Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Dance Lesson

If you were ever interested in learning how to Crip Walk (or C-Walk, if you ain't gangsta), here's how to do it.

And here's a real quick "What's playing in my deck" before I head out into the balmy Tampa night with my No. 1:

1. Where I'm From by Jay-Z
2. Puerto Rico/Black People by Frankie Cutlass
3. Sally by Stetsasonic (a welcome old-school surprise to the mix)
4. Frontin' by Pharrell feat. Jay-Z
5. The Baby Maker by Carl Thomas

One last note: the worst song in current rotation on the radio has got to be, in my opinion, "Cuddle Up" by Pretty Ricky. A complete and utter mess. And the video follows the script. What in the hell is going on with R&B these days?

Ok ... that's plenty. That completes a full week of blogging - more than 40 posts in seven days.

I have no clue where this whole enterprise is going, especially with my schedule in the midst of serious flux over the next few weeks. But I'm really liking this. And if you do, too, then let's work on this together.

Continue Reading »

Multiple Choice, football edition

Here's a game I like to play with my other football-lovin' friends from time to time.

If you could be one major-college quarterback, which one would you choose to be? The skill level of the QB and (to be honest, the actual person holding the position) is mostly irrelevant - it's really about which spot holds the most allure for washed-up athletes like ourselves.

Shall we?

A. Tim Tebow of Florida.
B. Todd Boeckman of Ohio State.
C. Mark Sanchez of USC.
D. Colt McCoy of Texas.
E. Whoever starts for LSU.
F. Whoever starts for Miami.

My answer: Sanchez.

Here's why: I actually went out to Los Angeles last August to work on a story about John David Booty, who was heading into his senior season as USC's starting quarterback and was simply a good ol' Shreveport boy.

I had been to L.A. several times before and found myself immediately drawn to the West Coast. The weather, the beaches, the, uh, surroundings. Other than traffic and a ridiculous cost of living, I couldn't figure out what not to like.

So I spent parts of three days talking with J.D., his teammates, Pete Carroll and other media types; watching the Trojans' NFL-style practices; and generally hanging out on the USC campus. Consider me a convert.

Booty and I had a brief chat on my last night in town, sitting outside of Heritage Hall on a 75-degree August evening as some guy played a piccolo nearby. Booty was so grateful, so happy, that the headline to my eventual story was titled "Living a Dream."

Here's an excerpt from that feature: "Prodded into sharing one of the bizarre invitations extended to him since the Rose Bowl, Booty nonchalantly mentions a recent get-together with "Punk'd" star Ashton Kutcher at the home of Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight. Booty and his friends played a game of catch with Kutcher and talked a little about Shreveport, where Kutcher filmed a movie last year."

And Booty seems to be a decently strait-laced guy. I can only imagine the sorts of stories Matt Leinart could tell about his L.A. days.

In closing, I could make a case for almost any of these QB jobs. Miami definitely sounds fun. I know Austin well, so I know the potential benefits there. Florida certainly has its plus side, not to mention Tebow is a returning Heisman winner.

No choice is wrong. But I'm going with USC - Make it count, Mark. You're No. 1.
Continue Reading »

The problem with a "post-racial" world

Now for a brief news break in our regularly scheduled sports programming.

Maybe you all have heard the scuttlebutt that if, say, Obama defeats McCain in November, that it will be ironclad evidence that we Americans truly live in a post-racial world (good piece by Lawrence Bobo, btw).

Mularkey, I say.

According to the results from the 2004 American National Election Study, about half of white people think that black folks are lazier than whites, about 40 percent believe blacks are less intelligent than whites and another 40 percent consider blacks to be less trustworthy than whites. The percentages for blacks and Hispanics weren't too far off though Hispanics scored significantly better on the hard-working question among whites.

Keep in mind, that's just the people in the study who were actually willing to cop to those beliefs.

Though premier right-wing minds like Dinesh D'Souza, Geraldine Ferraro and Elisabeth Hasselback might have you believe different, racial attitudes and prejudice toward blacks remains a very serious problem in America.

No. Really.

Consider the implications of the above study for those of us in a struggling job market, or seeking loans, or simply trying to make it safely along Interstate 20 on a weekend? Those numbers indicate "significant (and probably deep-seated) racist stereotyping," according to Stephen Medvic.

No matter what Barack might (or might not) accomplish in this run to the White House, it's important to ignore the hype about this so-called post-racial America. It's clearly a figment of the conservative imagination.

UPDATE: On second and third thoughts, I came up with another name for this entry. The other one just didn't make me comfortable and I thought it distracted from the actual point. Continue Reading »

Can a brotha get a drink in Beijing?

It's really tough to know whether to take this story out of Beijing seriously.

To make a long, confusing story short: there are rumors that Chinese police officials are forcing some Beijing bar owners to sign secret pledges to not serve black people and Mongolians (who knew we had that much in common?) during the Olympic games next month.

It's worth noting that the Chinese police denies the rumors. But here's a couple of paragraphs from the story that give me pause:

"In a notorious incident last September, dozens of black people were detained by police in a raid on bars in the Sanlitun district. Witnesses said the police rounded up all the black people they could find, up to three dozen in total, and beat some of them with rubber truncheons."

