Saturday, August 31, 2013

Music Reviews-Sonia Dada, Journey

Sonia Dada
What do you get when you combine a socially minded Chicago area billionaire guitarist/songwriter/philanthrophist, some competent but not flashy soul/pop/R&B/rock musicians, and three singers who channel Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Muddy Waters, including one who has a seven octave vocal range? Well you get Sonia Dada that's what you get. 
Sonia Dada is (was?) a musical group that was memorable for its singing and songwriting and to a lesser extent its soloists. I think that was by design. There are hardly any Sonia Dada songs where I think you're going to drop your jaw in amazement of the guitarist's skills or unheard of chops. But there are lot of songs where you will hardly even notice until you think about it how well the music fits the lyrics and how seamlessly the band accompanies the singer. And for Sonia Dada the singing and the groove are definitely where the band places the most emphasis. Of course like any other group the guitarists tend to play a little more live where they take some extended solos but that's pretty normal with most bands I think. Sonia Dada was formed when the aforementioned guitarist, one Dan Pritzker, heard Paris DeLane, (of the seven octave range) Michael Scott and Dan Hogan singing in the subway and invited them to become the voices of the band he was putting together.

Musically the band owes a lot to The Beatles, Motown, Stax, and maybe a few people like Billy Joel and Springsteen and of course numerous jazz artists.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Detroit Cops Get More Than They Bargained For

To the police I'm sayin f*** you punk 
Reading my rights and s***, it's all junk
Pulling out a silly club, so you stand

With a fake *****d badge and a gun in your hand
But take off the gun so you can see what's up 
And we'll go at it punk, I'ma f*** you up
"F*** The Police"
Too many times police act outside of their legal authority. Most of the time when they do this custom, law and simple self-preservation indicate that the person who is not a police officer submit and follow orders. If they can, they should remain calm, document the abuse while trying to survive it and attempt to finish the fight in court. After all most judges (I hope) are not going to tell you to shut the f*** up before they tase you or pull out a gun to shoot you because you supposedly made a furtive move. Police of course, have no problem doing just that. However this country was not created or built (theoretically) on citizens meekly submitting and following orders from agents of the state.  It was built on much the opposite in fact. And although discretion is often the better part of valor when dealing with armed aggressive people  who don't mind sending you to the hospital or graveyard there does indeed come a line in the sand where submission to invalid authority is destructive and deadly to a sense of citizenship, manhood, womanhood or to your life or bodily integrity. Or as one writer put it much better than I could speaking of a similar situation
Injustice of any kind depends upon fear, upon backing down. In other words, bullies and monsters count on never running into a warrior. But here's the point: when one generation stands up, more of the NEXT generation survives. Being a man, being a warrior, increases the risk for that man, but decreases the risk for future generations, can you grasp that? This has ALWAYS been true for warriors: if you stand up, you might get shot down. But if you don't stand up, the forces of evil will take and take and take until there is nothing left. And then they will grind you into the gutter, and **** on you. And then they will say: "look at that broke, broken, stinking thing in the gutter. That is his natural state. He must LIKE being like that. Tsk tsk.

War on Syria??

Syria has been undergoing a bloody civil war. Over 100,000 people are said to have died. There are numerous rebel groups which are opposed to the Assad regime. However these groups are not exactly all a ragtag bunch of reluctant revolutionaries who sadly took up the gun and look forward to ending the war to return home and peacefully live out their days on a Tatooine moisture farm. Many of them are a pretty nasty bunch, who when they aren't enjoying such activities as cannibalism on government troops or gang rapes of women (and boys/men/girls too for that matter), are often seeking ways to impose Islamic rule over the previously secular Syria. Well that is Sunni Islamic rule. The Assad regime, despite being secular, is from the Alawite branch of Islam, and is considered akin to apostate or heretic by some fundamentalist Sunnis. This conflict isn't only a political revolution but also has ethnic and religious undertones. This last is of course being funded and fanned by our very good friends, the Saudis. Ironically of course the Muslim Brotherhood and associated groups, whom we claim to despise in Egypt, form some of the opposition in Syria. So does Al-Quaeda. Hezbollah, a Lebanese primarily Shia group, has come to the aid of the Syrian regime, without asking the Lebanese people if that was a good idea. Israel has bombed what it claimed were Syrian weapons transfers to Hezbollah. Iran and Syria have threatened Israel. Syrian Kurds, unpopular with and worried by all of the sides in the conflict have been fleeing to Iraq. Well, that is they've been fleeing to the northern portion of Iraq, which is heavily ethnically Kurdish and has enjoyed a sort of de facto home rule from the rest of Iraq. Greater numbers of Kurds could eventually pull Iraq back into a new civil war if the northern section gets emboldened to declare formal independence. Syrian refugees of all ethnicities and faiths have been fleeing the country. Both the rebels and the government have committed atrocities.

Allegedly the Syrian government used chemical weapons. I doubt that claim. It wouldn't make sense as they've been winning the war as of late. There are some issues with the evidence, not least of which is that the Secretary of State can only publicly offer youtube videos as casus belli. It's unclear as to who used chemical weapons and even if they were used. Still anything is possible. The US may or may not attack Syria in the next few days or even the next few hours. I don't know. I'm not invited to the meetings where those decisions are discussed. Neither are you in all likelihood.

