Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pardon this mess

Dammit. I wasn't expecting company this weekend. I probably should have spruced the place up a little.

Punched up the "about me" section. Come up with a new subtitle for the banner. Thought up some better, more substantive posts. I've really been meaning to do all that for awhile. Sorry for the mess.

At this point, you might be wondering: What the hell is he talking about?

Well, I've been fortunate enough to receive an invite to become a regular contributor over at PostBourgie. The "official" announcement was made today. So maybe I'll have a few more guests than usual - which means it won't be just me, my mama, some friends from high school and the First Lady in the room anymore.

But on the real, and with all due sincerity, I'm grateful for the opportunity to join the PB fam. I'm totally humbled to become part of such a talented, dynamic, thoughtful, witty and welcoming collective. I hope that I can keep up the standard they've set over there.

What does that mean for False Hustle?

Well, I don't know. I've never done this before. But I imagine I'll do my usual music lists, random video posts, link dumps and more personal type stuff over here. I'll cross-post the longer, weighter pieces at PB. We'll see how it goes. That's all subject to change.

In the meanwhile, thanks for coming, thanks for sticking around and thanks for - in advance - checking me out over at PostBourgie. Continue Reading »

Let's Dance

Against all semblance of logic and common sense, my bracket has climbed to first place in three separate NCAA tournament pools. This, from a man who had not watched a complete college basketball game since last April.

But through the first two days and nights of Madness, Phi Slamma Jamma Jr., is 26-for-32 and all of my Elite Eight teams are intact. Thus far, only Wake Forest, Florida State and West Virginia are eliminated from contention for the round of 16.
Good for me.

Anyway, since my basketball jones is in full effect, how about a handful of sportscentric links?:

1. Esquire comes up with a list of the seven "dirtiest" teams in NCAA tournament history. I was an unabashed fan of three of them. But why none of those Eddie Sutton-era Kentucky teams?

2. Seems obvious to me but, uh, it's wrong to conflate being a Blue Devil with being homosexual. Stop that shit.

3. How about some Tebow to go with your Tebow while you're watching Tebow? You know, if I'm still living in Florida this fall, I'm going to end up hating an actual, real-life humanitarian and genuinely decent kid. And it's not really his fault.

4. We're not quite neighbors but Derek Jeter seems like he's planning on staying in Tampa for quite awhile. However, 30,000-square feet seems a bit excessive. Who could - or would - ever buy that monstrosity from him if he ever decides to sell?

5. So, Stephen Curry and tiny Davidson College were denied an invitation to The Dance. Too bad for the rest of us. But my colleague, friend and Davidson alum - one of the 10 best writers I know personally - has written a book about their somewhat-miraculous run to the Elite Eight last year, and is powering an All-American effort of a blog about their season here. If you can stay up late enough, make sure to check out their NIT showdown with St. Mary's on Monday.

6. In case you didn't know, Kimbo Slice is apparently giving up grappling and kicking and tomfoolery of that sort for a sport where his HULK SMASH punches are better suited. I suppose that would be boxing. But I doubt it.

7. I don't care what the Selection Committee says, Siena knocking off Ohio State in the first round is a much bigger upset than the seeds would have you believe. Keep in mind that Ohio State has the nation's largest athletic budget at about $109 million. Siena spends about $9 million. The Buckeyes probably spend more money than that on jockstraps.

8. Ok, so President Obama made a really bad joke about his bowling ability that denigrated the Special Olympics in the process. No doubt. But I really hope that he's not hammered too much for it. If anything, it was a rare moment where a powerful political figure let down his guard and made an off-script joke. The sort of thing I might have said hanging out with my boys. Sure, it's wrong and it's insensitive. Then again, I never thought our president was supposed to be Jesus. With Obama, you generally know that his heart is in the right place.

And yeah, this Special Olympics champ (pictured above) would totally kick our president's ass on the lanes. Mine, too.

(Special Eds. note: TMZ makes me sick).
(Another note: that Special Eds. thing was not a pun. Seriously).

