Saturday, May 16, 2009

Verdict rendered

Chef G. Garvin and Joe Clair are right: KFC grilled chicken is pretty damn good.

But the dancing really isn't necessary.

Post-script: I sort of shamed myself in particular and black people in general this afternoon. At dog obedience class this afternoon, the teacher took notice of the dark-blue Superman shirt I was wearing. He jokingly asked what my Kryptonite was and I, absent-mindedly, responded: fried chicken. Gah. That was not fulfilling the dream. Continue Reading »

Waiting for the whitey tape

Exactly one year ago today, we're still waiting for the release of the so-called "whitey tape." Remember this?

I now have it from two sources that there is video dynamite–Michelle Obama railing against “whitey” at Jeremiah Wright’s church. Republicans may have a lousy record when it comes to the economy and the management of the war in Iraq, but they are hell on wheels when it comes to opposition research. Someone took the chance and started revisiting the recordings from services at Jeremiah Wright’s United Church of Christ. Holy smoke!! I am told there is a clip that is being held for the fall to drop at the appropriate time. The last thing Barack and Michelle need is a new clip that raises further questions about her judgment and temperament.

I wonder how that all turned out?

The public's opinion of the first lady runs even higher than its opinion of the president, with a 73 percent personal favorability rating for President Barack Obama in a new Pew Research Center poll, and a 76 percent rating for the first lady.

... Michelle Obama also is reaching across party lines: 67 percent of Republican women hold a favorable view of her, up 21 percentage points since January.

And she recently made Maxim 100's Hot List.

I'm sure that means the tape will drop any day now.

Continue Reading »

Hard to pardon

While browsing through the Web site of my hometown newspaper, I stumbled across a headline that alerted me to the fact that "Rapper Willie D charged with iPhone scam."

So no doubt, I had no choice but to click on the link. However, more interesting than the details of the actual story was the correction slapped across the top:

Correction (March 16): A story Friday in the City/State section about the arrest of William James Dennis should have been clearer about the topics covered by his rap group, the Geto Boys. The story said much of the group’s music touched on topics such as necrophilia or rape. The group’s music more often contained lyrics about violence.
Sheesh. I can only assume the unfortunate reporter assigned to write the story got the "necrophilia" and "rape" tidbits from the Geto Boys' wikipedia entry. As a lifelong fan of the Geto Boys, particularly Scarface, I can't even begin to figure out which song makes references to necrophilia in anything other than an off-handed manner.

But more than that, that embarrassing correction shows the importance of pushing for more diversity in newsrooms - and not necessarily diversity in the all-too often generic sense of skin color and ethnicity. Seeking out a diversity of experiences should also be a priority for any newspaper recruiter - assuming those positions still exist in this struggling economy.

Because having someone in the newsroom who had actually listened to - or heard of - a Geto Boys album, especially in Houston, would have been extremely helpful in a deadline crunch.

Maybe this seems silly. Maybe newspapers might argue that there's no value in catering to minor interests. And maybe that's true on some level. But I'm living, breathing testimony to the importance of having someone, anyone, who knows something about hip-hop beyond Snoop and 50 Cent.

Last year, in one of my first assignments for my newspaper, I had to cover an assignment about a kid who was arrested for loudly and obnoxiously reciting the lyrics to Lil' Boosie's "Touch Down to Cause Hell" while walking down the street. Eventually, The Smoking Gun even picked up the story and it generated a little Internet buzz before fading into the abyss that is my archive.

But best believe, no one had heard of Lil' Boosie in my newsroom before that kid got silly in front of a cop. In much the way that I'm sure very few folks in the Houston Chronicle's news department had a clue that Willie D was one of the men rapping on the song that became synonymous with cult classic Office Space.

And I can't even begin to understand how this happened at a newspaper in Houston. Wouldn't the music critic - assuming there is one there following their recent round of layoffs - have been around to check the veracity of that wikipedia entry?

