R U Ready 4 Some Football? (The 49ers Aren’t)

Alex Smith: Back for another season of Suck.

The NFL lockout is over.  Too bad nobody told the San Francisco 49ers.

I don’t get stoked anymore by free agency.  It’s nice to bring in some sexy stud to make your team look pretty but after the sorry experience of watching Nate Clements punked by Roddy White on a regular basis, I’m glad he took his sorry butt elsewhere.  Unfortunately for me its only 100 miles from Cincinnati to Columbus, so I can smell the stench of him stinking up the Bengals all season long.  Oh, joy.

My bold pre-season prediction is the 49ers will circle the drain in 2011.   I pick them to finish last in the dead zone that is the NFC West.   The pricey wide receiver Michael Crabtree is already on the shelf (what a shock) with a foot injury and will miss his third consecutive pre-season in a three-year career., Gore is holding out for money he probably doesn’t deserve and Alex Smith is back as our starting QB and will be taking snaps from…errr…Eric Heitmann? (nope), David Baas?  (nope)…TONY WRAGGE!

Never mind who snaps him the damn ball, why in the name of all that’s unholy is the supreme El Busto that is Alex Smith back to prove for a fifth consecutive year he can not be a starting quarterback in the NFL?   How many pictures of Jed York and that sheep does Smith have anyway?  It has been proven beyond doubt the 49ers made one of the worst decisions in drafting history in 2005 when they selected Smith as the overall Number One pick over Aaron Rodgers.    Rodgers went on to run Brett Favre ancient ass out of Green Bay and won a Super Bowl.

Six years are forever in pro football and there isn’t another team in the league that has stuck with a quarterback who reeks of EPIC FAIL the way Smith does.  Even the Raiders finally declared JaMarcus Russell dead to them and after they cut his fat ass loose, nobody even brought him in a try-out.   You have to be totally incompetent as a football player to go from a top pick to completely worthless, but Russell did it.   Smith continues to hold on like an embedded tick.

What has Alex Smith ever done except make 49ers weep uncontrollably when they see a Joe Montana or Steve Young highlight on the NFL Network?

The defense will need a new nose tackle, free safety,  cornerback and inside linebacker along with the pass-rushing stud we still don’t have.   I’m starting to think a 7-9 season might be as good as it gets for this team and over .500 would be a gift from the gods.

Oh well, at least we got a new old kicker to replace the old retired kicker.

It’s been said the lockout would hurt teams like the 49ers more than most.  It hurts even more when the Bengals have made more moves than the 49ers.  Yes, they brought in a bust with Ohio State homey Clements, but they improved by canceling the Chad Ochocinco & Terrell Owens “Who’s The Bigger Asshole?”  Show, so garbage in, garbage out.

In life it is said there are people who watch what happens, people who make things happen and there’s the 49ers who get run over by the teams trying to actually put a competitive product on the field and lie there wondering what the hell just happened?

Looks like I picked the wrong time to start getting interested in the season.  The 49ers (ha-ha) brain trust seems to not have gotten the memo the lock out is over.  It’s okay to try to improve your team.

Turn on ESPN and watch the crawl at the bottom of the screen and you’ll see the difference between teams trying to get to the Super Bowl and the ones like the 49ers, Browns and Raiders who can’t get out of their own way.   The Philadelphia Eagles traded a quarterback who couldn’t beat out Mike Vick to Arizona for a starting cornerback and a second round draft pick, then turned around and signed the most coveted free agent available and added Cullen Jenkins, one of the best defensive tackles on the board.

Meanwhile, my older brothers team,  the Raiders,  have done almost nothing, my younger brother’s team, the Browns,  signed a few pieces of scrap and spare parts.  My Niners?  They signed an old kicker to replace the old kicker who just retired.

The NFL is a league where if you want to try to you make smart moves off the field you can reap the benefits on the field.   First things first.   You have to have an ownership and front office all in to win.   The 49ers no longer do.

It’s not even the losing that bothers me so much.  I don’t like it, but I’ve seen so much of over the past 17 years, I’m used to it.   It’s the not even bother to try that drives me nuts.  It  makes me wonder why, besides nostalgia, do I still consider myself a San Francisco 49ers fan?

Gimme some hope.   At this point I’m desperate enough to settle for window dressing.

Nostalgia only goes so far. It's time for results.

The Al Sharpton Blowback: Stuck In a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of

Rev. Sharpton slimmed down, but he's still a big target for his enemies.

