Sunday, August 31, 2008

Budden or Biden?!?

I suppose it's good that someone else caught my clever play on words. But the execution of this video is so lazy and half-assed that it ruins the whole joke.

Nice try, but no cigar.

Man, one of these days, I gotta get on my YouTube grizzly.

Joe Biden and Joe Budden: Separated at Birth? [Complex Magazine]

Saturday, August 30, 2008

What's Latarian Been Up To?!?

If you were wondering what our favorite doer of hoodrat things, Latarian Milton's been up to lately, this is your lucky day. The fine folks at famed NYC hip-hop radio station Hot97 somehow managed to trick his Grandmother into putting him on the phone for this very lengthy and very exploitative interview.

The full 20 minute audio isn't on YouTube yet, but here's a promo teaser. The action begins around the halfway mark, so don't be fooled by the old video.

Sadly, his family seems to have co-signed on this nonsense, apparently thinking they'd get a Nintendo Wii in return. You can clearly hear his Grandma in the background feeding him shoutout requests around the 12-minute mark of the audio below.

Lord help us. And someone get this kid a show on Nick Jr. before he ends up in the pen.

Question: Shouldn't Child Protective Services be rounding this kid up by now? What was his Grandma thinking? What should his Nick Jr. show be called?

Listen To The Entire Latarian Interview On Hot97 [zSHARE]

Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin & Fey Or Palin & Hill: Separated At Birth!?!?

Since it's mandatory that everyone in the Presidential campaign have a nickname (Budden, Cotton Hill, The Magic Negro, That Woman), I figured I'd enlist you guys help with this one. I'm stumped. Does Alaska Governor and would-be Veep Sarah Palin look more like 40 Rock star Tina Fey or King Of The Hill matriarch Peggy Hill?

The Fey thing is mostly the glasses and dark hair. The voices are totally different. I kinda like the Hill comparison more. Palin's got the whole beehive thing going, and the synergy with Cotton Hill is hard to pass on, although Peggy and Cotton of course don't get along in real TV life. I'm just sayin', think about the possibilities.

I'd run a poll for this sorta thing, but I'm too lazy to set it up. So, tell me which one in the comments.

Bonus: Here's a very interesting and enlightening interview with Palin a few months back. Peep her answer about the whole Veep thing.

Yep, we're screwed.

Question: Which one is it? Peggy Hill or Tina Fey?

Pander Alert: McCain Picks A Female Veep!

This is still developing news, but it seems like Cotton Hill McCain is going to roll with a woman Veep, picking Alaska Governor Tina Fey Sarah Palin.

I'm not gonna sit here and pretend I know much about this woman, but here's a few nuggets of interest gleamed from her Wikipedia site.

She's only 44. I guess this balances out Papa Mac's "age" issue.

She's a former beauty pageant contestant, finishing 2nd in Miss Alaska in 1984. We all know how Papa Mac loves his beauty queens.

Prior to becoming Governor, she was city councilwoman and mayor of the city of Wasilla, population 8,400. My neighborhood has more than 8,400 people. I'm on Community Watch. Does that make me eligible to run for President? Seriously, what sorta Mays Gilliam sh*t is that?

She's only been in office 20 months. So much for experience. Seriously, if you slam Barry for a lack of experience, how can you throw someone with less than two years in office out there as the possible President?

She has a Kwame Kilpatrick style "revenge firing" on her resume that's still being investigated.

She looks an awful lot like my financial advisor. No real point in mentioning that.

This is obviously pandering for that female vote. No bones about it. How else do you explain the fact that she was never on a short list to this point?

She briefly worked as a sports reporter for local Anchorage television stations while also working as a commercial fisherman with her husband, Todd, her high school sweetheart. Interesting for lots of reasons.

She has a 19 year old son in Iraq, and 5 kids total.

She had a baby this year, who was born with Down's Syndrome. Palin and her husband knew about this via prenatal genetic testing and decided to move forward with the pregnancy. All jokes and criticism aside, that does say a lot about her character.
Basically, I can't see how this helps or hurts McCain. She is very much pro-life and pro-guns, which means she's totally on the other side of all issues I care about. She seems to be a "character" pick, and I have little doubt they'll play up her bio and family to downplay her lack of experience.

Personally, she seems likable and full of integrity. I can't really say anything bad about her.

But that doesn't mean I want her as President.

Question: What do you think of McCain's surprise pick of Sarah Palin? Does this help him steal some distraught Hillary voters?

Sarah Palin Wiki

McCain Said to Choose Alaska’s Palin [NY Times]

The DNC Night Four Recap: Barry Finally Did It!!!

We Watch, So You Don't Have To. But We Hope You Watched. Seriously, What Else Were You Watching?

Well it's about doggone time.

If you've followed my site the past few months, you know I've seriously questioned Barack Obama's testicular fortitude or lack thereof, repeatedly. I have had a huge problem with his "turn the other cheek" approach to confronting the underhanded tactics of his foes from Day One. Why keep bringing a butterknife to a gunfight? I was pretty convinced that unless dude switched up his game and started talkin' greasy, he was gonna find his beige behind back in Hyde Park come January.

Apparently he discovered just in time for his big speech in Denver, because last night, we finally saw Barack's Inner Nigga, and if you ask me, we also just saw the 44th President of the US.

Barry's acceptance speech was a virtuoso performance that showed me he knows how to check a mofo without stooping to his level in the process. We all wondered if Obama had "it" in him. He does, but his "it" just looks a bit different than the "it" that's in most of us. And that's why he's about to be the leader of the free world, and we're merely reading a blog about it.

The speech was more tactical than visionary. More specific than grand. More substance than style. More steak than sizzle. It will probably not go down as one of his "best" speeches, but history will probably remember it as his most important.

[Whimsical And Largely Pointless Editor's Note: On Fox News, Greta Von Sustern introduced Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee as Stephanie Tubbs Jones before embarrassingly correcting herself. Don't blush, Greta. They all look alike to me too. Dead or alive.]

The thing I loved most is how he addressed the lies attacks of the GOP (and Hillary for that matter) so adroitly, one by one. He clapped back on McCain's questioning of his patriotism, elitism, lack of experience, lack of substance, lack of career accomplishments, and lack of vision. He very clearly articulated the areas where he differs from his opponent on policy, laying out the clear contrast between his "new" ideas, and the flimsy bullcrap that McCain calls his platform. He made certain people understood that the government cannot do everything, but can help people where it makes sense and get out of their way where it doesn't. He wrapped the whole thing up by smoothing it over with a think 5 minute veneer of all that usual hope, dreams, and change mumbojumbo.

Anyone who walks away from this calling the guy an "empty suit" should probably have their head examined. Empty brains, anyone?

[Whimsical And Largely Relevant Editor's Note: Did anyone watching the unfiltered coverage on CSPAN peep the video montage that proceeded Barry's appearance onstage? I hate calling someone's biographical vignette blatant propaganda, but dang. Dude's bio was whitewashed than a mug. Who knew so many of the folks in the community he organized on the South Side of Chicago were white? I haven't seen a black dude surrounded by that many Caucasians since my company's last managerial retreat. Check it out.]

Of course the haters had to throw in their two cents of salt, because, well, hatin' is how they pay the bills.

I expect this sorta treatment from Fox News, but Tavis Smiley's guests really took the cake.

The phrase "I feel sorry for your mother" has been on the tip of my tongue very often this week. How apropos.

Outside of the obvious historical significance, I guess what made me happiest about last night was the feeling that my candidate of choice has finally seen the light and realized he's got the change the game if he wants to win. This doesn't mean changing who you are, but rather how you do things. Convoluted and simple as that may sound, it sure makes sense to me, and it seems to have finally made sense to him.

Last night was the Barack Obama I've been waiting for. And last night was the President America's waiting for. Well done, Barry.

MLK is crying inside. Tears of joy.

