Friday, January 23, 2009

Eli Porter

From the Class of 2005. He's the best, mayne. And he got you roasted liked ever.

Honestly, what did we ever do before YouTube was around? Continue Reading »

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quietly judging you

One of my favorite scenes, from one of my favorite movies. Since I'm down and out for a minute, I might dust off that videotape and put my VCR to use tonight.

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Nothing going on here but the rent and some serious post-nasal drip. For obvious reasons, posting will be light today and possibly through the weekend.

A co-worker told me that I can expect to feel like crap for the next week or so.

On the bright side, I'm falling in love all over again with soup. Chicken noodle, chicken tortilla, tomato, French onion, miso, etc. Everyday is an adventure.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Trouble and The First Couple

Kellybelle is falling in love:

Was it me, or was the President trying to sneak in a little slow-dragging at the Neighborhood Ball last night? LOL, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love their love. Can you have a crush on a couple? (Not like that, clean your mind.)

... I will strangle any woman who comes near him with impure thoughts.

Our new president and First Lady do make a striking couple. No disputing that. By comparison, the Obamas make the Huxtables look like a pair of middle-class schlubs.

But I need to ask a question, something that I've joked about on the slick over the past few months: is there any married man in recent history who will be challenged to stay faithful more than President Obama?

In no way do I mean to impugn the character or fidelity of the man. But, in the end, President Obama is a man. No less than Michelle Obama has occasionally reminded us of her husband's relative normality: "He's a gifted man, but in the end, he's just a man."

He's also a man in possession of an unusual amount of power, celebrity, intelligence, good looks, charm, etc etc etc. President Obama is the Derek Jeter of politics or, more precisely, Derek Jeter is the President Obama of baseball.

And this worries me because the stakes have never been so high. Unfortunately, President Obama will be allowed no slip-ups, no mulligans and certainly no Lewinskys. Eliot Spitzer got off easy compared to what Obama might face in a similar situation.

Michelle is a lot of woman, no doubt. But I'm hoping Obama finds some sort of release for all the, uh, challenges facing him over the next four years. Can we publicly fund some sort of White House porn collection through his Web site or something?

Until we can figure this all out, enjoy one of the most poignant moments from the Obamas' night of ball-hopping. Gotta love Beyonce.

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The Replacements

Sorry, but I think Aretha Franklin has lost quite a few mphs on her fastball. Her rendition of "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at yesterday's inaguration was pretty mediocre, to be charitable.

Here's a short list of people I'd rather have seen perform at the inauguration instead of "The Queen of Soul" - I'll just assume that President Obama and Co. were looking for grown folks to handle this honor:

1. Gladys Knight
2. Chaka Khan
3. Roberta Flack
4. Patti LaBelle
5. Betty Wright
6. Mary J. Blige (Grudgingly)
7. Anita Baker (where is she?)
8. Chante Moore (she can invite Kenny, if she really wants to)
9. One of the Pointer Sisters
10. One of the Mary Jane Girls

But I guess I'll get to pick my own performers when I'm elected president someday. Yes I Can! Continue Reading »

Good question

Eli asks, "Why does Rush Limbaugh hate America?":

As you may be aware, the U.S. is in a bit of a pickle at the moment. Infrastructure crumbling, bureaucracy rotting, economy tanking, Big Three auto companies teetering, Iraq and Afghanistan simmering. If there's one thing everyone can agree on regardless of ideology, it's that we want to turn this mess around, right? Well, everyone except Rush...
Limbaugh is the fly in the ointment, the hair in the soup, the piss in the coffee, the rain on our national parade. I can only assume that Rush attended the Hater's Ball last evening:

We're talking about my country, the United States of America, my nieces, my
nephews, your kids, your grandkids. Why in the world do we want to saddle them
with more liberalism and socialism? Why would I want to do that? So I can answer
it, four words, "I hope he fails." And that would be the most outrageous thing anybody in this climate could say. Shows you just how far gone we are. Well, I know, I know. I am the last man standing.
Yeah, I'm the true maverick. I can do more than four words. I could say I hope he fails and I could do a brief explanation of why. You know, I want to win. If my party doesn't, I do. If my party has sacrificed the whole concept of victory, sorry, I'm now the Republican in name only, and they are the sellouts.
So, we're essentially talking about someone who looks at Americans as mere pawns in a chess game between Democrats and Republicans. Limbaugh wants to "win." I'm almost certain that I don't want to see what his sort of victory looks like.

