Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Richard Pryor's Killer Funk

Happy New Year!

ABC made the mistake of giving Richard Pryor his own show in 1977. The Richard Pryor show lasted four episodes before they figured out that America wasn't ready for what Mr. Pryor had to say.

Pryor is inherently funky, but this clip is interesting because it features his take on what a Black "Death Metal" band might sound like. But as someone in the youtube comments section pointed out, this ain't no Death Metal--it's way too funky. The jam is funky, but what you really want to see is the ending where Pryor shows us why the band is called Black Death. Interesting, especially when you think of the tenuous relationship he had with his White audience (think: Chappelle.) And look close, you might see Sandra Bernhardt acting a fool.

Monday, December 29, 2008

I wrote a song about it. Wannahereithereitgo.

It's a shame that Calhoun Tubbs' contribution to the development of American music has long gone unrecognized.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Catwoman

Sadly, Eartha Kitt just passed. I remember her playing Catwoman on Batman back in the day. She growled and purred and clawed and even looked like a cat. Although she fit right in with the campiness of the show, it was clear that she owned that role long before she ever put on the costume.

Unfortunately, I didn't know much more about her than when she starred with Eddie Murphy as his oversexed boss in Boomerang.

"Maaaaaaaaaaaaarcus." I can still hear that voice in my nightmares.

But last year my wife bought Rhino Records' Hipster' Holiday record (which is an awesome album--especially considering the fact that I can't stand most holiday music) that features Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby."

I loved the song (people who heard it already are like "uh duh") and it made me appreciate how talented Ms. Kitt was. I've heard a couple other people sing it, but it's the same thing as Catwoman: she owns that performance.

Her voice and demeanor are similar to Nina Simone, except more playful, less angry(!) and melancholy. But they both could mesmerize an audience with an almost otherworldly presence.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Charlize Theron Funk Connection

I don't know if y'all have seen the J'Adore commercial with Charlize Theron, but it's one of the funkiest I've seen in a while, and not just because ole' girl strips down to her draws (!). Playing in the background is one of my favorite songs, "A Funky Space Reincarnation," from one of my favorite albums of all time, Marvin Gaye's Here My Dear.

Here My Dear
is one of those albums you got to know just because the story behind it is so good. Marvin was married to Anna Gordy, sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy. They got married when Marvin was young, although Anna was seventeen (!) years his senior. Things were okay for awhile, but in the late seventies, after years of drug abuse and infidelity, Anna called it quits and asked for a divorce. When it came time to divide up the assets, it turned out that Marvin owed a bunch of back taxes and he was effectively broke. So the judge decreed that Marvin would make an album and give part of the proceeds to Anna (why does that sound like a dumb Seinfeld episode?).

Marvin said at first that he was going to be spiteful and put together some trash, but his genius (and probably pride) wouldn't allow it. He put together one of the funkiest, most personal recordings you'd ever be blessed to hear: Here My Dear.

It's nothing like What's Going On, with it's clarity of purpose and beauty. It ain't smooth babymakinmusic like I Want You or Let's Get It On. No, this is a unique picture into the soul of a man tormented by his own pain, need, and immaturity.

Besides the three versions of "When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You," the title track is followed by a song titled, "I Met A Little Girl," which is for real cold because it's all about the seventeen year old girl, Janis Hunter, who he later ended up marrying. But besides all of the emotional rawness of the album, there are some cuts on there, like "Time to Get It Together," and "Anger," that are worth listening to just because they are funky and brilliant.

And I'm not sure what Marvin was smoking at the time, but on "A Funky Space Reincarnation" he entices a paramour by telling her to try some smoke he got from Venus and how magnets will help his "love rise." It's about the strangest song you'll ever hear on a Motown label--and one of the funkiest. Peep:

Marvin Gaye - Funky Space Reincarnation [FUNK]
Uploaded by DjLordFunk. - Explore more music videos.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

See what had happened was...

1. My internet, that I was technically (actually) not paying for, got disconnected.
2. I got about the worse cough I ever had in my life.
3. People's children keep showing up at my job, wanting to be taught things.
4. I've been saving up money to buy that brand new senate seat I saw on eBay.

