Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Takeover

During halftime of the Alabama-LSU game, I fortuitously happened to flip to C-SPAN and catch about 20 minutes from a 2005 charity roast of then-U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel.

It was a revealing look into the building of a political movement. If you get the chance, definitely check it out.

The roast was a fundraiser for the Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE), which was founded by David Axelrod. (Axelrod's daughter suffers from developmental disabilities associated with chronic epileptic seizures).

Hillary Clinton was the final roaster before Emanuel came to the stage for his turn at the mic. Barack Obama had what I think were surprisingly bad seats for the festivities. Paul Begala was the M.C. Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and former GOP House Majority Leader Tom DeLay were also in the house. There were probably dozens of other political heavyweights that I simply couldn't recognize.

As the closer, HRC made some prescient remarks about the role Emanuel would take in the pivotal elections of '06. She was also funnier than I can ever remember her being. She looked, dare we say, presidential.

Later, Emanuel started out with a few cracks about his good friend and neighbor, Barack. "Thank you for being here with us mere mortals tonight," he said.

Reflecting on that roast, it's stunning to think about what's happened since that night.

Emanuel helped the Democrats fulfill their promise of taking back Capitol Hill in 2006. DeLay was forced to resign his seat under pressure and threat of trial over violations of campaign finance laws. Clinton was the frontrunner to lead the Democratic takeover of the White House. And then she wasn't.

What happened is, seemingly, every other Democrat of note at the roast eventually coalesced in support of the improbable presidential campaign of that junior senator from Illinois who had bad seats.

Who would've thunk it?

UPDATE: It's interesting to learn that Axelrod's daughter was what Sarah Palin would likely call a special-needs child. I wouldn't have known this, of course, unless I was randomly channel-surfing during halftime of a football game. I think it's safe to say that, even with Palin back home in Wasilla, the White House will still be occupied by people who care about special-needs children. All children, in fact.

UPDATE 2: That Alabama game was just, wow. It seems like all November games in Baton Rouge go into OT. I still think the Crimson Tide will lose to Florida in the SEC title game, though. Maybe Penn State's loss today clears the way for that Florida-USC BCS championship game that I want to see. I'd be ok with Texas-Florida, too, though that seems like a bad matchup for the Longhorns. Continue Reading »

Real talk

Before I blog any more, I thought it important to explain my unintentionally cryptic post from a couple days ago.

In short, I picked a really bad time to pick up an increasingly obsessive habit. I explained in the "About Me" section of this site that change is afoot. Well, I wasn't lying.

A couple of days ago, I looked up and realized that my home office was a mess, I hadn't finished a book in about four months, I'd been slacking on my workout routine, I wasn't studying enough for The Test and, every so often, I would be furiously pounding away on my laptop instead of spending q.t. with the First Lady.

That's no way to live. So things must change.

I'll still post semi-regularly, which for me, comes out to about once a day or once every couple of days. I plan to increase the pace on Thursdays and Saturday, my days off from work. That means disciplining myself against blogging about any and everything, as I've been wont to do over the past couple months.

It could also mean that I'll be a better blogger, posting more thoughtful and well-written items instead of ill-conceived and poorly executed ones. We'll see what happens.

I've often asked the First Lady what I'd blog about in the days after the Nov. 4 elections. As a guy who nearly double-majored in journalism and political science, I don't want to be a person who is more interested in campaigns than government. That seems shallow. But I also want to feel more free to blog about the other things that interest me - football, music, football, pirates, pop culture, the absurd and football.

The First Lady reminded me: "You know you're not getting paid for this, right?"

Yeah. That woman could be my salvation yet.

UPDATE: I hate the phrase "real talk." In fact, I often mock it. But, yo, I was fresh out of ideas for the title. Continue Reading »

Deep Thought

The word "nigger" probably hasn't been used this much since O.J. Simpson was acquitted in his murder trial. Continue Reading »

North America is really, really big

Seriously, Sarah Palin needs someone to come to her defense on this one. Might as well be me and Atrios.

What can I say? I already miss her.

Anyway, not knowing all the nations that make up North America is nothing to be ashamed of. You can't do it either. Neither can I. Take a look.

Makes me seriously doubt the veracity of some (many?) of those claims made by unnamed sources within McCain campaign's to FOX News' Carl Cameron. Though, in fairness, Atrios points out the specific claim about North America could simply be a poorly worded recitation of an earlier claim that Palin couldn't name the countries that make up NAFTA.
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Friday, November 7, 2008

A great mystery

Does anyone else out there remember - vaguely, at the least - a televised 3-on-3 celebrity basketball tournament in Hawaii that was shown around midnight (Central time) in the early 1990s?

