He’s mad. Now some of you are mad. Now I’m mad that you’re mad.
I need to chime in here. As many of you already heard, on Tuesday Spike Lee delivered an eloquent and angry treatise against gentrification in his hometown of Brooklyn (see way down below for the audio interview). Anyway, a friend posted the link on the facebook, and I listened, and I laughed my ass off. I also identified strongly with Mr. Lee – what he’s saying is funny to me because it’s true to me. As someone who grew up in Brooklyn and who saw his own neighborhood change drastically through the process of gentrification, I can relate to the anger and frustration in his message. As a white man my perspective is fundamentally different – my neighborhood flipped over the course of my lifetime and filled up with people who look (more or less) like me, while the opposite is true for Spike Lee and millions of other people of color who were born and raised in NYC, a place where every year more and more non-white, non-rich people are being pushed to the (literal) margins of this town.
So yeah. I’m white and Spike Lee is black. Duh. But when I hear him speak I feel like we are on the same team, and I guess that’s what I really want to say here. Everything he said in that speech, I’ve said myself during conversations with friends and family about the state of our fair city. If you don’t believe me, just ask my wife about how many “rants” she’s had to endure. Why? Because “Christopher Columbus syndrome” is a real fucking thing, and many newly arriving white people in Brooklyn seem to be experiencing this disease in its advanced stages.
As many of you may also have read, Spike Lee’s former Fort Greene home and the neighboring building were both vandalized on Thursday, clearly in response to the gentrification comments that Lee made during the “rant.” (I’m putting that word in quotes because it’s a fucked up word that the media likes to use to simplify people and their viewpoints. It’s a word that often takes people’s LEGITIMATE, HONEST, WELL-DESERVED anger and trivializes it. This trivialization is a thing that the American media loves doing to people who are either a) not white b) not rich c) not Christian d) not straight etc. etc. etc and the list goes on.
A quick google search for “Spike Lee rant” yields an untold amount of white backlash, so much so that I’m surprised to see that a broken window and a little graffiti were the only immediate responses to Mr. Lee’s comments. God willing there won’t be any further reprisals. But this heap of backlash raises some serious questions: “Can’t he just be angry? Can’t he just be angry without our (white people’s) permission? And why can’t we just accept his frustration as being legitimate and worthy of our serious consideration?”
I know, I know, people write entire books in trying to answer these questions, and I have plenty of theories of my own. But I guess what I want to say here is – if you’re mad at Spike Lee then you should be mad at me too. Because the way he feels is the way I feel. If you hate him, then you should hate me too. But it won’t be simple for you. You can’t hate me just because I’m black, because I, my friends, am as white as the day is long. You’ll need another reason.
Those of you who live in Brooklyn but are not from here ought to know that those of us who WERE born here often have to go on serious and extensive personal journeys in learning how to not want to constantly punch all of you in the face. In all seriousness, I would like to thank all of you personally for leading me towards the spiritual concepts of radical acceptance and love for all mankind. That said, sometimes I want to put a fucking brick through the window of the newest store in my neighborhood that was opened by a trustfund baby from Oregon that sells artisanal fucking whatever the fuck for prices that I could never possibly afford to people who look like they’ve never ever ever in their frail and privileged lives had to respond to the word “No.”
Forgive me. That was out of line. But the thing is, it be’s like that sometimes. Anger happens. Are you interested in knowing more about why I’m mad? If so, continue on. If not, thanks for making it this far, please don’t tag up my stoop and please leave my neighbors out of this.
I’m mad because I’m tired of white people from out of town who assume that we are on the same team. If you don’t think Spike Lee is on to something, I beg to differ. He complains that white people like to come into neighborhoods, act like they’ve “discovered” the place, and then start working to change the culture immediately with little or no respect for the way things were. I’ll offer a simple example from a party I was at recently that illustrates this point.
I meet this white guy, a friend of a friend, and we start talking. He’s not from Brooklyn. I ask where does he live. Bushwick. “Oh,” I say, “I like it out there. I have some friends out there.” The guy leans in, he’s a little tipsy, and he says “I like it ok. I could deal without all the colorful murals dedicated to dead drug dealers though.”