Do Grades Really Matter?

We've written numerous articles on whether it's worth it to go to college or to grad school, and each time we tend to conclude that you should go because an education is a good thing that will open many doors in your life.  Or so we are told.  There's an important element, however, that often goes overlooked during these educational debates that can literally determine whether you graduate and live a life of luxury or whether you graduate and drive a bus: grades.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Who Makes Medical Decisions for You (or your kids)?

I have a bit of a libertarian left leaning streak when it comes to private decisions around your life, health, sexuality and so on. Basically if you're not bothering anyone I think the government should leave you alone. That's true whether you're a black New Yorker walking down the street or a white twenty-five year old who doesn't see a need to purchase health insurance. And I feel even more strongly about someone coming between a parent and a child. However intellectual honesty compels admission that there are some cases where government not only has the right but the duty to interfere with your decision making and/or that which impacts your children. We don't look kindly on heroin addicts. We look even less kindly on heroin addicts who share their drugs with their children. I don't care if someone wants to be a sex worker. If that person wants to recruit their underage child into their line of work then they should be as Bo Diddley sang, placed "so far back in the jail that they'll have to pump air in". You can't open a factory and dump lead in the water. And so on.

Those are obvious calls though. Medical care decisions are more complex.

Doctors and scientists have knowledge and information that the rest of us lack. There's nothing magical about that. It's their line of work. A doctor would likely look just as out of place in your line of work if you're not a doctor. If a doctor suggests an action plan for a particular disease you're probably going to listen to him/her..again assuming you're not a doctor yourself with the same or greater knowledge as the bozo who barely made it through medical school and has his papers routinely rejected by scientific journals.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Journalistic Malpractice by The Washington Post - Coverage of the March on Washington

Aerial view of the 1963 March on Washington, looking north from the Washington Monument. (Martin S. Trikosko/Library)

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous, "I Have a Dream" speech. Intended to be a peaceful gathering in our nations capital, to draw attention to the issues of  jobs and inequality, many people didn't see or anticipate it to be just that.

I recently came across an admission of journalistic malpractice by The Washington Post, that is worthy of us all reading.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

White Student Unions: Confusing Pride with Hate

Pride: noun
 A high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.

“Why is it when a white person says he is proud to be white he’s shunned as a racist?”

Ahh, yes.  This is the preferred feigned innocence commonly associated with this interrogative used by racists everywhere.  This time it was Patrick Sharp’s turn to comment.  Sharp just started the “White Student Union” (WSU) club on Georgia State University.
Racists have been hiding behind comments like this for years.  As direct racism and hatred becomes more unacceptable, justifications and qualifications for racial disdain have evolved and have been repackaged.  “White Pride” has replaced “White Power."  Erroneously equating itself to other minority organizations, WSU's not only are unequal but they completely miss the point.  As with most things forged in hatred, it lacks honesty.  It lacks education.  It lacks insight.  It lacks creativity.  It lacks introspection.  But most of all, it lacks common sense.  And, to be honest, it’s kind of insulting.  If you have hatred in your heart then say so.  Don’t be a punk and hide behind bullshit euphemisms. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

An Open Letter To Ms. Jamilah Lemieux by Obsidian

#BlackPowerIsBeingAbleToClaimVictimhoodFromYourPerchAtEbonyDotCom: An Open Letter To Ms. Jamilah Lemieux

7:54 AM 8/23/2013 Fri

"lol, @JamilahLemieux aka #SistaToldja, can run but she cant hide; she needs to address the arguments..."
-@ObsidianFiles to Jamilah Lemieux via Twitter, Mon, Aug 19, 2013

I knew it wouldn't be long before the word got out about my recent missive wading into the catfight between Black and White Feminists, and which involved disgraced academic Prof. Hugo Schwyzer; as I often do when my writings are published, I made the announcement on Twitter, and invited Ms. Lemieux and anyone who agreed with her position, encapsulated by her hastag #BlackPowerIsForBlackMen, to respond. And "respond" Ms. Lemieux did - she and I had a brief skirmish via Twitter that Monday afternoon, during which she ducked, dodged and twisted about in the rhetorical wind, not actually dealing with my arguments, and of course, peppering her mini-responses with tinny accusations of my supposedly being a "sexist" and "misogynist". I suppose Ms. Lemieux has been too busy parlaying her former blogging hobby into a real dough-ray-me gig to notice,that playing various cards out of the "Sexism/Misogyny" deck done got old a long way back. Even her fellow Sistas are starting to roll their eyes at such wolf-cries nowadays. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book Reviews-Erasure, Hell to Pay, Tough Luck

by Percival Everett
This book is by turns funny, sad, hilarious and sobering. It is reminiscent of Vonnegut in many aspects. Very mordant. I bought Erasure at a going out of business book sale. I had heard good things about this author and his wife, the author Danzy Senna. I couldn't find her work but picked this up, one of Everett's older novels. Well I'm glad I finally read the book. I may never finish my reading list before I shuffle off this mortal coil but it's a good thing that I was able to cross this story off my "to read" list. It's a satire of among other things, ghetto lit. It also sends up the arrogance of many writers and their total divorce from real life concerns.

