Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Story of Mr. Racist, The Young Black Boy, and The Well

A Modern Negro Fable ....

There was once was a wonderful town named Benetton. It was ethnically and culturally diverse; a place where everyone loved each other and got along splendidly. Well everyone except one person: an older white man named Mr. Racist.

Now Mr. Racist was a foul-mouthed contemptible human being. Surely someone neither you nor I would get along with. Whenever he saw people in town he would raise his craggy voice and swear and fling the most despicable epithets at them. He was filled with hate, and over the years it became his only mode of communication. For the most part he would stay to himself, on his farm, raising animals for food, and drawing water from his well. On the occasions he saw someone, he would greet them with the usual slur or slander.

The townspeople of Benetton were a kind and tolerant group, but over time no one could stand Mr. Racist's presence; so for the most part they stayed out of his way and ignored him.

And so things went for years and years.

And then one summer the kind and tolerant town of Benetton decided to adopt a young black orphan boy. And after living in the town for a while it happened that one day the young black boy stopped at Mr. Racist's farm. Upon seeing the black boy, of course Mr. Racist immediately showered him with the most offensive of invective. But as a young orphan boy raised in the kind and tolerant town of Benetton, the boy didn’t even know how to be offended by these racist remarks. He found Mr. Racist highly entertaining, and found it all to be a quirky amusement. And so the boy began to come by Mr. Racist’s farm with more regularity.

And every time the boy visited, Mr. Racist would denigrate him with hate speech. Until one day Mr. Racist asked the boy,

“Hey, you lazy piece of dark dog shit. Why do you come here so much?”

“I like you Mr. Racist. You make me laugh.”

While Mr. Racist’s hate-addled brain could never express it, it was clear that he was growing fond of the boy. After all, the boy was the only one who enjoyed his company. Everyone else in the town ignored or reviled him.

And so it became a tradition that the young black boy would stop by and while Mr. Racist would rant and fuss about the farm, filling the air with the foulest of vilifying vernacular, the little black boy would lie on the well and giggle at Mr. Racist's foolishness.

Then one day the boy visited and the two sat outside as they normally did. Mr. Racist went into perhaps his most virulent tirade, and the black boy was so tickled by what he was hearing that he laughed harder than ever before. And then at some point the boy gave a great big belly laugh, tipped backwards and fell down into Mr. Racist's well.

At first Mr. Racist considered it very typical of a ni**a to fall down the well and impose on him in such a fashion. But after calling into the well a few times, Mr. Racist soon realized he lacked the tools or strength to get the boy out the well himself. What would he do? Mr. Racist thought the boy inferior, but that didn't mean he should die in the well. As humans are wont to do, he liked the boy despite looking down on him.

And so Mr. Racist, for the first time in a long time, left his farm to get help. When he got to the center of town he saw a Puerto Rican lady walking down the street. He ran to get her attention,

"Hey Spic-lady, forget the laundromat for today. The stupid nigga-boy fell down the well."

The Puerto Rican lady, who had long ago tuned out his taunts, paid Mr. Racist no mind.

Then Mr. Racist saw a Chinese couple and tried to recruit them as best he could,.

"Hey Chinkys. Get your rickshaw and some chop sticks or something. The lazy coon-child fell down the well and can't get out.

The Chinese woman, who was oddly aggressive, slapped him for his indecency and told Mr. Racist to get some self-respect; then maybe she’d listen to what he had to say.

Mr. Racist then spotted a black man down the street and thought surely another jigaboo would try to hear him out.

“Hey nigger. One of your little nappy-headed monsters fell down the well. I can’t get him out.”

And the black man, who was somewhat new in town said, “what did you call me?” And then, quite justifiably, started beating up Mr. Racist.

And so it went for days and days with the kind and tolerant people of Benetton ignoring Mr. Racist’s racist exhortations.

Mr. Racist tried different means of relaying his warning; one day he even painted his face black and simulated falling down a well. But for all his attempts, the hate which had long taken control of his heart would not allow him to harness language in a way that was inoffensive to the kind and tolerant people of Benetton; no one in the town ever listened to Mr Racist.

Eventually Mr. Racist tried to get the boy out himself, and while reaching into the well he would slip and fall down to the bottom. And there, in the well, Mr. Racist and the young black orphan boy died together.

And so it turned out that the little town of Benetton had rid themselves of racism, but also their future.

The End.

Moral#1: don't let semantics distract you from what is most important in life. life.

Moral#2: if we demand intelligence from those who speak, so too must we demand intelligence of those who listen.

Moral#3: don't drink water from a racist's well cause there might be a dead ni**a-boy in it.

The Benetton Bloggers Summit

Last night I got to hang out with a mélange of multicultural bloggers. We had negroes, asians, latinas, indians, and people who i didn't even know what the hell they were. (Sorry whitey, no room for you tonight (actually I do remember one paleface joining us briefly). We drank sangria and accused people of racism deep into the night. Good times, good times...

I might get into this some more and do a Party Crash in a couple days. Or, like the government in times of crisis, I might just forget about those irrelevant minorities (oh snap, take that government!).

But in the meantime in-between time, don't let my narrow lens be your guide. Here are links to some good, intelligent, and often irreverent ETHNO-bloggers. If you're looking to diversify your worldview, or to get a quote from a real live ethnic individual with a brain and foreign currency in their pocket, please do check them out.

Fallout Central
Sepia Mutiny

Sorry we missed you:
Culture Kitchen
Rachel's Tavern

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Songs You Should Know: Hey Young World

In 1988 Slick Rick dropped his legendary debut album The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. Universally acclaimed, the platinum LP immediately catapulted Richard Walters into the pantheon of esteemed emcees who established the foundation of hip hop's future. One of the most unique, dynamic, and refreshing voices to grace the hip hop landscape, Slick Rick is without question one of rap's founding fathers.

