Sunday, December 30, 2007

"It's Not Wu-Tang Beef, It's Just GZA"

Wow, I might be through knocking 50 Cent. That's a funny, smart dude right there. He's not an "artist" or whatever; he makes formula music. But as he says time and time again, that's his business approach. In any event, he's still willing to throw daggers at people, which for the most part is the upside of rapper entertainment in hip hop -- rappers are celebrities who don't go the politically-correct route. So this clip here has 50 retaliating to a clip I posted a week ago or so by GZA of the Wu.

GZA's a smart guy too, so I'm sort of hoping he'll have yet another clip up by next weekend. A little flame-war with 50 would def. be good for business, and might provide a little lrical inspiration also. Stay tuned.

via: WSHH

GZA Calls out 50 and Soulja Boy

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mediocre Black Chick Reconditioning Program

So a few days ago I was out with a black girl and as is wont to happen when black guys hang out with black girls the conversation turned to the subject of interracial relations, and specifically about my (and my TAN-kind) presumed hearting of white girls.

I was taken aback because my presumed pedestalizing of caucasian women was under attack before I even had the chance to raise my usual defenses, like my Quest for Claire Huxtable post, and ummm ... that's it. Sans any legit evidence, I was already labeled: Guilty. Granted the "White Girls #1" gold chain around my neck (I made the switch from African medallions in the late 90s) serves as a little bit of a cue, but I still think in these murky racial waters benefit of the doubt should at least be offered like a life preserver, before you deflate it with your socio-political darts.


UPDATE: when I posed this "MBC Reconditioning Program" as a response to her gripe with black guys and MWCs I was told there's no such thing as a mediocre black chick. Truuue. So, oh well, back to she-males for me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

If It's Bad For This Dude, Then I Am Definitely Sh*t Out Of Luck

So this research programmer scientist dude does some math to figure out the pool of eligible smart, beautiful women for him to date/wife-up is 18, 726. This is in the world. Now this is an old link, he made the calculations circa 2000, so figure on population growth alone he's at least up to 20,000. I'm also presuming this is a white guy cause I'm pretty sure there were no black research/programmer/scientist dudes online before 2000. Could be Asian, but his name is Tristan Miller.

So if I start with his dating pool of 20K. Then for me as a black guy we have to cut that in half to account for all the white chicks who don't date black guys. So we have 10,000. Then we have to cut it in half again for the black chicks who won't date a black guy who would date the white girls who do go out with him. So now we're at 5,000. Then lop off another 50% for all assorted chicks who won't touch a guy willing to byline as "The Assimilated Negro." Now we're at 2,500. Blogger, 1,250. Penis-size, 625. Misogynist, 312.5 (that half is a she-male). Figure I've dated 100 girls, and they've all passed... so looks like I'm left with 212 girls and a she-male to try out in the next 50 years of my life or so. And I haven't even gotten into Mets-hating Yankee fans, alcoholism, or my other personal personality quirks, all of which suck.

So yeah, it's not looking good. Might as well cut to the chase and bring on the she-male to see if we get along.

(she-males: please don't e-male me to complain about me being a transgenderist or transvestitist or whatever .... I get it, you'll pass too. Thanks.)


via: NYTimes Laughlines

Blacked Up

So I was totally going to forward this on to the film director making the mainstream sorta-juvenile sorta-adult-inspirational comedies from a black perspective, cause this sketch is sooo smart, and soooo funny, and, like, obviously the black director is going to be getting backlash about his black Knocked Up and black Superbad films. But then I realized the only black comedic director we have is ....ummmm .... Tyler Perry? sigh.

Seriously, this is funny, but WTF? Can we get someone besides the Wayans to do a black comedy? Why does Judd Apatow have this "Comic Sensibility" on lockdown? I'm sure if we have a summit of all the black comedic talent in America we can come up with the 40-Year Old Black Virgin or Superblack or something. If black is passé, I will accept Asian or Latino or whatever as well. Just give me one friggin' decent alternative. Thanks.

via Wired

Monday, December 24, 2007

Nah Negro: A Crazy Black Man Splits in Brooklyn

Freedom of expression is a wonderful thing. All together now: GIVE US FREE!!!!!!

One can only hope dude got some nuts and a new outfit or two for xmas. And here's hoping the xmas tree in your living room is as wonderfully decorated. Happy Holidays!

photo via: Dlisted

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I'd Like To See You Walk A Mile In My Sh*t

I have limited knowledge on the real science behind Tourette Syndrome, but I was recently made aware of thetourettesguy web site, and sent their "best of" clip. It's definitely amusing, despite the pang of guilt you get wondering if you're laughing at a sick person. Also, word on the inter-streets is the main attraction, Danny, apparently passed away in August. So that's sad. Of course the site offers a disclaimer about his actions not being consistent with most Tourette Syndrome sufferers, so maybe he's still alive, and fully normal, and just caking off this routine. You never know these days. But sick or not he seemed to have no qualms about his "excitable personality" being used for entertainment. So here's a montage of the Tourettes Guy, it's sort of loud and very NSFW with the language, so fair warning... and don't talk sh*t about Total:

thanks: Mo

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stevie Wonder Concert Report: Part 2

A few weeks ago Stevie Wonder performed at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and The Assimilated Negro was lucky enough to have a ticket ...

Part 1 of the report is here.

Overjoyed: "Though you don't believe that they do, dreams do come true ...." The meat of Stevie's show is pretty much a dream sequence. He delivers non-stop classic jam after jam, and concerns about timeliness/relevance were unfounded. Stevie is classic and for all times and occasions. And he performed every song with the perfect balance of familiar rhythm and live improvisational riffing.

By the time we were in the heart of the 2 1/2 hour set, the place is a full on church. All the vendors and ushers are dancing and bobbing as they carry refreshments and direct people to their seats. Everyone stands and cheers when the next song starts up. They're serving beer and booze and many are partaking and it's a Stevie Gon Wild party for sure. There were even a couple white college-aged college girls acting sloppy sorority drunk right in front of us, which I think made the "party vibe" official.

Stevie weaves in and out of his songs pretty seamlessly, occasionally breaking in to drop some background. His longest story was about him meeting a girl backstage when he was 16. Her name was Marsha. And he's hinting at how he already has a sexual ego at that age, and so he's hitting on this girl, and telling her to meet him in his hotel, but then she brings her mom, and he's all disappointed, and it's compounded by his manager at the time embarrassing him by telling everyone he has to be in bed by 11. After the hook-up gone wrong he tells her to come to the show the next night and writes a song for her in the interim. He plays it for her and she likes it but still demurs from his 16-year old advances. I don't understand how a female could resist a young Stevie, especially if he writes a song for you, and from the sound of it he doesn't either. But the song he wrote ends up being Mon Cherie Amour.

