Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Decisions Made E-Z

In these historically catastrophic times, we need bold, decisive leadership. The world needs people who are unafraid to take the reins and lead us out of the darkness. We need imaginative heroes who will not blink when ... at least filling Illinois' and New York's vacant Senate seats.

After this historic year and election, after all the soaring rhetoric and braggadocio, we at Tome have come to realize that our politicians are still full of it, mealy-mouthed, and, at best, mediocre. And, because of these glaring facts, we do not understand why it is not glaringly obvious that New York's and Illinois' politicians simply do not resort to the greatest tool mediocrity has ever known: nepotism.

New York's case is so incestuous it's simple. Governor David Paterson, son of a former state senator and New York secretary of state, must fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat (who got it because her hubby was POTUS) with either (as conventional wisdom would have it) Andrew Cuomo, the current state's attorney general, or Caroline Kennedy, the ... uh ... Kennedy. Andrew's argument is that his father was governor and that his brother, Chris, is one hot dude. His dad could give a pretty mean speech. As far as Chris goes, I don't know. I'm still obsessed with the fact that the Today Show's Lester Holt is the only man in African-American history without lips.

But, if we're talking simple pedigree here, you've got to go with Caroline. Her uncle Ted's now being called "The Lion of the Senate," and he's about to kick the bucket; her uncle Bobby held the same Senate seat; her father was JFK, for godsakes; and every one of Caroline's cousins who isn't in rehab has held some sort of public office. If W. could win the Presidency just on the laurels of his father's mediocrity, isn't Caroline due at least a Senate seat--if not the Presidency, or at least the Papacy?!

I'm sure Gov. Paterson knows this. I'm almost certain he'll do the right thing and choose Caroline Kennedy.

Now, Illinois' seat is definitely a bit trickier, what with Gov. Cowpadour (get it?) on tape trying to sell the vacancy. For awhile there, it looked like Blagojevich was headin' to the slammer. Everybody was crying out for his blood. His own attorney general has been hacking away. But now things look a little murky. Blago refuses to step down. People are now doubting he can be impeached. They're even starting to wonder if the man can actually be charged with anything at all. The only thing that is known right now is that Illinois has a vacant Senate seat.

Of course, it's understandable why the good people of Lincoln's Land wouldn't want their governor to fill the same seat he just put up on EBay. But, what are you going to do? You're running out of time. We strongly urge the people of Illinois to find some useful, expedient criteria to fill that vacancy. I suggest nepotism. After all, it's not as though Illinois politics is unfamiliar with that concept.

Many would then suggest that Blagojevich give the Senate seat to Jesse Jackson, Jr. His is definitely the most recognizable name in the game. However, he'll more than likely lose re-election in 2010 (which was why he was not on Obama's short list). Therefore, it is time for bold action, imaginative problem-solving. It is time to think outside the box. It is time to select Jeri Ryan as Illinois' junior U.S. Senator!

At first, you may scoff, but there are very good reasons for Blago to choose the woman:

1) Like Caroline Kennedy and Sarah Palin, Jeri Ryan is a mother;

2) As the former wife of Republican pol, Jack Ryan, Jeri is no stranger to Illinois politics;

3) As the former wife of Republican pol, Jack Ryan, Jeri is no stranger to international sleaze--as her ex-hubby kept taking her to sex clubs in New Orleans, New York, and Paris;

4) This Northwestern grad is no carpet bagger, and her Theater degree suits her perfectly in our media-saturated political world (she even played Sen. Lafe Smith in Advise and Consent her sophomore year);

5) Being half-human and half-Borg, Ryan has the perfect balance between logic and compassion and understands the political need to obliterate one's opponents with cold, calculating ruthlessness;

6) As a former teacher in one of Boston's most melodramatic city high schools, Ryan has faced and understands the challenges our nation's children and schools encounter every day: drugs, gangs, premarital sex, teen pregnancy, social promotion, and, knowing David R. Kelley, transgender-anorexic-bestial-sex with neurotic goats;

7) As the former wife of Republican pol, Jack Ryan, she is owed way too much by Obama. If it hadn't been for the Ryans' sex scandal, Obama wouldn't have had such an easy road (Alan Keyes) to the Senate and would've come nowhere close to the Presidency. An adept pol like Jeri Ryan can use that fact as leverage to get Illinois the pork it needs in these hard, economic times;

8) And while we cannot vow for Jeri Ryan's integrity, we do know that, as Senator, Ms. Ryan will not be performing live sex acts on stage in either America or Europe. And that's the kind of decency we Americans deserve from our politicians.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

10 Worst Predictions of 2008

Foreign Policy has come out with their Ten Worst Predictions list. Of course, Schecky Kristol, for whom I've publicly stated my love, has topped the list. The other millionaire prognosticators show themselves to be equally inane.

Of course, when they're looking for Nostradomal brilliance, I hope they stop by here and give a brother a little credit for his prescient Palin prediction. And, just so you know, even despite this past weekend's loss to Tennessee, I'm still holding to my Steeler Super Bowl pick.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

To Hell with "Condi"

This morning, watching Condoleezza Rice’s Meet the Press swan song with the Muppet, I realized what a relief it’ll be to finally let go of my eight-year disdain for that woman. For the longest time, I simply hated the sister, thought she was a self-loathing true believer like an Uncle Clarence or Ward Connerly. Then, there was her head cheerleader role in the run-up to the Iraq war which simply infuriated me: “Smoking Gun! Mushroom Cloud! Siss-boom-bahh!!!”

Though mediocre at best, Antonia Felix’s biography, Condi, made me somewhat modify my opinion of Rice. I no longer thought her unqualified to be National Security Advisor, and, learning she was a student of Josef Korbel (Madeleine Albright’s father) and a disciple of Brent Scrowcroft, I realized she wasn’t a neo-con harpy but a conservative “realist.” Not a true believer—but a sell-out.

