Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dear TAN: African babies DO Matter!

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: Not only celebrities adopt babies.

Dear TAN,

african babies DO matter ...

not because of politics in a race war, but because they are human beings deserving of food, love, and a family.

these pics are from the day my daughter was brought to the orphanage dying from malaria

and a pic this month at home.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Negro Law: Can Celebrities Adopt Us?

My take on the new Hollywood trend of adopting African babies is up on EbonyJet today. Here's your intro ...

What will the world be like in 10-20 years? When we have perspective to look back on the Great African-Baby Rush of '06-07?

Will history fondly remember these fair baby-mamas? Or has the ugly face of racism simply taken on the most becoming of disguises?

Seems like it was only 10-20 years ago when many of us were brazenly scoffing at Caucasians at cocktail parties. "Whatever!" we exclaimed. "They may talk a good game, but it's not like any of these Hollywood celebs are taking care of some stinky old dark baby in Africa."

And look at them now: Madonna! Angelina! The girl from Weeds! All as skinny, and kind, and benevolent as Mr. Drummond himself.

In the slightly altered words of the old Negro spiritual theme song “Different Strokes”:

A [wo]man is born, a [wo]man of means,
Then along come three, they ain't even got no jeans…
But they got …
Mel-a Nin
It takes
Mel-a Nin
It takes
Mel-a Nin
To move the world…

continued on EbonyJet ...

UPDATE II: All is fixed, so first update is no longer needed.
UPDATE: I realize in the version I sent, I forgot to include a key suggestion. Here it is as an addendum:

Can Celebrities Adopt Us? [Ebony]
Hollywood's Latest Accessory [TMZ]

See-Through Frog Legs Taste Like Chicken

Some Japanese scientists have created the first transparent four-legged creature. It's a frog.

And kind of disgusting.

See-Through Frog: No Dissection Necessary

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Slate Biting TAN's Ass ... Post

If you look at my Six Asses That Changed America, and Slate's Illustrated History of Buttocks it wouldn't be crazy to think they were two separate, but similarly themed, feature ideas. I did a sillier, bloggy version. And Slate did a slightly more diligent examination.

Of course if you knew that I pitched "Asses that Changed America" to Slate, specifically as a slideshow pictorial ... then, I don't know. It starts looking a little sketchier.

But I'm getting used to others biting my style. As it goes with CBS Sportsline, and Radar, and the world ... so it goes with Slate. And, y'know, they did change my "let's take a quick trip through the history of our dear derriere" to "Oh, that Darling Derrière: A History of the buttocks, in pictures" (italics mine; don't steal them, Slate!).

Anybutt, I'm going to ignore the impulse to add this clip to my press room. I know this sort of thing comes with the territory. I'm just happy that, at least as far as the History of Ass goes, I seem to be in tune with the sensibility of an online magazine that I read and respect. And when you have that sort of personal affirmation, who needs a byline and $$?

Besides I don't write to pay the bills, that's what dating is for.

A history of the buttocks [Slate]
Six Asses that Changed America [TAN]

Into The Box: The Manhattan Race Card

Are you into New York City Real Estate? If you got the money, who isn't? And if you don't, well it can still be nice to keep tabs and know what neighborhood you want to live in when you can afford it.

Well the new ish now for doing just that — keeping tabs on NYC Real Estate — is Into The Box, where they do a daily video on the latest news, trends, and politics of the NYC Real Estate scene.

Hosted and helmed by telegenic brunette, Rachel Natalie Klein, the daily vids are slick well-produced 2-3 minute affairs. And for today's episode on "The Manhattan Race Card" they came by TAN's humble abode to talk a little about segregation and ethnics leaving the city.

Rachel and I met a year or so ago, when we both called "SpaHa" our home turf. She was looking for a bagel, and I was looking for a white jewish girl who knows how to make fried chicken. I think we're both still looking, now in different hoods, and perhaps now for different things ... but it was fun getting to help out with her new project.

Anybox, peep the video. Then go check out IntoTheBox and tell Rachel what you think. This is a new style for NYC Real Estate, and they just launched, so I'm sure she'll appreciate the feedback.

Next week I might add some color to the incident she briefly mentions in her Behind the Scenes section:

"When he brought us into his home for the interview, we (well, I) had a small fiasco with his bathroom toilet."

Small fiasco indeed! In fact, my toilet still trembles at the memory.

NYC Real Estate Obsession Leads To Video Blog [NY Sun]

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Clowns Run Klan out of Knoxville

This is an old story I got tipped off on, and never got around to posting. But really anytime clowns can so deliciously foil the plans of a Nazi/KKK Group, it's pretty much timeless.

hat tip: Ed

Clowns KKKick KKK ass [Asheville Indymedia]

Monday, September 24, 2007

NY Times Doles Out Good Advice for Bums Looking for Love and Money; Mostly Money

Attention all male bums, deadbeats, and freeloaders starving artists, musicians, and writers! This weekend's NY Times Sunday Styles section has a wonderful profile on your ideal soulmate – aka woman pulling crazy bank. Seems they are a growing legion:

For the first time, women in their 20s who work full time in several American cities — New York, Chicago, Boston and Minneapolis — are earning higher wages than men in the same age range, according to a recent analysis of 2005 census data by Andrew Beveridge, a sociology professor at Queens College in New York.

