Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Popular Culture Pre-Inaugural Oasis Day 2: Of the Good Ol' Days and Mad Men



Day two of Popular Culture Week is upon us. We respectable negroes are a generous lot and love to include our friends. Accordingly, we are giving Werner Herzog's Bear of the great blog I Used to be Amused and Now I Just Try to Be Disgusted some shine. Be careful though, Werner is a very angry, embittered, Leinenkugel Red drinking history professor, scholar, gentlemen, and rogue. Plus, he can swear in German...in total, useful traits for a left-leaning pundit to have. In this guest post, Werner reflects on history, memory, and nostalgia in AMC's great (and still much under-appreciated) series Mad Men:

The Straw Men on Mad Men


As my friends and family know, I generally don’t watch dramatic shows on television because most of them are driven by plot twists rather than character, and missing one means that nothing makes sense anymore. However, my fiance’s sister gave her the first season of Mad Men on DVD, and Lori and I have slowly been making our way through it. Despite its charms, Mad Men’s main themes are undergirded by a smug sense of self-satisfaction about the past it depicts, an attitude that contributes to our blindness towards the world surrounding us in the present.

Before getting into my critique, I should at least give Mad Men some of the praise that it deserves. The acting is great, the cinematography superb, and the set design is delectable porn for lovers of mid-century décor like me. Sex permeates the show, but in ways more frank and realistic than just about any other series I’ve ever seen on television. Also, let’s not forget that the sexpot secretary Joan, played wonderfully by Christina Hendricks, shows off actual curves and a thick, fleshy body type that has practically been banned from television and film in recent years (despite the fact that it is more healthy and attractive than the reigning skeletal ideal for women.) And, unlike just about every other show on the vast wasteland that is American television in the 21st Century, Mad Men has me hooked.

That being said, the show’s central conceit wears thin, especially for a historian like yours truly. Right from the beginning of the first episode the main message is this: “Look how much healthier, more open, less racist, sexist, and homophobic and just plain better we are today compared to those horribly ignorant troglodytes in 1960.” Has there ever been a more didactic show on the boob tube outside of Davy and Goliath? In each episode whole scenes exist which practically scream this conceit out with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. For example, every time Gentile characters mention Jews on the show, they spew anti-Semitism in ways that don’t move the plot. (Interestingly, it deals with racism much less directly, at least in the episodes I’ve seen so far.) While sexual harassment directed towards women used to go completely unpunished, every male denizen of Sterling-Cooper comes off as a misogynistic sexual predator. The ubiquitous lit cigs in ever scene constantly testify to just how far we’ve come, baby.

In the show’s defense, Mad Men’s message stands as a needed corrective to the ways television and film have often handled the 1950s. Shows like Happy Days and films such as American Graffiti propagated the even more simplistic narrative that “the 1950s were a joyous time of carefree living before America lost its innocence in the bacchanalia of the 1960s.” This interpretation has remained quite durable; when my father grew up in the fifties he lived in a house without running water, yet he will swear up and down that everything was better back then. The durability of the “lost innocence” canard can be explained by its appeal to the large number of reactionaries in this country who are not pleased with the consequences of the sixties, particularly in regards to racial equality, expanded opportunities for women, and gay rights.

Unlike most great science fiction, Mad Men does not use its setting in another reality to hold a mirror up to our society so that we may see its faults in high relief (this is something that Star Trek did time and time again.) Rather, it reassures viewers that “we” are better than all that. (The “we” addressed on the series seems to be “liberal-minded bourgeois types,” but that’s a different story.) Of course, we aren’t. In our contemporary society police still murder people, and guess what, they still tend to be overwhelmingly black (as the case of Oscar Grant reminds us yet again.) Women now hold some of the most important positions in our government, but we still inhabit a pervasively misogynistic culture. In fact, more and more women –especially those wealthy enough to afford it- are giving in to the feminine mystique and choosing to stay at home. Mad Men implies that closeted, self-hating gay men are a relic of the past, but the recent Larry Craig case ought to dispel that notion. If Mad Men slightly changed its tone, perhaps it could turn its criticisms of the past onto the present. We then might see Don Draper representing our modern day soulless materialism, Betty Draper the perils of feminized domesticity, and Salvatore Romano the victim of continuing homophobia rather than dysfunctional members of an oppressive society that has been consigned to the dustbin of history. Can we honestly say that it really has?