Later when leaving the show a drunk guy starts talking to us and confesses he thought the story was about a 16 year old girl and an older Stevie Wonder. So while he loved the concert he apparently was struggling with reconciling Steve Wonder as a pedophile/child molester. Which would indeed change the timbre on a number of his songs. Phew. We lost Michael, we couldn't lose Stevie to the kiddie-love.

"Signed, Sealed Delivered" was another song that got an extended moment. Cutting the song short in the middle he starts explaining how he thinks it's a jam that still "has life in it" and proceeds to set up a country western version. Which was awesome and a legitimate remix.

Stevie performs the uptempo version of "For Once In My Life," which I've discussed as my preference to the ballad, he then shares how he first heard the song from a singer he always admired and that singer was there tonight. As the band slows down, out comes Tony Bennett and they go into their Grammy award winning version of the song. It was a great crowd moment, especially for the Caucasians, but I still like Stevie's version better.

Ribbon in the Sky: Stevie was able to drop out of songs at will and the audience always picked up the lyrics without missing a beat. But the biggest crowd interaction moment came during "Ribbon in the Sky." Stevie performed most of the song then broke it down and starts orchestrating the crowd:





I want you to sing this .... then he gets into a jazzy "there's a ribbon in the sky" melody.

He goes through it a couple times and the girls hold it down pretty much flawlessly. Now it's time for the fellas:





I need y'all to say "the ribbon ..... the ribbon ... ooh-ooh ah ah ... the ribbon."

Admittedly the guy riff was more of a change of pace from the original song, and ooh-ooh-ah-ah was tricky as far as straightforward easy-to-sing musical sections go. Also the ah-ah part is not sung, it's more throaty, kind of like the ahhhh-teeth suck in Push It by Salt & Pepa. In any event the guys kept botching up the ooh-ooh-ah-ah part. And to his credit, Stevie tries to coddle them along ( I was too busy reviewing their performance to participate). You could see he didn't want to hate on everyone, but he would be remiss to accept what they were doing as up to snuff. So he goes through it a few times, and on pass 4 or 5, just when it seems he would have to give up the guys get it down. He then gets everyone to do their parts at once and ..... it's ok. I'm sure it wasn't how he envisioned, but I'm amused that it might be the last musical challenge left to Stevie, orchestrating a crowd of 15-20K strange people to get a nice harmony section going.

You & I: You & I might be my favorite Stevie song. At the least, my favorite ballad. And as a single guy in NYC, the song, and Stevie himself bring to mind some more philosophical questions:

1.What is unconditional love to Stevie? I think Stevie's bread and butter is the song about infinite undying unconditional love. And usually it's directed toward that special someone. But Stevie has multiple baby mommas out there. So even he serves as a reminder to love's imperfection. Stevie's got love for everyone. And for his lover or partner that must be heartbreaking at times. But what are you gonna do? Hate on Stevie? Makes you realize Stevie, despite writing the most traditionally romantic love songs, might be the archetype for the ultimate philanderer. You could catch him in the bed, and all he's gonna do is start singing Overjoyed, or You & I, or Golden Lady and you have to forgive, you have to forgive. He could do this to women across the globe; he has that much love to give. Play on playa.

2. Can Stevie get angry? Along the same line as Pimp Stevie, its hard to imagine Mr. Wonder as a grumpy pants. But he must get irritable sometimes. This youtube [LINK, can't find it now, sorry] has some producers testifying that they had to rile him up to get the gritty edge for "Living in the City." What a funny idea. How does one get under Stevie's skin? Do you make blind jokes?

3. Who's taking the torch? Are there no contemporary Stevie Wonders out now? I think the closest bet is R Kelly, which is fairly hilarious. Some are talented, but it seems the humanity and consciousness in large part is gone. Less inspired, and with less morality. It's kind of like how Kobe might be better than Jordan on a technical level, but lacks that special transcendent unifying power that makes all the difference in the world.

As: Finally as we're getting towards the end of the set, Stevie gets into the classic Superstition. And in the middle of the song he mentions that Prince might be on location. As opposed to Tony Bennett whom he announced, this one is premised as a possibility. But everyone begins looking around and at each other in anticipation. Prince??!?!?!!? Next thing you know the girl man himself comes out and grabs a guitar. And heads begin exploding around the stadium. He didn't actually do that much razzle dazzle. Sort of joined in on the song, and then did a quick couple riff minutes at the end, and then stepped off. But yeah, Prince came out, and that's all that matters when you tell people.

Stevie closes with the song "As," one of my favorites, and after Prince got everyone excited I was primed for the closer of all closers. The song itself on the album is extended with a building crescendo and I was just ready for Stevie to go crazy. But mid-song he breaks off and does the band intros and thanks everyone and blesses his mother and then heads off. The crowd was definitely a little bewildered. Would there be an encore? Was he coming back out? He had to be, 2 1/2 hours felt like he barely scratched his portfolio. But next thing you know the lights came on and that was it.

During those parting words he also called out people who can't help but hate and said the "haters could die and go to hell." And honestly I gasped because I couldn't believe Stevie Wonder was hating on anyone. Even haters. It felt so unlike Stevie who obviously would love anyone when they were in his presence. Especially females. But I guess in his old age he's getting a little cranky. It shows he's human. But I can't front, it made me a little sad to see him directing hate at anyone. It's like if God came down and started bitching about Britney Spears and her underpants or something. You can't believe they'd come down to that level.

With the lack of an encore and the unexpected haterade as the only two caveats to what was the best concert experience of my life, it stands that I remain prostrate at his throne and will remember this show ... always.

What Remix is This?

I feel a lil embarrassed that I love this so .... but I do. I don't know if I've mentioned it yet, but I think Feelin' on ya booty should be our national anthem:

Saturday, December 15, 2007

GZA Putting Cornballs On Blast

GZA calling out Soulja Boy and 50 Cent. "Wu-Tang is forever..."

And the follow-up. For clarification all GZA said was, "50 Cent don't got motherf**kin' lyrics" Don't misconstrue it.

via: World Star Hip Hop
Previously on Wu-Tube:
Why The F*ck You Want Me To Rap About A Dinosaur

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sean Taylor: Takeaways

With the Vick sentencing, and now the Mitchell Report about to be released, the Sean Taylor story has been pushed to the margins by the same voracious news cycle that cast a shadow on the original tragedy via its need for quick commentary. I've collected some of the reaction and backlash in this article for Ebony, and noted some ideas for moving forward.

I'll probably follow-up with an additional link-dump as there was plenty more fodder, specifically columns and posts that spoke to the emotional core of the story and lesson of hope.

More Lessons To Be Learned
RIP Sean Taylor [EbonyJet]

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dear TAN: Miscegenation Sunblock

I once started a neverending interview, but now we're switching to a "Dear TAN" feature. Send your questions/letters to theassimilatednegro [at] gmail [dot] com.

In this edition: Sex with black people will be mandatory for human survival!

Dear TAN,

Hey hi.