The Germans, when they weren’t conquering Europe coined a word to describe the pleasure or satisfaction others receive from the misfortunes of others.  Schadenfreude is the word and over the last two weeks I’ve given a lot of folks I’ve never met a lot of pleasure.

Jeff, I’m hearing your name everywhere. Even this morning on my drive in to work, I hear about your thoughts on the whole MSNBC thing. How is this newfound (or renewed) stardom treating you?

That was a message waiting for me when I signed on to Facebook the other day.  I had no idea what my friend was talking about.

It turns out she was talking about me being talked about on The Tom Joyner Show.   The fly jock was jockin’ my name regarding remarks I made about the Reverend Al Sharpton replacing Cenk Uygur on MSNBC.

Jeff Johnson, a contributor to Joyner’s morning radio show and a writer for Black America Web.com had some thoughts he wanted to share about what I had said on my blog and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) discussion board  that had been picked up by media reporter Richard Prince on his Journal-isms column and gone nationwide.

Prince wrote in his July 21 column:  When rumors surfaced this week that Sharpton was under consideration for the MSNBC job, one NABJ member told colleagues without challenge, “This would still be just another non-journalist media ‘celebrity’ receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent.”

Media Writer Richard Prince

That observation became the centerpiece every critic and supporter of the Sharpton hire springboarded off of.

Johnson rolled up his pants legs and waded in on Blackamericaweb in an essay, “Don’t Hate on Sharpton-Congratulate Him”:

For years, there have been no black hosts in primetime cable news and fewer than a handful anywhere in cable news. Last week, that reality was served a blow when MSNBC decided to announce that Rev. Al Sharpton would become the network’s newest host, filling the 6 p.m. hour of the cable network’s programming. Now, MSNBC had been using Rev. Sharpton to fill in for Cenk Uygur and then seemingly opened space for him to continue to audition (if you will) for the spot. I heard my fair share of comments regarding his performance, from praise to reasonable critique, to straight-up hate. And when it was finally announced that he would get the spot, the naysayers came out of the woodwork.

Even Keith Olbermann, a former MSNBC host, weighed in, helping to spread one of the most reported quotes about Sharpton’s hiring from Ohio journalist Jeff Winbush. He stated, “This would still be just another non-journalist media ‘celebrity’ receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent.” It is important to state that Winbush went further to say that he did not have an issue with Sharpton, but wanted legitimate black journalists to get an honest shot at this type of opportunity.

I hope that we as a community pause, put this into perspective and make the most of this moment in time.

As a growing journalist myself, I want to see seasoned, tested and consistent black journalists get greater visibility as well. However, let us not allow others to use this moment to create division between us.

I guess I’m supposed to one of those “others” Johnson says is creating division.   I always wanted to be an “other.”

This was apparently the quote heard round the world.

It showed up on Roland Martin’s website, The Poynter Institute which covers media-related issues,  Blackamericaweb.com, Beliefnet, Media Bistro, the conservative Accuracy In Media site and places I never knew existed.    When I learned Media Takeout, the Black-oriented celebrity and scandal site, had picked up on it with the headline, “Jealousy??? Black Journalists Criticize MSNBC…For Hiring Al Sharpton!!!”, I knew things had snowballed into something way beyond my control.

A quick Google search of “Al Sharpton, Jeff Winbush” found this article from EEW Magazine Buzz: 

Is it the age old “crabs-in-the-barrel” syndrome among African Americans? Or does National Association of Black Journalists member, Jeff Winbush, have good reason to get all huffy about MSNBC’s rumored plans to hire Reverend Al Sharpton for a primetime nightly hosting gig?

Winbush’s written commentary about the decision to potentially hire Al Sharpton has made its rounds online.  Said Winbush, “This would still be just another non-journalist media ‘celebrity’ receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent… “

On the one hand, black folks complain about not having a visible role on primetime cable news. On the other hand, once someone is chosen, complainers are not satisfied because they would like to see someone else get a shot.

Can anybody really win?

Although there is merit to Winbush’s argument that qualified journalists of color consistently get passed over for these type positions, should we allow that issue to cloud the fact that one of our own may be getting a nationwide platform to advance our causes and interests?

Johnson agreed with some of my remarks, but thought it was too harsh on Sharpton

Then there was this from J.C. Brooks at EURWeb:

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the NAACP have been asking for more faces of color at the news desks across the country, but for some reason when Al Sharpton was asked to consider a position at MSNBC’s news desk in the 6pm slot, he was met with strong words and, to make it simple, a little “hateration.”