WEB DuBois wrote of "double consciousness".
It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
You shouldn't judge yourself using metrics that weren't designed for you. To use a different paraphrasing of a hoary joke, if you tell a credulous turtle that it is a failure if it can't outrun a cheetah, that turtle may accept its inferiority. If faulty beliefs become widely accepted, then for all intents and purposes they are real. Then it is a brave man or woman indeed who can reject the perceived reality for the actual reality. And yes that is a reference to Plato's Allegory of the Cave, which along with double consciousness provides a critical theme in this story.

Thelonious Ellison (for obvious reasons everyone calls him Monk) is an African-American novelist. He has had little success not just because he's black but because he's chosen to write intricate dense novels. His novels are novels about writing, retellings of Greek myths, parodies of French poststructurialists,  investigations into reality. They are literary works, not popular ones. But Monk is being true to himself. He wasn't born to a single mother. He didn't grow up on welfare and hearing gunshots. He doesn't have multiple children by multiple women. He graduated from Harvard summa cum laude. His grandfather, father, brother and sister were/are all doctors. He prefers woodworking and fly fishing to basketball and football. White book reviewers snidely tell him that his work has nothing to do with the black experience right before praising performance artists who pose as lawn jockeys on politician's lawns.

Friday, August 23, 2013

US Accent Map

I'm from Michigan where we have no accent. (Smirk) The way we speak is actually the way that American English is supposed to be spoken thank you very much. We drink pop, not soda. Mary, Marry and Merry all sound the same to me. Gratiot is pronounced "grass shut". Inland North!!!!
From time to time I have had cause to travel to some other states, generally outside of the Upper Midwest, where for whatever reason the residents feel the need to mangle the English language so much that it's occasionally hard to understand them. They just don't seem to realize that they're speaking incorrectly. I mean why can't they sound like people from Michigan so that I can understand them?? Snicker. Whether it's people from Boston dropping "r's" every chance they get, people from the South taking ten to fifteen seconds to pronounce each and every vowel they come across, or people from New York throwing "au" vowel sounds seemingly randomly across their speech and trying to break North American land speed records for number of words spoken within ten seconds, accents have always been fascinating to me. I like hearing different people speak and trying to figure out where they're from.

Check out this dialect map and find your particular accent. Do you still have the accent that the map claims you do? Have you changed your accent since childhood? Do you switch back and forth between accents depending on to whom you're speaking?

HBO Game of Thrones: Race and Representation in Fantasy and Sci-Fi

This post was originally supposed to run four to five weeks prior but other events happened and a little thing called paid work reared its ugly head. So it's quite different than the first draft. We've noticed that there seems to be a consistent level of modest interest in the Game of Thrones posts we've done so hopefully this may spark some discussion. It's a long wait until next April when the wolfpack gets its revenge..or not (cue evil laughter).
In case you missed it the character Oberyn Martell aka The Red Viper was recently cast for Season Four of HBO's Game of Thrones. It's difficult to discuss this without too many spoilers but I'll do my best. As always if you've read the books or know exactly what this character does, please keep it to yourself. Let's just say that Oberyn is a fan favorite. He's a Dornish noble who has a serious grudge to settle with the Lannisters. Oberyn Martell has relatives of various complexions. Martin has written in A Storm of Swords that Dorne itself is home to people with differing skin tones and features.                                                                       
The salty Dornishmen were lithe and dark, with smooth olive skin and long black hair streaming in the wind. The sandy Dornishmen were even darker, their faces burned brown by the hot Dornish sun. They wound long bright scarfs around their helms to ward off sunstroke. The stony Dornishmen were biggest and fairest, sons of the Andals and the First Men, brown-haired or blond, with faces that freckled or burned in the sun instead of browning.
This description of the different Dornish phenotypes gave some readers hope that a definitively non-white actor, likely Middle Eastern or North African or perhaps even South Asian or African-American or of other African descent might get a chance to play some Dornish roles and more specifically the role of Oberyn Martell, who is simply put, a bada$$.

But the HBO Game of Thrones producers cast Chilean actor Pedro Pascal to play Oberyn Martell aka "The Red Viper". As you may have noticed Mr. Pascal is relatively light skinned. Some might even call him white. Other writers already had some concerns about Martin's handling of race. When the news of the Martell casting broke a certain faction of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire fans hit the proverbial roof and were not exactly mollified by Martin's statements on the matter.

So let's talk about the internet controversy about Oberyn. Do you have any thoughts on that?
I commented on my blog. You can find a more studied response there. I made a couple of comments as to what people said about that. I always pictured Oberyn Martell in my head as a — what I call a Mediterranean type. I know people attacked me for that by saying "He's ignorant, he doesn't know that Africa is on the Mediterranean." No, I know Africa is on the Mediterranean. But in common parlance, when you say Mediterranean. you are thinking Greek, Italian, Spanish. When you are thinking Moroccan or Tunisian that’s North African. That’s the way people talk about that. I always pictured the Martells and the salty Dornishman as Mediterraneans, so the casting I think is perfectly appropriate with what I wrote in the books.
I do sympathize. I mean, I understand. Some people have written me some very heartfelt letters, and I've tried to respond to them, about how they wanted to see someone who looked like them in the books, and how they were [disappointed]. They had pictures of the Martells looking like them, and they were disappointed. I understand that, but it still wasn't my intent to make... Even the terminology here is such a land mine. I don't even know what words to use here "black" or "African." I used African at one point, sort of like African American. [But] if you use "African," you are guilty for saying all Africans are the same. I don't know.
I am drawing from history, even though it's fantasy. I've read a lot of history, The War of the Roses, The Hundred Years War. The World back then was very diverse. Culturally it was perhaps more diverse than our world, but travel was very difficult back then. So even though there might have been many different races and ethnicities and peoples, they didn't necessarily mix a great deal. I'm drawing largely on medieval England, medieval Scotland, some extent medieval France. There was an occasional person of color, but certainly not in any great numbers.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why Wall Street Will Never Be Reformed