I’ve even had to give her some begrudging respect with her stint as Secretary of State. Finally, someone has corralled those wannabe cowboy, neo-con draft dodgers, and Bush’s foreign policy has made a little bit of sense lately—ignoring the lunatic rantings of Dick Cheney and John Bolton and using diplomacy (what a quaint notion) with the likes of Iran and North Korea.

Don’t get me wrong. I still loathe Madame Secretary. I can’t think of a time I’ve actually admired her nor a time that Bush et al. have filled me with anything other than contempt. But the other thing I’ve found utterly contemptuous is the press’s treatment of Rice.

There’s been speculation about her sex life and the endless scrutiny of her wardrobe. Unfortunately, those are things that all women in public life have to deal with. What has really pissed me off all these years is how the media have somehow deemed it appropriate to constantly call Dr. Condoleezza Rice, former provost of Stanford University, former National Security Advisor, and current Secretary of State, “Condi.”

Now, I realize that Rice—like so many of our oppressed black brothers and sisters—is shackled to a messed-up, made-up name. I know that “Condoleezza” is a mouthful (I’m getting carpal tunnel syndrome typing it out so damned much). However, she is the Secretary of State, fourth in line for the Presidency, and the third most powerful woman in the world (behind Oprah and Nancy Pelosi).

“Condi” is reportedly a nickname used by friends and intimates. I have never seen the woman smile coyly before the cameras, and vamp, “Call me ‘Condi.’” Yet, in newspaper after newspaper, countless telecasts, books, etc., journalists have taken this liberty.

It’s one thing when politicians like Clinton or Richardson go by “Bill” or those old Republican Revolutionaries are “Dicks” (Sweat and Armey). They choose to call themselves. Elizabeth Dole, in 1996, decided to disingenuously position herself against the “Feminazi” Hillary Clinton by calling herself “Liddy” during Bob’s Presidential run. But, as I said, Rice has never done any such thing, yet she continues to be disrespected.

Some would claim your run-of-the-mill sexism. A cutesy way to somehow belittle such a powerful woman (like the fashion critiques and sex speculation). But Madeleine Albright was never called “Maddie”; you’ll hear “Bill and Hill,” but Senator Clinton’s generally referred to by her given name (there’s even a book titled Condi vs. Hillary); Sen. Feinstein isn’t called “Di”; and Sen. Boxer ain’t “Babs.”

Secretary Rice’s white female counterparts have been given the dignity of being addressed and referred to properly. Yet, this black woman’s constantly infantilized by a nickname she doesn’t use in public. I don’t know if it’s been subconscious on the media’s and politicians’ part. That they couldn’t quite grasp or come to terms with the fact that an African-American woman had reached such heights and felt some need—no matter how juvenile—to knock her down a peg. I don’t know if it was just journalistic laziness, and folks just wanted to knock a couple of syllables off her name (didn’t they call Boutros Boutros-Ghali “Secretary-General Booty,” after all?). Personally, I’ve always suspected it to be the former. And it pissed me off. And it pissed me off that it pissed me off. Because I just don’t like the woman nor her policies. It’s just the principle of the matter. Black women deserve respect—especially one who got to where she’s gotten. They should’ve referred to her by her given name or title. “Condi” should’ve never crossed her lips.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Favorite Christmas Moments

And, of course...


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, 13th Amendment

That's right, you did it. One hundred and forty-three years old. A lot of us thought you'd never even make it to adulthood. Hell, for most of your life, people were surprised to see that you were still even around. And now look at ya! You see what your boy done did? Things are definitely looking up. Take care of yourself, baby.

On this day, in 1865, the Thirteen Amendment, forever abolishing slavery in these United States of America, was signed into law.

Did you hear that, all you mainstream rappers and ghetto lit "authors"?

YOU ... ARE ... FREE!!!

Now, start fucking acting like it ... Toby.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We Wuz Robbed

Now, I guess I really don't have a right to complain. I've been very lucky this year. I really shouldn't even be where I found myself last week. But damnit, my Murderkats have been screwed!!!

If you look back at my draft you can see that I worked very hard to get into the playoffs. My starting quarterback was knocked out for the season in the second week. My second receiver suffered the same fate in the first game of the season. My two starting running backs have missed most of the season. And my defense, the usually stout Jacksonville Jaqoffs, decided that defending the pass was passé this season.

But I've been diligent. I've been working those waiver wires. I picked up Matt Forte before anyone knew who he was. The same for Houston's Steve Slaton. Still, as I said, I've been lucky. I haven't been the top point-getter (that guy didn't even make the playoffs), and I won two games by a point each. But I made the playoffs.

And last night, before the Philly game, I was three points down. Fortunately, the very unpredictable Bryan Westbrook only got five points (the week before--when I'd benched him, of course--he got 30). But that was enough to win. I was going on to the championship game.

But no!

For some reason, Yahoo has decided to knock two points off of San Diego's defense's score. I checked and double-checked. There's absolutely no reason why they did it. They just did. So, I was in a tie. And, though I have no clue how they decided this, I apparently lost the tie-breaker.

My Murderkats have been denied their chance for 2008 glory. The Man, the Machine, the Refs have stolen one from me. No glory, no ring. Nothing but depression and despair.

Hey, wait a second. Now I know what it's like being a Seahawks fan.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Krtek a černoch

For her birthday, Poohbutt got two Krtek books from the Nejlepšís. I don't know much of anything about this Communist Czech response to Mickey Mouse, but Poohbutt has taken to the little mole. Now, tatínek here, who briefly lived in a small Moravian city back in the day, has been forced to remember how to pronounce words he hasn't spoken in 13 years, many of which he never knew the meaning of in the first place. For awhile, I was getting migraines for the effort. But, as I said, Poohbutt has taken a liken to them. So, I've been boning up, eating raw eggs, playing "Gonna Fly Now" while running, and beating miscellaneous meat in a butcher's freezer. The things we do for our kids! As a result, my pronunciation and my head have gotten better. Now to move on to comprehension.