Now, compare that to the following answer from Obama at a Jan. 9 press conference covering the basics of his economic stimulus plan:

Well, the — as I said before, Democrats or Republicans, we welcome good ideas. And so the challenge for all of us, I think, is to identify good ideas, good spending plans, that deliver on my commitment to create or save 3 million jobs. I want this to work. This is not an intellectual exercise, and there is no pride of authorship. If members of Congress have good ideas, if they can identify a project for me that will create jobs in an efficient way, that does not hamper our ability to — over the long term — get control of our deficit, that is good for the economy, then I’m going to accept it.

... So, you know, one of the things that I think I’m trying to communicate in this process is for everybody to get past the habit that sometimes occurs in Washington of whose idea is it, what ideological corner does it come from. Just show me. If you can show me that something is going to work, I will welcome it.

One guy is an unrepentant clown, as far from a patriot as someone can be. The other is a gracious, thoughtful public servant with an approval rating of 83 percent. Simple as that.

To paraphrase President Obama (wow, that actually sounds pretty cool), the ground is shifting beneath you, Rush Limbaugh. But we can at least agree on something: I truly hope that you're the last man standing. Continue Reading »

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A classical day

There's a certain type of lofty, ethereal writing that is beyond my grasp on occasions like these. Most days, I'm really not up to the task of finding the deeper meaning or finding some subtle moment that reflects a larger theme. Especially when I still haven't had a chance to digest it all.

However, I will say that I was awestruck by the enormity of the moment. It was extremely humbling to watch the transfer of our government unfold in such a dignified way - the pomp and circumstance, the cheering millions at the Mall, Obama putting his hand on Lincoln's Bible.

And it really didn't hit me until, strangely enough, I heard the first strands of John Williams' "Air and Simple Gifts," which was performed by violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Gabriela Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill.

For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know that I'm something of a music lover. I try to write only about what I know and ask about what I don't. So pardon my untrained ear, but to me, that classical music moment at the Capitol was simply beautiful. (This guy from the LA Times didn't feel quite the same.)

From that point forward, I pretty much thawed out. I embraced everything about the day. It also helps to have parents with some perspective.

My father, who learned to send text messages only a few months ago, dropped this one on me this morning: "GM, my wonderful son. This is a very exciting day! Just unreal. Make it a good day." And as I watched the inauguration from an event I was supposed to be covering for my newspaper, my mother tried to call me. I missed the call but got back at her a few minutes later.

"It is done, baby. It is done," she said. I knew she had been crying all morning.

Simple words, complex thoughts. I hope that I've inherited that gift.

In the end, I'm happy for them and all the other elders who never thought they'd live to see it happen. They deserved nothing less than something that beautiful.

Speaking of which ...

UPDATE: SEK with The Edge of the American West offers a suggestion for another inaugural score. Eh. Let's not. Continue Reading »

43's 43

Think Progress' Progress Report Team has compiled a list of 43 appointees by President Bush that helped him secure a spot among our worst presidents.

You really think Dubya could have accomplished all of this on his lonesome? No way.

To get a sense of the overwhelming incompetence Bush brought to Washington, here's a couple of guys who didn't make the cut: the former No. 3 official at the CIA, who allegedly received bribes in the form of prostitutes, and Homeland Security Deputy Press Secretary Brian Doyle, who resigned after being charged in an online child pornography sting.

Really, you almost have to be trying to be this bad of a leader. But Dubya has made it all look so easy.

Heckuva job!
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Monday, January 19, 2009

Back to Life, Back to Reality

My vacation is over, and it's time to get back into a daily routine. To be honest, I'm not all that happy about either of those developments.

That said, there's a lot to be excited about. And I'm really wondering if I missed out on a golden opportunity to take in the proceedings in D.C. over the next couple of days.

Oh well. Que sera, sera. Here's a few things bouncing around the ol' cerebral cortex:

1. I've been trying to find the words to express my thoughts about how MLK's memory and work has, in many ways, been perverted and co-opted to water down his powerful message. These days, MLK's line about "not color of skin, but content of character" has endured a virtual whitewashing. The holiday honoring him has become a celebration of a milquetoast, sanitized version of the Civil Rights era. It's easy to forget that, during his heyday, MLK was actually considered an extremely divisive figure. I sometimes wonder if, were Dr. King alive today, he'd be generally trivialized along the lines of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. Here's some brain food about the man and the holiday from Ari and Matt Y.

