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Showing posts from 2008

On Losing Freddie Hubbard, Celebrator of Red Clay

I have the internet for the first time in nearly a month and I need to get back into the habit of writing. I still don't know how substantive of a post this will be but I just know I had to say something about the loss of Freddie Hubbard . I can't be as detailed or length as Ethan Iverson was today on this great man's work, but I do feel that I can say how much " Red Clay " meant for me. Every now and then, you run across a song that just drives you crazy. You hear it once and it gets stuck in your head and you miss the DJ say who it was on the radio. You ask people about it and you scramble the internet and you still can't figure out who it is. When I was 8, Stanley Clarke, Najee, and others did this for me with their cover of Miles Davis's "All Blues" until I found it ten years later and purchased the album on Amazon. Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay" only got stuck in my head for maybe a year. I bought that album at an FYE on

The New Historic West End of Atlanta

I'm writing this while sitting in a coffee shop in the West End of Atlanta. There are a lot of things that are typically uncharacteristic in this sentence. First of all, I don't usually leave the house since my unemployment, but I resigned myself to the fact that I had to get back to the city once again and do so I have. I'm happy with my decision and I'll say why later. The other reason weird thing about that sentence is that there is apparently a coffee shop in the West End of Atlanta. It's not exactly something that you hear about all that often. Gentrification is happening across this shabby corner of the city, but it's happening in a weird sort of way. Friends have been warning me about the coming of the white folk who will pounce upon this region so close to downtown and desperate for fixer-uppers and yet I'm sitting in this coffee shop and I'm seeing an interesting cross section of Negros. The blipster, the faux thug, the new buppie, the

Nebraska's Children of Desperation

Embedded video from CNN Video This story has been sitting on my heart for a while now. I just never could figure out how to approach it. I still don't, really. My parents used the belt on me. They kept me in line. They spoke at all the right times and the used the belt at all the right times. I adhered to good Christian values. I adhered to values of honor. From there, I got my work ethic, my love of people and systems, my analytical mind, and my writing ability (because when you are sat down a lot for lessons and lectures, you tend to notice narrative structure). I was raised well and I've said often that I would raise my children the same way my parents raised me (which is something I don't hear a lot of people say about their parents). God blessed me with my parents and the rest of my family. I know this more and more everyday, especially when I keep reading about desperate families across this nation who feel they have no options. Maybe we can blame Maury

Media Sales Will Be Up This Fourth Quarter

I was speaking with a friend who works at a bookstore. He mentioned to me that business was doing unexpectedly better than the store's projections. While some stores are doing all they can to preempt a lackluster fourth quarter, I can't help but think these efforts may be for naught. People are spending less, that's just a given. Still, Drake Bennett of the Boston Globe has an article about what a 21st Century depression would look like . It's an excellent read and from the look of it, most of the criteria he notes are happening already. At least I know for certain that I'm a recent college graduate living in the room over the garage. That sentence alone jostled me. But what really made sense to me in the article was Bennett noting that in economic downturn, cheap escapism is key. I have addressed this before as it relates to alcohol when the bottom was first beginning to fall out. But with my book schilling friend noting the increase in sales, media ma

Obama's Shabby Apartment

Watch CBS Videos Online President-elect Obama did 60 Minutes last night and America was watching . While I enjoyed watching the interview, something sort of stuck with me about it: then Sen. Obama's crappy apartment. There's an optimistic side at looking at this or a darker, more suspect side to it. It depends on where you stand in the Obama camp. One could believe the then Sen. Obama was (and still is) an extremely down to earth person who lives simply and doesn't need for many possessions. It's a happy thought and I like thinking this is so. Yet, from time to time, I get a little paranoid about my government. The Obamas live in a grand home in a good neighborhood in Chicago. It's probably good for a family and shows the life of a guy who has accomplished much politically and as an author of two bestselling books. The fact that he has a DC apartment so bad his staffers scoff at it could show that he is a simple man who knows he's not raising a famil