If the Nejlepšís weren't so damned multilingual, I'd be plotting my revenge by returning the favor.



Friday, December 12, 2008

Mugabe Will Continue to Plague Zimbabwe

It was lifetimes ago, way back in 1980, when Robert Mugabe was hailed as a revolutionary Moses delivering his people from the racist chains of Rhodesia's white government. In April of that year, the country was "given" its independence by the British. It was renamed "Zimbabwe." Blacks finally ruled. Mugabe was made Prime Minister. Bob Marley wrote and performed a (great) song.

Though Mugabe's had blood on his hands pretty much from the git, he'd been treated fairly well by the West's media (even with his Communist-trained troops). By letting the colonials keep their land, money, and privilege, Mugabe and Zimbabwe were held up as a possible model of future governance for apartheid-era South Africa. Zimbambwe was a place where everybody supposedly got along.

This "rainbow coalition" facade was blown out of the water in 2002, when our press reported taht Mugabe was expelling white farmers from their lands and giving the estates to former soldiers. Only then did we start hearing what a political mess Zimbabwe had actually been for decades.

Ever since, Mugabe Land has treated us to one shit-storm after another: hyper-inflation (I actually have a Zimbabwean $50 billion note worth about 10 cents U.S.); rampant violence; mass evictions; an election so fixed it took them a month to fix it; Zimbabweans fleeing to South Africa only to be violently repulsed; mass starvation; and now cholera.

It now seems that the former Moses has turned into a modern-day Pharaoh, visiting plague upon plague upon his land in a stubborn refusal to abdicate power. The world wrings its hands, hopeless, every effort rebuffed, wondering why the man just doesn't leave Zimbabwe and give his people a chance to recover, to survive.

It seems like a reasonable enough question. The man's almost 85. He and his peeps have had damn near 30 years to rape and murder and steal all they can from their citizens. THey've probably pilfered billions of dollars on which to retire. Why can't Mugabe just do like so many of his despotic predecessors--buy his black ass a Swiss chalet in the Alps and just chill, worry-free? That's what I'd do. Who knows? Maybe that's what Mugabe himself would do--if it weren't for Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte and what happened to him on October 17, 1998.

That day the former Chilean dictator was arrested while receiving medical treatment in London on a Spanish provisional arrest warrant for murdering Spanish citizens in Chile during his reign. He was slapped with another arrest warrant from Spain five days later for forced disappearances, illegal detentions, and systematic torture and murder. Pinochet's own country signed an amnesty law, freeing Augusto and his cronies from prosecution. However, the Spanish judge in this case cited the principle of "universal jurisdiction"--the idea "that certain crimes are so egregious that they constitute crimes against humanity and can therefore be prosecuted in any court in the world."

Though Pinochet died before the issue of the legality of universal jurisdiction could be resolved, both the British and Spanish courts later ruled that it was indeed legit. The principle has not been utilized too often, but it has been utilized. And it did get Chad's former president, Hissene Habre, thrown in a Senegalese clink back in 2005. As Secretary General of Amnesty International, Irene Khan, has said, "The detention of Augusto Pinochet heralded a turning point in the practice of universal jurisdiction by recognizing that heads of state are not above the law and could be arrested and tried internationally for crimes committed in their own country."

For Mugabe and his people, that means any judge in any court in the world can issue an arrest warrant, any cop on any corner can slap on the cuffs. They could possibly be hunted down no matter where they tried to hide.

Personally, I think all dictators, no matter who their allies are, should face judgement, and, if they got the Nuremberg treatment, so be it. However, people don't become ruthless, bloody dictators because their instinct for self-preservation is weak. They fight. Hard. Knowing that they will face judgment only means that today's dictators aren't going to quietly slip away like a Marcos or the Shah of Iran. They're not going to simply flee like an Amin or a Somoza. And, knowing that the Hague is in their future, they're damned sure not going to let themselves be voted out of office.

So, we can have "The Elders try to fly into Zimbabwe and cajole Mugabe et al. to leave the country. We can try to shame Sudan's regime with accusations of genocide. We can pound our breasts to a pulp over Burma and North Korea, condemn every two-bit dictator around the globe until we're blue in the face. Shame will not get these bastards to leave power. They have too much to lose and a nice, little jail cell waiting for them if they do.

The concept of universal jurisdiction was indeed a victory for the international human rights movement, but, for the people suffering under today's dictatorships, it's a Pyrrhic one at best. They can die reassured that one day their tormentor will go to court?! Maybe. But today, thousands of people are dying each week in Zimbabwe from starvation and cholera because Mugabe and his crew don't want to die in jail. If we want more to die, we only have to keep dangling universal jurisdiction before the octogenarian's eyes. However, if we want to save the lives of those innocent people, we will probably have to let Mugabe's people walk away with all their spoils without fear of prosecution. Until we make that painful decision, the man dies or is ousted, Mugabe's pestilence will most likely continue.


The Rod Blagojevich Video of the Day


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ha! I Still Got It

A lot of guys in my situation (looking at 40 and ever-decreasing levels of testosterone and married with chilluns) sometimes find themselves in a lonely bar hitting on a woman damned near half their age in desperate need of a number, a modicum of attention, anything, all in the vain hopes of reaffirming what they know ain’t true: that they “still got it.” Fortunately, I’ve yet to find myself in that situation. No, it’s not that my ego is all that strong. It’s just that I’m old and schlumpy and never really had it in the first place. Besides, who has the time to go out drinking?

However, my ego is fragile. It can always use a little boosting. And last night it got just that. Thanks to Montgomery County’s Finest, I know I do “still got it.”

Now, as many of you know, many males of the Negroid persuasion have often had and continue to have a rather, let’s say, contentious relationship with our nation’s law enforcement. A lot of us deserve it—drug dealers, gang members, professional athletes, and the like. But others are innocent babes in the woods, victims of an evil world not of their making. That’d be me.