Mickey Rourke, the Wrestler, is Now an Honorary Respectable Negro for His Love of His Most Loyal Dog Companions



Sometimes when a man's alone, all you got are your dogs and they meant the world to me.
--Mickey Rourke, during his acceptance speech for Best Actor at the Golden Globes.

Damn Mickey, I loved the Wrestler and will share my thoughts on it this week, but you have impressed me again.

Twice in one week--and Popular Culture Week at that--we have another White brother who is by my decree an Honorary Respectable Negro.

God equals dog spelled backwards. Never forget it. My animal family members please be strong, and I will see you soon. And yes, you will get some Chinese food from the restaurant on Chapel Street.

From the Detroit Examiner:


Mickey Rourke wins Best Actor at Golden Globes and thanks his dogs in acceptance speech

by Helena Sung, Pet News Examiner

Mickey Rourke won the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama at the Golden Globes this evening for his lead role in The Wrestler.

He gave a surprisingly eloquent and heartfelt speech, noting that he is not used to speaking in public and that he was almost "out of the business" (Hollywood) a few years ago. (The critics are calling his speech "interesting.")

Rourke thanked his agent, producers, co-stars, etc. and then he asked the audience if he could thank his dogs--both the ones that are still with him now, and those that had passed on.

I bet nobody's ever thanked their dog before at the Golden Globes, and I admire that Mickey Rourke did. He expressed the immense love and gratitude we feel towards our dogs who give us unconditional love, companionship and loyalty. (Not to mention regular laughs.)

Honestly, I hadn't planned on seeing The Wrestler, but since Rourke just won for Best Actor and Bruce Springsteen (who wrote the theme song for the movie) won for Best Song, I am definitely going to see it.

Below, watch video of Mickey Rourke at the Venice Film Festival last year. He brought his 16 year-old Chihuahua terrier mix, Loki with him onto the red carpet.

"My dog is very old, she is 16 and she is not going to be around for long so I want to spend every moment with her," he told Reuters.

One reporter wrote that Rourke brought Loki with him to a press interview at the Chateau Marmont and asked the waitress (nicely) for a little bowl of water for his dog. According to another report by contactmusic.com, Rourke's pet Chihuahua, Beau Jack, passed away in 2002. Rourke is quoted as saying, "I gave him mouth-to-mouth for 45 minutes before they peeled me off. Depressed? He died at my home, and I didn't go back for two weeks."

Loki is the daughter of Beau Jack. Rourke now owns seven chihuahuas.

Rourke has been quoted as saying about Loki:

She’s like a giant Xanax, you know? I’m not going to get religious on your ass, but I truly believe God created dogs for a cause. They are the greatest companions a man could ever have.

Yes, we do know, Mickey. Congratulations on your win.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Pre-Inaugural Popular Culture Oasis Day 1: So Yahoo Has a Best War Films List? We Bring You Our (Much Better) Alternatives



Prior to the inauguration next week, we respectable negroes are going to chill in the shade so to speak by featuring a week long series of posts on popular films, television, coming books, and the like. As we keep teasing, yes in fact and we will deliver, we have something jumping off for inauguration--funny, that it is the day after Dr. King's holiday (members of the tribe on the right sidebar, we do hope you will participate in our festive plans). We didn't forget that fact and you best not either. Today, we bring you a guest post from one of my best people, soul brother number one, the great White hunter, and expert in flying planes virtual rather than real, Bill the Lizard. Two points towards a We Are Respectable Negro no prize for those of you who get the joke. Courtesy of guest blogger, Bill the Lizard, we bring you Popular Culture Week's first post:

The Realest War Movies of All Time

The truly classic war films speak to the human condition, highlighting the ugliness of conflict while at the same time giving audiences the chance to take momentary glimpses into the lives of those who, be they civilian or soldier, have been touched by warfare. Over the last hundred years of film, there are certain movies that are generally accepted to be the best examples of the genre. A short list of notables includes: Patton (1970), Apocalypse Now (1979), Das Boot (1981), Paths of Glory (1958), Full Metal Jacket (1987), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) and The Deer Hunter (1978).

However, this very small sampling of great war movies is far from complete; all potential “best of list” always fall short of being authoritative. So when Yahoo posted their recent Top Rated War Films on December 23, 2008, I glanced through their photographic countdown with great interest. Compiled through “the average grade and the number of ratings” of each film, Yahoo ranked the thirty user favorites in a descending order, starting with Three Kings (1999) at number 30 and ending with Saving Private Ryan (1998) as number 1.

