Friday, February 1, 2013

Black History Month Survival Tips

1) Say you saw 'beasts of the southern wild'.  You don't have to actually see it. Just say you saw it. There will be no follow up questions, I promise.  If you did see it, then good for you, show off. 

2) support a black owned business.  This will most likely mean eating at a soul food restaurant or getting your hair done/cut. I suggest soul food as the wait is slightly shorter. 

3) attend a black church service. No matter your religious beliefs, few things are more uplifting than a fiery black preacher accompanied by a Grammy winning mass choir and an entire rhythm section. They are playing saxophones in church now, people!

4) wear red, black and green all at the same time. The colors clash terribly, but some one picked them to represent blackness, so...yeah. 

5) listen to jazz .  No need to know any artists, just type jazz into your pandora or watch one part of Ken Burns Jazz on Netflix. 

6) learn the 2nd verse to lift every voice and sing.  if you're white, learn the first verse, if you're of another ethnicity, YouTube lift every voice and sing

7) watch a black movie by a filmmaker other than spike lee, John singleton and the Hughes brothers. For non-blacks, this may be tough. For blacks, this will be really tough!  

8) Visit your local African American history museum and mill around while texting (as we do in most museums). It still counts. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Red Tails and the Black Film Industry

By nature, I am a contrarian. Or, as Dave Chappelle so poignantly put it, a "chronic dissenter." If I feel I'm being forced in a certain direction, I immediately stop and break the situation down. Sometimes, I really am JUST being ornery and I recognize it and I get over myself, but I don't feel that way this time.

I am chagrined by the abrasive guilt marketing campaign of 'Red Tails.' Making me feel that if I don't see it, I'm letting my people down. This kind of campaign wasn't necessary for 'Shindler's List.' When I saw the trailer for 'Red Tails' a few months ago, I thought it looks pretty good and I'm a big fan of historical drama. Then, I saw George Lucas on 'The Daily Show' and so he made some good arguements. Then I got on twitter and everyone was like "YOU HAVE TO SUPPORT THIS MOVIE?!? IT COMES OUT THIS WKND!! IF IT DOESN'T SUCCEED, THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER BLACK MOVIE!!"

This mania confused me, especially since I knew about the movie for a long time. I was bewildered by this last ditch effort to get people to the theaters. It reminded me of Troy Davis (dude was on death row for years, but a week before the injections 'We gotta save him!' Too late, folks). I mean, the ads were everywhere, why the panic? The future of the Black film industry does not live or die with 'Red Tails.' Why? Because there is no Black film industry. Why? Because the money is "White." And by "White" I mean, the money used to finance high budget studio motion pictures come from corporations.

Sidebar: So what is a "black film"? Is The Color Purple not a black film because Steven Spielberg directed it? Is The Italian Job actually a black film because F. Gary Gray directed it? Or it is only a black film if it's financed by Blacks?

I was also bewildered by the "Twitterverse" because Blacks were exclusively gearing their tweets for support to other African Americans. But Lucas's main purpose was to create a crossover success with an all Black cast, meaning White people need to see this movie, too. In fact, the success of 'Red Tails' actually depends on the white audience, not the black, so why the exclusionary tweets? No one would spend 100 million on a film (production/marketing/distribution) JUST for Blacks. It just wouldn't make fiscal sense.

It took the studios ten years to get on board with 'Braveheart.' That script floated around aimlessly for years because no one wanted to invest in an expensive historical war epic. It wasn't until the screenwriter got Mel Gibson involved that the studio changed it's tune. And if I recall correctly, that movie was all White people. And how often do you see sweeping period epics like 'The English Patient' and 'Dances with Wolves' come out? History, not just Black history, is a hard sell.
Hollywood is a business, always looking for a sure thing. And there is no such thing. While 'Red Tails' is tracking at 10million (not good), if it happens to perform way above expectations, does that mean there's going to be a boom in mega budget pics with all-Black casts? Umm, no. Because, to reiterate, Hollywood is a business. Why do you think there are so many shitty movies?

