Black History Month: Week Four

I’m a black American, I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am. I have a lot of pride and dignity.

~ Michael Jackson

February 22 – Julius Winfield( “Dr.J”) Erving, former basketball player, born Roosevelt, NY, Feb 22, 1950. Also on this day DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince win the first rap Grammy for the hit single “Parents Just Don’t Understand.”

February 23 – Baseball catcher Elston Gene Howard was born in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1965, Howard signed a $70,000 contract with the NY Yankees and became the highest paid player in the history of baseball at the time in 1929.

February 24 – Former world heavyweight boxing champion Jimmy Ellis was born James Albert Ellis in Louisville, Kentucky in 1940. Ellis won the World Boxing Association title after beating Jerry Quarry in April 1968.

February 25 – Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston for world heavyweight boxing championship in 1964. Boxer Mike Tyson becomes the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World by defeating challenger Frank Bruno of England in 1989.

February 26 – Theodore “Georgia Deacon” Flowers wins middleweight boxing title in 1926. On this day in 1964., the Kentucky boxer known to all as Cassius Clay, changed his name to Cassius X as he accepted Islam and rejected Christianity. “I believe in the religion of Islam. I believe in Allah and in peace…I’m not a Christian anymore.” According to two biographies, Muhammad Ali by Anthony O. Edmonds and My View from the Corner by Angelo Dundee, Cassius Clay changed his name to Cassius X on the 26th. Elijah Muhammed, a black Muslim leader, announced Cassius X’s name was being changed to Muhammad Ali.

February 27 – Figure skater Debi Thomas becomes the first African American to win a medal (bronze) at the winter Olympic Games in 1988.

February 28 – In 1932, Richard Spikes invents the automatic gear shift. Also Musician and entertainer Michael Jackson wins eight Grammy Awards. His album, Thriller, broke all sales records to-date, and remains one of the top-grossing albums of all time.

Source:  http://www.floridablackhistory.com/facts.cfm

Dr. J. makes a house call.

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Now Playing at “The Root.”

Joe Stack crashed his plane into a government building in Austin, Tx.

It was going to be posted here, but they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

My essay about Joseph Stack’s terrorist attack in Austin, Texas, White Man’s Anger, Black Man’s Death is now available at The Root.

It’s kind of a big deal for me to get something published in The Root.  They ran one of my articles in 2008 and I’ve been trying ever since to get a second one published.  It’s a tough nut to crack.

Persistence is it’s own reward.  It’s nice to be noticed, but for a freelance writer, where you’re noticed is just as important.

It will end up here eventually.  For the present I’m happy to have it play on a bigger stage.

Livin’ Large with Magic Mike Steele.

It's only funny because it's true.

Don’t tell me Magic Mike Steele, the Wonder Negro of the Republican Party,  who said he’d entice Black folks into the Republican Party with “fried chicken and potato salad” is up to some wacky Negro nuttiness and foolishnes again?   Oh, that crazy Magic Mike!

What did that rascal go and do now?

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele is spending twice as much as his recent predecessors on private planes and paying more for limousines, catering and flowers – expenses that are infuriating the party’s major donors who say Republicans need every penny they can get for the fight to win back Congress.

Most recently, donors grumbled when Steele hired renowned chef Wolfgang Puck’s local crew to cater the RNC’s Christmas party inside the trendy Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, and then moved its annual winter meeting from Washington to Hawaii.

For some major GOP donors, both decisions were symbolic of the kind of wasteful spending habits they claim has become endemic to his tenure at the RNC. When Ken Mehlman served as the committee chairman during the critical 2006 midterm elections, the holiday party was held in a headquarters conference room and Chic-fil-A was the caterer.

“Michael Steele is an imperial chairman,” said one longtime Republican fundraiser. “He flies in private aircraft. He drives in private cars. He has private consultants that are paid ridiculous retainers. He fancies himself a presidential candidate and wants all of the trappings and gets them by using other people’s money.”

"Fo' shizzle my nizzles."

How soon will it be until  Tyler Perry  creates a new comedy show for TNT called I’s Be De Boss starring J.J. “Dyn-o-mite” Walker as Steele?

What’s the big deal if  Magic Mike likes to live large and enjoys the bling-bling?  It’s hard out there for a pimp. Word!

