Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The writer of the letter has made it her business to highlight Governor Palin’s hands-on experience as "an executive" in contrast to an “entitled” Barack Obama who is clearly a product of Affirmative Action and corrupt Chicago politics. Apparently, the writer of this letter was part of Senator McCain’s initial vetting committee.
Let no one say that we respectable negroes do not acknowledge the value of dissent. Read an excerpt for yourselves ….
… Governor Sarah Palin made history on Dec. 4, 2006, when she took office. As the 11th governor of Alaska, she is the first woman to hold the office. Since taking office, her top priorities have been resource development, education and workforce development, public health and safety, and transportation and infrastructure development.
Prior to her election as governor, Palin served two terms on the Wasilla City Council and two terms as the mayor/manager of Wasilla. During her tenure, she reduced property tax levels while increasing services and made Wasilla a business friendly environment, drawing in new industry.
Sarah Heath Palin arrived in Alaska with her family in 1964, when her parents came to teach school in Skagway. She received a bachelor of science degree in communications-journalism from the prestigious University of Idaho in 1987. Palin, who graduated from Wasilla High School in 1982 in the top 80% percentile of her class, has lived in Skagway, Eagle River and Wasilla.
She is married to Todd Palin, who is a lifelong Alaskan, a production operator on the North Slope and a four-time champion of the Iron Dog, the world's longest snowmachine race.
Todd and Sarah fish in Bristol Bay with their children – Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig. Through Todd’s Yup'ik grandmother, Alaska’s Native heritage plays an important role in their family. Indeed, as the great grand-children of a Native American princess, the Palin children have an intimate appreciation of our nation's diversity.
Palin is a lifetime member of the NRA and enjoys hunting, fishing, Alaska history, and all that Alaska's great outdoors has to offer.
I have taken the liberty of listing for you some examples of the complicated issues that Palin has faced as an elected representative. With her all-American background and her proven track record in overcoming challenges, Palin is clearly better equipped than Barack to guide our nation in these difficult times and to meet the needs of Americans.
The postings on your blog only serve to demonstrate the ignorance of your people. I hope that the information I offer will help you to see the value of a true American like Palin.
A Proud Alaska Republican
On June 24, 2008, at 1000 hours, the owner of Performance Yamaha in Wasilla contacted Wasilla Police to report that several gallons of gasoline had been stolen over the past month. The value of the fuel stolen is approximately $1,350. Anyone with information regarding these thefts is asked to contact the Wasilla Police Department at 352-5401 or Mat-Su Crime Stoppers at 745-3333. The investigation continues.
On July 16, 2008, at 1026 hours, Wasilla Police responded to Performance Yamaha regarding a theft. The complainant, Josh Estes, age 26, of Wasilla, stated that unknown person(s) had stolen 60 gallons of gasoline during the weekend. The investigation continues.
On July 14, 2008, at 1339 hours, Wasilla Police responded to Rent-A-Center for a report of Criminal Mischief and a Theft. Employees reported that unknown person(s) had cut the fuel line on one of their delivery trucks and took approximately 26 gallons of fuel. The investigation continues.
Alcohol & Drug Policy
On July 9, 2008, at 1651 hours, Wasilla Police received a call from Fred Meyer Loss Prevention Agent, Gary Swett, reporting that he had a shoplifter in custody. Roger Harvey, age 21, of Palmer was placed under citizen's arrest for stealing $31 worth of merchandise from Fred Meyer. Harvey was also found to be in possession of illegal drugs. Harvey was transported to the Mat-Su Pretrial facility and remanded accordingly.
On July 12, 2008, at approximately 0225 hours, Wasilla Police conducted a traffic stop on a 1999 green Honda. A subsequent investigation found probable cause to believe that Aubrey Robison, age 19, of Wasilla, had consumed alcohol and was under 21 years of age. Robison was issued a summons to appear in court on the charge. Further investigation found probable cause to believe that James Woodin, age 20, of Wasilla was in possession of marijuana and he was issued a summons to appear in court on that charge.
On September 1, 2008, at 2217 hours, Wasilla Police responded to a report of a theft from the Brown Jug Liquor Store at the ShopRite Mall. The suspect, Pavel Pukharev, age 18, of Wasilla, was later located on Foothills Road near Cloverleaf. Pukharev had taken a 750 ml bottle of whiskey and was later identified and placed under citizen's arrest by one of the employees. As a result, Pukharev was transported to the Mat-Su Pretrial facility and remanded for Theft in the 4th degree. Pukharev is also being charged with Person Under 21 on Licensed Premise and Minor Possessing Alcohol.
Prescription Drug Benefits
On June 24, 2008, at 1549 hours, Susanne Banfield, age 37, of Wasilla, reported that on June 6th an unknown person had picked up her prescription pain medication from the Wal-Mart Pharmacy. The investigation continues.
On July 14, 2008, at 1953 hours, Lorie Lottier, age 36, of Wasilla, reported that on July 10th, someone had stolen her medication out of a vehicle while she was shopping at Wal-Mart. The investigation continues.
On July 5, 2008, at approximately 0650 hours, Wasilla Police responded to a car fire at a residence on Success. Upon their arrival, police met with the owner Kelly McManus who stated that someone had thrown a firecracker into the front seat of his 1987 Ford van causing a fire in the front seat. The Mat-Su Fire Department was called out to extinguish the fire. Damage is estimated at $1,200. The investigation continues.
On August 29, 2008, at 0436 hours, Wasilla Police were dispatched to a collision involving a vehicle and a moose at mile 2 of Knik Goose Bay Road. On arrival police found that James B. Clark, age 51, of Florida, first hit the moose with his rental truck and then Cass T. Wallis, age 43, of Wasilla, hit the moose with his vehicle. No humans were injured and all drivers were wearing seatbelts. The moose was salvaged by a charity.
On September 2, 2008, at approximately 0330 hours, Wasilla Police received a request to conduct a welfare check on a male who was in the middle of the road on the Parks Highway near Lucas Avenue and appeared to be intoxicated. A subsequent investigation led to the arrest of Jon Howard, age 47, of Palmer, for disorderly conduct for throwing a large rock at the police. Howard was transported to the Mat-Su Pretrial facility where Magistrate Wielkopolski set bail at $500 cash or corporate.
Housing and Urban Development
15.04.020 Limitations. Housing and urban development powers assumed at this time are limited to the development of a senior citizens housing project. (Prior code § 13.18.020)
Telecommunications and National Security
On June 24, 2008, at 2017 hours, Wasilla Police responded to Wendy's Restaurant for a report of a theft. While investigating the incident, officers were given a cell phone by witnesses to the theft that had been dropped by the suspect. Witnesses also identified two women and one man as the subjects involved. While officers were speaking with witnesses, one of the suspect women involved, later identified as Lisa Sheldon, age 32, of Wasilla, called the cell and thought she was talking to another of the suspects, but was actually talking to one of the officers. As a result, officers were able to make contact with Sheldon at a park and questioned her about the incident. Sheldon falsely identified herself as her sister and lied to the officers about the identity of the suspect. Once Sheldon's name was confirmed, officers were advised that she was currently wanted on a $2,000 failure to appear warrant. As a result, Sheldon was placed under arrest for the warrant, in addition to Hindering Prosecution in the 2nd degree and Providing False Information. Sheldon was remanded at the Mat-Su Pretrial facility and bail was set at $1,000 cash for each count. The male suspect is still at large and the case is currently under investigation.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Both Clinton and Obama have eagerly donned the mantle of identity politics. A Clinton victory wouldn’t just be a victory for one woman, it would be a victory for little girls everywhere. An Obama victory would be about completing the dream, keeping the dream alive, and so on.…
Clinton’s fallback position is that neither she nor Obama should be judged as representatives of their out-groups. They should be judged as individuals.