Holla! Of course us true artists know this is nothing but a cause for celebration. But whenever the issue of women making more than men is brought up, you know someone is going to try and sell you on the whole “men have a tough time not being the bread winner” idea. I don’t know if it’s a race thing — it’s more likely a class thing — but I know if you’re like me, and you came up fairly poor, you have NO, ZERO, ZILCH problem with your babycakes making more money than you. Especially if she’s sharing. I know in my case its like, sheeit, every female panhandler I try and kick it to on the street, and her slovenly intern, is making more money than me, let alone that totally out-of-my-league queen with a J-O-B at Duane Reade. So how am I gonna get mad?

Psychology aside, I haven’t done any surveys, but I do feel this trend is real. I see it. I have more and more friends, who are couples, where the guy is the flunky trying to do ... whatever, and the woman is the only one who sees his potential. And GOD, how I ENVY those guys.

Anymooch, back to the Times. The article profiles some of these beautiful women, and their mixed bag of thoughts on these issues:

Women are encountering forms of hostility they weren’t prepared to meet, and are trying to figure out how to balance pride in their accomplishments against their perceived need to bolster the egos of the men they date.

Hmmm, how to bolster a man's ego? This shouldn’t be difficult. Here’s a tip ladies, and you should write this one down in period blood because it’s pretty much permanent: Ego = Penis. Swell the penis up via blowjobs, sexy lingerie, nice sex, etc. And you swell the ego. Very simple. Works every time! How can a guy feel not feel like a king while you diligently polish The Pulverizer?

(Before proceeding with the analysis, I have to make an aside about the Times inclusion of a girl who has just fast-tracked to the top of my "I Want Her" list. Peep this snippet:

Hilary Rowland, 28, bought her first condominium when she was 18, using money she had earned from an online business started when she was 15.

Ummm, Hel-LO?? First condo when she was 18? Started her first online business when she was 15? Can I get YOUR number please? After reading that I immediately dropped everything (priorities people!) and looked up Hilary Rowland online. Upon further review, turns out the "business" was an online magazine, or what we call them now… blogs. Which means I have one too! But still, that's cool. She’s a hottie. And if she needs a kept-negro to add to her portfolio I'll call anything she wants a "business.")

Moving on, at this point in the article I start getting nervous cause I swear the Times is tracking my dating maneuvers:

“When we broke up,” she added, “he was upset that I gave my ‘ex’ more gifts than I gave him. Meanwhile, the only gift I’d gotten from him was a small notepad.”

OMG! That’s soooo me! I stay blessing my mamis and mamacitas with notepads. Pens too! It’s good to write and get it out of you, baby. Go ahead and write down how you can’t believe you gave up the drawers to a blogger who crashes and burns on NPR and gives you a notepad while you give him an iPhone (please?). Get it all out. Merry Xmas. Also, Happy Birthday!

Next up:

Ms. Rowland, like some other women interviewed, said that she has come to the conclusion that it would be easier to date someone in the same economic bracket.

Yikes! And this is my soon-to-be Miss Assimilated Negro talking. Oh no! I'm glad the Times buried this little nugget of rational sensibility in the middle of the article. If all the ladies adopted this mantra some of us would have no one to date. Here in America, the land of excess and opportunity, there ain’t NO ONE in my economic bracket. I’d have to move to Africa and kick it to starving babies before they get adopted.

On a first date at a lounge in Hell’s Kitchen, Thrupthi Reddy, 28, a brand strategist in Manhattan, watched her date down several cocktails to her one, then not even flinch when she handed the waitress her credit card.

Hey! There’s me again! Big fan of the several cocktails-to-one ratio. Proves you're a man!

But really, this article is funny because it's basically a bunch of girls trying to reconcile in their head why they don’t care about having a "good guy" if he's not doing anything with his life. Sounds like "no duh" simple evolutionary theory to me, but I guess we need the Times to help work it out in our heads.

So more bits like this:

Michael R. Cunningham, a psychologist who teaches in the communication department at the University of Louisville, conducted a survey of college women to see if, upon graduation, they would prefer to settle down with a high school teacher who has short workdays, summers off and spare energy to help raise children, or with a surgeon who earns eight times as much but works brutal hours. Three-quarters of the women said they would choose the teacher.

Ok. Talk about a survey that proves nothing. A teacher is easy. That’s still a regular salary and just about the most endearing, gratifying heartwarming job anyone can have. No matter what they earn, you can't hate on a teacher. Especially if you're pulling down good money.