Anyway, sad to see that times are so rough for Willie D that he's allegedly resorted to running a wire fraud scheme. I think it's better if I remember the "Clean Up Man" - who actually made a very overt pass at an ex-girlfriend of mine - from better days:

Continue Reading »

Friday, May 15, 2009

But he's gay

As usual, The Daily Show is making a lot of sense.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Dan Choi Is Gay
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor
Continue Reading »

Maybe if he agreed to call himself "Toby"

The NFL seems to be going out of its way to make life hard for Chad Ocho Cinco. Or Ochocinco, as it were:

The Bengals complied, but the NFL balked. It said the receiver would have to pay for the large inventory of “Johnson” jerseys that Reebok stocked for the season—ones that would be a tough sell—before he could switch. The receiver declined, choosing to play the season under his old name.

The league has agreed to let him wear his new name this year, but it will be rendered as “Ochocinco” because that’s how he wrote it when he submitted his name-change form in Florida.

“It’s his legal name,” AFC information manager Corry Rush said Thursday.

Honestly, why are they expending so much effort to prevent him from changing his name?
Continue Reading »

I'll do it for free, chicken

If I get a taste for some to-go chicken and a genie gives me a wish, I don't even have to think hard about my first choice.

Given that I don't have a magic lamp and my options are a little more limited in Tampa, I would probably have to go with Popeye's. But KFC has given me something to think about.

I think I'm gonna try the grilled stuff this weekend at some point. It'll be the first time I've eaten at KFC this decade.

Once upon a time, they really had me hooked on that Rotisserie Gold. I never got over it when they took it away from me. Not to mention, I miss those red-and-white striped buckets. Do they still have those?

Here's a flashback from my younger days, which included the occasional thoughtless eating binges on fried food:

And "monkhead." Really?

Post-script: explanation for title of the post here. Continue Reading »

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Everyone forgets Chris

If the voters really want an All-NBA backcourt of Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade, I'm not really going to put up much of a fight. How could I? The case for their inclusion is so obvious that it needs no explanation.

But then what do we do with Chris Paul?

By most accounts, Paul is the best point guard in the League and potentially one of the best to play the position since Isiah Thomas. He finished fifth in this year's MVP voting race, a year after coming in second to Kobe.

This season, with a thoroughly underwhelming supporting cast in New Orleans, Paul became the first player to ever lead the NBA in assists and steals for consecutive seasons, scored a career-high 22.8 points a game and set the league mark for consecutive games with a steal. He also shot an amazingly efficient 50 percent from the field (he's 6-foot and 175 pounds, for chrissakes!), 36 percent from 3 and 87 percent from the line despite being the nightly focus of every team's defensive gameplan.

And when all the votes were tallied, Paul was still considered the third-best guard in the league.

In detailing the exclusion of Paul from the first-team, John DeShazier of the New Orleans Times-Picayune notes that "by consensus, Bryant is the best player in the world, or second-best player behind LeBron James. The credentials of the three-time NBA champion, one-time MVP basically are unrivaled. And after two injury-riddled seasons in which Wade combined to play 102 of 164 games, he returned to lead the league in scoring and to finish second in steals and eighth in assists."

But why must we bend to consensus here? Paul might have, once again, done more with less than any star in the NBA not named LeBron or Wade. He plays with one All-Star caliber teammate in David West, who I suspect that, much like Kenyon Martin during his stint with the New Jersey Nets, has benefitted greatly from playing with a point guard (Jason Kidd) that takes all of the trouble out of creating his own shot.

The rest of that motley crew in New Orleans? Blech. Devin Brown? Julian Wright? Morris Peterson? A creaky Tyson Chandler? A fossilizing Peja Stojakovic? Against Denver in the first-round of the playoffs, it was easy to feel as if Paul was going one-on-five against the Nuggets.

So if I can make the case for Paul, I have to - I suppose - think about who doesn't belong on the first five. Since we must have only two guards, then I have to say Kobe should be banished to the second team.

Keep in mind that Kobe is surrounded by a bevy of talent, from the beautifully skilled Pau Gasol to the enigmatic freak Lamar Odom to the frustratingly tantalizing big man Andrew Bynum. Most NBA teams could find a place for Trevor Ariza in their starting lineup.

And though I'm nitpicking a bit here, Kobe fires up a lot more shots (though he's still a solid 46-percent shooter), Paul might be the toughest player to stay in front of in the League and the All-NBA first team is missing a true point guard - in the sense of a willing creator of shots. All five players - with the possible exception of Dwight Howard - can't shoot 25 times a night on a "team," right?

Feel free to disagree. But Paul, at least this year, shouldn't finish behind Kobe again.

