, and Ebony/Jet readers don't vote in the Academy...

Best Animated:


Who will win: Wall-E. Who should win: Wall-E. Same notion as above!

Best Director:

FROST/NIXON (Ron Howard)
MILK (Gus Van Sant)

Who will win: Danny Boyle, as Slumdog is a magical everything to limo liberal Hollywood and Danny captured this. Who should win: Ron Howard. Masterful realism, for once.

Best Documentary:


Who will win: Encounters at the End of the World. It's Green. Who should win: Trouble in the Water. Even in this era of change, the same limo liberals who love Slumdog don't want to hear anymore about Katrina. Especially the ugly man oppressing man stuff, not man vs. nature.

Foreign Film:


Who will win: Waltz with Bashir. Who should win: Waltz with Bashir. We never tire of Middle Eastern crap--including this one from Israel. Lord...

Musical Score:


Who will win: Slumdog Millionaire. But Defiance is a Holocaust flick and you know they gotta toss that in there. Who should win: Benjamin Button. Stirring stuff.

Best song:

"Down to Earth"
"Jai Ho"
"O Saya"

Jesus...this category always sucks. Any Slumdog song will win. It's Bollywood representin'. Bring back the 3-6 mafia...or "Shaft" from 1971...

Best Picture:


Who will win: Slumdog. That's right, it's "magical" (unless you really are a Muslim in the slums of Mumbai). Gay Hollywood will get their bone through Sean Penn. Who should win: Frost/Nixon (it has it all--performances, composition, writing) or The Reader.


Best Writing (adapted screenplay):


Who will win: Doubt's writers. Who should win: Lord you can't go wrong if the original play was amazing, so isn't it a tad counter-intuitive to "award" someone for tweaking perfection? I go with Frost/Nixon.

Best original screenplay:


Who will win: Milk's writers. Again, need you ask why? It's Malcolm X for Gays. Who should win: Frozen River. Who should have been m-fing nominated: The Wrestler.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nigger = Ape, Ape = Nigger

Never mind that apes have thin lips--the simian = negro syllogism is time tested, effective...hell here's some trivia for you: by way of advertising and prototypical public service announcements (PSA) the imagery got the federal government to outlaw cocaine in the early 20th century. Nuff said. Recall the posters of Barack all through Red State world (no, not the ones portraying him as a buck toothed, dark skinned Bin Laden... I mean the monkey ones from the Palin rallies). Such is element one of this Perfect Storm of Assholishness...

Now, we all know the bend of the New York Post. For example, Mayor Mikey Bloomberg is considered a traitor to, I dunno, some form of the publisher's neocon Judiasm (which has now been discredited). Nevertheless a media outlet having an extreme, nasty or even stupid point of view isn't a crime. It's stirs discourse. That's also element two of the Perfect Storm. Hold that thought for a sec and dig this...

...I write articles, books, essays. But did you know I was a cartoonist? Far back in time to the modern age, from my high school newspaper the McDonogh Week, to the Princetonian and Nassau Herald to the Source and even Smithsonian (talk about a range!). Haven't done it in a long time, yet still I'm familiar with the cartoonist here. He's good. I also know what it means to push the damn envelope of taste. Yeah, yeah, I also know what it means to push it into full tilt asshole-realm. OK so the folks at the Post don't like the Stimulus. I don't recall such vitriol presented against the TARP or bonuses at AIG, etc., but hey. Fine. Forget that the same wingnuts in the GOP whom the Post supports now want the stimulus cash. A newspaper can be a forum for hypocrites, too. No crime either. No "intelligent design ," however. Oh, it's merely Darwinian evolution: from the dinosaur of Hearst's meglomanical yellow journalism to thebirds of the NY Post, Roger Ailes, Bill Kristol. Again, fine. But let's start connecting all this up...