Of course the first thing hip hop heads talk about with Rick (apart from the British accent), is his trademark storytelling. After all, the songs that cemented his legacy -- La Di Da Di, Children's Story, Treat Her Like A Prostitute, Indian Girl, Mona Lisa -- were all fun, flirty, and often fantastical lyrical narratives. But the single that broke this mold was "Hey Young World."

So many of Slick Rick's other songs are party/club staples, but "Hey Young World" is the classic that is sometimes forgotten. Yet when it comes on, like acid flashbacks for a nation of assimilated negroes, schoolyard memories flood the brain, and all forms of pretense and posturing must fade to the background. Produced by Rick himself; the smooth string loop, dinky-dinky-dink toy-piano riff, and bouncy back-and-forth flow with what can now only be described as his "gay voice" essentially captures the carefree spirit of a hip hop nursery rhyme. An adorably irresistible encapsulation of hip hop's essence; it basically gets everyone within listening range in the mood for a game of freeze-tag or hide-and-go-seek.

And the lyrics. Oh, the lyrics. Honestly, on paper, this might be the corniest song ever penned in hip hop history. If you read it, you'd think an old white grandmother from the midwest wrote it. We're talking two verses of the most earnest and unabashedly didactic lyrics ever; complete with directions to "scream whoopy-doo," "do your chores," and "get a suit for a job" ... If you tell a head on the street to scream whoopy-doo and get a suit for a job, you're gonna get smacked. At the least. But if you throw on "Hey Young World" and let Slick Rick tell 'em, it's all good. Even positive b-boys like Common and Mos Def don't bring it this raw, always couching their consciousness in the cool neo-soul slang of the day. Rick just tells the kids to "make your mama proud" and "go for yours cause dreams come true."

Anyrick, I wanted to post the video here, but Universal Music Group has the video on lockdown. So I can only link it. But here's a live rendition of the first verse that captures the spirit. Go ahead and sing along, you should know this one:

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Black Google

Did you know about Blackle, the negro black google search engine?

In January 2007 a blog post titled Black Google Would Save 750 Megawatt-hours a Year proposed the theory that a black version of the Google search engine would save a fair bit of energy due to the popularity of the search engine. Since then there has been skepticism about the significance of the energy savings that can be achieved and the cost in terms of readability of black web pages.

We believe that there is value in the concept because even if the energy savings are small, they all add up. Secondly we feel that seeing Blackle every time we load our web browser reminds us that we need to keep taking small steps to save energy.

Awesome. Hopefully it does a good job raising the white liberal guilt quotient as well. Though methinks it might could use a better name than "Blackle." This might be a little predictable from me, but how about: Negroogle, The Affirmative Action Search Engine.

Yeah, I'm feeling that. Eff the man's "white" search engine, Negroogle bidges! It should have "reparations" automatically queued in the search box also.

tip: Krucoff

TAN Iz For The Kidz: Baby Jamz™ Prototypes

So have you heard about Baby Jamz™? It's the latest initiative from the House of Knowles and it's marketed as the "the first ever hip-hop/rhythm inspired preschool toy line promoting creativity, learning and movement through music..." It was supposed to hit Wal-Mart stores a couple days ago according to this press release.

Mathew Knowles, president and CEO of Music World Entertainment says, "My grandson Juelz was the inspiration for this idea and I am especially excited that most of the Nursery Rhymes are sung by my daughter, Solange Knowles."

Now I don't have a daughter or a grandson. And I don't know Mathew personally, so I can't tell you why he spells his name with only one T. But I can tell you that this grandson story is a stretch of the imagination/advertising budget. And I can tell you that because I was the artist who actually helped develop the prototypes for the Baby Jamz toy line.

That's right. TAN. The man who brought you Snotsicles™, legislation on Mandingo Parties, and a heartwrenching conversation with Biz Markie (another take on "creativity, learning, and movement through music") was also ready to serenade your kidz.

I had actually forgotten about this — I was told Solange had stolen my Wal-Mart deal sometime early this year and, you know, who wants to dwell on that — but was reminded when I saw this Babylicious post on Jezebel. So I left my comments, cried, and then rapped myself a lullaby to go to sleep.

Anyjamz, I figured I might as well post some of my samples because, I don't know, because I'm an idiot and have no shame I guess.

I had to make about 15 songs. Half were original. Half were nursery rhymes to hip hop beats.

Here was one they liked called "One Minute." Pre-TAN heads may recognize the formula:

MP3 File

Now when they did have critiques, it was usually because I was too "dark and edgy." Or the material allowed too much room for misinterpretation. That was the case with "Touch Your Body" which got nixed early in the process:

MP3 File

Come on. That can bump in the clubs right now yo!

And yes, I actually took time to conceive of the "rub your belly, now down to your toes" dance. You should try it. It's quite fun. And liberating!

Moving on ... since my voice is somewhat deep and potentially scary for toddlers (and women!), I recruited a young female rapper who was doing work in the studio. Her name is P-Star (what you know about my MTV recruits son! Forget Hov or Kanye! P-Star!). She did a Humpty Dumpty duet with me:

MP3 File


So there you go folks. That's that PROFESSIONAL blue collar hip hop right there. I don't want to know about no rimz. Or beautiful buxom womenz (actually I can hear a little bit about them). I want to know if you can tailor your ish for midwestern toddlerz and get that Wal-mart paper? Like TAN Solange and Mathew.

Baby Jamz

ABC News Now Accepting Applications for Host of "What's The Buzz"

They say we learn from our mistakes, and so it came to pass that Merry Miller became the greatest, wisest teacher of them all:

And is "Merry Miller" not the most ridiculous name ever? Where do these news people get these names from? I'd say she should marry Sam Champion, but really, who shouldn't marry Sam Champion?
via Gawker

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Little Brother Is Blogging You

Phonte of Little Brother is gearing up for their new release (Getback 9/25), and is killing it on their myspace blog.