But how about a blogger? We too can have short workdays, summers off and perhaps even muster a little energy for the kids (or at least live-blog it when they fall down the stairs). Only thing is the teacher makes eight times as much as you, and a surgeon might as well be a sultan who lives on a pile of gold. Tougher call now? Hmmm, probably not.

But is there anything worse than a blogger?

Jade Wannell, 25, a producer at a Chicago ad agency who lives in a high-rise apartment building, started dating a 29-year-old administrator at a trucking company last year...

“I have to say that I didn’t like his career, I didn’t think he had the goals of someone I would eventually like to be with or have respect for,” she said, adding, “It wasn’t the job, it was the passion.”

Oh? What's that? The 29-year-old SECRETARY for a TRUCKING COMPANY wasn't getting all the red carpet invites you were expecting? That's sooo weird.

Memo to Jade: It was the job.


The point, Professor Cunningham said, was that young professionally oriented women have no problem dating down if the man is secure, motivated in his own field and emotionally supportive.

At least, that’s what their responses are in surveys. Talk about the subject with women a bit older — those who have been out of college long enough to be more hardened — and what you hear is ambivalence, if not downright hostility, about the income disparity.

Ahhh … finally a breakthrough we can work with. Get 'em while they’re young! Fresh out of college! Of course us PROFESSIONAL Starving Artist types have long known about this axiom of freelance living. A 22-25 year old, making bank? Yeah, sign me up.

Which leads to my big takeaway from this article. I'm going to give up this sweet writing-for-pennies and embarrassing-myself-on-the-radio gig I've got and start a BUSINESS!! It's going to be a relationship matchmaker type deal. E-Harmony meets Deadbeats. I might call it E-Bum. Or E-Mooch. Or maybe ... something like that.

But it's gonna be a service where young, hot, smart women with dough in the bank can peruse through a whole database of non-profit n'er-do-wells in search of their perfect co-dependent. All of the arts will be represented. And all of the variations of scruffy facial-hair stylings as well! All YOU have to do is find the one that's willing to walk the dog and bang your brains out after work every day.

Of course, now I need a woman with a dog and a dormant sex life to see the upside and help me finance this venture. Are you out there babycakes? Check my profile, I make a lovely pet! All you have to worry about is if Hilary Rowland comes along, or someone else younger, smarter, hotter and with more money. Because, you know, I'm ambitious like that.

But beside that, yeah ... come and get it! I'll even get the tough emotional stuff out the way early. Look:

I Love You ...


Putting Money on the Table
[NY Times]


The iNTERNETS CELEBRITIES continue to cement their place in the Hall of Internet Hotness. This profile of breakfast cereal is as brilliant and hilarious as it was necessary:



Friday, September 21, 2007

Crash & Learn on NPR

UPDATE: The audio clip of the show is up.

So yesterday I made my debut on NPR, on the show Tell Me More with Michel Martin. The specific segment was called The Barbershop, and it's hosted by Jimi Izrael.

Now Michel Martin is sort of an Oprah-esque major media player; her resume includes stints at The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and ABC News. She's won an Emmy, and recently held a panel spot on Bill Maher's show Politically Incorrect (which, incidentally, is probably the best show on television). And she's now running a major show/operation on NPR that's relevant, entertaining, and spicier than some of the blander programming you get on public talk radio.

Jimi Izrael is a guy I've connected with in the last few months, he's a fantastic, no-holds-barred writer who has done Fox News, and has bylines from pubs like the Los Angeles Times and Salon. And he's been holding down this Barbershop feature which he describes as "history in the making."

So needless to say these are two people I'm trying to be down with. Besides just being good network resources, they're two original assimilated negroes who have come through the system and done their thing. Independent of the contacts, they have wisdom and experience to relay to a young bruh coming up in the game....

All of this is to say, I wanted to make an impression with my NPR debut. The segment itself ends up being cut down to 13-15 minutes, so even more than impressing the audience, I wanted Michel and Jimi to feel they had a new weapon in the arsenal.

Of course this begs the question: what kind of weapon is TAN? Which, as this blog recently completed its second year in existence (more on the 2nd TANniversary later), is a question I'm thinking about constantly. I don't want to belabor the question right now, but suffice to say I think currently, as a weapon, in most cases, and certainly in recent cases, my role is to provide a unique perspective, one that encompasses race, either explicitly or implicitly, and hopefully a modicum of intelligence and entertainment value. The entertainment most likely being of the humorous variety. (Of course this is all speculative, and accomplished to varying degrees of failure)

So in the morning we get an email briefing on the subjects we'll be discussing: OJ, Isiah, Jena 6, and some ridiculous story about a councilman wanting to legislate against baggy pants.