5 years ago on September 15 America received a wake-up call when one of the oldest Wall Street banks, Lehman Brothers, collapsed.  It was 158 years old at the time - nearly as old as Wall Street itself.  We're talking about something that had survived the infamous "Black Tuesday" stock market crash in 1929, the Great Depression and every other economic downturn that followed after that.  But it could not survive the 2008 recession.  That's how bad the 2008 recession was.  Normal recessions just kill off companies. The 2008 recession, on the other hand, killed off banks.  Prior to 2008, that kind of thing just didn't happen.  When you catch a cold you expect to cough, sneeze and maybe have a runny nose.  What you do not expect to happen is for your head to fall off of your body like some kind of bad episode of Walking Dead.  That's basically what happened in 2008 to the American economy.  We thought that our economy had caught the typical cold but by the time we reached for the Robitussin its head fell off.

In order to make sure our head doesn't fall off again, we made a new law called the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (or just simply "Dodd Frank" for short).  We've written about this before (see HERE and HERE).  The only problem is, even though this law was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, we still haven't put this law into place yet.  Why not?  Because Wall Street won't let that happen.  Oh wait, you thought Congress and the President were in charge of making the laws?  Think again.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Military Coup and Violence in Egypt

Imagine that the US Armed Forces, whose officer class generally tends politically conservative, lose patience with President Obama. The generals don't approve of what they see as his Constitutional end runs, his recess appointments, or his defense policies. Troops surround the White House, easily and casually disarm, subdue or eliminate any laughably outgunned loyalist Secret Service/FBI agents/DC police officers. They take the President and his associates into custody. The military shuts down unfriendly media. Liberal supporters lead marches or sit-ins but the military brass has given the green light. Protesters are arrested or killed by the dozens. The military also issues arrest orders for hundreds of other Administration supporters, who flee overseas or go underground. 

The military appoints John Boehner temporary President. But Boehner is a patsy. Reporters speak to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the real boss. The Chairman speaks vaguely of future elections but won't commit to a date. He won't even admit that he initiated a coup. He claims that his actions were necessary to save democracy. The Department of Justice finds new crimes with which to charge former President Obama. 

Undeterred, the deposed President's supporters organize a massive sit-in at the Washington Monument. They are surrounded by police and military personnel in tanks. After 10 days of peaceful protest, one morning without warning the military and the police move in. This time instead of dozens being killed, it's hundreds and possibly even thousands. People are gunned down from helicopters without regard to age, sex or actual threat. Snipers target protest leaders. Those who are lucky enough to get arrested face charges that could place them in prison for decades. There are then bloody revenge attacks on police, military and civilians who are believed, rightly or wrongly, to support the coup. Fox News, Investors Business Daily, The Washington Times, The WSJ, The National Review, and other "responsible" media speak of the need for stability and the necessity of fighting the liberal-socialist threat.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Black Feminists Have A Hugo Problem, Too - Among Other Things

"The rationalization hamster is an analogy for the thought processes used by women to turn bad behavior and bad decisions into acceptable ones to herself and her friends. When a woman makes a bad decision, the hamster spins in its wheel (the woman’s thinking) and creates some type of acceptable reasons for that bad decision. The crazier the decision, the faster the hamster must spin in order to successfully rationalize away the insanity."

The flurry of attention that Mikki Kendal, an obscure Black Internet Feminist, recently garnered with her Tweet heard Around The World "#SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen", where she rightly upbraided her erstwhile White Feminist sisters for their tripping over themselves to cover their backsides in giving disgraced academic and self-proclaimed male feminist Hugo Schwyzer a pass at the expense of Sista Feministas everywhere, was almost too good to be true - Black and White Women, the Feminists among them anyway, were finally gonna duke it out over what anyone with one good eye could clearly see was dogging "the movement" since Day One - that "Feminism" in truth, really meant Feminism for White and at least nominally middle-class Women - and any other kinds of Women, especially Black, had to get in where they fit in, if at all. It promised to be a rollicking time of highspirited drama and hijinx, which so accompanies disagreements of the ladykind. I for one eagerly looked forward to the fireworks that would surely ensue.

New Blogger on The Urban Politico

It's been a while, but we've done it again! We've added a new member to our team. You've seen him around and heard him on our radio show. He goes by the name of Obsidian.

Obsidian is a blogger from Philly who focuses on what he considers to be Sexual Politics issues, which includes gender relations, Men's Rights, Pickup/relationship/dating advice, and so forth, from a Black Male perspective.

He's been hard at it since the Fall of 2009, and since then has written for the Good Men Project, the Spearhead and has been a commenting fixture at the popular blog Very Smart Brothas. Recently he co-founded Just Four Guys, a blog written by and for regular guys from all walks of life.

