Monthly Archives: October, 2010

Dead Bodies Everywhere

These are NOT the zombies from "Thriller."

My earliest zombie memory is of going with my siblings to see the original Dawn of the Dead (why, I have no idea) and being laughed at by the audience for walking out in the first 20 minutes.   For a bunch of silly kids who grew up on Saturday morning cartoons a zombie getting scalped by a spinning helicopter blade was a bit much for our delicate psyches.

Much older and somewhat a bit more steeled in nerve, I can watch zombie flicks now and even enjoy a few.   Both 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later were pretty good(which some purists sniff aren’t really zombie flicks because these undead don’t attack and eat you; they stop at attacking you and run like Olympic track stars.  “Real” zombies just kind of lurch along s-l-o-w-ly).  If the zombies in  Night of the Living Dead  aren’t scary at all  (and they aren’t)  Romero more than made up for it with Dawn of the Dead which ramped up the guts and gore by the power of ten.   It’s amazing what a slightly bigger budget and shooting in color instead of black and white will to make something a helluva lot scarier.  Years later I rented the movie got through all of it without walking out or turning it off. 

Zombies will always mess with me in a way vampires don’t.  Vampires and crazed serial killers knocking off horny teenagers can be made scary, but not in the way a zombie apocalypse is.  Zombie outbreaks take two of the biggest fears of human beings (death and the total breakdown of society) and mashes it up with an enemy that is implacable, impossible to reason with and is totally relentless.   The only thing zombies want is you and they aren’t willing to settle for anything less than your ass as an entrée.

I’m far from a gore-hound, but there’s something about people you know rising from the dead for no other reason than to feed on your living flesh that makes zombies scary in a way a Jason and Freddy aren’t.  Zombies don’t roll like serial killers.  They don’t come at you with knives, chain saws, pitchforks or any other cutting utensil. They don’t want revenge or act out of sadistic rage and hatred.   They operate on a more primal urge: the need to feed.   They come armed with two arms, teeth and a very bad attitude.   It only takes one zombie attack to  louse up your whole day.

Yep. That's gonna leave a mark.

For the last two years some critics whose opinions I respect have raved about Dead Set, a British version of the zombie apocalypse that centers on a group of reality show contestants who have to fend off the flesh eaters when a particularly virulent undead outbreak breaks loose.   Last week it showed up on the IFC movie channel so I decided to record all five 30 minute episodes.

But I’m still too much of a pussy to watch it all.

Dead Set features fast zombies and they’re just scarier and more vicious than  the slow types.  It’s as if they’re pissed they’ve got to chase down their dinner and when they catch you that’s gonna be your ass—and every other part they can chow down on.   The kills are plenty, the zombies plentiful and the dwindling number of contestants finding there’s nowhere to run, hide or way to avoid the inevitable.    

I have the series on DVR on the chance I pound enough Jack and Cokes to give me the liquid courage to watch all Dead Set, but I doubt I’m going to in the immediate future.   And when I do it won’t be in the dark in the wee hours of the morning.    

AMC takes the plunge and launches its own episodic zombie show with The Walking Dead.  The early reviews are enthusiastic, but it’s not based on the quality of the scripts, dialogue, or acting.  These kinds of stories boil down to a ragtag group of survivors trying to get to a safe haven and the problems they meet trying to get there.  Like hordes of the undead trying to eat them.

Dead Set proved television could deliver moments of “holy shit” splatter and if the Brits can do it, there’s no doubt the same feat can’t be repeated over here with The Walking Dead.  There’s always an appetite for this kind of blood-splattered material. 

In the meantime remember these rules from Max Brooks’ (son of Mel), The Zombie Survival Guide.

Top 10 Lessons for Surviving a Zombie Attack

  1. Organize before they rise!
  2. They feel no fear, why should you?
  3. Use your head: cut off theirs.
  4. Blades don’t need reloading.
  5. Ideal protection = tight clothes, short hair.
  6. Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
  7. Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
  8. Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
  9. No place is safe, only safer.
  10. The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on

 Zombies may have the edge in superior numbers, but you have the advantage of a superior brain.   Use it.   (Ummm…BRAINS!   Tasty!)

There's absolutely no respect for law and order anymore.

Vote Like Your Life Depends On It (your future sure does).

"One man, one vote" didn't always include black men.

I appeared at an pre-election forum tonight hosted by The Change Agency as part of a panel discussion on why voting matters.   The election is less than a week away now.   As far as I’m concerned why voting matters falls under the category of  “we hold these truths to be self-evident.”

