Man Up Already Democrats

Monday, August 17, 2009

I am having a hard time concentrating on my work today. I am trying to stop reading this stuff, by I can't pull away.

The war on healthcare is still well under way. But, surprisingly, my soldiers in the fight appear to be backing down and waffling.

And that has had me pretty much pissed off all damn morning.

I just am not understanding the Democrats at all. You fought so hard for a majority. Now, you have it and instead of pushing through the agenda, you are waffling at every damn term. Nothing illustrates this more than the current healthcare debacle....i mean debate.

First off, whose absurd idea was it to run these Town Hall meetings anyway? Especially the ones not being conducted by Obama. It is painfully obvious that most of the senators just are not equipped to handle this topic. Beyond that, the entire concept of a town hall for this subject matter was a bad idea from the beginning. You are practically being for these people to come out of the woodwork and yell at the top of their lungs about things that are not true. Mission accomplished.

And I am extremely disappointed by the handling of this by the administration. I questioned Obama's team a bit when he put it together, and now I am even more so. The hallmark of Obama's campaign was always knowing what to do and when to do it. The administration appears to be completely on its heels right now. Even if it really isn't, the media is doing a fantastic job of making it appear that way.

Then, this morning I get the final stab in the gut. They are considering doing away with a public option in favor of co-ops. I am trying to find out more information on co-ops, but right now I am firmly with Howard Dean. I don't see how you can have meaningful health care reform without a public option.

Even bigger than that, you would be letting them win. They have completed twisted around what is and is not in the bill, whipped people up into a frenzy, and dominated the health care debate from moment one. By removing the public option, you send the clear signal that those tactics can be used to attack anything you do.

This just doesn't make any sense.

The democrats are trying to play the middle. Most are doing so in fear of losing their next election. Again, this makes zero sense.

Why are you catering to people WHO MORE THAN LIKELY WILL NOT VOTE FOR YOU ANY WAY?

The instant someone yells out WE WANT OUR COUNTRY BACK, your mind should instantly see the underlying meaning of that statement and understand that they did not and will not vote for you.


For the love of everything, democrats, please grow a pair and get this damn thing done. Stop whining and fight back. Where are your counter-arguments? Where are you guys pointing out all the benefits and plusses of this?

How can you lose an image war with INSURANCE COMPANIES? There are literally hundreds of thousands of people getting ripped by the current system every day. Why I am not being flooded with sob stories every time I turn on my television? I have thought of about 6 while I have been typing this.

Also, how could you let them run away with all this death panel crap? How many people have already died in this country, regardless of age, because the insurance that they were paying for denied them coverage for a surgery or procedure they needed? Again, why aren’t we being overwhelmed with these stories on our TV?

If not now, WAIT! I actually agree with some conservatives on this. Better to wait even another year to get this right, than to push through some bullshit now. If you, for some unexplained reason, can not fight this war now, then circle the wagons and come back later, full force. This is just too important to punt the ball and far to important for the current half assed strategy being enforced.

And, please, PLEASE, do not hold any more freaking town halls unless it will be hosted by Obama.

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Crime and Punishment Part 2

Friday, August 14, 2009

As I write this the talking heads are going crazy discussing Vick's signing by the Eagles. My personal take is that I think its a good spot for Vick. Good organization and McNabb seems to be in his corner. There's also very little pressure for him to contribute immediately. If he and McNabb click and with Dungy already in his corner, I honestly think this could be a great thing for Vick. There's also the angle that Andy Reid has gone through quite a bit with his children. But, I'll have more on all this later on after the official press conference. For now, the callers on Mike and Mike are presenting pretty much the same drivel about him never getting another shot in the pros, blah blah blah. Whatever. Again, Vick has paid a stiff penalty for his crimes. He deserves this second shot.

For now, I'm taking a step back to discuss the other two high profile NFL cases, Donte Stallworth and Plaxico Burress.

Stallworth is actually brief. Although I still am not 100% on Commissioner Goddell, I can't argue with his punishment of Stallworth. If the average person does this, they're still in jail right now and it would be very tough for them to get back working afterward. Hell, for a doctor or lawyer the punishment could be even more severe. This is the case where everyone in America should have been outraged. Drunk driving is a much larger problem in our country than dog fighting both in terms of occurrence and impact.

Then there's Plaxico.

Its tough for me to say anything in his favor because I think what he did (if he actually did shoot himself and there is something else more serious going on) was just so dumb.

Loaded gun in the club.
Safety not on.
Shoot yourself in the leg?

Come on.

But, I have to speak out against the way the NY mayor and DA office has treated this.

Declaring guilt before trial? Check.
Trying case in media? Check.
Ruining jury pool? Check.
Overblown reaction to a crime that only hurt the person involved? I gotta check here too.

I completely understand taking a tough position on crimes and guns. Far too many black men are killed due to gun violence.

But I think that's my problem with this whole thing.

A real thug probably would have been on the streets with this after a few days. I have had a hard time getting stats on this specifically for New York, but I have a hard time seeing someone with no priors getting two years for this.

Plaxico's attorney's tried to get him in for a year for this. That sounds like more than enough here. The push for more time in this case reeks of grandstanding and I think the trial will be a massive waste of public resources.

Meanwhile, real thugs will still be on the streets shooting people and dealing drugs. It just doesn't make sense.

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The Fives

I have been keeping track of my iTunes play counts for a while, and as I figured, the songs I think I like and the songs I actually end up listening to are not always the same.

Anyways, in between ranting about the world I'm going to plug in posts about my top five songs from artists based on the number of times I play them. I'll start out with a handful of the past and present kings of rap and work from there.

My recent posts on Jay-Z and arguments with others has created the thought that I don't like him. That's not true at all. But, I have to be honest and say that he's not been bringing it like he used to. No one would like to hear a return to glory from Jay-Z as much as me and I'm hoping the Blueprint 3 is that (even though I found D.O.A. to be alright at best).

5. Tie - Hard Knock Life - the one that made him a star / Song Cry - About as real as a song gets for a rap artist. If this list wasn't based on play count, I might have put this one Number One. Everything from the lyrics to the sample are on point.
4. What More Can I Say - title speaks for itself.
3. Girls, Girls, Girls - this is one of my favorite beats and I just felt the whole vibe of this song. The video, while not groundbreaking, really threw it over the top for me.
2. Bring It On - Probably my favorite track on Reasonable Doubt. The beat by Premier was on point and everytime I hear this, I wonder what would have happened if Jay, Jaz, and Sauce Money had kept on rhyming together. The chemistry between the three was incredible. Oh well, time and money have destroyed even the strongest of friendships.
1. Public Service Announcement - The White Albulum Remix - "Well, allow me to reintroduce myself....My name is HOV...Oh, H to the O V.." Not sure if its actually the best song, but its the one I listen to the most. The White Albulum by DJ Kno seemed pretty slept on, but I thought it was the best of the Black Album remix projects.

I go back and forth over Nas' place in the rap Hall of Fame. His ability is unquestioned, but his inability to truly follow up Illmatic shadowed his whole career in my opinion. But, he’s managed to create plenty of hits over the years. If this was purely on my favorite songs, there's no way The World Is Yours and One Mic wouldn't be on here.

5. Life's A Bitch - Nas and AZ at their best.
4. Ether - If Jay'z Takeover was the Empire Strikes Back then this was the Return of the Jedi. Not many people thought Nas could answer Jay-Z in that battle (even Jigga himself I would imagine). I thought Nas was being underestimated and he more than proved it on this track. Takeover was a good track, but I thought Jay-Z wasted the first verse and delivered a much stronger shot at Prodigy than Nas. "Put it together, I rock ho's, ya'll rock fellas." It was also the first time Jay-Z was called out for his....liberal...use of Biggie's lyrics.
3. Made You Look - Probably my favorite of Nas' more commerical songs
2. NY State of Mind Part 2 - The Premier beat seals the deal on this one.
1. It Ain't Hard to Tell - "Nas' raps should be locked in a cell, It ain't hard to tell." The first song I ever heard from Nas is still the one I listen to the most.

