Friday, July 13, 2007

The End of the Week

Let's end with some Naughty by Nature. OPP is the tune. I'm out. Peace bitches.

Celebrity Intellectualism

There has been an ongoing trend amongst the Hollywood Glitterati to start reading. While I applaud them in their efforts to actually be something other than coke-addled party machines, I have to ask them fundamental questions about the nature of their reading.

I'll deal with the one I actually don't want to talk about first. This one is Heidi Montag. If you are asking who she is, I was with you until TMZ started covering her incessantly, as she got new boobs and wanted everyone to pretend like they gave a shit. She was photographed in LAX with a copy of The Art of War, the classic military treatise by Sun Tzu. Seeing as she is a Hollywood celebrity who is most likely not going to be leading a rebellion or fighting the advances of an imperalist force, I fail to see what the usefulness of her reading this book actually is. She's not a political science major. She is not planning to fight a series of battles with her militia. If she needs tips on how to be a better businesswoman, she should read How to Win Friends and Influence People, a book for this very purpose. Plus, look at the photo in the link. Who holds a book like that?! If I held a book like that, it would fall out of my hand. This chick is clearly trying to say that she is more substance than The Hills would let on. If this is the case, she should talk like it instead of posing. I can't say anymore than this because that would then assume that I would care about this girl, and I really don't.

While Heidi is posing with her book, Lindsay Lohan is namechecking the bible of realpolitik: Machiavelli's The Prince. Lohan claims this book has influenced her immensely in her own life post-rehab. If you are unaware, The Prince's primary objective is to use all means available to you to keep power and dominate your competition. This does include the abandonment of all moral, ethical, and ideological considerations. The concept of realpolitik, as this idea has come to be known in modern times, is not the best one for a recovering alcoholic and cokehead to adopt, especially in the post-rehab stage. Even if it is a satire, I'm not sure that La Lohan's smart enough to pick up on these undercurrents.

If you are wondering what my overall point is, I'm happy to tell you. My point is that these celebutantes, if you want to use the word for Montag, are doing a really bad job of being literate. They are reading overly technical books on subjects that aren't particularly relevant to their situations in life. Additionally, the two celebutantes are read the wrong books for their possibly intended goals of ruling the world. All they need to do is read The Greatness Guide and Montag and Lohan could then rule the world.

Geniuses of Today

The Scotsman has an article up about a Dutch man who decided to build a Viking Ship. The ship is 50 feet long. While this sounds unimpressive at its core, here is what makes it amazing: the ship is built out of ice cream sticks. This is amazing.

The builder wants to sail it across the Atlantic. I hope that he does because this is really the work of a genius. Way better than the guy who floated to Idaho in a lawnchair.

Only In D.C.

This isn't a typical only in D.C. story as it doesn't involve Crack, PCP, or Marion Barry. But, this is another good example of the type of crazy shit that happens in the shadow of the White House and United States Capitol that no one else in the country really experiences. From The Guardian:

After what seemed an eternity, another guest offered the robber a sip of the bordeaux they were drinking. "He tasted the wine, and said: 'Damn, that's really good wine.' And it really was," Mr Rabdau said. The guests offered him a glass, and then the entire bottle. The would-be robber helped then himself to a piece of camembert.

He put the gun away, and told the guests: "I think I must have come to the wrong house," and told them he was sorry. He asked for a hug, and each of the guests gave him a squeeze.

The robber then asked for a group hug, and the party guests formed a circle to embrace him. The robber then poured himself a full glass of wine and let himself out.

In any other city, this would have ended up with a gun battle because of concealed gun laws. In D.C., this ended up in peace. Michael Scott was right: everything can be hugged out.


If you need to understand why David Beckham is going to be the biggest thing since sliced bread, or at least is supposed to be, I refer you to this hilarious post from The Guardian that reminds us that Beckham's not really that great of a player. It's also like a conversation. Delightful!

A Phone Call Will Suffice

People don't like their jobs. There's nothing new about this. I don't know how they live with themselves, but hey, they feel like it has to be that way and I'm not going to get in their way. The following story displays a guy who really doesn't like his job. From The Daily Telegraph:

A Japanese navy officer who was found tied and gagged on the side of a road admitted he faked the assault to avoid going to work, police said today.

The 22-year-old was found on Tuesday with his mouth gagged and hands tied in the bushes off a road in Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo, police said.

He initially said he was assaulted and kidnapped by a robber.

But questioned further by police, who found his story suspicious, he admitted to have made it up, a spokesman said.

The man apparently thought that if he feigned being the victim of a robbery, he could avoid work, where he was having trouble with coworkers. "He said he was getting tired of work as he was caught between his superiors and subordinates,'' the police spokesman said.

I guess things really are different in Japan.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Big Up

For the last few months, I've been reading a blog called Mutant Sounds. This blog revolves around presenting a lot of obscure prog, free jazz, experimental, post-punk, electronic, musique concrete, and noise records. It is a fan favorite of WFMU and a really cool place to find out about stuff you would not know about otherwise.

From what I can glean, the site's idea is based around the idea of the original Nurse With Wound list. Released with their first album Chance Meeting on the Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella from 1979, Steve Stapleton and Co. released a list of artists that they listened to and influenced them. The list is about 300 artists long. For years, music explorers have been trying to listen to every artist on the list. The problem is that most of the artists listed are obscenely obscure. Only the hardest of the core have found all of these records. The internet has changed this by making the obscurer records more obtainable, and now people can hear more of the artists from this list.

Mutant Sounds is one site to help in this effort. They are also working from the new NWW list which was created by Mutant Sounds contributor Vas Deferens Organization. VDO released this new list with their 1996 album Sweat Your Cheeses, But Not In My Salad.

If you haven't figured this out yet, Mutant Sounds is not for the passive wanderer. Those fed a diet of top 40 jams with no real urge for experimentation will be out of their element. If you are musically adventurous, I heavily advise you to give the site a visit as it is totally awesome and I've found some of really rad stuff there.