The Question of the Return of Peasant Literature

I've covered this topic before , but I'd like to mention it again as a refresher. When one looks at the current landscape of media, specifically television and film, it's easy to see the appeal to the common man is rather... lacking. With a nation touting the return of the middle class, its art certainly does not reflect it. All of the major networks feature programming that focus on the exceptional. ABC has its exceptional doctors , its exceptional lawyers , and its nimble celebrities. NBC and CBS are more grounded with their legions of police procedurals. NBC even has a show that focuses on what happens when the ordinary becomes extraordinary . Still, this week, the box office reflected that it appeals to when the extraordinary is more ordinary . Our cultural landscape is seriously coming into question. Some time ago, I wondered if peasant literature had run its course . Yet we see now an intermingling of these notions. In doing so, we come back to the univer

President-elect Obama's First Saturday Radio/YouTube Address

I'm not sure if it's me getting older and recognizing these things now or if this is just how information is spread in this internet era, but I didn't know there was an opposition radio response. I knew every Saturday, there was a presidential radio address. I didn't know the other side had one. I figure as many people heed it as those who listen to the opposition State of the Union address. Actually, less than that. Who listens to the radio? That's why this is sort of important. There are many who have said that President-elect Obama must work the same way President Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression in the face of our economic crisis. Obama lacks the experience FDR did before reaching office. Obama got into the Senate and immediately started running for president. FDR was at least governor of New York. Still, both of these men know how to reach the people. FDR started his fireside chats over the radio as governor and continued them

A Reality of Cash and Less Stuff

With talk of America's economic situation saturating all media and probably most of your own personal concerns, it probably doesn't help that I'm going to talk about it again now. Well, I'm doing that anyway. I have talked about this before , but I feel I may need to mention this again. The trend in America for some time reinforced the idea that people don't like paying for things. Pardon me for being the kind of writer who will tell you the painfully obvious in more paragraphs than necessary. The thing is, we really don't like paying for things. Credit has instilled the idea that things can be paid for later. It birthed the phenomenon of living outside of our means. The internet certainly didn't help matters, especially with the introduction of broadband. Now the independent record store has to fight with free media , economic policy has to work with an "up is down" philosophy , purists are holding to principles that don't exist , a

America Sees Obama the Figure

Black people everywhere are happy about having a black president. I'm happy about it too, but I know for certain it's for different reasons than the rest of my race. People seem to think that he's our president and that he'll neglect the needs of the rest of the country. I know that is not so. I hate that I'm echoing what has been said and read a lot lately, but I'll get to my own semi-original thought in a second. Here's what's confusing me: what were we expecting? January 20th rolls around, at noon Barack Hussein Obama takes the oath of the presidency and to protect the Constitution of the United States (something President Bush forgot to do, especially with those 1, 4, 8, and 14th amendments), and by the time the 21st rolls around what happens? I hope 12% of this country isn't expecting its forty acres and a mule or anything. President-elect Obama has to guide us out of a nationwide financial crisis (that clearly has a major impact on the

A Democrat's Conflict

I've been talking a lot about bipartisanship. It means a lot to me. But right now, I'm feeling sort of conflicted. This post may be a little short and it will technically count for my post for the day, but I just want it known, I have a larger, more substantive post I'm mulling over that I'll write up later in the day. With the recount in Minnesota going on, there's a chance Al Franken could be the new senator there. I really want that to happen. The same could be said for the runoff in December between Jim Martin and Saxby Chambliss. There are new factors that could give Martin the senate seat he deserves (and put an end to this annoying, demoralizing campaign once and for all). It's looking more and more likely that Franken, Martin, and Mark Begich of Alaska (as opposed to the felon, Sen. Ted Stevens) could win their senate seats and give the democrats a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. I want them all to win individually but I don't wa