But the entire theory of identity politics was that we are not mere individuals. We carry the perspectives of our group consciousness. Our social roles and loyalties are defined by race and gender. It’s a black or female thing. You wouldn’t understand.
David Brooks 01/15/2008
The pillars of American liberalism -- the Democratic Party, the universities and the mass media -- are obsessed with biological markers, most particularly race and gender. They have insisted, moreover, that pedagogy and culture and politics be just as seized with the primacy of these distinctions and with the resulting "privileging" that allegedly haunts every aspect of our social relations.
They have gotten their wish. This primary campaign represents the full flowering of identity politics. It's not a pretty picture. Geraldine Ferraro says Obama is only where he is because he's black. Professor Orlando Patterson says the 3 a.m. phone call ad is not about a foreign policy crisis but a subliminal Klan-like appeal to the fear of "black men lurking in the bushes around white society."
Good grief. The optimist will say that when this is over, we will look back on the Clinton-Obama contest, and its looming ugly endgame, as the low point of identity politics, and the beginning of a turning away. The pessimist will just vote Republican.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Y = % White Women Who Will Vote for Obama
X1 = Desire to See a Woman in the White House
X2 = Desire to See a Black Man in the White House
X3 = Political Party Affiliation
Given the Inequalities,
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Congrats Bro'Bama! Can you dig it!
We respectable negroes certainly can. What are some other black man as president jokes we should add to our repertoire?
Monday, August 25, 2008
Channeling Negrodamus is exhausting. For the sake of our health (and Bro'Bama's) I do hope this is the last time we have to call attention to a story such as this one:
From the AP:
Police investigate possible plot to kill Obama at Invesco
by Judi Villa April M. Washington
Authorities are investigating a possible assassination plot against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
At least four people have been arrested in connection with a possible plot to kill Obama at his Thursday night acceptance speech at Invesco Field at Mile High, according to CBS4 News. The suspects are being held on either drug or weapons charges.
Aurora police arrested a longtime drug user Sunday afternoon during a routine traffic stop where the man was seen "weaving," sources said. Three possible other accomplices also were arrested, according to police.
Police found four weapons, including two rifles and two handguns, in a rented pickup.
That arrest then led authorities to a second man staying at the Cherry Creek Hotel at 600 South Colorado Blvd in Glendale. When authorities knocked on the man's door, they say he jumped out of his sixth floor window, landing on an awning and running from the scene. They say they soon found him with a broken ankle. He too was arrested.
CBS4 reported one of the suspects told authorities they were "going to shoot Obama from a high vantage point using a ... rifle … sighted at 750 yards."
Law-enforcement sources told CBS4 that one of the suspects "was directly asked if they had come to Denver to kill Obama. He responded in the affirmative."
One of the suspects has been identified as 28-year-old Tharin Gartrell.
Police found a rifle in the man's rented pickup and methamphetamine. The man allegedly made comments about Sen. Obama, but sources wouldn't say what they were.
It was enough, however, to make police believe the man might have been plotting to somehow harm Obama.
A second source told CBS4 News that they are concerned they may have come upon a possible "assasination plot."
The Secret Service, ATF and U.S. Attorney's Office are investigating.
Brian Maass of CBS4 News contributed to this report.
You’re Black? = Soledad Obrien
High Yella = Harold Ford
Radical Redbone = Angela Davis
Paper Bag aka Bougie Beige = Muhammad Ali
Café Accompli = Michelle Obama
Mocha Mania = Nia Long
Mississippi Mud = Denzel Washington
Cackalack Blacksoil = Clarence Thomas
Ebony/Jet = Jack Johnson
Blurple = Bill Duke
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I love Youtube because one never knows what they can find. I was looking for clips of Harlem Nights (because one never really knows when a clip from Harlem Nights will come in handy), and I stumbled up these comedy gems.
Laugh and enjoy:
Redd Foxx had the perfect solution to our political dilemmas in the Middle East. Random thought: isn't it nice to see a brown aka cafe accompli Michael Jackson?
The roast of Frank Sinatra is priceless. Random thought and question: I wonder how many in the audience got the subtext of Lawanda Page's (Aunt Esther) jokes? Do any of you know the inside Hollywood joke about three of the men on stage?
Redd Foxx on midgets, or as we now call them "little people":
Saturday, August 23, 2008
It seems that Joe Biden and not Corky will be Obama's Vice President--Oh Well, Maybe We Will Have Better Luck with Our McCain Pick...
Well, Barack Obama didn't pick Corky for Vice President--still the best choice in our opinion--but he used several of our guidelines in the selection process (Biden is honest and straightforward; he is a white male; and he says "impolitic" things).
At least Obama is now insulated from charges of playing the race card as Biden does channel America's racial id and has said on previous occasions that:
1. "I've had a great relationship [with Indian Americans]," Biden said. "In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."
2. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," Biden said. "I mean, that's a storybook, man."
We think you made a good move Bro'Bama...and we won't charge you for the counsel--this time.
Now the question is, will McCain heed our advice as well? Please, Mr. McCain, for all that is good in the world, please bring on the fetus or Reagan zombie as your VP!
Friday, August 22, 2008
Now that we have our color categories, I want to invite our readers to play The Matching Game. To play, simply choose a few black people who best represent each color and post them in your comments. We’ve suggested some prominent black people below. Of course, feel free to choose your own color representatives or create your own color categories. Early next week, we will reveal our lists (including where each of us falls on the color spectrum).
**Clarence Thomas**Morgan Freeman**Gwen Ifill**Biggie**Jasmine Guy** Jay Z **Soledad Obrien**Ben Jealous**Angela Bassett**Jesse Jackson**Reverend Wright** **Julian Bond** Don Cheadle**Lena Horne**Denzel Washington**50 Cent**Vin Diesel **Beyonce**Miles Davis **Harold Ford**Wesley Snipes**Muhammad Ali** Oprah **John McWhorter**Malcolm X**Nia Long**Angela Davis**Common**Will Smith **Stanley Crouch**Flava Flav** Michael Eric Dyson**OJ**Whoopie Goldberg/Lil Wayne (has anyone ever seen them both in the same room?)** Halle Berry**Michelle Obama **Barack Obama**
Thursday, August 21, 2008
To hear them tell it, Barack Hussein Obama, a black and a secret Muslim, has a shot to be the leader of our United States (thanks a lot liberal media!) Not only would he swear in on the Quran and change the Constitution to force our children to pray to Mecca five times a day, he would stack the Supreme Court with activist judges who would facilitate the Holocaust of abortion, and allow Islamo-fascists to nuke the Holy Land.