50 Cent
Like Nas, I think 50 also released his best cd first. More known now for beefs, I'm also kind of hoping his next cd is a return to just the music. There is no middle ground on him though. Either you like him or you hate him. But I still think 50 is a better artist than most give him credit for and him and the G-Unit are definitely in constant rotation while I workout. I can't dispute that the beats on most of the songs really take them over the top. I could probably listen to instrumentals of all of them except number one.

5. Ski Mask Way - overlooked song on 50's second cd. I go back and forth over whether the Massacre was really not a good cd or just not nearly as good as Get Rich or Die Trying. It definitely sold a lot, and I guess that's all the mattered to 50 in the end.
4. What Up Gangsta - When this song comes up, my intensity instantly goes up in the gym.
3. If I Can't - Dre just gave 50 some great beats on this one. I really hope Detox comes out before I die.
2. Back Down - Once again, 50 at his best + Dre beat = hit. Probably the final nail in Ja Rule's coffin.
1. G-Unit Anthem - Like Nas, the first song that I heard from G-Unit is still my favorite. Definitely not for the kids, this song is about as violent as it comes...and yeah, i love it.

Next time - Tribe Called Quest, Outkast and Wu-Tang

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Crime and Punishment, Part One

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Over the past few weeks, we have been literally bombarded with news and updates on notorious felons Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress. Vick and Burress have been responsible for numerous crimes against the entire world that have resulted in the collapse of society as we know it and there can be no punishment great enough to keep these two guys off the streets and certainly, far away from a football field.

Yes, I am being sarcastic. But if you were a child who couldn't read between the lines and see past what people were telling you, you could easily come to that conclusion.

With Michael Vick, we have a guy who has done more than his fair share of time in jail for what he was convicted of. Yet, when you hear some people talk (particularly about him playing again), you get the feeling that he really hasn't done anything up to this point. There's this prevailing notion that some way, some how, Vick must now now do "something" else to prove he is worthy of being in society.

That is absurd.

First, I just don't think these people really understand the realities of jail. Or at the very least, they don't understand Leavenworth. Nickname the "Hot House" because of poor ventilation, Leavenworth is not the country club prisons that most stars enjoyed.
No, Vick was in the pen. The real pen. For 18 months. With people who did things a lot worse than what he did. The place where they are currently considering sending Gitmo detainees.

People seem to question if Vick has done enough.

What exactly do they think Vick was doing in there for the last year and a half?

No, going to Leavenworth and losing about 150 million is more than enough punishment for damn near anything. The continued anger against him is just over the top. One local radio show questioned when he should be allowed to have a pet again (I'm serious). Some people said never. Others, 5 or 10 years. I could only shake my head.

So we're okay with drunk drivers getting their licenses back and operating automobiles, but Vick getting a dog again at some point is outrageous? As someone who has lost a couple of friends to drunk drivers who presently own vehicles and drive around freely, I just can't understand how people are so lax toward an issue with true impact on humanity but yell from the top of their lungs about another issue that is pretty much only practiced by a small percentage of the population.

Then there's PETA. For an organization so bent on keeping Vick punished, they sure aren't doing a very good job of protesting animals themselves. PETA itself has killed over 17000 animals it "rescued" since 1998 (Newsweek) 95% of the animals it took in 2008 (Center for Consumer Freedom). In 2008, PETA killed 2,124 dogs and only found homes for 7 despite a 32 million dollar budget. You can read more about this and find more documentation at So, the next time someone wants to roll out PETA you've got more than enough facts to combat them with. The Humane Society is no better.

Looking at some of those stats, I can't help but wonder if PETA spent more time and resources coming after Vick than on trying to actually find homes for those animals.

Also, consider that in what is being called the largest dogfighting bust in US history, about 400 dogs were seized. (LA Times) That's still about 1700 short of the amount of dogs PETA killed. No matter what side of the fence you are currently on, it is pretty hard to believe than an organization with the resources of PETA could only save 7 of over 2000 animals.

On the other hand, a whopping 13000 people die every year from drunk driving. ( CBS News ) Keep in mind, that's just the amount of people that actually die. It does not include those who are hurt.

Naturally, this isn't to condone dogfighting. But it is to shed light on the actual problem and some perspective on one of Vick's main attackers. So while there is crusade to keep Vick off NFL sidelines, the 18 players who have been charged with DUI's over the past three years ( Yahoo Sports ), with the notable exception of Donte Stallworth, are flying under the radar. And Stallworth's big punishment? A whopping 24 days in jail.

Stallworth met with the league today so we'll see how his punishment goes. But what about all those other guys? A couple games here and there and they are right back on the field with lil to no fanfare.

I bring all this up to illustrate another point. Goddell is often lauded as some kind of enforcer who is looking to "crack down" on people in the league.


Goddell simply goes after whoever the villain of the week is. There is little punishment toward certain people because there is little media attention surrounding them. When the media rolls on a player (Vick, Pacman, Tank Johnson, Plaxico, etc) Goddell swoops in with a heavy hammer. When there is no media fanfare, there is little punishment from Goddell.

Which all brings me back to Vick.

With Vick, no matter how you fell about him, you have a guy who actually faced a stiff penalty for his actions. He has suffered plenty. He deserves a chance to rehabilitate himself and play football again.

I'll give my thoughts on Plaxico in Part II.

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Excuses, Excuses

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Realizing that I am quickly squandering all the wonderful weight loss and health improvements I've made over the last year (why oh why does it take a month to lose 10 pounds but only a couple of trips to McDonalds to gain it? It's just not fair God!), I finally returned to the gym the other day to continue my quest to get back down to my undergrad college weight.

The scale told me that instead of being 20 pounds from that goal I am now 29 pounds from that goal (just...not....fair), so I laced up the gym shoes and proceeded to the instruments of doom (treadmill, stairmaster, elliptical, bike, etc...).

Although I hadn't worked in about 3 weeks, I only kinda sucked and did not totally sucked. I'm pretty sure I can wipe off that pouns I've gained pretty quickly and be back on track before the middle of next week. So naturally, I felt pretty decent about myself.

Until, of course, THAT GUY, came along.

You know THAT GUY. The one who knows everything but actually knows nothing at all. The one who doesn't do _______(fill in activity) because of _________(fill in excuse). And best of all, he loves to freaking tell you about it.

Normally, THAT GUY doesn't bother me much. He's basically been telling me stupid shit since I was a kid. But every now and then he catches you off guard and you have to stop and put him in his place.

So what happened?

Well, I'm exiting the gym and THAT GUY sees my workout bag and asks me if I work out at the gym. I guess that fact that he just saw me walking out of the gym was not good enough confirmation so he needed to ask me to be sure. Then he says something that just set me off at that particular moment.

"Yeah, I used to workout but, you know, I don't have all those self esteem problems. I'm happy with how i look so I don't worry about it. Its just not worth it."

Normally I'm able to catch myself before I go into complete nigga mode on someone but today, maybe because I was tired, my first thought got through.

"Well, its great you have high self esteem, but you should be working out because you're getting pretty fat."

He looked back at me like what. I thought about cleaning that up, but decided to just go for broke. I told him, no offense, but working out isn't just about having low self esteem. Ask anyone and they'll tell you I am a pretty cocky son of a bitch when I wanna be. But that doesn't stop me from recognizing that I've gained a lot of weight over the last few years and I need to go ahead and lose it before it gets any worse. It also doesn't stop me from recognizing that obseity is growing problem in the black community that needs to be addressed now. That gut bulging over your pants is not a good thing at all man.

Naturally, he was on the defensive and began to rattle on about how he has been big all his life and he doesn't think that spending all the time in the gym is worth it.

I fired back that I know people who have been alcoholics for years who have decided to quit. Should they just keep going on too? Also, what is it and if taking care of yourself and preserving your own life isn't worth "it" then just what the hell is?

Then, in full retreat, he says I didn't expect you to go all "lawyer" on me. I just think all that working out is bullshit and you're not going to lose any more weight anyway.

I smiled and said well we'll see how much weight I lose, but luckily I've still got my handsome face to fall back on. Then I walked off.

I've seen him a couple more times, but he hasn't spoken to me. Think the "friendship" is over.

But seriously, two things here.