Question: What did you think of the speech? Did Barry finally C.Y.I.N.? Did the Democratic convention accomplish what Barry needed it to? What will the GOP do to upstage this next week? Do they all look alike to you too, dead or alive?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

We Owned The 80's: All My Children

I never went to daycare. Come to think of it, I don't even believe daycare centers even existed in my section of NC growing up. So my Pops would usually drop me off on his way to work and I spent my preschool days at with my Grandma. This was pretty cool, because since it was just the two of us during the day, I could basically commandeer the TV while she slept off the remnants of her 3rd shift. I'd inhale Cheerios and watch Sesame Street, Julia, and The Munsters reruns. But around 1pm, I'd always have to give up "the box"[1] cause it was time for Grandma to watch her "stories". Since this was well before the days of DVD players and tv's in every room, I would usually make my way to a nap.

So yeah, I was sorta raised on TeeVee. I guess that explains a lot.

Anyways, I was reminded of all this today as I sat, post-workout, in the locker room. The Gold's Gym video network wasn't playing on the overhead TV as it usually was. Instead, I saw a roundfaced brown woman and a crusty, semi-balding dude. I immediately recognized this as a soap opera, and since I never really liked them back then (though I did occasionally watch with Grandma to pass the time before Sanford & Son and Good Times came on), my Negro Reflex made me turn my head. But lo and behold, I heard a very familiar voice, and looked closer.

Holy Crap! That's Angie and Jesse!

I don't want anybody, to get the wrong idea about me.[2] I did not willingly watch All My Chill'rens. Period. I'm not a soap opera type of dude, despite how much I enjoy the real life human train wreck spectacle that is Gilbert Arenas. Except for Angie and Jesse, and maybe Erica Kaine, I don't recall much about AMC at all.

Still, there's something (I don't know what, but surely something) to be said for Black folks who can somehow manage to pull off the same gig for nearly 30+ years. I mean, Jesse looked like a young Huggy Bear waaay back in the mid 80's. Dude still looks like Huggy Bear, and is still workin'. That's sayin' somethin'. Exactly what it's sayin', I do not know, but it's sayin' somethin'.

Question: Do you remember Angie and Jesse? Did you watch All My Chill'rens? Any soaps? Were you too partially raised by one of those tan Scientific Atlanta boxes or did you go to an actual daycare?

[1] I hope ya'll remember those old school cable boxes with the cord and those pushbuttons. Ok, maybe it was just me.

[2] Name that tune.

Profiting From A Lie?!? The Duke Rape Case Revisited.

I'll be completely and totally honest with you here. I really do not know what to make of this story from my home state.

Since three former Duke Lacrosse players were declared innocent of rape and assault charges, the alleged victim in the highly publicized Duke Lacrosse case has remained out of public view until now.

In a press release, Crystal Mangum's manager has announced plans to release a tell-all memoir entitled "The Last Dance for Grace: The Crystal Mangum Story."

According to the book's co-author Vincent Clark, the book will be released in October.

"It is "the only definitive account of the life and struggles of the woman at the center of the Duke Lacrosse case, the alleged accuser," said Clark in a press release. " Were it not for the Duke Lacrosse Case, she likely would be described as a bright, young woman from Durham, North Carolina, who has had a difficult life."

Mangum plans to donate $1 from each book sold to help battered women. Former Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong was disbarred and jailed following the collapse of the Duke Lacrosse Case. Nifong is among several defendants named in at least three federal lawsuits stemming from the case.

Mangum is accused of falsely accusing David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann of raping and beating her at a team party in March 2006. After a review by the State Attorney General's Office, all charges were dismissed.
As I stated last year when the Duke Lax kids were cleared of all charges, nobody should have to suffer through what they experienced. I could only imagine the fear of being accused of something so heinous as rape, knowing you did nothing of the sort. The guys have been exonerated, but I will personally remember all three of their names for the rest of my life. That's an unfair scar for anyone to have to carry. I don't really agree with their pending $30M lawsuit against the cash-strapped city of Durham, but I guess I understand.

Then again, the real villain here isn't Mangum, who reportedly suffers from some sort of mental illness, but disgraced District Attorney Mike Nifong, who actually did some time as a result of his lazy and opportunistic job of handling this case. He never even bothered talking with Mangum in the first place, and instead saw a way of manipulating the Black community in Durham to his advantage. Why he was so dumb that he thought white folks with money wouldn't lawyer up and "beat them charges like Rocky"[1] is beyond me. Nifong has since been disbarred, was sued by the Lax players, filed for bankruptcy, and is now working at the Sizzler off I-540 near RDU airport. No, really, I saw him there a few weeks ago and he ruined my baked potato (no sour cream, you idiot!). He's a douchebag par excellence, and he got what he had coming.

I don't really know how to feel about Mangum writing this book though. If she was indeed experiencing some mental issues during the time of the allegations, you can't totally write her off as ruining those players lives, especially when the people (namely Nifong) who could have short circuited this whole thing didn't do their jobs. The book is supposedly about her life, not necessarily the Duke case, thus I suppose it's fair for her to write a book and profit from it. She says some proceeds are going to charity, which is always an iffy proposition, but to each her own. On the flipside, wouldn't any proceeds made from this book be fair game for the Duke Lax kids in a civil case? I'm sure my armchair attorneys in AverageNation™ will break this one down for me.

Question: Should Crystal Mangum be allowed to write a book that profits indirectly from the misfortune of others? Are the Duke Lax kids entitled to some of those proceeds?

Duke LAX accuser pens memoir [ABC 11 News]

[1] Yeah, I know. For a guy who supposedly doesn't care much for Jay-Z, I sure quote him a lot. Spare the comments, please.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The DNC Night Two Recap: Hillary's Redemption.

We Watch, So You Don't Have To.

Okay, I'll keep it 100 with ya'll. My fantasy football draft was last night, so I ain't really catch much other than Hillary's speech. And BTW, if you drafted Kevin Curtis too early, yes, you should have buyer's remorse right now. Darn outdated cheat sheets.

Anyways, Hillary more or less did what she was posed' to. She seemed somewhat genuine, she didn't mince words about McCain, and she more or less effectively told her followers to get with Barack or Go Sit Down!

"Get Down, Or Lay Down!" [1]

Skeptical Negro that I am, I still can't help but watch things like this with my 3rd eye, or as I like to call it, my Negro Spidey Sense. And something was telling me that while she seemed to be on board, there was a little bit of "see you in 2012" sentiment tossed in for good measure. And BTW, what the heck was that whole Harriet Tubbman thing about? Sheesh.

Anyways, she did what she had to, can't knock her for that.

On a separate, but related note, I'm really starting to enjoy TVOne's DNC After Party coverage. Last night was even better, as they wisely pared down the number of in-studio guests, and kept things moving with interviews and pretaped vignettes. Any "news" program that features Huggy Lowdown and Sheryl Underwood can't be taken too seriously, but I'll give them credit for starting somewhere. Their coverage is entertaining enough, and I like it. I still haven't peeped BET's offering, and probably won't.

I did, for some odd reason, happen to flip over to CNN during a commercial break, and I caught what was probably the most disturbing image of a Black woman aired on TV in this millennium, this side of "Tip Drill". No, seriously. If you peeped this sista, you know what I'm talking about.

Dang, this chick makes me long for Harriett Christian.

Fanie Lou Hamer is crying inside.

Question: Was Hillary Clinton genuine in her support of Obama? Do Clinton refugees have any legitimate reason to hold onto their grudges any longer? Have you peeped TVOne's coverage? What the ham sammich was wrong with that sista that CNN wisely planted put on the camera?

[1] Name that movie.

The Audacity Of Blackness

I posed the question "Is America Ready For A Black President?!?" on this blog long ago, and oddly enough it's a post that still gets Googled dozens of times a day[1] and is still frequently commented on 8 months later.

You guys know my answer on this: emphatically maybe.

