Showing posts from 2009

A 'final' vote on American health care reform may not come by the end of the year. A recent Associated Press article discusses this-
Apropos of nothing, yours endearingly has an anecdote to share:

So i have this infrequently recurring condition where a knee and/or foot will swell up, get painful & stiff.. usually it's only moderately annoying, but this time it's laid me out and I had been more or less bedridden for a few days before grudgingly heading out to an emergency room.. ..after check-in, I’m laid out on the gurney, with a hospital gown on. My roughly 6'5" height leaves my exposed feet clearly hanging over the edge (which adds a slight amount of pressure to my already ailing left foot), and it’s chilly; so I’m frequently shifting my legs to get comfortable, and it doesn’t work..

I've got my own 'space' here but it's crowded in the service area, and people are being attended to in hallways…
J. Carter Takes on the Haters

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter recently said in an interview that the heated animosity directed towards President Barack Obama is largely inspired by racial bigotry:

I happen to agree with Mr. Carter's assertions. Some concerns, though:

Those folks who reflexively hate Carter don’t care (“rawr! The peanut farmer who let us get punked by Iran?! Whatever!”)Most ‘mainstream’ media pundits (papers, radio, tv)—even in editorials—won’t call it racism for fear of being labeled biased, or even ‘Politically Correct’.Don’t expect Prez Obama to speak on this, except to “respectfully disagree” with Mr. Carter, especially after what happened with the Skip Gates case.I can empathize that the Prez doesn’t want to get caught up constantly discussing racial conflict at every perceived opportunity, and it "is" a distraction; President Obama definitely has serious policy issues to spe…
Mouse, Meet Spider

It took a Jimmy Fallon monologue for me to find out about it. According to recent reports, The Walt Disney Corporation is acquiring Marvel Entertainment for 4 billion dollars (US). This offers new possibilities—and complications—for both media companies. This author's first reaction was one of shock, then denial, then, acceptance.

The buying-out of Marvel makes the latest in a series of entertainment-property acquisitions for the Disney Corporation, spanning the last 20 years or so. In 1990, Disney acquired the Jim Henson Company, home to the Muppets characters and TV shows. Skeptical Muppet fans quickly were turned off, pointing out Disney’s very mainstream (read: boring) output and the satirical edginess (Sesame Street notwithstanding) of the Muppet Show-derived characters. Jim Henson died before the deal was finalized however, and the new corporate relationship soon became contentious as Henson stakeholders fought in court for a s…
DJ Marley’s Magnum Opus

In Control Vol. 1, Deluxe Edition is a 2-disc re-release of the first album from pioneering hip-hop musician/DJ Marley Marl. Traffic Entertainment oversees the release, poring from the Cold Chillin’ Recordings catalog. Starting in the mid-1980s, Queens-bred DJ Marley Marl (Marlon Williams) was the primary producer for the indie label Cold Chillin’s roster of rap artists and hosted a rap radio show in New York City, ‘In Control’. He produced a long string of singles (and later albums) for rap artists like Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, MC Shan, Roxanne Shante, and more. In 1987 “He Cuts so Fresh” was credited to Marley on the Uptown is Kickin' It compilation (Uptown/MCA Records, 1987). A full-length followed in 1988 on Cold Chillin’/Warner Bros. Marley’s profile as a producer expanded well into the 90s, working with artists like LL Cool J, TLC and others.

The unfamiliar listener might assume that Marley was a rapper since he gets top billing here. However, he sim…

“Go to the door, get frisked, just in order to get in.. and if you wasn’t from this town, then you couldn’t fight and win…” MC Shan, “The Bridge”, 1986

So, as President Obama made his pitch for health care reform at a White House press conference, a seemingly left-field question asked him to address the recent confrontation between Harvard Professor Henry Louis ‘Skip’ Gates and members of the Cambridge, Massachusetts police force. What is known is that Professor Gates had recently returned home from a trip overseas. Apparently at the time, there was a call made to local police alleging two black men were trying to break into a local home. The slightly built Dr. Gates had trouble opening his front door, and asked his driver’s help. Shortly after entering his home, police showed up.