In commemoration of them and the list that started this whole project, I am leaving tonight with a video from the originator of this whole subculture: Nurse With Wound. This is a video for I've Plummed This Whole Neighborhood. This is what I would want the soundtrack of a horror film to be.

Now, if you were into that, you are ready to go to Mutant Sounds. If not, do not pass go. Seriously. You'll be greatly disappointed and possibly freaked out.

A Problem That Was Once Unseen

Iraq is a nightmare, but both sides are convinced in their views on this war. Unfortunately, both sides are wrong. Bush cannot continue this war any longer. It is clearly failed. But, the Democrats' new House bill, which passed this evening, is just as bad. The bill, if passed, would have almost all troops out of the country by April 2008.

Just to be sure, this bill won't pass by the president who will veto this. But the strategy is what I'm concerned about here. The strategy of the Democrats is flawed. Bush has created a quagmire, and the country will fall into disrepair. All of this said, pulling all of the troops out in 4 months is the worst idea possible for this. The withdrawal from Iraq should take at least a year. The reason being that there will still be help for the Iraqi troops as the US ones leave, and it will help to minimize the effects of our withdrawal. And, America, with a phased withdrawal, will also give us the ability to depart the country fully instead of having a continued, indefinite presence. Also, I don't know if they remember that this is a country that doesn't have a functioning government. Withdrawing in 120 days would destroy Iraq politically, socially, and internally.

So, while I applaud the Democrats for actually trying to take some initiative, I have to castigate them for playing such blatant, reckless politics with the lives of Iraqi citizens. Maybe they should work on making sure that Bush doesn't get the right to attack Iran like he wants to (and I've been telling you he will) for now.

Night Programming

Before I watched Argentina dismantle Mexico in Copa America last night, I watched The Pursuit of Excellence: Synchronized Swimming. From what I've read about it on the Internet, it is a documentary made by Australian Mark Lewis. Before you go off scoffing and say that a documentary about synchronized swimming would be boring, you are absolutely wrong.

From the initial introduction, Synchronized Swimming was a compelling look at a often overlooked sport. It taught me a lot about this sport and the people that get involved in it. The film's cinematography was compelling and featured a lot of slow motion. Synchronized Swimming reminded me of another documentary that I really liked: Paperboys. It was the exploration of a subculture of America that isn't frequently considered. It was also shot in the same sort of dispassionate, visually lush manner.

If you are looking for a couple of movies to watch, these are two that I highly recommend. And, yes, I have run out of things to actually post on.

I Eat Lunch At Three In The Afternoon

While I do this, I want you to think about this piece from MSN's dating site. According to this (I like pizza either with meat and pineapple, meat and veggies, veggies, or pineapple and onions), I'm agressive and conflict-averse at the same time as well as a procrastinator. Does this really work? I don't think so. How does this work for you?

I guess my inability to stick with one flavor probably also says something about me. About this: the waitress I have every week at the bar always tries to guess my beer (she guesses Blue Moon or Black & Tan), but it's never the same. I think this is just me, but I can't imagine why someone would want to order the same thing every time they went to a bar. That would get so repetitive. Anyway, I'm out for lunch.

For The Brain Dead


Man Up

If you have heard this phrase and wonder what it meant, this is a good time to understand. From Sports Illustrated:

The Brazilian fencer accidentally stabbed by his brother in a practice session for the Pan American Games was dropped from the competition on Wednesday.

Ivan Schwantes, who underwent surgery to drain blood and air from his lung after his brother's epee snapped near his right underarm on Monday, will remain hospitalized for at least another 72 hours, the Brazilian Olympic Committee said in a statement.

This dude is a fencer. This is an occupational hazard; he should have expected this to happen at some point in time. He can still compete, but he decided to drop out instead. The time line for his recovery is short. He would be out of the hospital by Thursday with plenty of time to compete. So, to him, I say he needs to man up. I still would have competed if I could have, but then again I'm all about the epic.

Priorities Out of Order

Amtrak has decided to class itself up by synergising with GrandLuxe Rail Journeys. While this isn't a fundamentally bad idea, it misses a fairly large problem with Amtrak, something that most people on the East Coast can speak to: the system sucks!

Amtrak does not cover enough of the country. It's slow. And, to add on to everything else, it is perpetually late. I've taken two trips on Amtrak. I didn't fail to show up to my destination at least three hours late both times. The first time, I was supposed to arrive in the daylight. It was pitch black out. The second time, it didn't really matter so much as I had been to Boston before.

So, Amtrak, before you start classing it up, how about getting the basics right with trains that run on time and are also competitively priced against flying and taking the bus. Once you do these two things, maybe I'll contemplate taking a train to San Fran in a luxury car, which does sound pretty sweet.

In A Piece of Duh News...

This winner in Vancouver committed two cardinal sins for what you do in a thunderstorm. The first thing was he stood under a tree. The first thing that anyone tells you to do in a thunderstorm is not stand under a tree. The second thing that he did was that he left his iPod on while he waited under the tree. As everyone who has an old family member, the first thing you learn is that you should not use electronics during storms because a lightning strike can send a surge and harm you and your technology. You probably laughed them off and called them senile, but they are right. I learned this first hand as a VCR in my house got fried during a thunderstorm. I've also been redeemed by Mythbusters on this front. And when those guys do it up and prove it, you know it has to be true.

Appropriately enough given that he did everything wrong in this situation, this dumbass was struck by lightning. And yes, I am calling him a dumbass. He should have known better than to listen to an electronic device during a storm. I'm an iPod listener as well, but I turn it off when a storm starts. Primarily because it is uncomfortable. Secondarily out of the fear that something like this would happen to me one day. It's not that important I listen to that Chris Isaak song right now; I can wait a few minutes. Plus, I'm sure he already knew whatever song he was listening to.

Why Do We Have A Miss Anything?