I can only remember a couple of stars from the tournament - Magic Johnson, right after his first retirement from the NBA, and Jaleel "Urkel" White, who was actually a pretty decent baller. I think Flex, the comedian, might have played in the league, too.

On Sunday nights as a kid, I pretty much always fell asleep with this tournament on my black-and-white TV (no remote). It came on after "Northern Exposure" reruns and before whatever it was that Byron Allen was doing for an hour.

For some reason, I thought of this the other night and it's killing me because I can't remember any other details. Does anyone out there know what I'm talking about?

UPDATE: Ever the hoops fan, Urkel apparently contributed to an blog. Not sure if that's an updated link.

UPDATE 2: Speaking of mysteries, how has Byron Allen managed to keep his little slice of TV time for this many years? Byron Allen is like the Julio Franco of entertainment, I tell ya. A modern marvel.
Continue Reading »

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Maybe you noticed

But posting has been light today. And possibly for the forseeable future. I'll explain later but, for the moment, I need some time to chill.

More later. Continue Reading »

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We should know better

More than that, we should be ashamed of ourselves. How could it be that on a night that seemed to summon our better selves, black voters thumbed their noses at equality?

Every ethnic group supported marriage equality, except African-Americans, who voted overwhelmingly against extending to gay people the civil rights once denied them: a staggering 69 - 31 percent African-American margin against marriage equality. That's worse than even I expected.
It is a cruel irony that the forces that helped Barack Obama into the White House also appear to have aided the forces of homophobia. Newly blue Florida even affirmed this nonsense with significant help from black and Hispanic voters.

"Obviously, having a robust African-American turnout was helpful," said lawyer John Stemberger, who ran the campaign Florida4Marriage, the group that sponsored the ballot measure.

In retrospect, I do wish Obama had spoken more forcefully on this issue during his campaign. I wonder if his powerful voice could have provided the difference. I suppose it's a reminder that we can't afford to fall in love with politicians - Obama has said he doesn't support full civil equality for gays and lesbians. Yes, even a historical figure like our new president will ultimately be on the wrong side of history.

But I've already spoken on this, so there's little more than I can express today other than disappointment. TNC can handle it from here:

I've always maintained that you don't have to like black people to do the right thing. Same thing here. I'm not very interested in folks's homophobia. I'm interested in why they think they should be in the business of dictating terms of love to two consenting adults. It's disgusting. And we need to let this shit go.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan passionately details the fight ahead for gay couples. Loved this: "And this is a civil rights movement. It goes forward and it is forced back. The battle to end miscegenation took centuries. These are the rhythms of progress." Continue Reading »

K.J. can run the point and Sac-Town

Notwithstanding the national affirmation of socialism, radical Islam and rampant negritude yesterday, one of the more pleasant developments of Super Tuesday was the election of Kevin Johnson as mayor of Sacramento (Calif.).

Maybe some of you remember K.J. as a three-time NBA All-Star and point guard of some title-contending Phoenix teams led by Charles Barkley.

But I remember him as the guy who momentarily embarrassed the only NBA idol of my youth.

It’s all good, though. Johnson never beat Hakeem and the Rockets when it really mattered. Glad to see K.J. finally learned how to win in the clutch. Continue Reading »

Pooping on the party

Only for a moment. Then we can get the Obama Shuffle going strong again. Agreed?

But it was really tough to stomach the post-election coverage on CNN last night (goodness knows that I might have actually wretched if I watched FOX News). Mostly because, in a seemingly endless loop of celebration scenes, we were shown images of emotionally overwhelmed black folks.

Cameras caught a woman who stopped her car in the middle of a busy Chicago street, climbed out, cranked up the gospel music and tried to get her groove back. There were numerous shots of students at some HBCU in Atlanta (the name of the school escapes me at the moment) celebrating wildly. And, of course, there were gratuitous shots of elderly black people dabbing their eyes with tissue alongside others who all but broke out into the Tootsee Roll.

That's all good. Hell, last night after I got home from work, I hugged some stranger in the parking lot of my apartment. I've been exchanging knowing grins with dozens of brown-skinned people today. And, for a brief moment during Obama's acceptance speech, it even got a little, uh, dusty in my apartment. It was truly a wonderful moment.