Heard something I hadn't thought of before the other day in Anat and Physio class.... that made me think of you....

I suspect you've already thought about it, but just in case....

White folks have more or less paved the way to wrecking the earth's UV protection layer...
White folks are the in the worst position melanin-wise to survive this change.
Which leads me to two thoughts...

1. This puts dark-skinned, oppressed peoples at a beautiful advantage to inherit the scalding earth.

2. And, watch out, because we whiteys are gonna wanna breed darker.

The new sunblock for the future: unprotected sex with the melanin endowed.

I heard Bob Marley died of skin cancer of the toe... prolly because he had a white dad, and was stubborn.

Morals from a purely longrange, survival-of-the-fittest point of view:

1. If you're white, get over racism.
2. If you're black, I don't know, get racist.
3. If you're mixed, don't be stubborn if you start getting wanky growths that look like skin cancer.

Hope you're thriving.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chasing History: Jay-Z & Charlie Rose

"Chasing history" has been Jay-Z's driving mantra basically since The Black Album, which is to say since Kingdom Come flopped (for him). I think we're going to be digging into J and his legacy/plan sometime in the near future (in a good way). But in the meanwhile, in between styles, if you have 60 minutes to kill here's video of Charlie-Hov doing the talking thing. It gets good about the 55 minute mark. No, I'm kidding, that was a joke, and a damn good one at that .... if you like Charlie or Sean or hip hop or interviews the whole thing is pretty good. They talk slow so you can run it in the background while doing other stuff too .... I don't understand how Charlie resisted the temptation to hold up the "Roc" sign for the whole interview though. That's disappointing.

Stevie Wonder Concert Report: Part 1

A few weeks ago Stevie Wonder performed at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and The Assimilated Negro was lucky enough to have a ticket ...

For Once In My Life: Before heading to Stevie Wonder's concert I asked on my blog what the appropriate outfit might be. Concerts are always a little weird for choosing an outfit because you're going to a special event, so you want to dress up, but it's music, and you're going to "jam" and "groove" and "be chill" so you don't want to overdress.

With a Stevie Wonder concert you also have to negotiate the appropriate reverence (no shredded or torn clothes; this means you, white people & hipster-punk negroes), as well as the full age spectrum of Stevie's audience, which is basically from newborn - to old guys being wheeled in as their last dying request. So while I only have two outfits regardless, I thought the matter demanded some extra consideration.

As I say in that post, I ascribe Stevie Wonder no lesser value than proof of god's existence, but despite his godliness, I wasn't sure what a concert of his would be like. Michael Jordan also lived much of his life as God's vessel, but he wasn't the same as he got older. And when spoken of as an artist certainly Stevie, like Jordan, is a performer nonpareil, but we also have to acknowledge that Stevie's contemporary material doesn't strike the same universal chord as his 70s early 80s stuff. He's essentially a genre/brand of music unto himself, but you might cringe a little if you heard he was only playing his "contemporary" material.

(we interrupt this concert review to bring you a TAN Concert Tip/Anecdote for People Saving Their Money: my aunt brought an eggplant sandwich right before the show, we were both unsure how strict the MSG no-food policy would be. Turns out, very strict. security guys examined her bag and demanded that she lose the sandwich (and brownie, and vitaminwater, and other snack). We were 5-10 minutes before showtime and my aunt was determined to be getting in our seats in a timely fashion, yet she didn't want to lose what amounted to $10+ dollars of food, snack and beverages. So she stuck the sandwich down the back of her pants, and brought it in like that until we got to our seats. And we got in no prob. holla! I'm very proud of her perseverance in the face of adversity.)

We get to our seats, which are back row a level above floor seating, in perfect time for what's listed as 8PM show time. But wouldn't you know it, even Stevie runs on CP Time. Tick tock, tick tock. Here comes 8:30, still no blind geniuses taking the stage.

My aunt and I were sitting next to an older black couple, I think it'd be fair to describe them as the ideal Stevie demo. I won't digress on that. To pass the time I figure I'd engage in some fun Q&A on Stevie Wonder trivia. First question: how old is Stevie? I ask my aunt and she suggests 50s, and even hints 40s possibly. I say no way, and suggest 60s might be more accurate.

I eventually ask Stevie's Target Demo, and the wife who is obviously the spokesperson for the couple says that he's definitely in his 60s because "he was 58 when his last child was born." Turns out Stevie Wonder is 57. So, there goes the Target Demo.

Just as we start approaching 8:40 I go to get some popcorn so I can pass the down time picking kernels out of my gums, and just as I get on line I hear the roar of the crowd. I rush off line -- it was short -- to see Stevie being escorted out by his daughter Aisha. I go back and get my popcorn -- the initial applause for his coming on stage lasted the length of the whole concession run – as i get back to my seat Stevie is just starting to address the crowd. As our second and final bit of Stevie trivia my aunt tells me she thinks Aisha is the baby who cries and gurgles on "Isn't She Lovely." Awwww. I offered a firm eyebrow-raise to express my appreciation of the trivia and settled in with my popcorn eager for a good show.

Visions: Before anything gets underway, Stevie walks to the front of the stage and talks to the crowd. He thanks everyone for showing and tells the heartwarming story of how the show was inspired by the passing of his mother in May of '06. After she passed Stevie basically shut everything down for a while, but then she came to him in a vision one night and and told him to stop mourning and get out there and do his thing. And when he called his producers and agent, they thought it'd be a year to organize and plan, but he made it happen in a couple weeks, and has been touring and reinvigorated since.

(Ironically i just wrote a guide to coping with the loss of your fav artists's mama. I think Stevie is my favorite artist, and i herby nominate his mama's passing as a holiday. OR we can just make his birthday a holiday. Seriously. If a thug like Christopher Columbus is honored, Stevie Wonder is waaaaaaaay ahead of that fool. )

Once Stevie gives his intro the show opens with he and his daughter doing a duet of "Love's In Need of Love Today." It's sweet, and she's a good enough singer, but after a couple verses you can't help but think .... okokokokokok, thanks "Isn't She Lovely" baby, but time for Stevie.

After the duet he segues into “To High” and then “Visions” as the first extended showpiece. At the end of "Visions" Steve picks up the tempo and gets militant and angry, riffing off the song and singing how he envisions a better world and doesn't understand how in 2007 we're not there yet. "He can't understand it." And "it's unacceptable." Making war for peace (Iraq). "I can't understand it!" Jena 6. "2007, it's unacceptable!" No healthcare. "I can't understand it, it's unacceptable!" It's kind of corny writing about because it's the same entreaties we hear every day, but when Stevie gets all adamant with his preach-singing, you kind of feel it. I was ready to sign some petitions and beat up some capitalist pigs. In 2007 the drama is unacceptable!

Part 2 continues here ....

Monday, December 10, 2007

Recognize These Beautiful Negroes?