Post-script: Since I'm being a contrarian today and all, I must note that I agree that Carmelo Anthony might be the best scorer in the NBA. Which, of course, is different from the best player. But this sounds about right: (Carmelo and Dirk Nowitzki) are unpredictable weather patterns of offensive force, capable of anything, feeling the game out and then having their way with it."
Continue Reading »

A brief word about nickels and dimes

As usual, I've got medium-well ... uh, make that medium ... beef with the recently released Hot 100 list from Maxim magazine.

I know not to expect much from magazines that aren't Ebony or Jet (or Latina, for that matter) in this regard. Mostly because it's hard to argue seriously - and earnestly - about things like tastes in food, music or, and especially, members of the opposite sex.

How can I tell you, in all seriousness, that Gwyneth Paltrow can't hold a candle to Taral Hicks? That Audrina Patridge is more of a dime than Padma Lakamishi? (*as an aside, I once had a long-running argument with a friend about whether En Vogue looked better, collectively, than TLC. It got ugly).

People can't really help their preferences, you know? It's the reason I really don't have much to say about Dirk Nowitzki's girlfriend other than, eh, God bless and g'luck.

But alas, here we are.

All too often, for publications like Maxim or the now defunct FHM, their choices among women of color are so clueless that I can't help but think color-blind is a euphemism for people who can't see anything other than alabaster and blonde.

Here's the list and the corresponding rank of the women who would traditionally be considered black or biracial (gah, this is impossible) who made the Maxim 100: Michelle Obama (93); Gabrielle Union (71); Christina Milian (55); Beyonce (52); Ciara (32); Zoe Saldana (29); and Rihanna (9).

That's it.

Now, I'm not going to go through the hassle of coming up with my own list. I'm going to save myself from the futility and frustration. And if I'm being honest with myself, I would have to admit that pre-First Lady, none of these 100 ladies would have been kicked out of my hot tub.

But really, what's the point of a Hot 100 list if it includes Chelsea Handler and leaves out Halle Berry?

Post-script: And if you think this post was partly an excuse to ogle the Maxim pics and include one of Meagan Good, then we're all getting to know each other a little too well. Continue Reading »

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Apropos of nothing

As a cops and government reporter, I read through dozens of pages of police reports on a daily basis. Believe me when I tell you that they're a treasure trove of tomfoolery and tragedy.

The relatively mundane items I've already perused this morning, include a stray pit bull that killed a beagle tied up to a tree in its backyard and a woman with a broken foot who wheeled herself into the bathroom to punch her boyfriend in the shower.

But I thought I'd share this line from a particularly crazy crime scene. The sheriff's deputy was writing this particularly aggrieved woman a misdemeanor citation for battery when she offered that:
"You must have seen my daughter's fake titties. That's why you're doing this."
I was looking for some file photos to see if the woman had a legitimate complaint but, alas, I turned up nothing. Continue Reading »

An offer that shouldn't be refused

Jesse Ventura, the former Minnesota governor and Navy SEAL, came up with a great idea on CNN's Larry King Live earlier this week:

KING: You were a Navy SEAL.

VENTURA: That’s right. I was water boarded, so I know — at SERE School, Survival Escape Resistance Evasion. It was a required school you had to go to prior to going into the combat zone, which in my era was Vietnam. All of us had to go there. We were all, in essence — every one of us was water boarded. It is torture.

KING: What was it like?

VENTURA: It’s drowning. It gives you the complete sensation that you are drowning. It is no good, because you — I’ll put it to you this way, you give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.

Video of the exchange can be found below:

Ventura's last point was important. He reminds us that waterboarding might be effective at getting the detainee to say whatever you want him or her to say (confessing to the Sharon Tate murders, for instance). But of course, this is much different than getting the detainee to reveal helpful information.

h/t Think Progress Continue Reading »

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wanda Sykes

I, for one, found her comedy routine at the White House Correspondent's Dinner to be terribly offensive. Continue Reading »

"The dignity of being themselves"

On Sunday, John McCain spoke out in favor of a policy that has meant the loss of thousands of qualified military personnel. Rightfully so, former Secretary of Army Clifford Alexander thinks this is deeply troubling:

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

What's so frustrating about this issue is that it seems unsophisticated for a civilized country. To me, government-sanctioned opposition to gays in the military seems far, far, beneath us. I can't understand how, or why, we're still having this debate.