In retrospect, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out was crazy racist ...

Phontigallo is only posting once or twice a week as they get the album done, but he's absolutely hilarious and I hope he keeps it up once the album's done.

Also peep the first song off the album "Good Clothes" ... if you thought production might be lacking without 9th Wonder, you now stand corrected. hot like fire bidges.

Little Brother Blog [myspace]
Little Brother [wiki - for my peeps not in the know]

Monday, July 23, 2007

How To Attend a Hip Hop Music Festival

Dallas Penn and Rafi Kam are iNTERNETS CELEBRITIES, and they provide this amusing primer on attending Hip Hop Music Festivals:

via Straight Bangin'

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Amiri Needs To Write A Poem About Beer

Two pics in Sundays with Amiri, and thus far he stays having some brew on hand.

I love the idea that Amiri gets drunk at parties and just starts randomly blessing people.

Who son?!!? WHOOooooooooo?!!??!?!

Here's a practical joke for black people everywhere: First, memorize the poem "Sombody Blew Up America" (it's about nine minutes or so, but don't worry the egregious length will only add to the hilarity!). Now just wait until some of your caucasian peeps throw you a birthday party or something (don't fret, they'll get to it eventually). Then get ridiculously drunk and when the crowd goes, "Speech! Speech! Speech!" you grab the microphone and perform this:

Hilarious! It's like Punk'd, but better! It's Blunk'd! Holla! Make sure you don't skip any questions. Each one is critical to the cumulative effect.

Anywho, between "Who?" and "Why?" black people are well prepared for any impromptu street interviewing.

Sundays with Amiri

Sundays are days of somber sobriety ... with a brew and Amari Baraka:

Notes For a Speech

African blues
does not know me. Their steps, in sands
of their own
land. A country
in black & white, newspapers
blown down pavements
of the world. Does
not feel
what I am.


in the dream, an oblique
suckling of nerve, the wind
throws up sand, eyes
are something locked in
hate, of hate, of hate, to
walk abroad, they conduct
their deaths apart
from my own. Those
heads, I call
my "people."

(And who are they. People. To concern

myself, ugly man. Who
you, to concern
the white flat stomachs
of maidens, inside houses
dying. Black. Peeled moon
light on my fingers
move under
her clothes. Where
is her husband. Black
words throw up sand
to eyes, fingers of
their private dead. Whose
soul, eyes, in sand. My color
is not theirs. Lighter, white man
talk. They shy away. My own
dead souls, my, so called
people. Africa
is a foreign place. You are
as any other sad man here

- Amiri Baraka

Friday, July 20, 2007

Finding Forever Leakage

Common's new album "Finding Forever" drops at the end of this month. But it hit the internet streets sometime around, uh, yesterday.

Peep the leakage. But make sure to support when the time comes, yo!

Ridiculous cover notwithstanding, I think I like this album more than Be. And I'm really feeling the Lilly Allen joint.

Night of the Living Art Sculptures

Run for your lives! The kinetic art sculptures are coming! The artwork is roaming the streets, and you will either appreciate it or be trampled! They look like huge roaches, with these big nasty legs, but you can't spray them because they're ART SCULPTURES. So leave now, before it's too late! Don't worry about me, just warn the others!! The kinetic art sculptures are com—OWW ... they got me ....the pain ... unbearable ... must leave one last warning post/link befo—

Kinetic Sculpture

Paris, Redbook, Stop Signs Etc.

Did you know that Paris Hilton always makes the same face when taking pictures?

Now you do.

Combine that with Jezebel's outing of Redbook, and I don't know ... is there a connection between those two things? I guess maybe the walls of our reality are crashing down around us, and soon we'll have nowhere to turn?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Maybe Now Lucy Liu Will Love Me, Part II

A couple days ago I discovered Secret Asian Man.

Turns out Asian bloggers have a theme going on, because there's also: Angry Asian Man.

He informs me that the Asian American International Film Festival kicks off tonight (Lucy, call me!). AAM is also in town for a panel on Monday.

From Angry Asian Man's About page:

That's the way I usually approached most issues of Asian American pride. Facetiously. Mostly by becoming Angry Asian Man....

And the racism! Man, was everything just RACIST. I threw the word around left and right. Angry Asian Man had developed the special gift of hypersensitivity towards Racism and could detect it anywhere and everywhere. I took the liberty of calling attention to the surrounding Racism for all to see! The picture of the Asian in this magazine ad? Racist. The word 'Chinese' on page 862 in Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov? Racist. The yellow traffic signal light? Racist. It was all Racism with a capital 'R'. The rest of the world was unaware, but Angry Asian Man had been given the power to see!

Angry Asian Man

(via Racialicious)

You Make Me Touch Your Hands For Stupid Reasons

All hilarious breakup emails should be read dramatically, like this. It's a wonderful thing.

Breakup Letter, Dramatic Reading

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rough Draft: First Responders (audio)

I did a song for my TAN-on-the-street video series on Gawker "First Responders." We should hopefully be doing a vid for it also, with some outtakes from prior shoots. But Blakeley drunkenly told me recently that he thought "it gets angry pretty quickly," and I was surprised at the word choice. Is this angry? It might be a little self-indulgent (and self-indulgence is so not hot right now). And maybe it's just poop. But angry poop? I call out the crackas a couple times, but come on, can I get some freedom of speech up in here.

Here's the version I recorded a month or two ago.