Damn homie. Did you ever consider that maybe those “drug dealers” weren’t drug dealers? Did you ever consider that painting a colorful mural might be a way to birth something beautiful out of the seemingly senseless tragedy of losing a friend or family member so prematurely? Did you ever consider the contribution that those splashes of color make to the lives and psyches of people who grow up and live in a place as extremely urban as Bushwick? Have you ever considered the basic notion that public space means different things to different people?
I didn’t say any of this, and my silence that night and on other nights is probably why I’m writing this now. What I did: I wrapped that conversation up and walked away. After all, I came out to have a good time, not to civilize this guy. But damn, the thing is – I hear shit like that ALL THE TIME from white people who think that because we both have flannel shirts on that somehow that means we are on the same team. From now on, please don’t whisper your white secrets to me.
Another quick example. My friend Shaka, a former student of Spike Lee’s in fact, recently made a movie called Newlyweeds. If you haven’t seen it, you really should, it’s on Netflix. It’s a dark and funny love story, a meditation on the tragic comedy of chemical dependency, and it all takes place in Brooklyn. It was written and directed and edited and scored etc. by people from Brooklyn. I remember reading reviews when it first premiered, and I remember one review in particular that criticized the film for not engaging with “white Brooklyn”. It seemed that the writer was incensed at the notion that anyone could tell a story about Brooklyn without the story being about “the new (white) Brooklyn.” The implication is that the culture of Brooklyn is something that has to be brought in from the outside, that culture has to be imposed. That said, Spike Lee’s comparison between gentrification and colonization/imperialism makes perfect, logical sense to me.
Listen, don’t get so defensive. It’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. It’s none of our faults for being ignorant to other people’s perspectives. HOWEVER, it IS very much our fault if we remain ignorant in the face of ideas that allow us the opportunity to escape from the prisons of our own limited perspectives by embracing the ideas of people who come from different walks of life.
Gentrification is nothing if not a highly complex issue. Another friend of mine, Avi, was recently interviewed on NPR as the face of the new “median class”, those people who are living in families making the city’s median income. My friend and his wife (both white) recently moved to Brooklyn from Nashville, and they got a nice floor-through apartment in Bed Stuy. In the interview my friend speaks honestly about his situation. Him and his wife pay $2000 a month in rent. They live a pretty modest lifestyle, they occasionally splurge on a nice meal at a restaurant, and at the rate they are earning/saving and the direction of the housing market, they will never be able to afford to buy a house in Bed Stuy, as much as they would like to.
Here’s one way this could go, based on what I saw happen in Park Slope: My friends will participate in the process of gentrification. Their presence will encourage more white people to move on to their (mostly black) block. Coffee shops, grocery stores, bars, venues, and other businesses will open up that cater to the new white residents. Train service will improve. The police and other government officials will pay more attention to the area. Potholes will disappear sooner. The schools will get better. Blocks will be designated as historic districts. Old buildings will be ripped down. Condos will come up. Tenants paying “old market” rents will be forced out through landlord neglect. And one fine day, my friends will look left and look right and all their neighbors will be white people of the ruling class. Then they’ll move to East New York. And round and round we go, until New York turns into Paris.
One day I’ll be forced to move out of my family-owned house in Park Slope. And when that happens me and my wife will probably move to another neighborhood in Brooklyn, and we will probably try to buy a house of our own. And when that happens, I’m probably going to have the world’s biggest chip on my shoulder, because I don’t want to gentrify. But other than leaving the city where I was born, what choice will I have? This is the system in which we live. We have a runaway housing market with next to no regulation, and we live in an advanced capitalist society based on Social Darwinism where the winners are taught to never apologize.
What can we do? At the very least, at the absolute minimum we can listen to one another. We will never learn if we continue to dismiss people simply because we don’t like what they are saying.
So. Dear white people, please try to hear this: Spike Lee and other American nonwhite, radical artists and intellectuals aren’t anti-white. They’re not out to kill white people. If they were, they would go to Kmart, buy some guns and go out in a blaze like any of the other mass killers in recent memory. It strikes me that Spike Lee, like other humanists in the tradition, is seeking to humanize people who have been made something less than human by our having been force-fed a perspective on the world that always always always places ourselves and our interests directly in the center and relegates the ideas, traditions, and lives of nonwhite people to the margins.