But I'ma be back. Soon. Funky as ever.

Friday, November 21, 2008

This is what it sounds like when turkeys cry...

So, if you're wondering what Al-Palin is up to these days, check out this news clip.
And is that a turkey being slaughtered the background? You betcha! Not for the squeamish.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Barack Obama: House Negro?

Uh hello, infidels, remember us? Axis of Evil? The ones with the totally awesome videos?

If you missed it, your President-elect, Barack Obama, just got called an "abeed al-beit" by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri. That means house slave, if you're wondering. Now, before we call Al Sharpton and start the cave sit-in (by the way Al's got his own problems), we have to take a second to absorb the significance of this moment.

The President of the United States just got called a house slave.




See, Whitefolks, that's what happens when you elect a Black man to be President. Before you know it, the leader of the free world is calling himself a mutt, Italians are joking that he's got a suntan, and terrorists are laughing behind your back. Welcome to the family!
And far be it for me to make light of the threat of Al-Qaeda, but I've been more concerned by the threat of Al-Palin.

Please take that away.

Plus, you know Obama can't take this personal. Until he won there was still a lot of Black folks saying that he wasn't really Black.

C'mon now, you know I was just playing.

And Al-Qaeda is just trying to make sense of this paradigm shift that Obama has brought into the world. The conflict with the West has been framed as being about race and religion, but now the enemy is a Black man with a Muslim father. That confuses things. The house Negro thing is a pretty sophisticated play--especially eluding to Malcolm X--but ultimately nobody's going for it. We know house Negroes:




Misathink yes.

I know, I know. But: yes.
Obama ain't one of these cats. This week Neobama ran a background check on a former President, hired a Black man to head the Justice Department, and made John McCain beg for a job. That's field Negro behavior.

You mad, ain't you? For real. Just admit it. You maaaaaaaaad.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Barack has accepted your friend request

I read this article in Slate today that talked about Obama and how his new website is going to be like a kind of Facebook for citizens. It will have public comment feature that will allow people to write in and express their opinions. He has promised that he won't sign any non-emergency piece of legislation before he listens for four days on the website. That may or may not be a mistake, but it shows how Obama's work as a community organizer has helped his approach towards dealing with the public.

Bush and those guys could paralyze the nation, but they didn't know how to call people to constructive action. One of the things that people love about Obama is how just his presence makes them want to do something.

It's like we're all tenants in the building and the old super was an incompetent crook and the new old super looks like he might be an incompetent crook. Obama comes in and organizes a renter's strike around the table of a thickly bespectacled grandmother. We all pool our money and buy the building back. And at the end we all get together and have a barbecue? You know that story? Well, that was the election. Now we're entering the second part of that story. Now Barack is our new super and Ms. Coleman's shower head is broken and Mr. Johnson still doesn't have heat in his living room and everyone knows that Mrs. Banks' son is selling marijuana out of her apartment without her knowing. And where is that new Super!

We're not there yet, but I can feel it coming. Perhaps Obama has banked on that too. He knows that the traditional methods of disemminating information, particularly the cable news, have a tendency towards sensationalism and know much better how to titilate and frighten, than how to inform.
Mr. O knows that even though the press has celebrated his election, the press is still the press. They're not eating if they're not feasting on someone else's carcass. (I know because I used to be a(n) (in)credible journalist, by the way.) Besides, the media is going to want some kind of pay back for all the favorable attention. They're going to want to see something happen. Preferably, something dramatic and something that will get the tenants riled up again.
During the campaign, Obama effectively used his technology networks to get around the drama construction and to help people feel involved. If he does the same with the new government site, it will allow citizens to give their support and to have a new type of relationship with the White House. Maybe people would start getting the crazy idea that the White House is our house, not some politician's.

But I wonder how much of this project will be real and how much of it will be perception management. This network will be important in advocating for his agenda, but another important reason for this kind of network  to lay the financial and logistical groundwork for (aghast!) the next campaign. (Haven't you heard that it has already begun?)