Black History Month: Week Three

To leave at twenty-nine years old, MVP, having won the championship in ’64 and played for it in ’65. To go into the movies and break the color barrier and be in a sex scene with Raquel Welch. To get to be in The Dirty Dozen with some great actors. To make more money in one year than you damn near made in nine years of football. Everything about it was ingenious.

~ Jim Brown

February 15 – today in 1848, Sarah Roberts barred from white school in Boston. Her father, Benjamin Roberts, filed the first school integration suit on her behalf. Leon Spinks defeated Muhammad Ali for heavyweight boxing championship. Ali regained the title on September 15 and became the person to win the title three times in 1978.

February 16 – Joe Frazier knocked out Jimmy Ellis in the second round of their New York fight and became the world heavyweight boxing champion in 1970.

February 17James Nathaniel Brown, 74, Pro Football Hall of Fame Fullback, Born February 17, 1936 in St. Simons Island, GA, Michael Jeffrey Jordon, Basketball player, former minor league baseball player, Born New York, New York, February 17, 1963.

Once there were giants...

February 18 – today in 1913, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was incorporated at Howard University.

February 19 – Vonetta Flowers became the first black gold medalist in the history of the Winter Olympic Games. She and partner Jull Brakken won the inagural women’s two-person bobsled event in 2002 at Salt Lake City, Utah.

February 20 – Death of Frederick Douglass (78), Douglass was the leading Black spokesman for almost fifty years. He was a major abolitionist and a lecturer and editor. Charles Wade Barkley, basketball player, born Leeds, AL, February 20, 1963.

February 21 – today in 1987, African Americans in Tampa, Florida rebelled after an African American man was killed by a white police officer while in custody.

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz a.k.a. Malcolm X is assassinated while speaking at The Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan.  He is 39 years old.

Source: http://www.floridablackhistory.com/facts.cfm

In 2002 Vonetta Flowers and Jill Bakken won the gold medal in the women's 2-woman bobsled.

Artificial Contrition

"I'm sorry. My penis isn't."

Here’s what Tiger really wanted to say at his news conference, “Why don’t y’all ease up offa my nutz so I can get back to chasin’ dese ho’s?” 

This wasn’t about Tiger getting right with his wife, family or God. This was about him trying to get right with Nike and the god of money.    I didn’t watch it and don’t intend to.  As soon as I heard he wasn’t taking any questions I knew this was going to be one huge waste of  time.   I did however like this line:  “For the sake of my family, leave my wife and kids alone?”  Hey, Tiger, go find a mirror.  Who torn his drawers and put his business in the street?   Will Tiger and the family ever be able to dine in another pancake house without wondering if Daddy is shtupping the waitress?  When in doubt, blame the media, not your zipper. 

Then again, I’m not among the audience that would be receptive to Tiger’s apology.   I never liked golf or Tiger Woods either before he was revealed as a poonhound second only to Hugh Hefner.   Nothing Tiger said changed my mind that he’s nothing but another spoiled, entitled athlete with lots of money and little imagination.

How many of these public humiliations are we supposed to witness before cynicism and boredom sets in?   It’s not as if every single word of Tiger’s statement hadn’t been written, critiqued, scrutinized, stress-tested, approved and signed off by a team of attorneys, public relations flacks, crisis management consultants and other well-compensated experts trying to put Tiger’s shattered image back together again.    At least we were spared the spectacle of Elin Woods dutifully standing by her man.   Maybe enough women have read the fine print of their marriage license to see nothing requires them to smiling grimly at their own public humiliation.

Oh, and for all of those who say, “It’s a private matter and none of our business,” I agree—to an extent. Private individuals don’t hold “press” conferences to give public apologies. Corporate shills like Mr. Woods do.    

He knew he needed the media to air his mea culpa.   Yeah, the press bitched what a farce it would be for Tiger to read his statement, squirt a few tears and walk away without answering all the questions that have arose since that Thanksgiving night,  but  he and they knew they would be there.   It’s news, right?   The reporters grumbled, wrote their reviews and gave the apology two thumbs up or thumbs down just like movie critics reviewing Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island.    Tiger is no movie star, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to give a performance. 

Was Tiger sorry?  Sure he was.   Sorry he got caught.  Sorry he had to pay millions to keep his wife from leaving his sorry ass.   Sorry he had to pay hush money to skanks.  Sorry he had to go on television and emasculate himself.  Most of all he’s just sorry he can’t chase all the White tail he wants with reckless abandon anymore.  