John McCain wasn’t their first choice for President of the United States, but when these conservatives consider the alternative, the choice is clear: electing McCain to office is the fundamental responsibility of every evangelical zealot.
Given that McCain isn’t one of them, and has gone on record as not respecting evangelicals, devoted Christians and lifelong Republican have been hoping that McCain would throw them a bone by choosing a VP with strong Christian conservative credentials. But these conservatives are troubled by some of the names being floating for McCain’s VP. Let me break down the choices and the causes for alarm:
Republicans must win Florida again, so this might seem like an excellent choice. Plus, Crist’s youth and good looks would offset McCain’s biggest disadvantage. The problem? Crist is queerer than a 3 dollar bill.
He is of Indian descent, so to evangelicals, that means he is from the Middle East, and is therefore secretly Muslim. They are probably checking Jindal’s Passport to see if he is even in the country legally.
Jesus gave him the power to singlehandedly protect the country after 9-11, but Giuliani enjoys cross-dressing a little too much, and he lived with gay roommates. He is also a fornicator who cheated on his wife.
Hmmm. He’s Christian…kinda. Conservative, yes, but even Christian conservative nutjobs think that his sect is too weird. On the plus side, his Church was openly racist until 1978. Way to hold out!
Are you kidding? Pro choice, a Democrat, and he’s Jewish! You might as well stab baby Jesus with a sharpened dreidel.
If these people won’t work, who will? Allow me to offer some possibilities:
Larry the Cable Guy
A God fearing American if I ever saw one. Just an authentic, down-to earth guy. One of the few superstars who speaks out against Hollywood’s PC agenda. He is a straight shooter who you want to have a beer with. Larry tells it like it is and would take it to Obama and other Muslims so McCain won’t have to get his hands dirty. Hey, if Fred Thompson can be a major player, why can’t Larry?
Anti-union, anti-gay, pro-apartheid, pro-America. The ultimate conservative, dead or alive. Prop up his shriveled corpse Weekend at Bernie’s style. Half of the Republicans probably don’t even know that he’s dead.
The Shroud of Turin
Could Evan Bayh or Tim Kaine defeat the Shroud of Turin in a debate?
If McCain wants to show how serious he is about the notion that humans have human rights from the moment of conception, what better way than to make a fetus his VP?
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Chauncey DeVega says: On the Plight of Mixed-Race Children---Can Anyone Help These Poor Tragic Mulattoes?
There are some bad adolescent behaviors that whites do more than blacks (like drinking and smoking), and there are other bad adolescent behaviors that blacks do more than whites (watching TV, fighting, getting sexually transmitted diseases). Mixed-race kids manage to be as bad as whites on the white behaviors and as bad as blacks on the black behaviors. Mixed-race kids act out in almost every way measured in the data set.
From the New York Times article "The Plight of Mixed-Race Children" by Steven Levitt.
Sometimes the powers that be make this stuff all too easy.
My position on multiracial identity and the multiracial political movement is well documented. I am deeply concerned about the creation of a coloured class in this country, a buffer race, like in Brazil or Apartheid era South Africa into which "mixed-race" people can "graduate." As we argued here before, race is a social construct with some biological basis, so ultimately the idea of a mixed-race identity is non-nonsensical because there are no "pure" races. Thus, it presupposes difference where none exists and suffers from a crippling ahistoricism, i.e. there is nothing new or unique or unprecedented about these identities.
Moreover, and as impolitic as it may sound, the real force behind efforts to create a "bi-racial" or "multi-racial" political category, a category which exists apart from blackness, is driven by the desire of white parents, often single white mothers, to access some degree of white privilege for their kids. Ultimately, the positions held by the lightskinned girls, Association of Multiethnic Americans, and Generations Mixed's of the world, is one that is self-fetishizing, a look we're special...and magical...and different from "those" "regular" black people (to the degree these tragic mulattoes even identity with the black community) type of celebratory identity politics.
As Gordon Gartrelle said in response to our early posts on this very subject, "race messes us all up," and biracials are just messed up differently. Nevertheless, as the old saying goes, "if you are white you are alright, if you are light step ahead, and if you are black get back." While granting that there is a "rational" calculus for running away from blackness, what is so disturbing to this respectable negro is how this decision to distance oneself from negritude is masked and hidden behind such pathetic, narcissistic pleadings as "I shouldn't have to choose, I want to identity with every part of my identity" or the equally sad claim that, "I am 1/4 Indian, 1/8 Scots Irish, 1/8 Italian, 1/16 Inuit, 1/16 Cuban, and 1/4 Black, why can't I be all of these things?" To which I may add, these multiple identities often represent choices that are made quite selectively and strategically: as in "If I want a scholarship I am black, but don't expect me to have a sense of group loyalty to, or kinship with, black folk." And you know what? If I hear these rationalizations again I will insert hand into throat in order to induce vomiting.
For all of these reasons, and apart from the admiration I have for the authors of Freakonomics (any book which can simultaneously be on the top of the New York Time's bestseller list and be sold in Walmart and Price Costco is good by me), I simply love reading empirically based arguments about race and behavior which "wink" at the reader. Here, the wink is a pretty clear one: look at how messed up these self-identified "bi-racial" people really are. But to really get the humor one needs to unpack the actual article which can be found here. It isn't perfect by any means, and the conclusion is really a mea culpa which limits the range of findings, but there are some great moments and insights.
Some select passages:
1. The first relevant dimension is whether one bases the classification on the responses of the parents or the child. The second relevant dimension for classifying mixed race children is how “strict” or “inclusive” one is in defining who is mixed race. Our preferred definition is one that is child-based and strict. We use a childbased definition both because data on fathers are often missing, and even if a male guardian is present, it is impossible in our data to determine whether he is the biological father.16 A childbased approach is more direct, but relies on the child’s self-identification. Under our preferred “strict” definition at the child level, an individual is considered race A if and only if he consistently says he is race A whenever he is observed in the data. If there are any inconsistencies across waves, we code the race as missing. Using this approach we obtain 304 black-white mixed children; but we are likely to understate the number of mixed race adolescents in the data.
Thought and Comment: So, these children are actually self-identifying as "mixed-race." This throws a bit of a wrinkle into the plan because this identity is by definition anomalous and contingent on environment and background. How many "mixed-race" people choose to identity as black (or brown or white)? Are these children just outliers? What is special and particular about anyone who self-selects into this category? Is it perhaps a signal that the person is either profoundly at peace with themselves or profoundly conflicted? Wouldn't it be interesting to study discordant pairings, i.e where the parent says the child is one identity and the child gives a different response? Wouldn't it also be a rich project to study HAPA's in California and Hawaii who self-identify as white? Or to study black Creoles in Louisiana?
2. Although generally not statistically significantly different, mixed race children do worse on most of the psychological dimensions explored. The greatest observed difference is with respect to whether the child perceives his father as caring, which mixed race children do significantly less. Interestingly, blacks tend to be more content on most dimensions relative to whites and mixed race children. The exception to this finding is when asked about their chances of surviving to age 35.