Enjoy your Saturday and some hoops, why don'tcha? Continue Reading »

Quote of the week

I doubt this will be a regular feature on this blog. Mostly because I'm not so good with regularity.

But I came across this gem and had to pass it along:
"Sometimes I think all the bailouts would be worth it if no one was ever allowed to talk shit about poor people ever again" - Twitter feed from David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo.
Amen. Continue Reading »

Friday, March 20, 2009

Of jimmy hats, the Motherland and The Pope

I swear - probably a bad choice of verb - that I'm not picking on The Church today. But this picture over at The Daily Dish - labeled "The Pope's Message to Africa" - quite obviously caught my attention.

Background: Ahead of his first trip to Africa, The Pope said the distribution of condoms is not the answer in the fight against AIDS. " He said that "on the contrary it increases the problem."

My thoughts about that inane statement are probably too offensive or downright blasphemous to post here. But Steve Benen handles it quite nicely:

Let me get this straight. There are nearly 22 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who are HIV positive. The pope, claiming to be a leader on morality, goes to Cameroon to argue against condom usage? He's going to put his own religious dogma over the lives of millions?

A lot of phrases come to mind when describing all of this, but "pro-life" isn't one of them.

Indeed. Preaching that sort of gospel will only exacerbate the problem in a place where 2 million people died of AIDS last year. Two million! Or roughly the population of Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city. All dead.

Is it too much to ask for an honest attempt at a solution rather than being part of the problem?
Continue Reading »

Doing the Right Thing. Finally.

Common sense and decency finally prevail in The Vatican:

The Vatican has backtracked over the excommunication of doctors in Brazil who performed an abortion on a nine-year-old daughter who became pregnant with twins after being raped by her 23 year old stepfather.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said the excommunication not only of the medical team but also of the girl's mother had been a mistake. "Before thinking about an excommunication it was necessary and urgent to save an innocent life," he said. The excommunication had been decided on and publicised "too hastily."

Writing in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Archishop Fisichella noted that the excommunications had rebounded on the Church. "Unfortunately the credibility of our teaching was dented. It appeared in the eyes of many to be insensitive, incomprehensible and lacking in mercy." The girl "should have been above all defended, embraced, treated with sweetness to make her feel that we were all on her side, all of us, without distinction."

Even though I graduated from a Catholic high school, I'm going to admit that my knowledge of the Church is extremely limited. Much like my knowledge of pre-cal. But what really interests me is this idea that an excommunication can be decided "hastily."

How could an excommunication ever be performed hastily, except in only the most egregious and obvious cases? Wouldn't that process, by its very important nature, require lengthy consideration and deliberation?

And if not, why?

Von chips in with some thoughts on the original excommunication ruling. Money quote here: "I get that performing an abortion for even the best reasons is so evil that you get excommunicated. I also get that raping your kid from ages six to nine isn't bad enough to justify an excommunication. But I'm a little unclear on when the transition from not-evil-enough to evil-enough occurs." Continue Reading »

Random Acts of YouTube

Every now and again, the sun will shine on a warthog's ass.

Continue Reading »

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Still shocked and awed

It must be said that six years ago the United States of America launched an unnecessary and immoral invasion of Iraq, largely under false pretenses. I tip my cap to those who had the foresight and judgment to understand the morally and strategically disastrous nature of the unfolding events, and I reserve a special bitterness toward those politicians and public officials who were trusted progressive political leaders and who helped sell the country on this misfortune. But it’s worth looking a bit past the domestic political arguments and reserving our deepest thoughts for those individuals, primarily Iraqi, but also including Americans and citizens of our coalition partners, who lost their lives as a result of this tragedy.
The Iraqis and our fallen soldiers, in particular, deserved much better than what they received in terms of political leadership. I just hope the awful lessons from Iraq will guide us as we double down in Afghanistan.

We should never forget what happened on that day or in the days since:

Continue Reading »

Speaking of freaks

Ain't too many songs - or artists - freakier than this one.

Forget work. This one might not even be suitable for home.