Personally, I'm glad Barack was able to win the way he did, but it's hard for me to get excited about all of the money that he raised. If he could do it, someone else could also do it. Someone else with a great deal less character could be extremely dangerous. I always wonder about Biggie's words: Mo' money, mo' problems.

And although I appreciate his caution with the press, the thing with him announcing his VP by text message signaled that he didn't feel the need to talk to the news media. Like he was cutting the press out and taking his message right to the "consumer." That sounds like a smart business model, but not necessarily democracy. Democracy can't exist without a free press to inform the electorate. Without a sceptical press that has critical access to this popular figure, the whole Obama network thing seems more like a cult.
Obama has shown that he has the power to shut out the press at will, but if he wants to be successful, especially in the long term, he's going to have to be much more transparent than any president in the last few decades. Bush taught the American people a lot of bad lessons about what a President can and cannot do. Basically, the President can do whatever he feels like and is under no obligation to tell you jack. I know Obama's different, but one of his first actions is going to have to be one of his most painful: reining in executive power. And the only way to do that constructively is to let the press shine some sunlight into that office and expose how much damage the executive branch has done to the balance of powers over the past decade. Obama is going to want to close the door and fix it himself, but he's got to restrain the impulse and not shut the press out, no matter how irritating they may be.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mutts like me

I don't want this blog to turn into a whole Obama/Stan thing where I just talk about him all the time. Besides, Misstra Knowitall has many interests (see them on the top right of the page?) and I didn't help get out the vote or canvas or knock on any doors or drive old ladies to the polls or any of that, so I can't even act like I helped get him elected (besides my vote). Plus, I thought that the election thing would be the end of this very compelling story line. Now that he's President, I figured everything would go back to normal.

But, no. We got to know Obama as a candidate and now we get the distinct privilege of getting to know him as an actual President. That didn't dawn on me until I saw him in his press conference today.

...and by the way, the price of the package is going up.

The press conference made me nervous because I wondered how he might perform with all the pressure he was under, but then I remembered that this dude is, in the words of Phife Dog, "like Jordan on the mic--want to gamble?" And that's an understatement. Jordan only played basketball. Even though he was great, he didn't change the game like Obama already has. Obama hasn't just changed the game, he's changed The Game. He's like the Neo of racism.

Slow your roll.

Only a brother as smooth as him could be so brilliant and biting and funny when one of the reporters asked him about what kind of dog the Obamas were going to have at the White House. Everyone wants to know because when you live in the White House you have to have some kind of domesticated animal. Hopefully not a dog like Bush's psycho dog, Barney, who tried to maul a reporter's hand the other day, but something.

I probably need to be put to sleep.

Nixon had Checkers, Reagen had Rex (whose dog house was dedicated by Zza Zza Gabor, uh...random), and Clinton had Socks (BTW: Has anyone seen this cat lately?).
Seriously, does anybody know where I am?

The pet is our reminder that these are actual people who live in this White house and that they are supposed to have some kind of normal life. So, what of the Obama dog?

What I love about our President-elect is that he laid out his criteria for the new dog thusly: It's got to be hypoallergenic because of Malia's allergy and he would prefer it were a shelter dog, which means it would probably be a mutt, "like me," he says--perfectly deadpanned. That was a deadly moment. That was a Dave Chapelle moment.

All the (mostly White) moneypeople behind Barack didn't know whether to laugh or act like they didn't hear him. He gave a hint of a grin that let everyone knew it was okay, but there was that Moment. And I love that he is totally aware of how jarring it is for the American people to hear that their President is a mutt. A damn mutt.

This red pill is shiznit!

Oh, but why did he have to start snapping on Nancy Reagan like that?
I swear I seen Rahm Emmanuel slapping him five when they walked off stage.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Obama Hangover

So, now what?

At school today, the only thing students were talking about was this incredible man named Barack and how he is the president and how many states he won and how he was a Black man and how he was a BLACK man and how he was a BLACK MAN and how he was also a Brother. Any lesson plan that I had planned that didn't involve this incredible man was not getting learned on a day where students were engaged in a heated discussion about the final tallies of the electoral college. These children, who are often given so many reasons to not believe and to not hope, know that something special has happened and that it has the power to transform their lives. Today they didn't need me to educate them on the significance of current events. And I have to admit that it was an strange feeling.