Obsidian describes himself as an urban dandy, inner city pundit, budding photog and semi-professional pest. Catch his lengthy missives at his personal blog, The Obsidian Files.

Please give a warm welcome to our newest team member.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Movie Reviews-Lovelace, The Conspiracy, Bullet to the Head

directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
It's tricky making a Hollywood movie about adult entertainment. The producer and/or director must decide if the adult performer is a victim/survivor to be pitied and helped or a low life scumbag who's responsible for their own decisions. Lovelace goes for the first interpretation. Linda Lovelace was an adult actress whose performance in the seminal film Deep Throat and skill at a certain sex act made her a household name in the early seventies. This movie kicked off an acceptance of a certain bluntness and crudity about sex, a penetration of mainstream culture by porn that is ongoing until this day. Strange as it seems now, Deep Throat was a pop culture phenomenon. Late night comedians riffed on it. The film uses actual news footage from that era. The New York Times ran ads for it!!! Roger Ebert reviewed it. Couples attended it together. Not being Travis Bickle I can't imagine taking a date to an adult movie but the mating habits of the early seventies species Citizenus Americanus were odd indeed. 

Lovelace is based on Linda Lovelace's (Boreman) autobiography, Ordeal. Linda denounced her past actions and claimed her husband coerced her into everything. She said her scenes were nothing more than forcible rape. Some people disputed those allegations. But Linda did pass a lie detector test regarding some statements in her book. Good luck trying to sort those claims out. Linda became a crusader against the adult industry who nonetheless later claimed feminists had used her as a tool for their own interests just like adult industry producers.

Friday, August 16, 2013

My Two Cents on the "Harriet Tubman Sex Tape"

Harriet Tubman Statue in Harlem
The words "Sex Tape" associated with the name of Harriet Tubman, are outright despicable. It's the highest form of disrespect. It's alarming that our knowledge of such disrespect exists at the hands of a black man, a powerful black man at that. I will not post the video to our site to give it any additional unnecessary attention.
We are the only group of people on the planet who consistently allow outsiders and folks within, to demoralize and demean our history and historical figures. Hell, we allowed Quentin Tarantino to take the serious stain on our nation that is slavery, and turn it into a comedy. We allowed a white actress to feel comfortable enough to take to her twitter account and tweet to her million plus followers "Nigga's in Paris for Real." Not only did we allow her to do this, like brainwashed fools filled with self-hatred, we defended her. So, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that someone once again felt comfortable enough to make, cast, and shoot a short film and title it "Harriet Tubman Sex Tape."

When incidents like this occur, I always wonder who gave the thumbs up, the green light, for said project to happen? Who are the two actors in this short film, who reviewed the script and thought it was a great idea for them to sign on, and give credence to such a despicable piece of work?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mid-Term Negligence: If you didn't vote in 2010, then STFU now!

Yep, another rant!
Congratulations to all you "yes we can-ers."  You successfully came out in record numbers in 2008 and again in 2012 in support of President Obama.

In 2008, you believed in the impossible.  You believed in the "fierce urgency of now."  You didn't want a "Red America" or a "Blue America." Nope.  Not you!  You wanted the "United States of America."

However, as you lounged in your IKEA and sipped your Moscato, you neglected your duties in the mid-term.  I'm not sure folks really know how important the mid-term elections are.  Unfortunately, some of you may never, know.  Since you neglected to come out and vote in 2010, right-wing extremists started chipping away at your rights to even cast a vote.  Good luck.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner: Bad Behavior

Perhaps you've heard about San Diego Democratic Mayor Bob Filner, who by all accounts makes people like Herman Cain, Elliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, Mark Sanford, Clarence Thomas and Bob Packwood look like gentlemen greatly concerned with women's dignity. He is currently being sued for sexual harassment by his former communications secretary. And I wouldn't be surprised if other lawsuits are upcoming. The man appears to have been a sleazebag. Filner's behavior towards women allegedly ran the gamut from simple pickup attempts or investigations of interest through unambiguous textbook sexual harassment to what could conceivably be called attempted sexual assault. Or as one woman ruefully told me it could just be another day at the office. There is a joke by Chris Rock in which he claims that "Sexual harassment is when an ugly man tries to get some". I can't really call it but Filner doesn't quite appear to be an Adonis. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Federal Court Says NYC Stop-and-Frisk is Unconstitutional

Here in New York City where I live it, you can actually walk the streets and ride the subways at night and feel safe.  The police have a visible presence throughout all 5 boroughs, chief among them being Manhattan where most people go for their 9 to 5 gig.  There are over 22 million people living in the New York City metropolitan area, making it by far the biggest city in America.  And out of all those millions of people, New York City only has about 400 homicides each year.  When you do the math, that's less than 0.001% of the population.  In other words, New York City is a safe city to live and work in.  Many New Yorkers attribute this reality to the work that former Mayor Rudy Giuliani did in cleaning up the city's less desirable areas and creating a strong police presence.  Mayor Mike Bloomberg has certainly doubled down on that police presence, but Bloomberg has taken it to another level.  Upon becoming Mayor, Bloomberg's police force has purposely stopped and frisked hundreds of thousands of people each year who are, for the most part, just walking along minding their own business in their own neighborhoods. The undeniable majority of these stop-and-frisk actions involve young Black and Latino men.  We've written about this repeatedly on the blog in the past. The general consensus is that although we can appreciate the value of a safe city, the ends do not justify the means when there are less intrusive methods that can be used to reach the same result.  This week a federal court has finally agreed with us:

Congrats to The Janitor!!