One member of the NABJ took to his blog saying, “‘This would still be just another non-journalist media ‘celebrity’ receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent.”‘  Well, when Jeff Winbush made that comment, it took off across the Internet, columns, and even Keith Olbermann’s new “Countdown” show.  Now he feels he should clarify his statements.

According to Journal-isms, Sharpton was asked how he felt about the controversy that stirred up with Winbush’s comments and he told the Root.com, “We can’t get into a crabs-in-the-barrel mentality,” Sharpton said. “We cannot let them play us off one another. There is a history here. Kweisi Mfume had a talk show. Jesse Jackson Jr. had a talk show. If someone can advocate nationwide, we need to do that given the pain of our people. We need to do that on television, in newspapers and magazines. And all of us need to be united.”

The Root’s Leslie Holloway further clarified that the position being offered to Sharpton is not one of news, but “opinions and advocacy.”  Winbush contends that he didn’t want to stir anything up with Sharpton and that he has “no ill will” toward the community crusader, he just wants journalists to get a fair shake too.

They both make sense, but most journalists and everyone else were given the wrong impression.  The media reported Sharpton’s position as one of a 6pm news format and in that capacity, Winbush and fellow journalists had reason for concern.

Concern?  Yeah, you might say I was concerned.  Mostly because my name was floating around as ripping Sharpton and had mutated from a pointed observation to a truncheon to bludgeon a non-journalist taking a gig away from somebody more deserving.

What surprises me most is how nobody ever asked me why I made the remarks about Sharpton in the first place.  If anyone had bothered to ask I would have explained I’m not anti-Sharpton, I’m pro-Black journalists.   All I did was point out Reverend Al is a man of the cloth, not the Associated Press style book.

Nobody wanted to hear that.  I thought I had exposed an inconvenient truth.  The truth is all these writers on these websites wanted was a juicy pull quote.  Once they got it, it was time to whip up a controversy that all these Black journalists were upset over Sharpton beating them out of a gig when the only person who said jack was me.

Richard Prince’s Journal-isms column ran a follow-up where he identified me as the source of the controversial quote.  I was glad Prince gave me a chance to clarify my remarks, but the follow-up never gets the kind of play as the original statement.

Freelance journalist Jeff Winbush wants it known that he is not hatin’ on the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Winbush is a blogger in Columbus, Ohio, a former editor of the black newspaper the Columbus Post and a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. More to the point, he was the source of a quote in Thursday’s “Journal-isms” about MSNBC’s reported readiness to hire Sharpton for its 6 p.m. slot.

“When rumors surfaced this week that Sharpton was under consideration for the MSNBC job, one NABJ member told colleagues without challenge, ‘This would still be just another non-journalist media “celebrity” receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent,’ ” the column read.

Winbush’s quote reverberated around the Internet and was even shown, with the column, on Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” show on Current TV. Olbermann was fired by MSNBC, where his show was also called “Countdown,” in January. On Thursday, Olbermann gave a platform to Cenk Uygur, the former MSNBC host whose slot has been filed temporarily by Sharpton.

“MSNBC Set To Hire Sharpton; Black Journalists Slam Impending Hire,” one headline read.

” ‘Slam?’ I did no such thing. I said nothing of the sort,” Winbush told Journal-isms by email. “I was not attacking him personally. I bear him no ill will. I simply want to see Black journalists get a fair shot as well.”

There is no control when the Internet gets hold of something you say or do.  If it’s caught by a camera it will soon be slapped on You Tube.  If it’s a muttered racist remark everybody will hear it.   There is no hiding place in cyberspace.

I’ve written several miles worth of columns and essays taking on and taking down politicians, celebrities and other pundits.  Keith Olbermann and Sharpton are among the many subjects I’ve praised, slammed or damned, so I can’t really bitch about having my words thrown back in my face.  My words are like my kids and they belong to me.  I can’t distance myself from them and I can’t deny I said what I said.

Sharpton getting a show has upset both the Right and the Left.

After all the times I’ve bad-talked Michael Steele, I’m surprised he hasn’t called to say, “How it’s feel to get played, brother?”

It’s been an interesting experience.  Next time though I would hope over something I said that was actually newsworthy instead of scandalous.

Next week I’ll be in Philadelphia attending the National Association of Black Journalists Convention.  I’ll have more to say later about the convention, but a lot of my “friends” will be there.  Sharpton will be there.  So will Michael Steele, Cornel West, Roland Martin, Jeff Johnson, Melissa Harris-Perry, Joel Dreyfuss, editor of The Root, and Arianna Huffington among a cast of thousands.