I'm getting a really, really bad feeling about these Games. I was sort of torn on what a U.S.-led boycott of the games might accomplish there but I wasn't willing to take it to a Nancy Pelosi-type level (it's not polite to be rude when you owe someone billions of dollars).

Regardless, Tyson Gay, Kobe Bryant, Usain Bolt and some of the other brothas might want to B.Y.O.B., just in case.
Continue Reading »

Sports Saturday

This just might be an official "Sports Saturday" on False Hustle. It's about 85 degrees and ridiculously sunny here in Tampa, reminding me that the start of football season is only a few weeks away.

That means, soon, we can all stop acting like we care about baseball (sorry, Rays), golf (a Tiger-less summer, at that) or the upcoming Olympics (outside of the sprints and hoops, I could care less. I consider it sports as an expression of nationalism).

Anyway, here's a few links to whet your (my) appetite: - Looks like Thunder could be the nickname for Oklahoma City's new NBA franchise. I was partial to Mike Wilbon's suggestion of the Outlaws the other day, especially as one of the few remaining fans of the long-defunct USFL. - Myron Rolle of Florida State is a genius and a beast. A positive story for those who think (inaccurately) that the media is all about publicizing the thugs of the game. - I'm not sure if this story says more about Ricky Williams or less than something about the Fins. I can only wonder how different Ricky's career might have been had Master P not gotten hold of him out of college. - Unlike most folks, I'm not really tired of the Favre-Packers saga. I love football news in the offseason. But I don't really have anything new to offer on the topic - unlike these guys. - This is highly personal to me: my dad worked at the gates of the Astrodome back in the mid-80s. I saw nearly all of my first live sporting events here. I just can't imagine Houston without the Dome - it's only 43 years old. - I just don't buy that guys need to transfer to Oak Hill Academy to increase their profile. TMG had already committed to a major school (LSU) as a sophomore. And Houston Madison was good enough for Vince Young, you know?

More to come later. Continue Reading »

Friday, July 18, 2008

Britney gives it up

Britney Spears is such a mess that Kevin Federline is seen as the better parental alternative.

I'm not sure if this is proof that Spears is on the road to recovery or in worse shape than we could ever really know.
Continue Reading »

McCain hearts MLK

Over the years, I've developed this weird tic where I cringe when people - usually conservatives - invoke the name and words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to make a larger point about racial politics or socioeconomic justice.

Not that Dr. King's legacy belongs only to Democrats or liberals. But if Republicans are going to try to convince me they're down for the cause, so to speak, they should try to stay away from Dr. King. It seems like an uninspired pander.

They should mix it up, throw in some James Baldwin, W.E.B. DuBois, or Booker T. Washington or something. Let me know that you're familiar with more black philosophers than the one with a national holiday.

That brings me to Republican presidential nominee John McCain, who recently addressed the NAACP Convention in Cincinnati.

McCain, of all people, recalled that he felt "perhaps even more uncertain and alarmed for my country" when he learned that MLK had been assassinated while he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

I guess it was a passing feeling: McCain voted against creating a holiday to honor Dr. King in 1983 and, four years later, supported the Arizona governor's effort to rescind MLK Day as a state holiday. (more on McCain's record regarding the holiday can be found here).

McCain has since apologized for the opposition to the holiday - at least in front of large groups of black people. It's tough to know what he really thinks about MLK and the holiday because McCain never brings him up unless a few brown faces are around.

And that tic I have? Ugh. It was acting up a little as I heard McCain speak the other night. And even as I wrote this. But it's good to know McCain is down with Black Power - just check out the pic above. Or maybe it's the start of a terroristic fist jab.
Continue Reading »

A sign of stupidity

Think this is a revisionist version of history: that Democrats were somehow to blame for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks?

Well, not if you're Mike Meehan of the Orlando area.

Meehan had three billboards put up around the Orlando area on Sunday, all of them showing New York's World Trade Center going down in flames next to the phrase: "Please Don't Vote for a Democrat."

It's far beyond obvious that Meehan is being intentionally provocative and controversial. Not even the local GOP was happy with those billboards - though it must be mentioned that the state Republican Party spokeswoman supported his right to free speech.

But the bigger problem is that Meehan's message isn't even remotely logical: Republicans held majorities in Congress and the Senate, not to mention that Dubya was in the White House at the time. (And let's not get into the deathgrip the GOP has exerted over most of Florida's statewide offices for the past decade).

However, the facts aren't enough to slow down Meehan. He's hinted at putting up a few more signs through the November election, saying, "We need to show this more often. People don't ever see [these images] anymore. Now, you show it again, and everybody's shocked, as if it happened today."

Go ahead, Mike. Meehan might actually be a Democrat's best friend come this fall. Continue Reading »

Thursday, July 17, 2008

When in Roma

One of the nation's best high school basketball players has signed a contract to play with a professional Italian team, making him the first American star to play overseas in attempt to circumvent the NBA's one-year-out-of-school rule.