Thought and Comment: Ah ha! I knew we black folk were well-adjusted. Like Jewish folk, our sense of humor has sustained us as a people. And we are happier than white folks--I always say that the privileged manufacture reasons to be unhappy. Interestingly, mixed-race children see their fathers as being less caring. Could this be because many of the fathers are not present? Where are the fathers? Did they break up because of family disapproval of inter-racial dating? And more generally, what does this mean for how the identities of these children will form? If the father is not white, how is this child learning about their raced identity? By extension, this plays directly into my theory about multi-racial identity as mom's way of trying to connect with her child through an effort to pass along some white privilege under the banner of asserting a "biracial" or "multiracial" identity for her child.
3. Because mixed race adolescents have an outside option, they must go to greater lengths to demonstrate their affiliation with the group; one way of demonstrating solidarity is to go to extremes in carrying out group-sanctioned misbehavior.
Thought and Comment: I thought young people had it hard in general, but this is a one-two punch. Poor tragic mulatto children do apparently have to be bad in the way that black kids are bad and bad in the way white kids are bad. Result: years of therapy. Question: what about parenting and local group norms? What about class? And isn't there lots of variability within groups in terms of behavior, what constitutes "good" and "bad"? Just thinking aloud.
4. It is important to note that when there are few blacks present, the costs of acting black for mixed race adolescents is lower. For example, fighting is one aspect of behavior more associated with blacks than whites. If blacks are more experienced fighters than whites, than it is less costly for a mixed race child to prove he can fight when the only opponents are whites. This force works in the opposite direction of conformity.
Thought and Comment: Huh? I thought it was Mexicans and Latinos who were the best fighters? I guess I am just out of step.
5. In contrast, in the Roy model, when there are few blacks around, mixed race children can have a comparative advantage in black behaviors, inducing them to act particularly “black.” Empirically, the evidence on this point favors the Roy model over conformity.
Thought and Comment: Another light bulb moment. I have personally seen this phenomenon in action. I cannot tell you how many mixed-race kids I have witnessed going through the not-black, to blacker than thou, to self-consciously mixed-race, to I am going to perform blackness for my white friends--they are an ambassador you know--transformation, yet who simultaneously harbor a deep fear of and resentment towards "real" black folks. This transformation is particularly common among Ivy and elite educated, young, mixed-race people. In these cases it usually involves a discovery of hip hop and b-boy culture, an embrace of post-racial politics, and a hairstyle which alternates between a wild 'fro (to signal he is black, plus women like to touch it) and a signifying set of cornrows.
6. Broadly summarizing, the data on mixed race black-white children suggests that they grow up in home environments that are similar to blacks, have academic achievement in between that of whites and blacks, but engage in much more risky behaviors and are slightly worse off psychologically.
Thought and Comment: Like we said earlier, race messes us all up and tragic mulattoes are just messed up differently. It seems that thanks to Steve Levitt we now finally have an explanation for the bad behaviors of the Halle Berry's, Mariah Carey's, Vin Diesel's, and Slash's of the world. But a mystery still remains: how do we explain the unbalanced behaviors of the Britney Spears's, Paris Hilton's, Amy Winehouse's and Kim Kardashian's of the world?
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
In brainstorming through Obama's options one should keep in the mind the following guidelines: A vice presidential candidate should strengthen the ticket by appealing to a constituency which the presidential candidate is weak with; broaden his geographic appeal; offer personality traits or expertise which the presidential candidate lacks; unify and strengthen the party apparatus and its factions; or bring a certain excitement, intangible or celebrity appeal to the ticket. In considering all of these factors we have come to a clear choice...
We are Respectable Negroes enthusiastically endorse accomplished actor, musician, and humanitarian, Corky of Life Goes On fame as the perfect VP for Barack Obama.
Corky's strengths as a candidate are many:
1. He is honest and sincere;
2. In his comments that he doesn't like black people and that he is afraid of them, Corky speaks for America's racial id, and therefore protects Obama from charges of "playing the race card;"
3. He is a white male;
4. He is anti-establishment;
5. Corky is not a Washington insider;
6. His simple cadence, binary thinking, and straightforward analysis of problems and their solutions will appeal to the Red state and conservative base who are attracted to Bush's "truthiness," war against "evil doers," and McCain's sloganistic posturing.
We were originally going to nominate Corky as a write in candidate in Ta-Nehisi Coates' great, "Who Will Speak for White People" competition at the Atlantic Monthly, but it dawned on us that Corky's greatness need not be limited to mere figurehead status. Without reservation or qualification, Corky is simply the best choice for Vice President of the United States of America.
I am going to see Dark Knight 2 more times this weekend, until then, for you sad souls who haven't even seen it once, here are some new "leaked" clips.
Enter the Batpod:
Understand the Joker:
Monday, August 18, 2008
In boxing, one of the worst mistakes you can make is to get tunnel vision, to fixate on one hand while ignoring the other. This is an error even experienced professional fighters often commit when they are looking for a big punch to come from one direction and inevitably get tagged from the opposite. In the best case scenario the punch is a jab. In the worst case scenario it is an uppercut or a hook. Either way, you are going to get hit. The question then becomes, is this the "go to sleep" knockout punch, or is it a stinger that you can shrug off?
Two weeks ago, we, meaning you and I, and most of America, got caught sleeping, focusing on the wrong hand. To make matters worst, we didn't even realize our error as the McCain camp threw a knockout blow that we didn't even catch. Why? because we were looking for the left hand, when in fact, it was the right hand that would do us in.
McCain's two commercials, Obama and Brittany aka the uppity Negro ad, and Obama is "the One," were crafty combos. The first was a jab, a punch quickly followed up by the second punch--a devastating body blow:
We laughed at these commercials, for their awkward crudeness seemed desperate and clumsy. No one would take these ads seriously because no reasonable person could respond to them. They seemed to register a bit in the polls, closing the gap for McCain, but we again laughed at the gullibility of the American electorate. I must admit that I fell into the trap as well.
In fact, in an earlier post I reflected that McCain, that old out of touch fool doesn't get that "the One" is Neo from the Matrix and that his uppity Obama appeal was misdirected. I spent a good amount of time patting myself on the back for my quick wit (aren't I smart!). You know what? As the days past, and I began to think more about these two campaign commercials something just didn't sit right. My Spidey-sense was tingling but I couldn't figure out from which direction the threat would come:
Eventually it clicked. In a moment akin to laying in bed with your woman after a session of kundalini stimulating bliss, all hot and stinky, a Boon's Farm wine bottle resting on the chest of drawers next to the lamp, polyester sheets sticking to spent bodies, with either some Silk, Jodeci or R. Kelly's 12 Play stuck on repeat in your broken cd changer, 99 cent inscents burned down to their nub--the sandalwood still hanging in the air mixed with a little p funk--and you realize that she liked something, said something, moved in a way she never had before, and that mamacita muttered the wrong name in a half-awake dream state. It is a moment of crystal clear and painful clarity. Only one explanation passes muster: you realize in your heart of hearts that you have just played yourself.