If you haven't been watching televised news, the major news networks have been expending much energy in getting to the bottom of a faux controversy involving Amy Polumbo, more commonly known as Miss New Jersey. Hold off on the Jersey jokes for a moment, please.

Ms. Polumbo's trials have been steadfastly covered by the mainstream media because she is/was being blackmailed by an unknown person who was going to release photos that she had published on the social networking site Facebook. These photos show Polumbo showing herself in unflattering poses and a generally "un-ladylike" manner.

I personally have two problems with this story. The first is that I've seen these photos. I saw crazier things happen on a Wednesday in college. But, this might be because I went to a not-so-classy college. I digress. My point is that this kind of stuff happens at every college on the face of the planet, especially when the booze starts flowing. She's 22 and went to college. There is only a small section of people who didn't drink underage in college. It requires pure focus or a devotion to abstinence from alcohol to accomplish such a feat. And some of the non-drinkers used to be drinkers. So, I'm not really understanding why people are cracking down on her because of it. These issues of mine are really just smaller details to my larger second point: why should I care?

I don't mean that in the "this is not real news" way, although this is also true. I mean this in the why should I care about Miss New Jersey and Miss America, two outmoded forms of female expression? Both of these titles are based around antiquated notions of what it means to be a lady. Honestly, I don't know what it means to be a lady other than to be subservient to some male figure and aspire to the worthless ideal of being attractive to the male population*. We have beauty pageants that grades the true depth of women against how well they can pose in a bathing suit and walk in high heels. Is this really what we want to tell women who are already battered by the Neanderthals of my gender who believe that a women is only worth as much as her appearance? That their mind is worthless, and it is more important to keep posture so good that you can walk for miles with a book on your head?

I'm sure that Polumbo is a very nice women and good accompaniment to functions and in life, but she is only continuing this tradition which undercuts the efforts of women to advance in life on something other than their appearance that is embodied by the Miss America pageant. The fact that this story has arisen only gives further fodder to the bonfire being built for the eventual demise of this patriarchal institution.

*I don't speak for everyone, but I would take a women that's less "attractive" and smarter than a women who is more "attractive" and dumber. Attractiveness is nice, but I do have to talk to this person everyday. And I'd rather have someone who can challenge me conversationally.

RSS Trouble

If you find the grind of coming to the website far too much, you should sign up for the RSS Feed. Along with coming right to you, you will get everything from the site in full display. Unless you like looking at the airplane colors while you read, the RSS feed is the way to run.

For the people who have been using the RSS feed, I've gotten everything synced up now. So, it should all work. If not, give it a shout.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dinner Date!

I'm going to make dinner than watch Copa America. I, as you probably know by now, love soccer. It's fun, interesting, and has no commercials. It is also the world's game. I have a large series of dreams involving me going to soccer games on many different continents, but primarily Europe and South America.

Speaking of which, I'm going to leave you with two videos. One is of Ronaldinho, two-time World Footballer of the Year. That generally means that he's awesome. Anyway, in this video, he goes all out and does some crazy footwork. Check this out for sure.

Second, more sweet footwork. Goals are sweet, but they are all done to crappy alt-rock soundtracks.

I'm out. Also, if you have seen the ads for the new Underdog, you will understand the seething rage in my heart about it. The original Underdog was totally sweet. That and Hong Kong Phooey, a kung-fu crimefighting dog. Totally rad.

Death To A Lady Bird

Lady Bird Johnson passed today. She was 94 years old. She passed peacefully in her own home in Austin. She brought environmentalism to the forefront and was one of the best women to ever call 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW home. She will be missed. One.

The United States of Alarmism

Yesterday, Homeland Security Head Michael Chertoff (yes, he still has a job after Hurricane Katrina, which he oversaw) made a quite shocking announcement in a very public forum yesterday. From the LA Times:

Fearing complacency among the American people over possible terrorist threats, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Tuesday that the nation faced a heightened chance of an attack this summer.

"I believe we are entering a period this summer of increased risk," Chertoff told the Chicago Tribune's editorial board in an unusually blunt assessment of America's terrorist threat level.

"Summertime seems to be appealing to them," he said of Al Qaeda. "We do worry that they are rebuilding their activities."
Notice the language in the quote. "I believe," "summertime seems to be," "we do worry." See the waffling, the self-assurance, the total lack of proof in making these statements. I didn't even need this paragraph to tell me that Chertoff has no idea of what's going on:
Chertoff said there were not enough indications of an imminent plot to raise the threat levels nationwide. He indicated that his remarks were based on "a gut feeling" formed by previous patterns of terrorist attacks, recent Al Qaeda statements and intelligence he did not disclose.
I'm OK with the government telling me to watch out for a strike that they KNOW will happen. But, Chertoff, oh no. He wants to keep the entire country scared shitless of a perpetual terrorist threat, even if he made it up in his head. The thing that surprises me about this all is the fact that I know this is par for the course. Everything that the Bush administration has done is with the intent to frighten us and keep us blind to the fact that they are stripping us of rights while also being horribly inefficient in implementing actual policy instead of stumping. I thought presidents stopped stumping once they actually won the election. I guess this alarmist rhetoric is also why so many feel that we aren't safe from terrorism.

This is Fucked Up

I don't normally swear in the title, but this story is appropriate enough for it. This post is for all of the people who say that Black people are being reactionary and delusional for saying that racism still exists in America.

Six Black youths in Jena, Louisiana now face the prospect of being in jail until their 30s because they reacted to someone calling them "niggers". The following is the write-up from While Seated. I will also note that this story has not received a lot of national traction, but is a major issue in the rest of the industrialized world. Fancy that.

In September 2006, a group of African American high school students in Jena, Louisiana, asked the school for permission to sit beneath a "whites only" shade tree. There was an unwritten rule that blacks couldn't sit beneath the tree. The school said they didn't care where students sat. The next day, students arrived at school to see three nooses (in school colors) hanging from the tree.

