Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hottest Ticket Tonight

The BET Awards 2008.

N****r Hater

A few months ago I wrote a short piece about Don Imus in reaction to his comments about the female basketball players at Rutgers University. I was appalled by Imus' remarks, however, my reaction piece advocated instead for proactive change in our communities. I begged for Imus not to be crucified; he was only repeating words he had picked up from mainstream pop-culture. Words he probably did not understand. Bad joke huh? I knew not to nail him because individuals like Imus don't change. Their occasional outbursts and rhetoric are just a reflection of their person.

Hence, Imus' recent comments about Adam "Pacman" Jones aren't too far off from his last racial tirade. Subtle but charged. He asked what color Jones was when speaking about the man's run-ins with the law. Now, that seems to me like playground language. Pre-schoolers who don't understand the concept of race are likely to ask; "what color are you." Maybe. That sort of language is not becoming from a grown adult who knows and understands how sensitive issues surrounding race and its perception are in America.

Nonetheless, Imus claims that he asked what color Jones was in defense of him. He was trying to make the point that Jones was being victimized because he is African-American. If that was the case, he could have easily said; "Here we go, Pacman is only being victimized because he is African-American" or "because he is black," or "because he is colored." He had all three frames of references to use. He didn't have to ask what color he was and of course he didn't have to play defense attorney. Since when did he become the defender of the black race?
Once a racist, always one. Imus doesn't need to be fired or reprimanded. He has already done what's needful. Hire a good PR specialist because he will always go off at the mouth.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Luck of the Irish

After a 22 year drought, the Boston Celtics claimed the most coveted title in the NBA. The talented threesome of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and the Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 131-92 while the crowd chanted thunderously bidding the Lakers goodbye. It was quite exhilarating watching the Celtics celebrate their victory. From dances, chants and even a Gatorade rain, all was fair game. With a victory this monumental, Doc Rivers cannot complain about his Gatorade drenched suit; I suggest however that Pierce pay for the drycleaning though.
The Celtics deserve their win, it's been 22 years in the making and Boston deserves to be flooded in a sea of green and white. Their win shows the power of team work and a camaraderie off the court. A lesson to some other teams who will remain nameless.

Nonetheless, to Kobe Bryant and every Laker fan, wipe your tears and pray for the return of "Superman". The Lakers' loss tonight is testament that Kobe cannot carry the team without another star. Kevin Garnett couldn't do it on his own in Minneapolis and Kobe's team will not fare differently.

For anyone in a drought, miracles still happen. Go Celtics!

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Rosy Face of Politics

I got the text message at 6:09pm. It read: "Tim Russert collapsed today." I responded in disbelief with the words: "Oh, my!" I went back to work. I got a call at 10:00pm. Tim not only collapsed but was dead. Today is Friday the 13th of June. Tim Russert is dead.

My fondest memories of Tim are those of how his face lit up when he spoke. I always referred to Tim as the rosy-cheeked journalist. There was a way his face lit up when he spoke. Even when Tim spoke about issues that bothered him, like the economic-downward spiral, terrorism, and crime, Tim's cheek bones never failed to fill up his face. He always spoke with a smile. I imagine he is the guy you would want at the the other end of the phone. You could be in a different room listening to Tim speak and still hear the smile in his voice.

I remember a feature "O, The Oprah Magazine" had done on Tim and his son Luke right before Luke left for college. He was so proud of Luke. It's been four years since I read that article because apparently Tim just returned from Italy. He was on vacation with his beloved wife Maureen, celebrating Luke's graduation from Boston College. I remember the glow of pride that filled his face in the picture in the magazine.

Tim also loved his dad, "Big Russ." His love for big Russ is documented in his best-selling book "Big Russ and Me." In the book, Tim chronicles the unspoken love of his father who worked two full-time jobs as a newspaper delivery man and sanitation worker. He notes that his father never complained. He let Tim know by his actions that he was a worthy example. He wanted desperately for his children to be successful. Tim notes that his upbringing in Buffalo and the guidance of his family instilled the strong work ethic he came to be known and admired for. Big Russ let Tim know that no one owed him anything. He had to work for everything he had. His Dad he notes did not show him love openly but rather by his actions. Tim always talked about his great love and respect for Big Russ and never failed to acknowledge that he was whom he was because he stood on the shoulder of Big Russ.

