Saturday, September 20, 2008

स्टाइल प्लुस

Love it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Is this considered cooning? got this from Daily Dish

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sexy Dictator

I'm still in the boat, it is rocky, the water's a bit choppy, but I can still see land despite constant reports to the contrary. Some passengers look weary though, and every once in a while someone jumps overboard with that depressing, blank look on their face. I wonder if they don't see the land. It's all about the land for me. But a lot are starting to insist that it is all about the boat. "Hope," in bright white letters is written on our stern and painted beside it is the insignia of an abstract rising sun in red, white, and blue.

A friend of mine, a masters in journalism student at Columbia University, called me in distress recently. He and a fellow reporter had waited in the cold for an hour, and just at the moment Barack Obama stepped out of his car, making his way past, they implored "could we ask a question senator?" They got the political cold shoulder. "Columbia, great school." Obama efficiently repeated, and made his way into the breakfast fundraiser. Obama was then trailed by a perpetual guest list of the well-off. As my friend put it, "you've never seen these kind of rich people before. The kind only ever poorly imitated in the movies." But that wasn't the point he said, the point was, Barack Obama is a jerk! Here I needed to take a step back and agree, but only for a moment. As I ceded to him, being a politician, Barack could have handled dismissing two young Black, male Columbia students, waiting in the cold, with a little more finesse. But 'jerk' was a stretch for me.

Eventually Barack came back out and answered some questions, but my friend's faith was already shaken. The incident for me crystallized two visions; the president America has, and the president America seems allergic to. George W. Bush is a result of a distinctly delusional American desire of familiarity with greatness. Americans I find, don't just want the best president. They want a best buddy; the kind of president who would stop a press conference just to go around the corner with you and your friends for a few beers. And you would maybe play darts and laugh, he would win of course, either by luck, or by that air of inexplicable cool. This is the president America wants, and this is the president the rest of the world despises. Actually, the rest of the world has no idea why you would want that guy running the country. That guy screwed up a lot of things before he ran for president, and while he is amusing to the rest of the world, he only gets a special section on the cover of Okay Magazine, not an oval office.

The president in a non American arena is the smartest kid in class (Maybe this was the case before FDR, but I don't even believe that!). He is the geek. He is that awkward kid that just didn't make sense in any other context, except president or perhaps law professor, or 'the distinguished senator from Illinois.' This president of course brings along his own baggage, and can illicit pointless hero worship just as easily as the best buddy guy (see my wonderful/creepy photoshop creation in this entry), but in the long run, he is obsessed with a functioning system. He is obsessed with being the solution to a broken system, and it pains him to be otherwise. It is this obsession that kept JFK up nights, and I used to think JFK's popularity was based on an attraction to that obsession. I am finding myself wrong. America it seems is obsessed only with the image of the Playboy President, because at the end of the day he's the guy you can convince to have just one more beer.

On a Bill Maher with Russian politician Garry Kasparov recently Chris Matthews said this; "you ever get the sense they're playing chess and we're playing checkers?" Yes, I do. I believe Barack is trying to play chess, the only game in town with any possibility of handing him a victory. He could easily be the type of "Black candidate" who runs on that rarity alone. It would be a good show, cameras would show up, maybe he would have a few rock star moments, but ultimately, he would be,'that Black guy who ran for president in 2008.'

I will vote for Barack Obama because at the end of the day he is the president America needs, if it has not yet realized it wants him. So he wasn't nice to my friend who waited in the cold to interview him for an hour, I don't care, I am not afraid of intelligent dictators, only the foolish ones. At least for today.


Thursday, March 29, 2007


The culture of reading books is designed very much as an elitist institution. It still shocks me the amount of pretense, which surrounds the simple object of a book. First comes the hardcover, usually endowed with the removable backing, because the elite, above all else, must be in control of their visibility. “You will know what I am reading, only when I decide you should, if I decide to show you.” All this to say that in the way books are packaged, as an object, and as a culture, it is only truly respectful of those who read hardcover. Those people who can afford these ridiculously expensive instruments of glamour, which is to say, hardcover is reading for those who want to ‘read and think,’ not ‘read and do.’ Black folks cannot afford to ‘read and think.’