Being a self-proclaimed film buff, I found Yahoo’s list to be predictable, surprising and disappointing all at the same time. Saving Private Ryan’s place at the apex of the list was expected, as was Schindler’s List (1993). Both, despite some minor flaws, are true classics of the genre, and the fact that they’re from the same director should show anyone just how gifted a filmmaker Steven Spielberg really is.

However, I was shocked to see Braveheart (1995) as their number 2. Rightly or wrongly, I’ve never considered this film to be a “war movie”. Instead, I’ve viewed it (and continue to view it) as an award winning, non-historical, Hollywood blockbuster that updates the “sword and sandal” genre to medieval Scotland. The Battle of Stirling Bridge in the film, for example, doesn’t actually include Stirling Bridge. And while this is not necessarily a bad thing, as any great film can overcome its lack of history through great drama and plot, more realistic medieval combat and warfare can be found in other movies, such as Kingdom of Heaven (2006).



I was also amazed that Three Kings, previously mentioned as their number 30, was included on the list and that Jarhead (2005) was not. Jarhead, which I personally consider to be the better of the two films, is also the more realistic Gulf War film. It deals directly with the real issues and emotions that US Marines in 1991 felt while on the front line of Iraq. To quote Richard Roeper of The Chicago Sun Times: “I knew guys who fought in this war, both on the ground and in the air, and from what they told me, this film really gets it right.” Maybe Roeper isn’t an expert on the subject, but I can’t help but agree with him.



And finally, while I was thrilled that Gunga Din (1939), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962) each found a place on the Yahoo list, what I found most startling was what they excluded. Where was The Battle of Britain (1969), or Tora Tora Tora (1970), or Midway (1976), or The Longest Day (1962) or Empire of the Sun (1987)? And similarly, where were those lesser-known “essentials” (to borrow a Turner Classic Movie term) that are influential benchmarks within the genre? Clearly, some other type of lists are needed.

What follows, therefore, are three of my favorite war movies which were not on the Yahoo list. They are either lesser-known gems or underappreciated “diamonds in the rough”. Each, in their own way, has significantly influenced moviemaking and the war film genre, and while I know that nothing about my opinions are definitive, just as the Yahoo list was not, I encourage everyone who has not seen these films to make the effort to see them. They are all well worth your while.

Battleground (1949)



Battleground is an oft forgotten classic, notable as one of the first post-World War II movies to attempt to realistically deal with the hopes and fears of the common G.I. It tells the story of a squad of soldiers belonging to the 101st Airborne Division, as they deal with the Siege of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.

The film’s pedigree is impressive. The writer, Robert Pirosh, had actually served at Bastogne as a Master Sergeant with the 35th Infantry Division, and his first-hand experiences are faithfully brought to this film through his skillful use dialogue and plot. Pirosh also co-produced this film.

Further, Battleground was directed by William A. Wellman, a World War I veteran who flew with the Lafayette Flying Corps and directed 1927’s Wings - the first film to win an Oscar for Best Picture. Add to this an excellent performance by James Whitmore as Sgt. Kennie, who seems to channel cartoonist Bill Mauldin's ‘Willie and Joe’ perfectly, and you have a uniquely empathetic movie. It hits it subject matter hard without ever flinching – and this just 4 years after the war ended.

The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)



Based more on Lord Tennyson’s poetic ideal than the real history of the Battle of Balaklava, 1936’s The Charge of the Light Brigade is the reason why laws today are so strict with regards to the treatment of animals within the movie industry.

The epic charge at the end of the film, which visually is absolutely jaw dropping (even seventy-three years later) was one of the most dangerous scenes ever filmed in the history of motion pictures. In order to get the horses and riders to fall realistically, director Michael Curtiz (of Casablanca fame) and Assistant Director B. Reeves Eason (who had worked on the chariot race for 1925’s Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ) had a series of trip wires set up across the field to impede the charging animals and then buried explosives to create realistic cannon fire. The result was the death of one stuntman, who fell on his own sword, and the deaths of supposedly over 200 horses (though I’ve also seen it listed as the maiming of hundreds and the deaths of “dozens”).