I say maybe because all Obama needs is the right number of electoral votes and history will be made. But that surely doesn't indicate that America as "ready" for a brotha and sister in the White House, nor does it mean that racism isn't alive and well. Any person of color living and breathing in this country knows that to be true. And it doesn't make these people unpatriotic to state such a sentiment. I too love this country, and if you think about the sacrifice my forefathers made for it, I think I've sorta earned the right to be both proud (because I wouldn't wanna live anywhere else) and critical (because as great a country as it is, it's hardly flawless) as anyone else.

You guys probably also know that I have a huge bone to pick with the media about how race, particularly in terms of this year's political campaigns, has been covered. In short, the mainstream media is either clueless, or hellbent on protecting itself. So, while Black folks (and people of color period) have discussed whether or not Barry's Negro Blood will ultimately be his downfall ad nauseum, it's little surprise that the media has only scratched the surface of this sentiment. Yes, I realize that repeating this same rallying cry 8 times a week is making me look slightly batty. Spare me the comments.

Enter this recent attempt by Slate columnist Jacob Weisberg. As usual, you know I hate overly quoting anyone else's article, but I couldn't decide where to snip here. So...

What with the Bush legacy of reckless war and economic mismanagement, 2008 is a year that favors the generic Democratic candidate over the generic Republican one. Yet Barack Obama, with every natural and structural advantage in the presidential race, is running only neck-and-neck against John McCain, a sub-par Republican nominee with a list of liabilities longer than a Joe Biden monologue. Obama has built a crack political operation, raised record sums, and inspired millions with his eloquence and vision. McCain has struggled with a fractious campaign team, lacks clarity and discipline, and remains a stranger to charisma. Yet at the moment, the two of them appear to be tied. What gives?

If it makes you feel better, you can rationalize Obama's missing 10-point lead on the basis of Clintonite sulkiness, his slowness in responding to attacks, or the concern that Obama may be too handsome, brilliant, and cool to be elected. But let's be honest: If you break the numbers down, the reason Obama isn't ahead right now is that he trails badly among one group, older white voters. He does so for a simple reason: the color of his skin.

Much evidence points to racial prejudice as a factor that could be large enough to cost Obama the election. That warning is written all over last month's CBS/New York Times poll, which is worth examining in detail if you want a quick grasp of white America's curious sense of racial grievance. In the poll, 26 percent of whites say they have been victims of discrimination. Twenty-seven percent say too much has been made of the problems facing black people. Twenty-four percent say the country isn't ready to elect a black president. Five percent of white voters acknowledge that they, personally, would not vote for a black candidate.

Five percent surely understates the reality. In the Pennsylvania primary, one in six white voters told exit pollsters race was a factor in his or her decision. Seventy-five percent of those people voted for Clinton. You can do the math: 12 percent of the Pennsylvania primary electorate acknowledged that it didn't vote for Barack Obama in part because he is African-American. And that's what Democrats in a Northeastern(ish) state admit openly. The responses in Ohio and even New Jersey were dispiritingly similar.

Such prejudice usually comes coded in distortions about Obama and his background. To the willfully ignorant, he is a secret Muslim married to a black-power radical. Or—thank you, Geraldine Ferraro—he only got where he is because of the special treatment accorded those lucky enough to be born with African blood. Some Jews assume Obama is insufficiently supportive of Israel in the way they assume other black politicians to be. To some white voters (14 percent in the CBS/New York Times poll), Obama is someone who, as president, would favor blacks over whites. Or he is an "elitist" who cannot understand ordinary (read: white) people because he isn't one of them. Or he is charged with playing the race card, or of accusing his opponents of racism, when he has strenuously avoided doing anything of the sort. We're just not comfortable with, you know, a Hawaiian.
Preach to the choir, buddy. Preach. Chuch! Tabernacle. If I didn't know any better, I'd think I'd written this op-ed a million times already myself.

This being America and all, other media outlets picked up the story and immediately flipped it to diffuse Weisberg's argument, but what else do you expect? We're supposed to pretend we're post-racial. That people only "see the person, not the skin". That we are colorblind and raise our kids as such.

Those are the rules. The media cannot deviate from them. And when it does (as in Weisberg's faulty, but generally spot-on case), it's up to the rest of the media to check them, just in the interest of restoring equilibrium.

That's the really funny thing about folks who claim the media is in the tank for Obama, simply because they talk about him more. Apparently none of these folks notice the obvious. There's nothing about McCain (except his negative attacks) that's newsworthy. And a solid 75% of Obama's media coverage carries this same quest for "equilibrium". The net result is a big headache, at least for me.

So, where does that leave the person of color whose PoV is seldom, if ever given an grand stage like CNN, The Wall Street Journal, or (God forbid) Fox News?

Writing a blog, of course.

Yep, it's about time for another of those Media Fasts. Ya'll better be happy with heaping doses of We Owned The 80's and C.Y.I.N. Case Study. Cause is about to fall waaay back from this election stuff in a second.

Question: If (when?) Obama loses, how much can/will this be attributed to his race? Is there anything he can possibly do to avoid this inevitable fate come November 4th?

If Obama Loses, Racism is the only reason McCain might beat him. [Salon]

[1] Then again, so are the terms "Lisa Lisa big boobs" and "SuperManning That Ho". So this might not mean anything.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The DNC Night One Recap: She's A Baaad Girl.

We Watch, So You Don't Have To.

Let the haters come out the woodwork.
The first night of the Democratic National Convention ended with a speech by Michelle Obama designed to cast her -- and her husband's -- life as the prototypical American story.

Throughout her speech, Obama sought to weave her middle class roots and her understanding of the value of hard work.

She noted that her father was a "blue collar city worker" and that her mother stayed home to take care of her and her brother. Describing her husband's family, she said: "They scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities they never had themselves." She pointed out that Barack Obama had taken a pass on Wall Street and instead went to work as a community organizer; "Isn't that a great American story?" she asked.

The aim of the speech was clear. To show that Barack and Michelle Obama aren't all that different from the average voter. That they know the struggles and hopes of middle class families. That they understand the sacrifices made by military men and women and their families.
I'll just throw this right out there: Michelle Obama's speech was one of the 10 best I've ever experienced in real time in my short adult life.

Seriously, what wasn't to like? The aim of the speech was to formally (re?)introduce Michelle-O to the world. To show that she's much more than an American-hating radicalist who can barely hide her disdain for "Whitey". To show that she's proud of her country, despite whatever soundbytes have been manipulated to frame her as unpatriotic.

It's amazing to me that anyone could possibly watch this speech and not come away impressed. She was poised. She was on-point. She was confident. She looked great. Even Juan Williams agreed.

Juan Williams, people! Juan Williams!

But of course, some folks have agendas to carry out, so they'll conveniently look right past this and go back to spouting senseless talking points, as usual, and as expected. Witness one Karl "The Architect" (of Many Chins) Rove.

Someone needs to hold a safety pin near one of Karl Rove's 25 chins and let some of that gravy loose. What a fat, disgusting, vile, and repulsive individual.

"I feel sorry for your mother." [1]

But, the man's just doin' his job, what'd you expect?

What kinda angers me is how much of the analysis today seems centered around the concept that Michelle had to prove she and Barack were "just like the rest of America". Some say she accomplished this, other say she failed. The fact that it's even a topic of discussion is befuddling. Of course Michelle is "just like the rest of America" (read: white folks). Dissecting a speech to infer otherwise is just silly. She's not a freakin' zoo animal, she's a freakin' woman. The fact that she's got to justify who she is and what she's accomplished in life to win anyone's favor is just outlandish.

But then again, that's the double standard. It's well established. Michelle has to prove her story is an "American story". As if being raised by parents who valued education, working your butt off to obtain degrees, building a career that benefits your community, and being a great wife and mom isn't somehow "American" enough.

MSM Please!

I'm gonna love watching CindyMac try to top this one next week. So, kudos to Michelle-O for representin'.