For the show I made up a couple of index cards with notes and touchpoints on the topics for discussion, here's what I came in with (and since this is just about the NPR experience, I may flesh out some of the thoughts in later posts):

OJ The Hero: Just like NPR needs flavor from The Barbershop I think The Barbershop needs to show some compassion for their people. OJ doesn't need jail, he needs love. He needs his momma, and a year's supply of warm milk and honey to be served with accompanying strokes to the head.

-- Why can't we separate the man from the book/tv movie/media story. He was not born with an NFL contract. Anyone coming up in the 40s 50s, who was black, contracted rickets, and given the name Orenthal ... you're already thinking life is over. No one loves you. And its true! To have that all turned around because you run with a football, and fall down the steps in a wheelchair in hilarious fashion, thats sort of deep.

-- Add on the interracial relationship, which always brings issues, and being the subject of the Trial of the Century, and the fact that OJ Simpson is clearly insane comes as no surprise to me.

-- Why do we hold the bar so high on OJ, this is a guy who was caught pirating cable.

-- I think of OJ as a black-american hero. This is part of progress. You have to take your OJ with your Obama. When Martin and the boys started fighting for our rights, they didn't get to speculate on how we might get a lil crazy once we get in the mix, but here it is: OJ, Michael Jackson, R Kelly; these guys are trailblazers. Maybe the faces for our own F'd Up-&-Black Mount Rushmore. More than a black story, OJ feels like an American story, and its nice for us to be a part of that.

Isiah Case: Isiah's got 99 Problems, and that B is the first one.

-- I don't even know how it got this far. The most recent testimony -- and first from the defense witnesses -- indicates she was clearly fired for incompetence. Something she apparently even declared herself, citing she had "lost the confidence of her staff."

-- In which case, I ain't saying she a golddigger, but she ain't suing no broke brothers (like me or Jimi).

-- On the race issue, if we can get the ladies to lighten up on "the b-word" aspect, I commend Isiah for keeping it real, and telling the truth in a situation where he didn't need such candor, and could be deemed stupid to provide such candor; but the truth is what was being requested of him, and he provided it. This is no different than the n-word, and guess what? There is a double standard. I didn't institute it, nor did Isiah, but it exists. There is a distinction between a black person using the b-word (or the n-word), and a white person using it. No need to draw a bunch of other conclusions out of that, it is what it is. America is nothing, if not a country run on unleaded double standards.

Jena 6: Maybe I'm pathetic, but honestly I'm not in a tizzy over the Jena 6 situation. This feeling comes primarily because I feel The South is still on some other ish (dogfighting anyone?), and is therefore not representative of any sort of mainstream sensibility. I liken this to an outbreak of some old weird strain of racist virus, and perhaps the town needs to be quarantined. And I certainly take heart in black people taking action and coming together for a positive cause they believe in ... but I don't consider this a new "Civil Rights Movement." We have our civil rights, fyi.

Saggy Pants: This is ridiculous. Straight legislated racism. And whoever has the time to come up with a bill or government action of any sort related to sagging, baggy pants needs to get some time off from the job to get their priorities in order. What are they gonna do next, say we can't get Magnum XL's anymore?

So that's what I came in with in terms of my angles, and potential sound bytes. Which was how I was thinking about the show; less conversation, more just getting off an interesting take on the news story we're discussing. And you'll notice I brought more on OJ and Isiah, this is because they had been talking about Jena 6 the last couple weeks, so I figured that would be a quick-hitter, and of course the saggy pants story has no legs (oh!).

To my surprise we lead off with Jena 6, and Jimi, the host, passes me the rock first. I set it off with my "I'm not in a tizzy" take and we're underway. There's some disagreement with my seeming apathy -- of course -- and I don't think I did a good job of conveying what I do like about the Jena 6 rallying, but it's not that long a show. And I also wanted to convey my distrust in Al Sharpton, specifically in terms of leading a movement that also incorporates the opinions of young black people. In the end, Jimi -- who sort of puts a final stamp on each of the subjects as we discuss -- agreed with me, and expressed the ambivalence of not wanting to make too big a deal out of it, but yet and still wanting to support and show love for the spirit of it all, much better than I did.

Next subject is OJ. And the other guys on the panel (Terrance Harris, Arsalan Iftikhar) hold court before me, and as far as I'm concerned, they set me up pretty nicely. They're sort of bashing OJ, as everyone is, and declaring his stupidity, and ignorance, and misguided arrogance etc, and all of that plays well with my contrarian "Can't we show OJ some love..." take. The "warm milk and honey" line got a reaction, but as I was trying to get into OJ: The Man vs. OJ: The Target/Story, someone, I think Arsalan, starts talking over me and jumping the gun about OJ's career etc. These are all quick, tight takes, and since we're all in different locations patched in, Jimi generally orchestrates by calling someone out and cuing them to speak. As a first-timer I was specifically reminded to not talk over folks, and the show is clearly not set-up ideally for real point/counter-point type of debate. So for me, this was annoying, and was probably the first sign of turbulence with the flight.