First off, enough with the nonsense that someone who works out or wants to be in shape has some kind of problem. Give me a break. Unless they are anorexic, taking steroids, etc, please don't come to me with that garbage. This is a ridiculous thought and is really just another way to escape the very real possibility that you might not need to skip McDonald's and hit the treadmill. The reality is that black people die at exhorbitant rates from diseases that are highly preventable and most of that is because we are obese. Happy or not, if you are overweight, you would be wise to try and do something about it. Even if you don't end up looking like a fitness model, even a relatively small weight loss like 10 to 15 pounds and daily exercise can have enormous health benefits.

Second, if you see someone trying to workout, how about you just shut up and leave them alone if you don't have anything positive to say? Seriously, save the excuses and dime store psychology.

End rant.

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What the Game's Been Missing

Saturday, July 25, 2009

During a stroll down memory lane with BlackInk we touched on the current crop of new rappers and the relative absence of NY from the hip hop scene. But, I think my thoughts are a bit different from where it seemed like I was going in my comments.

Seems like every time you look up someone is declaring hip hop dead or on life support and going on & on about how good hip hop used to be. While I do miss the variety hip hop used to offer, I'm not sold that it is dead or dieing.

Nah, I don't think the popularity of "Stanky Leg" or "Ice Cream Paint Job" has as much to do with people wanting dumbed down music as it does something way simpler.

I think the kids just want to listen something new.

I thought about that while listening to the radio the other day. Everyone was going on and on about Jay-Z's new album and the apparent "Death of Autotune". The death of autotune came as a shock to me as at least 5 of the previously played songs all featured autotune.

And to be perfectly honest, I'd much rather listen to some of those autotune songs than D.O.A. The track just didn't really move me at all nor has much of the other stuff I've heard pumping from the East Coast these days. Then the DJS hit us with some Drake and Kid Cudi and I was back in a riding mood.

And that's when the thought really hit me. I think I'm just tired of some of these dudes and the kids probably are too.

To the average 15 or 16 year old, D.O.A. is probably the equivalent of some old man on his porch shaking his cane and telling them to knock off all the racket.

I heard a new track by Nas the other day and I couldn't help but think about the fact that I was in high school when I first started bumping Nas. That was like 3 degrees and a bar exam ago. Nothing against him or Jigga or any of the East Coast vets, but the next time one of them decides to jump in there soapbox and complain about the fall of hip hop, maybe they should look in the mirror.

I mean, where are all the new east coast artists? What happened to Saigon, Papoose, Red Cafe, Joel Ortiz, Tru Life, etc, etc, etc. Why did we not get an real album from ANY of those rappers?

Sure, its easy to just jump up and declare that something is wrong with hip hop, but the reality is that there are artists pushing the envelope like Drake, Cudi, Kanye, Wayne, etc. They may not be from NY, but they're cd's have delivered the goods.

If you want to "fix" hip hop, how about you do something really crazy like...I don't know...make really good music? You know like you guys all used to do.

NY had an incredible stretch back in days with everyone from Nas to Biggie to the Wu-Tang dropping cds. Now, promising artists pop up on mixtapes then fade away before they can even release a cd.

That's got to change.

Stop hogging the spotlight and complaining about the state of the music and start developing some of the talent you have out there.

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Twice as Good

Friday, July 24, 2009

So, Bush gets 8 years to run the world in the shitter and Obama gets not even 8 months to fix it? Yeah, that sounds about right.

As a kid my grandparents always told me that familiar saying that to be successful as a black person you had to be at least twice as good.

For Obama, that's more like 100 times as good.

I won't lie, the numbers being run up by the current administration are eye popping and I haven't exactly been thrilled with how we have handled a lot of the banks.

But, I'm still not ready to shovel dirt on Obama. From minute one, I think most of us knew this wasn't going to be an easy fix. We're in deep folks and its going to take time to turn this thing around. I'm willing to give Obama that time to get things done, but it doesn't look like the rest of the country will.

That's why I think its important for Obama to get as much of his agenda accomplished in his first four years as possible. Its going to be very difficult for him to get reelected. Yes, I know it was tough for him to get the job to begin with, but the short memories of the talking heads out there is mind boggling. Obama is taking a lot of heat for problems he inherited. I'm not sure if he will be able to shake that off enough to win again if the Republicans get their heads out of their asses and pick a more moderate candidate instead of someone from the looney bin (see Sarah Palin).

That opinion quickly changes if we start to see a lot more positive ticks in the economy and on the health care front, but for now I think Obama and the Democrats need to just push full steam ahead with their goals.

That's why I am upset with the current waffling with health care. Enough catering to the Republicans on this. They simply will not support it. Let's not forget that Reagan was very much against Medicare calling it.....socialist medicine. Can anyone imagine what things would be like without Medicare?

As someone with a spouse fighting a daily battle against lupus, I'm definitely biased on this issue. We are extremely blessed to have good income and even better insurance. But even for us, the monthly bills are large and definitely have an impact on our daily life. We're pretty much stuck having to go with an employer provided plan, because with anything private we would either a) not be covered because of prior illness or have to wait at least six months for her to be covered and/or b) have to pay a huge amount for coverage.

It's just wrong.

I'm all for other opinions on this issue but so far all we've gotten is the typical Republican BS. It will raise your taxes. It's socialist medicine. Blah Blah Blah.

Ok, fine. You don't think its the best plan. How about you come up with something more reasonable?

The problem the conservatives don't seem to be getting is that so many Americans are struggling to pay their bills right now that the typical person really does give a rat's ass that someone making over 250K is going to have pay more taxes. The only way for them to get back into the game is to come up with sound policies and solutions to problems.

Or borderline racist attacks and rhetoric. Whichever works you know.

In the meantime, the Democrats need to take full advantage of their position and stop being so wishy washy. Unless a Republican idea is truly sound and advances their goals, its time to stop letting them slow down progress.

You wanted the majority. You got it. Now use it.

Obama really seems to be intent on helping people. That's a bigger deal than most think.

One of the greatest problems for the average politician, at least from the view on my couch, is that most of them simply can't understand the problems of the average person. They really have no clue what its like to not be able to afford medicine, pay bills on time or worry about how to put food on the table.

Obama seems to get that and its part of what pushed him into office.

Now, its time to see a bit more anger and a lil less smooth. I have liked his current media blitz and hope he continues to push Congress to get health care reform passed. I'm still not sold on his "team of rivals," but he picked them so its time to get them on the ball.

Obama should be a man on a mission and as I said above, I think he would benefit from an approach that he only has four years to get things done.

4 less years to get ten times as much accomplished as his predecessor? Yeah, that sounds about right.

After all, isn't that pretty much the same situation we all face when we head to work everyday?

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Black People Are Never the Victims Part II

Thursday, July 23, 2009

So a man gets arrested in his own for looking "suspicious" to some random white lady and he has no right to be angry about it?

Also, if he thinks, maybe, possibly, that the only reason anyone called the cops on him is because he was black then he is of course needlessly playing the "race card" and should just move on.

Yeah.... How 'bout no on both of those.

First off, once Prof. Gates showed the officer that he did indeed live there, that should have been the end of the whole thing. The officer had no right (repeat NO RIGHT) to remain on his property once it was proven that it was Gates residence. In the police report, the officer clearly states that he believed it was Gates' home. So why did he stick around?

According to the average commenter on the Boston Globe, he wanted to fulfill his duties as a police officer.

As convincing as their comments are, I'm going to roll with my initial thought and that was to "put the uppity nigger in his place."

Back to the police report for a sec, so we're supposed to believe that a Harvard scholar really yelled to the police officer "Yeh, I'll speak to your mama..." Because you know, no matter how much education we get, we can't resist an opportunity to drop a "yo mama" reference into the conversation. Come on folks, if you're going to make stuff up at least get with some current slang. That's as bad as the hey whitey crap with the Obamas.

I would love to link to the report itself, but, for some strange reason, the boston globe has taken the original one down and replaced it with another one! Wonder why?

Also, yelling at an officer who should not be in your house to begin with, is not a crime. So he should not have been arrested.

Beyond those glaring issues, thoughts remain on the woman who called the police and all the wonderful commenters out there accusing Gates of playing the race card.

On the woman, isn't great how someone who doesn't live in a neighborhood can call the cops and get someone who does live in the neighborhood arrested?

