Saturday, January 31, 2009

This Is An Actual Commercial. No, Seriously.

Boy, I thought we'd seen it all with those Snuggies commercials, but this one sets a whole new gold standard for L.A.M.E.

Interestingly, I assumed white guys trimmed their goatees with clippers like the rest of us, not an actual razor. I guess I learned something today. On a related note: it's good to see K-Fed working again. Popozão! Popozão!

Question: Do the makers of these ads realize how unintentionally cheesy they are? Would you buy a Goatee Saver? Is holding your hand steady while you shave really that darn complicated?

What's Up With These Charmin Bear Ads?!?

I thought that "football" ad (screenshot above) was the epitome of inappropriate. Now they're telling you what to do with your dingleberries. That's just double wrong.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Congrats Michael Steele!

The cynical hater in me wants to make jokes about former Maryland Lieutenant Governor just being appointed RNC Chairman. But reality is, this is a groundbreaking achievement and should be celebrated as much as Obama's Presidency.

Break out the CapriSuns! It's time to party like a Black Republican!

The million dollar question is whether or not this signals a change of pace in the way the GOP handles its biz, or if Steele is a mere lawn jockey hood ornament that allows them to say "see, we ain't racist, we just put a Negro in charge too."

I'd go in on this topic more, but it's a Friday. I've reached my pithy comments quota for the week. Assuming you haven't reached yours, chime in you-know-where.

Congrats Mike, you've got your work cut out for you.

Question: Is Michael Steele's appointment proof that the GOP is turning a new leaf, or merely an illusion of conclusion?

Michael Steele Elected RNC Chairman [DailyKos]

Is It Wrong To Root For "The Black Guy"?!?

The SuperBowl is this weekend, and since I'm not having a party at the crib, nor going to one, I honestly couldn't care less.[1] Besides, if that Peta commercial, and this Miller High Life ad[2] are the best things going, I won't be missing much anyway.

I'm the rare hardcore sports fan that doesn't really care about football unless we're talking about the fantasy variety. Don't get me wrong, I follow it, but I don't obsess about football like I do basketball. The fact that I don't "have a team" only further adds to this nonchalance. Sure, I jump on and off the Redskins bandwagon when convenient, but that's about it.

I don't really have a favorite in this Sunday's game. The Steelers are favored (by's Poll Position and Vegas), and since they're geographically closer, more folks around here seem to want them to win. But you can't overlook the underdog status of the Cardinals, who have ascended from Clipper-esque mediocrity to the precipice of the greatest title in all sports. I got used to listening to Larry Fitzgerald's Dad on the radio every morning in Minneapolis, so I'm pulling for him. Kurt Warner's odd looking wife will be there. Edge is finally out of the scrip clubs, and on the biggest stage. The whole "team of destiny" thing has a nice ring to it.

But ultimately I'm going to pull for the Steelers, and the tiebreaker is obvious: Coach Mike Tomlin. I don't even need to lie to ya'll, I'm cheering for the Steelers because they have a black coach and I want to see history (Dungy, 2006) repeat itself this year. I have no greater explanation, and part of me wonders if there's anything wrong with this.

Racial pride is something that's generally frowned upon by the mainstream media, especially when the subject of said pride is black or brown. Tomes were written about whether or not blacks were voting for Obama "just cause he' black" last year, which was the dumbest of angles to me. So freakin' what? White folks vote white all the time. Women vote for women. Jews support Jews. Asians have their own self-sustaining economies. It's human nature on some level to support and be proud of your own, but that don't necessarily make it wrong.

So, I'll be pulling for Coach Omar Epps Tomlin, who is hands down The Coolest Negro In All Of Sports, this Sunday without any regrets. Am I wrong for this?

Question: Is it wrong to root for someone to succeed "just cause they black"? If not, why is it sometimes considered racist to support someone just "cause they are white"? Could our new President take some "Cool Pointers" from Coach Tomlin?

[1] The operative phrase is indeed "COULDN'T care less", as Chris N. infamously corrected me here awhile back. I just didn't know better, but I can't go a single day without hearing "COULD care less" about a dozen times. Let's fix this, people. Good job, Chris N.

[2] This guy irks me for some odd reason. Can't pinpoint why, but he does.

C.Y.I.N. Case Study - Obama vs Citigroup.

I'll admit, I've sometimes been critical of Barack Obama's diplomacy before conflict style. I wondered if this milquetoast demeanor would mean dude was a pushover when it came to C.Y.I.N. and straight checkin' a fool when the sichyashun demanded it.

Wrong. In just one week, Obama's pushed back on corporate America more than Bush did in two terms.
The high-flying execs at Citigroup caved under pressure from President Obama and decided today to abandon plans for a luxurious new $50 million corporate jet from France

The decision came 24 hours after the banking giant, which was rescued by a $45 billion taxpayer lifeline, defended buying the state-of-the-art Dassault Falcon 7X -- one of nine to be flying in U.S. skies -- as a smart business deal. The jet, the epitome of corporate prestige and privilege, can carry 12 passengers in elegant comfort.

ABC News has learned that on Monday officials of the Obama administration called Citigroup about the company's new $50 million corporate jet and told execs to "fix it."
I'm sure dude tried to do this in a dignified manner, then said eff' it and CHIN.

The call prolly went like this...
Obama: "Good morning gentlemen, I'd like to talk to you about that jet you are about to purchase."

Citigroup Execs Huddled Around Polycom: "Congrats on that win. We woulda voted for you, but McCain was gonna cut our taxes. Sorry."

O: "That's neither here nor there. Let's talk about that..."

CEHAP: "Hey, can you show us how to do that fistbump? That would be a good icebreaker for our next corporate outing!"

O: "Gentlemen, you can just spend money recklessly like that, the Ameri..."

CEHAP: "Well it's not like we've got an ice sculpture pissing Vodka. This was important."

O: "No, it's a waste of taxpayer money and..."

CEHAP: "Hey, did you ever see Palin from behind? How was she.."

O: "Gentlemen, let's not deviate..."

CEHAP: "Yeah, one of my mistresses looks like that. She's gonna enjoy the executive bedroom on this jet. Thanks for the money Barack."

O: {erupts} "Look here you pasty motherf*******, I gave you that money to keep the lights on, not for you to floss and turn into some sort b*tchmobile for your Mile High Club Fantasies. I'm the POTUS, and you will cancel the purchase of that jet or you better watch your back everytime you reach 20,000 feet!!! This ain't no option, b*tches!!! Get down or lay down!!!"

CEHAP: "Yes sir, Mr. President Sir, we're cancelling the order right now."

O: "You damn right, and don't make me call here again or it's gon' be some consequences and repercussions!"

CEHAP: "Yessir Mr. President Sir."

O: "Now go back to fixing that company you ran into the ground before I send some goons to your parking garage!"

CEHAP: "Yessir Mr..."

O: "F*ck Marion Barry! There's a new H.N.I.C. in Chocolate City. You bamas better recognize!"

CEHAP: {puzzled} "H.N.I.C.!?!? Is that the Hawaiian National Industri..."

O: "No, I don't have time to explain this. Do you have Netflix?"

CEHAP: "Yes."

O: "Well put Lean On Me in your queue and get with the program."

CEHAP: "Yessir Mr. President Sir."

O: "And don't let this sh*t happen no' mo', ya' heard. I got 98 problems on my hands as is. You don't wanna be #99. Trust. I'll put that on my grandma!"

CEHAP: "Yessir Mr..."

...and scene.

I'm not sayin' it went down exactly like that, but it was prolly close.

Question: Did Obama flex on Citigroup to prove that he's the new H.N.I.C. sheriff in town, or was this just such an egregious waste of taxpayer money that it would have been bad PR to let it slide?

Obama Officials Tell Citibank To Ditch Plans For $50 Million Private Jet [HuffPost]

Should Michelle-O Only Rock F.U.B.U.?!?

[Editor's Note: Citizen Ojo is back at it.]

Michelle Obama can't catch a break. First someone is trying to make money off her daughters (without even giving her a cut) and now we have a controversy about a dress.

Amnau Eele, a former model and co-founder of the Black Artists Association, made the complaint that Mrs. Obama should have been wearing clothes by black designers on Inauguration Day. First of all who is this lady? I tried to Google her and she doesn't even have her own page on Wikipedia. Screech from Saved By The Bell has his own page on Wikipedia. She must have only been modeling in Kazakhstani. Come on lady? Is this how you want to make your debut?