If Spike Lee’s ideas about gentrification are jarring and difficult for you to digest, that’s fantastic news. THAT’S EXACTLY THE FUCKING POINT. Here is a man who’s made a career out of grabbing you by the face with both hands, and not-so-gently turning your gaze towards the things that you don’t want to see but which are nonetheless very real despite the fact that they exist outside of your normal, everyday field of vision. Spike Lee asks us, invites us, challenges us, screams at us to look at what is happening at the margins.
So that uncomfortable feeling that you’re experiencing, that feeling of indigestion that you get when you allow yourself to stop being a self-absorbed asshole for 60 seconds and truly consider the legitimacy of another human being’s anger and frustration, well that right there is your opportunity to grow. You’re welcome. But don’t thank me, thank Spike Lee. [h/t]
2014. This, we are told, is the year female rappers are going to break their way back into the mainstream, ending a long period of silence for women in the industry. Now, it’s true that many people had high hopes for 2013, too. And 2012 was also said to be promising. But 2014, with anticipated releases from a bevy of up-and-coming women artists and a couple of established veterans, is going to be different. That’s certainly the hope anyway, and the narrative, once again, as we head into the spring of a new year.
I’m not so sure.
I am sure, however, that the perennial discussions about whether, at long last, we will see a resurgence of women artists within the hip-hop industry raise important questions. While there are plenty of talented women rapping today, you’d be hard pressed to name them if your sense of the industry is shaped by radio rotations, music videos, or Billboard charts. Indeed, when Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday was certified platinum at the end of 2010, it was the first solo album by a female MC to reach that milestone in eight long years. Minaj went platinum again in 2012 with Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, but her commercial success over the last decade has stood as an exception to the unwritten rule that women rappers no longer have a place among elite artists.
It wasn’t always like this. While there’s no escaping that rap music has been dominated by men, there was a time when women were a far more significant presence, allowing (or forcing) the genre to be defined, at least in part, by a woman’s perspective. Consider, for example, the decade leading up to 2003, the last year a female artist (Lil’ Kim) had a platinum album before Nicki Minaj. In that time, a number of women went platinum, including Salt-n-Pepa, Da Brat, Foxy Brown, Eve, Lauryn Hill and industry powerhouse Missy Elliott.
Alongside these artists, critically acclaimed performers like MC Lyte and Queen Latifah were also releasing albums on major labels, often achieving commercial success in the process. And many of the major crews had a woman artist (even if just one): Death Row had Lady of Rage, Flipmode Squad had Rah Digga, Native Tongues had Monie Love (and Latifah) and so on. There were enough women recording, touring, and getting radio airplay that, in 2003, the Grammys took notice and created a new category for Best Female Rap Solo Performance.
Just two years later, however, that category was eliminated, with Grammy representatives citing a precipitous decline in the number of female artists in the industry who could compete for the award. BET and VH1 made similar arguments for dumping female categories from their hip-hop awards shows as well.
While cutting these awards undoubtedly exacerbated the decline in the years to follow, there’s little doubt that women were indeed vanishing from mainstream hip-hop. According to Ana DuVernay, who directed the 2010 documentary My Mic Sounds Nice: The Truth About Women in Hip Hop, the numbers tell it all: Whereas in the late 1980s and early 1990s there were more than 40 women signed to major labels, in 2010 there were just three.
With the emergence of several new artists — including Angel Haze, Iggy Azalea, and Azealia Banks — things are certainly looking up, but the long-term prospects for women artists are still precarious. Recently, I spoke with hip-hop pioneer MC Lyte, who in 1988 was the first woman to release a solo rap album with a major label, and she expressed genuine concern with the state of women in hip-hop today.
"We’ve gone backwards," she said, noting that the space she and others helped open up for women rappers appears to have closed off. "This is pretty much what it was like when women weren’t able to get major recording and release opportunities."
She offered a number of explanations for the shift, but one of her points in particular caught my attention. According to Lyte, it’s far more risky to sign women artists today because of the costs associated with their physical appearance. Hair, make-up and wardrobe all add up, she said, and therefore women — who already face an uphill battle when it comes to selling records — become an even more questionable business proposition.