You may have noticed that one of our blogging partners, The Janitor, has been hard to find on the blog for the past few weeks or so. Well we hope you noticed. Because we certainly did. No we didn't suspend his blogging privileges nor was he caught up in the recent $96 million FBI crackdown on security fraud. Well at least that's what he tells us, though he also constantly urges us to stay off the phones, check our cars for bugs and never write anything down. Hmm. No, actually while the rest of us were living our simple lives of quiet desperation, this brother right here was reaching for the brass ring. He was doing the corporate equivalent of those classic scenes in any of your favorite kung fu movies when the solitary hero goes into the woods to pick up a whole new fighting style. He then uses this style to wreak bloody revenge on those retrograde rascals who dishonored his family and dishonored Shaolin Temple. So I expect that The Janitor will soon be back full time on the blog doling out in equal measure legal aphorisms and virtual boots to the head. In short Gentle Readers, our Master of Disaster, my Brother from another Mother, the Hardest Working Man in New York, and the Star of Star Time, has just taken and passed the Patent Bar.

So not only does this give this young man more knowledge and skills about his chosen field, which is always a good thing of course, but it will also give him greater flexibility in his future endeavors. He becomes an even bigger fish in what I'm given to understand is a shrinking pool. One day we'll all be able to say "I knew him when...". 

Congratulations Janitor!!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

NCAA: Rules or Hypocrisy?

Yes, I’m ranting…again…

All right… If you keep up with the daily happenings in the sports world, then you know who Johnny Football is.  If you don’t, I’m sure you’re not alone.  Johnny “Football” Manziel is the quarterback for Texas A&M, for now…  Mr. “Football” has unfortunately stumbled into the cross-hairs of the NCAA’s Sauron-like eye.  Apparently, Manziel was paid $7500 for autographing footballs, jerseys, and other memorabilia for a broker… allegedly.  Of course, the NCAA’s cartel mentality considers this a HUGE no-no.  Now, the overlords have opened an investigation that could end Manziel’s collegiate career. 

Ban the Box Laws-Needed or Not?

Let's say that you were going to hire a babysitter/choose a day care center for your children, nieces and nephews, or other younger relatives. Would you want to know if the person to whom you were entrusting your next generation had spent time in prison for assaulting kids? If you wanted to hire (male) security at a domestic violence/rape crisis center would you think it relevant to know that the 6-4 teddy bear of a man who earnestly says he abhors violence against women just did ten years in federal prison for kidnapping, raping and pimping young girls? If your pre-teen son needs a math tutor would you send him to the home of a math professor who's not only a NAMBLA member but twenty years prior was convicted of child sex abuse? If you run a cash business and need to hire someone to make regular deposits of thousands of dollars to various banks, would you be nonchalant about hiring a woman who was just paroled after serving time for embezzlement and has ties to gangs specializing in armed robbery?

I think that most of you would probably think twice about hiring those people for those positions, if you knew their previous history. It may not be anything personal. You may be making a mistake. But you'd still want to know what they did right? You may not care if the fellow you hired to paint your house has some misdemeanor marijuana convictions. But there are other positions (akin to the above) where greater trust or intimacy is required or the crimes are relevant to the job duties.

The honorable city leaders of Richmond, California have decided that if you're a private city contractor who employs more than nine people you can't ask ANYTHING about an applicant's criminal record, otherwise you'll lose your contract.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Book Reviews-Fear of the Dark, Joyland

Fear of the Dark
by Walter Mosley
Often when people operate at a consistently excellent level for a long time other people come to expect that and take it for granted. So in order to impress they can't just do their normal great work. They must go above and beyond to get people to see them in a different light. I had a boss once who told me that in pretty much those exact words. Maybe she was telling the truth that day in my performance review and maybe she wasn't. All the same though there is something to be said for getting used to excellence. I was reminded of that reading both books listed here. If you are familiar with the authors these books aren't anything new. Of course if someone else had written them I'd be raving about the strong new voice and colorful characterizations. So it goes. For me it was like sinking into a favorite comfortable broken in chair. Good story telling makes me happy.

Fear of The Dark is the second (?) in the series featuring mid century Los Angeles reluctant amateur sleuth and bookstore owner Paris Minton and his buddy, the debonair, dashing and downright dangerous Fearless Jones. As usual Paris is minding his own business (technically that's not quite accurate as he is also trying to mind the business of Jessa, a Caucasian woman who likes black men and likes the short con) when he's pulled into a world of trouble.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Iowa Police Beat Woman Shoplifter

There's no excuse for violence against women. We hear that theme constantly in society today. There are public and private messaging campaigns dedicated to telling men just that. However the real saying should be "There's no excuse for violence against women...unless you're a cop". Just ask admitted shoplifter Brandie Redell, who after being caught stealing in a Davenport, Iowa Von Maur department store, was treated to an apparently unprovoked and vicious beating when either her words or demeanor set off the police officers who were detaining her. I am not overly fond of cops for precisely these sorts of incidents. Of course no one is perfect. Who among us hasn't been angry enough to lay hands upon someone at some point in our life? Anyone can temporarily lose it. That is the state of the human condition. No my issue is that it's precisely because society authorizes police officers to detain, arrest, use violence against and even kill people that police activities need to be completely above board.