If there's anything I'm perhaps equally proud of, it's that I had a viable alternative to the MSM for analysis and commentary. It was a little rocky around the edges, and there were some technical glitches, but TVOne's coverage of the convention was a great change of pace. For the first time in my adult life, I was proud to actually hear my perspective in TeeVee.

Joe Madison and Arthur Fennell did a pretty good job of following the proceedings on the floor, as well as pulling in guests (mostly CBC members) to provide additional insight. The DNC After Party wasn't a party at all, but rather a roundtable discussion and review of the day's events. Co-hosted by BET refugee Jacque Reid and the always interesting (if not intelligible) Michael Eric Dyson, The After Party was lighthearted and featured a cast of (perhaps too many) rotating guests who stopped in to give their own wit and wisdom. Roland Martin did a few segments, but Sheryl Underwood and Hill Harper were mostly underused as Dyson and Al Sharpton predictably dominated the conversation. There was no Huggy Lowdown sighting, and folks like Jamie Foster Brown and Marcia Dyson really shouldn't have been used. Still, it's a good alternative if you're sick and tired of CNN's half-assed coverage. I'll be tuning in again. You should too.

I didn't bother tuning in to BET's coverage, which oddly was only a 30 minute block airing at the same time as the Michelle-O speech. Great job of scheduling, guys. I'm obviously so desperate to hear a different viewpoint on this election that I'll find some way to Tivo it and see what they're up to. But for now, TVOne wins. Yet again.

Questions (there's lots of em', take your picks): Did you watch the DNC coverage? On which channel? Did you feel Michelle conveyed her version of the American Dream? Are there any valid critiques of her speech, or does this just show the level of hateration that exists in this country? Did you peep TVOne or BET's coverage? Just what flavor of gravy is in Karl Rove's chins? Beef or chicken?

Michelle Obama's Message: We're Just Like You [WashPost]

TVOne's DNC Coverage

[1] Name that movie.

The Audacity Of Double Standards

One thing that continually pisses me (and judging by the comments, lots of you) off is the media's perpetual double standard applied to Barack Obama vs his opponents. I won't bother rehashing any of the dozens of examples that have occured this year alone, but you'll likely recall a kerfuffle a few weeks back involving rapper/actor Christopher Bridges, aka: Ludacris. Luda made some truly dumbass comments on a mixtape, and before you can say "Skinny Black", the media pressured Barry into having to issue an apology and the now-obligatory denouncement. Because, as we know, any Black (or any color for that matter) person who supports Obama represents his personal views as well. This is a well-documented, and indisputable fact.

Today, while I was at the gym killing myself on the elliptical trainer, I spotted something on the TV monitor that made me do a triple take.

While making an appearance on Monday at the high school alma mater of his wife Cindy, John McCain received the endorsement of Reggaeton star Daddy Yankee.

Daddy Yankee, whose real name is Ramon Ayala, is a Latin Grammy winner. He is known mostly for his song "Gasolina," which, according to several translations of the Spanish lyrics and interpretations of the Spanish slang, is not particularly family-friendly, and has absolutely nothing to do with energy independence.

As excited as the roughly 100 high school students were to see the 71-year-old presumptive Republican nominee, when Ayala walked into the room, most the young women in the room started shrieking. Ayala gave hugs and shook hands before making the endorsement official.

"I'm here endorsing Senator McCain because I believe in his ideals and his proposals to lead this nation, you know?" Daddy Yankee said at Phoenix's Central High School.

McCain met with Daddy Yankee at his campaign headquarters on Aug. 2. At that time, Daddy Yankee said he didn't know whether or not he was going to endorse McCain, but he has since come to a conclusion.

The event at the high school was originally billed as a press conference by the campaign. In fact there was no give and take between the media and either McCain or Daddy Yankee. McCain has not spoken with reporters since Aug. 13.
Just in case you've gotta see this to believe it...

So, lemme see if I've got this right. McCain has been hangin' out with Daddy Yankee of all people for the better part of the Summer? Seriously? Is that what's hot in the barrios right now? Daddy Yankee? Architect of that botched musical abortion better known as reggaeton?

Uhhh, does Cotton Hill have any freakin' idea what reggaeton is about? I can't imagine his Sony cassette Walkman iPod is filled with Tego Calderon and N.O.R.E., but what do I know? Maybe dude's got somethin' for the senioritas. He is a frisky ole' fella, so perhaps these are some of his favorite tunes.

Peep Daddy Yankee's breakout (only?) hit single, "Gasolina".

The truly terrible-in-everywhere-but-South Florida club staple, "Oye Mi Canto".

And just for good measure, "Rompe".

If you have no idea what "Gasolina" is all about, join the crowd. I can damn sure guarantee you it's not about alternative energy methods. That's for certain.

Regardless, you and I know the drill. This won't be anything more than a blurb on a few blogs (like mine). Never mind the fact that Ludacris' story got an entire weekend cycle of media coverage. I'm sure Spool32 and Daedalus will chime in with some great note about Reggaeton, and use the opportunity to bash Obama for something or other. Go right ahead, fellas.

Typical. Not really surprising, but typical.

Question: Should John McCain be forced to explain, defend, and translate the lyrics to "Gasolina", "Rompe", and "Oye Mi Canto"? Will he have to toss Daddy Yankee under the bus, or does the media acknowledge the obviously blatant pandering to Latinos and just let it slide? Do such endorsements influence anyone? How much do these media double standards piss you off? Just how much to you dislike reggaeton?

McCain Endorsed by Latin Star Daddy Yankee [ABC]

AverageBro Goes To The Movies: Cover

[With a toddler, I don't get to go to the movies at all nowadays. Pre-AverageBaby, I didn't miss an opening weekend. Thankfully this movie went straight-to-DVD, sparing me the indignity of blowing $40 or hanging out in the barbershop for a free view.]

I caught a pretty decent "urban" drama called Cover over the weekend. I'd usually use this forum to tell ya'll about the movie, and why it was so good, but any review would be loaded with spoilers, so I'll just let you peep the trailer and judge for yourself.

Straight-to-DVD movies are usually crappy, but don't let the telltale signs of a bad flick (Exhibit A: Vivica Fox. Exhibit B: Paula Jai Parker.) throw you off.

This is a great "urban" drama/mystery thriller that I'd recommend all of you add to your Netflix queue. And since I don't want any member of AverageNation™ inadvertently giving away the plot, I'm gonna close the comments.

Just take my word and rent the movie. You'll enjoy it.

Final Verdict: It's very possible that I'm giving this movie more credit than it deserves because I expected it to be terrible and was surprised that it didn't. But all things considered, I think you'll find this movie compelling enough to justify the cost of the rental. 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Watch More Clips from Cover [YouTube]

Cover Official Website [IMDB]

Monday, August 25, 2008

We Owned The 90's: Jodeci

Okay, I'm not starting a We Owned The 80's companion tag. I just needed some cheap excuse to air this YouTube of K-Ci and Jo-Jo performing this past weekend in Syndey, Australia.

Watch and weep. In case you're wondering what's so blogworthy, keep your eyes open around the 1:45 mark.

Man, how sad is it that the guys responsible for one of my all-time favorite remixes, "Come And Talk To Me", are reduced to this? Didn't these guys stack their paper? I know K-Ci had his share of issues with The Mighty Vial and whatnot, but still.

Arggh. Christopher Williams is crying inside.

Question: Shouldn't there be some sorta retirement plan for R&B singers to avoid this kinda nonsense? Do you beleive JoJo actually had a seizure? If so, why did the bodyguard and K-Ci completely ignore him and keep on sangin'? Would you pay good money to see Jodeci, or are Australians complete tools?

Poll Position: Barry Has Some Work To Do.

I grappled with whether or not to make last week's poll multiple choice, as opposed to single selection. I decided not to because I wanted to get an idea what the single area where Barack Obama needed to improve most to take home the gold in November.

The results, to say the least, were interesting.