It’s an argument I’ve heard before, not only from other well-know artists, but from industry executives who cast themselves as the victims of unfortunate circumstances. It’s a shame that we don’t have more women recording, these executives lament, but they are just too expensive. While I have doubts about this to begin with — are we really supposed to believe that the crushing cost of hair and make-up has pushed a multibillion dollar hip-hop industry away from women? — it does reveal a disturbing assumption about women in hip-hop: that what they look like is at least as important as their musical talent.
And, frankly, for some fans that may be true. Miami-based Trina, who has achieved enduring success with her highly sexual lyrics and provocative videos, puts the male perspective of women artists this way: “You a female; I’m a dude. I’m not learning nothing from you. I just want to see you. So whatever you’re talking about, I probably don’t really care. I wanna just look at you.” As Trina has demonstrated, she is more than willing to oblige. But accepting, and even embracing, male desire in the formation of an artistic persona is hardly unique to her. In the last decade or so, we’ve seen artists like and combine the roles of rapper Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj video vixen as part of their formula for success, too.
We might read these artists’ use of explicit sexuality as pure business savvy, or even their willingness to confront American taboos against female, and specifically black female, sexual expression. But it also dovetails nicely with the crude exploitation of women that, as Professor Tricia Rose argues, has become “almost required” in mainstream hip-hop. For years, dominant male artists have made a fortune demeaning and degrading women, often portraying them in lyrics and videos as interchangeable objects of sexual pleasure, while increasingly limited radio and television rotations have made alternative representations of women harder to find.
After years of this, when do we concede that mainstream hip-hop has become largely defined by the negation of female voice and perspective? And what does that mean for new women entering the industry? Addressing precisely this, MC Lyte argues that hip-hop’s ongoing disrespect of women has “literally broken down our character,” creating a market that is predictably hostile to female performers. “It has gotten to the point that we have been subjected to such harsh verbal treatment — assassinated even — that who would want to listen?”
And so, thanks to a climate of its own making, the recording industry is understandably reluctant to back female artists, and even when it does, it often tries to pigeon-hole them into roles that put sexual style over musical substance. For example, in a recent interview, Sharaya J, an up-and-coming artist working with Missy Elliott, recounted that after she had presented her work to a group of record executives, one of them suggested that she put on some heels, get a weave, and “sell them with sex.” In other words, record executives seem to be encouraging women to peddle an image that caters to the sexual desire of fans — which serves to further reinforce them as objects rather than credible rappers — even as they complain that the costs of maintaining this image are prohibitive since women don’t move enough units.
None of this bodes well for 2014 as the year of the female rapper. Even if all of the artists who are expected to release their albums actually do — several have been plagued by agonizing delays — it remains to be seen whether they will get a fair shake from a male-dominated industry that Lil’ Kim protégée Tiffany Foxx recently said “doesn’t want the girls involved.”
Consider Angel Haze, who in December did what rapper M.I.A. had only threatened to do earlier that year. Frustrated with delays, she uploaded her debut album to SoundCloud, making it free to the public. It was taken down within hours, but her label did capitulate, sort of, by agreeing to move up the release date to Dec. 30 — during what is arguably the worst week of the year to put an album on the market. Given the timing, her initial sales were predictably dismal, invoking comparisons to Kreayshawn, another female MC whose highly anticipated debut album landed, after delays, with a thud.
Angel Haze’s situation is instructive, though, not only because it’s indicative of the difficulties other artists seem to be having with their labels, but because once we strip away the drama surrounding the release, we have a new album from a highly anticipated artist that we can listen to. And it’s a good one, showcasing polished production, as well as Haze’s lyrical dexterity and an ambitious attempt to tackle serious subjects without alienating a mainstream audience. Is it perfect? No. But it’s a solid debut from a talented young artist who clearly takes her music seriously.
And yet, reviews from XXL, Spin, and Pitchfork — important, if dubious, arbiters in the industry — were surprisingly harsh, with reviewers taking her to task for, among other things, disappointing lyrics or confusing messages. That’s especially ironic given that all three magazines gave significantly higher ratings to 17-year-old Chief Keef for his lyrically-vapid 2012 debut album and routinely award higher scores to rappers like 2 Chainz, Waka Flocka Flame, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne. What these rappers have in common, aside from lyrical skills that range from dreadful to mediocre (the exception being Lil Wayne earlier in his career), is that they routinely degrade women, sometimes to shocking extremes, and appear to be doing little to elevate rap as an art form.