It's kind of similar to the feeling I had standing in the basement of La Val's pizza in 1992, watching two kids play the newly-released Mortal Kombat. The game was the bloodiest anyone had ever seen and the graphics seemed light years ahead of the old standard, Street Fighter II. As one of the combatants reached into the chest of his opponent and pulled out his still-beating heart, I had an odd moment of melancholy.

I had spent many hours and dollars training on Street Fighter II. I knew how to use the characters (Blanka, the Brazillian man-dog was a favorite) and knew all the tricks and joystick moves it took to beat everyone but the most experienced players.

But standing there, surrounded by the smells of pepperoni pizza and powdered Parmesan cheese, I realized that it was all over. There was a new game, with all new rules, and a completely different paradigm. Everything I had known was moot.

Similarly, before this election I had a certain understanding about the way race and class and power worked in America. This understanding had been passed down from my parents, and their parents to them. "A Black man can't be elected president--especially not before a White woman," being one of the principle tenets.
This tenet had everything to do with the way I saw myself as a citizen of this country (if I even thought of myself as a citizen) and even though it was a sad, disheartening vision, it also gave me stability: in the equation of my life, I could always rely on race to be my constant. No matter where I went, or what I did, it would always be standing beside me. Something about that was comforting, even if it separated me from the equal sign.

It was beautiful seeing my students running the halls, laughing, smiling, singing Barack's name, but I also couldn't help fear what would come next. What happens when times get rough? What happens when the Palins and the Plumbers of the world start really acting up? What happens when people realize that racism isn't over? What happens if this new paradigm is just the same old paradigm, with a whole new way of ripping out your heart? What happens when he actually has to be "Presidential"? What happens when he (aghast!) disappoints us?

But today I also realized that those are questions for old folks to fret over. My students are now growing up and being shaped by a time when a Black man (with dignity and intelligence!) has a chance to represent the most powerful nation in the world. And even though I might not be as familiar with the moves of this new game, I'm willing to set aside my fears and let the young folks teach me how to play.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's a wrap

Theme for today

Take it away, Fatlip...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Oscar the Grouch Hates on Tito Puente

I always wanted to be down with Oscar and his crew (the trash can lid hats were hot!), but I had to draw the line when he tried to front on my man TP. Luckily Oscar came around and the beef was squashed.

Friday, October 31, 2008

We Wear the Obama Mask

Dear Whitefolks,

It looks like you done figured it out. Apparently, you discovered our secret plot. Perhaps you uncovered the cache of fried chicken and hotwings we were saving for field rations. Or maybe it was all the Colt 45 bottles we were stashing to use as Molotov Cocktails. Or perhaps you simply read the trails of our watermelon seeds.

But now that we've been found out, we might as well come clean:

Yes, if Barack Obama is not elected President of the United States on November 4th, Blackfolks are going to riot.

I know it's been several years since we had our last riot, but lately we have been a little anxious. First there was the whole OJ thing, which we were going to riot about, but forgot to. And then there was the Kwame Kilpatrick thing, which came at a completely awful time for us to riot--maybe if it had been after the first of the month. But honestly, we've been feeling a little ignored.

For a while we weren't sure how we fit into the whole Axis of Evil/Terrorist-thing because it seems you Whitefolks' attention has been pulled away from us. Now there's the Arabs (this includes Iranians because only terrorists would try and make a distinction), the Chinese (sneaky!), the Russians (sneakier!), and even Somali pirates (can those people even swim!?) to be afraid of.

Obama has helped us remember that we aren't really that different from the Arabs, as far as you're concerned. But you have been kind of slipping lately. Your racism these days is kind of weak. Subtle, even.