2. At least one development from Obama's inaugural bash Sunday brought a smile to my face. Obama had New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the nation's first openly gay bishop, open the concert at the Lincoln Memorial with a prayer. Robinson's inclusion in the festivities should be noted, especially in light all of the criticism Obama has taken for allowing Rick Warren to do the invocation at the inauguration Tuesday. Here's some video of the event and a transcript of the prayer. As Digby says, watching Obama hug Robinson "did my heart good."

3. Not to stir up old shyt, but I wonder what Rev. Jeremiah Wright is making of all of this?

4. Speaking of the inauguration, don't be mislead about how much this whole shindig is going to cost in comparison to previous ones. Via Steve Benen, we learn that some news organizations are making phony comparisons (perhaps deliberately) about the difference in cost between Obama's and Bush's inaugurations. For whatever reason, the AP, Yahoo, MSNBC and Fox News - to name a few - are factoring in the costs for Obama's security and not doing the same for Bush's tab. Media Matters drops the actual factuals here.

5. Unlike his predecessor, Obama seems to be quite the reader. Thus, The Washington Montly asked 25 of their favorite writers and thinkers (no, I didn't make the cut) to come up with their own reading suggestions for Obama, assuming he actually has time to read over the next four years. It's a list we'd all do well to take a swing at ourselves.

6. PostBourgie has up a couple of interesting posts related to our president-elect. One muses about the extraordinary task of keeping up with the "tinfoil" set likely to be plotting against Obama's life. Another links to a New York Times photo gallery of some of the players in the new Obama administration.

7. What do women need for good sex? Well, for a good many of them, money. No further comment necessary.

8. Sometimes, it's easy to forget that Obama isn't president yet. Then things like this happen: Bush pardoned a couple of Border Patrol agents who were imprisoned for shooting a rumored Mexican drug runner. Lou Dobbs and people of his ilk will be happy. I will not. And if you value law, you won't either. But as one prescient commenter noted, these guys are the mice. We should expect that the real rats will be pardoned soon.

9. A couple of things from Michael Tomasky: imagining the mood of the nation had McCain won on Nov. 4 (shorthand: things would suck worse) and his attempt to put into words what I'm feeling about the hype surrounding the inauguration. I too feel as if things are being cheapened, if only a little. I embrace the excitement but Ialso wonder if there's not enough humility being shown on our side. Maybe I'll snap out of this by tomorrow.

10. Scott D. Shuster from Watertown, Mass., asks Norman Chad "is the Obama presidency a direct result of the NFL's implementation of the Rooney Rule?" I was ready to get all upset about this until I cracked a smile.

11. Since we're talking football and all, a friend at work reminded me that Willis McGahee had suffered two of the worst season-ending injuries that he'd ever seen. Here's the evidence, from college and from Sunday. Say I'd have to agree. Thankfully, it seems as if he's going to make a full recovery. My prayers are with him.

12. Day after day, I read through arrest reports and see dozens of people arrested for some form of drug possession. Usually marijuana. Then I silently add it all up: the time deputies spent on the arrest, the paperwork, the jail time, the subsequent court costs. This shyt is costing us a lot of money. In off-the-record conversations with cops, most of them to a man (or woman) will tell you that it's a waste of time. But this is our War on Drugs, no? And America is well known for its tenacity in fighting stupid wars. Well, Anita Bartholomew details the real costs of this endless - and fruitless - war.

13. Some interesting news about Sarah Palin and her, ahem, in-laws, courtesy of MySpace. Please, let this all be true.

14. From Spencer Ackerman, possibly the quote of the day, if not the week: "It's not very likely that the 9-7 Arizona Cardinals would be NFC champions, but the next president of the United States is African-American."

15. And because it always comes back to music, please get familiar with Soul II Soul. Until later, that is all. Continue Reading »

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Video Soul

I make no apologies for getting my education in music from Video Soul, Midnight Love, Video LP and Video Vibrations.

Sure, I picked up some things from Friday Night Videos, The Box and Yo! MTV Raps. But BET was a virtual classroom for a kid interested in learning something, anything, about R&B music. Donnie Simpson? Sherry Carter? Rachel Stuart? These were some of my teachers.