Importantly, though, they do manage to dominate major channels of distribution, don the covers of glossy magazines, and, collectively, play a considerable role in defining the future trajectory of rap music. Meanwhile, the space for women has gotten so cramped that we’re left to question whether a commercial scene that will allow them to succeed even exists anymore. To hear artists like Rapsody tell it, even if they release good music, women are treated like they don’t belong among the community of rappers, but rather they are relegated to a less-than-equal “femcee” subcategory in which they are expected to perform with, or compete against, other women.
And yet there are still some glimmers of hope. One is that we’re seeing established artists like Missy Elliott, Lil’ Kim, and others provide mentorship for new female MCs — in defiance of the conventional wisdom that a woman needs a male rapper’s endorsement and support to break into the industry. More important is that, as with hip-hop generally, there’s a vibrant scene for women outside the mainstream that is in many ways more interesting, diverse, and talent-rich than what we have been finding in traditional venues. It’s hard to talk about gifted rappers, for example, without mentioning Jean Grae, who’s been making records for years and has generated a significant fan base as an independent artist, and there are a number of talented MCs across the country who are charting their own course as well — Nitty Scott MC, Awkwafina, Gifted Gab, and Ruby Ibarra, just to name a few.
In other words, if fans are waiting for the major media outlets to make 2014 the year of the female MC, I worry that they will be disappointed. But if they do a little searching, they will find that some of the best hip-hop music today is being produced by women who have created their own space to perform. Hopefully, their work will force the industry, one seemingly bent on creating a men’s-only club, to think twice.
By an excruciating bipartisan vote of 52-47, the Senate on Wednesday rejected lawyer Debo Adegbile for a non-life-tenured position as chief of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The vote teaches us at least three disturbing things about politics in America today— beyond the fact thatwe now have proof that dozens of senators don’t believe the head of the nation’s civil-rights office should actually care about civil rights.
1. Willie Horton never really went away: We will never know whether and to what extent Wednesday’s vote would have been different—and whether the entire debate over his qualifications would have been different—if Adegbile were white and had a name that everyone could easily pronounce. But we know precisely how his opponents in and out of office used his race and his name against him. Nothing better symbolizes the racial component to this story, the Willie Hortonization of this man, more than this image from talk-radio host Michael Graham’s website:
It’s not news that this sort of ugly racial identification still occurs 25 years after Willie Horton made his sensational debut onto the national scene. It is not news that the conservative spin machine would turn this complicated legal narrative into headlines like “Senate Democrats and a Cop Killer" over a photo of Adegbile. The news here is that seven meek Democrats, along with so-called “moderate” Republicans like Orrin Hatch and John McCain, failed to stand up to it on Wednesday. In the Senate, in the year 2014, it didn’t matter what the American Bar Association or Paul Clement said about him.
2. Anyone you represent can and will be used against you: The Adegbile vote also reveals that it is now acceptable in politics to blame a lawyer for the clients he represented in the past—not just the clients he represented personally, but also those that his organization had long represented before the lawyer joined up. And not just in a hopeless case in which frivolous claims are made, but in a close case in which a conservative federal appeals court ultimately endorses the lawyer’s views.
The most significant opposition to Adegbile’s nomination came in response to his participation in the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the man convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981. Adegbile did not represent the defendant at trial. He did not declare his client to be innocent. Instead, he worked on a series of briefs supporting an appeal that made a legitimate legal argument. He did, in other words, precisely what he was expected to do on behalf of an organization dedicated to civil rights. For this he was deemed unfit to run the Civil Rights Division.
Yet not one of the senators who decried this connection to the NAACP LDF, an organization with a long, rich history of working against the racial disparities in the nation’s capital-punishment regime, decried the similar connection between John Roberts and John Ferguson, a mentally ill prisoner executed last year. Long before he became chief justice of the United States, Roberts worked to help Ferguson, a serial killer, yet we barely about it during either of Roberts’s two federal judicial-confirmation hearings.