Tim loved politics. He lived to host his top-rated show "Meet The Press." Friends of Tim remember that Tim avoided all social gathering nights before he went on air on Sunday morning. He was consumed by a desire to be the best. Nevertheless, Tim's success did not alienate him from his blue-collar backgrounds. He was very much in touch with his hometown of Buffalo and went back home often. He noted on the Charlie Rose Show that the greatest compliment to him was when people commented that he was just the same in person as he was on the television. If there's one thing about Tim, it's that he was genuine.

Tonight Charlie Rose noted the poignancy of Tim's passing, just days before Father's Day. Tim was consumed by being Big Russ' son and Luke's dad. He noted time and again in several interviews over the years the importance of family. He rarely ever failed to mention this family, a topic that lit up those rosy cheeks of his. I never met Tim personally, nevertheless, I respect and admire him greatly. I regret deeply that Tim will not be with us to witness this election season unfold. However, I am pleased he saw history in the making with two unconventional candidates in the Democratic Party. My heart goes out to his family who will sorely miss him this Sunday. For he was a family man.

Tim Russert, born May 7th, 1950 in south Buffalo passed away today while working at the NBC Studios in Washington D.C. He will be greatly missed and forever remembered as America's premiere journalist.

Monday, June 9, 2008

How Many Licks Does it Take?

I want to assume that lollipop sales have gone through the roof since the release of Lil' Wayne's single "Lollipop." Wayne gives a somewhat refreshing new look to thug life. He exemplifies the machismo of the streets. With more collaborations than almost any other artist all year, Lil' Wayne definitely may just be the man of the summer, seizing the crown from T-Pain who established his reign last year. He returns with his usual style, the distinct beats, slurred words, beer cup in hand, freshly smoked joint burning a hole in the couch.

I am not a fan of Lil' Wayne, but you've got to respect that man's tattoos. He is an inspiration to fans of body art and I don't know of any tattoo artist who wouldn't want to leave an imprint on his skin, if there's still room that is.

Although some of the songs on the album are cryptic, Lil' Wayne still manages to outdo himself (no pun intended). On the song "Mr. Carter," Wayne announce his comeback and curses his detractors whom he refers to as "April babies." He collaborates on this song with the other Mr. Carter, you know...Mr. Beyonce. Undeniably, Jay-Z still has it and takes the cake in this song. Lil' Wayne should have reconsidered. The song makes you wonder where he has really been. The song belongs to Jay-Z. The song "A Milli" however is quite catchy. What's tougher than "Nigerian hair?" A venereal disease. I'm still quite confused. Why would he make a comparison to Nigerian hair? Why not Jamaican hair? Or New Orleanian hair? I've walked the 9th ward. Tough stuff.

"Got Money" showcases the all too familiar dance hall beats. Same cryptic sounding lyrics. "Comfortable" features Babyface while sampling liners from Beyonce's songs. He warns his girls not to get too relaxed on the track, while including a shout-out to Kanye West.
Packing enough names to fill an arena, Tha Carter III takes a mellow turn on the tune "Tie My Hands" featuring Robin Thicke. He gives himself props as the savior of "the Big Easy," calling out the President for his inaction durring Hurricane Katrina. On the hood lullaby "la,la," he collaborates with David Banner. Finally, the album showcases Lil' Wayne as stand-up comic and social critic. He send out a message to Mr. Al Sharpton; "you are no M.L.K, you are no Jesse Jackson, you are nobody...to me. You're just another Don King with a perm. Just a little more political and that just means you're a little unhuman that us humans." He uses some new words that may soon find their ways into Webster. He makes a final plea, concluding the expected: he answers to God at the end of the day.
With the album leaking chronically, Tha Carter III is still commendable. To sum it up his lyrics are nothing new. It revolves around two subjects; bitches and his millions.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Meeting in the Capital

You've got to love politicians. Senator Obama met with Senator Clinton tonight. I wonder what they talked about. He may have gone seeking advice on what schools to enroll his two young daughters. Or maybe Hillary just had to use that new china she just got. Let's see...

Labels and Love

I went to New York for the first time in October. I found labels...