On the commenters, is anything racist guys? Anything? Is there something that someone could do that would qualify as being racist and not a misunderstanding or somehow thrown back at the victim. Once upon a time, I would have said that hanging a noose would clearly be racist, but the Jena 6 incident proved that wrong.


So to all the people who keep insisting that they would have called the police regardless of who it was at the door, I simply say

These were two middle-aged men with luggage sprawled about! Why would a criminal try to get in the front door when he could go around the back? What criminal on earth would just sit there banging on a door IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY! What criminal would go around the back, unlock the door, take inside HIS LUGGAGE, and then come out front and again try to get the door open. What criminal stands outside in broad daylight with glasses on, slacks and a polo shirt....

You know what, I could go on for days.

No, you wouldn't have called the damn police on anyone. You see black guy, young or old, big or small, educated or thug, and you see criminal. Period.

It reminds me of my criminal law class when we discussed racial profiling. One of my classmates couldn't understand why people didn't just let it go. I asked him how many times he had been stopped, questioned, ticketed, etc by the police. He said twice. I said, you know, the first two times I was questioned by the police, once while riding my bike at age 5 and the other playing basketball at age 8, I let it go too. By the time I was 18 and the number was well into the double digits, I was a lot less hospitable. Having people stop you anytime they feel like, not because you have actually done anything, but to ask you questions about things you haven't done and people you don't know kind of wears on you over the years.

At the very least, I am still relatively young and really expect nothing less out of cops. I can only imagine what it felt like for Gates.

While he has not lost his connection to the community, you have to think the brother felt like he was beyond this sort of thing at this point in his life. Unfortunately, he wasn't and neither are any of the rest of us.

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Time to Start Speaking Up

Sunday, July 12, 2009

As I've been watching TV the last few weeks, I've again find myself both saddened and appalled by the behavior of a lot of men in power and influence.

Its not just greed. Its a pretty much wreckless disregard for the feelings and lives of others.

Its also based off a feeling that they could all get away with these things and there would be no consequences.

Nothing is worse than Governor Mark Sanford and Senator John Ensign. Having affairs is bad enough, but these two really take the cake.

Sanford with his trips to Argentina while he was supposed to be governing. Ensign giving hush money to the family to cover up his infidelity. Both incidents are just horrid.

Yes, this stance is tougher than my stance on McNair, but I'm getting back to him in a sec.

However, the standard for elected officials is higher than that for athletes. Society slaps higher standards on celebrities and athletes because they make more money, even though we all know full well most of those people are not good role models.

With elected officials, you hold yourself out to be someone of higher character and take on the responsibility of representing groups of people. You are accountable for not just yourself but for an entire state. If you are not ready for that burden, you should not run.

But I can't turn a blind eye to our stars either. As Dwil and the 2 Guys and A Mic discussed a couple of days ago, it seems like guy code rules the day when it comes to athlete behavior. Athletes at times do whatever they want and unfortunately, the results can be tragic.

Its time for this stuff to end.

At the heart of it all, at least to me, is just that men (me included) often feel like we can handle anything. That there is no jam we can't get out of and that we have everything under control.

This is worsened by two other things. First is the fact that we generally don't communicate well. Second is that when we do hear of something, guy code prevails instead of common sense.

While I try to speak up when I feel like a friend is doing something reckless, I generally say my piece and leave it alone. Only with relatives and extremely close friends will I really push the envelope on bad behavior. Beyond that, I know plenty of doctors, lawyers, etc who are quite out in the open about their vices whether it be drugs, alcohol, women or domestic abuse. I would imagine that quite a few of us are in the same boat.

Yet, when these situations inevitably boil over, everyone is stunned.

While the incidents are different, another common thread between Sanford, Ensign, and McNair is that there were people around them who knew what was going on. I can't help but wonder what would have happened if all of them had taken strong stands against their behavior.

I'm not saying that everyone should become a self righteous blowhard, harping on people everytime they sip a beer. But, at the same time, we do need to step up to the plate more often and let people know we find their behavior unacceptable and warn them of the dangers of their conduct.

I can't say you won't lose a friend. But you might just save a life.

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Black People Are Never Victims

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Isn't it great how we are never the victims in crimes.

Sleeping around is wrong. Hey, I can even roll with the people who say it tarnishes your rep and makes you a bad person.

It doesn't mean you should be killed.

Steve McNair was murdered folks.

That's wrong, oh, I don't know... 100% of the time.

Just a thought.

I've read a lot of posts attacking McNair and "keeping it real" about his mistakes. The worst was probably written by Jason Whitlock (I wont link to it, but hell, if you found my blog you can definitely find his article). I'm still wrapping my mind around everything that is wrong with the current direction of Whitlock and his writings, but several more capable bloggers have completely ripped him to shreds on both his McNair take and his equally awful rip on Serena Williams.

Sports on my Mind
The Starting Five
The Black Snob
And The Valley Shook

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Breaking News! BET Stinks! Oh. Wait. That's not really news at all....

The BET Awards was 100% the hot shitty mess I anticipated. In the back of my head, I held out a small bit of hope that they might change things up, scrap the scheduled performances and just do a night of musical tributes to MJ while presenting the awards. Hell, a night of just Ne-Yo covering MJ classics would have even been ok to me.

But, that was just too much.

So we ended up with everything from pre-teen girls to Ving Rhames mumbling some BS about guns.

Pretty much business as usual at BET and the reason why I rarely watch "our" television network anymore.

But, I must say I am surprised by all the outrage about the awards.

Or better yet, I am surprised that people were surprised at how bad the awards were.

Most of my circle had abandoned BET a long time ago. We just got sick of the constant negative portrayals and complete lack of substance.

Now, BET has failed rather spectacularly in front of what was likely a pretty big audience. With a chance to really make a statement and push the network toward something meaningful (or at least fool the rest of the world for one), BET was pretty much business as usual.

Now people are pissed, but I'm just shrugging my shoulders.

BET has been complete shit for years now. So many have poured so much energy into trying to get "our" television station to change its ways and present a better image of us.

That has all resulted in such wonderful programming as The Tiny and Toya show and Frankie & Neffie. When I sit and think about my friends who are struggling to make positive films and shows, but these 4 get their own shows on "our" network, it used to make me angry and sad.

Now, I am just left with more shoulder shrugging.

I guess I'm just tired.

To those who have been fighting the good fight and continue to fight it, much respect.

But to those who just showed up after the BET Awards, I really just want to know where have you been? BET didn't become coon central overnight.

Its been setting new lows for years.

There is nothing I would love more than for us to have a positive TV network discovering talented up and coming artists. Hell, I could easily forgive some rap videos if there were just some balance in the programming.

But, I guess I have just conceded that BET is not and never will be it.

It's long past time to throw our support behind other networks and other avenues to get better black entertainment out there.

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Bill O'Reilly Questions Black Support of MJ

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

O'Reilly wonders why Black America is rallying behind Michael Jackson, especially given his decision to have children with white women and his complexion issues.

I think he's off base, but I guess I can see where he is coming from. I won't waste energy on the other morons on his show.

Basically, I don't think Michael ever really turned his back on the black community.

First, Jackson was a superstar on a whole 'nother stratosphere. There simply has never been a more popular black entertainer in history. I think Jackson just embraced his fans of all colors and backgrounds. I never really felt like he openly pushed away any of his fans.

Second, and I'm sure many will disagree with this take, but I don't take his selecting white women to birth his children as an outright shunning of the black community either. I guess I am so used to interacial couples and children that it just doesn't much phase me either way. Yes, he could have chosen a black woman, but...well...he didn't. I'm not sure that is an out and out turning his back on the community either.

Last but not least, is his complexion and his alleged surgeries. This is what really seems to give people trouble. Michael always claimed his changing complexion was the result of disease and denied the number of surgeries he had. Of course, the internet is full of allegations and rumors about whether he really had a disease and how many operations he truly had.

What's true and what's not? We will probably never know.

But I don't think it matters. Whether by disease, surgery or a combo of both, Michael's changing appearance never struck me as a turning back on the black community.

More like, trying to fix things his dad convinced him were flaws.