Well, you should. Apparently they are "the most overused stock photo family in America"

They really are like the perfect hybrid of black and white, and just exude Comfortable & Cultural. They're perfect ... and just the cutest tweeners you ever will see. I kind of wish I was that boy waiting for daddy to come home from shtooping the secretary work.

Ahhh to be young and curly-haired and light-skin. It's the new American Dream.

MultiCultClassics has some other images on his site.

via Copyranter

That's Me, TANNY-TAN, In The Middle

(real content coming soon ... forrilla)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Dave Chappelle In London

Dave Chappelle is not dead. Alive and well ... and in this video, doing some stand-up in London.

"I say a lot of racist jokes, and my mouth says racist things ... but my penis is a humanitarian ..."

via: BCP/Elon

Chappelle Is Dead. Long Live Chappelle

Friday, November 30, 2007

Deconstructing Starbury

Watching the Knicks these days is a brutal, glorious experience; last night's loss to the Celtics was the nadir in a season full of them. And the centerpiece of the madness is, of course, Stephon Marbury, the Tracy Jordan of the NBA. He's mesmerizing; we can't look away.

In order to understand Marbury, we think we must look into his past. Therefore, we've asked The Assimilated Negro (that's me) to break down various Marbury-related videos from the past to try to get in the man's mind. The first installment of Deconstructing Starbury is after the jump.

Deconstructing Starbury [Deadspin]

I Saw This And Will Never Be The Same Again

I'm a little late on this, but this is VH1 Best Week Ever video about the most disgusting video ever created in the history of humanity. 2 Girls 1 Cup. Do with that phrase what you will. I only could watch 5 seconds, but there are reaction shots all over youtube, and they're just as entertaining, and much more tolerable than the original:

Make sure you pray this weekend, the end is near.

KG On The Knicks

My friend sent this pic and subject headline. Funny.

I really don't care for New Englanders these days.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pour A Little Liquor: Sean Taylor

Sometimes it seems there are only two constants: who we are, our reality, and who we want to be, our potential. And life is the time we spend trying to bridge that gap.

Nowhere is this whole dynamic of reality and potential, nature and nurture, played out more explicitly than in sports. We see athletes who are incredible talents, and have been given special gifts, and then we wait to see how those gifts are nurtured. To see if they will ever bridge the gap in the course of their athletic lives.

But this story plays out for everyone. We all have the skills and talent to do things we know we can do, and want to do, but for whatever reason have yet to make a reality. And that potential can be ambitious as becoming an All Pro safety in the NFL, or simply reconciling to live a better life, and be a loving father/brother/friend to the people you care about. In the case of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, it appeared he was reaching his potential on both fronts.

I've never cried over the passing of an athlete, and maybe I'm still coming down from my Stevie high, but to read about how this young man, 24, was turning around his life I couldn't help but shed some tears over his tragic passing this morning.

There's no question that Taylor's renaissance as a man and football player is the lead with this story. MJD at the Fanhouse underscores the point. Jeffrey Chadiha at ESPN taps into the same stream. With a fiancee and a year old daughter teammates and coaches were all in praise of Taylor's newfound commitment and maturity on and off the field. And for it to end like this you just have to shake your head, because there is no sadder story than someone just getting in position to give all he can to this world, only to have that opportunity snuffed out just as it was beginning.

As a lifelong Giants fan who is best friends with a lifelong Redskins fan I almost feel I knew Sean Taylor intimately. I remember when my friend scouted Taylor personally (via the internet) to decide whether he approved of his drafting (he did), and I remember all the buzz about him being the next Hall of Fame caliber player at the safety position. And while I've never rooted for a Redskins victory, Taylor was a star in this league, someone you wanted to see make plays. You couldn't help but be intrigued by his story, and wonder whether he would reach his potential and take over as leader of that team.

I liken his role on the team to that of RB Brandon Jacobs on the Giants. Our team is led by the name brand of Eli Manning, just as the face of the Redskins might be Clinton Portis, but I bet most fans would love to see Brandon Jacobs take over and become the identity of the team. Like Taylor, Jacobs is a no holds barred stud whose physical gifts can't help but leave a lasting impression in any game you watch. And like Taylor, Jacobs greatness is only muted by his inability thus far to properly nurture those talents. In the case of Jacobs he can't stay healthy, in the case of Taylor he was held back by a reckless approach to life and football. But you can't help but root for talent like this, and Taylor had seemingly spent the last couple years putting that immaturity and recklessness behind him. With a Pro Bowl berth last season, and continued stellar play thus far in '07, Taylor was on the verge

I hope the NFL affords this passing the proper respect. Even though his legacy as a player has been cut short, for all he represented as a troubled talent that was eventually able to change and grow Taylor offers a valuable lesson to all of us about appreciating our talents and the journey of bridging the gap to our potential.


Sean Taylor Dies in Miami [Washington Post]
Taylor's life was turning around
So much is wasted with Taylor's death [AOL Fanhouse]

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Surgeon Goes On TV To Announce He Will Not Speak On TV

It makes all the sense in the world that Dr. Jan Adams, the surgeon who operated on Kanye West's mother before she died from "surgical complications," would want to respect the family's wishes and not speak on the matter until they're comfortable. But then why do you go on Larry King to apologize for "taking up his airtime." Did the West family call him just before he went on the show?

I submit that 1. he wanted to make it known that the West family is muzzling him, which mutes the "stand-up guy" aspect of the whole statement. Or, 2. he's taking any opportunity to position himself as Celebro-Surgeon for the [black] stars.

Personally, I hope it's the latter. But despite the compelling performance (and from this brief screen test I'd certainly audition him for my black version of House.) doesn't he lose in either case once you wonder why he didn't just send in a statement for the press/media? Just sayin'.

West's Surgeon Walks Off Larry King Show [AOL TV News]

Friday, November 23, 2007

Elephant Soup: For Once In My Life

MP3 File

What I like about Stevie's up-tempo version of "For Once In My Life" versus the ballad version is a sense of the quicker pace driving home the point that this is a song about love that is freeing. The slow version is beautiful, but the pace is foreboding. It's the version you sing before doing chores together, "for once in my life .... i have someone to do the dishes." The fast version implies a couple in love, but the end result is still about you basking in the sunshine and snapping your fingers and just doing what you want to do. It's a love that you can take for granted. It wants you to take it for granted. That's a trickier love to manage -- for one, it theoretically means free sex with others -- but I do think it's the love we should always be shooting for, and Stevie's version captures the joyful part of that sentiment.

My ex-girlfriend -- and really the only "girlfriend" I've had and known -- is the one who got me into Stevie Wonder. I was always aware of him certainly, but it's sort of like she was in the Stevie Fan Club and then got me to join, and then I eventually became the president, or more appropriately, THE EMPEROR, while she remained a casual fan.