As my mom, as well as Zora would say about how hardheaded and self-centered I can be at times, "must everything be about you, Senor Chauncey?" You see, we were not the audience for McCain's ad. Not black folk, not blue state voters, not progressives, not center left, or even I dare say, center right, undecided voters. Nope, we were not the audience. The Obamaholics certainly were not the audience. In reading Time Magazine and the Washington Post's pieces on the widely held belief that Obama is the Anti-Christ (and how popular this narrative is among the Christian Nationalist and internet conspiracy crowd) the horrible truth dawned on me. The audience for "the One," and its parallels of Obama to Moses were Christian Nationalists, the Left Behind crowd, those mouth breathing Rapture awaiting troglodytes...those folks who believe that Obama is the anti-Christ, even as they claim he isn't:
I thought about it again. I watched the videos once more. I digested the analysis. I had to admit, if this were a boxing match, we were outplayed. You, me, the American public in mass, the non-Evangelical crowd were knocked the fuck out by McCain's one-two punch:
For the initiated, McCain's commercial utilized what is known in the business as "a coded appeal" or what is also less politely and more appropriately termed in my opinion, as "the dog whistle effect." McCain's "the One" ad contains messages and codes that only the target audience can detect. In the same way that a dog owner uses a whistle to tell Fido to sit, fetch, or stay, the coded appeal keys off of the ability of the target audience to "hear" commands and appeals that the rest of us are immune to.
For example, when Bush talks about the courts and references the Dred Scott decision he is making a coded appeal to the anti-abortion crowd to overturn Roe v. Wade. These signals often combine the obvious, as in the case of McCain's ads, with the subtle, images and visuals we perceive, just out of range of our perceptual range, but can't fully get a grasp of--sort of like Tyler Durden's "playful" antics in the movie Fight Club:
These coded appeals are pheromones of a sort, causing the target audience to act like Jack Nicholson in Wolf:
Not all of us were blind to this appeal as critics such as Keith Olbermann did in fact point out the racial appeals embedded in the first Obama is an uppity negro celebrity ad. He highlighted the implied relationship between a blond white women, a black man and the implication that Obama was arrogant. We understood the ad on that level. Our error was seeing this ad as nothing more than a desperate ploy, when in fact it was the setup punch. It got us to drop our guard, to have a "they are at it again" moment. Because McCain is feisty and shrewd, this obvious attack was the point (sort of like Ali's right hand leads in the Foreman fight). But even here, there were the grains of something more sinister: notice the white phallocentric objects in the ad, those penis like monuments that hint at the always potent triangle of sex, white women and miscegenation which lies in the heart of the American racial subconscious.
As highlighted by Time magazine's great piece (and these others here and here), the Obama is the One ad is laden with coded appeals which point to Obama being the anti-Christ. As though taken from an enterprising semiotics professor or graduate student's wet dream, McCain's ad features the following codes and symbols: a man of foreign birth who claims to be the savior of the world and ushers in a New World Order; a narrative which seems to be directly taken from the Left Behind series of novels; and most damning is the symbol which flies out of the parting sea, an allusion to the crest carried by the anti-Christ in the Bible, a direct linkage to Obama by the campaign commercial:
This is dangerous and frightening both for what it portends about how far McCain and the Right are willing to go in order to win an election, as well as what it signals about the inevitability and primacy of a re-centering of religion and religious appeals in the mainstream of the American body politic. However disturbing to a secularist such as myself that presidential candidates would feel obligated to stump for "values voters" (doesn't the rest of the public have values too?), and to seek legitimation in a mullahesque (I just coined that word) Saddleback forum (cue Brokeback Mountain music---it was so obvious I had to go there) a move which further hints at our sliding towards an American theocracy, for me it is ultimately the fact that a mainstream presidential candidate would tar his rival as the anti-Christ which is beyond belief. People's exhibit number one of the (re)merging of politics and religion, consider this disturbing clip regarding Christian Zionists:
This is serious business and I remain deeply stunned at the silence of the mainstream media on the story, and why Obama himself is not confronting it directly. The use of coded appeals, ones as pernicious as these, is made doubly problematic by the historical precedent set by totalitarian and fascist States such as Nazi Germany. I also understand that democracies need propaganda more than any other type of government. But, that the appeal would be so narrow, and play along the dual fissures of race and religion, is particularly poisonous to our collective civic health.
What of the obvious response, that perhaps Obama is the Anti-Christ? I have to ask it in order to give fair treatment to those who "believe." While trying not to reject the claim on the face of it or to point out the interpretative errors which buttress this mythology, I would simply appeal to my ghetto nerd, Art Bell, Nostradamus, Father Malachi Martin respecting, Illuminati studying, Bilderberg group observing, Behold a Pale Horse Reading, Skull and Bones kitchen attending, conspiracy studying credentials. Frankly, Obama doesn't fit the mold or the timing of whom the Anti-Christ will be. Moreover, we can't and won't know who the Anti-Christ will be until it is too late, and whoever it is certainly won't use the Left Behind novels as a template. And oh yeah, I don't believe the Anti-Christ will be anything like the figure that these religious hucksters and their bamboozled followers imagine him to be.
Random theological note: perhaps the anti-Christ is looking us in the mirror everyday? Our collective human baseness, mistreatment of one another, greed, and bad behavior could be the literal Anti-Christ among us all.
And you know what? As much as I condemn them, I admire McCain and his campaign for the excellence with which they have executed their plan. The coded appeal is a perfect strategy in fact because it hides itself in the open and hits you before you know you are under attack (sort of like hiding metagenic agents among background radiation and sending them towards a planet on a subspace carrier wave to later be activated by a Theta band signal: extra points for any ghetto nerds whom get the allusion). It is also utterly impervious to counter-attack because to respond to McCain's ploy is to make yourself look like you are in fact the crazy one, or in this campaign's vernacular, to be guilty of that most grievous of sin, "playing the race card." Or to paraphrase Luscious Fox in the Dark Knight: "Let me get this straight. You think your client, one of the richest men in the world, is a vigilante who likes to dress up as a bat and beat criminals to a bloody pulp with this bare hands. And your answer to this is to try and blackmail him? Well...good luck with that." Exactly.
McCain, or whoever put together this Goebbels inspired, Obama as anti-Christ commercial, I would love to pick your brain, to complement you on your smarts, to get a drink or three with you, preferably either a Jack on the Rocks or a Manhattan, but on principle I couldn't take a meal with you because I can't digest properly when seated across from someone I don't respect.
Per tradition, some questions:
1. Where is the mainstream media on this story? Are they scared? Do they not get its gravity?
2. More importantly, where is the black blogosphere and black political "leadership?" Folks throw fits over stupidity and want to bury "the n-word" but a black presidential candidate is called the anti-Christ and folks are as quiet as church mice. People throw fits over knuckleheads like the Jena 6 who act like fools and then are valorized for it, but they aren't raising the call to arms over a real issue, something really worth fighting for, are they?
3. Is Obama doing the right thing in not responding to these Obama as anti-Christ appeals? Or is he letting McCain chip away at him bit by bit?
4. Speaking of which, should Obama have gone on that Saddleback forum? Especially given the serious questions being raised about McCain's cheating?
5. On this anti-Christ stuff: so if one in fact believes that Obama is the evil guy, the harbinger of doom, shouldn't the Left behind, saved, rapture loving crowd vote for him? Wouldn't Obama's victory speed their journey to paradise, their lifting of themselves out of their clothes and into heaven?