The sun truly didn't set on my week until I had seen Video Soul's Top 20 Countdown on Friday nights - even though the No. 1 video would inevitably be cut off about 45 seconds short.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I found myself watching BETJ late the other night. The channel has become something of a gold mine for long-forgotten music acts and, I suppose, blogging ideas. I guess this is where Viacom has buried all its music for grown folks, a virtual soundtrack from my teenage years. Which, of course, got me to thinking.

As far as quality and quantity, how do the R&B groups from the 1990s stack up with other decades? The "oughts" certainly don't measure up - unless you're a fan of Pretty Ricky. But I have a hard time believing there was a more diverse pool of R&B male vocal groups in another decade.

To make things easy, I've broken the groups into three distinct categories: Platinum, for groups whose music still stands the test of time and who were the clear breakout stars of their era; Gold, for groups who sustained success through more than one album and still make the regular rotation on radio stations and video shows; and Plastic, which includes everyone from one-hit wonders to groups that never had more than a brief moment in stardom. I've included a link to their most popular video, according to the helpful robots at YouTube.

On another note, I had to leave off groups like Force MDs, Surface and Ready for the World because most of their success came in the 80s. Sorry about that. Anyway, let's do this:

Boyz II Men - End of the Road.
Jodeci - Freek'N You. Pretty much, Boyz II Men and Jodeci was the R&B version of Biggie and Tupac. Your preference for the group said a lot more about you than your musical tastes. Basically, did you like a nice house salad or a pot of collard greens? It's all good food.
Blackstreet - No Diggity.
Tony! Toni! Tone! - Whatever You Want.

112 - Cupid. Their self-titled debut album was one of the most underrated of the decade.
BBD - Poison. They did really well in spite of having no real lead vocalist. No, Ricky Bell doesn't count.
Dru Hill - How Deep is Your Love?
Guy - Let's Chill. I'm still not sure they should be on this list. Their first album, released in 1988, was their only real splash into the game.
Jagged Edge - I Gotta Be. Really, how many people got married to this song in the late '90s?
Mint Condition - Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes). In some ways, I've always thought of them as The Roots of R&B. It's hard not to love a true band.
Next - Too Close. Seriously. This is THAT song from every college party I ever went to. Wow.
Silk - Freak Me. The remix was better.

II D Extreme - Cry No More.
3T - Anything. Tito's boys did good for a hot minute.
After 7 - Ready or Not.
Another Bad Creation - Iesha. I actually had a crush on a girl in middle school whose name rhymed with Iesha. It goes without saying that I annoyed the hell out of her.
AZ Yet - Last Night.
Color Me Badd - I Wanna Sex You Up. I simply can't find the original video. Sorry.
H-Town - Knockin The Boots. There's no way to describe how proud I was when they made it big. Finally, someone from Houston made it onto "Video Soul."
Hi-Five - I Like the Way (Kissing Game).
Immature - Please Don't Go. Think Marques Houston is a better actor today? No, really?
Intro - Let Me Be the One. For whatever reason, I just can't find "Come Inside," quite possibly one of the smoothest yet raunchiest songs of the '90s. (What a cruelly ironic song title for a group whose lead singer died of AIDS-related complications, no?)
Lo-Key - I Got A Thang For Ya. Back in the day when we were just friends, I played this song in the car for the First Lady to subliminally let her know the deal. Of course, she missed my "lo-key" signal.
Men at Large - So Alone.
Men of Vizion - House Keeper.
Ol' Skool - Am I Dreaming. With a little help from Keith Sweat and Xscape, anyone can make it, uh, big.
PM Dawn - I'd Die Without You.
Portrait - Honey Dip.
Rude Boys - Written All Over Your Face.
Shai - If I Ever Fall in Love Again. Has there ever been another a cappella top 10 hit?
Soul IV Real - Candy Rain. This song still holds up today. For real.
Subway - This Little Game We Play. Damn. What happened to 702?
The Boys - Crazy.
Troop - Spread My Wings. Actually made the Gumby look cool. These were my dudes in middle school.

So, did I leave anyone out?

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go digging for a silk shirt, a pair of overalls, my Nefertiti medallion and some Air Jordans. I need to feel fresh.
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