Mrs. Obama wore clothing from a Cuban-American designer and a Taiwan-born designer. Uh oh! The Black Race is being held down by the Taiwanese again. Amnau Eele continued her rant to by naming different black designers that could have made wears for Mrs. Obama. In her quest to show Mrs. Obama as not being inclusive, she should have checked before she named dropped. One of the designers B. Michael, made a statement saying that his views differ from Amnau Eele. He basically said that its Mrs. Obama's right to wear what she wants. In other words… "Woman get my name out of your mouth!" I don't know who this B. Michael is but apparently he is a smart man. The Obama's have 4, possibly 8 years to kick it at the White House. Why burn bridges before the first month of office? 4 years for a woman is plenty of time to wear multiple clothes. While men are still wearing underwear from 2007, women are throwing out clothes from late 2008. I didn't know what the designers looked like until I saw them on Good Morning America. I really didn't have time to appreciate the grandness of it all. Why you ask? I had to get to work to help pay for the mortgage and the rest of the bills.

I personally don't care what Mrs. Obama wears because I'm not her husband. Sure my wife is watching to see what she wears. And every now and again, I make a comment but that's about it. I'm sure Mrs. Obama will eventually get around to wearing clothes from black designers. It's too early for this kind of foolishness. We still have Easter Sunday (you know how we do!!) and a host of other events she has to attend. Her kids wear J Crew so if you are expecting Baby Phat……maybe not. But there is room for the B. Michaels of the world to showcase their skills. Then they will get their designs judged harshly like the non-black designers. Then we will truly come together in this country under one criticism… oops I mean one nation.

Question: Does Michelle Obama owe it to black designers to wear their gear? Are the folks at the Black Artists Association shooting themselves in the foot, or do they have a point?

Amnau Eele's Black Artists Association complaint about Michelle Obama's choice of dress designers spurs backlash [Chicago Tribune]

More From Citizen Ojo [The Desultory Life & Times of a Public Citizen]

Caption This Photo.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

How Obama Can Piss Off DC Urreah Residents: Exhibit A.

There's some stuff you just don't call folks in The DC Metro Urreah. Country. Backwards. Baltimoreans. And worst of all, Bama. That's a word that's liable to get you two-pieced.

As Barack Obama settles into non-Federal DC, there's some other stuff he might wanna learn. Namely, don't call bamas DMV residents "soft".
At a meeting in the Roosevelt Room with business leaders to discuss the economy, President Obama asked to make an unrelated comment -- on the weather.

"My children's school was canceled today, because of what? Some ice," Obama said, and all at the table started laughing.

"As my children pointed out, in Chicago school is never canceled," he continued. He said that in their old hometown, "you'd go outside for recess in weather like this. You wouldn't even stay indoors."

The President said he would have to bring "some flinty Chicago toughness" to Washington.

Asked if he was calling Washingtonians wimps, Obama responded: "I'm saying that when it comes to the weather, folks in Washington don't seem to be able to handle things."
Flinty Chicago toughness? WTF?!?

I too hate it when people complain about the weather, but it's all relative. One flake in NC and all the milk is sold out. Last Winter when I was in the Twin Cities, they scoffed at Chicago weather. I'm sure folks in Canada laugh at all Midwesterners. But for a President to openly pick at the character and toughness of his new hometown is not a good look.

Just in case you're wondering why this is such a big deal, you kinda have to see and hear the video to get the full context.

The sarcasm is literally dripping from this dude. On the 6:00 News, Jim Vance looked like he was gonna put a hit out on this cat, he was so pissed. I can only imagine the reaction in barbershops from Good Hope Road to Uptown.

And for the record DC Public Schools were wide open.[1] It's the ObamaKids' $30k/year private school that was closed. Of course, his kids don't have to sit at icy bus stops, brave slippery sidewalks to make it to the train, worry about the inevitable school bus pileups (there were lots of them in the Urreah today), or finding alternative childcare.

Barack needs to chase that arugula breakfast burrito with a nice cold can of STFU.

Dude was off to a good start with that Ben's Chili Bowl photo op, but he lost me with this one.

What's next? Jonin' on Mambo Sauce? Trying to ban go-go music? Announcing the closure of all Yum's curryouts? Getting rid of the word "Young"? Taking back The Big Chair?

President Negro please.[2]

If you don't like DC, take your beige ass back to Chicago, Joe. I hear the weather's just fine there this time of year.

Question (for those in the DC Urreah or Chi-Town only): Was this a bad look? Has this bama kirked out from all the power? Is he trying to carry us to get a few laughs from the media? Could someone open a Harold's Chicken in Southeast?

Obama Braves The Cold Without A Coat, Demonstrates "Flinty Chicago Toughness" [HuffPost] WITH VIDEO

[1] Score one for Fenty. I know he's on Obama's jock for voting rights, but he had a nice lil' retort for this one.

[2] Before you get all worked up, yeah, this post is jive tongue in cheek. Sorta.

WorkPlace 101: Is Nepotism Always Bad?!?

You might remember Craig Robinson as Michelle Obama's brother who bungled his way through that introduction on Night One of the Democratic National Convention. Thankfully, dude is a far better coach than he is a public speaker, as the fine folks at Oregon State are quickly finding out.

Robinson's ascent to the top is almost as impressive as Barack's. Just a few years ago, Robinson was using his Princeton degree on Wall Street, gettin' caked up. Then he decided to quit the Corporate Negro Hustle and pursue his first love: Basketball. Robinson, who played hoops at Princeton, used his contacts to land him a low-paying assistant's gig at Northwestern. After paying his dues and earning a rep as a stellar recruiter for six years, Robinson parlayed this into a head coaching job at Ivy-league doormat Brown University. Success followed quickly as Robinson immediately became league Coach Of The Year in his first season, and lead the team to a school record 19 wins last year.

Like most ambitious career-climbers, Robinson seized the notoriety of his famous brother-in-law's rise to fame and cashed in with head coaching job in a major conference last Spring, being named the new coach at perennial Pac-10 whipping boy, Oregon State. While it should be noted that Robinson was the school's 4th choice, even he acknowledged that he traded in Barack Obama's name to get himself an interview. In effect, he's gone from poorhouse to penthouse in just 2 years.

The Beavers play in a very challenging conference, with such high profile teams as Arizona State, UCLA, and USC. OSU hadn't won a conference game in two seasons, and started the season in auspicious fashion by losing to Howard University, a team my 6th grade Panthers could probably beat. Since then the team has righted the ship, and has already defeated USC and beaten Stanford and California on the road.[1] And thanks to the free pub that being an in-law of the Leader Of The Free World brings, the Beavers are already assembling an outstanding recruiting class for next season. After years of being everyone's favorite homecoming opponent, the Beavers are finally on the upswing.

Whether OSU rides Robinson's name and notoriety to March Madness or not remains to be seen, but more than anything else, this is an example of when nepotism actually works well.[1] Not that Obama did anything (other than be married to Craig's sister) to directly get Robinson hired, but by being resourceful and opportunistic, Robinson found himself a niche and exploited it to his benefit. If you can win at Brown, Northwestern, and Oregon State, you clearly know a thing or two about coaching. Maybe I need an "Obama" on my resume.

Good work Coach Robinson.

Question: Is it wise to use family connections to advance your career, or would you rather succeed on your own merit? Have you ever gotten a job because of who you were related to?

[1] They also beat the crap out of Howard in the 2nd game of a very strange out-of-conference home and home series. Can you sports aficionados tell me if this has ever happened before? Playing the same OOC team twice in one season? Odd scheduling quirk.

[2] Yeah, I realize this isn't classic "nepotism". This started out as a sports post that I knew nobody would read unless I added a twist. Answer the question anyway.

People I Strongly Dislike: DJ Khaled.

Having talent should be, but isn't always, a prerequisite for success in the music industry. Cats like P. Diddy, Rihanna, and Akon have forged profitable careers by virtue of merely being popular and/or having a bankable gimmick. Diddy is a legendary hypeman who steals production credit from his weedcarriers underlings. Rihanna couldn't carry a tune if she was driving a Mack Truck, but she has a unique style. Akon re-introduced the world to the joys of Autotune. Nuff' said.