My Dad Said He Should Get a Rottweiler

CNN had an article today about the lifestyle that faces President-Elect Obama's daughters, Malia and Sasha. It's interesting to think about them and how young they are. By the end of this term, they'll only be 14 and 11. If Obama wins a second term, they'll just be 18 and 15. How do you even face a relatively normal life after that? But what I'm really thinking about is a line from the president-elect's acceptance speech: "You have earned that puppy that is coming with us to the White House." A question came up today in the president-elect's first press conference about that dog. The American public really wonders what this dog is going to be. For some odd reason, this is an issue to people. President-Elect Obama played the question off sarcastically while still answering the question authoritatively. Still, with the tenth consecutive month of American job losses announced today, I think the dog question was best not asked at this junctu

Why Race Matters

Yesterday , I briefly alluded to my distaste for the idea of a "post-racial" mindset. This has been something that's been seriously bothering me for some time. I believe those who strive for a post-racial society are those who wish to invalidate American history. I think it's cowardice in the face of touchy issues. It's the will to gloss over the differences in this nation because complication is messy. It's whitewashing. It's homogenization. It's the new racism. There are those who believe race doesn't matter, especially now. As much as I don't want to belittle my Negritude, I'm going to use an analogy here to explain why it does. The person for whom I'm making this argument the most is a friend from Maryland. I am a Texan. One thing Maryland is known for is its seafood, especially its crabs. I hear great things about these crabs. You get a few of those babies and some Old Bay and you're pretty much set. I've h

Why I Care

11PM rolled around and the news was announced. Cheers were had by all in the Rocky Mountain Bar near Georgia Tech. The friends I had about me were jubilant. Dudes were able to hug one another without discomfort. We knew without a shadow of a doubt that we had to return to the AUC. Intellectual people nationwide were actually okay with listening to Young Jeezy . We arrived at Morehouse's campus to Douglass Hall to catch the celebration of our classmates and old friends. ABC News had already featured the watch party minutes earlier. We joined crossed over hand in hand and sang our college hymn. I walked back to my friends place to sleep for the night. I opened my computer and went to Facebook. Status updates streamed across my screen praising our new president of the United States. These updates were praise because just about all of my Facebook friends are people I have known in my college experience. My HBCU education has surrounded me largely with black people. I have

Patriotism in the Midst of Potential

As the votes are being cast on this important day, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention something that's been bugging me for some time. Whenever I want to feel better about being an American, I usually watch the work of David E. Kelley or Aaron Sorkin. A good Alan Shore rant on Boston Legal or a fast paced White House walk & talk on The West Wing fills my lungs with patriotic air. You see, I'm getting tired of republicans claiming they can take all the American glory for themselves. I love America. I love it for what it is and for the potential it has. I love its constitution that brings balance between the people and the government. I love the progress it has made in such a short time for such a country. I love its great diversity. I know that when the first Tuesday of November rolls around, I get to say something about it. I know when I speak my mind through my written word or with the people I see everyday, I can do it like no place else. Despite its fl

Synecdoche, USA

One of the most inventive screenwriters of our time, Charlie Kaufman , recently released his first self-directed film, Synecdoche, New York . This film, like many of his other works, questions the boundaries of reality. The premise entails a writer who puts on a production of his own life in which actors play real people in his life in an ongoing production that steadily increases in scope and spirals out of control. In this sense, the film fully lives up to its title, synecdoche: the part represents the whole. As we face the eve of America's Election Day, there is no better time for us to comprehend the concept of synecdoche. Our nation is epitomized by this trope. Our government is not a true democracy but a democratic republic. We do not vote on general policy but instead the people unite behind a person to represent our needs. As the Roman Senators, which translates from the Latin to "old man", gathered to address the needs of the citizens, so do we have our o

The Fading of the Doctrine of Plenty

Today was the first day I've been to church in a while. As usual, I enjoyed being in the House of the Lord and even didn't mind that much that said House was a megachurch. I still am bothered by megachurches, but when you don't go to church all that often, I'm just glad to be in His presence. All about me, I saw the faces of Christians uniting, but the message I heard was something different. The sermon of bounty that I usually hear from this sort of venue has warped. See, I haven't been to church (other than for my great aunt's funeral) for some time. Needless to say, this has been my first time attending a church service since the bottom fell out of the stock market. Much as been said about financial analysts being partially to blame for America's spending habits, but I'm not sure if this has been said about the doctrine of bounty that is replete in the megachurches of America. The tone in these houses of worship have shifted, albeit slightly,