MP3 File

it's first responders
we tried to warn ya
crosby street ain't sweet
we run up on ya
beware the dynam duo
on the corner
richard on the cam
tan hit em like ammonia

whether nappy hoe
or silky-haired cracka
here to let you know
this the show that needs backers
for better or worse
we comb heaven and earth
or get the strangers out on crosby
that respond to us first
cursed, house negro
son they lettin' me out
always get that hot footage
blakeley edits it out
still nice w/ the words
seen the ghetto pass served
while i hit the streets for these crackas who don't have the nerve
so observe me change mediums
like the girl in Medium
open to all types but don't be bigger than a medium
oh, and also don't come at me with the tedium
i think that's why i drink
and stay higher than some helium
but really, um
this one in a mill-y-un blogger
can get your new media hotter
than christina milian
so come along,
as we get our silly on
first the calm
then First Responders respond
let's get it on

First Responders [Gawker]

Chris Farley's Been Reincarnated

via Preston&Steve

Maybe Now Lucy Liu Will Love Me

TAN recently discovered Asians on the web ...

Secret Asian Man is a wonderful strip created by Tak Toyoshima that plays with issues of race and assimilation from an Asian perspective. Here are a few samples:

"SAM" recently went into syndication, and Tak discusses the significant of the achievement:

And with the addition of SAM to the line-up of comic strips available for daily syndication, we now have the first Asian American lead in a comic strip since the days of Bruce Lee (yes, he was Asian American) and Charlie Chan. Why is this a big deal? Maybe it isn't for some, but for me it's huge. And as one of those kids who grew up wondering where the Asian faces were in comics, besides the wonderful role model Ming the Merciless (WARNING! Rated R link!) it is an honor to provide one.

Check him out.

Tak Toyoshima [SecretAsianMan]

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dear TAN: Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

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: TAN's raising a baby!

Dear TAN,

How did you become assimilated?



Dear r,

I don't know exactly. Maybe my father held me by my ankle and dipped me in the river styx?

I went to two private boarding schools -- Choate Rosemary Hall and Pomfret School. Then Trinity College ... all located in connecticut.

I think those institutions represented the heart of it.

thank for the note.



Dear TAN,

wow boarding school......im not that assimilated...cool for you though. would it be too much trouble if from time to time i occasionally asked you some cultural questions to aid in me not being a totally lame white parent to a black child? if you are too busy i understand......

so far we have learned...moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.


Monday, July 16, 2007

White People Say: They'd Sooner Be Negro Than Go Without TiVo

So word on White Street is that being black ain't that hard, yo. Matter of fact, researchers are telling us that caucasian americans think it'd be tougher to go without television than swing the whole Invisible Man thing. One hundred times tougher:

The researchers asked the participants, who were white Americans of different ages, questions such as how much they would need to be paid to have television completely taken away from them for the rest of their lives. The majority of people said about $1 million.

Comparatively, they were asked how much they would need to be paid to be black for the rest of their lives. The majority answer to that question was less than $10,000.

Wow, talk about television evangelists. This is totally great sketch material, where you have a club of tv fiends talking about all the ethnic atrocities they'd endure to make sure they can still watch Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader. Then they're like, "well don't be dramatic TAN. Obviously we could give up 5th Grader, or According to Jim, it's the good shows that are the problem. The Colbert Report. The Sopranos. Charm School. Could you imagine?!? No HBO. No Comedy Central. No Oprah. I would definitely take some unlawful arresting over missing Flight of the Conchords. Being a minority is so underrated."


I see a gang of kids like that and I just think, "where the hell are the parents."

But as an assimilated negro I've been trained to see things from the average caucasian-american perspective. I've been groomed to understand. So I'm thinking they just misunderstood the question. When Harvard professor Mahzarin Banaji says "White Americans are blind to the cost of being black," she's probably thinking about the effect of being raised black in america. Which I can only hope the subjects in this study are not taking into account. Is the question about magically turning black, or being raised black?

Because if a white person turned black tomorrow, it might be weird, but they'd have the same family and friends. And probably keep their job and general lifestyle. And they could always Netflix Black. White for the vagaries. It'd be like going blonde, except in reverse, and with your skin. Whatever.

If you flip the question around and ask black people how much they would need to become white, I think we'd continue to find the valuation is placed not on the race or color itself, but on the cultural assimilation. Since I already have a semblance of access, you'd have to pay me a lot more to magically turn white now, than to go back in the days — before I was plucked from the jungle Bronx — and be raised white, presumably in the lap of luxury on Park Ave where all the white people live. All this means is: we want the access and opportunity, not the skin cancer.

So maybe the cost is roughly the equivalent of a private school education, from 9-college. Maybe tack on thirty years of counseling/therapy. All in all, definitely more than $10K, but probably less than $1M. If you go more you'd have to start arguing for physical/genetic costs. And I don't think Magnum XLs are that expensive.

So I guess the final lesson in all of this is simply: white people watch too much television.

And also, that kid with the fro-hawk should stay away from cameras. And me.

Study Searches for Cost of Being Black

Friday, July 13, 2007

NBA Improvement Plan

TAN makes a stop at his basketball home away from home, freedarko.

Just some lighthearted banter about trading Kobe for Lebron, and getting the NBA to embrace the racism within. Racial All-Star game, WNBA (White National Basketball Association), the short-and-simple argument against white MVPs, and more when you head over.

They also have a nice video interview with Greg Oden, courtesy of AOL Fanhouse contibutor Miss Gossip, where he speaks on this picture to the right, amongst other things.

Association, Heal Thyself [freedarko]

I Always Thought 'The Wind' Was a Woman

This amusing concept ad for wind as an alternative energy source has been getting some buzz. Often doing the right thing is boring, but this commercial frames the quest for alternative energy (or at least this aspect) in an entertaining light:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

When Giant Negroes Roamed The Earth

Undercover Black Man has started a fascinating online course on the Giant Negro epoch in American history.

It sounds like the start for a little piece of satire or sketch comedy, but in fact, it's true! There was such a time:

"The Times first acknowledged the existence of these fearsome creatures on August 5, 1897. The headline was “Insane Negro Giant in Newark.”