“The bridge is over, the bridge is over… biddy-bye-bye.. the bridge is over, the bridge is over, hey-hey…”
Boogie Down Productions, “The Bridge is Over”, 1986

Arrested Developmen…
Black Is Back (All In We’re Gonna Win?)

“Radio stations, I question their blackness; they call themselves black but we’ll see if they’ll play this”
Public Enemy, “Bring the Noise”, 1987

Longtime U.S. congressional representative John Conyers is promoting a bill (H.R. 848) that would revise practices in American radio stations. Specifically, it would call for royalties to be paid to artists whose songs are played on the air (even if they are not the composer or hold the publishing rights).

Cathy Hughes—who is African-American—is one of the most prominent voices against the bill. She’s CEO of Radio One Network, which in the Detroit area owns WCHB 1200 AM (Gospel & Talk), Hot 102.7 FM (Hip-Hop/R&B) and 105.9 KISS FM (Contemporary/Classic Soul). The ‘Save the Radio’ campaign seeks public support to stifle the bill. The argument is that the implementation of paid royalties for every spin would bankrupt minority-owned and low-power radio operations. The website http://www.saveyourradio.…
Health Care Scare

President Barack Obama is defending his initiative to overhaul America’s health care policies this week. He defends his plan from not only Republicans but the so-described ‘blue dog Democrats’ in Congress who are known for being fiscally conservative (or they represent socially conservative districts and they squeaked by in the last election). On the Today Show, the President explained his views further-

"We can't afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care,"- President Obama, at Children's National Medical Center, 2009.

Instituting a national health care plan is important for me because I believe that in the wealthiest country in the world, no one should have to suffer from the lack of health care. It is virtually unconscionable that as of 2009, the United States still does not have a comprehensive national health care plan. In this regard we lag behind Canada, the United Kingdom, India, and several o…
Comix Reviews for the Month, pt. 1
The Brave and the Bold #24 and 25 DC Comics, 2009 SPOILERS CONTAINED DC Comics’ The Brave and the Bold is an anthology series featuring team-ups with various characters from the publisher’s fantasy universe. #24 allows Static and Black Lightning to meet and team-up for the first time. Teen hero Virgil Hawkins (Static) is resentful that the reputedly corrupt Jefferson Pierce (Black Lightning) is the keynote speaker at his high school’s latest commencement (Virgil is still an underclassman). Flame-throwing villain Holocaust shows up to kill Pierce on the assumption that he took a bribe without proper ‘kickback’ (he didn’t, but many villains aren’t known for their deep insight). Since Pierce’s identity as Black Lightning is publicly known, the fracas starts right away—after young Virgil changes into his costume (his identity is secret), Static joins the fray and the pair join their electricity-driven powers. #25 gives the spotlight to two technology-heavy s…

Michael Jackson: 1958 - 2009

Okay, when did I first listen to the Thriller album..I was in the 4th grade.. Mrs. Slamkowski was our teacher at St. Mary's Elementary. I remember it was a big deal that year that we now went to class on the second floor of our school building. I scarcely remembered that Mike had a new album out.. I definitely knew about first singles "Billie Jean" and "The Girl is Mine" which were already on local radio. We didn't have cable at the house, so whether MTV or BET was playing any Mike videos was a non-issue, really.One afternoon I came home from school, Mom had apparently bought the "Thriller" LP vinyl for me, from K-Mart.

I was.. Thrilled! I really didn't own much pop music "of my own" at that age, mostly just an assortment of kiddie records/story records, among them the Chipmunk Punk album where they covered "My Sharona" and Billy Joel. My oldest siblings were already high school-a…
GM Needs to be Railroaded

Blessings to all who read this:

Those who live in the state of Michigan bear some of the greatest burdens in light of recent events concerning the automotive industry companies. Indeed, the now-nationwide trend of closing factories and dealerships brings to light just how serious the crisis is. Now that the federal government, via taxpayer money, are majority stakeholders in General Motors, I feel that the engineering and mass-production/assembly resources at GM (and if possible, Chrysler) can and should be used to help design and implement comprehensive mass-transit systems like high speed rail, light rail, and green-friendly alternative-fuel buses for use both regionally and nationwide.