The boys who hung the nooses were suspended from school for a few days. The school administration chalked it up as a harmless prank, but Jena's black population didn't take it so lightly. Fights and unrest started breaking out at school. The District Attorney, Reed Walters, was called in to directly address black students at the school and told them all he could "end their life with a stroke of the pen."

Black students were assaulted at white parties. A white man drew a loaded rifle on three black teens at a local convenience store. (They wrestled it from him and ran away.) Someone tried to burn down the school, and on December 4th, a fight broke out that led to six black students being charged with attempted murder. To his word, the D.A. pushed for maximum charges, which carry sentences of eighty years. Four of the six are being tried as adults (ages 17 & 18) and two are juveniles.

Yesterday, I was in Jena for the first day of the trial for Mychal Bell, one of the Jena Six. The D.A., perhaps in response to public pressure, tried to get Bell to cop a plea. Bell refused, and today, jury selection began. After today, we'll know whether or not the case will be tried in front of an all-white jury. Jena's 85-percent white, and it remains to be seen whether or not the six can get a fair trial.

Both off-the-record and on, Jena residents told me racism is alive and well in Louisiana, and this is a case where it rose above the levee, so to speak.

In the next few days, I'll be posting a few photos from Jena that are related to the case, as well as linking to a multimedia piece I'm working on. CNN began reporting on the story today, following the lead of the BBC, who crafted an excellent hour-long documentary that can be found on P2P networks.
This is clearly a mistrial of justice based solely on race. If you want to do something, go to Pandagon. They have a list of organizations who are working on behalf of the group to get them appropriate legal representation.

Get High!

Off laughter, not drugs (pot's not a drug!)! So, in commemoration of the one time that I will have a four-twenty on this blog until 1420, but that doesn't really count, I am posting a jewel of a story that should appeal to a stoner after a good rip off the bong.

From Radar:

In the final days of his imploding candidacy, John McCain has taken a page out of Richard Nixon's play book, finding increasingly bizarre explanations for his political failures. Strangest of all: He reportedly feels his handlers forced him to wear "gay sweaters."

According to one insider, the knit-picking was the crescendo of a tirade by the Arizona senator, in which he blistered aides about the minutiae of the campaign. While many septuagenarians live in a perpetual state of sweater weather, McCain reportedly declared his frustration with being told to don the perceived homosexual outerwear in order to look younger and more approachable.

Firstly, let me just note the obvious here: there is nothing gay about wearing a sweater. Never has been. Never will be. Secondly, this is the best deflection from one's own failures as a candidate that I've ever read. Oh no, it's not my fault that my candidacy sucks; it's these damn gay sweaters. But of course. I'm fairly confident that the people in the audience were whispering about how you are supposed to be the straight talk express yet flip-flopping whenever it was politically advantageous, not about how swishy you look in those inoffensive crew-neck sweaters in neutral colors.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Youtube's Not Completely Worthless

Yesterday, I complained about how Youtube is a worthless place to go if you need to solve a sonic battle (also, Avril's in another brouhaha about her music. She ripped a Peaches song which is way better than what she turned it into. Must be the Canadian Connection at work.). Today, I will laud Youtube as a way to find out about music you would have never heard about any other way.

As you might have guessed, there isn't a lot that gets past me musically. This is something that has gotten past me. This disappoints me as I like downtempo music. The band that has eluded me is Koop, a duo out of Uppsala, Sweden. This stuff's amazing.

First video is I See A Different You

Second is Come To Me. This one's got an old-school 60s pop sound to it.

This should be less jammy than last night. Also, for fun, I'll post 1st of tha month by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Kruder and Dorfmeister did a dub of this which is super dope. Think of this song at about half-speed and you have the dub. It's beautiful and appropriately psychedelic.

Now, I'm out.

I'm Not Really Impressed

Maybe it's my crippling fear of heights or the fact that this sounds really dumb, but this story of 47-year-old Kent Couch flying about 200 miles in a lawn chair with balloons giving the lift doesn't really impress me. I mean, it's impressive that he harnessed the power of helium or something, but I'm not really understanding why I'm reading about this at CNN, under the uncreative heading of "Funny News". Also, I'm just not really grooving on it. I guess it's just me though. Someone somewhere read this article and decided that they want to be an astronaut or an Air Force test pilot or something now.

I Guess She Stuck It To Her

A Houston woman named Syvette Wimberly is involved in a quite interesting suit. From the Houston Chronicle:

She may not be a star, but Laura Madden has made a name for herself in pornographic movies. The problem is it's not her own.

When she embarked on her career in 2004, Madden, 25, selected the stage name Syvette Wimberly. She has appeared in a dozen or so hard-core videos under that name, including Irresistibly Delicious, Innocence and Dominance and others inappropriate for mention in a family newspaper.

But Madden's nom-de-sex did not spring from her imagination. It belongs to an old classmate at Kingwood High School, and the real Syvette Wimberly is none too happy about the attention that has come her way from people wondering why she was appearing in 18 and Hitchhiking.

So unhappy, in fact, that she recently filed suit against Madden and Vivid Entertainment Group, a major producer of adult films, asking that they no longer use or publicize the name and demanding damages for inflicting "humiliation, embarrassment, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, mental anguish and anxiety."

They tell you not to use your real name. But, I don't think this is what they meant. Also, if the people who are getting in touch with you aren't smart enough to realize that a) you look nothing like the person in the photos that you can find on Google and b) the screen name of a porn star is never their real name (whose parents are dumb enough to name their child Jon Dough? Jewel DeNyle? Monique DeMoan?), the real Ms. Wimberly might want to contemplate keeping new acquaintances or changing her phone number.


Dear Media----

Can you stop saying the following phrase please?

"(Insert name) is bringing sexy back to (insert field of interest)"

This was barely cool when Justin Timberlake did it back in 2006. It's not hip anymore. It was barely hip when he did it. It just showed that Timberlake is a conceited asshole that listened to too much Prince. The fact that it became cool is ridiculous within itself.