Over the next four decades, the New York Times provided all the news that was fit to print about “giant negroes.” Articles with headlines such as these:

“Giant Negro Attacks Police.” [Sept. 24, 1900]

“Negro Giant Guilty.” [July 28, 1905]

“Armed Negro Giant Goes Mad on Liner.” [May 15, 1916]

“Seize Giant Negro, Hide Him for Safety.” [December 24, 1922]"

UBM has plenty more on this, but I'm a little sad I missed out on this overlooked (but glorious!) time in Negro history.

Attack of the GIANT NEGROES!! [Undercover Black Man]
(via racialicious)

Read A Book

UPDATE (10/10): See my interview with the creators of the "Read A Book" video here.

From the looks of this incredible video, the next generation of PSA's is here. And they're awesome/hot/fresh/dope! Apparently this has been playing on BET, but it needs to be playing everywhere (it's not tv, it's HBO). Watch the video (again and again) and then READ A BOOK! Not a sports page. Not a magazine. But a book ni**a! A f*ckin' book ni**a:

Music: Bomani "D'Mite" Armah
Animation: Six Point Harness
Director: Tyree Dillihay

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I Can Has Hot Librarian?

This Sunday the NY Times filled us in on hipster librarians. And now, two days later, people are still emailing each other about it. Hmmm, well maybe I should make fun of it! Let's start from the beginning:
On a Sunday night last month at Daddy’s, a bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, more than a dozen people in their 20s and 30s gathered at a professional soiree, drinking frozen margaritas and nibbling store-bought cookies. With their thrift-store inspired clothes and abundant tattoos, they looked as if they could be filmmakers, Web designers, coffee shop purveyors or artists.
Hmmm, powerful opening. I smell hipster... handbook.
When talk turned to a dance party the group had recently given at a nearby restaurant, their profession became clearer.

“Did you try the special drinks?” Sarah Gentile, 29, asked Jennifer Yao, 31, referring to the colorfully named cocktails.

“I got the Joy of Sex,” Ms. Yao replied. “I thought for sure it was French Women Don’t Get Fat.”

Ms. Yao could be forgiven for being confused: the drink was numbered and the guests had to guess the name. “613.96 C,” said Ms. Yao, cryptically, then apologized: “Sorry if I talk in Dewey.”

No problem Ms. Yao, sorry I'm going to leave you now and go talk to the normal people over there. Oh, and the name of my drink is "Shut the f*ck up," I mean "Shush."
That would be the Dewey Decimal System. The groups’ members were librarians. Or, in some cases, guybrarians. “He hates being called that,” said Sarah Murphy
Oh, he hates being called a "guybrarian?" That's weird. What is he trying to act cool or something? From these first couple paragraphs, I'm thinking this must be a piece about how we think librarians are nerdy, but they're like incredibly way nerdier than we ever imagined.
Ms. Murphy was speaking of Jeff Buckley, a reference librarian at a law firm, who had a tattoo of the logo from the Federal Depository Library Program peeking out of his black T-shirt sleeve.
Oh my, a tattoo of the FDLP? (yeah I throw that acronym around like nothing, don't you?) What is this guy, some sort of Library Avenger or something?
Librarians? Aren’t they supposed to be bespectacled women with a love of classic books and a perpetual annoyance with talkative patrons — the ultimate humorless shushers?
Yes! or ... I don't know, maybe?! No?? Why are you asking me about librarians again? Aren't they people just like you and me? What are these silly questions? Is this the NY Times? I thought I was reading the NY Times. Can someone please point me to the NY Times.
Not any more. With so much of the job involving technology and with a focus now on finding and sharing information beyond just what is available in books, a new type of librarian is emerging — the kind that, according to the Web site Librarian Avengers, is “looking to put the ‘hep cat’ in cataloguing.”
Oh snap! That guy really is a Library Avenger. Uh-oh, I have late fees from 1986 (book: "Are You There God, It's Me TAN" also known as "Ketel 1-and-Cranberry"), ... and now I'm kind of scared.
When the cult film “Party Girl” appeared in 1995, with Parker Posey as a night life impresario who finds happiness in the stacks, the idea that a librarian could be cool was a joke.
Two cool librarians walk into a bar ... HA!

It's funny because it's true.
Now, there is a public librarian who writes dispatches for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, a favored magazine of the young literati. “Unshelved,” a comic about librarians — yes, there is a comic about librarians — features a hipster librarian character.
A librarian who writes for McSweeney's? REALLY?!!!? What's next? Popcorn at movie theaters? Also, THERE'S A COMIC ABOUT LIBRARIANS?!!? You are seriously blowing my mind right now. That's, like, totally impossible to comprehend. What's next? A comic about a talking beagle who sleeps on his dog-house and occasionally flies in WWII planes?
And, in real life, there are an increasing number of librarians who are notable not just for their pink-streaked hair but also for their passion for pop culture, activism and technology.
Well duh. Anyone who streaks their hair pink is doing it because they're passionate. PINK: P is for pop culture, I is for actIvism, N is for techNology, and K is for Konichiwa bitches!!!
“We’re not the typical librarians anymore,” said Rick Block, an adjunct professor at the Long Island University Palmer School and at the Pratt Institute School of Information and Library Science, both graduate schools for librarians, in New York City.

“When I was in library school in the early ’80s, the students weren’t as interesting,” Mr. Block said.

Tell Mr. Block he's a douche, and no one is signing up for his class at LIU this year.

Ok, enough of this setup and character profiling! Can someone tell us what these librarians do that make the job so interesting?

For that we tab Jessamyn West, 38, the editor behind a site with the tagline, "putting the rarin’ back in librarian since 1999":
In a typical day, Ms. West might send instant and e-mail messages to patrons, many of who do their research online rather than in the library. She might also check Twitter, MySpace and other social networking sites, post to her various blogs and keep current through MetaFilter and RSS feeds. Some librarians also create Wikis or podcasts.
You know, every day I wake up, turn on my computer and wonder "who am i?" Turns out, I'm a librarian! Wait a minute, you too?? Awesome! Good thing librarians -- along with blogs and online networking sites -- are cool then, huh. Also, Ms. West, there isn't a "rarin'" in "librarian." You should nix the tagline, the joke is too forced. It's the same reason Gawker nixed "putting the awe in Gawker" and Obama nixed "putting the Obama in hippobotamus" (hmm, hope that works out). You're either putting the "rarian" back, or you're doing nothing. That tricknology is not working on me!