Again, these folks aren't "talented" by traditional standards, but they've each found some hustle that's made them lots of money.

And that's why I can't quite figure out this DJ Khaled fella, because he has literally no discernible talent other than talking very loudly and very obnoxiously over other peoples' songs. And by other people, I mean literally everyone.

"We The Best?!?"

What's all this we stuff? I don't hear Khaled droppin' na'ar rhyme. He doesn't produce songs. He doesn't sing. He prolly isn't even a real DJ.[1] So what exactly is it that we do besides talk stoopid mumbojumbo at the needlessly drawn-out start of every song?

DJ Khaled is the Damon Jones of the rap game.

By Damon Jones, I mean a 15th man with zero game who just keeps latching onto superstars and somehow surviving year after year for reasons unknown. He's that guy at the end of the bench always poppin' sh*t but never gettin' buckets. He has superstar swag and journeyman talent.

Yup, DK Khaled = Damon Jones.


Question: Does this DJ Khaled guy annoy the hell outta you too or are you too old to even know (or care) what a DJ Khaled is? Does he actually have any real talent or is he merely the Damon Jones of the rap game?

[1] And by DJ, I don't mean some talking head who introduces songs on your local Hot/Power/Foxxy station, I mean a dude who actually knows how to work the tables.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

AverageBro Goes To The Movies: Not Easily Broken.

[Editor's Note: Two movies in one month! Wooo Hoooo!]

Capturing and conveying spirituality in mainstream Black movies is difficult and seldom done correctly. Whether it's over the top foolishness like Kingdom Come or ham handed and riddled with bad sangin' like The Gospel, this latest Hollywood ploy to get black butts in seats usually misfires. And just in case ya'll haven't noticed, "Chuuch Movies" are the new "Urban Romantic Comedy". I sure hope Nia Long and Larenz Tate invested well.

Bishop TD Jakes' first foray into this burgeoning genre was 2004's Woman Thou Art Loosed, which was actually a serious drama. If you asked me to tell you what it was about 5 years later, I couldn't, but I do remember it being a fairly good movie. And chances are, if you go to see Jakes' newest creation, Not Easily Broken 5 years from now, you'll have the same reaction: solid, but forgettable.

Not Easily Broken finds "Urban Romantic Comedy" veteran Morris Chestnut trying to regain some career footing in dramatic role. Once probably the most likable (by the ladies) black actor around, Chestnut made the career-killing decision to branch out into action superstar territory with such duds as Half Past Dead (where he unconvincingly played the bad guy), Anacondas 2, and The Cave. If you've never seen either of those movies, join the crowd. Thankfully, Chestnut, who's never been what anyone would remotely consider a master thespian, is the highlight of what is otherwise a sometimes drab, depressing, and slowly paced movie.

Dave (Chestnut) is a blue collar worker whose professional wife Clarice (Taraji P. Henson, in a very unlikable role) would rather chase paper than settle down and start a family. His meddling mother-in-law (Jennifer Lewis, whom you'll wanna slap repeatedly in this movie) can't stay out of their business, and when the couple has an unfortunate car accident that leaves Clarice incapacitated, the marriage begins to crumble. Despondent and alone, Dave begins to fall for Clarice's physical therapist (Maeve Quinlan, who looks eerily like Cindy McCain) against the advice of his best friends (an annoying Kevin Hart and token white guy Eddie Cibrian). Will the marriage last through tumult or will it be Easily Broken?

What I can appreciate about this movie is that it deals with some very, very real issues that real married people encounter. Outside stress. Meddlesome in-laws. Financial problems. Shattered dreams. Drifting apart. Lack of "together time". Mortgages. Popr communication skills. Hardheadedness. Generational curses. Lack of spiritual grounding. The dangerous allure of "stepping out". Unexpected hardship. Friends with good intentions and bad advice. Complacency. It's all here, and you might argue that there's too much of it at times, especially when you figure in a number of subplots (one involving The Wire's Wood Harris) that simply complicate things. It's a classic example of more is less.

That said, even for its minor flaws, this is a pretty good way to blow $40. Chestnut is convincing and sympathetic in his role as a tortured husband who feels he just can't win. Any married man surely knows what this feels like at times, and the convincing manner in which it's conveyed makes this easily Chestnut's best performance to date. Taraji Henson captures all the nuance of the ambitious, yet fragile wife. Lewis is simply amazing as the mother-in-law. It's all so real, and so well done.

The trailers make the movie difficult to describe, but it's a real, legit urban drama, and one that (thankfully) doesn't end with a nicely wrapped bow to make you feel good as you leave the theater. In lesser hands (and you know who I'm talking about) this movie would have been riddled with bad acting, pointless plot machinations, and unnecessary comic relief. In greater hands (although director Bill Duke does a great job) given the subject matter, this might (I stress the word might) have had the potential to be a 4.5 star effort.

As is, it's merely a very good movie, and that's nothing to be ashamed of. TD Jakes (whose book the movie is titled after) and Bill Duke have done us all a great service by putting out a thoughtful, smart, well-acted movie that more people should have seen. The fact that his flick has been out nearly 3 weeks and has made less (~$9M) than Notorious made on opening night says something about black folks' (yours truly included) priorities. Exactly what I'm not sure, but it says something.

Final Verdict: It's kinda sad that Not Easily Broken isn't doing better in theaters, but that doesn't make it a bad movie, it just means it was poorly marketed. If you wanna see a rare legitimate urban drama with good acting, no rappers, and no men in drag, pay the full ticket price and support this movie. 4 Stars (Out of 5).

Will Obama's Stimulus Plan Work?!?

I can balance a checkbook and whatnot, but I certainly don't consider myself an economist. So, as further details of the Obama stimulus plan pour in, I'll admit I couldn't tell you whether or not this stuff is gonna work.

Here's just a bit of where your $850 Billion dollars are going.

Construction projects: $90 billion. Fund the rebuilding of crumbling roads and bridges, build clean water and flood control mechanisms and provide funding for mass transit systems.

Education: $142 billion. Rebuild thousands of schools by modernizing classrooms, labs and libraries. The plan would also increase funding for Pell Grants.

Renewable energy: $54 billion. Double production of alternative energy in the next three years. Weatherize low-income homes, modernize 75% of federal buildings and update the nation's electrical grid with a new, cost-efficient "smart" grid.

Health care records: $20 billion. Modernize the health care system by computerizing all of the nations' medical records in the next five years.

Science, research and technology: $16 billion. Invest in science facilities, research and instrumentation to create new industries, new jobs and medical breakthroughs. Expand broadband Internet access in rural and underserved areas.
No real beefs here. Obama's Education Czar has yet to announce his plans for replacing the dismally inept No Child Left Behind legislation, but modernizing schools is important. No word on where these 10,000 modernized schools will be located, but my guess is Obama's an urban guy and he knows what's up. If he doesn't, his folks can put him in the ObaMobile and head down 7th Street to Jefferson Jr. High (where I once tutored) just in case they need further evidence of the deplorable conditions some of our kids have to learn in.

The only problem with this and any sort of construction project is who the jobs are being created for. I have nothing against illegal aliens, but I'm assuming the jobs that are going to turn around the economy are will be ones that pay reasonable salaries and hire folks above-board. If all these gigs are doing is generating money to be Western Unioned South Of The Border, then count this as en epic fail. So, any company that wants this gubb'ment money needs to use it the right way and create jobs for those out of work, and apprenticeships for those entering the workforce.

AB's Grade On Infrastructure Stimulus Plan: B
State Relief

Medicaid: $87 billion. Increase Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage so states do not have to cut eligibility for Medicaid due to budget shortfalls.

Law enforcement: $4 billion for states and municipality funding for law enforcement.
I suppose this is all necessary to keep folks healthy, but I'm not 100% sure that it needs to be part of any stimulus package.

Besides, states are slashing workers left and right because they can't make payroll. Look at how effed' up California is. I'm not sure what the fix is for this, but I don't see it in the plan.

AB's Grade On State Relief Stimulus Plan: C
Safety Net

Unemployment benefits: $43 billion. Extend through December 2009 emergency unemployment insurance assistance to states. Increase weekly unemployment benefits by $25, and provide incentives for states to expand unemployment coverage.