So, please hip media establishment, remember: every time you say this, you are saying the new "shizzle" and looking dumb to the youth demographic, of which I consider myself a part. I cordially ask that you please stop and save your dignity.


Sincerely, Ace

The Power of Love

I'm not sure this is what Luther Vandross was thinking. From Yahoo!:

Teresa Brown, 33, told police she and her husband had "been accusing each other of different things," prosecutor Alan Townsend said. Brown said she hit him on the head after their April wedding because he grabbed her, Townsend added.

The distraught groom, Mark Allerton, 40, staggered to the front desk, clutching a bloody towel to his head, Townsend said.

"He indicated that his wife had struck him over the head with a stiletto heel," the prosecutor said.

I guess love can tear you apart after all.

On The Record

I'm going to come out on the record and say that I hate Larry Elder. If you are not familiar with Elder, he is a Black republican who refuses to acknowledge the realities that exist in the inner cities of America even though he comes from such an upbringing.

My hatred for him was furthered by his on MSNBC today. MSNBC has decided to have a day for viewers to discuss issues of concern to them. Firstly, an immigrant wants to talk about American citizens' right. Disregarded. Another person writes about unemployment in the Black community, which is a huge problem. He does not look at the fact that there are no businesses who are willing to invest in the inner city nor the fact that the schools that have 50% dropout rates are antiquated and filled with poor teachers who are uninterested in actually watching over their students to help them out. Well, he does acknowledge the last fact, but he blames that on single parents. Right, that's totally not the problem here. But, Elder continues on to say that being born in a single parent house leads to unemployability. This might be true for me. Oh wait, that's right, I live in the 3rd poorest state in the country. Nevermind, that point doesn't hold. He says that we have to invest ourselves in a knowledge-based economy. I don't know how this is possible when people cannot afford to get the knowledge needed to be in a knowledge-based economy. So, we are left at square one, aren't we?

Elder constantly puts the onus upon Black America and saying that it is our responsibility to get out. This isn't false, but there is a larger responsibility to America to actually give opportunities to Black people by putting businesses in Black America that aren't chinese carryouts, convenience stores, and other mom-and-pop type organizations. This reality is one that isn't accepted by people like Elder who was lucky enough to advance himself out of the hood to a point of being a complete asshole who forgets about the struggle of being Black. He complains that Black people put too much importance on being Black. Unfortunately, everyone else puts too much importance on Black people being Black too. If he became aware of this, I might like him more. To his detriment, he does not. His constant disregard of the struggles of Black living are frustrating to listen to, especially when channels like MSNBC bring him in as the guy who speaks for Black America.

Elder could stand to take a cue from Bill Cosby. Although he constantly castigates Black people, Cosby always recognizes that it is an effort of Black people coming together and saying that its current situation as material, violent, and uneducated is unacceptable and that we as a people must make a change. Elder thinks that one man can get out on his own if he dedicates himself. This just isn't true. I only got out because I had a support system in a private school that many in my neighborhood couldn't pay for. Hell, my mom could barely pay for it. And, we all knew if I went to the local high school, I would never amount to anything because the high school was terrible. Maybe if Elder recognizes that the reality that he and I have experienced is the exception and not the rule, I might decrease my hatred to a loathing. I still won't like Elder.

Daniel Ellis: American Hero

In the true spirit of America, Daniel Ellis used his ingenuity to solve a problem. His problem was how to avoid jury duty, a minor inconvenience that comes with being a registered voter. Ellis's idea: to say that he is a homophobic racist who is a continual liar.

Yes, that's right. I'd like you to read the transcript from the article too.

"You say on your form that you're not a fan of homosexuals," [Judge Gary] Nickerson said.

"That I'm a racist," Ellis interrupted.

"I'm frequently found to be a liar, too. I can't really help it," Ellis added.

"I'm sorry?" Nickerson said.

"I said I'm frequently found to be a liar," Ellis replied.

"So, are you lying to me now?" Nickerson asked.

"Well, I don't know. I might be," was the response.

Ellis then admitted he really didn't want to serve on a jury.

"I have the distinct impression that you're intentionally trying to avoid jury service," Nickerson said.

"That's true," Ellis answered.

I didn't say that America was always right. I just said that it had ingenuity. Unfortunately, this guy's ingenuity didn't get him very far. He was arrested after this display.

Monday, July 9, 2007

One Last Thing

Today, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had a funeral procession in Detroit, Michigan for the word Nigger. As it stands to them the word is dead.

While I appreciate the symbolism, this action is essentially hollow. The NAACP hasn't really been relevant to me since the 1960s since the Civil Rights era. This is an action that is appropriate for the Black establishment, which the NAACP is. Unfortunately, this action will not resonate with the young that still follows the lead of rappers. If rappers stop using the n-word, I believe that a larger section of the Black community will actually stop using it.

Don't take my cynicism the wrong way. I do think that it is a good thing that this symbolic gesture occurred, and I hope that a lot of people follow the lead. But, the realist it me knows that this won't really happen.

Now, that's it. Seriously. Anything else will wait until tomorrow.

My Day Summarized

While posting most of today, I've been listening to Neil Young & Crazy Horse and Neil Young. I listened to "Down by the River" off of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. This is the Neil Young's equivalent to Freebird, but it's way better and drunk festival goers won't call out for a song about murdering your girlfriend. Yea, I have to say that's pretty much an instant party killer.

Although this is the case, Neil Young makes even the most depressing song totally awesome. And only Neil Young can do this. Not Skynyrd, Not Phish, Not The Slip. No jam band can handle the awesomeness that is the Canadian master of Americana music Neil Young. No rock band can play like this either. Pure intensity.

With all of that said, the video for tonight is the song I've been listening to all day: Down by the River. This version is live from Big Sur. The band is the legendary Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I hope that you enjoy this song as much as I have today.