Anybook, I don't know about this article. I feel like I'm looking at a big scoreboard that says Hipsters: 100, NY Times: 0. I don't see the story -- Hipsters have discovered an alternative to waiting tables? That's cool, most wait-staff I'm sure would take the $51K median salary over tips. But wait, you first need to scrounge up the money to get that most versatile of graduate degrees, the MLS! Sounds like a plan ... for hipsters with money and no real dreams!

Now if you were to take all these young hipster librarians and catch up with them in ten years, and see if they're still working in libraries, that might be interesting. That's the real heart of the librarian cliche; the older librarian coming to terms with their dead-end job. Williamsburg no longer welcomes them, so they hang out at home, alone, ordering book-drinks to themselves, "Are you there God, it's me TAN?" All night, every night. Now that's a story!

There was one other quote that could have led to something substantive:

"I wanted to do something different, something maybe more meaningful,” said Carrie Klein, 36, who used to be a publicist for a record label and for bands such as Radiohead and the Foo Fighters, but is now starting a new job in the library at Entertainment Weekly.

Now here's something to dig into. Who's more meaningless: a publicist or a librarian?

Let's ponder that in Williamsburg over a Complete Idiot's Guide to Being a Librarian and a shot of the Kama Sutra, shall we? Seriously, let's make it two shots of the Sutra, those librarian glasses always turn me on.

A Hipper Crowd of Shushers [NY Times]

Dear TAN: 'No Paper Money Left'

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: My friends are poor!

Dear TAN,

had a sandwich for lunch. Unfortunately no leftovers, and that brings me down to loose change status-- no paper money left. Luckily, someone has a birthday today so we are getting cake at 3pm. I am going to try to smuggle some extra slices for dinner.

-Friend of TAN


Dear Friend,

Well, as you know I'm very familiar with the "strictly change" days. I consider it a rite of passage for NYC living. But I am delighted to hear you were able to procure a whole sandwich. I'd look into perhaps getting the office to sponsor an impromptu dinner for the lucky birthday person. If it's a friend of yours, even if you can't get the office dinner popping, maybe you can "take a collection" for a birthday present. Then you can eat said present.

This only buys you time, of course. And if discovered, people will hate you. But it's easier to be hated on a full stomach.

Good luck. And save a cake slice for me!


Monday, July 09, 2007

David Brooks Want To Live In A Black Neighborhood, But Not Really

In Friday's NY Times, columnist David Brooks explains why he's a little bummed out over "the waning dream of integration." He suggests that we once all had a dream of equality (Yay! iPhones for everyone!). But now it seems to him the dream is dying, and that's kind of sad (sorry, there's actually no iPhones for minorities, terrorists, or communists!).

Brooks namedrops a bunch of Isms and Ations to explain how we get all ambitious in the spirit of togetherness, but in the end togetherness never sticks. Communism? A mess. War on Terrorism? Needs more work. Immigration reform? not so much. Or as he says, "All these promises hung in the air, but then crumbled."

But just when you're expecting him to drop some of that I'm-a-NY-Times-columnist wisdom on your dome, he concludes saying, "This isn't the integrated world many of us hoped for. But maybe it's the only one available."


Maybe it's because I don't have a column in the Times, but I'm a little confused.

Brooks says the Civil Rights movement was a promise to heal "the nation's oldest wound." So If I'm to follow the logic of his metaphor then "America" is walking around with an open wound and Dr. Brooks is saying "tough break, kid" and sending us home with a 739-word band-aid.

Hmmm, well I must be missing his point:

"Maybe the health of a society is not measured by how integrated each institution within it is, but by how freely people can move between institutions. In a sick society, people are bound by one totalistic identity. In a healthy society, a person can live in a black neighborhood, send her kids to Catholic school, go to work in a lawyer's office and meet every Wednesday with a feminist book club. Multiply your homogenous communities and be fulfilled."

Oh, I get it now. I thought white people were moving into East Harlem because it was cheap. But actually, it's because it's healthy! East Harlem is like carrots! El Carrotio!

Some other issues:

1. Integration isn't the same dream or problem for everyone. We don't all have the same "wound." A family operates in the spirit of togetherness, but if they end up in a car accident and only the adopted black son gets seriously hurt, they don't all share the same injury. It may be that everyone in the family is suffering from psychological issues, especially since the "accident" was a result of the white father kidnapping the "adopted son" cause he needed more manpower to get work done in his backyard; but while everyone shares in the handwringing, it's only the adopted black son that's in ICU, hysterically rap-talking about hoes and rims. So let's drop the patronizing "we," shall we (d'oh!).

2. I don't expect Dr. Brooks to definitively know how to heal everything, but if he's casting himself as a doctor, I'd like him to at least try. Brooks premises what I'd call a "Right or Fight" decision: He says things aren't right, and they're not. But instead of fighting, he opts out. It's like Braveheart but with David Brooks as Mel Gibson and he just trots off on his horse instead of delivering the dramatic speech. It's like the plight for minorities in America is terminal cancer, and, well, that's it.

Well goddammit, I want a second opinion.

3. I'd suggest Brooks is stymied by what I now call "Crash Course Racism." If you only learned about racism from the movie Crash, you'd have an interesting, provocative, and theoretically informed opinion about racism. But you don't know the experience. So you end up comparing racism to cars crashing out in LA or whatever the f*ck that was.