Good luck with all of that, Brandon Jennings. Seriously.

This is a very, very risky venture, not only because of all the unknowns Jennings will face in his attempt to create a new option for prep ballers who don't want to spend a year on the campus of an American college.

Point guard is one of the hardest positions to master on the court, if not the hardest, on any level of basketball on any court. Even pick-up games can be won and lost based on the skill level of the respective point guards.
Well consider that Jennings will also be asked to play a much different brand of ball: figuring out his role in a motion-type of offense (a Euroleague staple); counterpunching much more complicated defenses than the ones he faced in high school; actually playing defense against much craftier - and talented - opponents; fitting into a locker room with older, experienced and tougher teammates; and not to mention facing the drastic cultural differences in Rome from, say, his hometown of Compton. (DraftExpress went through all the assorted challenges here.)

I'm rooting for B.J. to make it. Not only is Jennings challenging the ridiculous notion of jocks being forced to use college as a one-year, unpaid way station to the League, but he also rocks a mean flat top.
Thus, I hope B.J. conquers Rome like a modern-day Hannibal and returns home for the NBA riches he already deserves. He makes a much better story as a pioneer rather than as a martyr.
Also a link from ESPN on prep hoops: We ball in Houston. Ya heard?
Continue Reading »

Not worth the paper it's printed on ...

... my bachelor's degree, according to this piece from the Wall Street Journal.

Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But it's proof that finishing with an undergrad degree no longer provides folks with the security and options that it used to.

This is even more worrisome for journalism folks like myself, who focused much - if not all - of their collegiate efforts on improving their craft, getting internships and bouncing from paper to paper in pursuit of the best jobs.

Well, with the newspaper industry hemorrhaging jobs by the week, having a bachelor's degree just doesn't seem like enough protection in this changing world. What other skills will I need, say, 10 years from now? Is writing no longer enough to provide for myself or my family? Also, have I resigned myself to a (very) limited income because I need journalism more than it needs me?

These are not the questions I was preparing myself to answer when I was an idealistic student leaving TCU in December of 2000. I figured I was set for life - I'd write and write and write until I landed a cushy and well-paid sports columnist job at some major metro newspaper or someplace like Sports Illustrated. Unlike those other schmoes, I'd never sit in a cold, boring classroom again.

I guess the question I really need to answer is: who's the schmoe now?

UPDATE: The WSJ also offers solutions. Continue Reading »

More on the good Reverend.

This is a really bad day to throw up some defense for Jesse Jackson but I still think The Root's Marc Lamont Hill makes some good points here about why there are legitimate reasons for the Rev. to be a little sideways with Sen. Obama.

Rev. Jackson did a good job of obscuring his original point all on his lonesome. But that doesn't mean the message should be lost in all the resulting hubbub.

A few things here:

1. As a card-carrying member of the media, I'm really tired of some of my colleagues running to Al Sharpton for his comment - as if he's the only dude who can give some perspective on issues involving all black folks. It's typical, it's lazy and it's sort of offensive.

2. I'll refer you to Ta-Nehisi for some clear-eyed thoughts about this controversy over the "n-word." For the record, I haven't stopped saying the word and have no plans to in the immediate future. This is not a prideful boast or anything - if anything, it's sort of shameful that I haven't removed the word from my vocabulary. But it's no more or less shameful than me still using all manner of curse words, and trust me, I pretty much use them all in an average day.

3. Referring back to The Root, I was saddened to hear that Marc's call-and-response partner, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, has decided to end her work for the Web site (scroll to the bottom a bit) because of conflicts with fellow contributor Jimi Izrael. It's tough to take sides here: I have a lot of respect for both of them. It's too bad all around: The Root certainly isn't better with her taking her multiple talents elsewhere.
Continue Reading »

The worst coach. Ever.

Why does anyone ever hire this guy?

Seriously. You might as well show up to the track meet with a syringe sticking out of your ass.
I'll give Trevor Graham this: he's proven to be much more effective at putting people onto suspension than the medal stand.
Continue Reading »

Let's laugh a little

Maureen Dowd expresses something that I've been mulling over for the past few weeks, as it becomes apparent that Obama has grown comfortable in the frontrunner's role.

Can some of Obama's supporters take a joke? A bad one? Or even better: some honest criticism?

No doubt, Barack has been the frequent target of vicious rumors and a not-so-quiet whisper campaign about his religion, his beliefs and his roots, intended to fire up the racists and rubes among us.

But does that mean that no one can take their shots at the guy? I mean, he is running for president. Everyone can't (and won't) go through the lengths that Rolling Stone did to deify him.

Nor should they. It wouldn't be fair, nor would it be any fun. Obamaniacs need to chill.

I should mention that I don't think this is much of an issue for a tough guy like Obama, who made his rise through the legendary cutthroat political battleground of Chicago. Hell, he doesn't need anyone to do his fighting for him. Barack might kick your ass.

UPDATE: I've never personally met Bill Maxwell. But I like the cut of his gib, especially when it comes to this issue. He also has a serious dislike of pit bulls, something else I can get behind. Continue Reading »

What's up with The View?