That, my friends, is the consummate psych-rock jam. It's intriguing, but not repetitive. Most importantly, it keeps the song moving while allowing for artistic freedom. Awesome. And no, I'm not on drugs. I'm actually ridiculously sober because I'm trying to get a job.

Zeta-Jones: Definitely Not Struggling

A while ago, I posted about how Michael Douglass and Catherine Zeta-Jones went to a celebrity function for charity but didn't donate. I said that neither Jones nor Douglass has a complaint as I know both of them are completely loaded. They probably have one of those swimming pools full of money like Scrooge McDuck.

Anyway, I came across this article at The Superficial which helps to verify this. They refer to an article from the Daily Mail that speaks of Jones's very unique hair care procedure. I can't summarize this effectively, so I will block quote:

The Beluga caviar is apparently flown in from Iran five days ahead of her treatments at a beauty salon in South Kensington. "Catherine discovered the caviar treatment last summer and was astounded by the difference it made to her hair," said a source. "She has an incredibly rich and vibrant natural hair colour but the creamy, almost oily nature of caviar really brings this out, making the colour even richer and making it so much more glossy." Miss Zeta-Jones's hair is washed with a truffle-based shampoo, then smeared with the caviar, which is combed through and left to set.
Yes, there you are. Millions of fish died to give Catherine Zeta-Jones that silky mane. You can spend money on caviar for your hair, but you can't give some scratch to charity. If you were in the news more often, I'd say you were dead to me for such pointlessly wasteful acts.


From Idolator, a man and his family listen to the top ten tracks on radio in the lovely state of Minnesota. This might be one of the better commentaries I've read in a really long time. Hilarious, primarily because I know this would happen in my own house if I were to do this.

All Day

I've been listening to Neil Young. Yo, he's totally awesome, but I'm sure you already know that.

The Old People Might Have This One

Avril Lavigne, Canadian pop mistress dressed in fancy Hot Topic punk clothes, is currently in the middle of a fairly heated debate about music rights. More specifically, Lavigne is being sued by The Rubinoos for plagiarizing their song "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" in her song "Girlfriend."

Since Vanilla Ice tried to say that the bassline from "Ice, Ice Baby" wasn't from Under Pressure by Queen, I've been fascinated by plagiarism battles. In most cases, the burden of proof lays on the artist who is being accused. The artist has to make the claim that their song is not the same as the original. As is well known, Vanilla Ice didn't really pass this test. And by didn't really pass, I mean he completely failed as it is the exact same bass line.

In this situation, I think we are facing a Vanilla Ice type situation. Avril Lavigne posted the following on her website with regards to this issue:

They claim that a small part of the lyrics are the same and are saying that I took these from them. I had never heard this song in my life.
Aside from the atrocious grammar of the first sentence, Avril is wrong on TWO fronts. The first front is that the lyric is the exact same. Not the written same. There is a Ramones song called I wanna be your boyfriend, but I would not say that it is a carbon copy of the original song, which this one is. Additionally, the copying is added to by the fact that it is delivered in the exact same METER as the original. Lyrics can change, meter cannot.

This might not be one of those things that Avril knows about: the meter. She should listen to the two songs together because if she didn't hear the song before, someone around her heard it. The song has the exact same rhythm as the original in its choruses. If she hasn't heard the song before, someone's sensibilities are the exact same as The Rubinoos and it's hard for a songwriter to have the same sensibilities as a one-hit wonder from the 1970s.

Let's put this out here now: Avril Lavigne cannot be as dumb as her comments seem; she is playing willful ignorance. Someone within her crew, herself included, knows this song and copied it. The last time I checked, that's plagiarism. She didn't steal it verbatim. I wouldn't suggest that because, in points, her song is markedly different. But, verbatim or not, sampling from another source is still plagiarism without appropriate credit. But, I have to have proof. I don't make unsubstantiated claims all of the time. Only like 75% of the time.

To prove this, I did what I normally do when a battle like this starts up: I went on youtube. The main problem with the videos on youtube is that they sample the beginning of Avril's song where there is no guitar, which is all the original version is. The meter of the two is the same at this point, but this doesn't really say a lot.

The more telling comparison between the songs is at the middle of Avril's song. The guitar fill after the chorus in Girlfriend is the same as the Rubinoos version. On a stupider note, people are trying to claim that the Rolling Stones will sue both because they stole the "hey hey you you" from their song. While true, no one will win a suit on such flimsy grounds. If this were true, everyone would sue each other for using the same lyrics. We'll disregard this for the sake of argument.

So, once again, youtube serves worthless in trying to solve a dilemma. So, I went to the source. The Rubinoos put up three MP3s for their songs and a link to the Avril video. Now, listen to the Rubinoos version and Avril's version THEN listen to the Lush version. Avril's version sounds a lot like Lush's version, which is an authorized version of the Rubinoos song. Additionally, Avril's song sounds like the Rubinoos version, meter wise with the same riffs. Avril will most likely win this lawsuit because the Court will never rule for the plantiff unless the song is the exact same, which this one is not. But, The Rubinoos do deserve compensation for this case. Hey, All Music Guide agrees with me.

Epilogue: For all of the Avril fans who might find this post, save your anger for something more functional than defending a corporate stooge dressed in Hot Topic while not knowing who laid down the foundations for her to be a "punk rocker". Ask why your beloved artist is going to cause the death of independent radio. Ask why your beloved artist is leading to the sanitation of commercial radio. Ask why yourself why you are standing by idly as this happens. Channel that anger instead and do something useful for yourself. Go write your senator/congressperson about these issues. Or, if you are civically disengaged and a bad citizen because of it, pick up Pure Mania, The Germs, Los Angeles, The Misfits, and Pink Flag and learn something about real punks, real rock & roll, and real music all at the same time.

Country Music

I was surfing through my email and I came across this girl's page where she professed that she was only into country music and some rock music. But, no hip-hop, that's unacceptable.