Most of you thought Barry needed to do something. Becoming a better debater (19%) was first. I voted for this as well, but I'll admit, in retrospect, dude had no chance at Saddleback. Yes, he needs to learn to give better, more concise answers. But reality is, McCain was in his element, surrounded by his peoples. I give him points for effort, but Barry had a snowball's chance. Would McCain win an NAACP/Urban League debate on "black issues"? Not likely, especially considering the fact that he completely kissed off such a debate last Spring at Morgan State. So, Barry needs to improve, but looking at the big picture, he's perhaps not as far off as thought.

You guys also said he needed to sling some mud (18%). After nearly a year of watching him, I am convinced he just doesn't have this in him. Period. So, while I'm not incredibly enthusiastic about the Joe Budden Biden[1] pick, dude is an attack dog, and he'll need to C.Y.I.N. to help Barry get in office. I suppose this is a good thing.

Stepping up his Soundbyte game (15%) is something I've been harping on for months. Getting whiter (15%) sounds silly on the surface, but one easy way of accomplishing this impossible act is by somehow managing to get his grandmother and/or sister (who is part Indonesian, but still) on stage this week in Denver. The person introducing Obama on Thursday is being kept secret. Don't be surprised if it's one of the aforementioned. Just remember you heard it here first.

I'm just sayin'. Big stage, big impression. Connect the dots.

Many of you (30%) said Barry didn't need to change anything, and that he'd win anyway because the American public is wise enough to not vote for another 4 years of Bush.

Ha ha. You guys sooo overestimate the American public.

This Week's Poll continues the Joe Budden For Veep discussion. Namely, was Biden the right choice or could someone else have helped Barry more? Vote early and often.

[1] BTW, if everybody said they've never vote for a man with a perm (Rebb'n Al), how come they're cool with a Veep who sports a mullet? I'm just sayin'.


It wasn't exactly a blowout, but they did it!

All the way, we were waiting for somebody to give the United States basketball team a game. Nobody had. Greece, the last team to beat the U.S. in international play, got ripped by 33. Spain, the world champion, lost by 37. Argentina, the defending Olympic champion, was battered by just 20.

Of all of them, only Spain got a second chance, in the gold medal match. And boy, did they give the Americans - and the world - a game.

But only one of these teams had Kobe Bryant. And that was the team that won.

With a young and talented team on the floor - Kobe, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh - Kobe was the alpha dog. He drove for a pull-up jumper in the lane. He fed Deron Williams for a three-pointer. He drove and fed Dwight Howard for a basket. He hit a three of his own, and the lead was back to 101-92.

Spain never stopped; they are a marvelous team. But Kobe hit a three-pointer, plus the foul that disqualified scorer Rudy Fernandez, to make it 107-99. With the score 108-104, Wade hit a three off a LeBron drive to push the lead back to seven. And in the final 90 seconds, Kobe scored again for a 113-105 lead. That was the end. USA 118, Spain 107, and Born in the USA played in the arena.
Say what you will about The Original Dream Team, but I'm much more impressed with this squad and the way they've handled themselves, given the level of competition. No, they're not the 92' squad, and never will be, but who is?

If nothing else, this team proved that despite what all the critics say, the modern day athlete has just as much pride, patriotism, and will to win as the old-schoolers. You might argue that this team represented the country even better than the 92' team, given their constant appearances in support of other Olympians. MJ never did that. Oh yeah, and MJ also pulled that stunt with the flag. Lebron, say what you will about him, would never have the balls to pull that stunt.

So let's all agree that the 92 Dream Team would have dusted these guys off the court. No complaint here, I'm with you. But when you consider the level of competition, the fact that we didn't send our best team, and the end result (bling!), it's hard not to be proud of these guys.

Well done, fellas. Well done.

Question: Did you manage to see any of the games this year, or did the time difference throw you off?

U.S. all-stars get their golden redemption [National Post]

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What's On AB's iPod?: Supastition

[Editor's Note: Yep, new feature time. will occasionally give you a peep into what's on my iPod, and hook you up with some free music of your own.]

Folks who know me personally know I'm an underground hip-hop head. We're not talkin' about Yung Bergs and Soulja Boys of the world. I'm more of a Little Brother, Jean Grae, Wale, Cool Kids, Tanya Morgan type of dude. So, it's no wonder one of my current favorites is Supastition, who just happens to represent The Greatest State Evar.[1] Quit crying about how bad hip hop is and peep Kam's newest video "Black Enough", download his free Self Centered EP, and cop his new album Leave of Absence.

Download Supastition's Self Centered EP for FREE! []

Supastition Blog [Reform School Music]

[1] If you have to ask...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joe Budden 4 Veep!!!

I knew things were rough over there at Def Jam, but I had no idea dudes were leaving the rap game altogether.

Uhhh, what's that you say??? Joe BIDEN for Veep?

Oh. My bad.

I don't have much to say about this. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Question: Is BIDEN the right choice or would BUDDEN help you out just as much?

Too Little Parenting, Or Too Much BET?!?

I decided to remove this video from my site for lots of reasons. If you're still interested in seeing it, you can watch here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

We Owned The 80's: The Last Dragon

Any black person alive during The Greatest Decade Evar is prolly quite familiar with the epic martial arts action dramedy The Last Dragon. But for the 4-5 members of AverageNation™ with Similac still on their breaths, I figure I owe some context to this post.

Released in 1985, The Last Dragon was produced by Motown magnate Berry Gordy and was roundly trashed by critics. However, the movie really caught fire when it was released on Betamax and VHS (the precursor to DVDs for you kiddies) and it went on to gross over $30M and become an urban cult classic.

The premise of the film is pretty silly. A young kung fu master from Harlem (Taimak, a black belt who couldn't even act, and it showed) named "Bruce" Leroy Green goes on a quest to achieve the ultimate martial arts accomplishment, "The Glow". In the meantime, he finds himself tangled up with a TV star/singer (Prince jumpoff, Vanity), a shiesty arcade mogul, and most importantly, Sho'Nuff: The Shogun of Harlem (played with much panache by Julius Carry III who ironically just died of pancreatic cancer a few days ago), who is hellbent on proving who's the True Kung Fu Master.

If this all sounds incredibly corny, that's because it was. The movie made little logical sense, the acting was universally awful, the soundtrack was cheesy, and it's grand finale is a prime example of "turn off your brain" style reality-stretching.

So why, might you ask, did I include this movie as an entry in We Owned The 80's? Because it still ended up being strangely entertaining, and hearkens back to a distant era when an entire Black family could gather around the TeeVee for a movie without parents cringing and covering their kids eyes.

The movie featured no sexual innuendo (although Vanity wasn't hard on the eyes), few curse words, and only comically exaggerated episodes of violence. There was no rap soundtrack, no rap cameos, and probably a million and one legitimate quotables.

"Kiss my Converse!"

"I got somethin' real for yo' a$$ in these hands!"

"Who's The Master? .... I Am!"

"Who played this garbage? ... Shut Up *****!"

"Deliver your feetsa to Daddy's Green's Pizza!"

"Don't know. Not sure I'd tell you if I did!"

Here's a few classic clips.

Sho'Nuff holds court.

Sho'Nuff tears up Daddy Green's Pizza.

Laura and Leroy's The Glow Video

The Final Showdown: Leroy vs Sho' Nuff (Spoiler Alert)

Seriously, how sad is it that they don't make movies like this anymore? Most "urban" movies now are cliched crap with way too much PG-13 language and waaay too much sex/violence, not to mention crappy rapper cameos. I guess Drumline, and Are We There Yet? would qualify as exceptions[1], but this sort of movie is far too uncommon. I hate to get all Andy Griffith on ya'll, but it kinda saddens me that my son and I won't be able to enjoy this kind of movie together. And by enjoy, I mean watch new movies in the future with the same spirit and family-friendly content.