Regardless of the exact figures, so outraged was star Errol Flynn that he secretly contacted the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and begged them to come to the location - public protest soon followed and Warner Brothers never re-released the film after its initial run.

It should be noted, however, that Curtiz and Eason did not invent the methods used on this film; they had been staples of the movie industry for years prior. But it was because of this movie and its real death toll that such methods were subsequently banned from all future films.

Hell’s Angels ( 1930)



Hell’s Angels was the dream child of millionaire and director Howard Hughes. Originally conceived of as a silent picture (before Hughes, midway through filming, decided to start over as a “talkie”), the focus was always the aircraft and the dogfights. Hughes was determined to make the air combat within this movie as realistic as possible, even going to the trouble of hiring actual World War I aces to fly the stunt planes. Further, Hughes choreographed many of the aerial stunts himself. And when his pilots refused to fly within one specific scene that they thought too dangerous, Hughes flew the stunt plane himself, getting the shot, but also crashing as a result.

Hell’s Angels is obviously a labor of love just as much as it’s a gripping war movie with incredible action sequences, which for me far outstrip anything seen in Flyboys (2006). There is something about knowing that you’re not looking at CGI effects, but a real plane and a real pilot that makes the action of this movie all the more riveting. And as someone who is fascinated with air combat and its history, it’s amazing to see a film (especially a 79 year old film at that) that depicts realistic World War I flight formations and tactics so well.

Realism came with a heavy price, however. Hughes himself was injured after his previously mentioned crash, and three of his stunt pilots were killed during the production: Al Johnson crashed after hitting wires while landing, C. K. Phillips crashed while delivering an S.E.5 to the shooting location and Phil Jones died while filming the crash of the German Gotha.
So there you go – three films with which you may or may not be familiar. However, each of these films has left their distinctive mark upon the war film genre. Battleground speaks to our humanity, while both The Charge of the Light Brigade and Hell’s Angels are attempts to combine both realism and action, sometimes at the expense of safety.

Do I think that any of these three films should have been included in the Yahoo list? Battleground, definitely; Hell’s Angels, maybe. Regardless, it’s a shame that such remarkable and influential movies should be sidelined by both the passage of time and short memories. All public opinion polls, however, are just popularity contests, where the more easily accessible film will always list higher than the more obscure, regardless of how relevant that forgotten classic is.

Let me know your personal opinions regarding this, and feel free to list your own forgotten favorites.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Another White Teacher Allegedly Having Sex with Her 13 Year Old Student: Time For a We Are Respectable Negroes Flashback!



Sometimes this is all too easy.

Again, it is flashback time. As we profiled in our White in America: The Never to be Made Special, white school teachers need to stop having sex with their students.

Maybe the young boy is an "over-achiever," perhaps he is really good at "advanced placement," or he could be well "endowed." I meant mentally not physically.

Lucky bastard.

The original story follows:

Teacher allegedly seduces boy, 13
Cops: Affair lasted 2 years

By Jessica Fargen | Saturday, January 10, 2009

A married South Shore teacher was living a disturbed double life for nearly two years, police said, allegedly seducing a 13-year-old boy, plying him with booze and having sex with him on kitchen floors and couches, sometimes right under the nose of her husband.

Christine A. McCallum, 29, who is on leave from her job at an Abington elementary school, was charged yesterday with seven counts of statutory rape for the serial liaisons in Rockland and Abington from February 2006, when she allegedly took the boy’s virginity, to November 2007.

McCallum, a waifish bespeckled blonde who tightly clutched her husband’s hand in court yesterday, declined comment.

But her alleged teenage conquest told police they had sex more than 300 times - almost “every other day” while he was 13, 14 and 15 years old. The boy told police they had sex for the first time Feb. 7, 2006, on a couch at McCallum’s Rockland home while her husband slept upstairs, according to a police report.

McCallum and the boy had unprotected sex in the shower, on the kitchen floor and the living room floor on a green shag rug that was seized yesterday as a result of a search warrant, court documents say.

McCallum’s lawyer, Frederick McDermott, said McCallum took in the boy and his younger brother, who were being raised by a single dad. She denies all the allegations.

“She tried to mother the child because she felt sorry for them,” he said.

McCallum weaved her way into the boy’s life in late 2005, prosecutors said, when she became a tutor for his younger brother, let them stay at her house, emptied their backpacks after school, fed them dinner and gave them rides.