But I should say, I'm not really shaking-my-fist upset with Arsalan (or whomever) about being talked over, i.e. I can see if you don't like OJ, and someone says he should get warm milk and honey, you might get riled up and need to interject. Especially if you're smart and think you can anticipate where i'm going (incidentally, I never got to premise my OJ-as-black-american Hero/sign of progress idea, and I don't think anyone would have anticipated that). But first time on the show, and unsure of how to handle the back-and-forth aspect, it took me off my game a little bit.

And to this point, my game was not air-tight, but I'd say I was playing like a talented rookie in his first game, showing a little something, holding his own, but lacking the poise and confidence that comes from experience.

AnyOJ, then we get to the Isiah Thomas story ... or really, for what its become recently, the "who you callin' a b*tch?" story. And this is where we really lose altitude.

Funny enough, I was actually looking forward to the Isiah subject. While I thought my OJ take was most representative of what I'd like to put out as "TAN" -- a slightly amusing contrarian position that cuts to what we're about as people as opposed to media stories and sound bytes -- the Isiah case was where I felt the most conviction in terms of going against the major tide of opinion. This woman, in my estimation, was clearly a gold digger, and the media had clearly been irresponsible with the "who you callin' a B?" angle. Isiah never suggested that anyone should call a woman a B, he just acknowledged that he sees a distinction when a black person says it and a white person says it.

This is easily, but irresponsibly, spun into "Isiah condones calling girls B's." Plus Isiah makes an easy target; he has a history of asshole and bullying behavior, and has generally been a tremendous failure in his role managing and coaching the New York Knicks.

So this was the subject where I came in with a really canned line (see above: 99 Problems ...). And its kind of ironic, because I thought it was hilarious, and in its way accurate (he does have many other problems! but this B is the main one right now!), but its actually the one line I sort of stole borrowed from another blog, and here it would prove to be the biggest problem with my set. (just goes to show kiddies, don't BORROW).

So when the rock comes my way again I lead with my 99 problems line, and then clumsily segue into the race/double-standard element. And the combination of the line being TOTALLY not appropriate for this setting, plus me defending the sticky issue of who can use slurs and epithets and such, definitely caused an immediate hubbub as we recorded. And the fact that we were recording for a later broadcast (or posting) was made very clear when Michel asked me to re-do my take on Isiah. And then obstinate ignoramus that I am, in my head I'm like, "yeah, she probably just wants a cleaner take on that 99 Problems line... its soooo on the money for this story." So I do the same take again, with minor tweakings that serve only to clarify my total obliviousness to the real matter at hand.

Michel, in her interjection, complained about my use of "jargon" and explained that it seemed I was condoning calling this women a B. Which I guess, I was (though I didn't use the word). And thought I had the right to do. The jargon part, she directly tied-in with my use of the word "MSG" when referencing Madison Square Garden executives. Which in hindsight I think is being a little nit-picky, I mean we were talking about Isiah Thomas coach of the Knicks who play at MSG, if someone somehow thinks I'm talking about monosodium glutamate, I think they must have chinese food on the brain and I can't do anything about that. So I sort of wrap that all up in the same, "who you callin' a B?" headwrap. What's funny to me now is I feel the same way Isiah got caught up, I was caught up. In fact, in my defense of him I sort of feel like Isiah set me up for a fall. And I'm considering suing him for a few million dollars.

So following that, the other guys got to jump on my needing-a-retake carcass, and I don't even remember what they said. Surely something about how black women are wonderful and beautiful and how no one white, black, or female dog, deserves to be called a B. Which, you know, I agree with. Really! Especially the dogs.

From there we moved on to the Saggy Jeans story. I gave a quick take on that. I did get in the Magnum XL line, which I don't even know if anyone heard, which is probably for the best. I could literally feel the heat and anger rising through the headphones at this point.

After we closed it out, there was a long extended silence where I can only imagine Michel and the producers were wondering where Jimi dug up the women-hating, oj-loving, racist jargon-user. To add just a little icing on top, at this point I thought I could only be heard by the engineer (who was sweet and wonderful) so I say to her via a mix of exhaling and exclaiming, "wow, someone really didn't like me!" And right after that Michel and Jimi pop in my ear again, clearly still patched in, and Michel, whose voice never changed or wavered -- calm pro that she is -- just explained the jargon part to me again. While Jimi -- boisterous pro that he is -- was a little more animated and expressive in his apparent displeasure. "oh man, wait until I call you .." was the last thing I heard from him, until he called me later in the day to provide the fodder for the title you see at the top of this post.

When Jimi and I spoke prior to the show -- in the bold, alpha-male, nuts-on-the-table manner in which young confident black guys speak with each other on business and "power moves" -- he repeatedly joked with me about "Crashing and Burning" in my first NPR splash. Of course he was recruiting me to be down, and its no secret for most who know me, that I'm not lacking in confidence, especially with regards to articulating opinions and doing this sort of thing that I do. So it was a funny sort of rapport. And I enjoyed the challenge of it.