Cobra: $39 billion. Tax credit for recently laid-off employees to help pay for discounted health care. Obama estimates the plan will help 8.5 million people who recently lost their jobs.

Feeding the hungry: $20 billion. Increase food stamp benefits by 13%, and provide support for food banks, school lunch programs and WIC.
Funding Cobra and unemployment benefits is a must. Until jobs come back, folks will need help staying healthy and keeping the lights on. Some folks would call this socialism and "an unfair transfer of wealth". I call it compassion.

If my job were outsourced tomorrow (which could happen to virtually any hi-tech gig), I'd bust my ass to ensure that my family stayed fed and we had heat. That's my responsibility. But for creating conditions that led to this loss of job, it's the gubb'ment's responsibility to help me until I can get back on my feet. You can call this welfare if you want. Whatever. Put yourself in that situation and tell me you wouldn't want a helping hand.

AB's Grade On Safety Net Stimulus Plan: A
Tax Cuts for Individuals

Middle-class tax cut: $145 billion. Tax cut amounting to $500 a year for individuals and $1,000 for couples. The full credit would be limited to those making $75,000 or less ($150,000 or less for workers filing joint returns).

Low-income tax cut: $5 billion. Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a refundable credit for low-income workers. Furthermore, the Make Work Pay Credit would be refundable, meaning that even tax filers without any tax liability -- typically very low-income workers -- would receive one.

Child tax credit: $18 billion. Temporary increase in the amount of the child tax credit that would be refundable.
You could debate all day whether or not tax cuts help middle and low income workers. One thing that's undebatable is that this emphatically is not welfare. Again, these tax cuts are only for people working. Nobody sitting on their butt is getting a check, something some Conservative commentators conveniently overlook when discussing Obama's plan.

While we're at it, repeal Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy. These folks already have so many loopholes that the rest of us aren't eligible for or simply don't even know exist. They'll be just fine.

What's perhaps most absurd of all is that the very folks on TV calling Obama's plan socialist are making CEO level salaries. Rush Limbaugh made $33M last year. Bill O'Reilly made $10M. Sean Hannity just inked a $100 million, five-year deal. Does nobody see the obvious conflict of interest? Would you trust a pimp who was pushing legislation to legalize prostitution? C'mon now.

AB's Grade On Tax Cuts for Individuals Stimulus Plan: B+
Tax Cuts for Businesses

Small business write-offs: Obama would increase the amount of expenses small businesses can write off to $250,000 in 2009 and 2010 from the current $125,000 level.

Tax cuts for companies suffering losses: $17 billion over 10 years. Obama would temporarily broaden the "net-operating loss carryback" to five years, up from two years currently. The provision would let companies apply their 2008 and 2009 losses to past and future tax bills so they can get money back on taxes they've already paid or would otherwise have to pay.
I'm admittedly out of my league here, but I'm sure one of you Jr. Economists can chime in.

AB's Grade On Tax Cuts for Businesses Stimulus Plan: Incomplete.

Overall, whether or not this plan succeeds remains to be seen, and will ultimately determine whether or not Obama's first term merits another round come 2013. But one thing is for certain: simply cutting taxes without spending any more money isn't gonna work. If the GOP was wise, they'd be figuring out a way to work with Obama on a compromise that makes both sides look good rather than doing all this tough guy posturing that will ultimately amount to nothing (they're outnumbered after all) and make them look like a-holes when/if it does indeed stimulate the economy after all.

We'll see how this pans out.

AB's Overall Grade Obama's Stimulus Plan: B

Question: Item for item, where do you have issues with Obama's stimulus plan? Do you think this will accomplish its overall goal of improving the economy or are we better off doing nothing and waiting for the economy to correct itself? Is there any shame in collecting unemployment benefits?

Stimulus 101: What's in the Bills [CNNMoney]

Caption This Photo.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another "Countdown To Prison" Show? Seriously?!?

Boy, is Viacom somethin' else or what? The same folks who bought us The Flavor Of Love, I Love New York, Making The Band, Wild N' Out, American Gangster, and BET Uncut is back with their latest round of Negro Nonsense.

Sorry, I just can't takes it no more.

Yeah, I understand the TI is posed' to be helpin' the kids and whatnot with this show, but c'mon. What's the likelihood that this a$$hole would be even remotely interested in these kids if his freedom didn't depend on it? Was he thinking about those kids when he sold crack to their parents? Was he thinking about those kids when he amassed a military-sized stockpile of semi-automatic weapons? Would he have given a sh*t about those kids if he hadn't gotten caught? I think not. MTV says this isn't part of TI's court-mandated 1,000 hours of community service, but I don't believe that nonsense for one minute. So why bother making yet another show that celebrates criminality and penitentiary chances? Besides, didn't Lil' Kim already have a similar show? I know TeeVee execs are devoid of fresh ideas, but dang.

[Editor's Note: I'm familiar with his older stuff, but I'm no fan of TI's music, so I don't know if his "messages" have changed any since he encountered these legal troubles. Is this dude still rhymin' about "The Traaap"? If you're familiar with his recent work, feel free to correct me.]

At some point, doesn't the market for Negro Dysfunction dry up? Why does seemingly every show on the MTV/BET/VH1 continuum with a black character have to drudge up the worst stereotypes (criminals, hoes, thugs, dawgs, chickenheads) of our culture?

I will admit, I've been part of the problem. I used to watch Flavor of Love. That season where MTB had Chopper, Babs, Dylan and Co. was hilarious. I even watched the Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is marathon this year, ditto for the Real Housewives Of Atlanta marathon. But at some point, doesn't this Negro Nonsense get old? When do these shows cross the line from poorly scripted reality into just plain ole' pointless exploitation?

For me, when it was discovered that the chick on I Love New York and her on-screen Mom were only 4 years apart in age, the gig was up. I couldn't bear watching any more Diddy so MTB was a wrap. And laughs aside, don't shows like Wild -N- Out and Yo! Mama just perpetuate the tired practice of jonin' and self-hatred? I still confess a soft spot for Frankie, but something about Keyshia Cole seems more like a documentary on broken black families than a reality show. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So, it goes without saying that I won't bother tuning into TI's Road To Redemption, and neither should you. I'm not about boycotting because I think that sorta stuff seldom works in today's environment. But there's a black man in the White House now. Aren't we supposed to be beyond this sorta crap?

Question: Are "Dude, you're goin' to jail" shows like Road To Redemption harmless fun or further perpetuation of negative stereotypes? Do you think TI is sincere in his efforts to help this kids stay out The Traaap, or is this just some BS to trim down his jail sentence? Am I being overly critical of young Clifford Harris? Who I'm Is?!?

The Basketball Diaries: Chapter Four.

[Editor's Note: This blog has an ulterior motive and that motive is The AverageBro Challenge™. Watch me walk the talk firsthand as I coach a team of 6th graders this Winter in our newest series, The Basketball Diaries. If you need a refresher, backtrack and read prior chapters.]


Well, practice is tomorrow, and honestly, with everything going on this week, I haven't thought about the team since Sunday's game. I think this is good.

After last week's edition of TBD, a commenter told me that if I consider myself more of a positive influence on these kids' lives than a basketball coach, then I shouldn't gauge their progress on wins and losses. This actually made a lot of sense, and I am taking it to heart.

My main goal is getting these guys disciplined, having them respect authority, push themselves to the limit, work well with others, and not give up when things get hard. My goal isn't teaching them how to defend the pick and roll. 10 years from now, the former will matter far more than the latter, cause lets face it, none of these kids likely has a future in hoops. But they all will have futures that entail academic achievement, continued education, career growth, long term relationships, and family building. The intangible lessons we're trying to convey will matter far more than a flex offense. So, I'll keep my eyes on the prize from now on.

That said, I am going to run them into the ground tomorrow night at practice.

Friday (Post-Practice)

Funny things happen when you change your perspective on a situation, rather than waiting for the situation itself to change. Earlier this week, I decided to just go with the flow and stop focusing so much on wins and losses. As long as these guys are listening, focusing more, and showing discipline, the record is secondary. After all, my real goal is making these kids better people, not better players.