But within months, prosecutors said, McCallum was plying the boy with cranberry and vodka drinks, Jell-o shots and rum, and sleeping with him in her house and his house.

McCallum ended the relationship in November 2007 in a fit of jealousy, after she found out he was using the cell phone she bought him to text other girls, police said. They had sex that night for the last time, police said.

“She was crying. She kissed him and told him she loved him. He told her he loved her,” according to a police report.

Plymouth prosecutor Michael Scott said McCallum was “obsessed” with the boy, writing the boy 10 love letters. “I would choose you over this job,” she wrote, Scott said. “I trust you that ‘this’ can work.”

In a MySpace [website] message, McCallum wrote that she struggled with her desires, Scott said. “It’s hard to be with you and set boundaries,” she allegedly wrote. “It’s hard to kiss you and tell you no.”

Police said the boy’s father contacted police Tuesday after a friend of the boy told his mother about the affair. The mother told the boy’s father.

@@@@
Our original story:


The fallout continues from CNN's Black in America news special. In my conversations with friends and colleagues, there is a recurring question: What would a White version of Black in America look like? A hypothetical question, yes, but one that is still interesting and useful to work through. In the spirit of Black in America, we present to you our pitch for the never to be produced, television news special, White in America.

Segment 1
White Teenagers: Out of Control and at Risk

At a time when young people should be comfortably protected by their parents while also moving forward with their lives into adulthood, white teenagers are exhibiting self-destructive behaviors which threaten to undermine the fabric of white communities. White teens and young adults are most likely to binge drink, smoke, and at the college age, to have multiple sexual partners. STI's such as chlamydia, syphilis, genital herpes, and HPV are increasingly common among college age white women. As seen in the recent pregnancy cult in Gloucester, Massachusetts where at least 17 white teenage girls endeavored to become pregnant at one time, white teenagers are exhibiting sexual behaviors that border on the pathological--in the above case having unprotected sex with strangers, including random homeless men, in order to become pregnant. The casual nature with which white teens approach sex and sexuality is mirrored through the "new" dating conventions of "hooking up" where normal, suburban, white teens--young people from healthy homes--have multiple casual and short-term sexual relationships. Contributing to this crisis, is how the sexualization of young white women through beauty pageants, popular music and film, and the beauty industry, an early sexualization which is reinforced through peer pressure, has created a minefield for young white women where many ultimately have to struggle with mental health issues such as anorexia, bulimia and body dysmorphic condition.

How can we help young white people? How have white parents let things get so bad? Where are white young people learning these lessons? What can responsible, white parents do?

Segment 2
A Plague Upon the Land: White Men, Workplace Violence, School Shootings, Hate Crimes, and Dead Wives

White men have long struggled with a culture of violence. While the culture of violence which afflicts white men has been moderated over time, American society is still struggling with this pathological behavior. White men have long held a near monopoly on being serial killers (the BTK killer, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and domestic terrorists (e.g. the KKK, Timothy McVeigh, and the UnaBomber) but the violence seems to be shifting its focus to schools and the workplace.

During the last decade or so, from Columbine, to Northern Illinois University, to Springfield, Oregon, to a high school in Minnesota, young white men have killed dozens of people, and wounded many more in murderous rampages. Workplace violence has also seen a marked increase where it has risen several orders of magnitude during the past few decades. This has been attributed by some critics to a tumultuous economy and the pressures felt by white workers:



Other critics would point to a dangerous populism brought about by the vitriol laced, "angry white male" narratives which underlie right-wing talk radio and television. Most recently, the shotgun wielding attack on a Unitarian church by Jim David Adkisson--the assailant blamed "liberals" for all of his problems--and his penchant for right wing propaganda, would seem to support this hypothesis.

Family members are often the first victims of violence. White women and children have been imperiled by the violence of white men. Daily, it seems that there are reports of white women and/or children being kidnapped or murdered (we label this the "Peterson" syndrome), often by their spouses.

These cases of white men engaging in murderous behavior are not confined to the United States, because in Finland, a high school age boy went on a murder-shooting spree at his local school. Most notably, in Austria, Josef Fritzl was arrested after imprisoning his children in an underground bunker where he ritually abused them, and in a shocking twist, impregnated his own daughter.

Is white male violence a global crisis? What can be done to stop this open season on white women and white children? What is fueling this culture of violence? Who is to blame?