The punchline? Roberts’s law firm failed to get much relief for Ferguson. The Legal Defense Fund, on the other hand, generated a unanimous ruling from the Third Circuitin favor of Abu-Jamal. So a lawyer who upheld the Constitution and whose work was acknowledged as doing so by the federal courts was nonetheless shunned by the Senate.
Remember this the next time Hatch, lion of the Judiciary Committee, unleashes one of his epic riffs about the majesty of the Constitution and the rule of law and the need to put aside “political expediency” in the name of neutral principles. Today’s vote will chill the work of every public-minded attorney who thinks she may one day want to become a public servant. That’s a tragedy that transcends the Adegbile nomination.
3. When all else fails, pretend business will be overrun by felons: When Adegbile’s critics became worried late in the game that the racially tinged attacks upon his past legal work might not gain enough traction in the Senate they ginned up a brilliantly cynical approach: When in doubt, scare the business community by warning them that a black federal nominee wants to force them to hire murderers and rapists. You can see the results here at the Washington Examiner in a piece that cites one long-time administration foe after another.
Alas, what none of these hit pieces seemed to mention is that the EEOC policy to which Adegbile was linked—which he did not promise to copy at the Justice Department, and which no court (that I could find) has yet ruled unlawful—is similar to one that Clarence Thomas endorsed during his stint at the EEOC in 1987. Just as I wonder what Chief Justice Roberts thinks of the way Adegbile was slandered for representing a convicted murderer, I wonder what Justice Thomas thinks of the way Adegbile was linked to this EEOC business.
* * *
So now the Obama Administration will nominate another decent, qualified lawyer willing to take a dramatic pay cut to run the Civil Rights Division. That person will try to do what Adegbile would have done to protect the rights of dispossessed and marginalized and underserved citizens—the right to vote, for example, or to be free from discrimination—who are not otherwise adequately protected by our nation’s laws and lawmakers.
But the irony is dense. The Senate’s rejection of Adegbile, in the fashion in which it occurred, demonstrates how much work is left to do on civil rights in America. In a month, Debo Adegbile went from being a man poised to fight against America’s deep racial divide to being a victim of that divide. There have been worse days in the recent history of the Senate, but few that I can remember. [h/t]
Time Is Illmatic, a feature-length documentary about the making of the album, will also be released in 2014, directed by One9 and Erik Parker. It’ll premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
01 The Genesis 02 N.Y. State of Mind 03 Life’s a Bitch 04 The World Is Yours 05 Halftime 06 Memory Lane (Sittin’ in Da Park) 07 One Love 08 One Time 4 Your Mind 09 Represent 10 It Ain’t Hard to Tell
01 I’m a Villain (previously unreleased) 02 The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show on WKCR October 28, 1993 (previously unreleased freestyle) 03 Halftime (Butcher Remix) 04 It Ain’t Hard to Tell (Remix) (promo single) 05 One Love (LG Main Mix) 06 Life’s a Bitch (Arsenal Mix) (promo single) 07 One Love (One L Main Mix) 08 The World Is Yours (Tip Mix) 09 It Ain’t Hard to Tell (The Stink Mix) (UK single) 10 It Ain’t Hard to Tell (The Laidback Remix) (UK single)
A British woman returned from a holiday in Peru hearing scratching noises inside her head to be told she was being attacked by flesh-eating maggots living inside her ear.
Rochelle Harris, 27, said she remembered dislodging a fly from her ear while in Peru but thought nothing more of it until she started getting headaches and pains down one side of her face and woke up in Britain one morning with liquid on her pillow.
Thinking she had a routine ear infection caused by a mosquito bite, she sought medical treatment at the Royal Derby Hospital in northern England, where a consultant noticed maggots in a small hole in her ear-canal.
"I was very scared. Were they in my brain?" said Harris, recounting her ordeal in a new Discovery Channel documentary series called "Bugs, Bites and Parasites" to be aired in the UK from July 21.
Doctors tried first to flush the maggots out of the ear using olive oil.
"It was the longest few hours that I have ever had to wait… I could still feel them and hear them and knowing what those scratching sounds were, and knowing what that wriggling feeling was, that just made it all the worse," she said.
When flushing the maggots out failed, the medics resorted to surgery and found a “writhing mass of maggots” within her ear, raising concern they could eat into her brain.
The surgery removed a family of eight maggots. Analysis found that a New World Army Screw Worm fly had laid eggs inside Harris’s ear.