Sure, I've got The Last Dragon on DVD, along with Better Off Dead, Disorderlies, License To Drive, and Coming To America. But if my kid's anything like me (and he is), chances are he won't have the slightest interest or attention span to sit down and watch this someday, just like my Dad trying to get me to watch Putney Swope and Kooley High usually resulted in me begging to go to my room. I of course can appreciate my Dad's movies (Car Wash and Which Way Is Up? are also in my collection) today, but I'm sure he woulda preferred me being interested back then. So I guess this is some weird generational thing.

Doesn't mean I won't try to sneak The Last Dragon in my son's DVD player someday though.

Question: Is The Last Dragon one of the last Black family friendly movies of all time or am I overreacting? Any other candidates? What's your favorite scene? Whoooo's The Master?

The Last Dragon Wiki [Wikipedia]

Julius Carry III, Sho'Nuff Dies [Post Chronicle]

[1] If you're aware of more exceptions (and we're not talkin' cartoons), tell me you-know-where. I'm working on my AverageSon Rainy Day DVD collection, and I'll take all suggestions.

Did The Dems Finally Get Something Right?!?

I guess the Dumbocratic Party is finally figuring out that you can't bring a switchblade to a gunfight. All that "turn the other cheek" and "rise above the fray of divisive rhetoric" crap isn't helping your boy Barry in the polls.[1] So, it looks like Campaign Obama is finally starting to talk greasy.

I love these commercials for lots of reasons. McCain has largely gotten a free pass on issues of personal integrity during this campaign thus far. While the blogosphere commonly discusses such crap as his flip flops, his philandering, his opportunistic marriage, his overinflated Senatorial accomplishments, The Keating Five, and his legendary temper, you wouldn't know any of this stuff existed if you just paid attention to the MSM, which is obsessed with all things (good and bad) Obama. And I blame the Dems for this. By turning the other cheek, this party has consistently displayed a lack of testicular fortitude, even though that's proven to be a very unsuccessful tactic of late. Just ask Gore, Dukakis, or Kerry.

Still, as solid as this commercial is, I'm not by any means convinced that it signals a permanent or even momentary change in rhetorical tone. AverageMom was saying just the other night that next week's convention is probably going to look a lot like 04'. Namely, the Dems will get up there and speak platitudes about how great their party is, and what they can do for America, without any mention of the competing party whatsoever. I see no real reason to doubt my mother, given the fact that she sorta is responsible for my being born and whatnot. I would love to see Barry and Co. prove AverageMom wrong next week in Denver, but you and I both know this isn't gonna happen.

Meanwhile, a week later in St. Paul, the GOP will take every televised moment to remind us just how untrustworthy that secret Muslim and his America-hating wife are, and why they'll ruin the country if given address labels for 1600 Penn Ave. come January. They'll spew plenty more "elitist", "black nationalist", "effete" rhetoric.

Republicans don't give a sh*t about your feelings, they just want to win. Truth be damned. And quiet as kept, it's one thing I secretly admire about how their party is run, and yet another reason why I'll be an unaffiliated voter, win or lose, come November 5th.

Note to Barry and the Dumbocratic Party: Nice start. I'd love to see you keep it up, but I'm not holdin' my breath.

Question: Have you noticed a slight shift in the tone of Barry and the Democratic Party's rhetoric in recent weeks? Is it possible that shifting tone to match the usual greasiness of the GOP could backfire? If so, why?

[1] Although it should be noted that neither Gore, nor Kerry had a bigger lead at this exact point in the race either. Not that that means anything. They both lost of course. But I'm just sayin'. Don't put too much stock in polls. Remember New Hampshire?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Eight Million Blacks Not Registered To Vote? What The Hell Is Wrong With These Negroes!?!

Sometimes I read stories that puzzle me, sometimes I read stories that make me laugh. And then there's stuff like this that just makes me extremely angry.

Despite record numbers of voters who turned out during the presidential primaries last spring, eight million African-Americans are still not registered to vote.

This according to Rick Wade, African-American vote director for the Obama for America presidential campaign.

“Our principle focus has been a 50-state voter registration initiative. I think we all appreciate that if we increase the number of African-American registered voters and then increase turnout and get people to the polls on Nov. 4, then Sen. Obama will be the next president of the United States,” Wade says.

Wade explains that the eight million unregistered Black voters accounts for 32 percent of eligible Black voting population nationwide. But, the Democrats are not alone in going after the Black vote. Republicans, who barely get a tenth of Black voters in presidential elections, say they are not giving up.
Note: Before anyone thinks otherwise, I am by no means saying these people should be registering to vote so that they can get Obama into the White House. I'm certainly not advocating that they register to be Democrats either, considering where I stand on that issue. I also realize that lots of whites aren't registered either. But I'm not talking about whites, I'm talking about us.

My biggest qualm is that in an era where jobs are being shopped overseas, gas prices are out of control, school funding is down, we're in a war approaching a decade in duration, and T-Pain is still using that damn vocoder, how could anyone willingly sit on the sidelines?

I'm not saying voting changes everything. It clearly doesn't. But in today's environment, how can you not care enough to simply register, let alone vote. How damn lazy and nihilistic must you be to not care about who your mayor, city council, and school board are, and what they're doing with your tax money?

I guess this should serve as a wakeup call. If folks can't even get interested enough in merely registering to vote (let alone actually voting) when there's a Black man with a legitimate chance of becoming President, what hope is there for us?

I make lots of jokes here all the time, but I have to issue a serious challenge to my readers. If you know of a friend or family member who for some odd reason is still not registered to vote, help them. Forward them the link below, and lovingly hold their hands through the process. Spend a couple of minutes lovingly telling them why it's important. Do not mention the words "Barack" or "Obama"! He is completely irrelevant. If folks don't care to vote for their local officials, a President is going to be the least of their concerns. Worry about first things first.

If you've got that base covered and want some extra credit, find a local organization like a church, civic group, or frat/sorority that is actively holding a voter registration drive. Volunteer and assist.

But whatever you do, don't just sit on your hands. I assume that all of you who read this blog are voters, and you're voters because someone (likely your parents) at some point made sure you understood the importance of exercising your right. Someone helped you understand that our people were not given that right by the Constitution. Our people had to fight, struggle, and in many cases die for that right.[1]

Getting your ass out of bed on November 4th and waiting in line for a few minutes is a small price to pay for what our forefathers only dreamed of.

We should all be ashamed.

Ashamed enough to do something about it.

Fannie Lou Hamer is crying inside.

Question: Do you personally know someone who is eligible to vote, but not registered? Can you commit to getting these folks registered? Other than the obvious reason (nihilism) why do you think so many people have so little interest in the democratic process?

Register To Vote at

Eight Million African-Americans Still Not Registered to Vote [Seattle Medium]

[1] Go ahead and insert your own "Yaw's Boy" joke here. I know, I walked right into that one.

Is The Redeem Team Better Than The 92' Dream Team!?!?

[Editor's Note: This post is completely sports related, and it's prolly borderline blasphemous to some. Consider yourself forewarned.]

I know I'm about to open a huge can of worms, but it just occurred to me this morning that what this year's Redeem Team is accomplishing is far more impressive than the 1992 Dream Team.

Pick yourselves off the floor and let me explain why.

Back in 1992, we sent the absolute best 11 players in the league, plus Christian Laettner, whom some might argue is the best college player evar. Note, I said best college player.

Just peep this roster.

Charles Barkley of the Philadelphia 76ers
Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics
Clyde Drexler of the Portland Trail Blazers
Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks
Earvin "Magic" Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers
Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls
Christian Laettner of Duke University
Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz
Chris Mullin of the Golden State Warriors
Scottie Pippen of the Chicago Bulls
David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs
John Stockton of the Utah Jazz
With the exception of Laettner (who barely played), every member of this team is either in, or will soon be in, the NBA Hall of Fame. Jordan is considered the best player evar. Johnson is the gold standard for PG's. Stockton is the silver standard. Malone revolutionized the power forward position. Barkley is the best player under 6-4 to ever lace up. Pippen became the prototype for small forwards. Bird is Bird. Mullin is one of the best shooters to ever lace up. Drexler did his thing. Ewing and The Admiral are among the 50 best players ever. Laettner did one heckuva job fetching donuts.