So, anyway, you guys know Pedro quit last week, leaving us with only 8 players. You can add players up until Week 3 (this Sunday), so last week I told the parents and kids to invite a friend to fill out the roster. Well, tonight at practice, we get not one, but two new players, both of whom are coachable and, here's the kicker... are actually pretty good players. It's like Christmas in January. Sure, De'Andre gave me some more headaches tonight, even tossing a basketball (absentmindedly and without malice, but still intentionally) at an assistant coach. Needless to say, he ran. A lot. But the other kids focused well, and allowed me to install a watered down variation of the Princeton offense.

The offense is very basic, but it borrows some fundamentals from Pete Carril's legendary sets that involve the wings moving and rotating the ball in a triangular motion, while the bigs constantly switch sides in the lane. The whole point is to keep the ball moving and the defense on its toes, then read situations quickly and make pass/shoot/drive decisions on the fly. If you can't make a play, simply dribble the ball back up top and reset the offense. It sounds complicated, but it really isn't. We'll add additional wrinkles like give and go's, dribble handoffs, and backdoor cuts as we go along.

While it took awhile to work out the kinks, we had an extra 30 minutes of practice tonight and the kids finally seemed to get it. We'll see what happens Sunday, but I feel good about things thus far.

Now that we're four chapters in, and the roster is set, I suppose it makes sense to introduce the kids.
Mark (F/C) - Four eyed, and lacking in even the basic fundamentals, but very coachable and plays hard at all times. His tenacity makes up for his lack of size and skill. He's the kind of player every coach needs.

Effi (C) - Our sluggish, new-to-hoops Ethiopian big man. Assertiveness is an issue, as seems to often be the case with kids of this (and Somali) culture. He's very coachable, yet reserved and shy. If he doesn't call for the ball (and he doesn't) he'll never get it. But surprisingly, when he gets it, it's an automatic deuce because he has an uncannily soft touch around the basket. If we can toughen him up, we might be onto something. Either way, more assertiveness is going to take him lots of places in life.

De'Andre (G/F) - The best untapped talent on the team, and also the biggest headache. Impossible to keep focused, which is directly tied to this ADD issues. If it's properly medicated, he'll listen. If not, expect lots of running in practice.

Lucas (PG) - Our point guard and the only white guy on the team. The most talented, polished player on the team. Volatile, but listens and always plays hard. The team's leader on-court and off.

Colby (SG) - A jitterbug guard who has never met a shot he couldn't pass up and even fewer that he could actually make. Wouldn't pass if you tossed him a grenade. If we can get him to take smarter shots, he could easily be our leading scorer because of his speed and aggressiveness. But as is, he's just a selfish jacker who doesn't care if we win or lose so long as he gets his shots off.

Jose (C) - Just joined the team. Tall and gangly. Not incredibly skilled, but very persistent and coachable. Good rebounder. Will push Effi for playing time. Apparently a nightmare to teachers in school where's he's been suspended for yelling sexist comments, but I've seen no such issues thus far.

Juan (SG) - Meek and mild, yet sharpshooting guard. Cultural and language issues make getting him to understand instruction difficult at times, but needs to be more assertive. Easily our purest shooter, but too unselfish to demand the ball.

Carlos (G/F) - Poorly conditioned and easily winded, but reasonably tough swingman. Hard to gauge talent level since he's always tired. Suffers defensively and in transition.

Chase (F) - Completely devoid of any ballhandling skills, and always antsy with the basketball. Tries hard, but just isn't well coordinated. Coachable, but will occasionally slip an under-the-breath insult at coaches when frustrated.

Paul (F) - Just joined the team. Very skilled and coachable. Has the ability and poise to be the best player on the team. One problem: His Dad knows the game and has good input. But he gives so much advice during practice that he disrupts the drills. We'll need to iron out this kink before it becomes a distraction.
So, those are your 2009 Panthers. We'll see what happens when the whole squad hits the court together Sunday.

Sunday (Postgame)

Another week, another loss. This time, we lost 24-11 to a team we should have beaten. We lead after one, trailed by one at the half, and I could smell blood in the water. Too bad the other team was the sharks and my guys were merely chum.

We spent over 90 minutes the other night practicing the Princeton offense. It took the kids less than 9 seconds to completely forget everything we'd worked on and turn the ball over for an easy score by the opposition. Why did I even bother? Why do I even bother?

In the 3rd quarter, I put my second team in versus the other squad's "1st team". Bear in mind, their "1st team" did jack squat in the first quarter vs my starters. The idea was to save the starters until the 4th quarter. By then, I figured we'd be either ahead or only slightly behind and our best players would close the deal. No such luck.

The kids turned the ball over and failed to get back on offense, ceding easy layups and essentially sealing our fate just moments into the second half. The rest of the game was a mere formality.

I'm officially at a loss for solutions now. We've tried being nice. We've tried being patient. We've tried super discipline. We're tried running them into the ground. We've tried to simplify the offense. We've tried to simplify the defense. We've tried questioning their heart and pride.

The only thing we've yet to try is the ole "My Mom Is Sick" story. CJames, feel free to tell the fine folks of AverageNation™ all about this. I don't have the energy to do so.

Outside of wondering if I'm cut out to coach a set of kids who simply won't listen, I'm beginning to wonder if this experiment in live blogging might also be scaring away those I'm begging to take on The AverageBro Challenge™. After all, if I'm the guy who's supposed to be telling you how great it is working with kids, but I want to lock my own team in a custodian's closet, what sorta example am I setting for ya'll?

Either way, I'm officially in "playing for next year" mode. As in, I'll recieve a new set of 4th graders next year. I hope the luck of the draw gives me some kids with talent, discipline, and drive. Because the Panthers, well, they just have none of that stuff.

0-8 is lookin' real possible, which is just turrible. Think about it. The kids could not practice at all and not be coached at all and go 0-8. Any set of random kids could show up at the gym every Sunday and go 0-8.

Losing sucks. Sorry.

Season Record: 0 Wins - 3 Losses

Next Opponent: Team Jackson

Question: Am I "keepin' it too real" with this series and possibly scaring off folks who might otherwise Take The AverageBro Challenge™? Got any fresh ideas on how to turn this thing around? You ever gone winless in anything?

Monday, January 26, 2009

I Got Da' Hookup!!! (Unngghh!)

If there's one thing black folks love (other than ribs, and grape soda, and beefin', and Frankie Beverly, and...) it's gettin' Da' Hookup. Something about receiving free stuff or unearned privileges is so great that it nearly atones for years of chattel slavery and vocoders.


I've gotten some nice hookups in my day. I'm a handsome, charming guy, with a nice smile and sometimes this opens doors I could never otherwise imagine.

Hookups come in all sizes and shapes. You can be given entrance to places you'd never otherwise get into. You can be given opportunities others would kill for. You can get your #3 with an orange drink supersized without even asking. It's a beautiful thang.

Once, long ago back in my Negro College HBCU days, CJames and I wanted to go see the latest rap star as he made a stop at a nightclub in our sleepy Southern college town. The place was packed and sold out, but we somehow managed to talk our way in[1], elbow our way to the front, and witness the greatness of the Notorious B.I.G., who performed hits from Ready To Die right in front of us. With one lazy eye, and one eye temporarily shut due to that endo, it was still a riveting performance that rates right up there with my best college memories of all time, evar. What. A. Hookup.

There was the one time when I really wanted to take all my kids (the B-Ball team I coach) to an NBA game but had no real means of footing the bill for a dozen tweens and guardians. I wrote a pleading, somewhat embellished story to the PR department of our local team, saying how nice it would be to take my group of overachieving young men to an actual NBA game. I sent off the email and heard nothing for seemingly months. One day, I got wise and just cold-called the team's front office out of the blue. I explained to the PR person that I'd written a letter (I had also sent a copy via snail mail) pleading for tickets to reward my kids, but had yet to hear anything. She said no such letter had arrived, and was about to hang up. I then threw on my best Keith Sweaty "do it fo' da' kids" plea, and before you know it, my whole team, assistant coaches, parents, and even family were sitting 10 rows from the court, with free team merchandise and food to boot. Turns out the team's reserve point guard had a tax writeoff charitable foundation that literally gave up 35 prime seats just on GP. We even got to arrive early and watch the pregame shootaround. What. A. Hookup.