If anyone is out there (and at home), could someone tell me what sparked the latest Hasselbeck-related run-in on "The View"?

All I know is that it had to do with Whoopi using the "N-word" (as I get more comfortable on here, I'll probably just go ahead and use it - I've got no real issues writing the word), Elisabeth got all faklempt, and Barbara Walters had to break it up. It wasn't a Rosie-type meltdown but it was entertaining and overly dramatic.
I'll refrain for forming an opinion until all the facts are in. But, no doubt, we'll be hearing more about this later.
UPDATE: Ok, I get the feeling that the dispute had something to do with this. Ugh. Rev. Jackson had better keep a low-profile over the next few days. It ain't gonna be pretty for him.
And that talk about him wanting to take a prominent role in Obama's campaign this fall? Um, probably not.
Continue Reading »

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

But is it really real?

Let me share an awful secret with you (my girl, everyone, whomever): I love VH1's "I Love Money."

I just can't help the way I feel. I'm strangely drawn to these gaggle of rejects and weirdos from "Flavor of Love," "I Love New York," and "Rock of Love," who are all - some, desperately - competing for $250,000.

To call it a reality show is a stretch. There's people on there who are openly crafting their public personas, willfully clowning it up for the cameras. There's folks who go by their often degrading stage names of Nibblz, Toastee, White Boy and fan-favorite, The Entertainer. There's a guy like Chance - probably my favorite of the bunch - who says things like: "He lucky I didn't have an Uzi. I would have put holes all in that ass, man."

In short, this is not a show in the running for an Emmy. But it's funny and doesn't take itself seriously.

Contrast "I Love Money" with the one of the forebears of the reality TV genre, "The Real World." I'm speaking in particular of the most recent crew from Hollywood, which ultimately proved to be absolutely devoid of any likable characters (sad, because this season had the most black cast members ever).
I could hardly stomach the reunion show.

A few reasons: three of the guys call themselves "The Three Amigos," offered up some T-shirts with that moniker and are "performing" on the road together; one of the girls, a very talkative one at that, tried to promote her new album; and one of the "Three Amigos" also insisted on mentioning his recently released record and wore a T-shirt telling agents that he is available to deejay. For whatever you're willing to pay, I suppose.

There were other promo moments but let's just end it here - MTV will show the reunion 100 more times if you're really that interested. These were actors playing real (obnoxious) people on television, and now they feel as if they've arrived. They are very serious about themselves and their ridiculous careers. They think they're famous.
And maybe they are.

But let me tell you this: the Three Amigos ain't got shit on the The Stallionaires.
Continue Reading »

Conspiracy Theory

The wonderful little copy editor who shares a home with me in New Tampa has been floating this theory around for a couple weeks, and now I'm finally warming to the idea.

Maybe you all have seen the endless promos running on CNN for the upcoming special report, "Black in America"? It's the one where some poor woman actually goes through the pains of explaining to the camera that "most black people have not been arrested. Most black people are not poor."


Anyhow, my lady seems to think that it's no coincidence that CNN is running the show from July 23-25. For those not in the media biz, that's when nearly 10,000 journalists and media executives will descend on Chicago for the UNITY convention, an extremely large and exciting quadrennial gathering for journalists of color.

From previous experience at these journalism conventions, I can tell you that not many of us will be sitting in our hotel rooms, checking out CNN and munching on room service on those nights. Probably not even Soledad O'Brien.

I've got a full schedule planned, and almost none of it has to do with watching network news.

Which makes me wonder: was CNN really crafty enough to time this series to run when it knows some of its potentially most searing critics will be schmoozing and boozing it up in the Windy City?

Hmmm. I think the woman is on to something. Continue Reading »

Killing an old grudge. Slowly.

Sometimes, I'm not nearly as evolved of a human being as I aspire to be. Or need to be.

I realized that again this morning as I drove to work, listening to ESPN Radio. Mike & Mike were yammering about an auction to raise money for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. To be sure, the charity is a noble and successful one - raising more than $70 million over 14 years in honor of former N.C. State hoops coach Jimmy Valvano who died of cancer in 1993.

But I can't shake a couple of less-than-noble grudges, which mostly stem from him leading the Wolfpack to the 1983 national championship over my beloved University of Houston. It was my first childhood flirtation with a championship for one of my favorite teams, and when the Coogs were denied at the buzzer, I was crestfallen. The sting sticks with me to this day - especially when CBS runs those post-tournament retrospectives showing Jimmy V running all over the court like some sort of lunatic.

Later, my mother bought a book for me - Personal Fouls by Peter Golenbock. The book raised all sorts of concerns about rules violations and general recklessness, since at least a couple of the players in the book (particularly Lorenzo Charles and Charles Shackelford) were portrayed as dumber than even the stereotypical dumb jock. In short, the book ruined his career and eventually led to his ouster.

And as if that wasn't enough, 15 years later I was still sort of snorting about the thought of contributing some money to a worthwhile charity in his name. What a punk kid I am, eh?