Continue Reading »

My bracket and basketball jones

UPDATE: You've probably seen this one already but here's President Obama showing advanced aptitude for bracketology. He's going with the Heels, too. It's cool to have a president with an honest-to-goodness love for sports. And I ain't talking about golf or baseball either. h/t PB.

UPDATE II: Leave it to Fox News and Mark Halperin to start a scrum where none existed previously. People can say whatever they want about Coach K. But the man ain't stupid.

Only a few hours into the NCAA men's tournament and I feel pretty good about the "Phi Slamma Jamma Jr." bracket. At the moment, I'm 2-for-3 on the early games - Butler is my only early-round loser so far.

But taking the long view at how things will shake out, I feel oddly at peace with my picks. That could be because I mostly went chalk. Some notable choices from my bracket:

- Memphis going down to Missouri in the West Regional semifinals. I really think Mike Anderson's "40 Minutes of Hell" defense and deep bench will wreak havoc on Memphis, which has converted freshman point guard Tyreke Evans running the offense.

- Villanova over Pitt in the East Regional final. The Wildcats beat the top-seeded Panthers on a "neutral" floor earlier in the season, and Pitt's physical style leaves them prone to foul trouble in a tightly officiated game.

- Syracuse over Oklahoma in the South Regional final. I may come to regret this one because I'm got a basketball jones for Blake Griffin. That said, Jim Boeheim's zone defense could confuse the hell out of the Sooners. I'm not so sure OU can hit the jumpers they need to win that one.

Of course, this could all be bullshit. I didn't watch an entire college basketball game this year until a couple hours ago.

My Final Four picks: Louisville, UCONN, Villanova, North Carolina.

The champ: The Tar Heels. Assuming Ty Lawson can get his toe straight, I really don't see anyone with enough talent to overcome UNC. Roy Williams will have the troops focused, Psycho T will benefit from generous officiating and no one has the firepower to keep up with the Heels when they're rolling.

And now, highlights one of my favorite non-Phi Slamma Jamma college hoops teams of all-time: the UNLV Runnin' Rebels in 1990. They narrowly edged out the Fab Five, OU in 87-88, and, of course, those Running Frogs of 97-98. Guess I had a thing for Billy Tubbs. And losers.

Continue Reading »

What's playing in my deck

For the freak in you.

The only rule for this morning's list: I had to come up with songs that had the word "freak" in the title. It was actually much harder than anticipated; I struggled to come up with much of anything from hip hop.

Anyway, here goes, in as close to chronological order as I can get at this time of day:

1. Le Freak by Chic
2. Super Freak by Rick James
3. Freak-a-Zoid by Midnight Star
4. Freaks Come Out at Night by Whodini
5. Freaky Tales by Too Short (a song - and artist - with almost no redeeming artistic value)
6. Freak Me (remix) by Silk (words can not express how disturbed I am that I can't find the video for this)
7. Return of the Hip-Hop Freaks by Nice & Smooth
8. Freek'N You by Jodeci
9. We Can Freak It by Kurupt
10. Closet Freak by Cee-Lo
11. Freek-A-Leak by Petey Pablo

And even though this is absolutely out of order, there couldn't be anyone other than Adina Howard at No. 12. Class of '96, represent!

Actually, I thought about including songs from Korn and DC Talk as a nod to diversity. But I gotta be me. Especially in my own room.

More later.
Continue Reading »

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Conservative erotica

In the words of Hov, we don’t believe you. Ross Douthat, you need more people. From the archives of the New York Times’ newest columnist:

One successful foray ended on the guest bed of a high school friend's parents, with a girl who resembled a chunkier Reese Witherspoon drunkenly masticating my neck and cheeks. It had taken some time to reach this point--"Do most Harvard guys take so long to get what they want?" she had asked, pushing her tongue into my mouth. I wasn't sure what to say, but then I wasn't sure this was what I wanted. My throat was dry from too much vodka, and her breasts, spilling out of pink pajamas, threatened my ability to. I was supposed to be excited, but I was bored and somewhat disgusted with myself, with her, with the whole business... and then whatever residual enthusiasm I felt for the venture dissipated, with shocking speed, as she nibbled at my ear and whispered--"You know, I'm on the pill..."
Just wow. Because if there's one thing a man hates to see during sex, it's breasts spilling out of clothing.