When pressed about the change in his appearance by a reporter, Michael responded that white people spend millions of dollars each year on tanning and no one ever questions it or attacks their whiteness. I couldn't agree more.

Michael and the entire Jackson family have always embraced the black community. Michael's charitable works are literally in the record books. Michael soared to heights most of us didn't think were possible. He was a pioneer in every sense of the word and it will take a lot more than surgery and interacial children to shatter that.

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Respect the Dead

The community has been rocked twice on both ends of the entertainment spectrum with both Michael Jackson and Steve McNair passing away. While McNair was nowhere near the star that Michael Jackson was, his age and the shocking circumstances surrounding his death have left even the most casual sports fan glued to their computer for more information.

Despite the various controversies surrounding both men, the reaction of the general public has been pretty respectful toward both of the deceased.

The media? Well, that's a different story.

No doubt, Michael Jackson has gotten a ton of attention and everyone has an opinion.

Off top, Michael Jackson was the King of Pop. I'm really sick of people slapping that "self-proclaimed" qualifier on his King of Pop title. The man had more talent than probably every artist currently on the Billboard charts excluding himself. His music knew no bounds and touched the hearts of people from other countries who could not even understand the words.

But what about the children? Well, say what you will, but although I found his views on children to be disturbing, I don't think Michael did anything sexual with any of the boys. And the disturbing aspects for me was more toward how sad Michael's life must have truly been.

Jackson, at least from the view here on my couch, didn't surround himself with children for sexual reasons. He did it not only because he never had a childhood, but also because the kids were likely the only people in his life who just treated him like a person and not some thing.

While media pundits are quick to add in the whole "self-proclaimed" label to Jackson, its what they leave out that bugs me most. He was never found guilty of anything in a criminal court. Yes, he settled a civil suit, but rich white people do stuff like that literally all the time and no one brings it up anymore.

Jackson, for all his talents, was a very also a man deeply hurt by both the stardom he achieved starting from his childhood and the harsh treatment by his father. Go back and listen to him talk about people staring at him as he walked in stores and his father ridiculing him because his nose was "too big." It is really no wonder that the man had wrestled with so many issues.

Some of my circle are quick to jump on me and say "what if it was my child?" Well, that's a real easy one.

My kid would not have been over there without me present and maybe not even then. Period.

As for Steve McNair, this one really hit me off guard. It has been very hard for me to really formulate thoughts on this one as I wrestling with the guy I idolized in college and the mistake that cost him his life.

I remember seeing McNair play in college as I also attended a school in the SWAC. I had never seen a guy play like that and I'm not sure if I have seen anyone else display that kind of ability on the college level. McNair always came across as good, humble guy. He was beloved in Mississippi and had a large presence in the community.

He was also, apparently, an adulterer.

McNair was apparently carrying on a relationship with a girl almost half his age and it looks like that mistake cost him his life. For everyone who tries to take the high road and simply choose to remember the good things about McNair, there are others who insist that this transgression tarnishes his legacy, blah, blah, blah...

I guess.

Look, McNair was not the first nor the last man to go out and date a younger woman. I literally can not name all the politicians who have been caught in the middle of the same scandals.

I say this not to minimize adultery. McNair was wrong and I think everyone knows that.

But, the man appears to have paid for his mistake with his life. His sons will be fatherless. His wife appears to be completed blindsided and stunned. The family of the young lady seems to be equally shocked. All these people now have to pick up the pieces and try to move on with their lives.

I think that that is more than enough of a price to pay for making a mistake. There is really just no need to pile on here. If this event changed your opinion of McNair, and it probably did, that is pretty understandable. However, I can do without people jumping up and spitting out some self-righteous bullshit. Again, there are just far too many examples of people being exposed for taking the moral high ground on an issue that they were also failing to live up to.

Respect the dead folks.

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Back on the block....

Wow. The last few months have really been a blur. Between work and traveling there was just no time for me to write. But, with the 4th behind me and things settling down at work a bit, its time for me to start back rambling...

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Happy Mother's Day

Sunday, May 10, 2009

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The Playoffs

Friday, May 1, 2009

Its still the first round, but this years NBA playoffs has been pretty damn awesome so far. I can not remember the last time I was this interested in pretty much every series that was going on. Everything just seems...different.

I thought it was just in my head until I came across this post by the crew at The Starting Five. This really does seem to be leading up to a pretty special playoffs.

On the surface, it seems like there is just more passion and hustle out there. I always hate it when people make those kinds of statements because I think, for the most part, that players always play hard. But this playoffs, its almost like every team (except the Hornets and Pistons), really feels like they could win and are really leaving it all out on the floor.

So is it because guys are playing harder?

I say no. I think a lot of these younger teams have just grown up. Players have been in the league for a few years and now really understand what it takes to win. Guys like Ben Gordon, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Andrew Bynum, etc, etc have really come into their own this year.

Add that to some exciting rookies and second year guys and vets showing that still got it (Billups is on fire in Denver and I'm loving Artest with the Rockets) and the overall level of play across the league has improved and we're seeing it this playoffs.

We'll see if the playoffs can keep this early momentum, but its definitely been great so far.

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The Freedom of Marriage

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It seems every Friday or Saturday I get a series of phone calls from my friends asking me what I am doing that day. My answers usually range from watching the game to laundry to errands, etc. They're looking for something more in the way of "I'm going to Club fill in the blank." From time to time I succumb to peer pressure and head out to a "fun" night of clubbing only to realize about an hour or so into it that I have absolutely no desire to be out at all.

Pretty soon, I'm standing around making idle conversation with randoms and pretty much on a full countdown until its time to leave. This is pretty much by the usual comments of me "not being fun anymore" blah blah blah. My reply is that its not that I'm not fun anymore, but that I am now an adult and my view of what is and is not fun is radically different from what it was 10 years ago.

In other words, I'm too old for this shit.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not that old (31), but I am married. I also went to Southern University and anyone who went to an HBCU will probably agree with the feeling that they partied enough the first couple of years to last a lifetime (and they probably also send a quick thanks to God that they actually withstood all that and graduated). The thought of going out to Club X and staying their all night just doesn't hold the same sway that it did when I first unpacked my stuff in my dorm room on the yard.

This line of reasoning is often met by a round of "marriage has changed you" arguments from the crew. Marriage has no doubt changed me. But my boys are implying that I am not as free as I used to be. That marriage is restricting me from doing things that are fun.

I beg to differ.

Their mindset is not uncommon. When people think of marriage today, the first thought on their minds seems to be how restricting it is. I look at things from the other direction. While marriage may limit you from being able to date a bunch of people, it does something (or at least it should do something) that's even greater than that.

It frees you to be you.

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Maxwell - Pretty Wings

After a LLLOONNNNGGG hiatus, Maxwell returns. Seems to be picking up right where he left off.

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Saints Draft Recap

Monday, April 27, 2009

There is nothing more worthless than trying to grade a draft. There is just no way of knowing how a player will pan out. There are so many variables both on and off the field that affect how a college player reacts to being in the NFL. Why so many people spend so much time obsessing over this every year is beyond me.

So, without further adieu, here is my opinion of the Saints draft..

1st Round - Malcolm Jenkins.
Honestly, if the Saints hadn't picked him here, I think my conversion to one of the DC/Baltimore NFL teams would have been pretty much a done deal. While some question his speed, there's really no doubt that Jenkins is a ball player. He was the best corner in the draft and the Saints needed a corner.

Sounds simple enough, but rumors floated in that the Saints were considering taking a running back. While for most teams this would be an easily dismissed rumor, with the Saints history of stellar draft moves, such a completely dumb ass move could not be taken for granted. I got no problem with Wells, but the Saints offense is not the problem. I'd love to have a premier running back, but the combo of Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas worked pretty well last season. I also think Thomas has a ton of potential especially in our offense.

No, grabbing a running back with our first pick when we desperately need help in the secondary would have been silly. I could have easily forgiven picking up an inside linebacker or even another defensive tackle to pair with Ellis, but a RB would have been unforgivable.
So back to the actual pick. Again, Jenkins was the best corner in the draft, but teams waffled because of slow times at the combine. Why teams throw out four years of production for one day at a combine is also beyond me. But, if it weren't for the slow time, there is no doubt he would have gone earlier and the Saints couldn't have grabbed him. Everyone else's loss is our gain.