If a husband threw his wife a beating, gave her a black eye and damaged her eyesight because he claimed she bit him or was looking the wrong way at him or was clenching her fists, would anyone really give him the benefit of the doubt? Probably not, especially if the man was much larger than the woman and armed to boot. And if video evidence surfaced that showed that the man was actually the one who initiated the violence, well then the man would stand revealed as a liar. In today's environment he'd probably have some civil if not criminal issues to address. But if you're a cop, then you have a get out of jail free card as prosecutors will ignore the video and supervisors will downplay the apparent policy violation. After all you should be believed over a shoplifting white woman that evidently hangs out with black people. Watch video below.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Watchutalkinbout Putin?

Is it just me or is Russia acting very "cold-warish" lately?

Per NYTimes:

President Obama on Wednesday canceled next month’s Moscow summit meeting, ending for now his signature effort to transform Russian-American relations and potentially dooming his aspirations for further nuclear arms cuts before leaving office. 
Four years after declaring a new era between the two former cold war adversaries and after some early successes in forging fresh cooperation, Mr. Obama concluded that the two sides had grown so far apart again that there was no longer any point in sitting down with President Vladimir V. Putin. It was the first time an American leader had called off such a trip in decades.
The immediate cause was Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed secret American surveillance programs. But like many broken marriages, the divorce was a long time coming. The two sides have been at loggerheads over arms control, missile defense, Syria, trade and human rights, and Obama aides said Moscow was no longer even responding to their proposals. And the president has privately expressed exasperation at the way Mr. Putin has dealt with him.
The cancellation of the Moscow meeting was not a complete break in relations. Mr. Obama will still attend the annual conference of the Group of 20 nations in St. Petersburg on Sept. 5 and 6, and his secretaries of state and defense will still meet with their Russian counterparts in Washington on Friday. But Mr. Obama will not even meet with Mr. Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 gathering, as is customary.

Russia has been locking up girls who pull pranks in churches, taking a hard line on Syria, and now they refuse to throw America a bone on this Edward Snowden character.  I'm just saying.  It seemed like the U.S. and Russia had been making gains over the past few decades since the fall of the U.S.S.R. but now Putin seems real stand-offish.  Like that new co-worker who has been assigned to your team but refuses to show up at happy hour.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Congressman Ted Yoho: Obamacare Sun Tanning Bed Tax Is 'Racist'

Some things you just can't make up.  The latest comes from Florida Rep. Ted Yoho (R) who claims that Obamacare's 10% tax on tanning bed services is racist against white people because darker-skinned people don’t need to tan. 

From Talking Points Memo:

At a recent town hall meeting, Yoho laid out his strategy to an appreciative crowd:
I had a little fun with [John] Boehner and told him about the sun tanning tax. He goes, ‘I didn’t know it was in there,’ and I said, ‘Yes, it’s a ten percent tax.’ He goes, ‘Well, that’s not that big of a deal.’ I said, ‘It’s a racist tax.’ He goes, ‘You know what, it is.’ I had an Indian doctor in our office the other day, very dark skin, with two non-dark skin people, and I asked this to him, I said, ‘Have you ever been to a tanning booth?’ and he goes, ‘No, no need.’ So therefore it’s a racist tax and I thought I might need to get to a sun tanning booth so I can come out and say I’ve been disenfranchised because I got taxed because of the color of my skin.
Some of Yoho’s allies have already taken this advice. The claim showed up on Glenn Beck’s radio show as early as 2010, African American former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) made a similar quip — “You want to talk about something that’s really racist? They have a tanning tax. I’m not tanning.”
In the same town hall, Yoho also announced that he would support birther legislation introduced by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX). Confusingly, Yoho called the birther theory a “distraction” from the economic issues that really matter but also said that he would “get on” Stockman’s bill to investigate issues concerning Obama’s birthplace.

Well... maybe Rep. Yoho will want to feel your hair or ask you what color your blood is.  Because generalizing about "darker-skinned" people and there lack of tanning needs seems slightly beneath our congressional members... wouldn't you think?


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Another One Bites the Dust: New York Yankees Player Alex Rodriguez Suspended from Major League Baseball

I'm not sure what bothers me more, A-Rod's betrayal of the game and millions of young athletes who look up to him, or his defiance and belief that he should still be allowed to don a Yankees uniform and return to the field. This entire situation wreaks of the fiasco that Lance Armstrong subjected us to. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Time Warner Strikes Again, Gives the Axe to CBS

"Once is happenstance.  Twice is coincidence.  Three times is enemy action." - Ian Flemming.

3.5 million viewers are now without the CBS and Showtime cable channels thanks to failed contract negotiations between Time Warner Cable and CBS corporate.    Per NY Times:

The two sides in the fee dispute between CBS and Time Warner Cablestayed in their respective corners Sunday, and may not engage in further direct confrontation for some time. As a result, CBS’s stations, and cable networks owned by CBS, remained blacked out in many areas, including large parts of New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. The continuing impasse resulted in two popular shows on the pay cable channel Showtime, “Dexter” and “Ray Donovan,” being unavailable to fans in those areas on Sunday night. And it means that the most popular drama of the summer, CBS’s “Under the Dome,” is likely to be blocked to millions of viewers on Monday night.