A few summers ago, towards the end of our relationship, and right before I transformed into TAN, I had a part-time dog-walking job during the summer. She was the one who kind of got me into the "industry," and for a little while we were like a little part-time cottage dog-service company. She'd do part-time with a company that ran with dogs. I did part-time with a company that walked them. And then we'd often dog-sit on the weekends as well. We had always discussed getting a dog, but this became the perfect compromise. I recommend it if you have the time and don't want the full dog-commitment. You get your dog fix, get some $ on top of that, and no full-time commitments in either case.

I lived in Spanish Harlem (SpaHa, stand up!) and one of my great discoveries in this neighborhood was Ward's Island. They hold concerts and events out there on occasion, and there's currently a redevelopment project to make it a bigger attraction, but at the time it was mostly just this island/park area that was frequently empty. After a while I never went to Central Park anymore cause this was just as beautiful, without the crowds.

So Ward's Island was perfect for dog walking. Since no one was around you could take the dogs off the leash and it was all grass and woods and all of that to run around. The dogs loved it; whenever we let them off the leash it was a revelation along the lines of discovering Stevie Wonder. These conservative, almost closeted canines would mope along like chained-slaves on the street. But on the island, once we "gave them free," they would light up and their personalities would change instantly. You couldn't help but be caught up in in their bounding exuberance, it was like seeing a child's first xmas.

One particular cockerspaniel named Abbey was a very cute dog, but dysfunctionally timid on walks; afraid of large structures, and crowds, and basically everything NYC streets had to offer. She was a tough walk. Every 5 minutes she'd just plop down and not go anywhere, and if you've been around dogs you're probably familiar with how frustrating this behavior can be when you need to get somewhere. Plus if it's a cute female dog, you can't help but feel she's channeling her inner diva/bitch or something. Yet, it was clear Abbey just had some hang-ups, so you'd eventually sympathize cause she presumably just needed some therapy.

Maybe it was a band-aid solution, but I know Ward's Island was therapeutic for Abbey. Once released she would instantly become the dog "we all knew she could be." Boldly inquisitive, frisky, and smiling ear to ear ... Just happy. And Abbey in particular always made me think of this song. I always imagined a video with her prancing about, shoulders confident, nose held high, uncaring about what was going on around her because nothing would slow her down now. And you'd cut it so that she skipped to the beat a little, like those Meow-Mix Cat-Chow commercials. On those walks it seemed Abbey, for once in her life, had someone who loved her.

I've never really talked about my ex on this blog. For one, while I say some personal, intimate things, I don't do that much detailing of my personal relationships. But I did always have a sense that she was hurt a little by me not writing about her. Soooo, I don't know .... but as my first and thus far only serious girlfriend, suffice to say she means the world to me. And when I hear this song I also think of her and hope that she's walking in the sunshine, being boldly inquisitive and full of joy .... Just happy.

I've always had trouble saying "I love you" (hence the mouthing of the phonetically similar, "elephant soup"), but as I begin exploring some of my dating trials and tribs I want her to know that no girl has meant as much to me still being alive, and ... hopeful.

S, I love you, and I know you might think this is corny, but you're a revelation along the lines of Stevie and Ward's Island. And I kind of hope this song, this love, is soundtracking your life.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Stevie Wonder: Some Videos

So as mentioned before, I'm gonna have a report on the Stevie Wonder concert at MSG this past Saturday. In the meantime, in-between time, here are some Stevie vids I've come across:

Superstition was performed, of course, similar setting with him at the keyboard and a band behind him. Good stuff. Now just imagine Prince coming out to join him on guitar. I had to take my clothes to the cleaners from people's heads exploding around me:

Tony Bennett made a special guest appearance as well. The performance was similar to this one:

I'm personally partial to Stevie's up-tempo version of "For Once In My Life," and here's a version of that. Stevie didn't have dancers for this show, and I suspect this video may indicate the reason why.

The longest/extended version of a song award went to "Ribbon in the Sky":

And my personal favorite Stevie song (if you can have a favorite), You & I:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What Does One Wear to a Stevie Wonder Concert?

So I'm going to Stevie Wonder at MSG tonight. According to BV -- the only source I consulted on the matter -- it's only, like, his second show in NYC in the past ten years or so. So, it's a hot ticket.

I ascribe Stevie no lower value than "proof of God's existence" so needless to say I'm excited for the show.

But I don't know what a young[ish] TAN wears to such an event. Do I go a little more formal out of respect for Stevie and the inevitable presence of Negro Elders in the audience? Button up/down shirt, jeans and shoes. Or do I max my comfort level, cause it's all about enjoying the music, and go with jeans and t-shirt with some sort of long-sleeved addition underneath for November-weather insulation? That's most comfy, but feels a little irreverent-hipstery for a Stevie show.

It's not a huge deal either way, not like I don't go with one or the other in your average 2-3 day stretch. And he's not gonna see either way. But it's Stevie God, so I do want to give it some consideration.

In any event, I'll have a review/report on the show next week.

And now that I've thought about it some, I'm thinking I'm just gonna go with my blue Stevie dress. I haven't worn that in a while:

Soundtrack of My Heart: You & I

Thursday, November 15, 2007

No Licking The Camel Toads!

Funny little bit in a newspaper where a woman writes in to "Ask Leslie" why her son was going to the pool to "scout out some 'camel toads.'" She wonders is it a drug, or perhaps something worse???

All I can say is thank god for Leslie, who sets the lady straight. Of course, the boy may still be in grave danger ...

Scouting for 'camel toads' []

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

EbonyJet: The Dearth of Black Satire

If You Can't Take A Joke .... [EbonyJet]

UPDATE: The NY Times taps into this stream with a discussion about race in sitcoms. Reading the piece and their examples, it's almost like race is the issue that tests the edginess and unique perspective of a writer. All the shows that grab my attention handle the subject in new, funny and different ways. Cheers to those guys!

Race on Sitcoms
[NY Times]

Monday, November 12, 2007

TAN Guide To Coping with the Death of Kanye's (or your favorite artist's) Mama

Over the weekend Kanye West's mother sadly passed away to that great big home for celebrity mama's in the sky. At the tender age of 58, and at a time when her son is enjoying the peak of his professional career, Donda West clearly left us too soon. But inspired by the way Ms. West and her relationship with her son touches Kanye's fans as much as the music or Kanye himself, I've put together a little guide to coping with the loss of Kanye's (or your favorite artist's) mama.

Their Mama Is Your Mama: I didn't spot this news on my own, a friend told me about it. And when she told me she said, "that makes me sad, as annoying as he can be, he was really close to his mom. :(" My initial reaction to that email was cynicism, like, how silly and ridiculous is it to feel sad about strangers kind of thing. You don't know them, you're not their friends. But then I came around to thinking it wasn't weird at all. You are friends with your favorite celebrity. Of course you're supposed to acknowledge that they're humans also, not all dreamy and perfect and stuff. And I think a few years ago, pre-reality television, you probably had a bigger gap between the perception of celebrity artists and the reality. But now anyone still deluded on that is just an idiot. So yeah, Kanye's not perfect, but neither are your friends. And it's likely Kanye through his music, or entertaining personality, has done a lot more to help you get through tough times than a lot of folks you call friends. So that gets you in the loop. The rest is the Transitive Property of Motherhood; any good mother is going to act like she's your mother also, which might mean you get Sunny D and finger sandwiches after playing outside, but could also mean you get a spanking for using that foul language in her mouth. In any case when a friend's mama passes, it's one of the great tragedies in a person's life, and it makes total sense to feel their pain. So have no qualms about that.