This poor, little integration baby has been pulled over more times in more states than he can count. They’re always looking for the same things—attitude, guns, drugs. My wife and I even got the drug-dog treatment driving through South Carolina while going the speed limit. There have been countless eyefuckings between po-po and me. I can’t tell you how many descriptions I’ve fit, how many walls my hands have been against. The cops even tried searching my apartment when I called to complain about a neighbor. And I’ve been stopped WWB (Walking While Black) in four different states (in high school, I was stopped walking in the neighborhood I grew up in—the cop apologized after he realized he knew me).

But that was back when I was a young, dangerous, black man. In other words, a looooong time ago. I don’t know what happened—maybe there was a memo, or something—but, when I turned 30, suddenly the coppers no longer hated me. Instead of hot stares, I’d get a “Good afternoon, Mr. Campbell.” It was like they respected me, or something. At first it was confusing, then a relief, and then just downright depressing. Somehow, the po-lice knew I was no longer in the main crime-commiting demographic, no longer a threat. They knew I was … old.

Yeah, nobody likes being a target for the cops—moving or stationary. But there’s something kinda flattering about their derision—especially for a nerd like me. Really, I’m just a labium with legs who fancies himself a writer. Not only could I not hurt a fly—that fly could seriously kick my ass. But, for a brief moment in my life, Officer Friendly thought me so threatening, so dangerous, they’d stop what they were doing, search their databases for my crimes, approach me with apprehension and their hands on their guns. You can’t buy an ego boost like that. No nubile, winking co-ed could even come close. For the last decade I wouldn’t quite say I missed that experience exactly but … well … who likes feeling old?

But last night I was young again.

It was after midnight, drizzling, and I was coming home from work. I was approaching a red light on a deserted, four-lane road. The light turned green before I had to stop, and I swung a left onto another four-laner, passing a stationary cop as I did so. Before I knew it, I was pulled over.

Since the kid, I’ve pretty much become a Sunday driver. So, I knew what this was about. I knew he probably got a good look at the face and the hair and decided to pull me over.

The officer approached from the passenger side window and informed me that he clocked me going 35 on a 25mph road. I wanted to say, “Yeah, right. You just had your radar going while you were sitting at a stop light with only one other car on the road.” But I learned the hard way (a 13-hour stint in a Chicago/Cook Co. jail) that one should never argue with the police. (Hell, once in Atlanta, I got a cop to confess before the judge that he didn’t actually see me violate the law he gave me a ticket for. The judge said, “What’s your point?” and made me pay the ticket, anyway.) Besides, I knew why he pulled me over. He knew I knew. We just had to go through the routine.

Now, despite what Johnny Cochrane said, a person can sound black, and a person can definitely sound white. I sound so white Lawrence Welk calls me “cracker” (for further proof, please listen to this interview I gave last year). So, except for Chicago, when a cop hears my cadence, they quickly lose interest. The same was true last night. You could see the guy’s ears straining for even the slightest hint of Ebonics, a double negative, one misplaced “be,” so my ass could be grass.

I am ever so sorry to disappoint, dear chap. To make it worse, I live in a fine, upstanding zip code, and I work for a company that produces books for the blind. Johnny Law was looking for a Tupac and all he got was a damned Cosby Kid. He almost deflated and washed away in the rain. Instead, he took my license, wrote me a little bullshit warning, and, to make it look good, said, “Now please, slow down, Mr. Campbell. It’s a little nasty out here tonight.”

“I’ll do that, son,” I said, and drove off.

I was tired and, for a moment, annoyed. But then my chest inflated, and I started singing:

“Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, I was racially-profiled,

“Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, I still got it.”


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Please ... Follow Me

To My Beautiful, Super Genius Readers,

If you'll notice to the right of your screen, there are now some Tome "Followers" on display. I beseech you to become one of them. It's a new-ish feature that allows you to remain updated on my musings here and will appear on your Dashboard whenever you log in under "Blogs I'm Reading".

It will also help me feel like I'm not writing in a vacuum. It can get mighty lonely here at the laptop--even while chasing Poohbutt around the adobe. Just that little bit of love goes a long way. I'll be warmed by your virtual presence, reassured that I'm not alone, no longer boring the kid with yet another rendition of "Willow Weep for Me."

And most importantly, you get to show the world that you are that ultra-cool, uber-hepcat that follows Tome, and the very nature of your suavicity will encourage other people to follow my humble, little blog. You are the first to cross the velvet rope, the slicksters that make everyone else wanna join the club. You're the ones waiting in line for hours to get a table at this chic restaurant only to find the damned place half-empty.

Oh, wait, strike that.

Go with the club analogy, Daddy-O, and please ... follow me. I really appreciate the support.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm Crying Here

I just heard the tragic news that tonight's two-hour episode of Boston Legal is the series finale. Now, my wife will no longer force me to watch this, one of her favorite shows.

Now, take a good look at my face. I know you see the tears. What could they possibly mean? What could I possibly be feeling at this historic moment?


Questions with State's Craft

Saturday was co-workers Christmas party time for my wife. She's in international development so any social gathering with her ultimately turns into a geography lesson. Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, the Central Asian Republics. By the end of the evening, you end up stuttering "Stan"s and feeling ignorant. And you can't really cover it up with humor because jokes like "I hear T.O. was elected president of Eatadickistan" generally fall on deaf, PC-ish ears.

But I'm a true nerd. I like being ignorant (ranging from unknowledgeable to downright trifling) and learning from other folks. I'm also a political junkie. So, Saturday was like a day in the candy shop for me. The caramel sundae with loads of maraschino cherries for me that night was getting to hang out with a bunch of State Department wonks.

Being a former anarchist, I could never work directly for the federal government, but I'm morbidly curious about its inner workings. So, I was champing at the bit to ask a bunch of questions. I finally found a willing subject. This bureaucrat demanded to remain nameless (which is easy since I can never remember names) so we'll call her NIA (for "Neo-Imperialist Aparatchik"--I guess I still have some anarchistic leanings), keeping in mind that I may just be lying about the woman's gender. So, I fired away asking about the recent Secretaries of State.