Segment 3
School is No Longer a Place for Just the ABC's: Female Teachers Are Preying Upon Their Male Students

Teachers have a sacred trust. They prepare the next generation for life and are tasked with broadening their minds and intellect. However, this sacred trust has been betrayed in High Schools and Middle Schools across the United States. In dozens of known cases, the actual count is suspected of being much higher, white female teachers are having sex with their male students. As noted here, out of the dozens and dozens of reported incidents, and with rare exceptions, most of these teacher rapists are white women in their 30s and 40s. Beyond mere experimentation or moments of weakness, these sexually exploitative relationships develop and continue over long periods of time, and subsequently do irreparable psychological harm to the young male victims they involve. In some cases, the relationships involve group sex with multiple boys, or develop into "love relationships" where the teacher steals away to a foreign country in order to continue the illicit and illegal relationship.

Why are white women pursuing teenage boys? Is this criminal behavior a result of a culture which focuses too much on the sexual desirability of young women? Are older white women feeling neglected and left out? Is this recent fetishizing of white women in their 30s, 40s, and 50s--the Sex and the City phenomenon--to blame? Are white women feeling an unhealthy pressure to become either a MILF or a Cougar?



What can schools do to protect young boys from these predators? What are the warning signs that your son is being abused by a female teacher?

Segment 4
What are White Women to do? White Men, Down-low Culture, Cruising, Sex Cults, and to Catch a Predator

White men are indulging in sexually high risk and deviant behavior. While a cottage industry has been generated by the hysteria surrounding black men on "the down low," white men and white women have also been struggling with issues of sex, intimacy, and trust. In such high profile cases as the polygamist cult raid in El Dorado, Texas where 534 children were removed because their safety was at risk, to the lesser known bestiality and zoophilia cases in Oregon (where a man died from having sex with a horse), many white males have been exhibiting pathological sexual behavior.

Not confined to the masses, white male sexual deviancy is particularly jarring and disconcerting when one examines the behavior of white male elites. In a litany of high profile cases, white politicians (Larry Craig and many others), religious figures, and businessmen have confessed to living double-lives where they maintain relationships with men and women, and often involve prostitutes. Most troubling, many of these men, such as Ted Haggard are extremely homophobic and have made careers and fortunes based upon their outspoken crusades against gay people. These white men on the DL have committed a double breach of trust with their hypocrisy: they have betrayed the public as well as their families. White men on the DL are also pursuing high-risk sex in locations such as public rest rooms and internet chat rooms. As the television show, To Catch a Predator has repeatedly revealed, white men on the DL, a definition which we expand to include those men who seek out under-age boys and girls, are willing to risk their health and livelihood, and that of their partners:



What can white women do? How can they know if their partner is on the down low? What are the health risks? If you find out your husband is cruising for sex in public bathrooms or on the internet how should you intervene? Should you stay in the relationship or should you go?

Segment 5
No End in Sight: The Methamphetamine Plague that is Destroying White Communities

Methamphetamine is destroying the fabric of Red State America. This easy to obtain, highly addictive drug is tearing apart families and communities. An estimated 1.4 million people suffer from this addiction, almost all of them white, suburban and/or rural. In fact, meth is no longer confined to rural America, its reach is expanding to include every part of the United States. The rural culture of drugs is so pervasive that not even Amish communities are immune from its grasp. No longer will the suburbs offer protection from the perils of this dangerous drug, as it has already has, or will shortly be, making inroads into what were once safe, white, suburban communities. Just as some parts of the United States were almost destroyed by the crack epidemic of the 1980s, entire communities in the South and Midwest are been torn asunder by this cheap and easily obtained drug.

How should you protect your family? What are the signs your child is on meth? What should the government do? Should drugs be legalized and regulated? If you live in a meth infested area what are you doing to protect your children and family? What is your day to day life like? How do you struggle through it?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday Night Snow Bound Fun: Popular Culture Week and Confessions of a Superhero



Next week we are featuring a series of posts on popular culture (some reviews for the movie the Wrestler, and Grand Torino, as well as the comic book series the Walking Dead; a guest post on the 10 best war films ever made; and Gordon Gartrelle's list of the worst black sitcoms) as a way of de-stressing prior to the election.

To start off pop culture week, we bring you the film Confessions of a Superhero. This work is a wonderful and fun documentary on 4 mere mortals who make their livings impersonating characters such as Superman, the Hulk, Batman, and Wonder Woman. And you get it in its entirety... something to pass the time on this snow filled weekend.