Do I really need to tell an adult they should vote?   Do they need to be told to change their underwear every day too?

There is always a reason for Black folks to vote. Our interests can only be advanced when we exercise our political clout AND demand accountability from the politicians.

But politics is not a cure-all to every ill and NO president can fix everything in a scant two years. Especially, not one whose very legitimacy is called into question by his enemies.

Any student of history (and the civil rights era is hardly ancient history even if most of the film was in black and white) should know how Blacks were systematically disenfranchised and literally shed blood to obtain the right we were already Constitutionally guaranteed.

So now because we’re oh so cool and hip and all that voting is passe? A tedious chore which accomplishes nothing but reinforces the status quo? We’re supposed to turn our backs on all those Blacks, Whites, Jews, Gentiles, gays and straights, men, women and children who put it ALL on the line so we can have the luxury of opting out because some of us are disappointed in ONE particular politician?

"I want YOU...to get off your butt and vote!"

I don’t believe in sitting on the sidelines and hoping things will work out for the best. Because there are too many people who would love to turn the clock back, take away what we’ve sweated blood for and put back up those “Whites Only” signs. Not just over water fountains and lunch counters, but over houses, jobs, political power and everywhere else we’ve made inroads to.

Politics is not a panacea. Sometimes–many times–the good guys lose.

Simply sitting on our hands while Boehner, McConnell and the Tea Party plot to make Obama a totally neutered Chief Executive doesn’t strike me as all that appealing.

I don’t believe African-Americans should be beholden to ANY political party exclusively. I subscribe to the theory of “no permanent enemies and no permanent friends, just permanent interests.” I’m willing to sit down with Republicans, Democrats, independents and anybody else to advance the interests of 30-plus million Black folks.

But you can’t play the game if you don’t have any cards and people who don’t vote and don’t choose to fight for their interests are impotent, unimportant and ignored.

Crying about things don’t change them. Neither does apathy or disengaging and dropping out from the established system. If it did, then why are all those White folks in the Tea Party working so hard to get people into power who think JUST LIKE THEY DO?

The energy of the Tea Party is to be admired.  It’s their politics I find abhorrent.  On almost every social issue of importance to me, the Tea Party stands in adamant opposition to.   At their best, the Tea Party is a plaything of wealthy right-wingers and corporate interests.  At their worst, the Tea Party is the American Taliban.

I vote because when I do it pisses off Karl Rove, Rupert Murdoch, Fox News, and the Koch Brothers.  Making them unhappy makes me quite happy.

I vote because not to do so cedes the battle to my enemies. I vote because not to do so is a slap in the dead faces of King, Evers, Chaney, Schwerner, Goodman and everybody else who died so I could have this right. I may get discouraged and I may get beaten, but I’ll be damned if I give up.

Vote like your life depends on it.  Your future sure does.

Tick-Tock, 49ers are on the clock.

Know what you won't see next year in San Francisco? Either of these guys.

“As far as our football team, there’s no doubt in my mind, somehow, someway, we will regroup and we will keep fighting and we will make a season of it. And I still believe we can go to the playoffs. I still believe we can get those things done. We just have to get the right things in place and go from there.”

~ Samurai Mike Singletary after the game and off his meds as the feeble 49ers sunk to 1-6 losing 23-20 to the previously winless Carolina Panthers.

Singletary’s remarks are as far removed from reality as those by the brat owner, Jed York, who declared the 49ers would win the division and reach the playoffs.  Would somebody take the lotion from them and hand them a towel because playoffs this year are a wet dream.

I’m starting to come around to the distressing realization being a fan of the San Francisco 49ers is like being stuck in an abusive relationship.   Remembering when times were good  keeps you hanging oneven though times haven’t been good for a long while.   In this case, it’s been 16 long years since the 49ers won a Super Bowl.  I have the sick feeling at this rate it could take another 16 years before they get bacl to another one

It hurts to admit it, but I drank the Kool-Aid.  The 49er brain trust came selling me a fantasy and I bought it.  I believed this year’s model of the Niners had what it takes to make the playoffs.  Not go very far in the playoffs, but after a previous season where Samurai Mike drove an untalented team to a 8-8 record though the sheer force of his personality, I bought into the bullshit that the 49ers had added enough pieces to take the next step.  Playoffs, baby!