For Black journalists next week is our Woodstock.   There’s going to be far more partying, drinking, and over indulgence in four days than most folks will do in four months, but for me it will also be an opportunity to look some of the people who got my remarks wrong and set them right.

And if I get a chance to get close enough to Reverend Sharpton and shake his hand,  I’ll introduce myself and tell him how sorry I am my name was used to scandalize his.  Sharpton is taking heat not from his enemies on the Right, but from the Left as both The Daily Caller and The Huffington Post have blasted MSNBC for ousting Uygur and replacing a White liberal with a Black liberal.

I’m no fan of U2.  Not even a bit, but I have to credit Bono and the boys this much.  They came up with a song that perfectly captures the mixed emotions one experiences when something they say gets all mashed up into something unrecognizable as your original thought.    When the media starts manipulating it is like being stuck in a moment you can’t get out of.

You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment and you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better now
You’re stuck in a moment and you can’t get out of it

The Evil That Glenn Beck Does

In the Norway shooting spree, the world sees victims. Glenn Beck sees Nazis.

There’s no tragedy so grim someone can’t find a way to be stupid and tasteless about it.  It comes as little surprise someone did in a particularly appalling way.

The ever wretched Glenn Beck took his standard malicious meanness to  new depths by comparing the teens gunned down in Norway by  the suspect, right-wing Christian fundamentalist  Anders Behring Breivik,  to “Hitler Youth.”

A Nazi comparison, Glenn? Really?   I know you think of yourself as a student of history, but there is no Nazi comparison to be made about this senseless slaughter of innocent adults and teenagers.   NONE. 

“There was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like the Hitler Youth, or whatever,” Beck said on his radio show Monday, which is broadcast on more than 400 stations.

“I mean, who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing,” Beck said about the Labour Party youth camp on the island of Utoya where 68 people, mostly teens, were killed.

Before I thought Glenn Beck was merely stupid.  I now know I was wrong. I totally underestimated his capacity to be diabolic.  Glenn Beck is evil.

Beck is now saying in “logical comparisons” Hitler comparisons have to be okay or “we are going to be a society of gas chambers.”

Here is a link to a slide show of some of the dead and missing “Hitler Youth” Beck babbled about. I often wonder how a piece of filth like Beck sleeps at night. Oh, that’s right. Quite comfortably on a mattress and pillow filled with millions of dollars.

Nice blood work, if you can get it.

I’ve tried all day to get the few Beck fans I know to defend or explain their boy’s remarks.

So far, I got nothing.

Not that I blame them.  How could such remarks be defended?  By saying six minutes after he made the Hitler Youth crack and went off on his usual tirades about the dire threat of Islamic extremists coming to kill us in our sleep?

For all but the most-brainwashed morons, what Beck has said this time goes beyond being thoughtless and brainless.   It is indecent.

Glenn Beck is an hypocritical bastard and a fear-mongering piece of shit.

Anyone who would mock the deaths of innocents deserves to scorned like the scum he is.

Beck has finally arrived at his Joseph Welch vs. Joe McCarthy moment and I always knew he’d get there eventually:  You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

McCarthy’s career-destroying lynch mob ended not long after Welch humbled him.

Who will finally humble Glenn Beck?

You don't have to be an idiot to drink the Glenn Beck Kool-Aid, but it helps.

Amy Winehouse Cheats Herself

Live fast, die young.

A few words about singer Amy Winehouse being found dead today in London of a possible drug overdose at age 27

Is it a surprise that this comes as no surprise at all?  I’m sure somebody had Amy Winehouse ranked high in their dead pool and not without good reason.   She had been hurtling headlong down a path of drug and alcohol fueled self-destruction since “Rehab” had made her a global superstar six years ago.

What this proves is some people should never be famous.  Particularly not if you have an addictive personality and some rather nasty habits.

My daughter liked Back To Black more than I did.  I bought it at a used CD store, gave it a couple of listens and returned it within the three-day window.   There were a couple of songs I thought weren’t half-bad, but there was nothing I felt like I needed to hear again.  The Brits have carved out an impressive list of neo-soul singers with Winehouse being the most celebrated if not the best of the bunch., But Back To Black dropped in 2006 and Winehouse’s follow-up never materialized admidst all the tabloid turmult her life had become. 