My Day Job is also a hookup of sorts. A reputable company was hiring at our school, but I'd heard some bad things about their entry level pay, so I didn't even bother signing up for a interview. Besides, I'd already taken a job with a telecom and was moving to Dallas. The day before the company arrived on campus for the interviews my homegirl, who had just gotten an offer from them, called me and told me her starting salary. The job was in DC, which was definitely an upgrade over Big-D. I was suddenly interested, but all the interview slots were full. The next day, I arrived at the campus employment services office, and somehow sweet-talked the program coordinator (she knew my face well by then) to carve out an extra slot with the recruiters. I don't know how that woman did it, but I somehow got 30 minutes of facetime with the company HR folks in the cafe at lunchtime. My credentials were tight, I got the gig, and the rest is history. What. A. Hookup.

Perhaps my greatest hookup of all time was inadvertent. My brother (long since married) knew a very nice single young woman from his church. He somehow managed to finagle convince her to show up at his son's baby shower, and he and his wife somehow managed to forcibly pair introduce me to this young lady. 8 years and two kids later, AverageSis and I are still goin' strong. Yeah, I had to do all the legwork, but my brother and his wife put the plan in motion. What. A. Hookup.

Okay, I told you mine, tell me yours.

What's your greatest hookup story of all time? Do white folks get "hooked up" too, or is this just garden variety white privilege?

[1] Or did we just bumrush the door, CJames? I forget after all these years, but it was one helluva show, Baybee Bay-bay!

Governor Paterson's Senate Swap-Out.

[Editor's Note: Last week, I told ya'll about my plan to expand the list of regular contributors here at I had lots of people take me up on the offer, and I'll slowly unveil these newbies like Obama's cabinet. Hopefully they all paid their taxes. First up, is my man Citizen Ojo, whose blog The Desultory Life & Times of a Public Citizen is a regular favorite of mine. Peep game.]

Poor Andrew Cuomo never stood a chance. He had a better chance of getting a job with the NAACP than replacing Hillary Clinton as Senator. Attorney General Cuomo was caught up in New York, "Inside Baseball", politics. The "it needs to be a woman to replace her" talk didn't help his case either. His former cousin-in-law Caroline Kennedy, was expected to replace Clinton with an overwhelming vote of confidence from Paterson. But before she could say I do, she said I don't.

Her quest for Clinton's seat was shaky from the beginning. For a person that had kept a private life (as much as a Kennedy could) it seemed like an odd decision. Her interactions with the press were just as confusing. She looked like a 6th grader interviewing for a job with NASA in their Atmospheric Chemistry Department. It was a Speech Teachers nightmare to watch her talk. The only time she looked comfortable was when she was eating yams with Rev. Al Sharpton.

[Editor's Note: I see Gillibrand also did the Harlem Shake with Rebb'n Al this weekend, which included the obligatory trip to Sylvia's. Folks, please tell me there's better cuisine in Harlem than that dogg-food. Please. Take her to Gray's Papaya. Anything but Sylvia's. Sheesh.]

Last week the dream candidate ended her quest by withdrawing her bid. Reports differ on the reasons for her change of mind. Some say it was marriage problems, health problems with her Uncle Ted Kennedy, or possibly the fact that she has been a sometime voter since 1988. Whatever the reason was Gov. Paterson had a backup plan. Not since O.J. Simpson has a black man had a backup white woman. Patterson named Blue Dog Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand as Clintons replacement. I guess he was trying to impress the upstate voters of New York City. I hope it works because a "Blue Dog" Democrat is a Closeted Republican.

Caroline Kennedy needs to come clean and stop the madness. I don't believe all the made up reasons for her quitting. Let's be honest and just agree that Kennedy was not up for the task. I'm not going to go into her qualifications because that is beside the point. She was not ready because……she didn't want the job. I guess the Kennedys were drawing straws and she got the short one. Kennedy is a private person that has done a good job of staying below the radar. You know just enough about her but not enough about her. She was not ready for the public scrutiny in her personal life. But don't feel sorry for Kennedy because this will pass. This will eventually become a footnote in New York State history.

In her next job search, she should take a different approach. She needs a job where qualifications aren't a big thing and they don't require background checks. It's too late to get a job in the Bush Administration but I'm sure something will come up.

Question: Between Patterson's waffling and Blagojevich's cluster, are the Dems trying everything in their power to erase all the ObaMomentum? Why did Kennedy really pull out? Could your Grandma also outcook Sylvia with both arms tied behind her back? Whaddaya' think about Citizen Ojo?

Andrew Cuomo's Problem [WashPost]

More From Citizen Ojo [The Desultory Life & Times of a Public Citizen]

Caption This Photo.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fan Or Stan, This Is Still Highly Distubing.

Yeah, I know, I'm not following that team anymore, but how could I resist passing this case of Caucasian Craziness along? [||] on this whole post, BTW.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

PostRacial America, Huh?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Would You Buy This Shirt?!?

If so, today's your lucky day.

Show them ignant rappers how grown ups get down! Head over to the store and cop your very own My President Is Smart shirt today.

Proceeds benefit the AverageKids Scholarship Fund, and The Ed The SportsFan Big Screen TeeVee Foundation.

C.Y.I.N. Case Study - My President Is Black?!?

By now, you folks have prolly seen the aforementioned shirts, and heard the Young Jeezy song, "My President Is Black". I saw about a million (ok, maybe 20) of these shirts Tuesday, hey, maybe they're the new NoBitchAssNess. Since I don't get out much, I'm late with all this stuff, and it's relatively new to me.[1]

I've used this tune as an AverageSoundtrack™, but I'll admit, I'm still pretty split on its message, as well as the groundswell of support for Obama from the hip-hop nation. I chronicled this is a series called "Why You Should Never Ask A Rapper About Politricks" last year, but now that the deal's done and Barry's in office, I'm still not sure what to think of this whole "movement".

On one hand, anyone and anything that gets young black folks interested in the process of voting (not to be confused with just voting for Obama) is good. I had parents who stressed its importance, and I went to an Negro College HBCU where political figures were a campus staple. The concept of not voting sounds like a foreign language to me. So I suppose it's quite possible that these songs (and those by Nas, Jay-Z, Bun-B, etc.) are providing that level of insight to kids who don't have the same influences.

That said, c'mon mane, it's Young Jeezy. Mr. Traaap or Die! Mr. 17-5. Da' SnowMan. Two years ago he was wearing these shirts.

And no, that ice grilled snowman has nothing to do with Frosty and Rudolph. Use your imagination.

Besides, the whole "My President Is Black" thing is kinda stoopid, no? Would "My President Is White" t-shirts be considered racist? Would "My President Is Has Balls" be sexist?

I don't know many impressionable 17-18 year olds, but I'm betting they're confused as hell at the dichotomy of watching a guy tell them to vote, then bragging about a $500,000 car, slangin' yay, and murdering some random Negro all on the same track. And yeah, this is the same Jeezy who once very publicly endorsed John McCain.[2] I'm just sayin'.

And so are Bill O'Reilly and Dennis Miller, who somehow got ahold of this video from this past week in DC, where Jeezy and Jay-Z popped some Joseph Lowery-style sh*t at the outgoing President.

O'Reilly, as always, is a true a-hole. "...performed a rant in public that offended many people"? Fool, this was The Inaugural Ball at the illustrious Love Nightclub. Folks prolly paid a couple hunned to get in there. It's hardly the public square, nor do the "many people" seem the least bit offended. And has Dennis Miller ever been funny? Now, America's favorite ardvark-lookalike, Michelle Malkin also goes in. It's nice to see Fox News covering such a pressing issue.

Still, this raises an interesting issue. When rappers decide to put down the dro' and C.Y.I.N., their lack of anything more than a base level understanding of politics, coupled with the rest of their discography, adds up for a very confusing, and very mixed message in the end. Do the numbers of voters they get registered and somehow engaged in the political process somehow justify the rest of the negative and misogynistic messages they toss out there? Personally, I don't think so.

In a round-about way, I guess I'm asking, at what point does the good you do overshadow the bad you've done? Does creating a Nickelodeon show atone for making songs telling the very same kids how to "make make make make make crack like this"? Does sponsoring a bone marrow drive make up for a raunchy video than infamously included a woman's a$$cheeks being swiped with a credit card? Does throwing a scholarship yacht party the day after you just hosted something called The Stripper Olympics[3] balance things out? I don't have that answer.