...and back to the Perfect Storm we come. Here's element three: the ape stereotype, as if primates are silly, stupid, therefore the Stimulus and it's sponsor and fellow travelers are the same. You know, the Shakespeare-typewriter thing. Real digression alert here: you don't have to be a National Geographic or Discovery Channel addict to know that (1) we are pimates and (2) we humans are likely the most silly, venial, deceptive, violent of all them (them being gorillas, gibbons [who mate for life and are monogamous], oranguatans and chimps). Oh and (3), apes are pretty smart.

Which brings me to element four. The gravamen (or angle) of this cartoon derives from a chimpanzee in Connecticut who tore up a woman. The police had to shoot it as it made off with the lady's scalp. Now, is this funny? Snicker worthy on any level? Depends. Yeah, I said it. Of course it is if you're stupid and you subscribe to ape stereotype above. Ever see an adult chimp in the wild? Not Disney small and cute. Mugging for cameras, clapping. A full grown male silverback gorilla's pretty damn scary, but if he can't bluff you he might crack your skull and run. A chimp, well, it will rip you to shreds. Maybe even share your liver with another in it's troop. Maybe even murder another chimp. Of all the primates they are like us when it comes to killing or lacking empathy. When I was ten my family visited this ramshackle place called the Catoctin Mountain Zoo (not far from Camp David, Maryland--whoa, there's a nice presidential tie-in) the day a chimp--a grown female--tore off another little boy's arm. And here's some further White House convergence. The animal escaped and had to be shot by guards at Camp David once it wandered near the border of the compound. I saw the kid's blood. My mother shooed away my sister and my brother was a toddler, but I was old enough to understand what had happened. Yet I didn't know people had so much blood inside their bodies. All I'd seen was ooze from scrapes gotten in bicycle mishaps, or a cut finger or classmate's nose bleed. And here was a boy close to my age. The shrieking cut right to my stomach. His mom's shrieking, not his. He was comatose. Nope, not funny at the time, or now. Not funny to the woman's family in Connecticut, I suspect.

So, returning to element two, did anyone at the Post act as sounding board, or offer "come on, this is a little too crazy" word of wisdom? Unlikely. Indeed, I posit they in true "te he he he" wingnut form, everything this encompassed, all the elements of the storm. They didn't care,--not that they didn't know or anticipate "oversensitivity." They plain didn't care. Lord given my history, no one can accuse me of being oversensitive. The cartoonist? That's a tough call. He draws to create debate, arguments. Sometimes you get sucked into that and don't see the forest from the trees. Trees laden not with furry apes, but editors, howling and screeching and beating their chests for you to come up with something to feed the provocation machine.

Al Sharpton commented on this, and appeared on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Interesting the nature of outlets in this duel: the Post verses urban (or bamma, 'cause I love to wax elitist) radio. This is a discourse which needs airing on a broader level, however. Unh-unh. It's not as silly as a barrell of apes. It belies something ugly, long-standing. It's just donned a new mask and other people refuse to see what's behind it despite the storm gale blowing it off . People will not learn. Smart people. But then again, we're just primates, right? Naked apes. Everyone, not just niggers...

Monday, February 16, 2009

HBO & Jill Scott: Why Not Black Books?

Bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith has finally been feted by HBO with a 13 episode adaptation of his delightful The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Set in Botswana, this series of stories is about as close as I come to that dreaded subgenre in suspense/mystery/detective fiction--the "cozy."
The dynamic and diverse cast for the television pilot includes Grammy Award-winning singer Jill Scott as series heroine Precious Ramotswe, who has become one of the most beloved characters in international contemporary fiction. Anika Noni Rose ('Dreamgirls', Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) stars as Precious' quirky secretary Mma Makutsi, and Lucian Msamati stars as Mma Ramotswe's devoted suitor JLB Matekoni. They are joined by David Oyelowo ('The Last King of Scotland'; HBO's 'Five Days' and 'As You Like It'), Idris Elba ('28 Weeks Later,' HBO's 'The Wire'), Colin Salmon ('Die Another Day,' 'Match Point') and Tony Award winner John Kani ('Final Solution,' 'The Ghost and the Darkness').
Idris, Anika...Jill? Oh yeah. HBO's been lame lately but this helps.
Now I must ask...why again are our authors--including yours truly--herded like Jews in a stockcar headed for Treblinka in 1944. Yep, I used that metaphor and kiss my ass if you don't like it. We are tattooed with softcore porn, "ghetto lit," cheezy romance/Tyler Perry clone/church lady fiction. It takes a white foreigner to get a deal on HBO. Indeed, it took the Casanegra series with Blair Underwood for Tananarive Due and Steve Barnes to receive the fame (2009 NAACP Image Award) they so richly deserved for their more literary works. LA Banks' sagas and new mythology should be on HBO rather than the redneck-vampire farce True Blood. Zane got the choice deal on Cinemax but again, as well produced as these episodes are, they're still sex romps. Yes, we've allowed ourselves to be shoved to the death camp. Eric Jerome Dickey, E. Lynn Harris--they're just soderkommandos: priviledged yet still prisoners...the ones who're the last in the gas chambers. Time to break out...
It's good to see Jill Scott and Anika get this notorietyplay. I'm ready. Hopefully HBO and other outlets will ready for better stuff from the rest of us. We got the names, talent to give up stuff other than ghetto crap and Madea. If Mr. McCall were black and writing in America, I bet he wouldn't have even gotten an agent. Sorry. But you know I'm right.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A.I.G., Merrill, Bank of America--GIVE BACK THE DOUGH!

Check out this piece in the new Vanity Fair (the Barack-Hollywood issue) on the bonuses these scumbags paid to themselves, to their upper level underlings, with your money. Mix it with the Obama Derangement Syndrome on Talk Radio, Fox and within the GOP--wherein now, the wingnut Congressmen and silly Senators are demanding their districts get the same stimulus cash they claimed was going to wreck the nation...and now you why normal folk are getting sick of Republican Party and turning into socialists! Enjoy the article. Or despair...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy 200th Birthday, Charles Darwin

Chuck, you didn't set out to destroy Jesus or turn us from God, blah blah. Biochemists, geneticists, geologists, botanists, paleonologists, molecular chemists, heck even astronomers and physicists know you got it, and have fleshed out what you've told us to the point that it indeed tells the story of our flesh. But even you knew it didn't tell us of our spirits. That's a matter of personal faith. Not politics. Not schooling. Personal faith. Of course personal faith seems always be eclipsed by ignorance, stupidity, superstition, dogma. Or misappropriated by clowns in the right wing media, in politics, who misuse your name. I won't let my own folk off the hook. Braying pastors, warbling church ladies--did I say ignorant? Yes, I did.

Isn't it interesting how the people who want you banned even after all this supposed "evolution" of our intellect and understanding of the universe in the past two centuries--or put forth the new bullshit called "Intelligent Design" (which was invented out of thin air, people, recently)--are radical Islamic mullahs, and our own Christian wingnuts. Ironic indeed...
So happy birthday Chuck. Your brain was God-given. And there's nothing contradictory about that statement.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Black History Month Treats: Art & Books?

Stay tuned for upcoming reviews and commentary, fanboys & girls!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

For the Love of Ray-J, For the Love of God...

I know you all have poo-pooed my calls for the President to use the "bully pulpit" to decry the turdification of our culture (JFK, HSTruman, TRoosevelt all did with stunning success in transforming the American psyche; and yeah, culture has more influence on politics than policy in America folks). Here's the latest offense: VH-1 (yeah the execs and producers need to go to Gitmo) and For the Love of Ray-J. And who is Ray-J? Brandy's talentless retard of a brother, famous only because he hid his braunsweiger in the bubble butt of Kim Khardashian in a sex tape. Nothing more need be said. This makes I Love New York look like Hill Street Blues and the seminal Flavor of Love like M*A*S*H (TV show AND film). And isn't this long-minted racism: promoting a young black man purely on his hypersexuality, misguided ego and big wang? Ooops...that's right it's 2009, not 1909.
Barack, one frown from you and producers (usually geeky white Jewish dudes) and network execs (ditto)--and we the viewers--will be shamed. Okay we'll line up for the usual slop from Tyler Perry or Kevin James (Paul Blart mall Cop), but it'll be for treat, not unabashedly, to the exclusion of anything remotely intelligent. We've had 8 years of exalting stupidity in the White House, and 8 years of self-indulgent bull before that. Save us, Barack, from Ray-J...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Joy Bryant: Stimulus in your Package