Her drunken performance in Belgrade in June where she was a wreck on two legs and the crowd booed her off the stage was such a hot mess of epic fail proportions her record company quickly scrubbed the Internet of videos of it.   Winehouse’s ongoing series of public meltdowns was like driving down a country road at midnight with no lights on;  the crash was inevitable.   It was only a matter of how brutal the impact would be.

Like Kurt Cobain, Winehouse was extraordinarily talented and extraordinarily messed up.  A lot of people admired them both but it seems very few actually loved them.   Then again junkies aren’t the most loveable people in the world.  They’re kind of sad and pathetic, but you can’t really feel all that sorry for them.

This isn’t a tragedy.  91 people, mostly teenagers,  being shot and blown up by a neo-Nazi, anti-Islam nut job in Norway is a tragedy.   This was a case of slow motion suicide.   You see ’em come.  You see ’em go.  Life in the fast lane, I guess.  You rarely see someone go straight to hell as fast as she did when she finally hit the big time.

Amy Winehouse is finally at rest, but it’s doubtful she’s found peace.

She called the shot herself:

I cheated myself
Like I knew I would
I told you, I was trouble
You know that I’m no good

Good night, Amy.  All your pain has gone away.

Every picture tells a story.

It’s Time to Eat Your Peas, Mr. President

"Man, after dealing with those Republicans all day, I need a smoke!"

You can’t talk to a man when he don’t want to understand and apparently you can’t negotiate with Republicans either.  So why try?

John Boehner walked out of debt ceiling negotiations, again?   What is this?  The third or fourth time already? Boehner leaves and comes back more times than an abused spouse.

The hell with him.  Boehner’s afraid if he makes a deal Eric Cantor will take his job.   And he wants to keep his job  so he won’t make any that raises the debt ceiling without huge and painful spending cuts.   Painful for Democrats and their constituents.   As long as no millionaire or billionaire is left behind, that’s all The Boehner Bunch cares about.

This is getting nowhere fast.  After Boehner’s latest walk, the President explained to the press what went wrong this time.

Obama said he offered Boehner “over a trillion dollars in cuts to discretionary spending,” including domestic and defense spending.   

“We then offered an additional $650 billion in cuts to entitlement programs,” the president said.  “Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.”   What Obama wanted in return was $1.2 trillion in revenues and none in tax rate increases.

"I know what you mean, dawg."

No deal, dude. 

“It’s hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal,” a bewildered Obama said. “Can they say yes to anything?”

Apparently not and so its time to say the hell with the Republicans.  If the debt ceiling is going to be raised and Chaos and Disorder avoided it may be up to the president to save America from going off the economic cliffs.   The GOP is sitting in the backseat of the car screaming in Obama’s ear to speed up and drive off the cliff.   He needs to throw an elbow into their yapping mouths and take control of the situation before disaster strikes.

Maybe it’s time for President Obama to take President Clinton’s advice, bypass the Tea Party-possessed GOP, invoke the 14th Amendment and raise the debt ceiling with the Constitutional powers granted to the Chief Executive without cutting any more dirty deals with double dealers like Boehner, Cantor and  Mitch McConnell.

The New York Times agrees Obama is going to have cut the GOP loose.

A deadlocked Congress has become incapable of acting consistently; it commits to entitlements it will not reduce, appropriates funds it does not have, borrows money it cannot repay and then imposes a debt ceiling it will not raise. One of those things must give; in reality, that means that the conflicting laws will have to be reconciled by the only actor who combines the power to act with a willingness to shoulder responsibility — the president.

There comes a time when no deal is better than a bad deal and a terrible deal would be one that shreds the social safety net for the poor, the elderly, students, veterans and the most vulnerable and suffering citizens while sparing Wall Street once again as Main Street bears the brunt.

It’s time to eat your peas Mr. President.  A big ol’ heaping plate of ’em.

Obama said he’d risk his presidency to resolve this crisis. Fine. Time to call the Republicans bluff.   If they have the balls to try to impeach him, then let them try to impeach him.  The polls say the GOP is playing a losing hand with their “drive faster, homey, not slower”  death dive.   Maybe this is all just one really long and really bad television show where everything gets resolved in the last five minutes and maybe the Republicans are as  crazy as they seem to be. 

Could the Republicans decide to try and impeach the president if he bypasses them and raises the debt ceiling without Congress?   Maybe.  Let’s find out. 

My guess It will never happen. Not with a presidential election right around the corner.  The Republicans will be exposed as the bullies and cowards they are and they will lose And the president and the country will win.