But I'm trying to get over this ridiculous grudge: I pledged $5 to the charity later in the afternoon.
So I'm a little closer to evolved than I was this morning, I suppose. Rest in peace, Jimmy V (though you were still lucky in '83).
Continue Reading »

What's playing in my deck...

Let's get right into it because I'm a tad late:

1. If I Ever Fall in Love Again by Shai.
2. Duffle Bag Boy (remix) by Playaz Circle.
3. Like That (remix) by UGK.
4. No Idea's Original by Nas.
5. Sex Packets by Digital Underground.

Ok ... maybe I need to smooth it out a little on the way to work. I need to find that Raheem DeVaughan CD.

Anyhoo, I'm on a 10-hour break or so. Enjoy. Continue Reading »

The New (Old) South

Interesting column from William Jelani Cobb on Atlanta and its attempt to brand itself as the "New South" in this weekend's Washington Post (the link comes from Ta-Nehisi Coates).

Personally, I haven't spent as much time in Atlanta as I would have liked over the years. Probably a total of three weeks. Maybe a little less than that.

But it doesn't take long to figure out that it's a very complex city - there's lot of racial, political and socioeconomic factors at play there. In many ways, its a postcard for "Black America." In others, it's a renewed Southern city still trying to reconcile from very real racial tensions. And the weird thing is that you can sort of feel this when there.

I'm very conflicted about my feelings about ATL.

Here's a short list of some pros: beautiful women, a top educational hub for blacks (I once, so badly, wanted to go to Morehouse); unprecedented opportunity for the black middle-class; the feeling of being in an important, dynamic city; a very rich history; and a fantastic airport.

And some cons: a very serious crime and homeless problem (I felt seriously unsafe at times); horrendous commutes; a reputation for below-par public schools; a tad too much vanity and ego from their residents; and their pro sports teams are a little too bland (a lot like Houston).

Anyway, something to chew on. Continue Reading »

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More on "W" reports on the big movie production going on in Shreveport. Maybe you've heard of this upcoming film, "W"?

Oliver Stone, at least to me, can find drama in events where none previously existed. So I can only imagine what he'll do given the material that Dubya has provided him to work with over the past seven-and-a-half years or so.

But maybe the most interesting nugget comes near the end of the story where we learn that lovely English actress Thandie (pronounced TAN-dee) Newton will play the role of ... Condoleezza Rice? Wow.

Not to be mean here and all but, uh, that's a bit of a stretch. No matter what Stone thinks of Rice's work in D.C., Stone has given her quite the compliment. Judge for yourself:

Btw, on the off chance that you're interested in the fledgling movie-production biz going on in The Port, here's a link to a blog produced by one of my former co-workers:
Continue Reading »

Homegirl makes good

I'm from Missouri City, Texas. And so is the reigning Miss USA, Crystle Stewart (or, at the least, she won the Miss Missouri City paegant.)

Even though she had a bit of a letdown in Vietnam, Stewart quickly bounced to her feet and represented my beloved hometown with the dignity and grace that Mo City deserves. If she needs one, I'm available for a hug. But that's about it these days.
Continue Reading »

Proof that steroids don't make chins stronger

In case you didn't already know, Jose Canseco has a body built with the aid of Dianabol, two black belts and an unquenchable desire for money and faux celebrity. He apparently also owns a glass jaw.

Alas, even performance-enhancing drugs really can't help if you can't fight. (At some point, I'm going to figure out why my browser won't let me post the video here. But the link is good.)
Continue Reading »

Tragic beyond words

This news-sports story can be summed up with this childhood warning my from mother: "Some mistakes you just can't afford to make in life."

How many times must kids with potential throw away their lives over bullshit? Continue Reading »

It's only Tuesday?

I'm not sure if anyone out there is reading but after two days of rapid-fire blogging, I've got to take a break of sorts today.

Tuesday represents Step 1 of Operation Takeover (yes, I'm being cryptic for a reason) and I'll be subjecting myself to a battery of tests that will determine my mental fitness for the task ahead.

But I've got all sorts of plans for this blog - adding a blog roll today or Wednesday; writing about the prep hoops star who's skipping college for a year of ball in Europe and why that's too risky of a proposition; more thoughts from the presidential campaign; trying to figure out if I think Brooke Hogan is attractive; and mulling over why our brightest sports stars (Kobe and A-Rod, in particular) are so unpopular. Just to name a few things.

I'm not openly taking suggestions - it would be sort of embarrassing if no one is indeed reading this. But if you've got some ideas, feel free to share. I'm always looking and listening.


I'll leave you (me) with this link: Again, I feel sick this morning. Thankfully, I've avoided CNN, MSNBC and the like. Continue Reading »

Monday, July 14, 2008

Not to hate or anything

...but am I the only person who thought this was a sort of wack offering from Kevin Powell? (And, honestly, I say that with the utmost respect).

Either way, Powell is building on a theme that seems to be an almost universal refrain from some of America's brightest and best black columnists about Rev. Jackson's "nuts" flap. Scroll down a bit on this link for more of a roundup of views.

Guess I'll have to be the contrarian on this one. Continue Reading »

Barack talks, no one listens...

I already think I'm going to be sick now that the first reviews are coming in.