I thought America was an Empire--per Dick Cheney. And hasn't every empire ever on this planet create jobs, opportunities, memories through massive building, bold infrastructure expansion and rehab, the germination and flower of culture, art? So Keynes and Cheney shouldn't be too far apart, eh? My, my...all this nastiness and yet they blithely gave away billions to Wall Street, to bankers. I'm glad the one thing we do well here, without rescue or bailout, is seed and grow hotties.
So here is actress Joy Bryant, native of the Bronx, Yalie, most likely to play Michelle Obama in a flick...her range is from Antwone Fisher with Oscar nominated Viola Davis, to Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins. Well, Joy loves to surf. Self-taught, even (and frequents the beaches of Chile, rather than Jones on L.I.).
Have Mercy... here not only to reassure you that the good guys will win, but that warmth...spring...renewal...summer--is around the corner. Fellas, enjoy. Ladies, (and Mrs. Nat) don't hate. We love you. We just need a little whimsy to get motivated sometime. Here's to the winter of our discontent turning glorious summer. You'll see...
Happy Friday.

Bravo for Nat's Bruh!

One of these is Nat Turner's young brother...I think it's the one on the left...

(If the press release is accurate) he's just been named CEO of the Medstar System's crown jewel, Union Memorial Hospital in "The Wire"town (Union's under the same umbrella as Medstar-WHC and Georgetown U Hospital in DC). Here's a CEO who's of the new paradigm: not a smug white male, not paying himself bonuses whilst the public suffers, not whining about Barack. And whoa--he still gets things done, still provides platinum service. Image that, Rush?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Etta versus Beyonce: the Broader Context

I posited this on JackandPolitics (click in the sidebar blogroll; I think Rikyrah started the evening's thread) regarding Etta James' unhappy licks on Beyonce singing her song to the First Couple. It likely goes back to the flick Cadillac Records. For details check Bossip and The Black Snob, also on the blogroll. Apparently Jennifer Holiday was supposed to deliver the song, and it would have been an instant classic rather than the gimmicky/typical marketing event it was (though a patina of hype...yes down deep it was magical, visceral for all including Mrs Jay-Z; it was history). Still...I side with Etta and there's some allegory here:

I think the American public has been infantilized beyond repair. However,
like children, if they have little choice, they'll eat what you give them. If
the quality can be turned up even just a notch (w/Barack at the bully
pulpit--and don't poo poo that, b/c due who invented the bully pulpit, Teddy
Roosevelt,along with JFK for three years, actually did influence public tastes
for the better) it wll happen. As for Etta I think there's definitely a
disconnect which lends back to this infantile, manufactured/overpoduced/hype
marketing machine that's permeated our culture. Etta should have sung it in the
first place, but the producers of the ball wanted to appeal to the infantile
element. If that means Nick Cannon and Beyonce then that's the deal. I
understand that in this era of music moguls and lame creativity. But that
doesn't really do much to laud our classics and our pioneers. Etta's been
rediscovered as a marketing gimmick, which bugs me.

Look at Faye Dunaway commenting on Hillary Duff being cast in her classic
role in the iconic Bonnie & Clyde. So who plays Clyde--dude from The O.C. or
Gossip Girl? What's next--Lil Wayne (because of his marketing pull with the
young folks) playing Nat Turner? ;-) Back to the silly shit, that's cool. But as
I've said in the past, that stuff, from madea to dumbass Kevin james or sandler,
should be the treat, the dessert, not dinner. We have the script flipped.
Serious engaging stuff as the exception, brain candy as the norm. Frankly isn't
that what Barack said had to end on a political policy level if we're going to
survive this mess? Maybe stimulus $ should go to cultural rehab/repair, as they do in

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Black History Month Kaput?/Tour of Echoes Encore

Check out Michael Ross's piece in The End of Black History Month. Is BHM now obviated? An unnecessary abstraction? An ad gimmick? (you know my opinion of Kwanzaa on that count).