You can't blame us for getting a little uppity. Remember what you always used to tell us: "give a N an inch..."We didn't have anyone to remind us of our place. We even started believing that this Black man. This Brother. Could actually be President of the United States. That maybe there would come a day where you wouldn't be running things. How could you let us think such dangerous thoughts! You know we are an emotional people! WE TEND TO TALK IN CAPITAL FONTS AND USE EXCESSIVE PUNCTUATION!!!!!!!!!

But now you know. It's not too late. Even if we riot, who really cares because we only burn up our own communities? It's not like our streets are that peaceful to begin with (LOLOLOLOLOLOL). And so what if Obama is the better candidate and everybody knows it? There is still time to put us in our place and let us know who is boss.

You are still our plumber and we are still your moose.

With loving sincerity,


PS. BTW, even if he wins, we still gone riot. You know we crazy! :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Post-Hope Obama and Other Thoughts

1. I guess my question is now: if we go Black, will we ever go back? Where are we going to find jobs for all these old nefarious White men?

2. John McCain: It ain't tricking if you got it. Sure she spent $150,000 on a shopping spree and laced her 1st Dude in $5,000 worth of clothes and made sure Baby Trig had the latest in House of Dereon streetwear, but did you think they was going to let her get up in front of all them rich people wearing some old moose hunting camo? You betcha, not.

Get like me!

Come on now! Don't hate because a sista is trying to step her game up. I know Minnesota Congresswoman Super-American Michele Bachmann could use some of that change after she put her foot in her mouth and the RNC cut off her check, but there's an old Alaskan saying that applies here: it bees like that.

Besides, Cindy McCain spent twice that on one outfit.

Your man might be young, but so is your money.

By the way, you better get used to the Palin thing. Ole' girl ain't going nowhere and she's going to be major by the time we get to 2012.

2. It appears that election day is going to look like that scene from The Firm where Wilford Brimley starts talking crap to Tom Cruise and ends up getting bludgeoned with a briefcase for his trouble.
What's up with the hookup on one of them dia-beet-us commercials?

The big difference will be that a) Wilford Brimley is actually younger than John McCain (no lie) and b) Barack is going to be flashing that smile while he's swinging away, probably whistling 99 Problems.

3. But what happens after the election? Republicans are running around like roaches with the lights cut on because they say that Barack will have one of the largest mandates of the last couple decades, will have control of both houses of congress, and will have access to an executive branch that is more powerful (and corrupt) than its ever been. I believe in Barack and what he says he's going to do, but it makes me a little nervous too. The most important thing he can do for this country is bring balance back to the Executive branch. I know there's a lot of things that he wants to do, but he's going to have to show some restraint or the unconstitutional changes that Bush made will be set, and be even harder to undo. Luckily, I think he gets that. We'll see.
Just be sure to maintain the dignity of the office.

4. I've been getting posted at school and haven't had time to post, but it really hurt my feelings when I couldn't write about the passing of my man Levi Stubbs. That brother could sang! It's hard for me to think of anyone who used the urgency and passion of his voice to tell a story. The first time I heard him sing Bernadette, I knew what it meant to marry tone with narrative. That's a big loss.

4. And Dolemite died too. I'm not sure how to feel about that because Dolemite always seemed like such a minstrel actor to me, but his movies are so bad that they're almost good. I guess it's kind of related to my dilemma about what I'm going to wear for Halloween. I would like to go as Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk, but I know everybody's just going to think I'm dressed as a pimp. Obviously that's not a good look for a teacher of impressionable youth. And plus, now it's cool for White people to have Pimp and Ho parties, and that makes me want to hurt someone. So, Dolemite, I love you, but I hate your pimp game.


5. By the way, I knew that McCain supporter was lying about getting tattooed by some Angryblackman. That didn't make any sense from the beginning and shows why diversity is so important: an ignorant person will tell an ignorant lie. She needs to get some Black friends or hang out at Popeye's or go to a barber shop or something, than she could come with something believable. Brothers that are sitting around ATMs waiting for White women are not looking to make a political statement--they just trying to get your money. In fact, Michelle Obama is more likely to get robbed by a brother at an ATM than a White woman. Sad, but true.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

What's a goon to a goblin?