Put a little butter on the peas, Mr. President.  They aren’t so bad at all.

Ummm....yummy!

Allen West: An Officer, Not A Gentleman

"Douchebag of the Year? Me? Aw, you shouldn't have."

Some people run for Congress because they want to do good things for their community.  They want to roll up their sleeves and be busily about the business of the American people.   They want to go to Washington and make a difference and try to make politics work a little better than it presently does.

Then you have guys like Allen West who go to Washington for a much different reason.   They don’t believe government helps makes the lives of people better so they get elected and prove it.

West, whose name was floated by presidential candidate and political irrelevance Newt Gingrich as a potential vice-president, got pissy when he took exception to remarks made on the House floor by Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.   West fired off a snarky e-mail to his Florida colleague.

From: Z112 West, Allen
Sent: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 04:48 PM
To: Wasserman Schultz, Debbie
Cc: McCarthy, Kevin; Blyth, Jonathan; Pelosi, Nancy; Cantor, Eric
Subject: Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from Wasserman-Schultz

Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional ,and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district!

I am bringing your actions today to our Majority Leader and Majority Whip and from this time forward, understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior……which dates back to the disgusting protest you ordered at my campaign hqs, October 2010 in Deerfield Beach.

You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!

Steadfast and Loyal

Congressman Allen B West (R-FL)

Here’s the video of Wasserman-Schultz’s remarks that set West off.  At no point does she name West, but he was angered nonetheless.

It that’s what set off West so much to declare Wasserman-Schultz as “vile”, “despicable”, “a coward” and “unprofessional” he’s a thin-skinned punk.   He says Wasserman-Schultz isn’t a lady?   What kind of man are  you Al to send off a whinygram to House leaders instead of confronting her personally with your complaints?

Apparently the former Army lieutenant colonel is an officer, but not a gentleman. 

Even by right-wing troglodyte standards, West is a particularly nasty piece of work.  He seems to go out of his way to belittle Democrats. 

West goes out his way to be a dick. Such as when he ripped Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Mn) as representing “the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.”  Ellison is a practicing Muslim.

    PERITZ: Since you’re with a new crowd, people you haven’t really met before, and will be very closely associating with in the future, including Keith Ellison, who supports Islam, how will you manage that, if I may ask, because it’s not really easy to be polite with individuals one totally disagrees with, which I believe may be the case.

    WEST: Well I think it’s most important that I stand upon the principles that people elected me to go to Washington, DC and represent them on Capitol Hill. So that when you run into someone that is counter, or someone that really does represent the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established, you’ve got to be able to defeat them intellectually in debate and discourse, and you to just have to be able to challenge each and every one of their assertions very wisely and very forthright.

Toss in West’s recent remark, “I must confess when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool,” and you’ve got a guy who looks for new ways to be an asshole. Funny thing though…you don’t see West actually doing much since he’s been elected besides giving interviews and saying dumb things.

Some guys are just intimidated by strong women.

West reminds me why I got out of the military.   The rigidity of thought and conformist mindset the armed forces instills tends to lead one down a path of conservatism, and extreme conservatism at that.   I got out of the Air Force before I started voting Republican.   West spent 18 years in the Army so his hawkish and far-right ideology doesn’t surprise me.

Every day West is a member of Congress is an embarrassment and since he may likely find himself running for reelection in a predominantly Democratic district, here’s hoping the dickish behavior of this two-legged infected pustule in Washington will be short-lived.

Ladies Night at the Jazz Club

"Keep playin' that rock n' roll..."

Here’s a pair of CD reviews that appeared on All About Jazz and since they usually pop up in strange places on the web, I might as well run them on my own site before finding them stuck up somewhere else.

I’m starting to find quotes from my reviews showing up in the promotional materials for jazz artists.  I guess I should feel flattered but it just seems a bit weird.   On the other hand,  it’s nice to be taken seriously.   Every now and then it even gets me into concerts so there is that.

HIROMI – VOICE (Telarac)

f there’s no guitar are you playing rock n’ roll? If there’s no vocals does it make any sense to call an album Voice? Sure it does because after all, this is a Hiromi record and, while there is no guitar within earshot, there is plenty of rocking and rolling going on.

Voice is not—repeat—not a rock album or a jazz-rock album—or fusion or any other such hybrid. It’s a jazz record and the seventh Hiromi album is much like the six preceding it: High on energy and higher even still on innovation, improvisation and originality. The concept behind Voice is Hiromi’s belief that the voice that never speaks can be the most powerful of all.

