Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mad Men: Republicans yearn for the good ole days?

Sterling Cooper, Ltd throws a Kentucky Derby party and GOP fundraiser, ca. 1963. Some things never change. Happy Monday!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dominick Dunne RIP

Usually "journalists" become "writers." Dominick's course was the opposite. He'd written some decent bestselling mystery novels like The Two Mrs. Grenvilles.
But then his actress daughter (the teenager in the family in Poltergeist) died at the hands of her supposedly upstanding boyfriend, and that murder sent real life barreling into Dominick's chest. He became obsessed with the true crime genre; he covered some of the most gaudy, sensational investigations and trials in American legal history--without further sensationalizing them. Paradox? Nope. It's called skill. He became an uber-correspondant for Vanity Fair and My dream gigs. And he was the ultimate glam mole: showing us the ugly side of the celebrities we claim we don't worship.

I own a pair of glasses just like his. RIP Dominick. Hug your daughter, and ask Nicole Simpson if OJ really did it...

A word on Edward Kennedy. I wonder if his decades of public service, his statesmanship (to the point that even John McCain, Nancy Reagan, and George HW Bush refered to him as an "ally"), his balls--all was penance for Mary Jo Kopechne...or in spite of her?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kanye Envy

I don't usually do posts like this, but check out paparazzi photos of Amber Rose, consort to the artist you "love to hate to love," on vacation recently. Bald is beautiful. Note Kanye's hand gesture to all of us. You'd think he'd show a little more grace, eh? Like me. LOL
(compliments of

Friday, August 21, 2009


Every August 21st, we remember the real Nat. Don't believe the propanda. He wasn't insane. But he was touched.

"If you all didn't have it coming, it wouldn't have happened."

--translated from Latin, a rebel slave under Spartacus to one of Pompey Magnus's soldiers, 70 B.C.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The NAACP Hates Black People??

Per uber black blog Jack and Jill Politics, apparently so. "Hate" by omission, or protected incompetence. Or by being a feudal dinosaur (Sir Tricerotops, thane of the dry wash castle? LOL okay weird choice of words--but those in know understand exactly where Nat's coming from) after the Chicxulub asteroid's already hit... and still not giving the nimble little mammal survivors the reins? Check out the controversy, here. That's NAACP Boy Wonder Ben Jealous in the photo, at NAACP HQ in Baltimore. Where's Julian Bond?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Cul de Sac Syndrome: John Wasik's slap of reality

Here is the second end-of-summer recommended read from Nat. Please enjoy and cogitate on John Wasik's The Cul de Sac Syndrome: Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream. Buy it here.

John Wasik, financial columnist for Bloomberg News, is like "Moe" in the "Three Stooges." He's lined us all up, and I do mean all of us, and engaged in one looooooooong slap. But unlike Moe, he gives us options after "Curly" does his signature bark and whine.

Regard: "One of the primary causes of the housing bust was that homes cost too much to begin with, forcing Americans to take desparate measures--getting subprime loans, lying on loan applications--to secure financing. Everyone, from the southern Californian desparate for a tiny starter home to Wall Street billionaires, was complicit in the crisis."

But according to Wasik, there's a another more troubling layer under even that nasty loam: our fairytale notion of the American Dream. The Cul de Sac Syndrome. The fairy tale becomes nightmare: of sprawl, traffic, pollution, land use decision based on politics, sucking up natural resources, emotional (and intellectual) detachment, de facto race/class segregation, mindless NIMBY-ism. To Wasik, it's about ecology. That's not moonbat environmentalism; ecology means us as humans, too.

This is no screed. Wasik produces a scholarly, expository narrative supported by stats and quotes and non-partisan reasoning. Anyone who isn't a banker, urban planner, architect, environmental engineer, etc. can follow it; even if you disagree, you can nod your head and say "Ok, I see his point." That's all to rare these days (and that's not the fault of authors like Wasik).
The material and data is not dated--it may have been overtaken by other issues, or our own fear, but it's as apt in August 2009 as it was when it went to press this past Spring '09.

As Wasik warns, the future of the American Middle Class, and the planet, is entwined and at stake. Let's not get distracted, or drown ourselves in ignorance & jingoism, as a passive shield against that reality.

Farai Chideya's Kiss the Sky & John Wasik's The Cul de sac Syndrome: good bye summer!

Now comes the Autumn of our (or your) discontent, so get ready. Here are two Labor Day backyard/beach reads which shall help gird your loins...

First is reporter/columnist/commentator and former NPR host Farai Chideya's debut novel, Kiss the Sky. Buy it here. The plain vanilla: This is Farai's semi-(...quasi-?) autobiographical reflection on the music scene of the early 1990s. From the death of 80s pop to the transition pangs of Hip-Hop from Bronx party music to something meaner yet money-making. Sophie is Farai. Raised in Bo'mo'City...Bawlermer--Baltimore for you uninitiated. And Sophie's family is the embodiment of the prosaic clan limited not only by the hood but by their own myopia. There's nothing beyond Greenmount Avenue. Certainly not Harvard. Or the recording studios, clubs and label offices of LA and Manhattan, or Harlem's new black bohos, or London, or Tokyo, or Paris and a video channel that's BET and MTV combined (for better or worse circa 1995 or thereabouts). This world as alien to Sophie's genesis as Farai's NPR is to Glenn Beck. Sophie must navigate this void between the worlds, literally and figuratively. But that's not the whole story...