You can't say we never give you anything for free!

Chauncey Devega's World of Ghetto Nerds: Patrick Swayze You are Hereby Inducted as an Honorary Respectable Negro



Bless you, Patrick. We Respectable Negroes and ghetto nerds salute you, your courage, and your honor. You are one badass White man and we are fortunate to have known you through your movies and interviews. May you be victorious in battle:



Kaplah!!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

For the first time in 40 years, Kryptonians of color



Respectable Negroes can thank either Will Smith or Barack Obama for this ...

For those keeping their eyes open, there was a welcome return in last week’s Superman #683 comic book (featuring 100,000 Kryptonians like Superman coming to earth) — non-white Kryptonians were clearly shown.

There had been some “squint and you can see them” individuals in group shots earlier in the storyline, but the Sergio Leone-style “showdown” page showed the Kryptonian-equivalent of Africans and Asians. (Preview of Superman #683 here.)
Big deal? Well, kind of. By and large, superheroes are still the domain of the idealized white man (and woman). For the character's first 30 years, Superman’s homeworld of Krypton was all-white. It was only in 1971 —33 years after Superman's debut in 1938 — that the first non-white Kryptonian was seen. A few months later, the idea of non-white Kryptonians was expanded upon.

“In issue #239, a two-page map showed that Kryptonians of color had an island all to themselves, which is pretty embarrassing,” says Mark Waid, Boom! Studios Editor-in-Chief, occasional DC Comics writer, and pretty much expert in all things Superman. “I cringe to tell you this, but the Kryptonians of Color were all on ‘Vathlo Island, Home of a Highly Advanced Black Race.’ It wasn't until the mid-70s, when more ‘World of Krypton’ back-up stories ran more regularly, that we really saw any ethnicity whatsoever on the planet.”

While he’s not sure of how exactly Krypton's population diversified, Waid figures that it had to do with E. Nelson Bridwell, the assistant on the Superman books at the time. “He took a special interest in ‘caretaking’ the history and fictional culture of Krypton,” Waid says. “More than anyone else who ever lived, Nelson knew that world.”

Much like other mono-cultural planets of the Golden Age of science fiction, Krypton was a product of its time. “A lack of ethnicity was an eror of omission, and I'm not sure given the time that it's fair to call that ‘racist,’” Waid says. Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and all those who followed in crafting the Superman legend were, indeed, simply following the traditions of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, when one world always equaled one culture, maybe two if they were at war because the plot demanded it.

Remember, as absurd as this sounds in an America finally enlightened enough to elect a black man as President, the Civil Rights Act wasn't passed until 1964. The gradual recognition of all races and ethnicities across all of pop culture, comics included, really didn't start to blossom until the late 1960s.

Yes, Superman was weirdly late to that party — the first African-American even in a Superman story, and it's from the summer of 1970. But again, and not to make excuses, that delay was just creative inertia in action. After the start of a diverse Krypton in the early ‘70s, it was left up to creators and editors to make sure that Krypton was racially diverse, and it was occasionally shown to be — if the story allowed. Throughout its rather ignoble history, Vathlo Island remained undeveloped and unexplored by writers, which is both good and bad, probably. One interesting idea that was floated in the very brief mention of Vathlo in Krypton's history was that there was no slave trade on Krypton, which is why races didn't really mix — or at least why some of Jor-El's best friends weren't black.
More often than not though, the planet of Superman’s birth has been shown to be made up of just one race, even in crowd scenes. As a quick aside, "Smallville," an alternate retelling of Clark Kent's younger years on The WB/CW has shown Nam-Ek, a Kryptonian equivalent of African-American.

But with “New Krypton,” story architects Geoff Johns, James Robinson and Sterling Gates have been working to merge all aspects of Krypton that have been shown over the years, making all the visions and versions into a workable whole — including the fact that the planet was racially diverse — and hopefully without the segregation of Vathlo Island. Here's hoping for a more colorful Krypton.

Sarah Palin: A Wonderful Accident of History and a Gift to the American People



Sarah Palin, I would like to thank THE Lord (as well as the Lords of Kobol above) that your parents in a night of drunken Pabst Blue Ribbon, MGD, or Schlitz Malt Liquor induced love making conceived you on their shag carpet. The United States of America is blessed that you didn't leak down the side of your mother's leg after that night of coital bliss. Simply put: Sarah, you have done more for the people of America--by helping Barack Obama get elected--than almost any person in Obama's inner circle. Thank you.