I went to the movies tonight for yet another slice of New York. Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte delivered in the new "Sex and the City" movie. The name dropping was to the max. Christian Lacroix, Diane von Furstenberg, Vivienne Westwood, Vera Wang, Dior...and of course Prada were among the names that made the list. And let's not forget the indomitable house of Chanel. Oh the purses and those Manolo's and Louboutin's! The producers of the movie do not disappoint their fans. Even hard to please movie critics will soften under the spell of this movie. This is no "Made of Honor." Even the lovelorn will find something to smile about. The great aspect of this movie though is just how relatable it is. Carrie's love affair with Mr. Big, Miranda's angst against a love affair, Charlotte's perfect life and you know Samantha...don't know what to say about that love-sex-love crazed matron. These scenes are not totally conjured. I participated. I saw past labels even though I enjoyed them.

The movie opens with Carrie's usual monlogue. True, people do move to New York for the labels, fame, and fortune, these days a college degree. I am not sure about the love aspect. I know of few people who've moved to New York and love was not a factor for any of them.

Seeing this movie was my cheap access to Fashion Week. I wanted to revel in every detail of fabric, bauble, and label. My eyes caught many a Chanel purse and I let a tear drop almost leave my eye when Carrie gives the Saintly assistant that much coveted Louis bag. Yet, the biggest label in the movie was love. I'm mad I was so into the plot. I felt Carrie's pain and oh the shame! Sure Mr. Big is a good man but that flower whacking was so well deserved. Why did Miranda have to endure the pain of an affair, and Samantha the emptiness of a life so full of labels? There are labels for everything, even love is so labeled. Love is defined by so many terms. It's so labeled it loses its spontaneity. It becomes reduced to meaningless terms to describe our fleeting emotions.

Love should have no labels. It should just be! It should not come with demands, prenuptial agreements or be confined to a box. It should be love. However, we insist that love better come in the right box. It could be a Tiffany blue or a Manolo blue encrusted with faux diamonds. Nonetheless it needs to be accompanied by a well tied bow. Surprsingly even Hollywood knows better, that love is more than labels. They know the biggest lesson is learning to forgive. Our humanity makes us frail and vulnerable. Learning to label love with the "f" word gives love meaning. It doesn't take away from it. Ask Miranda or Carrie; it's the biggest label on love. For those in love out of love or just so over love, forgive yourself, forgive and just love. No labels, no strings, just love.

I will return to New York.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Great "Black" Hope

Last night, I sat glued to the television watching Anderson Cooper and his team cover the last run in this election's much contested primaries. It was no surprise when Senator Barack Obama was named as the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party. With his delegate count rising to the mark over the last couple of days it was expected. Many nay-sayers predicted that this day would never come because Americans of all colors still could not see past racial lines. Obama they predicted would fare poorly among white voters. However, the Senator from Illinois still clinched the nomination. He proved that although race is an issue it was not an obstacle.

Among the myriad issues of race that abound I am interested in the fate of the African-American community. In several conversations since Obama's win, most people of African descent in the diaspora believe his nomination affirms that their struggles are not in vain. Maybe someday their children or grandchildren may be in the White House.

But, dare we dream about an African-American in the White House? I believe we are closer to that goal today than we were several years ago. Obama's nomination is historic not only because it is unprecedented in the history of this great nation but because it speaks volumes to how far we have come as a people. There is no ground for excuses anymore. I speak directly to our ailing communities, to our young black men especially. It's time to take advantage of our educational institutions. It's time to stop sagging pants. That trend is not only unfashionable it is simply a relic of prison culture. It's time to wake up and embrace change.

Our culture has suffered tremendously. We are mocked on television and we are always fodder for so-called "urban" jokes. It doesn't matter if you are "elite" or not. To most in mainstream culture all "black" people are alike. Nothing wrong with uniformity in our race, however the perception of the whole is mostly negative. Popular culture has solidified the image of our young men as thugs and our females as "hoes." Nevertheless, Barack Obama is still the nominee for the Democratic Party. What are we going to do with it? Chant about change for a few months and then forget about the hope of a dream 10 years later? Are we going to regress as a people or are we going to seize the day? 10 years from now will we be changed by this historic event, or will the Senator from Illionois simply be remembered as the great "black" hype?