Now I wonder what this season might have bee if instead of signing confirmed losers like David Carr and Troy Smith, the Niners had gone after Donovan McNabb when he put on the market.   Somehow I can envision McNabb having considerably more success throwing to targets like Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree and handing the ball to a bruiser like Frank Gore than the hapless Alex Smith.  Oh well, Smith will probably be happier when he’s playing elsewhere next season as a backup than a starter.

My approach to the final nine games is to go out there and try to do our very best to kick, scratch, claw and fight like hell to get that overall Number One draft pick away from Buffalo.  WE. CAN. DO.  IT!

Because really, nobody’s worse than the Forty Whiners.  Yeah, they have won a game and the Bills are still looking for their first victory, but does anyone seriously think this team could have battled the Ravens toe-to-toe for 60 minutes and narrowly lose by a field goal in overtime?

Detroit is bad but they have Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and a better backup QB

in Shaun “Thrown Away” Hill.  Bufalo is bad, but at least they play hard and have the

misfortune to the be in a division with the Jets, Patriots and Dolphins.  Cleveland is bad, but they beat the Saints.  The 49ers bragged and swaggered after they almost-but-not-quite-beat the Saints.

Carolina is bad but since they beat us they’re better than us.

I’ve seen every game of the Niners have played during this bad nightmare of a lost season and know this is not a team that fights back when it gets hit hard in the mouth and knocked down.  The Forty Whiners  curl up in a ball and cover up hoping  they don’t get kicked in the nuts while they’re down.

Detroit has sucked hard for so long its hard to remember when they haven’t but they have young talent in Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and a better head coach.   There seems to be a plan in place in Detroit to build up their talent pool via the draft, grab a few free agents and take their lumps now in hopes it will pay off later.   It might even work.  Buffalo is in the same boat butat least they play hard.  They have the misfortune to the least talented team in a division with the Jets, Patriots and Dolphins.  Relocate the Bills to Los Angeles, put them in the NFC West and within a year or two they’ll own it.  Cleveland has a tougher schedule and perhaps less talent than any team in the league, but they play hard, hustle and are prone to pull off a surprise  such as the butt-whipping they laid on the Saints, a team the 49ers bragged about “almost” beating.  Carolina is really bad but since they beat the Niners that elevates them a notch.

The 49ers have to depend on a used Carr.

Even  in his fog of denial, Samurai Mike has to know by now he’s a dead coach walking.  He won’t be warding off vampires with that huge cross around his neck next season while rocking 49er gear.  Sing has been exposed as a great motivator of men and a lousy leader of them.   Too bad really because I like the guy but never having been a head coach on any level has finally caught up with him.

Samurai Mike is a master of the motivational speech, but he’s not a strategist or a tactician and when you’re not, you’d better have assistant coaches who are.  The Niners don’t and that’s yet another reason why they’re as bad as they are.

It’s one of those seasons in the NFL when there are a few good teams, no great ones, a lot of mediocre ones and some really bad ones.  It’s no surprise to find the Bills, Panthers and Lions in the one-or-none wins teams, but to find the 49ers and Cowboys hanging around with the dregs of the league is a bit of a shock.

Next up, the Niners trip across the pond to play a Denver Broncos team that got ripped to shreds, 59-14, by the Oakland Raiders, who were beaten by the Niners the week before.  If Singletary drops this game and falls to 1-7 as the 49ers go into their bye week I could see the owners firing him and allowing one of the coordinators to finish the season.

The San Francisco 29ers are the worst team in the NFL and they can hear two very loud sounds: their season officially flushed down the crapper and the voice of Commissioner Roger Goodell telling them they have ten minutes to make the first pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

Officially, they have nine more games.  Unofficially, they are on the clock.

NPR’s Racial Blindness

Before Juan Williams was fired, NPR forced out Farai Chideya

The real problem with NPR firing analyst Juan Williams has nothing to do with the irreconcilable differences between the network and the commentator’s  differing political views.   The real problem is by firing Williams, NPR rid itself not only of his increasingly obvious preference for the Fox News style of punditry, but it also lost one of their most high-profile African-American staffers.

And it isn’t the first time.

Farai Chideya, author of several books including Don’t Believe the Hype:  Fighting Cultural Misinformation About African-Americans and former host of the NPR program, News & Notes posted on Facebook wondering whether she should write say about her former employer’s firing of  Williams.  In 2007,   NPR cancelled N&N.  Chideya had replaced Ed Gordon who had attempted to relaunch N&N after Tavis Smiley ended his radio program with the network.