So, what’s more unbelievable: That Douthat lost, um, enthusiasm with a Reese Witherspoon look-alike “masticating” his neck and cheeks? Or that he was turned off because she actually took responsibility for her fertility?

And look, I’m the first to admit I’m no Baldwin or Wright or even an Albom, but what the hell does “My throat was dry from too much vodka, and her breasts, spilling out of pink pajamas, threatened my ability to” mean? That sentence gave me tiredhead.

Anyway, I’m going to be as kind as possible and call that a classic episode of college bullshit. And if he’s not making this story up, he doesn’t come off all that well either.

Brad DeLong adds:

And, of course, there is the other point: here is a Reese Witherspoon look-alike who has offered Ross Douthat the extremely precious gift of wanting to make love to him, and he writes her into his book in this way with what look to be sufficient identifying details. You can write that paragraph in a way that is calculated to try to make her feel bad about herself should she ever read it; you can write that paragraph in a way that does not try to make her feel bad about herself should she ever read it; normal human sociability and empathy suggests that one should try to do the second; Ross Douthat chooses to do the first.

Sounds like Douthat might be the ideal replacement for Kristol after all.

P.S. I’m not necessarily a fan of Witherspoon. But let’s get real. Even Bokeem Woodbine wasn’t kicking her out of the hot tub (2:00).

P.S.S. Michael Tomasky doesn't have a problem with Douthat's sex life - or lack thereof. He just thinks that Douthat, at 29, is too young for the position. I don't necessarily agree with that. The Times is, in its own way, thinking out of the box by anointing Douthat, a blogger, as one of its columnists. I also believe strongly in rewarding talent. Seniority doesn't necessarily translate into skill or maturity.

Continue Reading »

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Is becoming a bit of a clusterphuck, so there won't be much posting here today. Tune in for more later this evening or tomorrow morning.

But if I say so myself, I've got some interesting stuff in the works. Try not to get too excited.

In the meantime, how about some "Cell Therapy"?

P.S. And no, I'm not wearing any green. Continue Reading »

Monday, March 16, 2009

The King and I

One of the most unpleasant parts of my job is talking with the grieving family members of dead people. I did it again today with the mother of a graduating high school senior who fatally shot himself after thinking he'd hit and killed a pedestrian while driving around the block.

And once again, I was reminded that there' s nothing in this world like a mother's grief. Seeking the inspiration to do right by Andrew Altringer and his despondent mom, I've been mulling over this passage from August Wilson's King Hedley II:
What she got? A heartache that don’t never go away. She up there now sitting down in her living room. She got to sit down cause she can’t stand up. She sitting down trying to figure it out. Trying to figure out what happened. One minute her house is full of life. The next minute it’s full of death. She was waiting for him to come home and they bring her a corpse. Say, “Come down and make the identification. Is this your son?” Got a tag on his toe say “John Doe.” They got to put a number on it. John Doe number four. She got the dinner on the table. Say, “Junior like fried chicken.” She got some of that. Say, “Junior like string beans.” She got some of that. She don’t know Junior ain’t eating no more. He got a pile of clothes she washing up. She don’t know Junior don’t need no more clothes. She look in the closet. Junior ain’t got no suit. She got to go buy him a suit. He can’t try it on. She got to guess the size. Somebody come up and tell her, “Miss So-and-So, your boy got shot.” She know before they say it. Her knees start to get weak. She shaking her head. She don’t want to hear it. Somebody call the police. They come and pick him up off the sidewalk. Dead nigger on Bryn Mawr Road.
More than anything, I try not to overlook anyone's humanity in search of a headline. Sometimes, to be frank, it's tough. Continue Reading »

March Sadness

Every year around this time, I find myself doing one of three things:

1. Forgetting to fill out my bracket until moments before the play-in game Wednesday.

2. Rooting for whomever is playing against Duke and the University of Texas.

3. Wincing at the CBS montage of highlights from previous NCAA tournaments.

Why? Well, as a 5-year-old in Houston, I was deprived of rooting for my first championship team when Jim Valvano's N.C. State Wolfpack lucked into the buzzer-beater that knocked off Phi Slamma Jama. The footage of Valvano wildly zig-zagging around the court that night like an escapee from a mental institution has been burnished into my brain.