I'm not mad at Barack. I'm mad at myself for thinking the politico press was more nuanced than this when it comes to matters of race. Is that all they came up with out of his speech? Certainly, Sen. Obama talked of something else.

Remind me not to get my hopes up about that upcoming CNN series "Black in America." Continue Reading »

Linked Up

Here's a few links to some things I've been reading today - when I was supposed to be working, most likely: - The actual story behind the cover that has ignited all this outrage Monday. Actually, an insightful look into the birth of a political star. - I wish this would put an end to the insidious phrase "Sister Souljah moment" but somehow I doubt it. Great insight from publius, though. - Explains the reason why, no matter what the Supreme Court thinks about the D.C. handgun ban, it will be extremely tough for District residents to buy a piece there.,0,1438588.story - Help me here ... is the bloom already off this rose? I haven't read this blog in weeks. - An interesting "essay" of sorts about the potential fallout from Brandon Jennings' decision to take his game to Europe. I have more thoughts about this but I'll save them for later.,0,2815645.story - I was looking for something else when I came across this story - another depressing one for those of us who work in newspapers. For us journos, I guess it's a matter of who will be the last one off the boat. Continue Reading »

Are you gonna sit there and tell me ...

... Common doesn't look like Drew Gooden?

Continue Reading »

Changing the game for a sec...

... I don't want this enterprise to be entirely about Barack Obama and football. They generate plenty of heat all around the blogosphere and other dark corners of the Internet.

Now, of course, if that's what it takes to keep people to stay, we can talk about them all day long. But I'm a multidimensional brotha, you know?

There's plenty of time for all that other jazz later.

Speaking of jazz, I was listening to A Tribe Called Quest's final album, "The Love Movement," on the way to work this morning. You never know what you've got until it's gone is all I have to say.

I remember being about 13 years old, circa 1992, sitting the backseat of my cousin Mike's car with one of his young homies, Kwame from Chicago. Kwame popped a tape in the deck, and I was hooked for life.

Of course, I was already digging on KRS and Big Daddy Kane and, uh, M.C. Hammer at this point. But "The Low End Theory" was pure genius - Q-Tip and Phife trading smooth rhymes over some serious jazz samples was perfection to those untrained teenage ears.

I'm 30 now, and occasionally I let my standards slip - I was really feeling Yung Joc a couple years ago, and I can't stop myself from liking the simple-minded material from dudes like Rick Ross.

But it's good to know that, at some point, I figured out what good music was supposed to sound like. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you have taste. Continue Reading »

Never forget who paid dues first

This link comes from probably my favorite writer in the blog game, Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Lost in all the hype surrounding those infamous comments about Sen. Obama's testicles and such is the fact that none of this would have been possible were it not for Rev. Jackson's trailblazing campaigns in '84 and '88.

Not to excuse the good Reverend. But still...context and a knowledge of history is important.

Let's not bury the man just yet. Ok? Continue Reading »

Give Henry free

My boy Zen put me on to this story about suspended NFL receiver Chris Henry earlier today.

I'm not speechless. I'm not even surprised. I'm just extremely curious to know how the NFL and its self-annointed Czar of Justice, Roger Goodell, plans to right this very obvious wrong.

"All we could say is this would be reviewed at the appropriate time, and all factors would be considered," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the AP.

Well, the time to review all the "factors" was after the criminal justice system had worked itself out. Isn't that ethos of our country's legal system: innocent until proven guilty?

But, no, Czar Goodell was so eager to prove some sort of ridiculous point that he rendered judgment before an actual judgment had been rendered. A one-year suspension for Chris Henry. On the basis of an arrest. Which is not the same thing as a conviction.

In a larger sense, I'm upset that the NFLPA would even allow something like this to pass through on their watch - I guess that goes back to Gene Upshaw.

I've always thought it odd for pro teams and college squads to suspend or punish someone until their case has run its course. Why the rush? To appease the media? The fans?

Wouldn't it be more prudent to allow someone to have their day in court?

I've covered cops in about three different states now, and the one thing you quickly find out is that the police department often (at least more than you'd think) throws charges against the wall and hopes something will stick; the DA's office often keeps them in check. A criminal lawyer could speak to this better than I could. But an arrest in no way should signify guilt.

So what's next for the Czar? It should be a quick reversal of that ridiculous suspension. If not, Henry should find himself a good and fearless lawyer.
Continue Reading »

It worked

Don't you get it? New Yorker magazine just hit the jackpot.

Somewhere, deep in their editorial offices Monday morning, I imagine that the editors and bean counters were cheesing mighty hard around the water cooler. They could care less about whether Obama, his campaign or his grandmama were offended by their allegedly satirical cover illustration of the Senator and his wife dressed in terrorist garb.

That's not the point. The point is that folks are talking about the magazine, good or bad. The cover dominated the discussion for the day. That's a win. Vanity Fair is probably wishing they had thought of it first.

Also, Editor David Remnick tried to explain: "The idea that we would publish a cover saying these things literally, I think, is just not in the vocabulary of what we do and who we are."