2nd & 3rd round - The Saints traded their picks for Jonathan Vilma and Jeremy Shockey. While Shockey's been injured, I think these were good deals especially Vilma. These three guys alone make me feel like the Saints draft should be an A or a B. Getting a guy as good as Jenkins along with a couple of Pro-Bowlers at their respective position is a pretty good draft in my eyes. Hopefully Shockey can stay on the field this season.

4th round - Chip Vaughn and Stanley Arnoux
It's tough for me to get too worked up on second day picks. Sure, great players are to be had, but I can honestly forgive a team for missing on one of these picks. With that said, I think the Saints got two solid prospects in Chip Vaughn and Stanley Arnoux. The film on Chip Vaughn looks solid. He's definitley not afraid to lay a hit on someone. With him and Jenkins, our secondary will look a lot better the next few years.

Arnoux was a bit of a head scratcher at first, but from everything I can gather, he is a good prospect. His coach seemed to think he was just as good as first rounder Curry. We will see if that holds true, but it shouldn't be too hard to knock Scott Shanle to the bench.

5th round - Thomas Morstead
Now this one was just bizarre. Sure, it looks like this guy is a good punter, but moving up to grab him just seemed strange. I have to believe there is someone out there they could have gotten without having to move up. Still, with the difficulties our kicking game has had, I can see us trying to get a good punter. Just strange for a team to trade up to get him.

So overall, with the inclusion of Vilma and Shockey, I give Saints a B+ for the draft. We'll see how well that holds up over the next season.

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Love and Marriage

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Last week another man killed his family and then killed himself. Beyond the sadness of these events, I naturally found myself wondering why these men chose to do this.

And even more, I wondered if they sought help or counsel when things started going south? And if they didn't why not?

In relationships, I think its easy for guys to fall even further into the trap of not talking about things. Right or wrong, being able to provide for and take care of your family is a huge part of being the guy in the relationship. I can definitely understand how the inability to do that could have a negative effect on a guy's self esteem and lead down a road to depression.

But being a good mate isn't just about paying bills and buying stuff. The other side of the coin in being a good husband or boyfriend is taking care of yourself, mentally and physically. Too many of us are lax on both of those, especially the mental part.

No matter how tough people are, the simple act of sitting down, picking up a phone and telling someone about your problems is difficult and almost impossible for some. I definitely have trouble talking about things sometimes.

However, when it gets to the point where violence toward your family is floating through your head, its time to drop the BS and go get help.

And that's not just in the extreme, unfortunate cases of these men and their families. Its also for the physical and verbal abusers out there. There is just no reason to sit and allow yourself to go down a dark road mentally. You owe to your family and yourself to go and get help.

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Let The Rail Revolution Begin

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Obama shed some more light on his vision of high speed rail transit for America. Like most of the country, I'm all for this. And yeah, I've got questions on how in the world we will pay for this, but it's still an important step for this country.

But there were a few other thoughts on my mind too. First is how big this could be for Obama's legacy. If he pulls this off where so many have failed, it would easily be a highlight for his administration.

But the other thoughts come from my inner conspiracy nut. High speed rail makes a lot of sense to pretty much everyone. Most people want it and a lot of politicians and groups have tried to get it going.

They've all failed miserably.

Closest we've got is the Acela Express up here in DC and considering its only 10 to 20 minutes faster than the other trains running up here it is pretty much a rip off.

So, my thought is really just why haven't we been able to get this thing going?

Most will say just bad leadership, but part me thinks it has to be more than that. I think there had to be something pushing against high speed rail and that something was Big Oil, the Big Three, and the Airlines (or their lobbyists to be more specific).

And if I'm even partially right, that makes this the best time ever to go after high speed rail. Those factions could not possibly be weaker than they are now. Americans see the need for additional modes of travel more now than ever. Hopefully Obama can get this done.

The last thought is just basically how many battles can Obama fight at once. He's simultaneously taking on all comers at home and abroad and we haven't even started working on health care yet. Sure, if he can only accomplish a few of his broader goals he'll have done a lot for this country. But I hope he doesn't end up being spread too thin.

If that were the case he could end up not getting anything accomplished.

If there is one chink in his armor right now its that I'm not as sold on some of his staff choices as I at least tried to be initially. I still like his broad vision, but a coach can only do so much. He's got to have the players on the court that can execute his gameplan. Let's hope he really has picked the right people for the job.

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The Play Count Never Lies

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

As I continue to examine the play counts of songs on my ipod and home computer, I'm starting to realize there is a bit of a disconnect between what I think I like to listen to and what I am actually listening to.

The first explanation for this is pretty easy. What I listen to when I work out and what I listen to at pretty much any other time is vastly different. Given that working out is the main time i listen to the Ipod, I think those play counts kind of throw the other numbers out of wack a bit. So, I'm going to take them out and look at them on their own. With that in mind, I present my top 25 workout songs according to how often I listen to them.

  1. Saliva - Doom aka MF Doom aka Viktor Vaughn
  2. Fakin Jax - I.N.I.
  3. Stand and Fire - M.O.P
  4. For Heavenz Sake - Wu Tang Clan
  5. Shut Em Down - Public Enemy (Pete Rock Remix)
  6. Wipe Me Down - Lil Boosie, Webbie, Foxx
  7. Hip Hop Drunkies - The Liks
  8. Cash Money Is An Army - BG
  9. Brooklyn Zoo - Ol Dirty Bastard
  10. Where My Homiez - Il Al Scratch
  11. Do Ya Thug Thang - Max Minelli
  12. Kick In The Door - Notorious B.I.G.
  13. NY State of Mind Pt. 2 - Nas
  14. Diamonds Remix - Slim Thug
  15. Back Down - 50 Cent
  16. I'm a Beast - Lil Wayne
  17. You Can't See Me - Tupac
  18. Where The Party At - E-40
  19. We Got Your Money - The Lox
  20. Rock co. Cane flow - De La Soul
  21. Still Ridin Dirty - UGK
  22. G-Unit in The House - G-Unit
  23. Beasts From The East - Lost Boyz
  24. Dipset Anthem - Dipset
  25. Allustrious - Mobb Deep
Of the first five, I probably would have guessed that Shut Em Down would be number one because its one of my favorite tracks ever. The Pete Rock beat with all the horns and Chuck's lyrics are just perfect on that track. But, I can see how I would end listening to the other ones more, especially during a workout. I've wrote about Saliva and For Heavenz Sake before. But Fakin Jax kind of surprised me just because the beat is a bit more mellow (but still fire) than the other songs on this list. Stand and Fire is pretty much M.O.P. at their best.

My Louisiana brethren (Boosie, BG, Max Minelli, Wayne) nabbed several spots. Again, I'm surprised Wipe Me Down ended up so high, but that beat definitely gets me amped up during a workout.

Hip Hop Drunkies is a pretty big surprise. Like that song, but I would never have guessed I actually listen to it that much.

Beasts From The East is another one. I would definitely have thought I listened to that one more. Canibus' verse on there is one of my favorite of all time.

Other than that, I'm not sure there are many other tracks that I would move around. The bigger thought on my mind is that I really can't remember when I put what song on my ipod. So if a song has been on the ipod longer, it could definitely end up with a higher play count than something I like better. So, I actually think I will reset my play counts and just see what I end up listening to over the next couple of months and then putting up another post.

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Grown Folk Music....

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Slowly working my way back into the regular posting game. Just had too much real life stuff going on for the last few weeks to keep up with my blogging.

But, alas, things are finally settling a bit and I'm able to spend more time doing my favorite brand of therapy...writing.

Which brings me to today's post. Both Avery and Blackink turned in nice lists of Grown and Sexy / R&B tracks. I honestly can't quibble with any of their picks, but my own similar list looks way different.