As someone who likes both forms*, I wondered how this dichotomy grew. The music, at its core, isn't much different. Both forms talk about the desperation of the American experience. The country artists talk about it from a rural perspective while hip-hop talks about it from an urban perspective. Both have general touchstones for sound: country with its twang and slide guitars, rap with booming beats and snare hits. Both sets of artists dress in the appropriate manner for their lifestyle. Country wears cowboy hats and boots. Hip-hop wears jeans and sneakers. Even if you look at it now, both forms have lost their edge. Country is pretty much whitewashed, sounding like easy adult contemporary listening with a slide guitar. I feel like the only thing it has going for it is that most of the current personalities are ridiculously attractive. This is both men and women. Hip-hop is also baseless like hip-hop, caught up in pure materialism. It gets by because of white kids's want to be Black and the fact that it is the sound of commercial teen radio now. Also, both sides claim that the other isn't real music. Both forms now sell tons of shitty records, so I don't really understand this on this level.

The only thing that I can figure is that it is a cultural division. Country music is assumed to be the wasteland for beer-drinking, lazy rednecks who watch NASCAR and fly the Confederate flag in a vain attempt to celebrate something which, at its core, is fundamentally flawed: Southern Pride (note: My family's heritage is all below the Mason-Dixon line. All of it.). Hip-hop is assumed to be a wasteland for beer-drinking, lazy negroes who watch BET and live in the ghetto while milking the government for money. As I read this to myself, these aren't really all that different. There needs to be a convention between country music and hip-hop. Not in a rap-metal sort of way, but in a we need to iron out this stupid beef sort of way.

Hip-hop is music. Country is music. Both suck now, but both have had halcyon days in previous decades. And there are people in both doing successful things currently. How? I'm not a scientist; I can't answer questions that ridiculous. Maybe someone can elucidate why country music fans hate hip-hop so much and vice versa. And don't give me the "it's not music" argument. I've listened to a lot of country. Most of it is three chords. It's not hard to make country music. I would argue that it's harder to make hip-hop, as you have to learn how to use a sampler and a drum machine. So, any input would be greatly appreciated.

*As I would later note, modern country music sucks. It sounds like generic pop/rock, and that's boring. I like the old school country about fistfights and drinking Colorado Kool-aid. Just like with current hip-hop, not all of it is bad. Some of it is actually tolerable, but most of it isn't. Now, don't get excited, you most likely won't catch me blasting country in the whip because it doesn't relate to me. I'm into the old school stuff because I can relate to that stuff and like the rawness of it. The new stuff is too shiny. And if there is one thing I don't particularly like, it's shiny things.

Late Night Dining is Colorful...Always

I'm a fan of 24-hour eateries. While the quality tends to be marginal, if you are eating a meal at 3 in the morning under any state of duress, you aren't really inclined to care. Apparently, that didn't hold for this winner from Cartersville, GA:

Two Waffle House workers were forced to deal with an angry drunk man when he went in to eat a steak Sunday about 4 a.m.

According to the BCSO incident report, Matthew Todd Corley, 26, of Sunnyside entered the Waffle House at 10 Carson Loop, Cartersville, and demanded a steak.

The victims told deputies that Corley threatened to kill them if they did not cook him a steak. The female victim said he told her he would have the UFOs come for her.

According to the male victim, Corley beat on the tables with his hands before grabbing the telephone and calculator, also using them to beat on the tables. He also tried to jump over the counter during the nearly 30-minute ordeal.

Both victims provided written statements and, although they wanted him to go to jail, told deputies they did not want to press charges for the threats, which could have lead to charges of terroristic threats.

Corley said he had been drinking all day and was in a bad mood but did nothing wrong.

Corley was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

While it is fucked up that this dude was threatening the hard-working women and men of the night shift, I'm not sure that this counts as anything more than being a drunk asshole, not a terrorist. Sounds like a pretty regular night on Cops in fact. Wait, are we charging drunk guys on Cops for being terrorists? Uh oh.

Just In Case You Weren't Sure

If Chuck Norris Facts didn't already tell you that Chuck Norris is the greatest fighter of all-time, I think his column from WorldNetDaily accomplishes pretty much the same feat. You know, just in case you weren't sure from watching Delta Force or Sidekicks. In a series of easy lob questions that had to be selected by a person with a penchant for making reading this column an exercise in tedium, Chuck Norris reminds us that he's awesome in the following manner:

Most of my younger fans (and those who know me just from my movie and television career) don't know that, from 1965 through 1974, I won hundreds of state, national and international championships. I was voted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame in 1968 as Fighter of the Year, in 1975 as Instructor of the Year and in 1977 as Man of the Year.

In 1990 I was honored with another milestone by being the first man ever in the Western Hemisphere to be awarded an 8th degree Black Belt Grand Master recognition in the Tae Kwon Do system. This was a first in 4,500 years of tradition – something that still humbles me to the core of my being.

Oh yea, he has his own martial arts style too. For as awesome as Chuck Norris's resume is, why did he torture us with the pain that is watching Walker, Texas Ranger?

Yes, I've Watched BET Before

For all my white readers, television hates Black people. With that said, there are two channels that hope to rectify this. One is TV One. Jealous of the fact that no one was paying attention to her, succubus Kathy Hughes decided to start her own self-aggrandizing television channel that involves of all things a bid whist tournament with old Black actors eating ribs, collard greens, and black-eyed peas and reruns of such television gems as Hangin' With Mr. Cooper and Fastlane! The only person that was Black on Fastlane was Bill Bellamy, former token Black guy on MTV. Clearly this channel is worthless. But, it's an upstart, so no one really cares anyway.