I come upon this mode of thinking; or rather this mode of thinking has been crystallized, by my recent first time reading of Lerone Bennett Jr’s ‘The Challenge Of Blackness.’ The role of the oppressed in any society, Bennett asserts, is to continually fight against his situation with all the tools he has acquired with his personal and communal history. So when I get on the subway, it is my duty to discomfort the white man in his two-piece Armani, on his way to work for ING Direct. It is my job to make him read the cover of my book and see the words ‘The Challenge of Blackness.’ Not only must he read these words, but he must see brother Bennett on the cover with his afro, beard and pipe. He must see these things and he must in the moment, question his whiteness and question all the active decisions he makes for that day to live as a white man in America. Whether or not this action will achieve all those lofty goals, it is my duty to carry it out.

But my edition of ‘The Challenge Of Blackness’ does not allow for such “revolutionary” action. In order to preserve the value of my book (value based completely on aesthetics, which is completely counter productive as it only protects the books contents as a secondary goal), I must remove the cover; I must be the modest reader. I say ban hardcover, print it all in paperback, leather bindings and hard, illusive backings are for bibles and theology, mysteries. Social education, which I consider anything written outside all the scriptures of all the religions, cannot be a mystery. I’d like to see what everyone is reading on the subway so I can, in the least, judge him or her for being ignorant. (But in earnest that is not my primary concern). I’d just like to make my mark as the guy on the subway reading ‘The Challenge Of Blackness,’ because it says to a sleepy world, ‘there are Black people out there, average Black people, reading important things, so sleep with one eye open because come morning, they might be holding congress hostage and demanding your very soul be washed clean.’

As I write this entry, it disturbs me that I cannot now find this book’s cover image on the internet to share with you, heaven only knows the luck that thrust the book into my hands. I’m all for starting a reading circle, each one teach one, read it and then mail it to the next person in the circle, I’m sure Bennett would appreciate that attempt at unifying a community, even on such a local level.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I Think Y'All Should Stop Hatin'

So there is no lack of negative reviews for Chris Rock's latest escapade into movie making, "I Think I Love My Wife," Rock's re-make of a French outing entitled "Chloe In The Afternoon." While I am yet to witness the latter, I was and am still, absolutely confounded by the never-ending barrage of bad reviews. It is one thing to dislike a stupid movie in my view, but it is another to hate a movie simply because Chris Rock isn't doing his crazy negro routine for you.

Now as a disclaimer you should know that I actually am not a big fan of Rock's comedy, he is often too heavily scripted and lacks any real comedic instincts of his own. I didn't walk in hoping for a comedy routine. However I think a lot of people walked in expecting something seemingly benign, but totally sinister in reality - The Black Comedy. It's that movie you're sold on because it's set in a barbershop, in your community, and it's supposed to speak to you, for you - that movie that in the end is completely shallow, lacking of any complex definitions of the Black experience, and makes you wish writers needed a 'Black' card before they were allowed to write movies about Black folk.

I guess my first hint at the fate of this poor film was the previews, not one single title based on a barbecue, gospel singing or a black man in drag. And not a single rapper turned actor in the mix. For the most part the trailers were for "chick flicks," (the return of Molly Shannon, thank god!) you know the derogatory term we give to those films which try a little too hard to remind us that European filmmaking is ages ahead of us. This film, although about being Black, was not, for a Black audience, because all we want to see apparently is 'Cookout.' So yes, 'I Think I Love My Wife,' is not a 'Black Movie,' as most Americans would eagerly expect it seems, but a far from perfect, brave attempt at adult conversation as it regards to marriage, and not even essentially Black marriage. It seems though America would rather Rock be at his old high-pitched-voice-punch-line tricks.

Don't get me wrong if I tried hard enough I could show you flaws in this movie, but something about the film's attempt at uniqueness is completely charming to me. (I mean, honestly, someone's got to get back to making funny movies about real things since Woody Allen decided to retire to London and make crap.) I am beyond over the generic Black comedy, and it's a shame that not many people are going to see this movie because of racist, yeah I said it, bad reviews. It is light but adult, flawed but entertaining, and for those who'll say I am lowering the standards for Black entertainment, fine here's this one criticism, just for you; no matter how cute the concept, Chris Rock really shouldn't try to sing, ever!