Quiet Storm - Smokey Robinson
Wait For Love - Luther Vandross
One Hundred Ways - Quincy Jones & James Ingram
Inside My Love - Minnie Ripperton
All Your Love - Raphael Saadiq
Voyage to Atlantis - Isley Brothers
You Don't Know Me - Ray Charles
Two Occasions - Babyface
Faithfully - Journey
If You Were Here Tonight - Alexander O'Neal
Take It To Heart - Michael McDonald
Dear Lover - Teena Marie
Softly, Softly - Maxwell
Can I Touch You - 112
I Have Nothing - Whitney Houston
Piece of My Love - Guy

I would tinker with this list, but my IPOD play count doesn't lie. So the first glaring inclusion is probably Faithfully by Journey. All I can say is that song hits close to home on a number of levels. Even though I'm not a musician, I'm on the road a lot and I just like that track. I don't care what anyone says, Steve Perry could blow.

As for the rest, I could listen to Quiet Storm, Wait For Love, One Hundred Ways and Inside My Love on repeat all day and probably not get sick of them.

There are a ton of Tony Toni Tone songs I could have thrown in here, by my IPOD says I like All Your Love the best.

Voyage to Altantis might be my favorite Isley song and that's saying something. This one doesn't seem to get as much love as other tracks in their catalog, but it's definitely my favorite.

You Don't Know Me is one of those songs that just takes me to another place. Ray was a genius, plain and simple. The next few songs are just some of my faves by those particular artists. Not much commentary on those.

But Softly Softly might be the track where I really just up and realized that Maxwell could really really blow. Yeah, I liked him and knew he could sing. But he just seemed to really cut loose on that one.

I feel another post coming about 112. I'm honestly debating if these guys aren't the most underrated group of our time. Yes, they've sold records and have a ton of hit songs. But I'm not sure if people really give these guys their due skills wise. Their first cd is easily one of the best R&B cds of their time. This track is just one of the standouts.

I listen to Whitney sing sometimes and I can't help but shake my head. How could this voice end up where it is now? Whitney's voice is just unreal.

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You Don't Say

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The last couple of weeks have presented a handful of stories that just make me shake my head in disbelief.

First up is ASU as it stiffs Obama on an honorary degree. The university really seems to be caught off guard by the backlash they have received over this. It is in moments like this that I really wonder what exactly it is that some people do to con their way into positions of leadership. Can anyone with a brain really be surprised that their would be a negative response to this? What were they thinking? A Harvard Law Grad who just happens to be the first black president isn't worthy of an honorary degree from ASU? Yeah, nothing controversial about that at all.

Next is the family that just won't go away, the Palins. Or more specifically, the now outcast father of Bristol's child, Levi. Seems that maybe things weren't as rosy as the campaign lead us to believe. Or tried to make us believe. I honestly feel a bit of sympathy for Levi. It was obvious from the jump that he was being drug into something he wasn't close to being ready for. I also feel sympathy for the child, who may be deprived of a good relationship with his father. And to think, this could have all been avoided if Palin had simply said no when called by John McCain.

Last up are the pirates. Pirates. It really was hard for my mind to really process and take this seriously at first until you I started hearing about the hostages. The whole thing is crazy and my prayers go out to the people and their families. But, I also have to wonder how long these kinds of incidents have fone on and for how long. I'm also puzzled and a bit frightened by the fact that our military can't just swoop in and take these guys out. Yes, I realize this is not the movies, but sometimes its easy to get lulled into a false sense of security about the military might of our country and the ease of which we can get out of tricky situations. I have no doubt in the honor and integrity of our soldiers and know that the situation will be resolved, but it is a bit unsettling to think that something like this can happen during this day and age.

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Catching Up

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The last couple of weeks have been crazy, but I'm still here. To catch up on what I've missed rambling on, I'm going to blatantly steal the format of False Hustle and break things down countdown style.

1. I must admit, I agree with the sentiment of this Saturday Night Live skit on a lot of levels. As I stated in another post, I'm all for Obama reaching across the aisles and I don't think he can just sit back and let all these companies go under.

But there is a limit.

How many dollars do we hand to these companies before we just let them go ahead and die? Everyone warns of the dire consequences of letting these big banks and insurance companies go over, but one has to start wondering a couple of things. First is how much worse it can get. Second is even if it gets worse, maybe that's necessary to really get things back on track. So far, it looks like the government is putting very expensive band-aids to patch up severed limbs. Maybe we need to sterilize these wounds and just move on.

2. Rihanna may be back with Chris Brown? They could be getting married? They are currently kicking it at one of Puffy's mansions?

Oh boy.

You know, I temper everything with the obligatory disclaimer that they are just kids. But once you take a glance at the official police report (Illseed it's really tough to have even an ounce of sympathy toward Chris Brown. In fact, if Rihanna were my daughter/sister/friend I'm not so sure Chris wouldn't be in a hospital somewhere nursing his own injuries. Not to condone violence, but I understand why reports stated that Jay-Z was furious. That shit was just unacceptable.

To Rihanna, all I can say from my small corner of the web is "For the love of God, get away from this dude." Parents, friends, inner circle, handlers, everyone needs to step in and get her away from him.


The only reason dude is doing this is because he realizes just how much he is about to lose. The only way for him to soften this is for Rihanna to take him back.

No one should be supporting that especially when the brother hasn't had some kind of counseling yet. Why Diddy is involved in this, I have no clue.

All I can do is plead with black America - DO NOT GIVE THIS BROTHER A PASS! Read that police report and imagine that was any black woman you care about.

Harsh? Maybe. But domestic violence, particularly against black woman just runs too rampant in our community. At the very least we should see some acts showing Chris is trying to get himself together before he is embraced by anyone.

I'll leave the last word to the Queen of black America:

3. T.O. to the Bills? - Ugh. Don't like the move for either party, but we'll see what happens. Unlike most, I'm rather indifferent about Owens (I've always thought he just drops too many catchable balls. Imagine his numbers if he had great hands), but I definitely don't like the way the media treats him. Sorry, but there is just too much true venom and hatred for a guy who has never been arrested. No matter how you feel about him, you can't question his work ethic or desire to win. For this guy to not be playing on a team is pretty ridiculous.

Also, the problems in Dallas pretty much started with the exit of Jimmy Johnson. Yeah, they won one with Barry, but Johnson should still be roaming the sidelines of the Big D and everyone knows it.

Also, the next big problem is Romo. He's not clutch at all. Also, TO had a point. Why ARE you throwing the ball to the double covered tight end toward the end of the game when you've got two freaks of nature at the wide-out spots?

Dwil of Sports on My Mind breaks it down in his usual thorough fashion.

4. I'm starting to think we have to support Michael Steele.

No, he's not making it easy. But the fact is that he is the first black person to hold his position. We've gained a lot with Barack Obama, and I'd hate to see this guy ruin it by completely crashing and burning.

He's a hard brother to like. But if he does too badly, it will be decades before we see another black person in that kind of position. He's got to get his shit together and soon.

5. Watchmen. Caught it on Friday afternoon. Actually not bad. I wasn't expecting much and was pleasantly surprised.

6. Song of the Week - Large Professor - Sizzling, Scorching, Torching, Blazing

How I missed this when it first, dropped, I don't know.


No Privacy

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I, like most of America, took a look at the Rihanna photos. My reaction runs the gamut.

Right off the bat, Chris Brown is done. I had a conversation with some friends about this. Some felt like Chris would get the R. Kelly treatment. I disagree.

At the end of the day, I think Kelly got a pass because the alleged victim and her family weren't interested in pursuing it. While I hate how much sexual abuse is ignored in the black community, there's no denying that the now adult woman's refusal to take apart in the R. Kelly trial affected my thoughts on the whole thing.

With Chris Brown, I just don't see that happening. The photo is just too damaging on a number of levels. While quite a few of us wanted to reserve judgment at first, its obvious the young man has a number of serious problems and needs counseling.

First, its obvious he hit her multiple times that night. Hard. With his fists. I just can't imagine hitting a woman like that, ever, for any reason other than to protect the life of me or a family member. Even then, I wouldn't want to see the pics of the damage I had done. Initially, I think there was some room for Chris on this. Given his age, I think some people could have forgiven him following some counseling had it been only one hit.

But the severity of the hits shows he didn't just have a one time lapse in judgment. I think they provide some proof that he has been hitting her for a while. It's hard for me to believe he would be so bold and repeatedly hit her in public like that if he hadn't struck her before.

In my opinion, that all adds up to a tough road for Chris to climb to get back into the limelight. Or at least it should.