6. Intuitively, isn't McCain more of an anti-Christ figure than Obama? Just going on instinct here...
7. Are folks afraid of "values voters?" Are they afraid to take the Christian Nationalists on in a fight? To respond, to put them in their place? If yes, then why so?
8. The Obama is anti-Christ crowd, along with the political Zionists and Christian Nationalists share a striking similarity to the political Islam/Islamo-fascist crowd do they not? How ironic, it really is a clash of civilizations with a bunch of fools willing to kill us all in order to see who gets to heaven first. What can the radical middle do about this, be they either secularists or what I like to call "the reasonably religious?" Or are we all just screwed?
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Do you remember The Gate? I saw this one with my mom, God bless her patience, when I was about 12:
This made me think of CHUD!:
Do you remember The Devil's Rain, featuring Ernest Borgnine and William Shatner?
A little later, but a classic nonetheless, who else has love for Leprechaun in the Hood?
It is time to clean house! The People Under the Stairs:
You get no reparations!!!!! Damn slave voodoo dolls! Tales from the Hood gets extra points for the fact that the actor who is type cast as the Uncle Tom in every movie in which he appears gets done in pretty quickly:
What other bad "horror" classics should we add to our play list?
Friday, August 15, 2008
The title evoked two books that rub me the wrong way (no Johnny Gill): Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and Debra Dickerson’s The End of Blackness. The former is an incredibly popular piece of international relations political theory about how the fall of Soviet Communism marked the end of large-scale ideological global challenges to Western capitalist democracy; the latter is an occasionally amusing polemic about the death of the Civil Rights era notion of blackness.
I pegged the Times article as another tired argument about how Obama’s success proves that race (that’s code for “blackness”) is no longer relevant in American society, and in American politics more specifically. The article isn’t that, for the most part-the author doesn’t make the ideological argument that the end of racism obviates the need for black politics; he instead makes the practical argument that Civil Rights-era politics are no longer viable on a national stage in light of the successes of a new breed of “post-racial” black politicians.
I agree with most of the points my colleagues made, but I want to focus on something else in the Times’ article: the role the author’s black Ivy (and near Ivy) graduate fetish plays in his depiction of the new post-racial black political over-class. Consider author Matt Bai’s examples: Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law), Alabama Rep. Artur Davis (Harvard, Harvard Law), Newark Mayor Cory Booker (Stanford, Oxford), Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (Penn), Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (Harvard, Harvard Law), NAACP President Benjamin Jealous (Columbia, Oxford).
To the right, these Ivy-League-educated negroes are simultaneously typical and atypical. They’re typical in the sense that they’re nothing special; in the conservative mind, black Ivy grads are black people of average ability (well, average in comparison to black people, below average in comparison to whites) who merely had the benefit of affirmative action. Black Ivy grads are atypical, according to conservatives, in that their lives don’t represent the stereotypical black struggle. For this reason, these “elite” black folks have no grounds on which to ally themselves with the black underclass (recall the common conservative judgment that if a black person has a nice home and a high salary, she cannot complain about discrimination). Conservatives often resent liberal Ivy negroes’ infiltration into what was once a “pure” system of white moneyed elitism; however, conservatives love the idea of black Ivy grads because their existence proves that racism is dead.
To the left, Ivy-educated negroes are the new black. It’s not at all surprising that white liberals’ have starry-eyed crushes on these elite negroes. Most white folks are extremely uncomfortable with our society’s racial history, and positing a new kind of black political actor-one who doesn’t remind white people of slavery and Jim Crow-is a way to alleviate some of that discomfort. Bai goes out of his way to note that all of the aforementioned new post-racial politicians grew up with physical and/or cultural distance from average black folks. He makes sure to mention that Jealous and Booker were Rhodes Scholars (lest anyone think these two were unqualified diversity admissions). Bai is effectively marking this new batch of post-racial politicians as “different from the others,” and not just ideologically.
Think about the fact that Detroit Mayor (and soon-to-be convicted felon) Kwame Kilpatrick is noticeably absent from the new-negro-political-elite list. The fact that he’s a coonish crook might have a good deal to do with it, but the author would likely agree that Kilpatrick doesn’t count because he doesn’t have broad appeal (code for “acceptance from white people”). Kilpatrick lacks several qualities-honesty, decency, shame, competence, to name a few; one thing he doesn’t lack, though, is blackness. His unmistakable blackness-his Steve Harvey zoot suits, his “black” speech patterns, his BET-Uncut-style stripper parties mark him as “traditionally black,” thus, he doesn’t fit the profile. Plus, he went to an HBCU (FAMU), not an Ivy.
Also, compare Kilpatrick’s photo with those of the new breed:
Notice anything about their hue?
I realize that light-skinned privilege is nothing new (Chauncey, you El Debarge-colored bastard, I’m looking at you!), but the light, Ivy-educated, post-racial, “universal appeal” associations don’t sit well with me, regardless of whether it comes from white folks or from bougie, Talented Tenth touting, paper bag test-giving black folks.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Essay Assignment 1
We have spent the first portion of this course discussing the intersection of race, politics, and culture. To this point, we have explored the notion of "racial frames" and race as an ideology. We have also developed a working definition of race which is as follows: race is a socially constructed identity based on a loose and often arbitrary sense of phenotypical difference, a difference with the State and society choose to emphasize (or not). Using the materials we have read to this point in week 5, compare and contrast the racial frames deployed in the following two articles. The first piece is taken from the Los Angeles Times and is titled, "White Americans no Longer a Majority in 2042." The second piece is an excerpt from the famous racialist tract, The Passing of the Great Race by Madison Grant published in 1916.
The nation has been growing more diverse for decades, but the process has sped up through immigration and higher birth rates among minority residents, especially Hispanics.
"The white population is older and very much centered around the aging baby boomers who are well past their high fertility years," said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. "The future of America is epitomized by the young people today. They are basically the melting pot we are going to see in the future."
The Census Bureau Thursday released population projections through 2050, based on rates for births, deaths and immigration. They are subject to big revisions, depending on immigration policy, cultural changes and natural or manmade disasters.
That's like adding all the people from France and Britain, said Steve A. Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington group that advocates tighter immigration policies.
White non-Hispanics make up about two-thirds of the population, but only 55 percent of those younger than 5.
By 2050, whites will make up 46 percent of the population and blacks will make up 15 percent, a relatively small increase from today. Hispanics, who make up about 15 percent of the population today, will account for 30 percent in 2050, according to the new projections.
Asians, which make up about 5 percent of the population, are projected to increase to 9 percent by 2050.
The population 85 and older is projected to more than triple by 2050, to 19 million.
The European Race in the Colonies
These new immigrants were no longer exclusively members of the Nordic race as were the earlier ones who came of their own impulse to improve their social conditions. The transportation lines advertised America as a land flowing with milk and honey, and the European governments took the opportunity to unload upon careless, wealthy, and hospitable America the sweepings of their jails and asylums. The result was that the new immigration, while it still included many strong elements from the north of Europe, contained a large and increasing number of the weak, the broken, and the mentally crippled of all races drawn from the lowest stratum of the Mediterranean basin and the Balkans, together with hordes of the wretched, submerged populations of the Polish Ghettos.