“I am debating whether to write a piece on the Juan Williams controversy. So many dots, so few being connected,” Chideya wrote.

It isn’t only the job of a writer to write, but to encourage others to as well.    I interviewed Chideya last year for her first non-fiction book, Kiss the Sky, and asked her about NPR’s decision to cancel News & Notes.  She didn’t want to dwell on that messy break-up  but did say she had chosen to leave the show before it ended in part due NPR’s  refusal to let the program to cover the inauguration of President Obama.

Chideya is somebody who knows about the racial skeletons are rattling around in NPR’s closet.  I understand her reluctance to go public with that information, but as James Baldwin said, “The price one pays for pursing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side”  and journalism in all its forms indeed has a very ugly side.   For all the cries from conservatives on how “liberal” the news media is, little is ever said about how overwhelmingly White, male and entrenched journalism is.

I answered Chideya’s open question with a suggestion.

Even before Juan got greased (deservedly or not), there was the horrendous way NPR fumbled the “too black/too strong” News and Notes program. I loved N&N and NOTHING has taken its place.

You have a unique insight that would add some much-needed context to the story.  Right now it’s being spun as liberal NPR messing up and conservative Fox pouncing on them.   The real situation is much more involved than the usual battle lines.

I like NPR, but I do not love it and one reason I do not is the lack of racial diversity in its nearly lily White, upper middle class programming.

19 hours later, Chideya’s article appeared in The Huffington Post:

If NPR had such clear concerns over how Juan Williams fit into their organization, in the amorphous role of “news analyst,” then they had an opportunity to let him go a long time ago. They could have decided he didn’t fit their needs, and moved on in a less polarized time. But by firing him now, in this instance, after years of sitting uncomfortably with his dual roles on NPR and Fox, they made a few crucial errors. They chose to fire him for doing what he has done for years… be a hype man for Bill O’Reilly. Why now? And they also showed tone-deaf communication with member stations by firing Williams during a pledge drive season.

Juan Williams pointedly said in his comments after the firing that he was the only black man on-air at NPR…. and not a reporter at that. Guest hosting on Fox, he also called himself a “loyal employee” of NPR, and implied the network was run by a “far-left mob.” (If so, I didn’t meet any in my four years at NPR. It’s run by a Beltway cohort, perhaps, but not “far-left.”) Do I think NPR fired him because he is black? No. Do I think NPR kept Williams on for years, as the relationship degraded, because he is a black man? Absolutely. Williams’ presence on air was a fig-leaf for much broader and deeper diversity problems at the network. NPR needs to hire more black men in house on staff as part of adding diverse staff across many ethnicities and races. It also needs, broadly, a diversity upgrade that doesn’t just focus on numbers, but on protocols for internal communication. Among the revelations in this incident is that the Vice President of News fired Williams by phone without giving him the opportunity to come into the office and discuss it.

After I was let go from hosting an African-American issues show at NPR, I walked away relatively quietly, though with a series of questions about how power was allocated and shared at the network, and whether diversity truly mattered to management. Although the focus right now is on whether NPR should be defunded (God no!), I would like to see a little more light shine on how NPR deals with diversity. It has a new diversity czar, Keith Woods, and I hope he is empowered to look at the issue broadly and respected by management.

This country needs NPR, now more than ever. But it needs an NPR and media, broadly, that are adventurous rather than expedient when it comes to reporting on a divided America, and cultivating the most diverse staff, and audience.

"Tell Me More" isn't heard on either of the two stations carrying NPR programming in Columbus.

To which I must add,  NPR is sorely lacking in both a diverse staff and audience.

Chideya does a excellent job of pointing out how  NPR’s real problem is a general cluelessness or shoulder-shrugging disinterest in promoting color-blind programming.  Of course, Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint, Bill O’ Reilly and all the other right-winger blabbermouths don’t give a damn about NPR’s pathetic lack of ethnic diversity.  They’re just grateful for an opportunity to talk up the idea of defunding NPR.

I listen to NPR, but  have not scratched my name on a check to support my local public radio station and I have no intention to.  In part.  because I’m still ticked  over how NPR whacked News & Notes and  plus, WOSU, the local affiliate doesn’t carry Tell Me Morehosted by Michelle Martin.  They do carry “Car Talk” and every Saturday night turn over their air to “The Bluegrass Ramble” but neither one of those shows quite fill my wish for programming with a specific appeal to African-Americans.