The grandaddy of Black television is Black Entertainment Television. Founded by Robert Johnson and run out of a, get this, Black building in Northeast Washington, DC, BET was renowned for playing tons of rap and r&b videos. I mean hey, it's what Black people did: sat at home, unemployed, drinking 40s while watching Black guys grab their nuts while throwing money in the air and Black women shake their asses while scantily clad. Oh, and this usually happened in a strip club too, as if all of that weren't enough. It needed just that piece de resistance. In addition, when it wasn't degrading Black people through music videos, BET was displaying us all as mindless followers of money-grubbing Black televangelists. I guess they thought it was OK to rob poor people of their money because they're Black.

As you can probably tell, BET has not been the most accurate representation of Black America. But, they are trying to change the tide. The New York Times is reporting on BET's new slate of original programming, which will attempt to make BET a legitimate channel instead of the fraud that it is now. But, it's not really helping its own cause by introducing the Black Laguna Beach. You think I'm joking:

The show, “Baldwin Hills,” follows the lives of a group of mostly hip, affluent black teenagers, most of whom live in the neighborhood here that gives the show its name.
Tell me that doesn't sound like Laguna Beach. I'm sure that it will be just as vapid as it will cover buppies instead of yuppies. But, more important, Buppies don't care about being Black, and usually hate on Black America because it hasn't helped them to be white enough.

In addition to what I'm sure this tragedy will be, BET will also add a show that follows ministers called Exalted! as well as a bevy of animated programs because you know there aren't enough Black actors to develop a live action show. Paul Mooney, better known to White America as that angry Black guy who wasn't Dave Chappelle on Chapelle's Show or Blackstadamus, will now have his own judge show. As if there weren't already enough Black judges on the air now with Judge Mathis, Judge Joe Brown, Divorce Court, & Judge Hatchett.

While most of the new programming sounds absolutely terrible, this block of programming might be pretty interesting if not completely repetitive:

On July 25 is “S.O.B. (Socially Offensive Behavior),” with the comedian D. L. Hughley as host. It is a cocktail of sociology and comedy that uses hidden cameras to capture people’s reactions to strange, politically incorrect situations. For example patrons in a restaurant are told that seating is by race.

Following “S.O.B.” on July 25 is “Hot Ghetto Mess,” which uses commentary, video clips and man-on-the-street interviews to examine black popular culture. The show was inspired by the much-debated Web site of the same name, which showcases and comments on what it deems to be outrageous black behavior.

The first show is pretty much an exact copy of Candid Camera, Punk'd, Girls Behaving Badly, those episodes of 20/20 when they take video of what people will do in strange moral situations, the episodes of Dateline when parents are told that their kids have been poached by a child molester behind their back, etc. My point is this show's not new. Also, before I comment on the second show, I need to note that this website needs a facelift. If they are trying to uplift Black America, they need to uplift their site, making us look bad and shit.

Now to comment on this show, I'm not sure if I should say this, but this is a didactic, and most likely pedantic, version of The Soup or Best Week Ever. As well, I'm not sure that it is the most useful thing on the face of the planet to tell Black people that their culture and fashion is unacceptable. This show reeks of attempts to discredit the uniqueness of Black culture. I'm not saying there is anything acceptable about wearing a ton of bling and/or having their boobs and butt all hanging out in public. But, I'm sure that Black people aren't trying to be sanitized either.

In the end, this show, with all the others, are a declaration that BET is trying to change its way. Is this a good thing? No, not really.

These shows are a blatant attempt to integrate BET into the other Viacom cable channels: Spike, MTV, Video Hits One. These shows are all pretty much shows that come on other channels, but refocused on Black people. Just because they are focused on Black people doesn't really get at the actual problems of BET.

For one, I honestly feel like all of this programming is made for buppies. These shows address realities that Black people living on the bricks already know. As well, this programming is of no interest to the overwhelming mass of the community either. I know it doesn't interest me, and I'm all about seeing Black people on television. Additionally, Hot Ghetto Mess, along with having an offensive name, will be a trivialization and a new form of shaming Black people for their culture. Probably under Viacom's leadership, this show will lead to thousands of Black people developing a shame and abandoning their community because they don't want to be affiliated with these images. BET, of all people, should recognize this reality.

In addition to pimping out Black America for cash and creating shame within the community, BET still lacks Black news coverage. Back in the 90s, BET had a news department. It was actually good. It talked to Black leaders and addressed issues that were of concern to Black America. The News Department also covered issues in Black America that did not get much press in the mainstream press. It really was must watch television. Additionally, it came on every weeknight like The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. A few years ago, BET decided that it wasn't important anymore and cut it. They say that they still have a commitment to public affairs. They should show it instead of talking about it by bringing the news program back.

While time will tell if these shows will actually work out, but I'll be surprised if most of them do. But, more than anything, I think that this programming is only representative of how BET has abandoned Black America although it still claims to be a Black channel.

Correction: Paul Mooney's character on Chappelle's Show was Negrodamus, not Blackstadamus. I must have gotten confused by the presence of Nastradamus.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

What I Think About On Sundays

I've had this song in my head literally all day for no other reason than the fact that I was thinking of crappy 80s and 90s romance movies where this song was always played.

The Cars- Drive

Being Literate

I've been trying to read Irresistible Empire this weekend. I am going to continue with that goal in the vain hope that I can finish it today. So, I will keep this post short for that reason. The book's a good read, but it's long. And I haven't been able to give it my full attention. Plus, I want to read some Updike now and I need to finish this so I can do that. I'm back in the saddle tomorrow, especially because the mid-Atlantic is getting that old fashioned heatwave now.

Just on a personal note, I'm sick of people in the D.C. Area complaining about how hot it is all the time. It's like, what? You think I don't know it's hot? My shirt's stuck to my back and I've been outside for 1 minute! Give me a fucking break. Additionally, I actually kind of like the hot days. Yea, it's humid and gross, but it's nice in a certain way. As long as you stay hydrated and wear some light colors, it's no worse than any other day. But then again, this is D.C.; everything is a huge fiasco.

Anyway, I've been slacking and I know it. So, I will start out this week tomorrow with guns blazing. Til then.