Crash Course Racism is progressive when contrasted with civil rights Jim Crow thinking. but it highlights the crux of the issue: racism is our wound. More accurately, our scar. We have healed. We have made progress. But we still have a nasty scar from the accident, and it's a little sensitive, and we're a little self-conscious still. But we're capable. We're not incapacitated. We're just a little weird about it.

And to be honest, I'm tired of hearing about the "racist experience," or the "dream of integration" from old white people. Like they know something cause they just stayed in a Holiday Inn Express in Harlem. I guess Brooks is right, I can only connect with my community's experience. And it's across the board, I'm not interested in heterosexuals pontificating on the angst involved in receiving anal sex. If you don't know anything about it, shut up! And if you're really interested then go find someone who knows the experience and work with them.

Which is how the dream can work. If Mr. Brooks really wanted to give it a shot, he could start by giving up his cushy NY Times platform once a week, so that a deserving black writer (not me!) can articulate some thoughts from first-hand experience. Not even once a week, how about .... once.

Matter of fact, I think a nice step for any white writer or commentator looking to express authentic ideas about issues of racism would be to shut the f up, and find a black friend to tell you some things (or Mexican, Puerto Rican etc.). And if all your minority friends are stupid and inarticulate, then keep looking, cause guess what? We're out there. We're not dead. We're just very badly burned!

So if you really want to figure this out, all you have to do is be proactive. Don't talk the dream. Live it.

Otherwise, Dr. Brooks, I'm forced to diagnose you as full of sh*t. With no hope of recovery.

The End of Integration [NY Times]

It's BIgger Than Hip ... Hop

"Hip Hop" [lyricsfreak]

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Dear TAN: Don't Be a Cab Driver in Nigeria in the 70s; Also, Edible Lamb Eyes!

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: Nigeria in the 70s sounds awesome!

Dear TAN,

Machetes are the new i-phones...

I lived in Nigeria in the early 70's and watched a traffic jam develop. Suddenly a cab driver exited his cab and attacked one of the other drivers stuck in the jam (as were we). He killed him there on the street in that moment. No one batted an eye. Not sure if he used a machete...oh well, doesn't matter...same idea.



Dear W,

That story is crazy.



Dear TAN,

Life is cheap in those countries -or it was then anyhow. Eventually, you sort of harden over too. I can remember being out with a bunch of wealthy westerners in India, in a cab, and then stepping over mothers with suckling infants to reach our restaurant. I had just had a baby and was acutely aware of how beautiful his bedroom was, with the nanny in attendance, in contrast to the baby in the street who was wallowing in filth at his mother's breast. We were new there. It doesn't break your heart as much after a while.

But Nigeria was the best. There was the 1 lane bridge that would have stalemated cars backed up for miles and hours. We packed a lunch every time we drove to Lagos because that bridge always ended up with 2 drivers who would NOT yield. Then there was the king who had lots of money and no sophistication. He installed johns in his living room (no water, not used) just because they were western and signified wealth. And don't get me started on the desiccated rat we received as a present. Or the lamb eyes we had to eat. One could go on and on but it is Saturday night. Must go drink.

Friday, July 06, 2007

This Blog Is A Time Killer

My mortality sickens me. The cold hard female-moustache reality on aging is that it’s a countdown. You are born and the clock starts -- tick, tick, tick -- and at some point the buzzer goes off and the dream will be over. More than god, or love, or American Apparel, this is probably the one thing the most people believe to be true. And it’s not a source of joy or happiness. Sure, the tragedy of it all is good for comedy; but the laughter is always at you, never with you. Whatever you do or say, it’s a joke. Ha. No, seriously. Ha!!

So I don’t like birthdays. And it’s the same way I don’t like funerals. It’s like, duuude, who wants to go to a Sadness Party, y’know? Thinking about it, I might actually prefer funerals. Birthdays are this big charade of happiness, but meanwhile all you really want to do is cry and say, “I’m sorry for your loss. That’s a tough break on those 365 days they took. We’ll get the bastard, I SWEAR IT!”

The thing is, when I go to birthday parties and cry and tell them we’ll get the bastard, I’m not just being nice. I really mean it. I’m going to get that bastard! DO YOU HEAR ME, TIME?? THERE'S NOT ENOUGH ROOM IN THIS TOWN FOR THE BOTH OF US! ONE OF US IS NOT LEAVING THIS WORLD/DIMENSION ALIVE!!

Have I mentioned my medication that getting older is sad and disgusting? I loathe it. And I loathe to use the word “loathe,” but I really do. It’s the perfect word for the occasion. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the first word invented. God created Time, then Loathe. Then Hate, Murder, Rape and Pestilence. Then Kittens. And Cute Girls. On a child’s first birthday, I always give them an index card with the word “loathe.” I think it makes the perfect gift (after an iphone!), plus it’s something they can grow with and keep forever.

Shouldn’t we celebrate birthdays and funerals the same way? One is: “Who’s dead? Let’s congregate.” And the other is, “Who’s closer to dying? Let’s congregate.” Either way, let’s get that Patron popping! Woo-Hoo!

Of course an old white man once told me that another old white man said, “Youth is wasted on the young, just as blackness is wasted on black people” And for some reason I think this is a good place to use that line.

Aging apologists like to point to my poverty, personality, and alcoholism as the source of my depression. Also, my average-sized penis (it's rude to point!). But definitely not my “maturation.” I am in fact getting better with time. But that is where the Criss Angel Mindfreak happens. Because I’m not getting better with time, I’m getting better with experience.

[earnest pause here]

This is what goads me the most about time. The vanity! The chutzpah! Everything we know and do is invested in time. Jobs, relationships, love, hate, it all seemingly fluctuates with time. But no! It’s all a ruse. Or so we hope...

The signs of our disbelief and rebellion are as persistent as the enemy itself. We never act our age. And never-turning-30 is always the-new-20 which is always the-new-47. I’ve been friends with this person for two months, but it feels like years. I’ve been blogging for a year and change, but it feels like forever. I can have sex for six minutes, but it feels like two. It’s all just friggin' numbers as long as the chick is hot!