Shouldn't we, as a nation, be far beyond being weirded out by the thought of guys soul-kissing or thinking homosexuality is a contagious disease?

Beyond that, sustained discrimination against openly gay soldiers in the military denies all of us our humanity. We've essentially reduced the issue to a caricature, where gay soldiers are rigorously pursuing butt sex and straight soldiers are 9-year-olds afraid to take off their clothes in the locker room.

And then we need to consider the very real costs to our military, something that should be of paramount importance during a time of war.

Because of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," we've lost more than 13,000 military personnel, including 800 with skills considered "mission critical," and cost ourselves nearly $200 million in the process. It all seems like quite a waste.

Yet somehow, McCain thinks the policy is working well. Which proves how fortunate we all are that he was defeated on Nov. 4.

Continue Reading »

Does rape work?

The title of his blog post made me stop in my tracks. But Eric Martin pulls no punches:

To use a slightly more extreme example to highlight the point, if Cheney had suggested that raping (or simulating the rape of) a detainee's spouse would be an effective means of getting the information desired, should our popular discourse engage the merits of that argument? Or, rather, should we recoil at the notion of engaging in such immoral acts for the sake of some expediency, real or imagined?

Torture is a vile, sordid business and should be ruled out on those grounds alone, rather than parsed, rationalized and demagogued into accepted practice. At least, if our principles are more than fair weather ideals to be paraded about ostentatiously when circumstances make them an easy fit, but then abandoned when they become, in the slightest, inconvenient.

As Digby says, torture is not a political football. Opinion polls do not matter. Civilized nations can not last and engage in this sort of monstrous behavior. No matter what Richard Cohen or Harold Ford might think. Continue Reading »

Monday, May 11, 2009

Free Period

A Sweet 16 of links. Or "things that I wanted to blog about myself but didn't":

1. A retrospective of Michael Steele's first 100 days as chairman of the RNC. Cue the circus music.

2. More good news for Euro-style socialism: Mercer's quality of life index shows that 13 of the top 20 cities are located in Europe. The first U.S. city to appear on the list is Honolulu at No. 29. h/t Yglesias.

3. Why are some Texas hospitals charging women for rape kits? Read more about the issue here.

4. McCain: ridding the U.S. military of dirty butt sex is more important than national security. We're going to need President Obama to nip this silliness in the bud. Sooner, rather than later.

5. A great take on "Dijongate."

6. Republicans want to know why black people don't like them. But not really.

7. Related: Jonah Goldberg advocates tokenism. Because Ward Connerly has done such a great job at reaching out to black people.

8. Is it really the worst thing in the world for a teenage girl to have sex? Or is it worst to compound the issue by denying her information about the possible consequences? Or, even worse, for her to develop a really unhealthy attitude about sex? Into the fray jumps teen babymama and abstinence champion Bristol Palin.

9. Utne attempts to make a case for adultery. I think it would be easier to stay single. But that's just me. h/t Gawker.

10. There's been a lot of talk about Asher Roth and his celebrated - and controversial - entrance into the hip hop biz. We did the business over at PostBourgie, Jay Smooth is as insightful as always and here's a nice take from Racialicious.

11. I'm a couple days late on this but, yo, Ron Artest was not lying about watching a kid get stabbed to death during a basketball game in New York. That just reminds me that you never really know the path that some people have traveled.

12. Via Ryan, a very long and interesting piece on the prize culture in journalism. But to address at least one point, I don't think there's anything that newspapers could have done in recent years to avoid the collapse of the business model short of a radical rethinking of the way we allocated and used resources. Really, on a number of levels, newspapers have been very wasteful.

13. John asks if Miss California should have lied about her preference for "opposite marriage" to win the crown. I don't think so. To me, her mangled response was the problem more than the substance of her remarks.

14. The full-court press, or five smooth stones. Malcolm Gladwell thinks "Davids" should try to "Goliaths" on their own terms. As always, Gladwell makes a compelling case but there's some lazy analysis that underlies his thesis. Namely, an assumption of black athletic supremacy. I'll let G.D. handle this later in the week, and come back to it then.