But I think people should see what truly interests them. As the consumer, we don't have to do the movie industry any favors. It's there job to win us over. Unless it's your college roommate's thesis film, never go to a movie JUST to support it. And maybe I say this because I have a true passion for film. 'Red Tails' interests me and I will see it, but because I want to see it.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's official...I just can't get right with Apple

It was Christmas of 2005 and I wanted an mp3 player very badly. When my mom and I arrived at Best Buy, they were completely sold out of iPods. All of them. Instead of being patient, I (or my mom, I honestly can't remember) purchased a Phillips brand mp3. I know. Idiot. It cost exactly the same as an iPod, but was twice as horrible. I'd convinced myself since I had a PC and this spectacular device was compatible with Windows Media Player...again, I know, that this would be better.

Shortly after Christmas, an iPod that could hold videos was released. Another bummer.
For the next two years I listened to music through this bulky, unattractive device until my mom bought me a beautiful video iPod as a college graduation present in the summer of 2007.

Naturally, the 30gb video was quickly discontinued and the nano took over. Despite being out of date, that didn't stop a criminal from breaking into my car and stealing it. That iPod was later replace by my mom with this nano. I even got the (red) edition to help people in Africa with AIDS, even though Africa is not baller.

Not kidding, ONE week later, that generation was discontinued and THIS one came out.

But no worries, because I accidentally threw my iPod nano away in 2010 while washing my car. After that, I decided to take a break from apple. I bought a memory card put my music on my blackberry, which was another thing I bought even though the iPhone was out in 2008, but needless to say I had some built up resent toward Apple and my technological missteps in general.

This time, I can only blame myself. Last Thursday, I purchased an iPhone 4 and also turned my life upside down by getting a new phone number and switching to Verizon. Too many changes at once. I knew a new iPhone was on the brink, but in my haste assumed that I wouldn't be able to get a better deal that $199. Again, wrong.

I was also motivated because my credit was approved. An approval I haven't seen for a few years. But now I understand. An 8 gig of the iPhone 4 will rollout for $99 for the cheapskates. A 16gb 4S will still be $199, which is what I paid for a 16gb iPhone 4.

This time, however, I don't have to accept my fate of being the person with outdated products.
For the past 5 days, I have enjoyed the iPhone 4. I love it and would be happy to keep it despite the upgrades of iPhone 4S, but, out of principle, I would return it.

I can't be that asshole that bought an iPhone 4 2 weeks before the new one comes out. Especially if I have to be locked into a two-year contract. Thanks to Apple's 30 day return policy, I don't have to stand for this aggression.

Another thing I'm realizing with this week trial of the iPhone is that it has not changed my life in anyway. It's a fucking phone! I've never needed a fancy phone and this iPhone only makes me want an iPad.

So, my fear is...if I take this phone back (I never turned off my Georgia blackberry btw) that I won't get the iPhone 4S. That I'll get an iPad. Yes, that's probably what's going to happen this week.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I Can't: Adele's Lyrics...

...Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace Shitty Poetry

Welcome to the first (and maybe only) edition of my ‘I Can’t’ series.

First all, let me state that I already hate myself for using the twitticism/popular hash tag “I Can’t.” But, this time, I honest CAN’T.

Don’t get me wrong, I like (tolerate) Adele. She has a fantastic, soulful voice and is a positive role model for plus sized/curvy girls (did I just say that?). She has an awesomely powerful chin butt and a British accent. So, those are the pros.

I cannot and will not, however, praise her song writing as some fans do. My first issue is with the album titles themselves. The debut was ‘19’ and the follow-up is ’21.’ Really? Your age? Way to think outside the box, Adele. That’s about half-a-notch above a self-titled album, which will no doubt be the title of the third CD.

When Adele appeared on the charts with ‘Chasing Pavements’ the incredulity of this phrase nearly made me have a seizure. While I understood what she was trying to say and that she was trying to be clever, it’s just not clever. I can just see the wheels of her 19-year-old brain turning. “I don’t want to use clich├ęs like running or spinning in circles. What can I replace that with? Well, running is kind of like chasing nothing and if I were running, I’d probably be running on pavement. Oh my God! Chasing Pavements! I’m a 19-year-old prodigy!”

“I really like poetry: I’m not very good at reading it, but I love writing it. Singers like Jill Scott and Karen Dalton are amazing; proper poets.”