These players were the best in the world at the time, let alone the best in the league. I would have definitely bet online for them. Only Isaiah Thomas (politricks) and Hakeem Olajuwon (not yet a US citizen) were the only truly elite NBA players excluded from this team. It was the creme de la creme. The Dream Team rolled over foes by an average of 43.8 points a game, and never even called a timeout.

This year's Redeem Team is still a couple of games shy of the gold, but given their redemptive drubbing of Australia (whom they only beat by 11 just a week ago) on Wednesday, it's hard to see them losing to anybody. They are winning by an average of 32ppg as I write this.

It's roster is impressive, but probably not as impressive as the Original Dream Team.
Carlos Boozer of the Utah Jazz
Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks
Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers
Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz
Michael Redd of the Milwaukee Bucks
Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers
Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic
Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors
Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets
Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons
Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets
It's hard to tell these sorts of things so early, but player for player, this is probably not as star studded a team as the 92' squad. Bryant, Wade, Paul, and James are MVP caliber players, but you can't really say that yet for any of the other players. Prince isn't even an all star. Redd will not be Hall of Famer, and Bosh may not be either. Anthony is one DUI away from being a Clipper. Kidd is toast. Howard is showing his Shaq-like limitations. Williams and Boozer are good, but nobody is readying a place in Springfield for either yet. And some great NBA players like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Elton Brand, Joe Johnson, Allen Iverson, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, Tracy McGrady, Marcus Camby, etc. are back home. We could have sent a better team.

So, why in the ham sammich am I suggesting this team might be better than the 92' squad? Simple: The level of competition.

Back in 92', few of the foreign teams had legit NBA players. Germany had Detlef Schrempf, who was a 6th man for the Sonics. Lithuania had then-current Golden State Warrior reserve Šarūnas Marčiulionis and eventual Blazer Arvydas Sabonis. Croatia had five current or future NBA players in Dražen Petrović, Toni Kukoč, Dino Radja, Stojko Vranković, and Žan Tabak. Petrović died before he made a huge NBA impact. Toni Kukoč went on to a respectable NBA career. The other guys were pioneers in the art of weedcarrying excellent luggage handlers.

This year, seemingly every opponent has 2-3 solid NBA players. China has the NBA's best big man in Yao Ming, budding star Yi Jianlian, Lakers rookie Sun Yue, and NBA yet Wang Zhizhi. Germany has Clippers star Chris Kaman and recent NBA MVP Dirk Nowitzki. Greece has recent NBA players Vasileios Spanoulis, Antonis Fotsis, Andreas Glyniadakis, and Clippers draftee Sofoklis Schortsanitis. Spain has Lakers all-star big man Pau Gasol, Blazers rookie Rudy Fernandez, recent NBA players Raul Lopez, Juan Carlos Navarro, and Jorge Garbajosa, Raptors starting PG Jose Calderon, Grizzlies rookie Marc Gasol, and teen sensation (and likely #1 pick in next year's draft) Ricky Rubio. Australia has Bucks' center and recent #1 overall pick Andrew Bogut. Argentina, Lithuania, Croatia, and Russia have more NBA players than I've got time and space to list here.

But each and every one of these teams has been completely obliterated by the Redeem Team. Every single one.

I'm not saying the original Dream Team wouldn't have rolled over these teams with ease, they probably would have won by even more, but there's no way of knowing. And let's not forget, in addition to playing vastly inferior opponents, the Dream Team had the whole fear/star factor at play. It was common for opposing teams to be in total awe of Team USA and ask for photos, autographs, and jerseys after, before, and sometimes even during games. No such thing is happening for the Redeem Team, since they already play most of their opponents during the regular season. Their foes are getting thrashed, but they ain't scurred. Many of them have beaten Team USA before.

I suspect many of you will tell me I'm smoking for going out on a limb and saying this, but I do actually believe this year's team's accomplishment is more impressive than the Dream Team. That doesn't necessarily mean this year's Redeem Team is necessarily a better team that the 92' squad, so please, spare me the comments. I am emphatically not calling this a better team, despite this title's post. But when you consider all the factors, and the net result, you'd be hard convincing me that what these guys are doing isn't as awe inspiring, if not greater.

Question: Assuming you've watched both teams in action, am I too far out of bounds in suggesting that this year's Redeem Team is just as impressive, if not more so than the Original Dream Team? Which squad would win a Best of Seven series in a theoretical head to head match up? Would you like some of what I've been smoking?

USA Basketball Wiki [Wikipedia]

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 GuestMovieReview: Tropic Thunder

[You folks already know I don't get out much, let alone to the movies. Thankfully, fellow bloggers like my cyber-homegirl Thembi actually do see movies in the same year they're released. She caught the somewhat controversial Tropic Thunder last week. I'm livin' vicariously. Show some love you-know-where.]

Any movie featuring MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" before the basic plot has even been outlined is destined to be a problem, but mostly in a good way. Tropic Thunder was just that. Continuing the lowbrow and nonsensical brand of comedy that Ben Stiller has become well-known for, Tropic Thunder is a send-up of the Hollywood movie machine that strokes moviegoers' pre-existing perception that everyone involved in the industry is ultimately ridiculous. The tasteless early trailers for Tropic Thunder caused a stir among black folks and disability groups thanks to the over-the-top "blackface" of Robert Downey Jr. and the repeated use of the word "retard" (which, FYI, is also now known as "the r-word"). I wish that troubling our sensibilities was the worst of Tropic Thunder; while it was laugh out loud funny at some spots, in the end it was just "ok."

Tropic Thunder is best thought of as a movie within a movie. After a series of fake movie trailers introducing each of the characters, we're brought to the set of the true-story action flick "Tropic Thunder," billed as "the biggest war movie ever," which is already extremely over-budget thanks to a group of vain, limelight-seeking actors and crew. I'm not a fan of real war movies (or war itself, for that matter), so from the start the jokes spoofing that genre may fall a little flat. As the plot progresses, however, the familiar ground of the Hollywood machinery taking itself too seriously occupies center stage. The real action begins when the actors end up in the jungles of Southeast Asia fighting off a real drug gang led by a little pre-teen scoop of lychee ice cream simply called "Tran". By this point, the disabled, blacks, and Asians could easily be offended, but everyone else also gets theirs throughout the course of the film. There's mockery and then there's satire; the humor in Tropic Thunder, when taken properly in context, is clearly satire.

Ben Stiller's obliviously retarded facial expressions and endearing disheveled Jewishness are so cute and funny to me that I've seen almost every other movie he's made. He's like a Buttered Popcorn Jellybean - so wrong that he's right. In the ridiculousness department, Tropic Thunder picks up where Zoolander and Dodgeball left off, a feat that seems mainly thanks to Stiller's cheekiness as fallen-from-grace action star Tugg Speedman. Robert Downey, Jr. gives an unexpectedly sophisticated performance as Australian character actor Kirk Lazarus, who himself spent the bulk of the movie immersed in the black character Sergeant Lincoln Osiris, saying "I don't drop character 'til I've done the DVD commentary." Once I realized that his "blackface," was part of the plot and that role couldn't have gone to a black actor, I thought that the portrayal was brilliant. Within thirty minutes I was irritated by Downey's speech patterns, which were intentionally over-the-top depictions of rough Negrospeak. Within an hour, I was driven crazy by his protruding prosthetic lower lip, which reminded me of a butterflied breakfast sausage that had been burnt on the edges. I guess that's just me being black and sensitive, but it was definitely a unfortunate buzzkill that threatened to make me start playing with my BlackBerry instead of following the action.