Revisit The Work: There's little consolation for Kanye in the heat of the moment, but at some point he can think that at least he got Graduation out before she passed. It is his best work to date, and more to the point, you can feel her influence on him in his all his music. He's so raw and transparent as an artist, I sometimes wonder if he's a new breed. Like Jay-Z is an infinitely more satisfying lyricist and technician .... but artist? I don't know. Jay fronts more -- oddly enough despite his whole image being about cool and authentic -- but he's clearly about image. And when he lets on about insecurities or doubts a la Kingdom Come it doesn't feel right. It runs contrary to Urban Superhero identity. It makes me think Jay-Z is kind of like ARod if ARod could actually get it right.

Anyways, the passing of your favorite artist's mother allows you to re-visit their oeuvre and say awwwwwwwwwwwww. Which adds a nice element of poignancy to everything.

Pick Your Favorite Pull Quote/Story: If an artist's mother passes, there has to be some quotes or anecdotes or something that conveys the personal intimacy and bond between mama and child. Here's my favorite from the current round of Ms. West articles:

"We were coming back from a short vacation in Michigan when he was 5, and he composed a poem in the back seat," Ms. West said in the interview. "The one line that sticks with me is 'the trees are melting black.' It was late fall, and the trees had no leaves. He saw how those limbs were etched against the sky, and he described them the way a poet would."

Awww. It's even cuter because Kanye might be the least "poetic" emcee in hip hop. That was surely a poem only a mama could love.

Call 'em if you got 'em: It's not always easy to be sappy and sentimental, that's where artists can help sometimes. And with a mother passing, life essentially becomes art right before your eyes, hearing of such a moment can touch you just like music or a painting or a movie with Jessica Biel. So put on some Stevie Wonder and call yo mama and tell her you luh her.

Respect the "need for space": The standard celebrity line is "we'd like some space so family can mourn in private." But famous artists and celebs belong to the public now, so they can say that all they want, but it's up to us whether we want to abide by these proclamations. That said, Dear Mama dying is the one you respect. Like if Britney Spears' baby dies, you might still feel ok poking and prodding for more information on what happened. But not when Kanye's mama passes.

Moving On: You can't grieve longer than the artist, so abide by these notes and guidelines in a small window. You're allowed to feel terrible, but if you overextend you might be using this to mask some of your own problems. Don't do that. This is about Kanye and his mama, not you. Have some respect and get out of the zone in a timely fashion.


Kanye West's mom dies [Chicago Tribune]

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pour A Little Liquor: Norman Mailer

So Norman Mailer is dead at the age of 84.

I've always had a fancy for Norman, his zeal for being bold and audacious. Of course he's given me fodder on the Negro Hipster quest in the form of his essay "The White Negro." But more than his accomplishments and literary legacy I think I've been intrigued by his status as a living legend who ultimately failed in his quest for lasting relevance.

Looking back now, his ambition and desire outsized his talent, which is a torment I relate with far too often. But his passing feels like a burial of that ego-archetype as much as Mailer himself. Narcissism and vanity run amok in our new media era, but it's mutated from the grandiose god-complex that was, in the end, his calling card. We still have ego-warriors, but they are incapable of ruling the land and commanding our attention the way Mailer did in his prime. I wasn't around in those days, but seems he lived his life like he was in a reality show, and back then that meant you were an american hero, now we know it just means you have an american ego.

I wonder, for black people, if we appreciate someone like Mailer. I know it's hard for me to think of him as something other than an old-school caucasian who The System forced me to place on a pedestal. When I first read "The White Negro" I was like, wow. Then years later reading James Baldwin tearing the essay apart, I was like, WOW. But Mailer's still compelling, not necessarily as an author -- where you might take him or leave him -- but as a personality. How does he compare with a Kanye, or a Terrell Owens, or a Kobe Bryant, or any of our celebs/stars who have legitimate talent but have taken a road that inextricably wraps their ego with their work? Sometimes I think black people in general suffer from a higher rate of outsized ambition and desire. Or maybe we all suffer from the ego-itis, but black folks have a tougher time reconciling the reality and dealing with it. We're not as familiar with the expansive middle ground of a happy life with modest, but manageable, goals and expectations. Too often we still only see The Projects or The Superstar....

I don't know, I'm rambling now. But I wonder if we're just now getting our Norman Mailers. Is Kanye walking the same dead-end road, or is he something new and different? Mailer, like 'Ye and so many others, wanted to conquer his industry and the world through his talent. And now he's dead. And I think that model of star-celebrity might be as well.

Norman Mailer Dead at 84 [Yahoo News]

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Power Of Conan Compels Me

Of all the odd cat-and-mouse combinations, apparently a priest has been put in jail for stalking Conan O'Brien. For over a year he's been sending the eminently stalkable pale Conan postcards and letters:

“I’m told by some of those officious little usher people that you’re overbooked. Is this the way you treat your most dangerous fans? You owe me big-time, pal. I want a public confession before I even consider giving you absolution.”

The priest is from Boston, and claims they both went to Harvard together, so sounds like someone just chose the wrong major and is regretting it a little bit now. What a Masshole.

I don't know, maybe there's more to it, but driving a religious man insane does make me like Conan a little more.

Priest Stalking Conan O'Brien [NY Times]

One Million Positive Negro Impressions & Counting

A month or two ago I saw a movie at the Magic Johnson movie theater on 125th street. And as I walked from the escalator to the movie theater I was struck by the walls being covered with black celebrities of all shapes and sizes, and from all different eras.

My first thought was, ok, that makes sense, this is the Magic Johnson movie theater in Harlem. Cool. Then all of a sudden I was tickled about galleries like this, or as another example, the showcasing involved in Black History Month, as just our most basic form of advertising black people: We are trying to sell black people. Or more specifically, sell other people on black people.

As I walked past the pictures, I could almost hear the commercial: Buy black people! You might end up with a Muhammad Ali, or a P. Diddy, or an Alicia Keys, or a Magic Johnson.
(results not guaranteed, might end up with crackhead, convict, etc.)