Colin Powell

Colin Powell did a lot of good things with State. Under Clinton, the department had suffered from a lot of neglect. We were fairly demoralized and severely underfunded. We were really excited when Powell came in. He brought in a lot of great people, real professionals. We were raring to go. Unfortunately, he was totally ignored by the Administration. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice rendered him utterly powerless. We ended up with very little to do. He should've, at least, quit way before he did.

Condoleeza Rice

Well, she's definitely been a lot more powerful than Powell. She actually has the President's ear. Administratively, she's pretty much ignored the Department, and there are some things we hope disappear with her. But the Department's a lot more powerful than it has been in awhile, and she's fixed a lot of problems within the Department itself. Unfortunately, a lot of those problems were created by her when she was NSA.

So, what is everybody saying about Hillary Clinton?

Well, I was expecting Bill Richardson.

Ooh, I've got something you should read. But are you excited about Hillary?

We're excited about Obama.

So, what do you think about her?

Well, she's definitely internationally known [and known to rock a microphone]. I mean, she is a superstar of sorts. So, she'll probably be able to get a lot of things done. She'll probably be listened to. But, as far as an administrator, who knows? There's absolutely nothing in her resume that tells us if she'll be any good or not. She's never been a diplomat. She's never run a huge bureaucracy. There's just absolutely no way of telling.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

I'm No Boxing Fan, But ...

I'm glad to see that Manny Pacquiao treated the "Pretty Boy" like de la Hoya likes treating his women.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Racial Justice, You Been Served!!!

On February 19, 1942, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which eventually led to the internment of Japanese-Americans to what should be called concentration camps.

On September 22, 1992, US President George H.W. Bush signed the Civil Liberties Act Amendments of 1992, which appropriated hundreds of millions of dollars, guaranteeing each victim of the internment received $20,000.

Anti-miscegenation, race-mixing being one of the loves that "dare not speak its name" (seriously, even Moses got shit for having an Ethiopian wife), was dealt a fatal blow in 1967. That was when the US Supreme Court struck down all such laws in the Loving v. Virginia case, stating:

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law.

This law cleared the way for mixed-race couples to become legally married as well as the making of the 1995 Jefferson in Paris. Now, TJ and Sally's love can finally be out in the open. Now, if we can only clear that last marriage obstacle. After all, civil rights should never be left up to plebiscite.

March 25, 1991, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences atone for their sin of snubbing Whoopi Goldberg for her performance in The Color Purple by awarding her the Oscar for her supporting role in Ghost. A bit of a travesty, but what were they going to do? Give it to her for Burglar?

The same holds true for Denzel Washington's Oscar for Training Day, atonement for his being screwed out of one for his portrayal of Malcolm X. Not bad for a brother whose film career started with Carbon Copy, where he calls his white father "Mr. Charlie" throughout the whole damned flick.

Though talked of being a premier candidate for a head-coaching position in the NFL as far back as 1987, it wasn't until January 22, 1996, that Tony Dungy was hired as a head coach, for the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite phenomenal success there, he was later replaced by John Gruden, who took Dungy's team onto a Super Bowl victory in 2002. On February 4, 2007, Tony Dungy became the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl, ironically beating another African-American, Lovie Smith.

The stellar and a-stereotypical careers of:

Tiger Woods

Venus Williams

Serena Williams

Jarome Iginla

Ben Carson

Dirk Nowitzki


Yao Ming

In February 2008, future Hall of Fame pitcher, Roger Clemens, testifies before Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. He is soon vilified, turning the bête noir of baseball, Barry Bonds, into a double-headed bête gris.

On December 25, 2008, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, conservative commentator Armstrong Williams, and celebrated race-traitor Ward Connerly were found slain alongside Alaska governor Sarah Palin in what police officials are describing as "one weird-ass circle jerk."

Well, a brother can dream, can't he? After all, millions of white people got their dream last night:

Friday, December 5, 2008, Orenthal James Simpson was sentenced to as much as 33 years behind bars, with eligibility for parole after nine, for a robbery caper in Las Vegas last year.

Q-Tip, Prince, & DJ Scratch


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sister Anne Patricia (A Late Thanksgiving)

Memory can be a tricky mistress, becoming whatever you want her to be—whether it is Truth or Deception. If you remember something as bad, it will be bad. If good, then good. Memory will never contradict your wishes. Nothing shoots that point home like a twentieth high school reunion. Someone else’s reminiscences I thought were mine, stories about me I had no recollection of, stories ending up differently than I remembered them. Times like this past Thanksgiving weekend make me realize that memory is less an arbiter of truth than an enabler of one’s vision of oneself.

Anybody who knows me or has read My Booty Novel knows I didn’t really enjoy growing up in Pittsburgh. I guess you could say I was a bit of an outcast. My memories pretty much conform to this view of myself. When I do remember back to my youth (and I doubt I’m alone here), I generally harp on the bad instead of the good—my former enemies as opposed to my friends.

While talking to Waxman (with whom I went to Catholic elementary and public high school) during the reunion, I was reminded of my childhood’s unlikeliest ally whom Waxman remembers as an enemy: our elementary school’s principal.

Sister Ann Patricia was a big wart of a no-nonsense woman, fiercely waddling along in the grey skirt and blue sweater vest of a Vatican II nun. She struck terror in all the kids’ hearts—mine, too—but I couldn’t help but defend the woman to Waxman.

See, my journey to Catholic school was neither a matter of birth nor conversion but desperation—on my mother’s part. I spent first and second grades in public school in a small town that specializes in cheesy, old pop singers and delicious chocolate-covered pretzels. Those were in the days of tracking, and I was thrust into the “dumb track.” I failed miserably. My mother was horrified. She couldn’t understand my placement nor my failure.