And far be it from me to question someone's sincerity, but it seems like a lot of these entertainers (not just rappers) have jumped on the Obama bandwagon because it's been a nice promotional vehicle. Will these same folks hold Mr. Obama accountable now that he's in office, or what this all just about iTunes and ringtones in the first place?

Yeah, our President is black, but I'm not so sure he wants Young Jeezy as his spokesperson.

Question: When rappers talk politricks, is the net result a negative or a positive? At what point does the good you do overshadow the bad you've done? Are these folks serious about political engagement or is Obama merely the new "street team"? Would you rock a My President Is Black t-shirt? How bout' that Snowman?

[1] Is it just me, or is that sight at the 3:17 mark disturbing in a Creflo Dollar/"Welcome To Atlanta" kinda way? Man Up, John Lewis!

[2] He said he was "misunderstood". I think he was prolly just high.

[3] I am so not making that one up. Name this philanthropic "artist" and win some Cyber CapriSuns™.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Caption This Photo, Too.

Pic shamelessly jacked from The Black Snob. But we're cyber cousins, so all's lovely.

Caption This Photo.

How Do You Measure The Effectiveness Of A President?

So, Obama was officially on the clock for the first time yesterday, and we've got another 4 years or so to see just how effective a job he does as Prez. Which begs the question, just how do you quantify how well a job the Leader Of The Free World does?

We could play revisionist history and talk sh*t about how bad a job Bush did compared to Clinton, but that's neither here nor there. Reality is, this is Barry's gig now, and he's the guy on the hot seat. Here's some interesting numbers, all current as of Wednesday morning, his first day in office.
Dow Jones Industrial Average - 7,949.17 pts

US Unemployment Rate - 7.6%

US National Debt - $10 Trillion Dollars

Price Per Crude Oil Barrel - $40.85

Price Per Gallon Of Unleaded Gasoline - $1.76

Number Of US Troops In Iraq - 142,000

Number Of US Troops In Afghanistan - 30,000
No, Obama doesn't have total control over all of the numbers above, but he will be judged by them, fair or unfair, and he should not get a free pass. At least he won't here at This ain't the barbershop.[1] Besides, he isn't asking for a free pass, either. Real men own up to their responsibilities, and Barry strikes me as that kinda dude. So lets all fall back with all the defense and whatnot. Barry is not your 11 year old son playing PeeWee football. He is the Leader Of The Free World. Big difference. He doesn't need your protection, just your support.

After all, real progress is being allowed to fail and succeed on your own merits, even Dr. King would agree with that. Being critical isn't the same as salt-filled, pointless, Uncle Ruckus-style hatin'. If you wanna see what that looks like, checkout this blog. If you wanna see good old fashioned accountability, keep it locked here.

[Related Sidebar: What's up with this Geithner fella and his back taxes? Spin this all you want, but it's a bad look. Seriously, I am sure dude is more than capable of the job, but how does it look when a guy in charge of the IRS can't handle his own W-2? How can you be an expert on something, yet fail to master the most basic of its concepts? That's like a virgin pimp! And be honest, if this were a Bush appointee, we'd be smokin' mad. Give the guy the job, but his "I was careless" explanation is straight BS. I wonder if the IRS will buy that one if I just "carelessly" decide to not pay taxes this year.]

He's done a good job of lowering expectations, which is essential. But 4 years from now, whether or not he's being sworn in a second time, or handing the reigns over to Sarah Palin (shudder!) will depend heavily on whether or not the above metrics swing in the right direction.

Bookmark this post and let's revisit it in 2013.

Best of luck Barry, we're rooting for you.

Question: How do you expect Obama to fix/control the above metrics? Is either of them an unfair measure of his effectiveness? Is there any quantifiable metric that I missed?

[1] Interesting note: It looks like Barry finally ditched that hack Chi-Town barber and found himself somebody in Chocolate City to hook him up. Women notice stuff like dresses and shoes, men (or at least me) notice edge-ups, and I gotta say I was man-proud at dude's haircut yesterday. He even had the back tapered out. Go head, Barry! Welcome to DC. Is Now An N-Word Free Zone.

You guys know my stance on "the dreaded N-Word" by now. I consider it a curse word of sorts, it's absolutely not a term of endearment, and I try to shy away from using it as much as possible. That said, it's not like I've been incredibly successful in this endeavor here on the blog.

While I gratuitously use the word Negro as a mild mannered substitute, nothing beats the sheer ferocity of the non-watered-down variant. I'll admit to slipping and using this at least a couple times a week on the blog. And of yeah, there was the small matter of that N*gga Nonsense tag.

Recently my wife, who seldom reads the blog, told me I needed to stop using it here on Her reasons were numerous, valid, and shall remain private, but well, she was convincing enough. So, as of January 1st, is officially an N-Word Free Zone.

I don't see this changing the tone of the blog much, and it's really more of a formality (which included renaming the N*gga Nonsense tag to Negro Nonsense) than anything else. However, it does raise a quandary[1], sometimes when you really need to emphasize a point, no word works better than a good ole' N-Bomb. So, I'll need a reasonable substitute. If you have suggestions, get at me.

Question: Will making an N-Word Free Zone take some of the blog's edge away? Have you got a reasonable substitute I can use instead? What's your stance on "the dreaded N-Word"?

[1] $2 word.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

AverageBro Goes To The Inauguration.

Okay, so I went to The Inauguration yesterday. I woulda written this sooner, but after awaking at 1:45am to go get in line, I needed lots of sleep I'm sure ya'll will understand.

With no further adieu, here's my Inauguration Day, in semi-chronological order.

TicketMaster - Last week, my plan was to cop a train downtown sometime Tuesday morning, and get as close as possible. I knew I wouldn't be able to see anything, but how could I live with myself after missing the Million Man March for a job interview (for a job I didn't get) with IBM in the same town on the same day? Missing history-in-the-making is just inexcusable when you live only a few Metro stops away. Anyways, my wife's brother who does some consulting work with the SCLC (more on Dr. Lowery later) got four Yellow Zone tickets last week and when his daughters couldn't make it, asked me and AverageSis to roll with him and his wife. Lovely. Note to all single brothers: Marry UP.

Getting There - The Yellow Zone gates opened at 8am, so I figured we'd traipse in there around 9. Wrong! AverageBrotherInLaw wanted us in line at 4am! I thought this Negro was out of his mind, but he did have the tickets so what was I gonna do, sleep in? We easily rolled into Soufeas' DC around 3:30am, parked by AverageMomInLaw's and bypassed the bus/Metro route in took a cab instead. $12 and 20 minutes later, we were in line, just to the North of the Capitol, and there were only about 50 people in front of us.

It's So Coooold In DC - One thing I refuse to do anymore is moan and whine about cold weather. This is a direct result of having spent last Winter in the Twin Cities, where it was routinely negative 45 with the wild chill factored in. DC feels like Cancun by comparison. I put on triple layers of everything, Manned-Up and toughed it out, as we waited nearly 3 1/2 hours in 20 degree weather just to get to our seats. A few Au Bon Pain runs to Union Station, and some of those HandWarmers things they sell at Home Depot helped.

The Best Seat In The House - Once the Yellow Zone gates opened (earlier than expected at 7:30am), we went through a very routine security check (like TSA, but even easier) and made our way to our seats in the expansive Section 8 11. By virtue of following ABL's advice, we ended up dead center, front row in our section, which was just behind the coveted Green Zone (which oddly doesn't show up on any seating diagrams), and no more than 20 rows from the stage.

The ticketed sections in front of the Capitol were probably 50% black, if not a majority, which I imagine must be an Inaugural first of sorts. Looking back at the cheap seats the millions of folks behind us on the Mall, stretching from the Monument, all the way to the Lincoln Memorial and beyond was breathtaking. It was like a sea of heads, and it was all simply amazing.