Rock isn’t just turned up guitars and grown out hair. It’s every bit as much about attitude. Or just call it swagger. Hiromi’s approach to playing piano is to play with passion and vitality with a little swagger thrown in and what comes out is an album that, when it’s not in your ears, is in your face, demanding rapt attention.

It rocks, because Simon Phillips plays drums not like he’s part of a jazz trio, but still gigging with The Who, Judas Priest and Toto. This is not just Hiromi’s album, but Phillips’ as well, as he makes his presence felt on every track. In the absence of a screaming guitar, Phillips pounds and thunders away on what is best described as “lead drums.”

The overall effect is pretty amazing. “Flashback” kicks off with Hiromi on the low end of her piano and, as Phillips and Jackson come in, it’s off to the races, with the pianist and drummer sharing the leads while Jackson holds down the bottom. On “Desire,” Hiromi and Phillips duke it out in a piano vs. drums battle that is pure fun. Phillips gets multiple opportunities to run through his repertoire, and he doesn’t seem to mind one little bit. With Phillips in the drum chair, Voice features some of the toughest and most vigorous drumming on a jazz record since the prime of Billy Cobham‘s solo career.

Phillips was recommended to Hiromi by bassist Stanley Clarke, which figures, since Phillips played with guitarist Jeff Beck on There and Back (Epic, 1980), and Hiromi covered Beck’s jazz-rock classic, “Led Boots” on Beyond Standard (Telarc, 2008). Bassist Anthony Jackson has a more traditional role, but gets his licks in as he steps in for Clarke on “Labyrinth,” a composition Hiromi penned for The Stanley Clarke Band. Jackson previously appeared as a guest musician on Hiromi’s Another Mind (Telarc, 2003) and Brain (Telarc, 2004), and while he doesn’t dominate the proceedings as much as his band mates he doesn’t blend into the wallpaper either.

Even on the solo piano piece, “Haze,” Hiromi busily explores just how many preconceptions she can blow with her weapon of choice. Beethoven didn’t know anything about the blues or jazz, but Hiromi does, and her finger work proves it on “Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8, Pathetique,” along with some subtle embellishments from Jackson and Phillips.

No vocals, no lyrics, no guitars. No problem. It’s not rock n’ roll but Voice still rocks.

CINDY BRADLEY: UNSCRIPTED (Trippin’ N’ Rhythm)

Every now and then a musician gets bold and breaks the mold. Cindy Bradley’s Unscripted is the sound of an artist just going for it. The nearly eight-minute “Prelude/Massive Transit/Interlude” suite that kicks off the album is like a rush of cool air to the face on a hot summer day. It’s fast, furious and funky, with Bradley blowing the hell out of her trumpet as she dukes it out with producer Michael Broening’s keyboards and Tim Veder’s sax solos.

Don’t be confused, though. “Massive Transit” is smooth jazz, but it’s still a bit more ambitious than an ordinary bit of funk. It builds upon itself and keeps going with one hard groove after another, goosed along by Broening’s horn arrangement and a bass line by Ernie Donadelle that is irresistibly compelling.

Next up is an impressive take on Wayne Shorter‘s “Footprints” and a gorgeously lush version of “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” Bradley interjects some moody blues soloing over Broening’s arrangements, as they do not try so much to interpret the originals slavishly note for note as to pay homage to two familiar tunes.

The first half of Unscripted is so strong that the middle sags a little, as “Lifted” sounds pretty, but breaks no new ground. If “Deja Blue,” and “Pink Slip” are a bit more familiar, they also give Bradley a chance to show off her trombone chops. The final three selections—”Inevitable,” “Interlude” and the resplendent “One Moment More”—bring a satisfying close to Bradley’s sophomore effort and will continue to make her one of the most respected artists in contemporary jazz genre.

Bradley’s confidence as a player is apparent on every track of Unscripted. On the previous Bloom (Trippin’ n’ Rhythm, 2009), she hung back and deferred to Broening and the other musicians as though she was following their lead. That’s over now, as she delivers fully accomplished, award-winning music. Bradley was named the Best New Artist at the 2010 American Contemporary Jazz Awards, and followed that up with two Oasis Awards, for Best Brass Player and Best New Artist.

The title is slightly misleading. There may not have been a script for Unscripted, but there is definitely a plan and Bradley is executing it to perfection. This is a highly rewarding sophomore effort from Bradley and establishes her as someone on the short list of jazz artists well worth following to see what comes next.