She sent me to the University of Pittsburgh for a three-day battery of IQ tests. They found that it was boredom that caused my low grades and recommended that I go from second grade to fifth (yes, what promising beginnings for the unknown writer). My mother refused but at least wanted me tracked properly. The principal got all gangster, and basically told her, “I don’t give a fuck.” He felt I was predestined to be stupid.

The next school year I found myself plunged into a new town, a new school, and a new religion. I also integrated the school. Not even the janitor nor kitchen staff had ever seen a black face. These Catholics dealt strictly in Polish, Irish, Italian, etc.

Sister Ann Patricia tried to make me feel at home. She gave me a subscription to the South African nature magazine, Panorama, in the hopes of making me feel more at home. (Yeah, I know.) She also felt that if I got into a fight, it would probably be racially-motivated and that I should defend myself.

One such time came in the fourth grade with Seamus Murphy, a big, fathead bully who used to give me constant shit. The year before, I had been constantly harassed by his eighth-grade brother, Padraic, even after I fought him on the bus, pulling his hair hoping to slam his face into the bus seats. I failed. I only had third-grade muscles. But, after Padraic graduated, his “little” brother took up the cause.

One day, we were all gathered inside on the stairwell waiting for the buses to arrive. Seamus had been intimating all year that he thought my levels of melanin were excessive, but that day he’d gone and done it and called me a “nigger.” I was a few stairs up and launched into him. We both fell into the corner, and I wailed on him with all I had. He outweighed me by way too much. If he’d have gotten up, I was done for. So, I swung like my life depended on it until the teachers pulled us apart.

We were called into the principal’s office, missing our buses home. I was terrified. I knew I was in trouble for starting a fight. But, little did I know then, Catholics do believe in “just war,” and it was Seamus who was in trouble. She had him near tears looking up “nigger” in the dictionary and forcing him to concede that I was not one at all (that damned Webster’s and its damned PC, liberal agenda). He pretty much left me alone after that.

But don’t get me wrong, I also ran afoul of the Sister. She broke a paddle over my black ass once for riding on a stranger’s car. A bunch of other kids did it, too, but two other boys and I were the ones who got caught. Sister Ann Patricia also gave me a C in religion because non-Catholics could not possibly master the subject.

So, it wasn’t as though this little black boy got special treatment. It was more along the lines that Sister Ann Patricia made it a point to make sure I got a fair shake. I didn’t realize how much of a point she made it until much later in my adulthood.

My fifth grade teacher had an especially big bug up her bonnet for yours truly. She would constantly bring in articles about tales of black, ghetto woe and tell the other kids in class how fortunate I was to be among white civilization. Or else, who knew what kind of trouble and misery I would’ve been subjected to. Mrs. Costellano also saw fit to fail me in every subject she taught me. Like my second-grade principal, she was an amateur phrenologist who believed my black skull was too small to contain a brain. So, I would get As in my two other classes, but in hers, I constantly failed.

It got to the point that I actually would get tests returned to me, I’d go into the books, re-correct my tests, and hand them back to her, demanding my rightful A. She would then give me Fs for my insubordination. Then we’d start arguing in class and in the hallways. I became that poor, black, troubled child.

It took me awhile to convince my mother what was happening. After I did, she went on the warpath. She teamed up with the mother of a Filipino kid in the class, and the next year Mrs. Costellano was gone.

What impresses me most (aside from being fortunate enough to have a mother who’d fought so strenuously for my education) was that Sister Ann Patricia actually did have the woman fired. She didn’t have to do it. It was the right thing to do, but how many times do people do the right thing? And it’s not as though the Catholic Church is some egalitarian institution that encourages dissent. It is the most hierarchical institution in the history of the world. My principal probably had to go through other parents (?), nuns, priests, bishops, monseigneurs, cardinals, who the hell knows? All because some racist teacher had it out for me? All behind the principles of fairness?


Now, in our everlasting struggle against the various isms that oppress us, we like to paint our stark pictures in (forgive me) black and white. One side is evil, the other good. But it’s never been that simple. Even among the enemy there are allies. We refuse to believe it, and Hollywood’s constant conflation of that fact (Mississippi Burning, all these new interracial sports films) makes us even more skeptical. But those allies always have, always do, and always will exist. I’ve had several throughout my lifetime. Sister Anne Patricia was one. And for her, I am forever grateful.

(My alma mater after the Hurricane Ivan flood--2004)


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Punjabi Poohbutt

At Bill's Bi-Weekly Buffet (oddly enough always coinciding with payday), yours truly struggled mightily feeding my daughter's new appetites. You've guessed it: she's finally eating all solids (though you can sneak yogurt in every once in awhile). And you've also guessed it: she's become finicky as all get-out. Apparently, somebody has never heard of Dr. Atkins. This girl can eat her some carbs now. My biggest challenge is to slip something in besides. So far, sliced turkey, mashed peas, and an occasional broccoli spear will pass her lips. Otherwise, it's bread and milk all day (I guess that's how she keeps her girlish figure).

So, in order to not fall back on the usual French fries and noodles at my favorite ghetto Chinese buffet, I went to Delhi Dee-Lite instead. The change of location didn't help any. I failed with carrots, tomatoes, and lettuce. She didn't even want to touch the Tandoori chicken. I was trying to explain to her how rare it was to get tender Tandoori chicken at a buffet, but she was having none of it.

For little Poohbutt, it was all about the batter-fried veggies, the naan, and the Aishwarya Rai retrospective on the flat screen TV across the room. The once-most-beautiful woman in the world was lip-synching and dancing through 20 years of Bollywood hits--in clubs, in the mountains, on desert roads. There was even this steamy, weird-ass dry-humping video sans kissing, of course. Poohbutt was all into it, enraptured by the colorful saris, precision hand movements, and dazzling lights. With naan in hand, she boogied on down in her high chair, entertaining the multi-culti crowd that could appreciate tender tandoori and a fox-trotting toddler.

I don't know. If there's a Baby Bollywood somewhere, I might have to audition the kid. I don't know. Whattaya think?