Homeland Insecurity - Okay, here's the really funny thing. Once we got inside out color coded, ticketed area, there was virtually no security. The seats were first-come first seat, and they didn't even bother checking your zone ticket once you cleared security. There were some Naval officers who served as "Ushers", but these folks did jack squat. People routinely got out of their seats and milled about taking photos, walked in and out of different zones, and even stole each other's seats. Once the ceremony started, these "Ushers" did nothing to stop the dozens of lazy a$$ed late arrivers who stood in front of us to snap photos and scan the crowd for open seats (which were by then nonexistent). This meant us repeatedly having to tell folks to "sit (the hell) down!", because the "Ushers" did nothing to help. At one point it got so bad that AverageSis (who was having none of that, we got up at 2am) actually physically assaulted this poor white guy who snapped his photos and obliviously acted like he didn't heard us yelling for him to move for 3 straight minutes. Well, okay, it's probably more PC to say she "laid hands on him", but his a$$ got the message and got ta' steppin'. And ya'll wonder why I married a city girl.

Post-Racial America - The crowd was frozen, but festive. Folks of all hues willingly volunteered to assist with photo-taking, sang and chanted, and generally got along just fine, despite The Infamous AverageSis Assault. And wouldn't you know it, the inevitable happened. Anytime you have a mass of black folks dressed to the nines in floor length mink furs, you know what's next: The Electric Slide. I saw this spontaneously break out dozens of times as we awaited the start of the program. And yeah, white folks were joining in, and yeah, they were messing up the steps. Nobody cared though.

"Hey, Ain't That..." - When you get somewhere extra early, this means you've got lots of time to burn. After we'd taken every conceivable combination of wife/husband/brother/sister photo available, the fact that we still had another 3 hours to burn before the ceremony started became evident. So, we started keeping tabs on the other folks as they filed in and tried to see if there were any famous faces in the crowd. Ex-Batman "star" Val Kilmer was the first such person to walk by our section, and he played the "accessible celeb who wants to be amongst the people" role, posing for photos and signing sigs. But it was obvious that he didn't want to sit with the Yellow Zone riff raff and was waiting for "his people" to get him moved into the Green Zone. This never happened, and dude (after about a hour of walking back and forth) relented and sat down. Waaay behind us. I almost felt bad for him, but I know the Green Zone "Insider's Seats" were allocated based on how much these folks gave/how big a star they were. Apparently it's been a long time since Batman. Sorry Val.

Get Me Outta Here, I'm A Celebrity! - After awhile, ABL and I got antsy and started walking around the Section 11 (which prolly contained 10,000 seats alone) to see who else was around. In no time we ran into Common (nice guy), Tracee Ellis Ross (looks better on TV), Bill Bellamy, Evander Holyfield (sitting waaaay in the back and apparently not happy about it), Stephen Spielberg (nice guy, who oddly had to also sit in the back), Alicia Keys (far away, I only got a glimpse of her), Bill Cosby (also seen from afar), Wyclef (sitting just in front of us in the Green Zone) and finally.. brace yourselves fellas... Halle Berry. She was dressed down (hat, big shades, no makeup), but well, it's Halle Berry. Do you ladies realize how many male-male debates/discussions have begun with the words "Well, what if Halle Berry...." over the years? She was too far from the aisle for me to ask for a photo (and she had well-disguised security, something few other celebs had), but this still made my day. 50 years from now, my kids will ask me about Inaug Day, and all I'll say is "Good Lawd, Halle Berry!!!!". And the funny thing: we had far better seats than any of these people, who reportedly contributed a minimum of $50,000 for their tickets. Next time, these folks need to write some bigger campaign contribution checks, or wake up earlier.

The Progam Begins - Eventually, the public address announcer tells everyone to sit the hell down and the program begins. The A-List celebs (the ones who really kicked in during the election) are brought in through the Capitol entrance and seated somewhere even closer than the Green Zone. When Will.I.Am appears on the Jumbotron (the stage is so high up you can't really make out anyone) I look at Wyclef and he has the same wistful expression on his face that Aaron Hall likely has when he sees an R. Kelly video (not that video, all his others). Aretha Franklin comes out to sing and maaannnnn, does she sound awful. Hang it up, Reet-Reet.

Introducing... - Finally, the politricians and dignitaries begin to file in. This entails literally introducing every elected official in town, every appointed official in town, and everyone who used to be one of the aforementioned. And yeah, it gets boring quickly. I want to go back and find Halle Berry again, but well, am I sitting with my wife after all. Speaking of wives, Bill and Hillary Clinton are shown (locker room style) walking around inside the Capitol before they come out, and boy do they look unhappy. You can literally smell the hatred. Then, as they are introduced and appear outside the Capitol, Bill paints on his confident smirk, and Hillary does that stoopid open-mouthed "Hi!" gesture to nobody in particular. It's clear that they both wanted this day to go differently. I almost feel sorry for them. Okay, maybe not.

Stay Out The Bushes - I immediately noticed a trend of the PA announcer "bundling" the announcements of certain people they'd know would likely get booed with a bunch of other folks to kind of buffer the response. They did this with Daddy Bush, who still got a smattering of boos. Ditto for Chaney, who came out in a wheelchair that I'm thoroughly convinced as a sympathy ploy. But when Bush Jr. came out, it was undeniable, lots of folks expressed their displeasure. I don't like either Bush, but booing them at this point is just uncouth. Let it ride. Still, you could peep the discomfort on GW's face. It was like "man, so this is how I'm goin out, huh?" I almost feel sorry for him. Okay, maybe not.

The Magic Negro Arrives - The Obama kids, GramObama, Michelle, and finally Barack reach the stage. The applause is more than cordial, but hardly the reception of a "rock star". I made this same observation when I went to that pre-election rally in suburban Virginia a few months back. Two times I've seen Obama, and none of that "Oh My God!", crying, and falling out nonsense from the crowd. People were sensible, and proud, but not even remotely fanatical. The reception wasn't a dead as a Redskins game, but it wasn't as hyped as Cameron Indoor Stadium either. In short, people were reasonable. I'm starting to wonder it all the superficial "Obamania" crap was just a conservative media creation to undermine Barack Obama's substance and the fact that his followers might actually be thinking adults, rather than mindless sheep. Just a thought. Oddly, after he takes the oath (nice job bumbling, Justice Roberts) I start hearing mini "explosions" all around The Mall. This lasts for like 2 minutes. Perhaps it was fireworks, I still have no idea, but the sh*t was pretty eerie.

Speech! Speech! - The speech was good, but not incredibly memorable. If nothing else, to me, it seemed like he was talking to the world, rather than just Americans. He let the terrorists know we would outlast them at their own game. He let the GOP know he was The HNIC, and if they f*cked with him anymore, there would be consequences and repercussions. He let America know that the 8-year old sh*t sandwich George Bush (who winced the entire time) made wasn't getting fixed anytime soon, and to dial back on the expectations. It was a speech far more strategic than visionary, which made since because he's The President Of The United States now, not a candidate vying for the gig. Listening to Conservative chatters decry the lack of "soaring rhetoric", when that's the very argument they used to paint him as "an empty suit short on substance" during the campaign is just hilarious. Stop hatin', it's bad for your blood pressure.

Lowery's Salt - We caught another cab from Union Station and were back at my MomInLaws less than 30 minutes after the Obama speech. We left during that dreadfully boring poem that proceeded SCLC head honcho Joseph Lowery's invocation. Some are unhappy with Lowery's "white/right" statement that ended his short speech. Fall back, folks. The man's 88 years old and has truly lived through some sh*t that would make most of us cry. Let him have his moment.

Upstaged - Watching the post-inaugural festivities from a warm living room, I too was concerned when reports had Ted Kennedy and Bob Byrd both collapsing at a luncheon. Then, when I heard they were okay, I'm thinking "damn, here we are on the greatest day evar for Black Americans, and a white dude just has to steal a brotha's shine!" Of course this leads to the Inaugural Parade being delayed by an hour and a rash of CPT and "they late cause' Michelle had a hot iron accident" jokes. Eventually, they join the parade route and all's lovely.

A Message For All The Haters - Obama is the President. Palin isn't. McCain isn't. Reagan isn't. Obama is. If you really care about the wellbeing of our country more than the fact that your guy lost, fall in line and wish this man the best for all our good. In short, Get down or lay down!

The Aftermath/Question - Obama has his work cut out for him, but if expectations are out of control, it's nobody's fault but ours. The guy has repeatedly asked people to fall back and give him time to do his thing. I say the honeymoon lasts 6 months with America as a whole, and 2 years with Black folks, even shorter if something bad happens with/to Michelle. What say ye?