So with that in mind, there was a list composed by Adam Smith (I think it was Adam, but I couldn't find it online) that explains the 21 stages a customer goes through as he continues to receive impressions of your product. It's supposed to demonstrate a little of the psychology behind repeated impressions. I've translated it here via the concept of marketing negroes:

21 Stages by Adam Smith

1st – We don't see the negro
2nd – We don't notice the negro
3rd – We are conscious of the negro
4th – We faintly remember the negro
5th – We check out the negro
6th – We turn our nose at the negro
7th – We say "oh brother" about the negro
8th – We think oh, here's the negro again
9th – We wonder about the negro
10th – We ask a neighbor about the negro
11th – We wonder where the negro comes from
12th – We think the negro must be good,
13th – We think the negro must be worth something
14th – We remember we wanted to be down with negroes
15th – We can't afford the negro
16th – We think we will invest in a negro
17th – We makes a memo regarding the negro
18th – We curse our money situatoon
19th – We count our money
20th – We make plans to invest in the negro
21st – We invest in the negro ...

And I guess at this point is when someone says "awww, Alicia Keys, what a sweet talented negro girl. I like her."

Would someone say that? Someone normal? Maybe the terrorists say things like that when they find themselves in Magic Johnson movie theaters.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Johan Santana Is Better Than Sex

Hot Stove is eating up for baseball. As a Mets fan, I think we should make a Pedro/Beltran aggressive move for Johan Santana. i.e. overpay to get him.

Consider this:

Mets: Hi, Minnesota?

Minny: Hi, Mets?

Mets: yeah, how you doing?

Minny: Ok. Could use some more money. And a heatwave right about now. But it's all good. You see Adrian Peterson last week? We're pretty excited about having the best RB in the NFL.

Mets: Yeah, we saw that. He's incredible. Could probably play a Gold Glove center field if he wanted also.

Minny: Yeah. Soooo, what's up?

Mets: Well, we were just reading The Mets Are Better Than Sex and have decided we want Johan Santana.

Minny: Um yeah, we know. Get in line my friend.

Mets: We're willing to overpay. We don't think anyone else can match our offer.

Minny: oh? is that so? I'm listening ....

Mets: Well, let's start with Jose Reyes. The Most Exciting Player in the game. He's almost like the Adrian Peterson of Running Backs.

Minny: Oh, you mean like Hanley Ramirez?

Mets: Huh? Anyways ... JOSE REYES. On the turf, that speed might be interesting ... no?

Minny: Yeah. That sounds kinda awesome actually. Reyes, Mauer, Morneau. Mmmmmmm ...

Mets: We'll also give you Milledge or Gomez.

Minny: Hmmmm .... this is getting interesting ...

Mets: AND, we'll send you a pitcher back. Pelfrey, Humber ....your choice of young pitcher.

Minny: Ok. Let us think about that. If the Yankees don't want to give up Hughes. Or the Dodgers don't want to send us Billingsley, Kershaw and two of their young bats. We might have a deal.

Mets: Cool. Ideally we could get one of your bullpen arms back maybe. We could throw in a couple more lower level minor league guys.

Minny: oh. i don't know. but let us think about it.

Mets: Yeah, hit us back. We're gonna go talk about ARod now to fill shortstop if we make the deal.

Minny: Oh wow, that would be a major move for you guys.

Mets: Maybe, we'll see. Ok, talk to ya later.

Minny: later.


So for Minnesota, they get good young talent, and a bonafide superstar that could vault their lineup to upper echelon. If Liriano returns as an ace, they still have pitching.

And for the Mets, we may end up paying upwards of $400-500M, for two players. But they would be the best hitter and starter in the game. And we'd have other talent around them.

Johan, Pedro, Ollie, Maine

Beltran, Castillo, Wright, ARod, Delgado, Alou.

I think Jose is the only way we can get Johan. And while I love Jose, I want the ace. So let's make it happen people.

cross post: The Mets Are Better Than Sex

The Sweet Smell of Chemistry

What is this "chemistry?" Dogs seem to demonstrate "chemistry" well. It's like, yeah, you might smell every arsehole that walks by, just to get some perspective or something, but the act of pressing nose to sphincter feels more intimate that it is. It's really just a function of your survival instinct. Do you think your booty smells honest? Is it an aroma rich with integrity and character? Life would be so much easier if we could just give a sniff and know whether the people around us were on the up-and-up.

But then, some dogs smell each other's arses and immediately start playing. A game they've played a million times before, and could play a million and one times more. And they don't need to get married or anything. They just smell and play. Now that's a special smell.

I like when i see dogs that have chemistry. It gives me hope that i'm not out here sniffing lady's behinds for nothing. It also gives me something to think about when I'm being reported to the police again for inappropriate conduct.

Monday, November 05, 2007

TAN's Gawker Gallery

So I get asked about Gawker a decent amount. I've done a few different things for them, so here is the portfolio of selected Gawker clips:

Special Correspondent: I started as a Special Correspondent, specifically Special Correspondent for Brown People Issues, as dubbed by former editor Jesse Oxfeld. Some negroes may squint their eyes, but I thought the title was kind of genius:

This was my debut ... some might say it's all downhill from here.

Smells Like Negro Musk
... This was my last "Special Report," I enjoyed talking about one of my favorite subjects: black hipsters.

Negrok/China IM chat
I enjoyed this chat, in part because it was very impromptu and done from chat-to-post in an hour or so. Spinach Dip was a good foil, filled with reason and sensibility, while i made exclamatory jokes. Come to think of it, intelligent articulate people often make good "foils" for me. I got more backlash than expected for this. Asians were hating.

Black History Month: This was a very un-gawker like post, but it was for Black History Month, so I think they just let me do whatever..... or rather, obviously they let me do whatever. Give me whatever and I'll give you the world Wigger History Month.


Guest Editing: For a couple days in the summer of '06 everyone went on vacation, and they were forced to call up talent from the Negro Leagues. I subbed for Jessica Coen. Before this guest-edit stint I thought blogging was a fun means of sharing news and giving your opinion and such, but after a couple days on the job full-time I realized it's more Gateway To Hell than anything else. In any event, here are a handful of posts that came out of that two-day stint:

The Vagina Dialogues
, prob my favorite post

morning after pill, "just woke up and boy do we feel pregnant," still makes me giggle.

bloggers are cheap, but you knew that already

times masturbation, breaking: couples are using computers

subway record, a nyc post ...


Columnist-y: Then came a couple columns/series/something-or-others:

Ghetto Pass

First Responders

???Inside The Commenter's Studio ...???


Slave Auction-y: And we should never forget February of '07 when I was sold off as part of a White Castle Valentine. Good times, good times.

And so it goes ...

Czech, Please!

A Czech couple discovers their 10-month old baby isn't theirs. And they discover this after folks at their LOCAL BAR, keep calling them out on having a blonde baby even though they have dark hair. I'm not sure exactly how, but I think this story -- both with the mixup, and relying on bar patrons to make you see the light -- demonstrates why Czech people don't run the world.

Bar gossip leads to nasty surprise [Reuters]

Friday, November 02, 2007

Don't Reserve Seats, Reserve Pilots

Flying out to Cali today, and being such a long trip and all I'm really hoping to get this pilot.