Sadly enough, it's one of the few memories that I have from that now-hazy time in my life. It goes something like, U-of-H losing in the final, a lame birthday party at McDonald's, my kindergarten nemesis playing the tambourine in class and kissing Megan B. on the playground so she'd leave me alone.

I readily admit that it's a pitiful collection of memories.

So before I ponder the true meaning of bracketology this week, I'm going to take a moment to remember better days for Akeem, Clyde, Michael Young, Bennie Anders and Larry Michaeux, Alvin Franklin, Reid Gettys and the rest. I might even go digging for my PSJ pennant - it's gotta be around here somewhere:

Continue Reading »

A Quest Called Tribe

Over the weekend, I spent an almost unhealthy amount of time trying to settle one of my longest-running internal debates: The Low End Theory or Midnight Marauders?

TNC really sparked the idea, giving the albums the ol' switcheroo on his list of essential hip-hop records. A solid argument could be made that both belong on the list. But one still must be better than the other, right?

I'm sorting it all out for a longer post to come later in the week. This might be tougher than figuring out Blackstreet or Another Level. Either way, it's all good music.

Until then, how about gettin' some jazz?

Continue Reading »

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Down and out in Detroit (again)

Speaking of Detroit and its troubles, former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Ahem:

Kwame's Wife, Carlita (pictured above) (4:47 p.m.): Had a bad dream last night...that you had a girlfriend. So of course I woke up pissed!

Kwame to wife (4:52): LOL. I have one Girlfriend...My Best Ever and lastly My Soulmate! SLEEP WELL!!

Kwame to girlfriend (10:28): THIS IS FOR U! LOL. I have one Girlfriend...My Best Ever and lastly My Soulmate! SLEEP WELL!!

Let us never again speak of the days when Kilpatrick was referred to as the "Hip Hop Mayor."
P.S. Kilpatrick's wife and two kids have already started anew in Southlake, Texas, a ritzy suburb between Dallas and Fort Worth. Southlake is probably best known for its top-flight prep football program. Soon, Kwame will join them and start a new job as a health-care account executive. I hope he's smart enough to spend the rest of his life making it up to his family for humiliating them in such a public way.
Continue Reading »

School's out

Courtesy of Andrew Sullivan, I came across this series of photographs from Detroit's abandoned public schools. Here's the caption from the picture above:
"Living the Dream”. Several boxes of books commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. found in the Detroit Public Schools’ Roosevelt Warehouse, where tens of thousands of other textbooks and countless other supplies have sat rotting for more than two decades.

And so on and so on.

In recent years, I've become oddly fixated on the troubles plaguing Detroit - unemployment around 20 percent, the rapid decline in population, the collapse of most local industries, the political strife. We're witnessing the collapse of one of our nation's iconic cities, and it's not quite clear that anything can be done to reverse the decay. This essay from Harper's magazine in July 2007 details the bleak landscape but actually envisions a brighter, if not, "post-American" future.

One thing is for certain: this is not the way to turn things around.
It goes without saying that the city’s schools are in a bad way. Only recently, a principal at one Detroit public school asked parents to send toilet paper and light bulbs to school with their children because the district could no longer provide those necessities. Most students are not allowed to bring textbooks home, if their school has textbooks at all. The Detroit Public Schools are allotted more tax dollars per pupil than any other district in the state, and yet none of the money actually reaches those students or their teachers. It disappears in a morass of bureaucratic waste and corruption.
Continue Reading »