Amy Alexander, a former News &Notes commentator and an editor and producer with Tell Me More in 2007,  responded to my plea to Chideya saying,  “The local stations are managed by folks who can be, shall we say, reluctant to alter their mix of local & NPR-produced shows…..most especially if the NPR produced shows have a decidedly brown or young theme. So the local station GM is not required to take any new programming made at HQ in DC, or anywhere else, they are “encouraged” to schedule shows like N&N and TMM but I do not know the extent of any arm twisting that takes place. Thus, N&N died on the vine and TMM does not air in several key markets. You say you “like NPR,” but don’t love it. You represent part of the demo the network needs to grow — and fast– yet they can’t undo the internal cultural and systemic stuff that limits their ability to move the needle consistently and w innovation. TMM is a fantastic program but I do fret a bit about its future….”

I can hear TMM online, but the two local radio  stations, WOSU and WCBE, carrying NPR programming apparently don’t consider  Tell Me More worth picking up.  That  is reason enough for me to keep my checkbook shut when they hit their listeners up for cash.   My problem with NPR goes beyond Williams being fired.  He landed in higher profile and better paying gig so the hell with him.  I’m not feeling at all charitable to NPR when they have their hand out for money but offer little to nothing in the way of programming that is specifically directed toward my tastes and concerns.

For their part, NPR stumbles on this p.r. nightmare created by their own arrogance and ineptness.   Alicia Shepard, NPR’s ombudsman defended the firing of Williams and denied there was any racial angle to the dismissial, “I fear some will look for racial motivations in NPR’s decision to fire Williams, who is African-American and one of the few black male NPR voices.  It’s not about race.   It’s also not about free speech, as some have charged.”

Shepard needs to climb down out of her ivory tower.  When NPR cans its only African-American on-air analyst, whacks News & Notes because they didn’t know how to promote it and wouldn’t support it and allows Michelle Martin’s program to languish in obscurity it is exactly about race and how poorly NPR handles it.

When I’m looking for something that touches me as an African-American, a new season of A Prarie Home Companion don’t get it.

Falling Upward with Juan Williams

"All eyez on me!"

Ever have one of those days when it seemed like  you were having the worst days of your life and it turned out instead to be one of your best?

Juan Williams knows exactly what that feels like.

NPR commentator Juan Williams was fired by the network for remarks he made about Muslims on The O’Reilly Factor.

During the show, O’Reilly asked Williams to comment on the idea that the United States was facing a “Muslim dilemma.” It followed a controversy over O’Reilly’s own appearance on the afternoon show, The View,’ where two hosts walked out after he said that “Muslims killed us on 9/11.”

His argument, which moderator Whoopi Goldberg declared to be “bull—-,” inspired both Goldberg and co-host Joy Behar to leave their own set.

On Monday, Williams said he concurred with O’Reilly about the threats faced by the United States.

He added, “Look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

He also said, amid a heated debate with O’Reilly, that people shouldn’t blame Muslims for “extremists,” same as Christians couldn’t be blamed for the Oklahoma City bombing. O’Reilly, for his part, said he refused to qualify everything he said about Muslims.

The full video is available here. It’s important to hear in context what Williams said before determining if he was being bigoted toward Muslims.  NPR apparently concluded he was.

Williams argued with O’Reilly he had painted Muslims with too broad a brush.   Of course, every Muslim is the enemy of America, but you don’t watch O’Reilly’s dog and pony show for reasoned and enlightened debate.   You watch it for the same reason you watch Arnold Schwarzenegger movies: stuff gets blown up real good.

NPR overreacted to Williams’ remarks. I’m no fan of the guy, but  truth be told, many Americans would be unnerved if they were sitting on a plane while several gentlemen in traditional Muslim garb started chatting in an animated style in Farsi.

However, Williams was correct by pointing out it is the fringe element of radicals who are giving all Muslims a bad name.

NPR firing Williams for what he said made him a sacrifice on the altar of liberal political correctness. The right-wing blogosphere, radio and Fox News are going to be short-stroking on this one. And probably with some justification.

This is probably a case of NPR looking for any excuse to can Williams as his political leanings don’t mesh up well with their own.

NPR had already requested Williams not be identified during his frequent appearances as a talking head on Fox as a “NPR commentator.” Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you the last time I even heard Williams on NPR.

Williams is supposed to be the “liberal” counterpart on The O’Reilly Factor, but he’s more likely to say , “You’re absolutely right, Bill” than he is “You’re absolutely full of shit.” Williams, like Alan Colmes, represents the kind of Left-wing voice Fox prefers: weak, timid liberals paired off against strong, fierce conservatives. It’s a mismatch from the get-go.