Somehow it also reinforced the synergy of what I thought The Barbershop is about. Bringing the bold, unabashedly brazen opinions that you might find voiced in your average negro barbershop, to National Public Radio. Barbershops don't mince words, or worry about PC presentation, they deal in truth (and haircuts!). The description of Tell Me More reads "Grounded in lively interviewing and compelling storytelling, the program seeks to present diverse new voices, cross borders, challenge conventional wisdom and discover how other people think."

That makes a lot of sense to me as a guide for programming, and is also the sort of thing that interests me personally. So when Jimi called me later and asked what I thought of how I did, I told him, more or less, that I felt I was a diverse new voice, that crossed borders, and challenged conventional wisdom, in order to show another way to think on these subjects ... but that I lacked polish, specifically in defending some of my unconventional points.

He thought that was "a nice way to put it." Which it was. And we proceeded to speak frankly on the matter.

As an assimilated professional, of course I know there's a difference between the barbershop in your hood, and The Barbershop on NPR. This whole TAN brand is invested in that difference, that line, and somehow, someway trying to tiptoe across it, with feet in both spots, all the while hopefully facilitating some cross-pollination, that not only helps my wallet, but also helps people, especially those on opposite ends of the culture spectrum, understand each other. Perhaps finding that line to be a communal meeting point, instead of a divisive line of demarcation.

When I fail in this realm, I suspect it's because at heart, I don't believe in the line. I don't believe in censorship. I believe that if you take two people, and sit them down, one-on-one, and somehow get them to feel comfortable, the particular manifestations of language affectation and such become very much beside the point. In the end -- and perhaps to the fulfillment of my own end -- I think everyone just needs some warm, milk and honey. OJ, Michael Richards, Michael Vick, the Jena 6, the gold digger, etc ... not to be all Oprah-esque, but the throughline and connective thread for all of us is this quest for love and appreciation. We just want ot be understood, and LOVED, differences and all.

So while I'm incredibly disappointed in myself for not putting my best foot forward; when I think about the other ways to do it, I don't know, I think I did the best I could for the situation. It feels like I could have come in there and hum-drummed my way through the conventional wisdom on these stories. Kept it very professional .. and clean. But I don't believe, at heart, in "professional" and "clean." I believe in truth, in all its multi-dimensional, unexpected, homicidal, insane and sickly glory. Professional and Clean are jobs. They have nothing to do with truth. They are a demand and an obligation, and if you choose to abide, you will make money. And if not, well, crash and learn.

So I've learned here. Certainly. If given another take, I'd know where to soften the language and make sure I have my supporting logic properly itemized and ready. I know how the game works. But in terms of that guiding mantra for "Tell Me More," lack of polish aside, I think I'm the person who most lived up to the billing.

Now I've heard these Barbershop participants talk in previous shows, so I know they're probably just saying what they feel, not necessarily kowtowing to the mainstream opinion. But with these particular stories, I was the only person offering some different takes. Offering "more," if you will. In my haste I may have served the plate without proper garnish and style -- and that does matter to diners! -- but if the restaurant specializes in keeping the buffet diverse, I would be incredibly disappointed if I was removed from the menu.

Or in other words: I have 99 problems, I hope a B ain't one.

(ugh! Maybe I can just hire someone to shoot my hands right before I invariably write (or say) the one line that ruins everything. Applications being accepted now. B's welcome.)


Thursday, September 20, 2007


your boy TAN makes his debut on NPR today. The show is "Tell Me More" w/ Michel Martin. The segment is "The Barbershop."

We tape at 3PM, and I think it airs then as well, but I'm not positive on that.

We'll be talking OJ, Isiah and some other stuff....

And then afterwards I'm linking up with a caucasian friend of mine, and we're going to walk the streets calling girls b*tches to see if they notice a difference when I say it and when he says it. Then I have to steal some TAN memorabilia back from some blogger-heads ... etc. etc. But after all that, the kinda-sorta neglect of YOU, my loves, for the past week or two, will be over ... and there will be many mountains of words and musings to entertain and delight you. Or at the least, a terribly worded post or two, along with a hopeful return to a semi-normal schedule...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Gray Lady No Longer Whoring Herself

Today (yesterday?) at midnight the New York Times officially nixed the Times Select program where monthly subscribers paid for access to the archives and op-ed columnists. The realization for the Times being that the thousands -- even hundreds of thousands -- of subscribers doesn't come close to the money you get from millions of eyeballs flitting to and fro on the paper of record.

This is certainly a significant move for all new media types and content producers/managers. Perhaps the final nail in the coffin on pay-to-play debates. Readers by-and-large expect the internet and the content therein to be free, and you swim against that tide at your own risk.

Of course for me personally, my take away is something I tell the ladies all the time: You're only a hoe if you make me pay for it, but give it up for free and I'll love you forever.