With a pathetic and fatuous belief in the efficacy of American institutions and environment to reverse or obliterate immemorial hereditary tendencies, these newcomers were welcomed and given a share in our land and prosperity. The American taxed himself to sanitate and educate these poor helots, and as soon as they could speak English, encouraged them to enter into the political life, first of municipalities, and then of the nation.
The result is showing plainly in the rapid decline in the birth rate of native Americans because the poorer classes of Colonial stock, where they still exist, will not bring children into the world to compete in the labor market with the Slovak, the Italian, the Syrian, and the Jew. The native American is too proud to mix socially with them, and is gradually withdrawing from the scene, abandoning to these aliens the land which he conquered and developed. The man of the old stock is being crowded out of many country districts by these foreigners, just as he is to-day being literally driven off the streets of New York City by the swarms of Polish Jews. These immigrants adopt the language of the native American; they wear his clothes; they steal his name; and they are beginning to take his women, but they seldom adopt his religion or understand his ideals, and while he is being elbowed out of his own home the American looks calmly abroad and urges on others the suicidal ethics which are exterminating his own race.
As to what the future mixture will be it is evident that in large sections of the country the native American will entirely disappear. He will not intermarry with inferior races, and he cannot compete in the sweat shop and in the street trench with the newcomers. Large cities from the days of Rome, Alexandria, and Byzantium have always been gathering points of diverse races, but New York is becoming a cloaca gentium which will produce many amazing racial hybrids and some ethnic horrors that will be beyond the powers of future anthropologists to unravel.
One thing is certain: in any such mixture, the surviving traits will be determined by competition between the lowest and most primitive elements and the specialized traits of Nordic man; his stature, his light colored eyes, his fair skin and blond hair, his straight nose, and his splendid fighting and moral qualities, will have little part in the resultant mixture.
The "survival of the fittest" means the survival of the type best adapted to existing conditions of environment, to-day the tenement and factory, as in Colonial times they were the clearing of forests, fighting Indians, farming the fields, and sailing the Seven Seas. From the point of view of race it were better described as the "survival of the unfit."
We Respectable Negroes Salute You: Two Badass White Queens---Dr. Ruth, an Isreali Sniper and Julia Child, An OSS Spy
Truth is indeed stranger than fiction, isn't it? Our own Harriet Tubman served as a Union spy, and during her service she carried 2 pistols. One to defend those with the courage to go ahead to freedom, and another for those who may not have had the heart to keep going. Harriet Tubman was one hell of a sister. As we know, heroism and true grit comes in all forms, and in all colors. Thus, we respectable negroes salute you, Julia Child, and belatedly because it is long overdue, salute you as well, Dr. Ruth Westheimer.
For You Julia Child:
Chef Julia Child, others part of WWII spy network
Famed chef Julia Child shared a secret with Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and Chicago White Sox catcher Moe Berg at a time when the Nazis threatened the world.
They served in an international spy ring managed by the Office of Strategic Services, an early version of the CIA created in World War II by President Franklin Roosevelt.
The full secret comes out Thursday, all of the names and previously classified files identifying nearly 24,000 spies who formed the first centralized intelligence effort by the United States. The National Archives, which this week released a list of the names found in the records, will make available for the first time all 750,000 pages identifying the vast spy network of military and civilian operatives.
They were soldiers, actors, historians, lawyers, athletes, professors, reporters. But for several years during World War II, they were known simply as the OSS. They studied military plans, created propaganda, infiltrated enemy ranks and stirred resistance among foreign troops.
Some of those on the list have been identified previously as having worked for the OSS, but their personnel records never have been available before. Those records would show why they were hired, jobs they were assigned to and perhaps even missions they pursued while working for the agency.
follow the link here.
Dr. Ruth Reveals a Few Secrets, Not About Sex
The world knows Ruth Westheimer, aka "Dr. Ruth" -- a thrice married, soon-to-be octogenarian -- for her candid advice on sex, for breaking taboos on radio and TV and, of course, for her German accent, which she's managed to hold onto despite her long tenure in the United States.
Few know that, in 1939, at age 11, she had to leave her family behind in Germany and live in a Swiss orphanage, where girls weren't permitted to go to high school. She stayed up nights studying her boyfriend's textbooks, determined to learn.
Fewer still know her as a sharpshooter. Westheimer, who's about 4 feet 7 inches tall, was a sniper in the Israel Defense Force during the 1948 War of Independence and was seriously wounded in the battle for Jerusalem. (She said that while her shooting can still win prizes for her grandchildren at carnival booths, she never killed anyone in battle.)
There's lots more that people don't know about Dr. Ruth that she revealed during a recent stop in Philadelphia.
the story continues here.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: Where Have all the Arcades Gone? Reflections of a Negro Pinball Wizard
If Chris were not otherwise occupied, he could tell you that he is, by several objective measures, the most talented Guitar Hero player in existence: not only good enough to have attained numerous high-score records, but so skilled that he has parlayed his peculiar blend of athleticism and showmanship into online celebrity and a fledgling career designing and endorsing his own line of video game hardware. But at the moment, another barrage of notes was about to descend on him. “The chaos,” he said, “begins right now.”
Despite his preternatural dexterity, Chris, who turns 17 on Sunday, would seem to be just one more avid gamer who has helped make the Guitar Hero franchise a towering success. It has sold more than 20.7 million copies worldwide since its debut just three years ago.
Yet to the video game business Chris represents just the kind of player — the freakishly talented one-man spectacle — who could bring more revenue and legitimacy to the industry, and prove once and for all that video gaming is as much a mainstream American pastime as going to the movies or watching television.
From, the piece "Rec-Room Wizard" printed in the New York Times.
Youth is indeed wasted on the young. Sounds embittered doesn't it? I am just hurting, a little sad that the world has seemingly changed around me, but not necessarily with me. It is also a little nostalgia, a longing for the not so recent past and a realization that one of the favorite pastimes of my childhood has changed, pushed forward by "progress" and morphed into something I know, but don't particularly like or feel comfortable with--sort of like the hot ex-girlfriend from college you meet a few years later, who is still gorgeous, just a little older, and is now with a beau who is the exact opposite of who you would have pictured her with. This is one of those moments when you wake up and realize that you are a little older than you were yesterday:
Yes, I still play video games. Yes, my tastes have gravitated to PC games over consoles because I primarily play RTS's (although I will be getting an X-Box 360...primarily to download the "old school" classics and to play GTA 4). And yes, I play a pretty mean game of Call of Duty 4 and other first person shooters. But, something has changed. With the rise of the internet, with consoles and home PC's which are more powerful than anything we could have imagined ten years ago, the social space for gaming has inexorably changed. The communal space, those hives of scum and villainy which many of us ghetto nerds were drawn to in our New York City Time Squares, our South Sides, our West Sides and corner bodegas, our Milford Rec's, is gone, never to be replaced. Those hideouts from parents and adults where we could seek out a brother from another planet, an old school sage to teach us the latest tricks and exploits:
Reading about the rise of this Guitar Hero phenom encouraged me to take a trip to one of the few remaining arcades in the city. For the young and uninitiated, arcades were physical spaces where you would play video games and pinball with others, face to face, in a personal contest for supremacy. I was so excited, I would get on the Red Line, read a book, get some Chipotle on the way home, and pop some quarters into a favored machine. Would it be Killer Instinct? Street Fighter 2 Turbo or CE, Mortal Combat? Marvel vs. Capcom? What would it be? Guess what? It would be nothing as our video game oasis was closed, shutdown, its dirty floors still uncleaned. It seems this last arcade would be a victim of hipster gentrification.