NPR president Vivian Schiller issued a statement explaining the firing, “In appearing on TV or other media . . . NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist. They should not participate in shows . . . that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis.”

More fundamentally, “In appearing on TV or other media including electronic Web-based forums, NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist.”

Unfortunately, Juan’s comments on Fox violated our standards as well as our values and offended many in doing so.

Can you spot the liberal in this picture? Hah! Fooled ya! There IS no liberal in this picture.

Nice attempt at butt-covering NPR, but you’re  still the one who  looks like intolerant liberal losers  for canning Williams because you didn’t dig  his remarks. Like it or not, there is a lot of suspicion directed at Muslims and while it is often unjustified, it’s difficult to go down the list of recent terrorist attacks and attempts and not find a link to Islamic extremism.

I’m not concerned about Juan’s future job prospects in the slightest.  Fox News Roger Ailes offered Williams a job, a column on the web page and a $2 million pay raise.  All these years of cultivating a nice rapprochement with the right-wing of the news media has finally paid off for Juan. Good for him.  All these years of kissing conservative ass has finally paid off nicely.  Maybe Fox will give him a show and finally put an African-American journalist in a high-profile position.

But I’ve known for a while that Juan Williams was a little soft when it came to his so-called “liberalism.”  Just because you pick up a paycheck from NPR doesn’t mean you’re driving a Prius and voting Democratic.   If Williams is supposed to represent the liberal perspective it’s only what passes for liberalism on Fox.  Williams is an assimilated, accommodating, mainstream colored guy and that’s why he landed at Fox.

If Williams is a liberal I’m a Republican and I’m not.

The word has been out on Williams for a while.  Author Jill Nelson dropped the 411 on how shaky Williams was when they were both working for the Washington Post.

Williams is the perfect Negro, at least in the eyes of white folks, because most of the time he writes–and apparently believes–what Caucasians think black folks should feel and think, which is as they do…Williams is a black Republican type, a neoconservative opportunist à la Clarence Thomas.  He is also of Panamanian parentage, which explains some of where he’s coming from.  He typifies the worst stereotype of people of African descent who come to America inadvertently or willfully ignorant of the history of black folks born here.

Denying the role of race, they mouth the prejudices of white immigrants in blackface.  Forget racism, history, the brutalization of the African-American psyche from the middle passage on down, they holler America is a nation of immigrants, and we are just like the Irish, Polish, Japanese, and Jews who have come here.  They conveniently forget that African-Americans, unlike them, unlike any other immigrants, did not come here voluntarily; we are, all of us, the children of slaves.

In short I assumed he was a brother.

~ Jill Nelson on meeting Juan Williams, Volunteer Slavery,  page 90-91 (1993)

Now Williams can be the token in-house “liberal” for Fox News on a full-time basis.   NPR gets ripped a new one for looking like narrow-minded and biased while  Bill O’ Reilly can chortle how he exposed them as politically correct  far-Left loons.

All n’ all, it’s not a bad day to be a conservative or Juan Williams.  Or am I being redundant?  But at least he found some job security.  Nobody ever gets fired from Fox News for saying something outlandish.

Ginni Thomas Stands By Crazy Clarence

When Jungle Fever goes so very wrong

Sometimes you just log on to the computer and the crazy just gets all up in your face, grabs you by the collar and spitting in your face starts screaming, “I AM NOT GOING TO BE IGNORED!”

How long would you nurse a grudge?   If you’re Ginny “Ginni the Tea Parter” Thomas, the poor, unfortunate soul who gets to see Clarence Thomas nekkid, you’ve had a hard-on against Anita Hill since 1991.   For all the young bloods out there, during the Senate confirmation hearings for Uncle Thomas, Hill came forward to testify how she had been harassed by him.   You can use your Google-Fu for all the details and your keywords are “Coke can,” “pubic hair” and “Long Dong Silver.”

Got it?  Good.  Now go forth and be as creepy as Clarence Thomas.

It appears while Hill has tried to go on with her life and forget about the Thomases, they obviously not forgotten about her.

The New York Times reported that the voice mail said, “Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometimes and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.”

Virginia Thomas went on: “So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day.”

Virginia Thomas confirmed to the Times that she had placed a call to Hill, describing it as “extending an olive branch to her after all these years, in hopes that we could ultimately get passed what happened so long ago.”