NY Times to drop charges for website

Monday, September 17, 2007

Coming Soon: Slow Motion Sex Video Tapes

Got tipped off on this advanced slow motion video technology. Make sure you wait after the animals and peep the exploding water balloon:

hat tip: LT

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pour a Little Latte: Alex, Culest Parrot Ever

I ain't tryin' to waste no liquor. I be lookin' at negroes pourin' liquor on the ground like they crazy. But when someone dies, I might go ahead and pour a little latte. Feel me?

Let's pour a little something for Alex the parrot, who passed away recently at age 31. I didn't know about Alex until learning of his passing, but apparently he's been something of an inspiration and a revelation as possibly the smartest bird on earth.

Of course scientists and others very invested in their own intelligence were still debating whether Alex (Aviation Learning EXperiment) was actually *smart* and comprehending, or just really good at parroting. I wonder the same thing about the kids on TRL. But once you read about Alex's antics there's no debating him being the cutest and coolest (culest?) bird eva...

From his "Accomplishments" section on wiki:

Alex had a vocabulary of about 150 words, but was exceptional in that he appeared to have understanding of what he said. For example, when Alex was shown an object and was asked about its shape, color, or material, he could label it correctly. If asked the difference between two objects, he also answered that, but if there was no difference between the objects, he said “none.” When he was tired of being tested, he would say “I’m gonna go away,” and if the researcher displayed annoyance, Alex tried to defuse it with the phrase, “I’m sorry.” If he said “Wanna banana”, but was offered a nut instead, he stared in silence, asked for the banana again, or took the nut and threw it at the researcher.

That's cool, and then cute comes from the NY Times:

As parrots can, he also picked up one-liners from hanging around the lab, like “calm down” and “good morning.” He could express frustration, or apparent boredom,... As she [Dr. Pepperburg] put him into his cage for the night last Thursday, she recalled, Alex looked at her and said: “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you.”

He was found dead in his cage the next morning, Dr. Pepperberg said.

Brainy Parrot Dies, Emotive To The End
[NY Times]

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dear TAN: The Case of the Watermelon Dress

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: Moisturize returns! What's more important: style or stereotype?

hello tan, i would like to pre-empt this question with a request for "no flames please" because its a sincere question... thanks in advance.

some background: as you know i am white, my husband is white, and we have adopted 4 of our 5 children. 2 are korean, one is indian (india, not native american) and our baby was born in africa. 3 have cerebral palsy, one a heart defect and some emotional issues.

we try really hard to honor our children's birth cultures and learn as much as we can so that we can pass it on to them. but taking care of their special needs generally takes precedent.

my ridiculous as it may sound.... is this: with 5 kids, people give us a lot of clothes that are still in good condition that their children have outgrown. we appreciate it and we are not picky and a lot of them are really nice. one of the bags of clothes for our little girl josie, who is black, had a dress that had watermelon on it. it was a really cute dress and i wouldnt have thought a thing about putting it on my korean or indian born girls (even though nilam, who is indian has nearly the same skin tone as josie). but something screamed no no no!!! remembering vaguely a prejudiced stereotype about watermelons but unsure exactly its origin or what it entailed. i told my husband...there is no way im putting this on her to wear in public. he was like "why? its cute" i gave him a "duh" look and he was like "what?" he hadnt heard of that stereotype and thought i was crazy. so i googled it and found over 1,000,000 entries about black people and watermelon.....ugh... he said if we do not have a bad intent, why do we care what people think. and i said first of all we dont want black people who see us to think we are making fun of her, and secondly we dont want to provide fodder for some ignorant idiot white person to make fun.....and then i would be jailed for having to kill them.....

the answer actually is simple.. the dress disappears and walla no more issue. but deep down i dont want to perpetuate a hurtful harmful stereotype. is ignoring them right? is fighting them right? how can something as benign as fruit become so painful when used to degrade someone and how do you take away that power? any thoughts are appreciated. rachel

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I'm Starting An Opera-Soul Band Called Brown Pavarotti

Sometimes there's a special magical quality when great black people and great white people do their thing together. This duet between James Brown and Luciano Pavarotti would be an opportunity for race-egalitarians to say "they're just great singers." But I think, especially for uniquely awesome moments like these, the race dynamic is clearly just one of the delicious ingredients. There's something "Racist" about this performance, but oh what a beautiful, lyrical racism it is!

Quick, somebody tell a joke!

Some Old Black People Need To Die Soon

Speaking of smug assholes. These older black people are getting out of control.

I saw this story about Eddie Griffin getting pulled off the stage for using the n-word, and I sent it by Eric at Ebony to ask him, "what the hell is up with you old black people? can you give us some room to breathe please?"

But Eric was like, "don't look at me, that's them. The real issue is why are they booking Eddie Griffin."