 The message some people seem to be imparting is its okay if you lie, cheat, screw around and hide like a coward. Just keep entertaining us and it’s all good.

We sure have lowered the bar in our endless need to be entertained and amused.   Character used to matter as much as ability. 

The broken-hearted porn star and the celebrity attorney hug it out.

Everything New is Old Again

"Smile?" "How?"

The best thing about Sade Adu is also the worst thing about Sade Adu: her near fanatical commitment to consistency. There’s no difference between vintage Sade and contemporary Sade. She’s the antithesis of the the snowfall cliché: with Sade you always know exactly what you’re going to get.

Soldier of Love is the first album in nearly a decade from Sade and only the sixth in 25 years. Flooding the market with material is not a crime Miss Adu can be accused of.

Sade is just someone who listened to Joni Mitchell’s Blue a few times too many and came away with the impression, “Aha, that’s how you convey pain and anguish.” But she’s no unimaginative copycat. She likes to keep her music simple, sparse and unadorned with such trappings as guest superstars, cover tunes, or any acknowledgment of what’s hip, hot and happening in modern music. For better or worse, she continues to go her own way, releasing new records only when she feels she has something to say and an iconoclastic disdain for and refusal to acknowledge what’s hip, hot, and happening in music.

It’s that cool detachment that gives Sade whatever jazz cachet she has, but you couldn’t find a less likely “jazz” singer.  It’s her lack of concern (or is it contempt?) for the prevailing trends of pop music that enables to keep their jazz pass.. Sade cares about as much as using Auto-Tune and other studio tricks as Dianne Reeves or Wynton Marsalis even if she has nothing else in common with real jazz artists.

Soldier of Love seems longer than it’s tidy 41 minutes. It might be because even on the mid tempo songs like the title track and “Babyfather” neither Sade Adu the frontwoman or Sade the band swing.    You don’t buy a Sade album because you want to dance.  You buy a Sade album because no matter how bad your day’s been, her’s has been worse.  A lot worse.

The drums click like the heels of a Marine snapping to attention. You can hear the gentle pluck of Paul Denman’s bass and Stuart Matthewman gets a chance to dust off his saxophone, but as Sade Adu’s vocals have moved up as the centerpiece of the previous studio albums, Love Deluxe (1992) and Lovers Rock (2000), the band has receded into a state of anonymity.  They don’t have much else to do but be supportive and back-up Sade, which they dutifully do.

So what’s she been doing for the last decade?  Suffering mostly.  Oh, how she suffers.  She’s been in love.  Out of love.  She’s been hurt, stabbed in the back.  Bruised, battered, betrayed.   Sure she’s wealthy, gorgeous and talented, but her pain threshold is incredible.

Sade’s misery, torment and sad tales of woe permeate the lyric booklet.

“Put me on a plate with petals and a fire/and send me out to sea/Turn my angry sword against my heart/and set me free,” she croaks on “Bring Me Home.”   Who’s the miserable bastard that keeps ripping out Sade’s heart and spitting in the hole?  It gets even worse for her on “The Moon and the Sky, “You lay me down and left me for the lions/A long, long time ago/You left me there dying/But you’ll never let me go.”

"Tear the Roof Off the Sucka?" "You got it!"

Damn, this girl needs a hug!

When you take nearly ten years off between releases you get evaluated differently.   The opinion of critics, good, bad or otherwise,  mean nothing.  If Sade squeezes out a little squeaky fart and it’s recorded, some fan will find it sheer genius.   Soldier of Love is a little better than Lovers Rock which was really listless, but if you load up a multi-disc CD player and hit “shuffle” there isn’t a hell of a difference between Diamond Life and Solider. There’s a lot less piano and percussion and a lot more drippy strings and chilly programmed synth beats and beeps, but otherwise the songs remain  the same.

I like Soldier of Love despite the fact it’s exactly the same as every other Sade album.  It’s probably going to take repeated listening before I love it.  Since I’ll be well into my sixties before Sade makes another album I’ll  have plenty of time.

Sarah Palin Ain’t No Wonder Woman (or Ronald Reagan either).

"Why so serious? I sure ain't."

It is finally coming into focus what it is about Sarah Palin  has that Barack Obama does not and it has those who attended the first Tea Party convention in Nashville eating out the palm of her hand.  At least the one she doesn’t scribble notes on.

He’s Black and he’s smart.  She’s White and she’s not.