That’s a quote from Adele. So, these are the “proper” poets?! My whole life I thought Shakespeare, Keats, Browning, Hughes, Angelou, etc were proper poets, but I was wrong. Next, she admits that she’s not good at reading poetry, but she likes it. How do you like something you don’t even read? Songwriters are not poets, they are songwriters. In special cases (Bob Dylan, Curtis Mayfield, Flo Rida), you can strip away the music and read the lyrics on their own, but it is not a poem. It’s a song. That statement is why I have no young friends. Young people are just…stupid.

With ‘21’, Adele has in two years reached that level of maturity that should give her songs more depth, right? Wrong. The songs are still face-value, teenage commentaries that could have been written by Derek Zoolander. All the lyrics boil down to “Remember that time you hurt my feelings? Well, my feelings were hurt.”

Her bad songwriting, though, is not entirely her fault and it does not make her music any less enjoyable. If you are 21 and haven’t been in a war, done heroin or suffered from severe abuse, you simply don’t have the life experience to write deep lyrics. It’s okay. I think it’s a blessing to not have experienced something that made you FUBAR. Her voice his phenomenal so she doesn't need to try so hard or try to be something she's not. Look at Whitney Houston. The deepest she got was believing the children were the future. Didn't take away from the talent, though.

Nothing has happened to Adele other than light heartache (that I know of. I'm not her friggin' biographer). Oh, boo hoo. Some jerk cheated on you. Get over it and stop turning insufferable break up poetry into songs! Your voice and chin are better than that. I don’t know how much Adele knows about the music industry, but there are professionals she can hire to write songs for her. I don’t think Avril Lavigne is busy these days.

Let me conclude with some social commentary. I can’t truly be annoyed with Adele and her lame lyrics because everyone’s lyrics suck these days. We’ve simply run out of things to say. Everything of substance has already been said and done. Also, it takes copious amounts of drugs to write good lyrics. From Coleridge to Winehouse, it helps to be in a state of opiate-induced insanity to reach that "zone." I don't want to see that happen to Adele. She's a good kid.

P.S. I'm at work, so I don't have time to break down all of her lyrics or cite the source of that quote. Google them. Peace!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Five Ways to Tell if you Live in a Bad LA Neighborhood

I know what you’re thinking: If you live in a bad neighborhood, it’s pretty easy to discern. But there are so many many ‘hoods out there. You may think you live in a bad neighborhood because there is no place to get Gelato. Just because your ‘hood is less trendy doesn’t make it dangerous. What you really need to know is if you live in an area that could lead to your untimely death. As someone who’s driven through almost every inch of LA and is still finding new places in which to run redlights, take my advice. Below are the five biggest red flags.

#5 Not within 5 miles of a Trader Joe’s

If you are not within 3 to 5 miles of a t=Trader Joe’s, you could be shot at any moment now. TJ’s does not tolerate bad neighborhoods. They have too many henna tattooed, lip-pierced, homeopathic , but somehow still hot employees to protect. All TJ checkers have a Masters in something (usually filmmaking or philosophy). And since a mind is a terrible thing to waste, Joe will not be spotted in you derelict-filled death hole. This also applies to Whole Foods, but if you’re within 5 miles of a Whole Foods, the goodness of your neighborhood is not up for debate.

#4 No Banks

It’s simple. Criminals, Unregistered immigrants and babies do not have bank accounts. All the money in this community is kept in the homes, No one would dare rob them, however, because even if you got out of the apartment alive, there is no way you’re going to make down the street or out of the neighborhood. It’s the equivalent of attempting to flee a Las Vegas casino with an armful of chips.

#3 No Rush Hour Traffic

If you leave for work at 8am and there is NO traffic back up on the major street, not only do you live in a bad area, you probably live over a portal that leads straight to hell. In normal neighborhoods, people go to work and come from at the same time. Bad places have a higher percentage of people that “work nights.” If you’ve ever come home from a party (in a nice neighborhood) at 3am and EVERYONE in your hood is outside…chillin’…hard…WITH their children, then you need to move immediately. At this point, this is not a game.