Monday, December 1, 2008

Funky Cyber Monday

Yeah, I know. It doesn't have the same ring to it, but didn't they just make up this "American tradition" last year?


Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Dinner with Bill

I sit down at the bar and am immediately greeted by a gritty blond and a Rolling Rock draft. God, it's been so long. I used to be a regular here at Clagaire's, my favorite Irish pub, the place I always used to go when I wanted to get back in touch with my roots. But that was a lifetime ago. I live in the suburbs now--DC but a faint memory.

My guest slumps into the bar. His designer suit is wrinkled and tan and is hanging awkwardly off his bulky frame. His goatee is graying and spreading haggardly across his face. I wave him over, and he sits down next to me, wreaking of pathos.

"Wanna beer?" I offer.

"Yeah. Bud. And a shot of Jack."

"Not tequila?"

He looks offended. "No. Why?"

"Oh, no reason," I quickly say.

I don't want to cause my boy any more heart ache. He's had a rough year. Chock full of disappointment. Who needs to add insult to his innumerable injuries?

"So, how you doing, Bill?" I ask.

"Fine, Bill," he says, stonily. Suddenly, his lower lip starts quivering. "Just fine," he blubbers.

"You should try the corn beef and potatoes," I quickly offer. "They use cilantro."

"Cilantro, Bill?"

"Yeah. Cilantro, Bill. The cook's Mexican."

"Ahh," he says, mistily, "mi gente."

"Yeah. Your gente."

See, my boy and I have a lot in common. We both inexplicably call ourselves "Bill." We could both stand to lose a few pounds; we're both Third Culture Kids; both products of immigration. He's half-Mexican, half-white. I'm half-Jamaican, half-African-American. He's bilingual ... I could stand to lose a few pounds. We both have an utterly magical way with the ladies. And no matter how hard we try, no matter how immensely qualified we are, we both tend to end up screwed in the end quarters.

"Commerce?" he squeaks, as our corn beef comes. "Secretary of Commerce, Bill?!"

"I know, Bill," I say, heavily. "Another round, please?!"

Too late.

"I served 14 years in Congress," Richardson starts, heatedly. "I was deputy majority whip. I was chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. I've negotiated with Saddam Hussein, met with Slobadan Milosevic, the Sudanese, and those wacky North Koreans."

"They are wacky."

"I've been Secretary of Energy and the US ambassador to the United Nations. I've brokered peace--no matter how temporary--between the Palestinians and Israelis. I strengthened the UN's Environmental Programme, promoting 'ecologically sustainable development'--whatever the hell that means. I'm actually the governor of a state, worked for Kissinger's State Department, and I've still got a mean, fucking curveball."

"I know, Bill. You're preaching to the converted."

"Did I mention I have a way with the ladies?"

"Well, Bill, that goes without saying." I pat him on his beefcakey shoulder. "If life were a meritocracy, you'd be President-Elect. You were the only candidate who was truly qualified for that office."

"But Hillary stole my Experience argument, and now she's stolen my State Department."

"The brother screwed you, what can I say?"

"Commerce," he weeps. "It's like being rejected by Blair, rebuffed by Jo, Tootie and Natalie don't want anything to do with you, and, next thing you know, you're screwing Mrs. Garrett, wondering where it all went wrong."

"Ah, yes," I sigh, heavily. "The Facts of Life."

"What the hell am I supposed to do with Commerce, Bill?"

"I don't know, Bill," I confess. "I guess you could tour the country, test out all those weigh stations on the highways."

He groans.

"Human trafficking?"

He sniffles.

"Ooh. I got it!" I pipe up. "You could 'investigate' the dangers of internet porn. Hold hearings. 'Interview' some of the stars. You'll be swimming in silicon for months, my brother!"

That seems to do the job.

"Hm," he ruminates. "I wonder what Vanessa del Rio's doing these days."

"Hell, the way you have with the ladies, Bill," I smile, "you come March."

"You're a good man, Bill Campbell."

"And you're a great one, Bill Richardson."

We raise our shot glasses and down more Jack, my patriotic duty done for the day.


My Favorite White Guys!!!

After Señor Senior emailed everyone with this Colbert video

DC's Finest declared, "This guy is running for my favorite white guy." I thought we'd stopped running that contest back in '97, but it got me to thinking, "Who are my favorite white guys?" Well, here you go. Music please.

Bill's Favorite White Guys!!!

1. Jesus

2. That jackhole who signs my checks every first and fifteenth

3. George W. Bush [see A Big Kiss on the Mouth for details]

4. Ann Coulter (though s/he does give me Adam's apple envy)

5. Ayman Zawahiri (I know he only thinks he's white, but who other than white men use Negroid terminology--even "house negro"--thinkin' they down?)


Friday, November 28, 2008

Funky Black Friday


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Music I've Been Listening to Lately II

Immortal Technique
The 3rd World
Confession: Immortal Technique is my fourth favorite, currently-operating MC today (MF Doom, Mos Def, Aesop Rock). Beatmeiser hates his production value, but I love the man. He's rough and rugged and (like his first two albums proclaim) revolutionary. When was the last time we've heard lyrics like this?

I'm from where the gold and diamonds are ripped from the earth
right next to the slave castles where the water is cursed
from where police brutality's not half as nice
and makes the hood in America look like paradise
compared to the AIDS-infested Caribbean slum
African streets where the passport's an American gun

Revolutionary Vol. 1
and 2 barely have a radio-friendly track on them. I actually admired Technique for that--forcing us to appreciate him on his own terms. The 3rd World has a bit more bounce to it, and DJ Green Lantern has mixed each track to bleed together like a bootleg mixed tape. But the abovequoted lyrics aren't an anomaly. Technique's as leftist and angry as usual. No surprise, I'm down.

Black Kids
Partie Traumatic

I don't know, a bunch of folks callin' themselves "black kids" come into my old neighborhood, sounding like this? They woulda got they asses kicked.