Which is what makes the Tea Party and Palin go together like salt and nuts.   They have gravitated to each other which is odd considering a group that distrusts politicians and the “liberal” media have both swooned over an ambitious and driven politician who loves the media spotlight.

It’s equally amazing to watch to the Palin groupies rally to her side against any slight to her, real or imagined.

The conservative cliché has become, “Oh, she’s just a private citizen. Stop hatin’ on Sarah. Why are you Lefties so obsessed with her?”

Let’s dispense with this nonsense. She’s a former candidate for vice-president who was chosen by her ancient running mate for two reasons: One: Her impeccable right-wing credentials and Two: her MILF factor. What else is there?  It’s certainly not based upon her impressive command of domestic and foreign policy issues.

Palin quit her post as the chief executive of Alaska to move down to the lower 48, go on a rock star tour to shill her ghost-written book, joined Fox News as a “commentator” and pocketed $100,000 to give the keynote speech to a nascent political organization to burnish her own obvious run for the presidency in 2012.

Now what about that is not newsworthy? There are only two–count ’em–TWO charismatic personalities in the conservative camp right now.

Limbaugh is one and Palin is 1a. Everyone else is either a politician or a bureaucrat. Palin and Limbaugh by the power of their personalities are the only fire starters the Right has right now. They don’t just galvanize the Left to attack them. They galvanize the Right to defend them. Others personalities may emerge within the next two years, but right now, they’re it.

Palin IS a rank hypocrite when within the space of days she blasts Rahm Emanuel for his politically incorrect speech, and then clumsily turns around and says it’s not the same thing when Rush Limbaugh calls someone a “retard.” If it’s wrong when Rahm says it, why is it right when Rush says it too?

It’s also dumb to one minute jab at Obama in your speech at the Tea Party convention saying, “This is about the people and it’s bigger than any king or queen of a tea party and it’s a lot bigger than any charismatic guy with a teleprompter.”

Right before she checks her crib notes for talking points.

It’s her right as an American citizen to run for whatever office her ambition; ego and handlers tell her to go for. Just don’t feed me this trash that it’s a fatal attraction of the Left with Palin that keeps her in the news.  She has her own obsession with celebrity, cash and power that keeps her chugging along just fine.

It seems to be infectious.  David Broder, the personification of the embedded Washington columnist who gave up insight for access, lavished wet, sloppy kisses over Palin’s performance saying, “This was not the first time that Palin has impressed me. I gave her high marks for her vice presidential acceptance speech in St. Paul…There are times when the American people are looking for something more: for an Eisenhower, who liberated Europe; an FDR or a Kennedy or a Bush, all unashamed aristocrats; or an Obama, with eloquence and brains.”

“But in the present mood of the country, Palin is by all odds a threat to the more uptight Republican aspirants such as Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty — and potentially, to Obama as well,” Broder wrote.

Far be it from me to disagree with the so-called Dean of Washington journalists, but I’m far less impressed by Palin than he is.   It’s easy in the cold and snow of February 2010 to postulate that the Power of Palin will bulldoze any and all Republican challengers in 2012 and then Obama, but Broder doesn’t seem to get that just like Hillary Clinton, Palin is a polarizing figure who motivates her critics as well as supporters.  There isn’t anything remotely “populist” in the Palin playbook which just looks like more of the same old post-Reagan strategy of giving ’em tax cuts, be vague as hel about your true agenda,  and stay folksy.   You’ll have them eating out of your hand like David Broder.

Sarah Palin is not Ronald Reagan with breasts.  While the Palinistas insist she is his true spiritual heir,  there are other conservatives who give that idea two big thumbs down.

Liberals have built Palin into Queen Kong.  Can she draw a crowd?  Yep.  Can she fire up the base?  You betcha.   Does she have a brilliant political mind and an underrated command of details which enable her to articulate the issues clearly, concisely and coherently?   Get real.

Palin is not Ronald Reagan redux.   She’s as scary to liberals as Reagan was comforting to conservatives, but it’s a disservice to Reagan to compare her meager abilities to his almost legendary skills.   Could Obama turn out to be one term and done as president?  Sure he could.    Maybe Palin will be the one  to send him back to sweet home Chicago, but she will have to do more than she’s done so far to show she’s ready to sit in the big chair.  She had one in Alaska and didn’t find it comfortable.  If Obama bombs out, voters may want a safe, old White guy with gray in his hair to replace him instead of yet another minimally experienced Chief Executive.