Jack Black is usually good for some laughs, but his depiction of drug-addicted fart-humorist Jack Portnoy was so lowbrow that it lacked awareness. Granted, there is nothing actually funny about coming down off of that her'on, but to engage in that kind of pre-rehab coonery with recovering addicts Robert Downey, Jr. and Nick Nolte on set? This sort of recurring self-awareness miss made the "biting the hand that feeds it" aspect of the satirization of Hollywood less than seamless. On the flipside, I was impressed and entertained by the fresh faces of Jay Baruchel and Brandon T. Jackson, the latter of which played "Alpa Chino," a less-than-representin' rapper with his own energy drink, "Booty Sweat". I've noticed that black actors rarely get that much of a career boost from appearing in this type of movie, but I'm hoping that Jackson can parlay the success of Tropic Thunder into more roles in the future. Otherwise, he'll spend the rest of his career being "that black guy in Tropic Thunder", because Lord knows he was the only one. A barely-recognizable Tom Cruise and redneck hottie Matthew McConaughey were added treats, and other cameos included Toby Maguire, Jon Voight, and Jason Bateman.

At times labored and immature but certainly welcomingly lowbrow, overall Tropic Thunder is a great way to pass the time and get some laughs, but I certainly won't be picking up any zinger catch-phrases from this movie to repeat amongst my friendship group.

Final Verdict: The ticket was $9.00 and what Thembi would do (if she could) is ask for $3.50 back (3 of 5 stars). Sixty-percent is a great score considering about 80% of the laughs are in the first ten minutes and in the trailer, which you can check out below.

Question: Did you see Tropic Thunder? Was it worth the $40? What did you think of Downey Jr.'s blackface role?

Tropic Thunder Official Website

What Would Thembi Do? [BlogSpot]

R.I.P. Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

I said some very, very, un-nice things about Ohio Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones during this year's Democratic nomination. I didn't agree with her rationale for supporting Hillary Clinton, as well as her constant, and unnecessary jabs at Barack Obama. But of course, she is entitled to her opinion and as my mom told me, Hillary is her friend above all else. So, I guess this eventually made her tactics more understandable if not more palatable.

That said, it's always sad to hear about someone passing unexpectedly, and it puts comparatively simple things like politics in their proper perspective.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the first black woman to represent Ohio in Congress and a strong critic of the Iraq war, died Wednesday after a brain hemorrhage, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Tubbs Jones, 58, died Wednesday evening of a brain hemorrhage caused by an aneurysm that burst and left her with limited brain function. The liberal Democrat, first elected in 1998, suffered the hemorrhage while driving her car in Cleveland Heights Tuesday night, said Dr. Gus Kious, president of Huron Hospital. The car went out of control and crossed lanes of traffic before coming to a stop, police said. An officer found the ailing lawmaker.

Tubbs Jones represented the heavily Democratic 11th District and chaired the ethics committee in the House. She was the first black woman to serve on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, where she opposed President Bush's tax cuts and his efforts to create personal accounts within Social Security.

Tubbs Jones was a passionate opponent of the Iraq war, voting in 2002 against authorizing the use of military force.

Just as the war was starting in March 2003, she was one of only 11 House members to oppose a resolution supporting U.S. troops in Iraq. She said she did so because the resolution connected Iraq to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and said Iraq poses a continued threat to the United States.

Neither of those claims had been proved, she said, adding that was why the United States couldn't persuade the United Nations to support an attack.

In 2005, Tubbs Jones opposed certifying President Bush's re-election because of questionable electoral results in her home state.

Tubbs Jones had served as a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge and prosecutor before running for political office.

Addressing the Democratic National Convention in 2004, Tubbs Jones recalled her parents, who "punched a clock day in and day out — one as a skycap, the other as a factory worker," until the day they saw their daughter representing their hometown as a congresswoman.
If there's one downside to blogging, it's the virtual papertrail that exists with every post you write that casts a person in a negative light. One such example would be my 13 Debits To The Black Race piece, where I included Tubbs Jones alongside the likes of Robert Kelly and Pastor David Manning. This was stupid, and I've since modified the post, so don't go there gawking. Lord knows I feel like enough of a d-bag already.

My prayers are with the Jones family.

US Rep. Tubbs Jones of Ohio dies after hemorrhage [AP]

LA's Fast Food Ban: Good Intentions Or Racist Overlording?!?

Those of you who live out West know the unique food you can only get in SoCal. I'm of course talkin' about M&M's Soul Food, Jack In The Crack, Carl's Jr., FatBurger, In & Out, El Pollo Loco, and my personal favorite, Roscoe's. Except for the Scoe's special[1], most of this food is pure crap, but that doesn't stop me from indulging everytime I hit the left coast, for the pure novelty if nothing else.

That said, I'm smart enough to know you can't eat this crap everyday. Eating a reasonably well-rounded diet, in addition to exercising regularly is the key to life. So, when I see that the fine folks of Los Angeles just announced a ban on new fast-food restaurants in South Central Los Angeles, I'm wondering if this is yet another case of the gubb'ment overreaching.

A law that would bar fast-food restaurants from opening in South Los Angeles for at least a year sailed through the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday.

The council approved the fast-food moratorium unanimously, despite complaints from representatives of McDonald's, Carl's Jr. and other companies, who said they were being unfairly targeted. The ban covers a 32-square-mile area for one year, with two possible six-month extensions.

The area contains about 500,000 residents, including those who live in West Adams, Baldwin Hills and Leimert Park.

The law defines fast-food restaurants as "any establishment which dispenses food for consumption on or off the premises, and which has the following characteristics: a limited menu, items prepared in advance or prepared or heated quickly, no table orders and food served in disposable wrapping or containers."

A report released last year by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health found 30% of children in South L.A. were obese, compared with 25% of all children in the city.

Still, several fast-food workers told the council that the panel was ignoring the good things their franchises accomplish. The workers argued that fast-food establishments provide residents with job opportunities and, in recent years, nutritious menu options.
On the surface, this doesn't seem likely to make much of a dent in the public health crisis the LA County Health Department (which I've done some work for) is trying to solve. No restaurants will actually be closing, this is little more than a moratorium on the opening of new ones. So, nobody who wants the pleasure of partaking in a double cheeseburger from the McDonald's Dollar Meal will be denied that right.

The City Council says they want to use this as the impetus for making it more attractive for more higher end grocery stores and healthier dining establishments (ie: Panera Bread, Subway, Baja Fresh, etc.) to open in the area, which I suppose is a good thing. The only problem is, most people who partake in crap at McDonald's and Carl's Jr. do so because the food is cheap and quick. Nutritional value is usually a distant afterthought. So simply introducing "better" options might make some different franchisees richer, but prolly won't solve the obesity crisis either. After all, McDonald's already has a boatload of affordable and "healthy" choices (salads, fruit, grilled chicken) itself.

The City Council seems to either be completely ignorant to, or simply sidestepping the real issue here: culture. From the cradle to the premature grave, African American culture is steeped in largely destructive habits. The legacy of "soul food" handed down from slavery still serves as the backdrop for many a family gathering. Black folks in general lead more stress-filled lives and exercise less. Many black communities lack well maintained parks and rec centers. Add this all up, and you're facing an inter generational set of obstacles far bigger and more complex than a simple zoning ordinance.

So, while I respect the Council for trying to do something, I'm looking at them with a side eye. Some murmurs also seem to indicate a concern that this ordinance is little more than the precursor for widespread gentrification. By making the areas more attractive to higher quality establishments, they could also be setting the table for eventually pricing folks out of their homes. Anyone even remotely familiar with the bloated prices of SoCal real estate can't help but wonder about this.

I'm just sayin'.

Nice try, LA. Now try harder.

Question: Do you think the LA City Council's moratorium will result in healthier residents? Is this an underhanded stab at making South LA more attractive for gentrifiers? Is this institutional racism at it's worse or are the city's genuinely good intentions simply misguided?

Council bans new fast-food outlets in South L.A. [LA Times]

[1] Yeah, it's an angioplasty just begging to happen, but what's a trip to LA without some chicken and waffles?