Which kind of brings me to my other thought. Why don't stars get any measure of privacy? One look at the picture and I immediately understood why Rihanna wouldn't want it released.

Imagine getting hit like that. Then imagine a photo of you after getting hit like that being all over the internet.

There has got to be some dividing line between entertainment and privacy. Rihanna should have had the right to release that picture if and when she ever decided she wanted to share it. Whoever leaked it from the police station should be fired immediately. Laws and rules protecting privacy are there for a reason. And celebrity or not, protecting the privacy of a person who is the victim of abuse is one of them. Countless woman don't report incidents for fear of humiliation or some other kind of negative backlash.

This does not help.

When you add in all the comments trying to lay the blame for all this at Rihanna's feet, I've got to wonder how far back this whole thing will set abuse cases.

If a celebrity like Rihanna can't get support, what hope do any of the regular young girls in the neighborhood have?


What's That All About?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Well, if you have any interest whatsoever in the entertainment world, you have heard something about Chris Brown and Rihanna. Like many, I have been bombarded with information on this incident despite my best attempts to avoid it.

However, one night I heard people calling into the radio station to talk about it. The station was contemplating taking Brown's songs off the air until more was known and put the choice to the callers.

Well, the callers voted an overwhelming no to that one. That's not a big deal in and of itself, but what I couldn't ignore was the overall venom being directed at Rihanna from the callers. Of the 15 or so calls I heard, around 12 were woman and they all attacked Rihanna.

Yes, that's a random sample of people, but I've read a lot of other articles that seem to be reflecting the same attitudes (unless somehow we were all listening to the same station at the same time). There was just this overwhelming sentiment that Rihanna somehow caused this to happen to her.

I honestly can't believe that people are taking this stance.

First, it must be said that no one knows what happened yet. Until the facts come in, there should be no blaming of anyone. No one should be attacking Chris Brown OR Rihanna. You weren't there. You don't know what happened.


Second, and much bigger, is this blame the victim mentality. It just has to go, especially in our community. Violence and sexual abuse against black girls and adult women often goes unreported and this is the reason why. The anger and fury at Rihanna was insane. One male caller basically came right out and said that sometimes women go too far and are just asking for it. I could not believe my ears.

Unless she is trying to steal your car, break into your house, kidnap your child, etc; men shouldn't hit women. A "heated" argument is no reason to strike a woman. End of story. Woman makes you angry, you walk away and calm your ass down. If you can't stay calm, then just stay away from her period. Abusive relationships don't do anyone any good. If the only way to solve problems in your relationship is violence then its time for both parties to walk away.

I guarantee you Chris Brown now wishes he would have just walked off.

On the other side, those women who jump to the conclusion that another woman was somehow asking for it need to take a long look in the mirror and probably a few hourly sessions with a therapist. It really makes me wonder what is going on in their heads. Do they feel this way about themselves? When they get into arguments, are they, on some level, actually trying to push the guy into hitting them? That is insane to me on a number of levels and anyone who thinks along those lines needs to get help.

Last, the entire community has to stop justifying this kind of behavior. Domestic abuse is a problem in the black community. I am not naive enough to believe it can be completely eliminated, but I do think it could be lessened if we all took a tougher tone on it.

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No Video, No crime

When Oscar Grant was murdered, I wrote a post basically stating that if there wasn't a video of the incident we would never really know what happened and the cop would walk away scott free.
It looks like that is exactly what will happen in the case of Billie Joe Johnson.

A host of other writers have done a great job of writing about this whole incident. I'll link to several of them, but the point can not be missed here.

No video, no crime.

A grand jury came back with a ruling that Johnson's death was accidental. The family doesn't buy it and neither do it. I have no idea of exactly what happened that day, but I find it hard to believe that this kid killed himself. I also don't want to immediately label the cop as a racist with an agenda. The death could very well have been an accident by either party.....

but the whole "suicide" and "accidental shooting" angles reek of bullshit.

All the elements for a tragic ending are there:

  • Small town in Mississippi - Check
  • Black star athlete - Check
  • White girlfriend - Check
  • Community disapproves of relationship - Check
  • Incident with a police officer in the middle of the night - Check
  • No witnesses - Check
  • Video camera on policeman's car mysteriously doesn't work that day - Check
But, we are supposed to believe that this young man, an experienced hunter, would somehow accidentally shoot himself by picking up his gun for no reason at all after being pulled over by a cop?

Sorry, can't buy that.

There are those who just want to move on from this. Sorry, can't do that either. We spend months being bombarded with news on the missing white girl of the week. I think we can spend a little time on how this brother got killed.

Yahoo Sports
Sports On My Mind

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Maybe Its Time To Move On

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Obama is in a tricky usual. His inspiring words swept him into the White House. The question now becomes, how much does he have to do to live up to them?

It's a tightrope Obama needs to find his balance on quickly. He promised efforts at bi-partisanship and transperancy.

He has done both.

Unfortunately, the early results are less than stellar. Cabinet picks that would have been with little resistence in other administrations are being held up. The stimulus plan is floundering.

There is nothing he can do about the failed appointments. I was glad to see everyone just step down rather than drag things out.

The stimulus is a whole 'nother subject.

At this point, Obama has made more than enough efforts to reach across the aisle. It is time to get this stimulus package on the books and move on to healthcare. Obama has to accept the fact that the GOP simply does not want him to succeed. The future of their party is in flux. Their brand of politics is in danger.

There is no quicker way to turn things around than by notching a few victories over Obama.

I know the President is aware of this but I think he is torn by a legitimate desire to work with both parties. I understand that, but at a certain point you have to adjust your gameplan and move on.

Now is that time. Let's get this stimulus package on the books.

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50 Cent - Hip Hop's Greatest Villain?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

50 Cent. Just the mention of the name polarizes hip hop fans. Some would argue he is one of the best. Others would say he can't even rap. I'm usual.

Like many, I liked 50 and the G-Unit a lot initially, but that has greatly waned. Personally, I feel like 50's debut was so good he couldn't live up to it. Each subsequent album was him trying to find the magic again. I, unlike a lot of others, didn't think his other CDs were bad at all. Just not Get Rich. But I think if most hip hoppers are honest, the problems with 50 have little to do with his music and everything to do with him.

50 constantly seems to be at war with someone and a lot of people got tired of it. It really never bothered me. That's just part of his thing.

It doesn't hurt that he does it pretty well.

50 has battled more crews than I can think of including battles with several better lyricists. Yet, for the most part, he has either prevailed or held his own in every encounter. Some will say that statement gives him too much credit, but I don't think he gets enough for a couple of reasons.

1. He really did destroy Ja Rule. That doesn't seem like a big deal now, but think about how big Rule was at the time. Murder Inc was rolling at full strength during that time and Ja was all over the radio. Given his popularity, he should have been able to easily handle 50. We all know how that turned out.

2. He withstood an attack from Jay-Z. I must admit, I was never clear on who started this one. One thing is sure, Jay was again in the position of power and 50 held his own. There are only a couple of other rappers who can say that.

I highlight those two because they came before 50 blew up. Since then he has had conflicts with damn near every rapper you can think of, but still he manages to take on all comers. His crew isn't as popular as it was, but I honestly think that's more a result of changing times and tastes than a rapper truly besting him. Again pretty remarkable given how much beef he has been in.

As a result, I was pretty stunned that Rick Ross decided to start something with him. Has he never heard the saying "let sleeping dogs lie?". Ross had just gotten over his own controversy. Why start this?

See, 50 is like the Joker of hip hop in my eyes. Always up to something and way smarter than he is given credit for. Most important, there is truly no limit to where he will take a conflict.

Rick Ross wasn't happy with 50 replying to his diss and gave him "48 hours" to come up with something better. So 50 went out, interviewed Ross' "baby mama," took her shopping, dissed his mother, made a cartoon of him, and put it all on YouTube.

Over the top? Yes.
Out of bounds? Yes.
Just plain wrong? Yes.

Classic 50? Absolutely.

I honestly don't know if a lyrical response is even close to being enough to come back from all that. Going and getting the mother of his child is just plain disrespectful. I just have no clue what Ross can do to respond that doesn't involve violence.

The villain strikes again.

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