Weren’t the auto factories refitted during World War II to build tanks and such? The American auto industry’s backyard of Michigan would be great to start pilot projects connecting cities with 21st century transit systems. It would be a means of bolstering America’s workforce n…
Black and Green

Screenwriter and Author Toni Ann Johnson writes about her efforts to plant trees in her urban Los Angeles neighborhood: . It's a very good article, hopefully her efforts will take root (pun intended). There is some movement for similar green-based initiatives in Detroit, including a potential remodeling of the city. It will likely face the same obstacles as Ms. Johnson's efforts faced. Of key interest is the education of an extremely skeptical urban public:,,,

I believe that many people (e.g., racial minorities) who have grown up in starkly urban environs have become socialized to think of our immediate surroundings as the only way things could/should be. We believe that smokestacks and smog equal civilization. The much greener suburbs/exurbs are 'the boondocks' and 'the sticks' at best, Klan-land at the worst.…

The NAACP will have its annual Freedom Weekend workshops by the end of April, 2009. I will be in attendance, and intend in particular to attend the 'Town Hall' meeting(s). I want to ask the panelists what their general views are on encouraging accountability and cultural cooperation internal to the city of Detroit and external.

Even in acknowledgement of the continued presence of racial prejudice, systemic or otherwise, and the fact that there are various individuals who consider themselves adversarial to the city of Detroit and its residents, I feel like Detroit leadership can’t get out of its own way when it comes to rising above the bitter blame games of the past.

Often times it seems that city leaders, activists and others want to stress their pro-black credentials when it comes to election time or if a regional or local community issue comes to a head- The Cobo controversy is just one of many recurring standoffs-- ‘they’ want to take over t…

In 2009, the City of Detroit will have no less than four elections to determine who will be its mayor for (presumably) the next four years. The resignation of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in 2008 after pleading guilty to perjury and obstruction charges meant that Detroit City Council President Ken Cockrel, Jr. became mayor by default. A clause in the city charter states that any abrupt removal/resignation by a sitting mayor means that a special election must be held within 6 months to determine who will be mayor for the remainder of the term. The primary on February 24 leads to a face-off on May 5 to determine the sitting mayor for the rest of 2009. This being the last year of the current term, another primary was already bound to take place in August, with the final two candidates being placed on a November ballot for a four-year term. Based on the results from the February primary, Cockrel and former Detroit Piston & current steel-magnate Dave Bing will be …
That was not a typo in the title.

Professional wrestling has more in common with the contemporary hip-hop scene than most within hip-hop are willing to admit. Both the 'good guys' and the 'bad guys' tend to have bad attitudes. People give vainglorious speeches touting how they're going to roll over the competition. If asked if all of this is 'fake', you might get a verbal dressing-down, or worse. If the mainstream media comes calling regarding a real-life violent incident, the favorite retort is, "Hey, it's entertainment, don't blame us." Vince McMahon would be proud.

Hip-hop's latest "when the hell did this happen?" beef stewing is between 50 Cent and RickRoss. Both of these performers have new albums coming out, promised by spring. Of particular interest are questions concerning each artist's much-vaunted street credibility. Last year, Ross (real name: William Leonard Roberts) weathered scrutiny bec…
EPMD Means Business on Latest
Artist: EPMD
Album: We Mean Business
Label: EP/Fontana

We Mean Business is the seventh studio album from hip-hop veterans EPMD. In the midst of the glaring absence of Golden Age hip-hop personalities, EPMD attempts a bailout for the boom-bap. Erick Sermon and Parish Smith seek to prove that there is still a place for hip-hoppers whose careers date back to the Reagan White House. Nine years since their last effort (1999’s Out of Business) E and P are still issuing smackdowns to sucker MCs, only now it’s under the premise of elder statesmen showing the young guns how it’s done.

Some standout songs include “Bac Stabbers” (where the pair address rumors of falling out with each other) and “Puttin Work In” with Wu-Tang’s Raekwon. On “Actin’ Up”, Sermon and Smith trade lines like “I’m the blueprint for those who can’t lose/ I wrote them checks so I paid them dues.” In keeping with their self-contained tradition, the LP is mostly self-produced by Sermon & Smith, b…