And he's totally right. How the hell do these guys book a comedian like Eddie Griffin, and then pull him off when he uses the n-word. Hello? That's like taking a shit, then grabbing it out of the toilet bowl and throwing it in the garbage because it stinks. WTF are you thinking old black people?!!? Is this going to happen to me when I get older? Do we get melanin deposits in our brain? This sucks!

Anygriffin, I don't even like Eddie all that much, especially if he's not doing that facial-tic thing he does. But I'm on his side with this one. F Them. Can these people not wake up and smell the revolution? We use the n-word. We also think about a lot of extra stuff when we sleep with white people. We got issues. Can we move on? Or at least can we be negro-inclusive about dealing with these things?

These old black heads done lost they mind y'all. I used to want to talk to old black people, to soak up some of that janitorial wisdom they're all blessed with, but now I'm staying away. I think old black ni**as are the new ni**as. And we might need to start burying they asses.

No, that's mean. You'll all be dead soon enough, so no need to expedite things. But can you at least keep all the n-word hysterics locked up in the senior center or something. You can bury the word "Bingo" while you're at it.

apologies in advance for the lack of respect for my elders.


Griffin Gets the Hook for Using N-Word

iPhone Drops Price Out of the Stupidity Zone

So Steve Jobs announced the price on the iphone will be dropped $200. Early adopters/buyers are miffed they didn't get more mileage out of being the first to lick Jobs balls, but this sounds brilliant to me. Everyone heard about the iphone, but at $600 many could write it off immediately. Now at $400, anyone thinking about any sort of advanced smartphone (and aren't we all?), has to at least consider the iphone. Mind space rules. And its also at a nice mark for the holidays.

The quick price drop really makes the "product stupidity zone" very apparent. When the iphone came out it was so expensive you could be called stupid for having one. With kinks still to be worked out, and new editions surely on the horizon, it wasn't a smart purchase. Now it remains expensive, but at least you can rationalize it a bit better. You're not retarded, or totally independent of fiscal concerns. So I think this gives the iphone a legit chance to proliferate like the ipod now. And if that happens Apple wins. We'll all just have to wait and see what the hipsters do.

Meanwhile, Wired has given us four reasons why the price drop was a bad look. So as a response I offer four reasons why Early Adopters need to shut the f up:

1. Substituting A New Product Launch For Tact -- Wired claims it's tacky that Jobs used the product launch of new ipods to "mask" the price drop. But if we're really going to argue for corporate compassion, this sounds better to me than just issuing a release about the price drop. Whatever. Early adopters should keep in mind that as the masses now run out to get their own, such mass sheepery validates their own lead sheepery. If they were the first to be herded, and now everyone else follows, it figures that will makes you cooler than if everyone is elsewhere because you had to pay to get into the barn. Then you can tell war stories about how you were the first to experience stepping in all the dung and piss before anyone even knew there was dung and piss to step in. Holla!

2. Rushing The Timing -- This is just silly and selfish. Obviously the more time before the holidays the iphone is out there at a more affordable price, the better. The more you see people with iphones, the more you want one. Just like ipods. Again if you have an iphone and want people to condescend to, you need this price drop.

3. Slashing A Little Too Much Off The Price -- Wait, did someone seriously just complain about too much coming off the price? Seriously?!!? We don't even want to dig into that. This is ostensibly not a race issue, but if a white person runs into a black barbershop saying some ish like that, they are going to be very uncomfortable.

4. Showing Obvious Contempt For AT&T's Role - ahhh, we're looking out for AT&T now. We don't all just wish at&t would bow out so we can get an iphone with whatever provider we want. Of course not! at&t rules!

Early adopters need to shut the f up because for them to be cool the iphone has to become everyone's baby. And not everyone has an extra $200 to drop down on being a smug rich asshole.


iPhone price cuts cause mixed feelings [cnet]
Four Mistakes Apple Made with the iPhone Price Drop [Wired]

Black Weblog Award Winners

Black Weblog Award winners have been announced. This year --their first with judges -- TAN was a judge, so I kind of feel like these are my babies. Even though they're all older, bigger, and fresher than me. They're my big old babies. So fresh.

I'll have more on this later ...

Black Weblog Award Winners

j brotherlove has posted some thoughts, he was one of the judges.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

You Got Lindy Hopped

Seems to me we should have a contemporary You Got Served style cinematic showcase of Lindy Hop. I was recently put on, and Lindy is def. hot and underappreciated. Maybe they can remake Hellzapoppin' with some of these young singin'-and-dancin' chickadees on the scene now. Regardless, with the urban dance competition stylings in need of a renaissance, there's surely an opportunity there to make a splash if you nail it right. For rilla:

And just like with the more traditional urban dance scenes we see now, I have really been impressed with the progress caucasians have made on the dance tip. Given a little time to get things tight, y'all can really hold it down:

I'd suggest a negro Swingers, with a couple guys who like Lindy more than the cornier anglo swing dancing. Then get The Gap involved so they can swing and miss on trying to sell more khakis with it:

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