But it wouldn't hurt for CNN, MSNBC and other cable networks to emphasize that Obama didn't win the presidency of Black America. He was elected president of the United States of America by a pretty sizable electoral margin, meaning his support crossed all sorts of lines - including color.

Which means, presumably there were some folks of different complexions who made a joyful noise last night. Lots of people had reason to celebrate last night - and I know a lot of them did. It's just too bad we didn't get to see much of it on the tee-vee.

(Photo from Getty Images)
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The Questions

After about four hours of sleep, I stirred from a deep, blissful sleep and was reminded the country had elected a black president. I quickly turned to CNN to make sure people hadn't changed their minds.

And I'm just some schmoe writer in Tampa. Can you imagine the feelings surging through Barack Obama this morning?

Part of the reason I aspired to become a journalist as a child was because I'm extremely nosy. I like to get information. If you know me, trust me, I've got some weird questions for you that I'll probably never ask.

Thus, if I had my chance to interview President Elect Obama today, here's a few of the questions I'd like to ask:

1. Did you sleep at all last night? If so, for how long?
2. What did you order for breakfast this morning? And what did you have for dinner last night?
3. How hard was it for you not to cry when you mentioned your grandmother during your acceptance speech?
4. Do you really want to leave Chicago for D.C.? Just saying.
5. What music did you listen to this morning when you woke up? And what was the last song you heard before you learned that you won?
6. What did you really want to say to John McCain when he called you to concede?
7. Who did you actually call last night? Not who called you. But who did you call once you were told that you were the winner?
8. Is today a bit of a letdown?
9. Uh, so, what did you and Michelle do last night after you got home?
10. Are you weird around Jill Biden after that awkward kiss you all shared during the Democratic National Convention?
11. This one from the First Lady: What did it feel like to vote for yourself?
12. This one for the new First Lady: Aren't you glad you got over that thing about dating co-workers?
13. This one for everyone: Do you think we'll ever elect a gay or Muslim president?

I'll probably have more later. Until then, here's something from Common to get the juices flowing. We did it, eh?

UPDATE: 14. Did you run a little Just for Men in your hair last night? Seems like you had a little less gray than usual. Continue Reading »

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


You'd think folks would at least wait until the election was over. Continue Reading »

A reminder

As seems to be the theme of the blogosphere this morning, let me urge you to "Go vote!"

If you don't feel like "rocking" the vote, that is fine. But cast a ballot, regardless.

Also remember that beyond the presidential election, there's plenty of other down-the-ballot races going on across the country that will have a tremendous influence on your lives. All politics is local, no?

I'm off to monitor polling sites, talk with voters and keep tabs on the local races that I'm charged with covering. It's a great day to be a member of the liberal elite media in a swing state. What a rush. Continue Reading »

A food epiphany

I don't like bananas. I don't like pudding.

But over the weekend, I discovered that I like banana pudding. I'm 30, from the South and a big fan of sweets, yet it was my first taste of the stuff.

Go figure, eh?

Much props to my friend's wife, who whipped up a batch not knowing that I was a banana-pudding virgin. She might have changed my life. Or, at least, broadened my horizons when it comes to dessert.
Continue Reading »

A time to be serious

Consider our country, at this moment.

We are in two wars, one of them illegal. The national debt has mushroomed and our teetering economy may not have yet reached its nadir. Our reputation has been diminished around the globe. We torture the guilty and we torture the innocent. Still, we are not safe from terrorists. A great American city - a treasure, really - drowned three years ago and still sputters for life. Many of us have grown resentful of academia, if not intelligence. Some of us still wish to engage in culture war and identity politics. If nothing else, we are deeply divided.

These are serious times. And they demand a serious leader.

I can't - and won't - suggest whom you should vote for. And I'm certain that you will seriously think about the two choices that await you inside the booth today, assuming you didn't vote early like me or that you truly fancy Bob Barr or Alan Keyes.

One candidate tabbed a divisive, cartoonish, proudly ignorant unknown as his running mate. He relied on stunts rather than strategy when Wall Street collapsed. He missed a chance to separate himself from the sitting president - a "Maverick" moment, if you will - by choosing to back a pork-bloated, billions-dollar bailout. He mocked "women's health." He flailed about wildly for a narrative that would resonate. When that didn't work, he pursed his lips on that dog whistle. He allowed a divisive, cartoonish, proudly ignorant mascot to stump for him. At times, he has barely been able to contain his animus toward his opponent.

He was crazed in the face of calm. He was cranky in the face of hope. He was deeply unserious in the face of stoicism.