This isn't to disparage the rise of the internet and how we finally have a truly global stage for contest and where video games are approaching a "sport" of sorts with tournaments, leagues, and big money purses. In my childhood I would have never dreamed that there would be lucrative prizes at stake in tournaments for games like StarCraft, Quake or Ultimate Tournament. I wouldn't have imagined that video game pros would have real groupies and fans...not the cast off, sallow faced, semi-teen runaway degenerates who hung out at the local spot. No, attention from real people whose approval you would seek, and if they were an attractive woman, to likely try to enjoy in a biblical, Song of Solomon kind of way.
You children of the 1970s and 1980s, did you also hear the same rumors that I did? That you could go to Japan and face off against the best, Asian kids who were in our imaginations just as good at martial arts as they were at video games, a mythical Blood Sport for video game heads where you could compete against the best of the best:
Random thought: am I the only ghetto nerd who was jealous of his Asian friends and their video game collections? Bootlegged titles purchased in China or Korea town, or mailed to them from friends and family overseas?
My use of the phrase "blood sport" is not accidental. Playing video games competitively was physical. In its most benign, it either involved travel and searching around town for the newest machine or the best competition, running to the neighborhood arcade, the bakery next to the high school where everyone congregated after school and during lunch, or the duck pin bowling alley that we would dip into after school for a few rounds of Street Fighter or Karate Champ. Sometimes it involved hours of travel to and fro just to find that best, most favorite, machine, or nagging a parent to sit in the car for a few hours while they read a book and you played video games all day long on your birthday. In its least benign, it involved a physical exchange, a stare down, especially if you were a newbie, to just put the quarter on the machine to get a play. In the worst case scenario playing in the arcade could escalate into a fist fight, real blood drawn between players if one felt that they were either treated unfairly or humiliated by a rival. With the ascendancy of video games into the mainstream and the rise of the internet as a means to compete, the world, as is the ultimate goal of technical innovation, has been made just a little too sterile for this ghetto nerd's taste.
By analogy, in the same way that we can find any number of "Emcees" "battling" on Youtube, MySpace or in chat rooms, how many would have lasted second in a real cipher, a real battle in the South Bronx, Queens, or Brooklyn?
Object Lesson 1:
Object Lesson 2
Hell, how many of these "crappers" would even be allowed into the cipher? Now, it is so clean and impersonal. You don't have to have clout to get into the circle, there is no physical risk if you under-perform or step out of bounds. The worst that can happen is that you move onto another chat room, another message board, or another Youtube video.
We no longer have to put quarters up on the machine to get a play, we don't have to be accepted into the local tribe (real people not a virtual clan), and we certainly don't have to face down rivals eye to eye in what could easily end in a post-game melee. I am not discounting the visceral rush of online play, of an hours long match, or how great it feels to beat a rival--I don't know how many of you have had this experience, but I sincerely love playing skinheads and Nazi wannabe's online (and summarily dispensing with them in the most humiliating fashion possible), ignorant folks who take competition very seriously and make their video game playing prowess some type of proof for the superiority of their imagined Aryan bloodline.
I am not a Luddite. I love technical change and innovation, but I am worried about how our social interactions with strangers, meeting people and becoming friends in the real as opposed to virtual world, what was once the core of playing video games, has been changed for the worst. I admire the art and artistry of video games. I am wonderfully pleased that a hobby has grown into a culture. And I do indeed smile when I think about how we are now in a position where we can hear the symphonies of our childhood elevated to the level of high art:
Nevertheless, I do offer a warning, a fear about the rise of glamor and glitz, of the prominence of bells and whistles over substance and form. Sure, we have gorgeous games like Metal Gear, God of War, and the like; and immersive titles like World of Warcraft (and on MMORG's isn't the Star Trek title destined to be horrible?) and the Grand Theft Auto series; and great fighting games such as Soul Caliber, Virtua Fighter and the new Street Fighter--which by the way I am holding my breath for in anticipation of its release:
But, will they stand the test of time? Will they be downloaded and played twenty or thirty years from now? Will they be the objects of fond reminiscing of battles both epic, bloody, and personal? I suspect they likely will, but will the memory be the same? Will it have the same texture as a kid recalling the first time he played Ghosts and Goblins, Elevator Action, Double Dragon, Street Fighter 2, Tron, Karate Champ, Ikari Warriors, Cruis'n USA, Star Wars, Donkey Kong, Ms. Pacman, or Killer Instinct in a dingy arcade or bowling alley and where he or she defeated the local arcade king, if even for a day? And then had to hustle home before dark to ensure that the local tough wouldn't get some revenge? This ghetto nerd doesn't know, and in truth probably wouldn't like the answer.
Random thoughts and confessions:
1. I was never so happy as when I found my Christmas gift, an NES hidden in my parent's bedroom. I was never so exhilarated as when I would take it out and play it when they were at work and I was home "sick."
2. I never beat Super Mario Brothers--I still to this day cannot beat the last level.
3. I never beat Zelda--I couldn't find the silver arrows.
4. I loved M. Bison. No, I owned with M. Bison. I owned even more with Guile...but then again, who didn't?
5. Anyone else remember The Adams Family pinball game? or Fun House? Were they not perfect?
7. Didn't Chuck E. Cheese have horrible pizza and even worse video games? I take that back, the one on the Post Road in Milford did have the Star Trek video game. It was unplayable, but the vector graphics were really futuristic and cool.
8. Spy Hunter! Galaga! and 50 cent slices of pizza in the Acme Mall on Dixwell Avenue were my heaven. Where was your favorite video game spot, one with not too much competition, where you could play for hours on a quarter or two, and get a snack?
9. Am I the only one who charmed a pretty would-be girlfriend at the local arcade with my video game playing prowess?
10. The General Custard video game. The holy grail of Atari games, need I say more? A naked man with an erect penis raping a tied up Native American "squaw"--yes I know what the word really means--really needs no embellishment.
11. How many of you went on quests in New York or Los Angeles to find games you couldn't find at home? This is something I really miss, in hip hop and dj culture we used to have to "dig" to find the obscure, the exciting record, a new white label, which rewarded our efforts at the next party. Now, folks just buy music online or download it to a laptop pc-dj-turntable interface. Yes, lighter on the back. No, in my opinion too far apart from what the culture should be. And sad when folks don't graduate to this technology from analog, but begin there: you do need to learn how to use a knife before graduating to a food processor if you want to be a real master chef. Likewise, in the past one would have to "dig" to find certain video games. They were usually overpriced and a letdown, but often they were real gems. Do you have any war stories, great games found following an epic search?
11. Colecovision, Intellivision, Turbo Graphix, the Amiga, or Neo-Geo? Which is the greatest missed opportunity?