TAN peeps in the bay area should holler, maybe we can link up and make some magic happen.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cheerleaders Have The Worst Timing

The sports reporter on this video is awesome. Pitch-perfect the whole way through.

Let no one tell you differently. Cheerleaders. They're tough

Adopt Us For Status, Adopt Us For Love

The trend of accessorizing with african babies continues, and this recent essay from the NY Times Modern Love column attempts to give us a little more insight into the cloying psychology. I don't know, obviously I presume the adopters have good selfless intentions, and I would never not applaud someone saving a child's life. But big picture? I'm still torn. I suspect I won't be fully comfortable until we start scooping up some caucasians.

And not just one or two. We need a full out epidemic of black people -- preferably Africans of only a few years of age -- adopting caucasian american adults. I have a dream. Etc, etc.

Too Bad For Me That She Was So Well Loved [Modern Love, NY Times]

Monday, October 29, 2007

Secret Of My Success: Gabe & Max's Internet Thing

I figure after a couple years of soaking up the good life via this blogging thing, I might as well share the system that got me on the fast track to internetting. It took me a while to digest all of Gabe & Max's 430 parts, but now I can look people in the eyes with confidence! It's wonderful!


Friday, October 26, 2007

Is Crack Still Illegal?

Been politicking with my Black Comedy Project peoples, I'm excited to get off the blog-couch and mix it up with them a lil' sumthin'-sumthin' (that's black-speak y'all!). From that crew, Baratunde Thurston just put me up on a sketch team that has been sorely missing from my life, The Message. After checking in with Negro Command, I realized I was the one a little behind in the game, as per usuale, because they've been blessin' folks for a while. HBO apparently pulled the plug on them a few months ago, but now they've reincarnated in an underground-blogspot location.

Here's a sample sketch I enjoyed. The DMX part is my fav, and is now being integrated into regular rotation for normal conversation and such. But I also like how "off" the Snoop voice is, especially compared to DMX.... Anyways, they've got a lot of good stuff, so peep:

Long Live THE MESSAGE [The Message?]

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

While We're At It, Let's Also Bury "Young, Gifted & Black"

Sometimes I think "Young Gifted & Black is a term that haunts us; I'd go so far as to liken it to the n-word. You often find talk about the psychology of the oppressed with black people. How we should, on occasion, sympathize with a lack of motivation, a lack of inertia, because there is no tangible incentive for the oppressed. There is a psychology at play that makes laziness, lack of motivation, fear, a tragic cycle.

But we rarely hear about the "plight" of the smart, intelligent negro. The torment of the talented tenth, if you will ("if you will" being a phrase only used by talented tenth negroes, btw). Aren't they, too, dealing with ramifications of that same psychology? A different strain of disorder, but ultimately the same disease...

When I went away to prep school it was through a program called Prep for Prep. In my experience it's very likely that if you went to prep school, you've heard of the program. Or at the least, one similar to it like ABC (A Better Chance). There are plenty of others now I'm sure. And it's almost become chuckle-worthy how cliché it is to come from one of these feeder programs and be a negro at one of these prestigious expensive prep-schools. You're black, and attending Andover? Oh, well of course you're in Prep, or ABC. Good for you negro!

When you consider the gap between what most negro children were used to when being plucked out of the urban abyss, versus how life is lived at an elite prep school, it really does feel like some Different Strokes ish. Or like being adopted by a celebrity. You're a "Gifted" negro. You're "Special." In the case of these prep school feeder programs, you're special enough to be afforded access to ish a lot of people -- white, black or whatever -- don't get.

For the most part in my come-up through The System, I've never heard about "gifted" or "special" caucasians. Sure you have a handful of exceptionals no matter what, geniuses and what not, but independent of those, the black kids in these schools are all hand-selected "creme de la creme" and are constantly reminded about this. You are The Chosen. And you shoulder a heavy responsibility (i.e. the liberation of the South Bronx). Meanwhile, for the most part, the caucasians mostly seem like kids who could afford to go. Nothing necessarily superlative about them.

On one side, this positive reinforcement is in many cases necessary for those raised amidst negativity swirling all around them. Ultimately what you get at prep school, the primary value, is freedom. Walking around in the Bronx, you're free, but it's a different sort. Prep school is a clean, crisp, brand-new-sheet-of-printer-paper freedom. The Bronx is cheap, used, ripped-out-of-a-notebook-and-not-even-perforated-paper freedom; it's crumpled around the edges. And if you're used to that, then it's important to be reminded that, yes, you are special. You deserve clean printer paper as much as the next person.

On the flip side, there is also a cost. Most pernicious and immediately felt is the growing disaffection for where you came from, and those not as "special." Every pat on the back is to support you, but also undermines your history. Being uprooted is good for everyone except the old pot that's not good/big enough. "You're getting out of here, you're leaving us behind, you're going to make something of yourself. Yay!!!" This is a good thing, right?

Then eventually you come to realize that "Gifted" and "Special" isn't a broadly applicable term that your mother might use. It's actually specifically unique to a bad background/history/area. You're gifted in comparison to these other deadbeat N's. You don't know what size fish you are, all you know is you must have been swimming in the smallest, dirtiest, wackest pond ever.

Through prep school, and subsequently college, this psychology is reinforced with every trip "back to the block." Every summer you return, and there's no grass, or caucasian females frolicking to and fro with nary an apprehensive thought. And you realize how much you were missing ... back then. Of course it also becomes harder to "relate" to your old homies who only know dreams of frolicking caucasian females so close you could literally reach out and caress their supple ... wait, what am I talking about again? Oh yeah: so it turns out ignorance was bliss, and now the loss of ignorance while very enlightening, is also tragic and depressing.

I'll ferret this out more at some point. But this is the sensibility that makes me think people who harp on the "N-word" or a noose are missing the slave-boat a little. There's context to everything and that context means as much as the thing itself. "Young, Gifted & Black" being constantly hammered into your dome can be as much an inhibitor to a young negro's psyche as the N-word. Maybe someone hears the n-word and is inspired to have that never apply to him. And he turns into a mogul-you-love-to-hate like Diddy or Jermaine Dupri. Meanwhile "Gifted" hears it over and over again, and gets lazy and passes the rest of his time writing a self-indulgent blog, never to realize his true potential. *cough*

Maybe the solution is balance: "That is a gifted ni**a right there! Let's give him a book and a noose and hope for the best!"


Monday, October 22, 2007

The Real: Failed Ideas In Hip Hop

This is a funny sketch from some guys who do funny sketches. The Real's latest confection explores "Failed Ideas in Hip Hop." My personal favorite is the only-child cipher. I remember those fondly; I def didn't get the memo on them being classified as "failed." Maybe "old school" is the term you're looking for. The only-child cipher still holds it down. Like BDP. Still #1. Here forever. Etc.

Failed Hip-Hop Ideas from jeff on Vimeo.
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