And speaking of, certain influential fanboys and girls have asked me to repost my Inauguration piece Tour of Echoes, narrated by Henry Louis Gates. It got a million hits when put on; it's on here. (Can't embed it yet folks). Remember, the "transcript" is the actual article, with reference hyperlinks. Be nice if some of these bitter wingnuts would take a look, get some education.

So...Black History kaput? Nah. 'Cause black history is American History. No us, no America (on so many levels). Ironic, eh?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Killefer, Gaithner and other tax "hiccups"

I don't include Daschle here because his colleagues on both sides of the aisle pull this shit all the time and he doesn't fit my thesis. Hahaha. Now, how Hillary slides through without a ripple should be testament that this stuff is all political bull (of course it has no bearing on the job...indeed, the reason this stuff surfaces aside from a slow news day is that the opposition FEARS the person will do their job too well...hence Hillary and yes Gaithner skate, others don't? Hmmm. ...what fate will befall the Labor Secretary?)
I think I have a solution to the tempest in the toilet bowl. I think Democrats should act like Republicans. Hear me out. The biggest problems seems to stem from noblesse oblige left leaning or moderate power couples and dual track intellectuals hiring folk to clean their houses and watch their kids. The Killefers (click here of NPR update) are a great metaphor. Had they been Republicans, the deal would have been to have frightened illegal immigrants do the work. Referred or provided by the some shadowy friend of the friend. Somebody who used to be in the military or big business, preferably. Democrats often don't have that sector pedigree; yes more than you'd think come rom big BIG business, but the unifying factor appears to be a sociological thread: they want the slave labor yet conduct the relationship scientifically, as if a consulting project, and with "fairness," as if they are truly in an enlightened employer-employee/mentee tip.
Republicans don't do this. They pay under the table. Way under. You are the nanny and housekeeper and you'll be dumped if you slack or open your mouth. Or, somebody got the money from from ill-gotten, illegit gains to pay a legit cleaning/nanny/chaffeur service. Or the defense contractors or petroleum tools for whom one lobbies take care of it. With a wink. And there're cadres of folk covering for one another in these circles. Hell, Democrats whine and jabber and get the hateration on when someone finds the perfect au pair. Then somebody leaks it to the media and boom--Barack's got another superstar derailed. But during both Bush Sr and W's tenure, oh it was a tight ship. I've seen it here first hand, folks, among the people who profess to be allies of salt of the earth Joe the Plumper types. I've even helped cover it. {Look for me to be assassinatedsoon, fanboys and girls...}
Anyhow, you could move grandma or auntie so and so in to take care of this (now of course this is a long standing African American and Afro-Caribbean rather than a Republican solution to child care and domestic engineering...see, e.g., the White House).
Or, best of all--women keep you asses home. This GOP methodology takes advantage of being June Cleaver or a redneck Army wife or Real Housewive of Orange Co. and keeps at least one member of the couple in the domestic mix, the other in some nominal control. Of course the flip side is that you're found out anyway, or you have freak outs or other behavior that cannot be kept quiet despite the full effort of the whole West Wing, the VP and the Gonzalez DOJ...oops, I did it again. think "Betty Draper" on Mad Men, or Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road as fiction examples.
Of course, there's an alternative. Simpler, non partisan. Handle your business! Then the opposition's only course is to confront you for the real reasons they fear. Novel idea, eh?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Ghetto Gynocologist

Good for some yucks on Groundhog Day. Recognize Ron Livingston (Office Space), Mike Epps (who always plays ghettofab clowns) and Lindsay Sloane (Bring it On). Ice Cube produced the short.

Kurt Warner-Geriatric Superstar despite loss

Yeah, a middle age man almost did it. Hooray for all graydicks! I mean, did anyone really mention Polamalu yesterday doing anything heroic? Nope. Joe Flacco, take note on how to do it.