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Showing posts from November, 2008

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