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Fear Of A Black Candidate

It is amazing to me how many Black folks are tripping over themselves not to support Barack Obama; this is where I say, 'I understand we do not want to fall into stereotypes of blindly following the color of our skin.' But I'm definitely not interested in saying that, not today. As far as I am concerned, here is a smart Black man, yes, 'articulate and clean,' as some idiot has noted, but of course he is so much more than his media image. I am greatly concerned that Black folks, in an effort to spite 'the man,' are not giving this guy a fair shake.

I believe the fear here is that he represents the white man's choice of Blackness (he's not even Black according to some, don't get me started on that front actually; this is the only country in the world where a dark skinned man isn't automatically a Black man, I say ridiculous!). I believe a lot of people fear that by supporting Barack, white folks will be dancing in the streets congratulating themselves on being progressive -- of course they will! But that should not stop us from supporting the man. If Barack Obama was a pimp, some drug lord named B-Daddy, white folks would still be gushing with pride saying, I'm voting for a Black man. We are so far beyond the days of taking our cues from the White majority -- support, or lack of support for Barack, should spring from our own determinations of his fit for the position, not with one eye on the master.

The problem here is Black folks have gotten very accustomed to listening to a narrow list of "black leaders." I'll put them in facetious quotes, but I think I'll be gentlemanly enough not to name names, we all know who they are. So when these guys don't get in line, with their perms and mustaches, to say Barack is the messiah there is hesitation in our footsteps. "Well if the Right Reverend Whatever is waiting to see what Barack does, I'll wait too." Problem is the Right Reverend Whatever might not be thinking about your future while he waits, all he might be thinking on is the fact that once we all love Barack, well, his photo ops and marches on the 6 o clock news, will no longer be front page.

I'm being particularly hard, but that is because if I come across one more Black person who gives me 'the face,' when I mention Barack, I'm going to scream. You know the face, it's a reactionary cringe at the man's name, maybe they look away, but finally they say, "well, we'll see..." WE'LL SEE? What the hell does that mean, and what the hell does that have to do with anything? I believe it is finally dawning on a lot of people that the last six years was a vacation in hell we all blindly signed up for, question is, are we so deep into that hell that we don't know what hope looks like?

Friday, January 19, 2007

President, Or Dead

A few months back a friend and I nick-named 2007 "the year of the young Black man," we do this, name years, because sometimes themes are apparent. We named 2007 so because of Barack Obama, and the hope I believe he inspired in both of us. Recently I blogged a prediction about Obama's presidential run rumours, and of course I always knew his announce would come with backlash, but I honestly could not have predicted the variety and the sheer nastiness of that variety.

It is official, watching out for the lies about Obama is a full time job. If I were getting paid to do it, I'd probably make a living. It is ridiculous that these insidious jabs can keep coming with such speed, it would seem Obama has made the wrong enemies in Washington, the special interest kind. The kind that wants to fund your campaign, the kind that gets really mad when you refuse their handouts, the kind that can kill you. Take nothng sinister from that, I'm not suggesting some mass conspiracy (at least I can't without becoming an 'enemy combatant'; as an aside, a friend joked about making an Enemy Combatant T-shirt the other day and I earnestly begged him not to, it's not funny, especially when you're Black and male).

So when I say that in this race which will occur for 2008, Barack Obama finds himself with two choices, President, or Dead, I'm referring to the fight he MUST undertake, because he cannot deny himself that fight, he cannot deny me that fight. Win or loose, in a Barack nomination, the politics of America will lie naked for our inspection, for the first time in a very long time. From that display - the name calling, the cocaine jabs, the inevitable 'scandal' seeking - we shall learn what makes us a democracy, is it the few or the many? Can a man be president because he is the right man for the job? Will the people for once truly elect their leader, special interests be damned?

One of the recent Fox News jabs at Obama, listed in the links above, showed guest John McWhorter spouting trivial phrases like, Obama is "considered such a big deal simply because he's Black." Did I mention McWhorter himself is Black? So this question goes out to Brother McWhorter, why the f*** do you think FOX NEWS, chose YOU to be the mouth piece for that ridiculous statement?

Labels: , , , ,