And per Reuters:

The blackout that began on Friday, when Time Warner Cable dropped the No. 1-rated U.S. broadcast network, has affected an estimated 3.5 million customers, including golf fans who missed Tiger Woods' victory in the Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday. CBS, home to hits such as "The Big Bang Theory" and "NCIS," said there were no talks taking place at the moment, but the company remains "ready to negotiate in good faith." Time Warner Cable said it regretted the inconvenience to viewers and hoped to resolve the situation "as soon as possible." Industry analysts said the dispute over how much Time Warner Cable should pay to carry CBS could last until the start of the National Football League season in September, when millions of viewers rely on their cable providers to watch primetime games.
This is America, Jack. And if it's one thing we do not tolerate in America is somebody messing around with our TV shows, dangit.  Now I would chalk this up to the usual contract negotiations gone wrong, but Time Warner Cable has formed a habit of doing this before:

Sunday, August 4, 2013

That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour

That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour
Join us Sunday, August 4th at 5pm (ET).

  • Jay Z vs Harry Belafonte (Black fame and responsibility)
  • How to govern - Are GOP tactics the same as domestic terrorism
  • Manning and Snowden updates 

Listen Live Online HERE 

Or Call In to join our discussion (424) 675-6844

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Movie Reviews-A Band Called Death, Only God Forgives

A Band Called Death
directed by Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino

The story of the punk-rock band Death is one that I'm not sure could have been written as believable fiction. Three black brothers from Detroit were playing punk before the Ramones, Sex Pistols, or several other punk bands. I had heard of this group before. I have their long out of print cd. I didn't review it here because I'm not a huge genre fan. Nevertheless this documentary is worth watching. I liked seeing some familiar Detroit landmarks and hearing about some classic 1970s Detroit area music names. I wouldn't necessarily say this was a sad tale but it is a sobering one because Death never fulfilled its musical potential. 

For every musician who writes songs the whole world wants to hear and becomes a multi-millionaire or billionaire there are thousands of others who must put their dreams on hold and find jobs as janitors or fall into substance abuse. However after a long period in the musical wilderness Death is making something of a comeback. 

Death had its beginnings among the younger three brothers of the close knit Hackney family. All of them were musically inclined. Their parents encouraged them to follow their dreams. David Hackney, the oldest in that section of brothers, was a fan of the 60s and 70s hard rock groups. He became an acolyte of a hard edged guitar sound that took its cues from musicians like The Who, Jimi Hendrix and Grand Funk Railroad. 

As he and his brothers had been taught unity above all else he convinced them to join him in a power trio. They practiced incessantly and loudly, around the neighborhood and at home. This music was NOT popular within their community as David made almost no concession to traditional blues, soul, funk, jazz or early rock-n-roll. He was interested almost exclusively in what neighborhood critics called "white boy music". He liked to play fast, hard and above all loud.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Attraction, Fetish and Racism: Asian Girlz and Day Above Ground

Human beings (especially the male variant) are visual creatures. If we see something that we like then we either make it known that we are available or inform that person of our interest in the culturally appropriate manner. Everyone has slightly different preferences. If you favor red hair and a relative lack of melanin you'll probably look first in one subgroup of humanity. If you prefer a lot of melanin you'll look in another subgroup. Whether via inertia, deliberate political/romantic decision, lack of opportunity or childhood cultural imprinting most people wind up with folks from their own particular subgroup, however defined. But humans have always mixed and always will mix. There's nothing wrong with this. Some people even prefer people who are not from their group. I don't automatically think this is bad. It depends on the reasons. There's a thin line between having a preference and having a fetish. There's an even thinner line between expressing admiration for a certain subgroup's real or imagined particular characteristics and reducing a member of that group to a sexual stereotype. Saying I like Black women is one thing. Saying I like Black women because they just want to get f*****d all night is probably something different. 

The band Day Above Ground recently crossed that line between preference and fetish with the song "Asian Girlz". This five minute song listed every stereotype about East Asian women. The song may have been meant as a satire on some non-Asian men who do indeed fetishize Asian women. Angry people could be missing the point entirely. Or it could just be 100% racist crap. If it was meant as satire, which I'm not sure of, it didn't work. Levy Tran, the Vietnamese-American model who acted in the video gave an apology.

Check out the video and one funny response to it below. Both videos are slightly NSFW. There is no nudity but there's implied sex and sexually explicit language in the first video and profanity in the second.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Guest Post: Racial Profiling & Respectability Politics

Today's Guest Post comes from first time blogger, Tasha Rose, who has chosen to share with us her thoughts on the recent right-wing response to President Obama's comments on U.S. race relations.  So please engage our guest in the the comments below.


In the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal, an interesting, but definitely not new, sentiment has sprung up among various personalities in the public eye.  To be clear, when I use the term “interesting” to describe something it generally has a negative connotation.  And it appears my description continues.  There appears to be a new phenomenon where the discussion of racial profiling centers on this belief that those who dress or speak a certain way or live in certain areas are asking to be profiled. 

Last week, CNN’s Don Lemon cosigned Bill O’Reilly’s recent (and consistent) “critique” of the Black community. Ah, good ole politics of respectability coming up again.