Sure, whatever. The important thing is that they move more subscriptions and get more copies taken off those newstands. It'll be interesting to know how well this issue of the magazine sells.

I don't have much of an opinion about whether or not this is appropriate. I'm not all that outraged but I can see an argument for why someone else might be - I don't think any major publication would publish an illustration of McCain in a Klan outfit or anything.

I can buy that the idea was satire, poorly executed. But, in the end, it was mostsly a great marketing ploy. I'll have to go out and get a copy today - I have a place for it on my coffee table next to this magazine. Continue Reading »

What's playing in my deck... I rush off to work and a roughly 10-hour work break today. Again, this is a totally random selection, courtesy of the "party shuffle" feature on my iTunes:

1. Sweet Thing by Chaka Khan
2. So Anxious by Ginuwine
3. Breathe by Anna Nalick (I can't help the way I feel. Sorry.)
4. Just the Two of Us by Bill Withers
5. Mr. 17.5 by Young Jeezy

Guess iTunes wasn't feeling hip hop this morning. I'll make it up on the hour-long drive to work.

I'll be back to drop some dimes later in the day. Peace. Continue Reading »

Big Easy getting bigger

Good news for a Monday morning comes from the Census Bureau, which is reporting that New Orleans now ranks as the fastest-growing large city in the nation. (Thanks for the link, Donecia. Even though you're trying to start an argument.)

New Orleans' population grew almost 14 percent to 239,124 in the year ending July 1, 2007.

But this paragraph from the story on sort of sent me reeling: "The figures can be taken with a grain of salt. Over the first seven years of this decade, "The Big Easy" experienced both the largest rate of loss and largest numerical decline, due primarily to the storm that devastated the city nearly three years ago."

Really? "A grain of salt"?

I guess if you're looking in terms of raw arithmetic. But in a larger, more nuanced sense, those numbers show that New Orleans is not an entirely lost cause to a great many people. Some people soberly hinted in the months after Katrina that the displaced folks (most of them black) shouldn't even bother returning to southeast Louisiana, and they should rebuild their lives elsewhere - often in places where the residents weren't entirely happy to see them stick around. The resilience of New Orleanians is inspiring.

And for reasons I can't entirely understand, I've become emotionally invested in New Orleans' recovery - perhaps that only makes me human. But I even abandoned my lifelong allegiance to the Houston Rockets to root for the New Orleans Hornets this spring in the NBA playoffs, hoping that something as simple and stupid as hoops success might somehow matter to the spirits of the good and interesting people there.

Godspeed, New Orleans. And I hope to return soon. Continue Reading »

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ain't Gonna Hurt Nobody

Reading this makes me want to sit down and watch House Party 1 and 2 and one of my unfathomable favorites, Class Act. (This is also a plug for my publication. Who else is bringing you the latest on Kid 'N' Play? Or, at least, Play.)

This takes me back to the days when Tisha Campbell was still fine as hell, everyone on my block was rocking a high-top fade and I spent a whole summer practicing the "Kid 'N' Play" in my neighborhood pool. Something like this: (I'm having problems posting the video right now. This link will be good until I can figure out what the hell is wrong with my browser.)

I haven't done it in awhile but I'm sure I can still pull it off. One of my homeboys has a picture of himself pulling off the feat a couple years ago. I'd post it but I don't have permission yet - that's a hint, dude.

UPDATE: Ah, J-Will, you're a good man. Here's the pics, courtesy of our boy DeRonnie Pitts aka DJ Twodegrees.

Continue Reading »

What, Sinbad wasn't available?

Seems that Bernie Mac mistakenly used material at an Obama fundraiser Friday night in Chicago that would have gone over better at Jokes & Notes.

Barack handled this situation, on the fly, about as smoothly as someone in his position could. It's hard not to like someone that quick and thoughtful on his feet - Barack could have really fronted out Bernie Mac in front of the crowd but instead gently poked him.

But really - what did Barack's handlers expect from the Mac Man? Bernie Mac has never been about family-friendly standup, at least that I know of.

They'd have been better off bringing in Sinbad, who deserves a sort of reward from Obama's campaign for calling HRC on her bullshit earlier this year about that hair-raising trip to Bosnia in 1996.
Continue Reading »

Is Jesse Jackson "nuts"? Not so fast.

So, maybe some of you have heard that Rev. Jesse Jackson wants to (figuratively) cut off the nuts of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama?

For background, I'm a member of a listserv dubbed "youngblackjournalists" and I occasionally engage some very smart folks - most of them black - on another e-mail chain that I'm often reading when I should be doing other things. As you might imagine, the hot topic near the end of the week was whether Rev. Jackson had stepped out of line and was Sen. Obama really "talking down to black folks" during his celebrated speech on Father's Day.

Of course, there's no place for Rev. Jackson's crude remarks in reasonable and logical political discourse. He apologized, and he should have. But some people are using his "mic check" moment as an excuse to pile on and push him further into the background. Here's a compilation of my responses on "youngblackjournalists" and the e-mail group. What say you?:

I think there's room for lots of folks at the top, and in many ways, the idea of a black leader is sort of antiquated. Can a handful of folks truly represent the diversity and complexity of the so-called black community? Even if Sen. Obama wins in November, he doesn't all of sudden represent the entirety of "Blackland." He and Rev. Jackson (I believe he's earned the right for a courtesy title, no?) are free to offer their takes on the triumphs and ills of the community, and they don't have to be in direct competition to do so. In fact, all of us are free to contribute to the larger discussions.