She added, “That offer still stands. I would be very happy to meet and talk with her if she would be willing to do the same. Certainly no offense was ever intended.”

The voice mail triggered Hill to turn the matter over to the campus Department of Public Safety Monday, which turned it over to the FBI.

Hill told The Times in an interview: “I thought it was certainly inappropriate. It came in at 7:30 a.m. on my office phone from somebody I didn’t know, and she is asking for an apology. It was not invited. There was no background for it.”

Virginia Thomas has become increasingly more active in Washington’s conservative and libertarian political circles. Last year, she founded Liberty Central, with a goal of preserving liberty and citizens’ voices. It frequently targets Obama’s “tyranny” and strives to affect the 2010 and 2012 elections.

The site states, “Ginni recognized the need for our country to bridge the gap between our nation’s citizens and its Capitol and return to a government that adheres to our core Founding Principles — limited government, personal responsibility, individual liberty, free enterprise, and national security.”

No apologies necessary from Prof. Hill

I’m gong to go waaaaaay out on a limb here and guess three things:

* 1. Hell will freeze over before Anita Hill apologizes to Clarence Thomas.
* 2. Hell will freeze over before Anita Hill meets with Ginni Thomas.
* 3. Ginni Thomas has balls the size of an elephant and is out of her tiny little mind.

Not to offend anyone and no sexism intended, but I have a brief, succinct and under the circumstances totally appropriate response for Mrs. Thomas: “BITCH, PLEASE!”

Where the hell do you get the nerve to call up Anita Hill because you can’t get over the fact you married Justice Clarence Superfreak?   Some 20 years after the fact and now you’re bitching and whining about the fact  your hubby is a total loser creep perv?  Ginni, baby, fact the facts:  Anita told the truth.  Uncle Thomas is a lying little shit and you really need to GET OVER IT!

I watched the whole sorry spectacle in 1991 and came away from the sordid, tawdry affair convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Hill told the truth and Thomas lied his ass off.

Doesn’t matter though. He got on the Court and he’s not going anywhere until they pry the gavel from his cold dead hands.

This is the classic “he said/she said” scenario and we can pick and choose whom to believe. I believe Anita Hill. Many others do not. However, let’s recall there were two more women who were ready to speak about being sexually harassed by Thomas, but they were not called to testify before the Judiciary Committee.

Sexual harassment doesn’t often occur in the sight of a camera or the sound of a tape recorder. The harasser is usually a bit more discreet
and a lot smarter than to get caught (literally) with their pants down.

I’m sure Anita Hill heard that voice mail, blinked her eyes, rolled her neck and thought, “Why you bringin’ up old shit?”

If anybody needs to apologize here, it’s your lying ass  shit of a husband who needs to crawl over hot coals to Professor Hill and apologize to her.   He’d probably like that.   Uncle Clarence looks like the submissive type who enjoys a little harmless humiliation now and then.

I do hope that Professor Hill changes her mind and meets with you.   And I also hope she pimp-slaps your stupid flat ass back into reality.

Pray on that, you silly, stupid, evil twisted troll.

Read any good books lately (or at all)?

If this guy can make time to read, anyone can.

Baby, baby, where did my love go?

Love of reading that is.  Everything is cool on the home front.

It has always been a point of pride for us when people came into our home and saw all the books that filled it.   Books in bookcases, books on shelves, books under the coffee table.   We subscribe to magazines and take the daily newspaper.  Everyone in the house has a library card, buys books,  and reads books.    We are a well-read bunch in the Winbush family.   Always have.  Always will.

It seems like it’s been  a while though since I’ve read for a  book for the fun of it.    I still read a lot, but it’s in bits and pieces of information in bites.   It’s like snacking.  You get something in your belly, but 30 minutes later you’re hungry for something more substantial.  

One of my personal failings is not reading like I used to.  I don’t seem to find the time to read for the sake of enjoying reading.    But that’s a weak excuse. Who doesn’t have a busy life?   If there’s no time to read it’s because that time is being spent doing other things.   Time isn’t found or lost.   It’s made and I must make  time to read.

And by reading I mean reading a book.  Not a doggone e-book and not on a Kindle or a Nook.  An honest-to-Johanes Gutenberg book.   Call me a Luddite but there’s still a sublime pleasure to actually holding a book in my hands that a hi-tech substitute doesn’t begin to compare to. 