#2 A Business Complex with these Businesses Only

For those handful of people in the neighborhood with a “regular” job, if they want to cash their checks, they will either have to opening a bank account at a bank outside of their neighborhood or cash their check at a check cashing facility. There is nothing wrong with doing your banking at one of these establishments. You can get your money quickly and the fees are actually pretty cheap and the money orders are usually free. What IS wrong is when a check cashing business is within the same complex as a liquor store, a 24 hour donuts shop and a Laundromat. This is the most dangerous congregation of businesses of all time. Seemingly harmless, but if you’ve ever run into a drunk bitch eating donuts while she’s wiring money to her recently released boyfriend while her seven-year-old does laundry, then you know it’s NOT harmless.

#1 – Less Sunlight

The number 1 telltale sign that you live in a bad neighborhood – Less Sunlight. Have you ever been driving on a bright, sunny day only to randomly drive through a patch of dull gray out of nowhere? It’s not the pollution. No, the sun has actually abandoned this small piece of the earth. The sunlight would only be wasted as this place has no hope for the future and the sun is not going to be responsible for masking the utter despair that exists there. Save yourself and keep driving. Have you ever seen refugees fleeing Bosnia while the sun was gleaming beautiful rays of sunshine? Exactly.

Bonus tip – Any neighborhood name that includes the word “Heights” but has no visible elevation is a bad neighborhood.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lebron James: He puts the 'cock' in cocky

Because it would take 47 tweets to properly vent my anger, I must return to my old friend, Complete Sentence.

I don't follow many celebrities on twitter because normally, their tweets incite so much rage in me. Their tweets are vapid, self serving and almost always include a shoutout of some sort. Plus, I don't need to follow them because any "good" tweet is aptly retweeted several times by others that I follow. Tonight was no different. Get ready for a serious dose of Rage-o-hol.

After a thorough brutalizing of the Cavs by the Lakers, @KingJames tweeted:

Crazy. Karma is a b****.. Gets you every time. Its not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!

Are you fucking serious?!? For starters, he's NOT a King! Being phenomenal at basketball does not give him a royal pass. No athlete on earth is associated with royalty. Lebron doesn't have ONE damn championship, but he's a king. Now, if the people want to call him 'King James' because it's clever, then fine. I can't stop 'the people,' but does it really need to be his twitter name? Are you that full of yourself, Lebron?

Second, are we all familiar with who the real King James was and what he did? He had the Holy Bible translated into English! Kind of an important task. Also, legend has it that King James was also Shakespeare, one of the greatest playwrights of all of human existence, but I won't even get into that. So Lebron was a McDonald's high school player of the year, so he can dunk a ball from another zip code. Seems kind of small when compared to The Bible, doesn't it?

Now, let's dissect this tweet. First of all, he's too much of a bitch to spell out 'bitch.' You make 100 million a year and you're using asterisks?! They should put an asterisk by your name in the record books. We all know what you wanted to say, so just say it! That's like when niggas tweet "n****." Just say 'nigga', Nigga! Damn! And then you have the nerve to bring up karma? You abandon a city in douche bag fashion and THEY deserve bad karma? Help me understand, Lebron. Please. I implore you. You think the Cavs and the people of Cleveland 'wished bad on you'? What did you expect them to say? Thanks so long for making us wait, then going on television to announce you were 'taking your talents' to the Rio of North America? Of course they're going to hope you bust a kneecap, but you've got the build of a heavily bred slave, so I doubt you'll get hurt anytime soon. Yes, I took it there. Breeding was real. Go look it up.

And another thing...God sees everything? Yes he does, but what the hell does that have to do with the game? God saw you get swept by the Spurs. God saw Delonte bang your mom. What's your point, Bron Bron? What else does God see? Oh, tell us King James! Clap your mighty chalk cloud and tell us the future! Jag off. Advice - Stop tweeting. Win a ring. Get bent.

So, in closing, I'm just going to quote Tim from the British Office: "You're a cock! You're a cock! You're a cock!"


Friday, June 4, 2010

Ten Reasons to Love (or like or at least not abhor) Kobe Bryant

Yes, there are ten reasons...barely.

The year was 1996 and I was a husky, four-eyed 12-year-old 6th grader at Browns Mills Elementary in Lithonia, GA. Despite my glasses and my chubbiness, I was a pretty cool kid back in my elementary days. My hobbies were rocks, dinosaurs, and sports. '96 was the year I got a $50 reversible Alex Rodriguez Mariners jersey from the Eastbay catalog. Probably because of some good grades, but I always made good grades and most of the time I was not rewarded. Whatever. I digress. Point being, 1996 was a pretty good year for me.