But back to what Rev. Jackson was referring to during that mic check mishap, I can sort of see where he was coming from. Sen. Obama was coming from a good and decent and honest place during his Father's Day speech. I truly believe that and don't have a problem with that.

My issue is that folks, specifically some of the media's biggest political pundits and others, are acting as if black folks have never had the common sense to understand that fathers should stick around to take care of their children. I mean, that's only common sense and a rather obvious point that any reasonable person can understand.

Sen. Obama and Bill Cosby are not the first black people to mention that, uh, "maybe some of you guys should take care of your kids." It's an old refrain. And something that applies to people across all races and ethnicities. I know that my late grandfather, who had a 3rd-grade education and raised 12 kids (four of whom were not biologically his) in Jim Crow Arkansas, felt the same way.

So let's stop acting like Obama and the Coz have come up with some cutting-edge lesson for a new generation, ok? Black people have always been talking to black people about black people. Nothing new there. Tsk-tsking folks isn't exactly some form of political bravery.

And that's what I believe Rev. Jackson was talking about during that really crude moment on Fox. He should have apologized for that, and only that. And he did. Continue Reading »

What's playing in my deck...

I know people don't really use cassette tapes anymore. But I like that phrase, ok? I'm sort of old school and can't help it.

We should all get to know one another, you know? One of the best (easiest) ways to do this to reveal ourselves through the music we listen to. I've always like the phrase "soundtrack of my life." Anyway, here's a sampling of songs that just popped up on my iTunes in the past few minutes. Note that I had the setting on "party shuffle":

1. Juicy Fruit by Mtume.
2. Can You Stand the Rain? by New Edition.
3. That's Real Talk by Papoose.
4. 4-Page Letter by Aaliyah.
5. Late by Kanye West.

Ok. I think that's enough for today. This is a good start, no? We'll try again tomorrow (Monday).

Holla. Continue Reading »

Play ball

I can sort of understand why people like Stephen A. are growing tired of Brett Favre's confusion over whether to suit up once again or fade gently into the night.

But I can also see where Favre is coming from, regardless of the headaches it might cause the Packers, Ted Thompson, angst-ridden Green Bay fans and football media folks who would prefer not to be bothered in the weeks before training camp opens.

I've never really understood why a guy like Favre, who clearly can continue to play at a high level and seems to delight in fall Sundays, would even remotely choose to go through the motions of retirement when he still has some gas left in the tank.

He played at a Pro Bowl level in 2007, came within an ugly overtime interception from taking on the Pats in the Super Bowl and seems to be relatively healthy. Why rush into a life without football so soon?

Favre has the rest of his life to putter around on his Mississippi property and reminisce about the old days in Lambeau. You only get so many game days, you know?

I don't really have an opinion about where he should play, or whether or not the Packers should grant him his release. I just know that as a recovering football player (a mediocre one) myself, I'd throw on a cup, girdle, cleats and helmet this quick if I had the chance to play under those lights again.

Favre will likely feel this urge even more intensely than someone like, say, John Ed Bradley, who spent a good portion of his adult life trying to recover from his post-gridiron high. I think he should ignore the noise and listen to his heart.

Play ball. Continue Reading »

Missing Shreveport

Big ups to my old fam in Shreveport in general and John Andrew Prime in particular. I used to sit across from JAP during my first couple of months at The Times, often exasperated as he repeatedly pointed out things I wasn't listening to on the police scanner. I can only imagine this story is a product of his amazingly attentive ears:

A few things about this story:
1. I've been to Stray Cats a couple times before and trust me, nothing this interesting ever happened while I was in there.

2. It probably says less than something about my knowledge of film that I considered Jeffrey Wright to be the biggest movie star in this story. Maybe it's because I remember him from his portrayals of MLK in "Boycott" and Jean Michel Basquiat in the appropriately named "Basquiat." A very underrated actor, according to these novice eyes.

Wright is apparently playing Colin Powell and Josh Brolin is portraying 43 in their latest film, which reminds me ...

3. ... I had NO idea "W" was being filmed in Shreveport. Amazing. Shreveport has come a long way in the movie biz in a short amount of time. Seems like only yesterday when everyone was bragging on this movie coming to town. Continue Reading »


Here's some motivation to keep this little enterprise going. Thank goodness for the Internet and wikipedia:

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one" - Mark Twain, writer, satirist and humorist. (If you don't know who this is, chances are, this blog won't be for you).

"The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings" - Dave Weinbaum, writer and The One-Line Philosopher.

"You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great" - Zig Ziglar, author and motivational speaker.

"You can't build a reputation on what you're going to do" - Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company.

"All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant's revolving door" - Albert Camus, French author, philosopher and journalist.

Let's do this. Together. Continue Reading »