Layaway, T-Shirts, Politics, and Sports Patriotism

There have been a few things on my mind lately that I'd like to discuss briefly. Considering this is National Blog Posting Month , I would seem obliged to. KMart seems to have brought back layaway . I saw the commercial for this and had to simultaneously laugh and think about our economy. I'd link to the commercial, but I can't seem to find it anywhere. See, it's sort of funny that we had to bring back layaway, but was it gone all that long ago, really? Am I that old that people are shocked about layaway? I ask this not because KMart bringing back layaway was such a big deal, but because the commercial actually had to explain how layaway worked . Seriously? It's that old that I needed a refresher course on "you can't have it yet, but you can make payments?" How many of us went through our childhoods due to the wonder of layaway? It completely eliminated the need to hide presents. No one had to tell me not to look in that hall closet. I kne

Vote and Vote In Full

Because it isn't exactly apropos to discuss the voting habits of others, let me just say I have heard tell of some people who voted recently and voted solely for the Senator Obama and maybe another candidate or two, all the while neglecting the rest of the ballot. Considering the contentious tone during election season and these people's fatigue after spending so long waiting to vote in the first place, I held my tongue about how annoyed I was at this (which for me is speaking two minutes longer than I should instead of five). But I had to let my thoughts out on the matter at this venue in case anyone who hasn't voted early yet(and everyone really should) is considering doing the same thing. I voted on Monday and I voted on the majority of the ballot. I voted typically down Democratic party lines. That's my prerogative. This blogpost isn't trying to convince you on the record of Barack Obama or about how Georgia and the US Senate could really use Jim Martin

Artistic Partnerships

I had intended for my next post to be about America's socio-economic economy, but I'll save that for a little bit later. I was just reading through my normal load of publications and I ran across a brief article that bothered me so much upon reading it that I just had to write something about it. NME reports this morning that John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page got tired of waiting for Robert Plant to make up his mind about doing a new tour with Led Zeppelin and they're just going on without him . Considering how late to the game I am to one of the best bands ever, I cannot feel right in saying whether or not this must stand, but I know this certainly bothers me. Maybe it's a matter of perspective, but at what is the art still pure from its source when the authors are missing? Is Led Zeppelin still Led Zeppelin if Bonzo's son is playing the drums and some other dude is doing all the singing? When it was 75% original band and things were kept in the family for the

Unemployed, but Not Alone

I'm unemployed. It's not a ludicrous thing for me to say. I graduated college in May. I did well while there. I wrote a lot for my paper. I gathered the respect of my professors. I was a good student. Yet, now that my college career has ended, I'm unemployed. When looking at the American landscape, I'm not alone . This floundering economy isn't exactly helping a lot of people and the national unemployment rate is 6.1%. Georgia alone is even worse with an unemployment rate of 6.5% . Everything isn't coming up roses for me when numbers like those show themselves. The thing is, this problem is a little deeper than most may think. See, the unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds is actually 9.8% according to the US Department of Labor (since my parents read this blog, if there's any article I want them to read right now, it's the one I just linked so they know specifically why I'm still in the room upstairs). What no one noted about the

Briefly, On Hair and Spending

Because nothing has been written here in a while, I just wanted to make a quick comment. I ran across this story about how much money the McCain/Palin campaign has been spending on clothing and hair for the Governor Palin and her family. Yes, it's ridiculous. But while I haven't seen any numbers about the issue, as a black man I can easily guess that Sen. Obama is probably spending at most fifteen bucks a haircut (minus tip, of course) every two weeks. This also includes the fact that some days his hair can look pretty rough. I cannot conceivably think of a situation in which anyone can charge a black man $300 like Sen. Edwards has done in the past. This could be another reason to vote for Obama: you know he won't be spending America's money on haircuts. Michelle is another story, of course, but who's going to ask a black woman about the details behind her hair? That's like a trade secret or something.