...that's the plain vanilla. Here's the flava: Yes, Sophie is metaphor for Farai. Yet the story is allegory for universal cultural truths we in or at the edges of her generation have lived. Beautiful and fulfilling on both counts; excruciating, exasperating on both counts. Being a journalist also means being a storyteller. Thus the story is grounded in Farai's experience--and not just memories, but lessons learned from other people, events. Kiss the Sky shows just how cosanguine real life and well-crafted fiction can be. It's all about how the outside affects our insides. We're Sophie, too.

This stuff is in the same genus, and perhaps same species, with Martha Southgate and Lise Funderberg. Or Eisa Ulen Richarson, Tina Mclroy Ansa, Arminatta Forna, Marita Golden. Or Cleage and Files, Tademy and McFadden. Not quite romance, or church-set aspirational drama. Not black chick lit (and you know I love to get the inside scoop on black chick lit!). It's nowhere near ghetto or ghetto-ish melodrama or BDUSSY romp. I'll go out on a limb and say these women and those in close or near orbit who I haven't named for lack of space, not respect are continuing a paradigm set a long time ago in both Western and non-Western prose and poetry. As for the former, I take you back to Dickinson, Austen, the Brontes. Boring English class crap? No. Frilly dead white chicks? No. Like Farai, these women wrote about the outsides affecting our insides. That's what makes it classic.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cartoon Speaks for itself

Take your pick as to the so-called "news" programming, the commercials, the "scripted" reality shows, dumb sitcoms, contrived "dramas," rewarmed reruns on ethnic cable stations, lack of quality anything...this cartoon bites. Literally.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Michael Vick is an Iggle

Tidewater bammas rejoice. Mike Vick's signed with the Eagles, per CNN. Now maybe those Philly scumbag fans will start cheering for Donovan McNabb...

Friday, August 07, 2009

RIP John Hughes

I suppose he was to white Chicago suburbanites what Spike Lee is to black Brooklyn, Woody Allen is to Manhattan and Barry Levinson is to the "Tribe" in B-more. I never cared for the Home Alone flicks. Ferris Bueller was stupid to me then and now. Nothing with the late John Candy was my cup of tea, either. But The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles were as iconic 80s as Reagan and pop-synth of Flock of Seagulls. "Long Duck Dong" is mourning you. RIP, son of Winnetka...

Thursday, August 06, 2009

From the Retort in the Obama Joker face...

My piece from the Retort (many thanks to the Washington Post for the link to the Kennicott article). Enjoy and friggin' learn something.
Tomorrow stay tuned for Farai Chideya review and other books...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell on White People

Wait, wasn't he in yesterday's contentious nappy hair post? Just kidding. OK, Sideshow Bob? Anyway, Outliers author and celebrity guest speaker (lol) Malcolm Gladwell has penned a very interesting piece here in The New Yorker titled "Atticus Finch and Limits of Southern Liberalism." Attitus of course is the "hero" of Nell Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. In his critical essay on Mockingbird, he also zeroes in on politician Big Jim Folsom. For many whitefolks, liberalism means some symbolic kindness. A little justice here and there in soap opera good vs. evil matters. Personal cordiality. Ok, plain symbolism. Check him out (including is intriguing study of George Orwell studying Dickens) and check back...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

NPR: Nappy Headed Hoes? This is all we need...

Michel Martin covered this on NPR's Tell Me More today. It wasn't the usual "Mocha Mom" session (my Georgetown colleague Asra Nomani was on one day--so I guess it was "curry" moms, too). One of the panelists was Teresa Wiltz at the Root . She was speaking some sense. Yet another mom noted that she put this out on Facebook and many women and quite a few men (fathers?) came back at her saying it was NBD. "My momma used to smack me in the head with the brush." Or, perhaps the little girl was rambunctiuous and needed to stop clowning? I know about rambunctiousness, trust...
How about this interpretation, if I may insert my bourgie, straight-haired sensibilities, thank you: this has smack to do with good hair/bad hair, cultural debates and sociological trope. It is nothing more than some coarse bamma who doesn't appear to have a clue about dealing with her kid on a meaningful level. She clearly doesn't know how to even comb it properly; note her technique, fanboys & girls. And then there's the fact that someone's operating the video camera. A sibling, doubtless made demented by momma.
I am in my forties. I have seen and heard everything. In my family, my wife's we have a RANGE of hair textures. I have never seen anything like this, even in personal folklore. What comes close are crazy episodes observed, remembered or told of. Yet in such moments of hair drama, the mother either stops, chills the child out, or moves to a different technique. Of course, I'm talking about non-bamma women and girls here. Not necessary upper or middle class...but women with class. And that, people, is key is here. Not hair.