We just have to work on ignoring Time. Separating him from our perception of experience. Either all experience is timeless. Or time only passes when we experience. Regardless, the seconds and minutiae don't matter. And that's what I'm here for, to make sure that prophecy is fulfilled. My "about me" should simply read "Time Killer." Sent here so that we would no longer be burdened by this oppressive institution of aging. The realm of our experience has no boundaries, time or otherwise. We just have to believe it. You could put a chicken in the oven right now, and cook it, and never have to look at the time. You can just experience when the chicken is done.

Go ahead. Try it. Put something in the oven. Maybe a meatloaf. Then forget about time...

Now go back the next "day" and see what you have. If you've been focusing, it should be a nice fresh tasty meat loaf. If it's burned, then try again, but this time THINK HARDER.

Anyage, I've gotten a little lost here, and I have to wrap this up because, uh, well the sun is going down. But just know, this is not the end. We're going to lick this mortality thing! We're going to do it together! And next time you see Time, tell him TAN said he's a dead man.

Eternal Now (audio) [TAN]

How About You Two Ladies Come Home With Me and Slap The Sh*t/Estrogen Out Of Each Other?

Does that sound nice? Yes? Good. Cause I don't want sex. I only want to watch you do this:
via Jezebel

Of course, like jazz, hip hop and Jessica Biel's ass, girl-on-girl bitchslap orgies are just another thing started by black people only to cross-over and be co-opted by the man:

This next one should be watched on youtube for the comment that offers this slap analysis:

"It wasn't fair b/c harlem kept turning her head as the slap came towards her while jersey kept her head straight..but jersey's slap got weaker as the rounds went on while h's slaps were consistant. I can't believe i'm commenting on this stupid crap LoL"

Yes, me neither. But let's check the video tape:

Maybe I need someone to slap some sense into me, but this is hot! Forget Claire Huxtable, I need me a Smackfest Champion type of girl. Holla!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Machetes Are The New iPhone

Price of machetes drops after elections in Nigeria [Reuters]

Alternative Headline:

something something -- Slash Prices, Africa, Irony -- something something

any ideas for a good headline on this story?

Yeah, But How Come They Never Shoot Off Any Black Fireworks?

Every year I go check out the fireworks on July 4th, and every year I'm reminded of how far my people have to go. In this country we will never truly be "independent" until black people can look up and see fireworks that represent them hidden against the nighttime sky.

Rainy 4th of July [Newsday]

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Six Asses That Changed America

Ass! Everybody loves ass nowadays. Scientists study it. Jessica Biel has perfected it. And us minorities love to holler at it. But alass (snort), twas not always the case. So in celebration of, I don't know, Ass Tuesday, let's take a quick trip through the history of our dear derriere and cop a feel on Six Asses That Changed America.

Saartjie Baartman: The story of ass in America unfortunately begins with tragedy. And, fittingly enough, not in America (oh no, I'm in the wrong piece!). The original rumpshaker belonged to Saartjie Baartman, also known as the Hottentot Venus. The original video-ho, she made it clap and toured Europe to pay the bills. I'm surprised more of these video girls don't rock the "HV" on their cheeks just out of respect.

Marilyn Monroe: Sweet Marilyn of course is our first iconic white-girl-with-curves. Plumpness in general was more appreciated back in the days, but her status as the quintessential "Sex Symbol" makes her special. Plus, look at that picture! I'd hit that! Miss Monroe's hourglass shape also became the model for the caucasian ass template, which prioritizes a high hippiness-to-flesh ratio. If not genetics, then Marilyn may be the reason white girls are widescreen, and black women are Imax 3D.

Baby Got Back: Can you believe this song won a grammy!!! And was banned on MTV?! What style! What substance! Sir Mix-A-Lot inadvertently gave booty a culture. It was kind of like passing the Civil Rights Act for ass. That's why you can't sleep on these silly pop songs. In twenty years who knows what revolution of ecological conservation will have been inspired by the line, "'til the sweat drips from my balls." That's energy people!

JLo - Jennifer Lopez, perhaps the most famous ass in the contemporary era. She turned booty into capital. We always knew booty could dance, but we didn't know it could sing (kinda). And act (sorta). And sell perfume (definitely!). Insuring your hindquarters for a billion dollars takes brass ... buns! J Lo is like Ayn Rand and Susan B. Anthony with ass. And I have no idea what that means, but it sounds like a party!

Beyonce - Miss Knowles, also known as The J-Lo 4000, isn't quite packing the same heat. But she's an astute and diligent student of the game. She knows how to use it. She knows how to flaunt it. And she was able to provide support for her booty-enterprise with genuine talent. She is currently regarded as the perfect black woman by all black males between the ages of 18-34, and her booty plays no small part in that. It's also no coincidence the song that put Beyonce on the map was Bootylicious. After Sir Mix-A-Lot and JLo we were in fact very ready for that jelly.

Jessica Biel - While J-Lo and Beyonce were showing minorities how to work it in the Modern Booty Era, white women were caught in a dilemma. The Marilyn Monroe model had been put on the shelf, and no one filled the void to show caucasian sisters how to really fill out those jeans with spunk. Sure 'Ye and 'Lo were assimilated enough to provide inspiration for all girls across the board. But the light-skins needed someone swimming more firmly in their own gene pool. Kylie Minogue flared up, but her plan was too high maintenance. And Anna Marie Cox was just an ass. She didn't have any. This was a serious problem until caucasians discovered the hips that hold the Cistine Chapel of Cadonkadonk, the Holy Grail of Grabbable Glutes, that Bountiful Bastion of Beautiful Backside known as Biel, Jessica. And so now here we are. Not much more to say besides, "I do."

Oh and I almost forgot one more. The missing link in booty evolution. MAN!:

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