The mistake not to make here is to ridicule Palin so much that she becomes an object of sympathy or to inflate her as a Wonder Woman with mythical powers at her command.   She’s only a politician.   Maybe different  from other demagogues and single-issue candidates that predate her emergence, but in many other ways, Palin is quite similar.

Her strength perches upon President Obama’s perceived weakness.   There are scenarios in play that lead Palin to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.   But Palin wouldn’t go into an head-to-head throwdown with Obama unblemished.   There’s plenty of unfinished business about how Palin performed as governor of Alaska and the fact she quit in her first term to cash in on her stardom is a bitter pill for even conservatives that like her to choke down.   Quitters make lousy leaders, mostly because you  never know when they’re going to up and quit again.

Look, its obvious Palin wants to be president. I got no problem with that. I still don’t believe she has the right stuff to go all the way through a presidential campaign and the reason she seems like such hot stuff now is because compared to Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee she’s a freaking superstar.

Right now though, people spend more time talking about what she’s writing on her hand instead of what is coming out of her mouth. Can anyone say what Sarah Palin would do to stimulate the economy? Or how to handle Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions? How would Palin put Americans back to work?

Nobody can answer those questions for me because NOBODY KNOWS. Palin has said and done nothing to lead anyone to believe she has even thought about the problems of the country. I don’t think anyone–liberal, conservative or otherwise–should be making noises about wanting to be the leader of this country without giving some serious thought as to how and where they want to lead it.

Is Palin really a racist with xenophobic and anti-government sentiments?  Perhaps not, but she is comfortable hanging with those who clearly are.   The Tea Party as a whole is not racist, but there are plenty of racists who feel at home in The Tea Party and nobody seems to be terribly troubled within the movement to get rid of them.  Palin certainly has shown no sign to she wants to distance herself from the racists, anti-immigrant nativists, Birthers, 9/11 Truthers and other fringe types hanging around the Tea Party.  As long as they do Palin looks like the candidate of the Angry White Man.  That’s a formidable voting bloc, but is a winning one?

As time goes by, I find myself almost hoping Palin does run for president. The biggest threat to Obama doesn’t come from the extremists like Palin, Cheney and Limbaugh. It’s the smooth operators like a Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee who are quietly going about their business and flying under the radar while Palin grabs the headlines.  They know the danger that lies in peaking too soon.

Palin’s act won’t wear well over nearly a two-year presidential campaign. She serves up plenty of red meat for the Palinistas and Tina Fey to gorge on, but there’s a limit to how much of  the “folksy, soccer mom” shtick voters will put up with when they are out of work, afraid of losing their homes, and scared about their future.  That’s when they will demand solid answers and not vague homilies to motherhood, God and country.

What Palin and the Tea Party want to bring about is a hard right turn back to the Reagan Era, but I’m unconvinced that is where America wants to go.  More tax cuts for the wealthy, less oversight over the banks, maintaining the status quo on healthcare and more wars are not the type of policies anyone but neocons and Republicans want to pursue.

Reagan to Palin: Less in common than you might think.

By tying the fortunes of the Tea Party to her own, Palin is betting she can use their anger to fuel her brand of right-wing populism to propel her right over her Republican competitors and then Barack Obama.  I have serious doubts that the politics of resentment are going to be enough.   George Wallace, Ross Perot and other candidates from the fringes of the political Left and Right have tried to parlay White resentment, frustration and fear all the way into the Oval Office.

The seeds of Sarah Palin’s defeat rest within the character of Sarah Palin.  Her narcissistic need to be the center of attention, her exaggerated sense of achievement and her abilities, and her expectation that everything she does will be met with acclaim and adulation no matter how reckless, baffling or foolhardy the action is.  Palin takes no responsibility for anything, never takes ownership for her own errors but always finds a handy scapegoat (the press, liberals, disloyal staffers) and occupies a fantasy world obsessed with wealth, power and success—her success.

Sarah Palin does not feel your pain.  She only wants your vote and unconditional love.  But she’s no Reagan or Wonder Woman.  She’s the media darling of the moment.  Just like Barack Obama was once.   Then he got elected and suddenly he wasn’t .

“We Are the World 25” is a sloppy sequel.

Good intentions don’t always make for great music.  The proof of this is the remake, “We Are the World 25”  severs as an reminder maybe Sade was right:   It really is never as good as the first time.