Token Gestures and Table Scraps

Is Reverend Al ready for his close up?

From Media Bistro’s TVNewser:

Cenk Uygur was thrust onto the MSNBC schedule in January, when Keith Olbermann‘s departure set in motion several host changes on the progressive channel’s lineup.

Now TVNewser hears Uygur may be moved out of the 6pm hour, possibly to be replaced by Al Sharpton. When the host changes happened earlier this year, the 6pm hour was simply known as “MSNBC Live,” a telling sign that MSNBC was trying out Uygur.

Sharpton has hosted the 6pm show for the last two weeks. This past week, the hour was second, to Fox News, in A25-54 viewers Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

IF true, that’s great for Rev. Al.  Cornel West won’t be as happy for the “dear brother,” but even if I’m not a Sharpton supporter it’ is a step in the right direction to get some color on the television.  A good start is ALL it would be though.

This would still be just another non-journalist media “celebrity” receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition instead of their years of experience, training, ability and talent.   Hooray for popularity but for a veteran and seasoned Black journalist who deserves a shot at a show, they still have to go begging.

But this is what happens when we always go begging to the White man with our empty bowl and say, “Please throw us a crumb.”   If Al Sharpton gets a show at 6:00 pm, that’s cool, but it’s NOT primetime where Blacks and Asians and Hispanics are invisible on ALL the cable news channels unless they’re guest analysts trotted out to be the “Black authority” on a race-based issue.

Television executives have learned how to brush aside complaints their programming lacks diversity.  They find a Black personality willing to play ball with them, stick them outside of the prime time peak viewing hours and the minority pressure groups go away temporarily satisfied with the token representation.

Why not sweat the HNIC’s at TV One and BET to step their game up and switch out yet another “Fresh Prince” rerun for something like ONE news program during weekdays?   Why do they always get a pass when we have these debates about the lack of Black representation on cable?

I’m tired of the strategy of the National Association of Black Journalists and other pressure groups dogging out the execs at Fox, CNN and MSNBC saying’  “Please, baby, baby,  Please” but for Alfred Liggins and Debra Lee we won’t say shit even if we have a mouthful of the televised dung TV1 and BET programs.  What about Oprah Winfrey who has an entire network named after her?  What is there on the Oprah Winfrey Network that reflects Black life (and no, a talk show for Oprah’s gal pal, Gayle King does not count).

Once upon a time BET did have news programming such as BET News with Ed Gordon, BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley and BET Nightly News with Michelle Miller and Jacque Reed.  BET dropped most of its news and public affairs programming in 2000 and BET Nightly News in 2005. Viacom purchased BET in 2003.

With Viacom’s money behind BET there is no question the dollars exist for some news and public affairs programming, but where is the will for it?  It’s one thing to talk about the hot mess the BET Awards are, but its something else to remain strangely quiet about the lack of news on BET, TV One (with the notable exception of Mr. Roland Martin’s Washington Watch program) and the most powerful woman in the media, Oprah Winfrey and the OWN Network.

Meeting with the head of CNN to ask he consider giving an African-American some consideration for a program is cool.  But why should Black executives get a pass from the same scrutiny NABJ submits White executives to?

It’s cowardly to demand White men like CNN President Jim Walton do a better job of representing African-Americans while ignoring the Black folks like Liggins, Lee and Winfrey  who barely even acknowledge they exist.    The days when Blacks were supposed to feel a sense of pride when we got “one of our own” in a place where there were no Blacks at all has passed.  If accountability means anything at all, it applies to out-of-touch Black executives as well as White ones.

At what point do we demand the so-called “Black” cable channels provide more than music videos, award shows and bad reality TV instead of always pleading to the White man for a few hours of face time?   It’s past time we start building up our own networks and news channels to give us something more than the same safe, brain-numbing, unambitious crap.

The Al Sharpton Show would be great if it happens— for Al Sharpton.  For everybody else it changes nothing much at all.   Token gestures and table scraps are not enough and never were.   A real and systemic  adjustment needs to made in how  a job ALL the television networks represent Black people.  That won’t change until change is demanded by those who make the decisions whose stories are told and whose are ignored.
If you never ask the question the answer is always “no.”  I’m not asking BET, TV One or OWN to take on CBS, CNN or Fox.  I’m just thinking it’s not too presumptuous to ask for something more enlightening than another 30-year-old rerun of “The Flip Wilson Show.”

Oprah's network represents White women, not Black people.