"I’m not so squeamish around those kinds of bugs now. How can I be? They’ve been in my ear!" Harris said. [h/t]
According to recent research, a full 11% of Americans believe that HTTP (or hyper text transfer protocol *pushes glasses up nose*) is not a programming language, it’s a sexually transmitted disease. A full 77% of people do not know what SEO stands for. Some of this can be explained by the fact that many members of The Greatest Generation never had occasion to learn how to do stuff like “turn on a computer.” In fact, when I worked for a brokerage firm, I’d routinely get asked by men in their 50’s and 60’s to help them “download their email.” Formative years that occurred during different eras would understandably cultivate different skill and knowledge sets. Fine.
But here’s one tidbit that’s strange: almost 1 in 4 American adults thought that an MP3 was a Star Wars character (If you know what fucking Star Wars is, how do you not know what an MP3 is?!?! I’m so confused.) And 12% said they believe that USB is a country in Europe. That just seems… very strange. Maybe people participating in the survey thought they were performing a screen test for the now-defunct Tonight Show bit where Jay Leno proves that people who live in California are too happy to care about knowing stuff. [h/t]
Rewilding is all the rage in conservation circles. The idea is to return large areas of land to their natural state, rebuilding ecosystems and reintroducing species that have long since vanished. That includes those animals exterminated because they were inimical to the interests of human settlers or farmers, notably large predators like wolves and bears.
The problem, of course, is that many of these species are gone for good. So ingenious rewilders are starting to introduce alien species that they hope will do the same job as the ones that have gone the way of the dodo – or the moa-nalo, a giant Hawaiian duck quickly eaten to extinction once humans found these islands (see “Rewilding: Bring in the big beasts to fix ecosystems”). Depending on who you ask, this is either a brilliant idea that will restore the health of languishing environments, or foolhardy meddling that will cause innumerable headaches.
All this is forcing enthusiasts to reconsider what “nature” really is. In many places, true wilderness vanished thousands of years ago, and the landscapes we think of as natural are largely artificial. If rewilders are successful, thousands of years from now our descendants may think of African lions roaming American plains as “natural” too. [h/t]
“But certain dots — like when I see that they put every black man, in the movies, in a dress at some time in their career — I be connecting the dots — like why all these brothers got to wear a dress?”—Dave Chappelle [31:17]
De La Soul Dilla Plugged In (prod. J Dilla) | Smell The DA.I.S.Y.
It’s been 25 Years since our “Three Feet High” release. We have a lot great memories and an incredible journey. Amazingly enough, our fans stuck around, supported and still want more. Ok, but before you get that, here’s a little De La over Dilla Beats.
Enjoy and look out for the new mixtape “Smell The DA.I.S.Y.” all beats by J Dilla. Peace… and in advance, You’re Welcome.
Legalize The Daisy Age!
Pos Dave & Mase
Upcoming Projects: "Smell The DA.I.S.Y." produced by J Dilla (Mixtape), "Premiem Soul On The Rocks" produced by DJ Premier & Pete Rock (Mixtape) "You’re Welcome" (Album)
The Louisiana-born Mooney had the looks and performing skills to be a clean-cut “safe” black star of the ‘60s, a la Sidney Poitier. But between the grandmother who raised him to speak up for himself, and influences like his Oakland high school friend (and future co-founder of the Black Panther Party) Huey Newton, he became politically aware, “which was kind of bold back then,” he says.
“It was a vanilla world. You saw black people on Daktari (a ‘60s series about a white veterinarian in Africa),” says the 72-year-old Mooney, whose only Canadian date is at Toronto’s Bloor Hot Docs Cinema this Saturday, a fundraiser for the diaspora-awareness group Stolen From Africa.
But he says Hollywood’s approach remains essentially unchanged. “White people like a comfort zone. Black people make them feel comfortable, then you’ll see them a lot.”
The week we talked, the Kevin Hart/Ice Cube movie Ride Along trounced the new Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan reboot in the box office. The same thing happens seemingly every time Tyler Perry releases a movie. Is the African-American audience not being factored into the box office? “Oh, I think they’ve always known that audience was there, but I think they fake like they don’t know it,” Mooney says. “Like people do in sex. They fake it,” he adds, chuckling.