When Internet Media Shuffles Its Feet

I haven't written anything in a week. My Auntie Norma passed away last week and this weekend was spent in San Antonio for the funeral. It was a weekend without internet and oddly enough without well formed writing ideas. So, I'm going to try to get back in the swing of things by writing something right here and now. The only thing that could come to mind was television. As a child of media, it's understandable that I would think on this. While I didn't have the internet over the weekend, I did have MSNBC and CNN. The two tied me over fair enough so I'm not uninformed about things that happened. But I did miss a few of my usual shows while I was reuniting with family. Today was spent recuperating and playing catchup with webcomics, blogs, and television over the Internet. Once again I was struck in the face with how proprietary ABC is with its web presence (click at your own risk of sudden loud noises and your processor working harder than it should). I r

The Second Presidential Debate

The Maroon Tiger liveblogged again. Here's the play-by-play.

Winking? Seriously?

What exactly did she expect this to do for me? Did Gov. Palin think winking to all of America would impress us? She can believe ambiguity or staying on her own specific message could have been a positive attribute, but the winking? You want to know why this is sexist? A man couldn't do this. Sen. Joe Biden could not wink to 70 million people in the middle of repeating things for us and declaring his adoration for John McCain while highlighting his similar voting record to Sen. Obama. It ridiculous and absurd that she would do this. Barack Obama could wink at me next week and I'd seriously consider voting for Bob Barr.

Death and Legacy

I, being man (and a bit of an egoist), think about legacy a lot. Oddly enough, I think about legacy more than I think about mortality. Death is something I can deal with, but it's more difficult for me to consider being forgotten. Therefore, I think often about the friends I have and the words I type. I wonder about the impression I've made around me and the work I've yet to do to solidify my name in time. As a Christian, this is not always the best thing to do because I know even this world is only temporary, but if I am to die and there is a stretch of time before the Rapture, I want to know I have relevance in this world in the meantime. I think of these things because I've been thinking about the nature of legacy. It's a ponderous sort of thing. The nature of it is generational for most and can transcend generation for the truly poignant. The other day, I was sitting in a friend's room, listening to music. Eventually he played some Robert Johnson . Robert J

Objectivity

The world seems to have lost its capacity to maintain a crucial element in our daily lives. We lost it through a compartmentalizing media. We lost it through social networking that devalued people into lists. We lost it through politicizing everything. We lost it through absolute values. We lost it through polarization. We lost our capacity to be objective. As a man with an English degree who doesn't always follow the New Criticism, I think it necessary to look at the subtext of things. It's beneficial to know the background of a work. One must not only understand others' words but also the context of those words. It's necessary to look at this world as an investigator. We must analyze the things around us so we don't end up lying to ourselves about our erudition. Cursory knowledge is a dangerous thing when we're ignorant of our ignorance. But just as we must probe deeper into everything around us, we must also ensure we do this in the proper fashio

The Vice Presidential Debate

Simulcast on Maroon Tiger Politics and fly.paper . Maroon Tiger Editor-in-Chief Edward Mitchell and I live blogged the Vice Presidential Debate. As much as I wish more staff members were present for this event, it still went well. [20:50] I, sitting in far off Marietta waiting for staff members to show up online [21:01:35] Opinions Editor Emeritus Anthony Harris: Finding staff members to take part in this thing is like looking for a needle in a haystack [21:02:14] Anthony Harris: But I'm entirely willing to do this on my own [21:03:01] Anthony Harris: At least until Editor-in-Chief Edward Mitchell arrives just as triumphantly as the candidates [21:03:18] *** Edward Mitchell has been invited to the group chat. [21:04:17] Anthony Harris: From the moment Gov. Palin and Sen. Palin walked in, I think they two spent as much time together as Sens. McCain and Palin did before he chose her has his running mate [21:04:26] *** Edward Mitchell has joined the chat. [21:04:39] Editor in Ch