After repeated viewings of  the video and listening to the song,  the wonder here is how producers Quincy Jones and Lionel Ritchie can have the vocal talents of Barbra Streisand, Toni Braxton, Jennifer Hudson, Josh Groban and Celine Dion to call upon, yet give them less to do than Lil’ Wayne?

Swapping out one guy with suspect singing abilities (Bob Dylan) for another who can’t sing at all (‘Lil Wayne) is a testament to ‘Lil Wayne’s current  charts supremacy.   The only way  to cover up his  complete lack of vocal ability, is for Jones to throw ‘Lil Wayne the lifeline of “singing” through Auto-Tune.  It’s a cheap and lazy bit of studio gimmickry that is an insult to the genuine vocalists Jones could have called upon instead.

Wyclef Jean’s vocal stylings strikes an unhappy balance between yodeling and bleating like an anguished goat.  The Haitian-born Wyclef  certainly deserves to be included among the participants here, but since he is not rapping and definitely not singing, he only reminds us it was his former band mate Lauren Hill’s vocals that powered  The Fugees’  hits.

Thes “Who?” quotient of artists performing on “We Are the World 25” is a lot higher than the original.   If you’re not a fan of the country duo Sugarland, would you know who Jennifer Nettles was?   Are Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Isaac Slade from The Fray two such recognizable faces they make you go, “Say, isn’t that..?

Do the same kids who instantly recognize Swizz Beatz, Miley Cyrus, and Nick Jonas wonder who an old fart like Tony Bennett is?   Will a country  music fan give a crap when gospel music divas Mary Mary show up or, Orianthi, Michael Jackson’s guitarist from This Is It, wanders by to pluck a few nondescript notes?

Since this recording follows the same game plan as the original by recruiting and recording immediately following The Grammy Awards, it’s interesting to note the prominent artists whom are conspicuous in their absence.   Count among the no-shows Beyonce,  Mariah Carey,  Rhianna and Taylor Swift ( though with Kanye West in attendance,  Swift bowing out is hardly a surprise, Haitians or no Haitians).  Just as her role model, Madonna  was absent 25 years earlier, Lady GaGa is equally M.I.A.

Even without those divas in attendance, the biggest difference in the two versions is how decisively  the balance of power has shifted in favor of women.   In 1985, the female soloists were Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Dionne Warwick and Kim Carnes.   The new line-up of Barbra Streisand, Mary J. Blige, Celine Dion, Fergie,  Jennifer Nettles, Pink , Mary Mary and Toni Braxton is a clear upgrade.

On the other hand,  the fall-off in the caliber of  male vocalists  is steep.   Out goes Michael Jackson (though he does “duet” here with sister Janet), Ray Charles, Kenny Rogers, Lionel Ritchie, James Ingram, Stevie Wonder, Huey Lewis, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Daryl Hall, Steve Perry, Al Jarreau and Kenny Loggins.  In comes Justin Bieber, Tony Bennett, Enrique Igleias, Josh Groban, Usher, Jamie Foxx (channeling Ray Charles), Adam Levine, Isaac Slade, Akon, BeBe Winans, Nick Jones and over a half-dozen rappers.   If you want to call that an upgrade, go ahead and try to make the case.   As talent pools go though it’s a mighty shallow one.

Will I. Am: "Hey Babs, you wanna take Fergie's place in the Black Eyed Peas?" Babs: "Uhhhh..."

You cannot knock the charitable intentions behind the remake,  but the final product counts too and on that score d this pallid update  is blown away by its far superior predecessor.  The singers are overwhelmed by the prevelance given to the rappers and under utilized by Jones and Richie in their attempt to be  contemporary.   What made the original “We Are the World”  light years ahead of this sloppy sequel was the convergence of both the chart-toppers of the day and the venerable elder statesmen.    This time  the participants aren’t just battling a natural disaster, but each other for face time.

Things might have turned out better if Jones and Ritchie had kept the idea of pulling together artists to respond to the Haiti disaster, but given them an entirely different song to perform.   The music industry has more far more Balkanized than it once was and consumers don’t seem to listen to or like as many genres as they once did.  A newly written version of  “We Are the World” might not be as successful but it wouldn’t be weighed down by the burden of  comparisons to the original.

While the world’s attention has turned to Vancouver and the Olympics, the need for aid to Haiti continues.  “We Are the World 25”  has its heart  in the right place, but it hits a lot of sour notes.