Mooney was behind significant moments in racial comedy. He wrote the infamous Saturday Night Live sketch in which boss Chevy Chase “interviews” applicant Pryor (one of, if not the only N-bomb ever dropped on network TV). He created the character Homey the Clown for the Wayanses’ In Living Color and the seer Negrodamus for Dave Chappelle.
To comics, he’s a legend. “That’s what people say. That’s just a word,” he says.
“I think it’s great that we all can teach each other. That’s what we’re here for.”
On the surface, the clean-living Mooney and the often drug-fuelled Pryor seemed an odd combination. “The good outweighs the bad,” he says. “We were each other’s biggest fan. We were perfect for each other in that we made each other laugh. [Toronto Sun]
"Facebook, one of the primary backers of the Internet.org initiative, which aims to bring affordable Iinternet access to the 5 billion people in the world who still lack connectivity, is in talks with a company that could help further that agenda.” TechCrunch repots Facebook will buy Titan Aerospace, makers of near-orbital, solar-powered drones that can fly up to five years without having to land. “According to a source with access to information about the deal, the price for this acquisition is $60 million.” [h/t]
Black is a culture not a people. So that means anybody can be Black if they are apart of that culture. So yes "white" people can be black if they participate in that culture.
Lawd, Jesus, Allah, Mother Mary, Zeus give me strength because a nigga needs it right now amen. Listen to me cracker ass cracker because imma spell this out for you
before I go further. Let’s talk about the picture I choose to use for black. This man is a peaceful protester being arrested at a rally for Kimani Gray, an innocent unarmed teenager who was shot and killed by a NYPD terrorist officer earlier this year. The police officer that killed him was found not guilty of all charges and the protesters gathered to demand justice. These two cases are two of thousands (millions?) of the fuck shit you have to go through for being black. If a white kid had been shot by the police no protesters would have been arrested and manhandled because there would be no protesters because the police officer would have been put up under the jail. Like I said I can give you hundreds of thousands of examples of black people facing police brutality. I picked this picture because it was the least violent out of my google search.
these are men of the Asante ethic group in Ghana
this is Lil’ Kim and Biggie Smalls
this is Lorenzo de’Medici
and this is Don Lemon
all these people all have very different values and very different cultures and guess what? Whether they like it or not (do you like this shit Don Lemon because I don’t think you do) they’re all black. They’ve always been black and they will always be black. Black people live all around the world, have existed during every time period and have created more separate cultures than you can shake a stick at.
White people will never be “black” because black people exist in a multitude of cultures.
Now I’m not going to sit up here and pretend like I didn’t know what you meant by black is a culture. You meant hip hop, R&B, wood tip milds, long dreds, going to the function and Sunday services with your uncle’s tacky suits. Yeah you can’t be a part of that either.
For one thing you’re racist as shit.
Two you didn’t grow up with it. You don’t speak AAVE right and when someone makes a joke about white people (because black people don’t like y’all forreal. We clown y’all constantly because y’all corny) you ready to give this big bs speech about about reverse racism that no one gives a fuck about. And y’all think hot sauce is spicy. It’s not spicy you stupid honkey if you seasoned your food with something other than salt you’d realize that.
Are their down white folks that grew up with us? Yes but you ain’t one of them.
August Rosenbaum, Jameszoo & Stephen Bruner Fusion | Various Assets - Not For Sale: Red Bull Music Academy New York 2013
Jam sessions are the lifeblood of musicians, allowing ideas to flow freely and form naturally. And when you find something good, you seize it, size it up and shape it further. That’s how this trio crafted this little ditty that’s sure to get your neck snapping.
Last year, Los Angeles producer and Funkmosphere collaborator Nicky Benedek (a.k.a. Benedek) began working with Peoples Potential Unlimited (or PPU), a Washington, DC label known for heralding obscure soul, boogie, and house from decades past. As one of the few modern artists on the roster, Benedek crafts funkified, bass-heavy music grounded in tradition and history, albeit with his own futuristic slant. “Ease Out”—taken from Benedek’s recently released Untitled LP—shines up a throwback boogie production with a slinky bassline and prismatic pads, like a cruise-ready version of London tunesmith Lone. [XLR8R via MOOVMNT]