1996 was also the year a 17-year-old Kobe Bryant came into my life. It was love at first sight. Even as a kid, I was into older men. My mom was a high school teacher and I remember always developing crushes on her male students. She taught some HOT teenagers, okay. Anyway, even before Kobe Bean Bryant was drafted into the NBA, he was BIG news. He was different. He grew up in Italy. He was skipping college. He went to the prom with now reality-TV star, Brandy Norwood. He was really, really cute in an over-grown man-boy sort of way. In 1996, Kobe had the media by the nads and he had me by whatever you hold chicks by.

For most pre-teens, celebrity crushes fade after a few years. I now reflect on all the heart throbs who've fallen by the wayside...I'll reflect privately, thank you. But, for some reason, I remained wholly dedicated to Kobe. Even when married that ethnically ambiguous video girl JUST as I was finally old enough to date him. Even when he tried to rap. Even when he [error] in Colorado. Even when he put that ridiculous rock on his wife's finger. Through everything, I have stood by this asshole. I was in a Kobe bubble that has only recently burst (ironically it was burst IN Los Angeles). I can't exactly explain WHY I continue to love and support him. But, if you're willing to give me a little time, I WILL explain why you should hate him just a little less.

#10 - The Chinese Love Him
I have never been to China and it's not in my top ten of future travel destinations, but the Chinese have good taste. Their Olympics were flawless. They breed champions and if you are a loser, you are sent to a special island for losers where you fight to the death to regain freedom. The Chinese honor champions and they have more respect for Kobe than their hapless (and now injured forever, I think) hometown hero, Yao Ming. Point being, it's very hard to get the Chinese on your side, so if they're cool with him, you should be as well.

#9 - He was on an episode of 'Hang Time'. I watched every episode of that awful show and I can't remember one plot line. Seriously, it was a terrible show.

#8 - He didn't go to college
This is more so un-educated black people will like him again. I get the sneaking suspicion that a lot of black-Americans of low socio-economic status think he's uppity. Hey! He's just as blue collar as Kevin Garnett! He didn't go to college! He even almost went to black man's college - PRISON! So lay off the uppity Negro comments.

#7 - He gave himself a sexually ambiguous (if not slightly gay) nickname
Kobe in recent years dubbed himself 'The Black Mamba'. When I hear that, I instantly of Uma Thurman and I instantly think of a woman. I don't think of a 6'5 black man, but hey, you do you Kobe. Which brings me to...

#6 - He doesn't care what ANYONE thinks
No. Kobe is not the coolest ice cube in the tray. He probably has an iPod full of Coldplay, Maroon 5, Linkin Park, and MIA, but so what. Kobe is a Virgo (borderline) like myself. We do not care about people's opinions, though we are happy to give him and be critical. Most Virgos should not have friends and like myself, I bet Kobe can count on one hand the number of true friends he has. Still, he does not care. And why should he. He's rich, handsome, and talented. You have to respect someone that lets "Tell Me How My Ass Tastes" roll off his back. Hey Shaq, tell me how divorce tastes. You fat, simpleton. Man, I can't stand Shaq. Anyway...

#5 - He Yells at Children
I don't want to re-hash that whole story, but I'm on Kobe's side in this. Sometimes a jerkface kid should be put in their friggin place! Speaking of kids...

#4 - Kobe takes care of his kids
Everyone reading this has 30 seconds to name 10 black athletes that are doing the same thing.

Thought so. Like Chris Rock said, "You're SUPPOSED to take care of your kids!!"

#3 - He's got beady little shark eyes
No seriously, he looks evil 73% of the time.

#2 - He jumped over a car!

Come on!! (Please do not point out the flaws in this story. Thanks)

#1 - He Does his NBA-mandated charity work

Just a classy, classy man that's always giving back...for 10 minutes at a time...when cameras are around. I mean, really, the NBA and Kobe truly, truly care. Shooting those segments most take a lot of time. To go to the hospital, then to the schools to read, then to the one-hour basketball camp. That's one day out of the year well spent.

So, that's it. 10 mediocre reasons to give KB another chance. I can think of at least 20 basketball players that suck more than Kobe. 12 of them play in Boston. There, I said it.