15. If you ever read (emphasias on the read) "Friday Night Lights," you know Odessa Permian High School (aka Mojo) went on to win a state title the season after Buzz Bissinger spent a year with the team. What follows in the video commemorating that season are some highlights, some awkward boasting, lots of unintentional comedy and a little New Kids on the Block. h/t to the college friend I dubbed "Pepette."

16. And now a message from Michael Steele:

Continue Reading »

What's playing in my deck

More songs for Mama(s). Because one day just isn't enough.

1. Momma by Brand Nubian

2. Thinking of You by Lenny Kravitz

3. Julia by The Beatles

4. Sadie by The Spinners

5. Dear Mama by Tupac

In the interest of a little diversity, I left out All That I Got is You by Ghostface and Hey Mama by Kanye. Maybe next year.

More later. Sooner. Continue Reading »

Sunday, May 10, 2009

In praise of socialism

As a reminder, I sometimes cross-post my meager blog offerings over at PostBourgie. Feel free to drop in for the conversation.

Here's my endorsement for the week:

It would be easy to dismiss Dutch society as “socialism gone wild,” writes Russell Shorto, but closer inspection reveals an upside that the United States might consider exploring.

In his thoughtful essay in last weekend’s New York Times Magazine, Shorto offers another look — one that admittedly relies more on anecdotes than data — at the benefits of going Euro. Early into his stay in Amsterdam as a struggling writer and married father of two children, Shorto spent a lot of time fretting about the 52 percent income tax rate. Until, of course, he started to see the substantial benefits of living in a social welfare state: affordable health care, government reimbursements for day care (as much as 70 percent), four weeks of vacation per year, an absence of the stigma associated with living in public housing.

Sure, Shorto mentions a few drawbacks: most stores are closed by dusk and a strong social bent toward consensus and conformity. And he even asks, “can such a system work in a truly multiethnic society?”

That question, no doubt, is directed at us — Americans. Unfortunately, I’ve never been to Europe — let alone Amsterdam. But at the least, I’m willing to explore the alternatives.

I might add that the First Lady and her mother spent a week in Amsterdam last year. They both left promising to return — and to bring me with them. I'm holding them to that, if only to try the Indonesian food and the coffee shops.

Also at PB, Shani-o endorses light-on-carbs cupcakes this week. I'm good with that. Continue Reading »

A Song for Mama(s)

To Mama Bell; to aunts Lou-Lou, Nell, and Tootsie; to my soon-to-be mom-in-law; to Grandma Genevieve (whom I never got to meet but left behind the best father a man could ask for); to Nana; to my sister Sandy; to my friends Lety, Lori, Natalie, Nicole, Shannon; to my friends I've never actually met, Maria and KST; and to all those other special women out there who are the reason for the season. Happy Mother's Day:

You really haven't heard this song until you've heard me sing it - wildly off-key, loudly and sincerely.

But the woman to whom I particularly dedicate this song today ... well, there isn't enough space in the blogosphere to convey the depth of love and appreciation and admiration that I have for her.

A not-so-brief, sorta connected story: the day I learned that I lost my dream job, I was determined to keep the news to myself. Obviously, I was delusional. I spent the day in my apartment, alternating between sobbing, playing video games and wishing that I could somehow make myself disappear. The next morning, my mother called to make her regular check-up on me. I thought I was doing a good job of pretending everything was okay. But my mother instinctively knew something was wrong, and invited me out for one of my favorite pastimes - aimless driving around the city. I thought I could hold it together; somehow my mom figured a way to coax the bad news out of me. If only for the moment, I felt better to let it all go. She promised that someday this wouldn't sting so bad.

When I finally did find a new job months later, my mother accompanied me on a trip to Shreveport to look for an apartment. It was raining, the apartment stock in town was awful and expensive and Shreveport looked particularly shitty that day. I might have started tearing up again; I'm not quite sure. I'm sure the look on my face said what in the hell is happening to me? My mother, again, somehow convinced me that everything would be okay. This would be the best thing to ever happen to me, she said.

I thought she was being unduly optimistic. And I probably said so.

Several months down the road, during a brief break in work, I introduced my mom to one of my new friends at work. Afterward, my mother said "she's cute. Does she have a boyfriend?" It was a little embarrassing. Things weren't like that, you know? I was sorta seeing someone. And I played it off.

About two years later, I was engaged to my cute friend from work.

I'll never get tired of my mother being right. Continue Reading »