OK, seriously, I grew up in some really white suburbs. The kids in my neighborhood would've been like, "You guys are, like, sooooo awesome," and would've danced like Molly Ringwold the whole night. The irony is, I would've hated the Black Kids back in the '80s. But I find this '80s throwback band pretty fun now.

Yeah, I know. There are way too many '80s throwback bands going right now. And, like the rest of them, Black Kids are a confused hodgepodge of the Reagan era. Their lead singer reminds me a bit of Robert Smith, but the group itself mixes a bit of post-punk pop, post-punk disco, and post-punk funk. A little ESG, a little Scritti Politti, and a little (oddly enough) OMD. But most of all, they're just fun.

Cold Fact

This disc is your classic "Big in Belgium" success stories. Talented singer/songwriter is produced by the legendary Dennis Coffey and backed by the incredibly gifted studio musicians who produced the Motown hit factory. They come out with their debut in 1970, it's horribly marketed, they don't know what to do with their idiosyncratic artist who refuses to look at his audience while performing, they come out with an even less successful follow-up album, and the singer/songwriter disappears off the face of the North American map. But wait! There's more! Over the next 30-plus years, the artist is a cult hit in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. He even performs there every blue moon. In fact, he's so popular, Light in the Attic decides to re-release his first album and (what?!) promote it.

I fell for the okey-doke. I bought it. I actually like it. Really like it. Cold Fact is psychedelic and fuzzy and (with "Inner City Blues") a tad funky. Rodriguez's 1960's Detroit wasn't our usual vision of folksy protest and flower children. His world is infected with pimps and whores, johns and junkies. You know, I'm a hip-hop kid. I love it when folks tell it like it T-I-is.


After one of my many rants (I can go on), Queenie at work informed me that I just don't like R&B. I had to think about it and ultimately conceded that she may be right. After all, I often contend that R&B still hasn't recovered from disco, and my music collection really doesn't have many post-funk R&B artists in it. Besides, my favorite R&B artist is Steve Spacek, and how many people know who he is?

So, I bought Estelle to see if Queenie were indeed right. Also, I heard that this woman was griping because she felt she was getting short shrift as the only black soldier in this new British invasion (I guess Corinne Bailey Rae is Malaysian). I thought, Wow, this woman has collabos with Cee-Lo, John Legend, and Kanye West, and feels like she's being oppressed?! I love the balls on her!

My reaction to Shine hasn't really proven Queenie wrong. Estelle's definitely no Badu or Goapele. She's pleasant--like Lina was a few years ago--definitely talented, and a good listen. In other words, she has some good beats and you can nod to her.

Return to Forever
Romantic Warrior

OK, there's absolutely no debate here: I've always hated fusion. Headhunters and Black Byrd aside, I just can't stand the stuff. For years, when I think fusion, I think Kenny G., "smooth jazz flavors," middle-age milquetoast mediocrity that makes me wanna machete Michael McDonald. I mean, what is the point of the stuff? To make me fall asleep? to drone painlessly through the rest of my years with Courvoisier, Addidas track suits, and console myself with the fact that no musician today can compare to Joe Sample? What the fuck?!

Anyway, I'm trying to be fairer to some of these fusion musicians--the earlier ones, before "fusion" jumped from Quiet Storm to owning their own radio stations. I figured why not try Return to Forever. They were apparently very influential, and they've got Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Al DiMeola. The problem is (and I have this problem when listening to Bob James and Weather Report) that so much of what these guys pioneered became so pat in much less talented hands. So, what was revolutionary sound in 1976 sounds a little cheesy in 2008. It's one of those cases where I wish I'd been there. Despite my complaints, there's still a lot on this album I do like, but I have a feeling I would've liked a lot more of it then. The irony is there are probably a lot of current fusion listeners who can't stand this album for its being too experimental.

Van Morrison
Astral Weeks

All right, in my recent campaign of "Give Rock a Chance," I decided to pick up a little Van. I had no clue what I was getting into. I don't know much about rock and know even less about him, but the man sang "Gloria." So, I figured he was all right in my book. After listening to this disc, Morrison's first solo joint, I still don't know what I've gotten myself into. I just know that I like it--especially "The Way Young Lovers Do." I have no clue how in the world to describe Astral Weeks other than by saying that it's some weird, brilliant shit--like taking a long, twisty ride with a drunken bard on mushrooms--so I figure I'll just let you read this Rolling Stone review.

DJ Spooky
Creation Rebel

Well, as advertised, this disc is Spooky's bringing us the legendary reggae label, Trojan Records' archive "re-mixed, re-visioned, re-versioned." Basically, the man's conducting a shotgun wedding between hip-hop and its Jamaican roots. I love Spooky, I love everything the man does, I love this disc, and I really love his remix of Dawn Penn's "No, No, No."

Speaking of love, I can't stop listening to Santogold. A lot of people have compared her to M.I.A. It makes a sort of sense since she's used M.I.A. producers Diplo and Switch and they do share a musical sense that's hard to categorize. Santogold dabbles with pop, punk, and dub with some '80s splashes. She's just a lot of fun to listen to.

Various Artists
Cult Cargo: Grand Bahama Goombay

Hater at work told me about the Numero Group label awhile ago and their reissuing obscure funk. I've been meaning to get this funky gospel disc they released, but I decided to get this because I a)found it in a CD store and b) found a CD store. This is pure, rough funk from the 1970s. If you're expecting something like the Soul Power Jamaica re-issues, a more syncretic mixture of American and Caribbean rhythms, you've come to the wrong place. Apparently, these Bahamanian artists were heavily influenced by Florida radio, and this compilation sounds a lot like the old Miami Sound compilation SoulJazz came out with a few years back. It's not a knock. That disc was a lot of fun, and so is Cult Cargo. If you like rough, obscure funk, this is a disc you'll like. Check out Sylvia Hall's "Don't Touch That Thing."


Bookmark These Words

The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to the Super Bowl!!!

I know you'll think I'm crazy, but you heard it here first.