So I went with the other guy, who is serious without taking himself too seriously. I think our nation and the world demands that sort of leader at this moment.

And in a way, that's my closing argument. There's really nothing left to say or do - save call a few folks to make sure they hit the polls - until after the numbers roll in this evening. Until Wednesday morning, if I can help it, I'm going to pray hard and free my mind. I hope you can do the same. Continue Reading »

Monday, November 3, 2008

B.O. says no to BCS

I'm going to make an endorsement here, but man, I can definitely get behind a presidential candidate who wants a playoff for college football. Us believers in the bracket could use some White House might.

Barack Obama is indeed a man of uncommon sense.

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, I disagree with McCain's concern about performance-enhancing drugs in sports. I just can't summon any outrage about this. And I don't think the fans really care about this anymore either.

UPDATE 2: Nice riff from McCain about "that's why they play the game." Then he went off into something about "country first ... yada yada yada ... jay-vee football." (Yawn). I damn near tuned him out. Continue Reading »

Hitchens strikes back at McCain

Something about John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate has sparked quite a indignant fury within Christopher Hitchens. On the eve of Election Day, his anger seems to have finally reached a fever pitch.

I'm no big fan of Hitchens, who can be tremendously pompous about his antitheism, but his latest screed about McCain's unapologetic attack of Palestinian academic Rashid Kalidi is a must-read. Here's an important passage:

If Rashid chooses to state that he doesn't care to be evicted from his ancestral home in order to make way for some settler from Brooklyn who claims to have God on his side, I think he has a perfect right to say so. I would go further and say that if Barack Obama was looking for a Palestinian friend, he could not have chosen any better. But perhaps John McCain has decided that he doesn't need any Palestinian friends and neither do we. Perhaps he thinks it's all right to refer to refugees and victims of occupation, who have been promised self-determination and statehood at the podium of the United Nations and the U.S. Congress by George Bush and Condoleezza Rice, as if they were Hitlerites. How shameful. How disgusting. How ignorant.

I'll never quite understand how anyone thought foreign policy was one of McCain's strengths heading into this campaign. Apparently, Hitchens is right there with me.

(H/T First Lady.)

UPDATE: Speaking of Palin, the AJC's Cynthia Tucker offers up a name for the top of the GOP ticket in 2012: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. The only flaw I can find with this suggestion is that Obama might be a strong incumbent (if the polls are to be trusted and, honestly, who really knows?) and the Republicans might not want to waste a rising star in that election. That's why I think Romney, Huckabee and Palin will be the also-rans given a chance to knock B.O. off his throne four years from now. If they lose, no biggie. A Jindal defeat could be a crippling blow for the future. Continue Reading »

R.I.P. Madelyn Dunham

What sad news. She got her grandson thiiis close to the finish line. It's up to the everyone else to help him cross it.

I'll refer, once again, to a timeless quote from James Baldwin:
"History is not a procession of illustrious people. It's about what happens to a people. Millions of anonymous people is what history is about."
Dunham got us moving along, doing what she understood to be the right thing during the wrong time: love her grandson. For her act of courage, she was blessed with a gift that she's now passed on to the rest of us.

The question is: are we worthy?

UPDATE: Atrios brings up something I was talking about with my mother earlier this evening: "Obama's going into this without any of his guardians left - father, mother, stepfather, grandmother, grandfather."

If you'll allow me some sappiness and schmaltz for the moment, there's a sort of poetry to this moment. I just wonder if the woman Barack called "Toot" finally felt enough peace to let go, realizing that everything will be OK. Continue Reading »

"The Mac is back!" Uh, Mark Morrison?

Yeah, suuuure. Nate feels much differently. But we'll let the voters settle this once and for all tomorrow.

Until then, the real "Return of the Mack."

UPDATE: Tampa yawns this morning at the presence of "The Mac." Continue Reading »

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Rock for Obama

It's worth wondering why Chris Rock wasn't offered or interested in taking the slot given to subpar comedian D.L. Hughley on CNN.

Was it the strait-laced constraints of cable news? Was there not enough money on the table? Are there other projects in the works?

Anyway, Rock made a stop in Tampa on Saturday to stump for Barack Obama. Apparently, it was free. The First Lady and I missed it and, as a result, I'll probably be sore about this for awhile. Well, at least until Tuesday evening.

Rock, as of late, has been on fire. Here's a couple of samples:

"When you go to somebody for help you want somebody who can relate to what you have to say. Like, if I have problems getting laid, I wouldn't call Brad Pitt 'cause he wouldn't know what I was talking about."