For those of you who missed it, here's a condensed version of last night's presidential debate. Thanks TPM.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gordon Gecko, John McCain, and Fatcatism

Yes, the economy has been destroyed and we're all going to die. Well, we had a nice run.

The one saving grace of this whole situation has been hearing folks like John McCain rail against "fat cats" on Wall Street and their "excessive greed." Maybe I'm new to this, but since when has Wall Street ever run on anything besides greed?

Perhaps I missed the free breakfast programs and job training classes they offer down at the Wall Street soup kitchen, but as far as I know there's only one law on Wall Street: Get yours. Don't take my word for it, let Gordon Gecko break it down for you.

"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed in all of it's forms: greed for life, greed for money, greed for love, knowledges, has marked the upward surge in mankind, and greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA."

Very poetic, in a Rumsfeldian kind of way. My point is that it's funny to have people complaining about the evils of Wall Street greed when the place was built on an ideology that favors the capitalization of all human life and natural resource.
(Well, if you want to get technical, Wall Street was actually built on a massive grave site for African slaves. In the pre-Revolutionary War period, Wall Street was a trading floor for African slaves and at that time 40% of all New York homes owned slaves. But I digress.)

So yes, greed has gotten out of control, but no, it's not surprising. When there's no one watching, greed is going to trump humanity and 91 year old women are going to be driven to suicide because they can't pay their mortgages. That's why we have governments and laws in the first place.

Gecko's words are prescient, especially when he identifies the United States of America as a "malfunctioning corporation." Think about it. Over the last eight years we've seen attempts to privatize almost every aspect of government, from our schools, to our military, to our voting rights, to our national parks, to our social security to our health care (oh wait, that's already privitized). And the list goes on and on.

Now we done bought 700 billion dollars of bad mortgages. We're not in the middle of an "economic crisis," y'all. This is a hostile takeover.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Top Five Black Men That Need Pardons

Shake em up, shake em up, shake em up, shake em...

The Presidential pardon is one of the sweetest deals in all of politics. You do your dirt for 4 or 8 years, and when you get caught, you get somebody else to take the blame. With President Bush getting ready to leave office, I'm sure he's making his list and checking it twice. *Ahem*

And now that Barack Obama's victory is all but certain (I mean, what could really go wrong, right? Just kidding, God. Don't play!), we need to start planning our next step. Funk health care, education, and the economy, there's some brothers that we need to get out of prison.

5. Remy Ma--Okay, she's not a brother, but Reminisce Mackie needs to be on this list. Now, she did shoot a friend after having a few drinks, but at least she didn't make her victim issue a public apology for getting in the way of her bullets like Dick Cheney did.

Stay strong, Papoose!

4. Michael Vick--Speaking of Presidents of Vice, let me get this straight: It's okay to assassinate a wolf from a helicopter and rip open a freshly-killed moose with a hunting knife, but dog fighting is unspeakable. Hmmm, that don't sound right. Please let this brother out so he can go back to doing what he does best: selling shoes and throwing interceptions.

Ron Mexico never meant no harm

3. Shyne (AKA Jamal Barrow)--Remember this brother? Sounded like Biggie, acted like Tupac? Shot up the club and tore asunder the Camelot that was J-Lo and Diddy? Hasn't he suffered enough? Haven't we all suffered enough?

Note to self: Next time, take name tag off gun before busting shots

2. Kwame Kilpatrick--So what if he may have improperly used city resources to cover up an illicit affair and then lied about it under oath. Have you heard? He's the HIP HOP MAYOR! Just imagine the type of expertise he could bring to an Obama administration. I can see it now: Secretary of Stuntin.

Don't you understand? I'm the Hip Hop Mayor!

1. Clarence Thomas--Is there a presidential pardon for mental incarceration? Just wondering.

Too easy

NOTE--OJ would have made this list, but his recent imprisonment is part of the deal that Obama made with the Illuminati at their secret meeting in Davos, Switzerland: Barack can be president, but Black people can't say nothing when the Juice gets squeezed. Alas.

Hello, I'm OJ Simpson.