With that thought in mind I am reading The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright. A few weeks ago, I was switching away from watching the San Francisco 49ers get the soup beaten out of them and chanced upon Wright’s one-man play/documentary “My Trip to Al Qaeda” playing on HBO.    A tidbit of  Wright’s storytelling abilities whetted my appetite and sent me to Barnes & Noble in search of the full course.

It measures up to the cliché: it really is a page turner  and  leaves you looking forward to picking it up and reading it to the end.    I throughly get why it earned rave reviews, best-seller status and a Pulitzer Prize as the ripe, red cherry on top.  There has been no shortage of books about 9/11, but  and has enriched my knowledge of why Osama bin Laden and his thugs want to kill us so badly (hint: it isn’t simply because they hate us for our freedoms, though it plays a key part in their rabid malevolence towards Western society). 

This is one of those books that is more than history, it’s prophecy.   Wright has written a work of non-fiction that reads like a devious mystery novel and detective story.  If I wore a hat I’d tip it to him.   

This is the kind of writing I aspire to.  Not so much to win fancy awards, though I wouldn’t turn it down.  Writing that makes an impact and leaves an impression.  This is the kind of writing that informs even while it entertains and puts the lie to misbeliefs previously believed to be true.

Could I write like that?  Maybe.  I’d like to think I could if I was willing to put the work in.    I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately about my writing.   It just might be one way to get out of it is by enjoying the writings of somebody else. 

 Good writers have to be good readers and  it’s time to get back to the  basics of putting the “fun” back in the fundamental of reading consistently and purposefully.  For goodness sake, I used to write book reviews for money.   How did things ever get to the point where I stopped reading for free?

Not in Kansas Anymore with The Trio of OZ

The review of my buddy’s Rachel Z.’s new album The Trio of Oz went up today at Allaboutjazz.com so I figured I might as well link it here as well.    This is a musical marriage in every sense of the word as Rachel recently married her band mate, Omar Hakim.   Congratulations, you crazy kids. 

The Trio of Oz

OZmosis Records (2010)

The dilemma for modern jazz artists is how to grab the ears of younger audiences, while remaining respectful of the legacy of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Louis Armstrong without recycling yet another variation of “So What?” The eclectic and restless musical tastes of drummer Omar Hakim and pianist Rachel Nicolazzo (aka Rachel Z) offer some mighty impressive bait to reel them in, The Trio of Oz‘s repertoire reading like an hour’s worth of college radio station programming. But how to reconcile music from artists including Depeche Mode, Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots with two vets like Z and Hakim, who honed their skills with artists like Weather Report, Wayne Shorter and Steps Ahead?

Quite nicely, since these two masters’ résumés also include stints with Dire Straits, Sting and Peter Gabriel, rendering their creation of new ways to splice the seemingly contradictory jazz and rock idioms together into some sort of mutant hybrid—capturing the fun of the latter without compromising the integrity of the former—completely understandable.

When going after a younger demographic, It’s best not to pander to them with warmed-over covers of last month’s pop hits, already deleted from their iPod; The Trio of Oz demonstrates far more respect for the sensibilities of its target audience. Hakim and Z, along with newcomer, bassist Maeve Royce, have redefined “jazz rock” into an absorbing and stirring hybrid, sans the trappings of cranked up guitars, banks of synthesizers, excessive volume, and piling notes atop each other in an act of sonic overkill.

It’s probably no accident the last track, The Police’s “King of Pain,” is the most familiar to the ears of even the most casual rock listener Written by Hakim’s old boss, Sting, it’s a lovely, moody ballad delivered here with impeccable taste, as are the improbably named, “Angry Chair” and ominous “I Will Posses Your Heart,” by Death Cab for Cutie.

Z says she enjoys playing in trios because she’s “greedy,” and gets ample opportunity to demonstrate her considerable chops, but she still plays well with others. Hakim is never overly flashy, a tasteful percussionist who never overwhelms with technique when finesse will do. On acoustic bass, Royce is short of the wealth of experience her two compatriots have, but she’s a formidable talent with more than a few moments of Ron Carter-like brilliance. When she alternatively caresses and attacks Coldplay’s “Lost” with her bow, it’s fully understood why she got the job.

Whenever jazz is in danger of becoming safe, static and scared to stray out of its comfort zone, that’s when it’s in the fast lane to becoming the Muzak for museums naysayers already claim it is. The Trio of Oz strikes that delicate balance between respecting tradition while refusing to be handcuffed by it. There’s a lot here, in one of 2010’s most brilliant debuts for both purists and pioneers to admire.

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