"... McCain was on MTV's Cribs 15 times. This is not the guy you want to be president ... McCain probably had financial problems too, but we can't all do what he did. We can't all dump our first wife, marry a rich one and have all our bills paid."

Continue Reading »


Since it's NFL Sunday, I must mention that this Nike ad is, by far, my favorite commercial. Any kid who's ever slipped on a helmet knows what I'm talking about.

I especially love the brief shout-out to my alma mater. A school, by the way, with the nation's 11th-ranked college football team.

UPDATE: Isn't the Web a wonderful thing? I recognized the music from the ad as familiar - sounded a lot like Jay-Z's "Blueprint" from the "The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse" album. Actually, it's the "The Ecstasy of Gold" from Ennio Morricone. Who knew? Enjoy. Continue Reading »

Malcolm to Barack to ... Tayshaun?

It all makes sense, doesn't it? Judge for yourself.

Barack is lanky, light-skinned and has a nice jumper. Just like Tayshaun. For all we know, Barack might be the best on-ball defender in the Senate.

And you know how us Negroes like to have kids we don't take care of.

This might actually be the gamechanger McCain was hoping and praying for before Election Day. Let's hope the MSM doesn't get a hold of this.

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Call and response: The best of Jay-Z

Man, Avery went ahead and made me catch the vapors with his Top 15 list from Jay-Z. Now I gotta respond.

He has a solid list but, yo, I got my own favorites. I'll just go with a very imperfect Top 10 to keep my mind from springing a leak - there's way too many to choose from. And I'll just admit up front the list was heavily tilted toward my two favorite Jay albums, "The Black Album" and "The Blueprint":

10. Ignorant Shit - I had to find room on the list for this song, which had been out on mixtapes for at least three years before it was finally included on the "American Gangster" soundtrack with a verse from Beanie Sigel. I prefer the original, which finds Hov at his braggadocios best.

9. Beach Chair - Probably the best of Hov's "post-retirement" songs to me. The faint kick drums from Dre and the subtle strings from Chris Martin provide the perfect backdrop for Jay. It really feels like Jay wrote this song while lounging at the beach.

8. D'evils - I first heard this joint on a college radio station in Houston that played East Coast hip-hop for about an hour on Friday nights. More than any song, this officially made me a fan of Hov. It's gotten overlooked amid all the renewed appreciation for "Reasonable Doubt." But I always thought it was one of the best on the album.

7. Girls, Girls, Girls - A playful look at the life of a player. It was a really nice touch to add some vocals from Q-Tip, Slick Rick and the Biz. Jay even manages to throw in an old Eddie Murphy joke in his rhyme. Nice.

6. Never Change - This song was, to me, proof that Kanye really knew how to bring the best out of Jay. The track fits perfectly with Hov's laid-back style. Loved these lines: "young brother, big city, 8 million stories/old heads taught me young'n walk softly/carry a big clip that'll get niggas off me."

5. Where I'm From - Bringing his borough front and center, Jay gives a proper salute to his beloved Brooklyn. No matter where they're from, kinfolks always have love for their block. I used to rhyme "Mo City" over "Marcy" whenever this song came on. Eh, who am I kidding? I still do it.

4. Brooklyn's Finest - Here we have the first hint that Jay-Z will be a force to be reckoned with in the game. He very nearly owned this track despite the guest appearance from Biggie. Who knows what would have become of Jay's career had Biggie avoided an early death? It's not a stretch to think they could have pushed each other to even greater heights as lyricists.

3. Lucifer - I go back and forth on whether this is the best song on "The Black Album." Kanye's sample of "I Chase the Devil" is the blank canvas and Jay comes with the artful brushstrokes.

2. Takeover - Here's where Avery and I sort of agree, we just flipped the order. With anyone else, "Takeover" would have been a career-ender. Instead, it actually revived Nas' career and elevated the dis track to high hip-hop art. Jay brought the heat on this one, from start to finish.

1. Allure - This is the quintessential Jay-Z record: composure, comfort and confidence with a refined sense for luxury. A glass of champagne, a hammock and a gentle breeze would go perfect with this song.

Avery adds: "nostalgia, or perhaps more accurately, the multisensory memory of the swaying motion of the train combined with the drum and the piano." For me, it was long road trips on Oklahoma highways with an open moon roof.

If someone were to ever ask me who was Jay-Z, I'll sit him (or her) down and put on this record.
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