My dear, you are an accident of history and we are blessed by this fact. You are political serendipity. You are a million dollars in the hand of a sleepy baby whose parents are drunk and unconscious in the corner of a casino.

Apparently, Sarah Palin explains in the new documentary How Obama Got Elected that the mainstream media was "biased" against her because she is of a "lower class." Also, Sarah believes that if she were a Democrat, that the mainstream media would have heaped praise upon her. Funny, as we posited in our alternative universe series of posts (what we playfully labeled "the Niggaro Universe") made during the summer, if Sarah were a Democrat, and God forbid, a Black woman (or either a Latina or Native American) the media's narrative would have been quite different.

Sarah, the reality which you misunderstand, is that you did get a pass from the mainstream press. Let's be clear, if you were Michelle Obama, given your life choices, the company you keep, and your grandmother status as a fortyish MILF, i.e. your grandmomma-baby mama-baby daddy drama, Alaskan secessionist husband and other assorted PWT attributes, you would have been skewered thrice over. Sarah, if you were a woman of color you would have been cast as Ronald Reagan's welfare queen version 2.0. You dodged a bullet. Revel in this truth.

Accordingly, I bring to you a well-timed We Are Respectable Negroes flashback:

The Niggaro Universe Proclaims: Sarah Palin--A Radical, Welfare Queen Who is Out-of-Touch with Mainstream America

****Because of the hole in the space time continuum created by the Large Hadron Collider, the Niggaro Universe has overwritten the universe of We Are Respectable Negroes. Scientists are diligently working to correct this problem, and it should be rectified in the next few days. For now, because of the influence of this alternate reality things are changed. Our Barack Obama is now "Barack O'Bama," a white Republican, Sarah Palin is a black Democrat, Joe Biden is Joe Biden but just a Republican, and John McCain is a maverick, Democratic populist. Zora, Gordon, and Chauncey have been replaced by their doppelgangers from the Niggaro Universe. They are the same, yet different. If you too have been changed by the disruption of the space time continuum do not feel obligated to resist. Instead, indulge your new self until this Crisis on Negro Earths is remedied****

The face of Sarah Palin has grinned from the cover of every major news publication since she was announced as the Democratic, vice-presidential nominee. That she is clearly supported by the liberal media shows once again how out of touch they are with mainstream American values. What is the basis of their support? Palin’s speech at the Democratic convention showed little more than that she is photogenic and adept with words. What do we really know about Sarah Palin?

While there is little known about Sarah Palin’s career before she formally entered politics, we do know that she spent significant time as a “community organizer” for an extremist, Christian fundamentalist sect. A former Catholic with a history of marijuana use and a record of dating strippers, Palin was converted to the evangelical perspective by a boyfriend when she was a teenager. Her academic records indicate that she was kicked out of four community colleges across several states for poor academic performance and for behavioral issues related to religious intolerance. She finally managed to get a degree in Communications from the University of Idaho through their fast-track, affirmative action program.

Those who are close to Palin share that she married her husband, Todd Palin, when she found herself pregnant with their first child. While Palin has consistently described herself as “a strong, black woman,” it seems that she had no problem turning to the state for welfare handouts while her husband demonstrated his own lack of ambition by spending his days fishing and playing basketball. Palin’s affirmative action education proved useless in helping her find meaningful employment.

Sarah Palin came to the attention of Democratic operatives in her home state of Alaska when her welfare benefits were eventually cut off. Outraged, she demanded that the state support her pro-choice perspective to have more babies than she and her husband were able to support. In asserting her sense of entitlement, she proved herself able to rally the support of others who shared her radical views. Democrats saw an opportunity in Wasilla’s growing evangelical community and tapped Palin to run in the town’s mayoral election. Even Democrats, however, were surprised when she won.

As mayor, Palin quickly found that the most lucrative welfare benefits to be had were in the form of government earmarks designed to circumvent the merit-based allocation process and curtail the ability of the Executive Branch to properly manage funds. Palin took the title of “Welfare Queen” to an all new level when she secured record level earmarks for her cronies. The Democratic leadership found her to be more useful than they had ever imagined and began making long-term plans for her. Leaders within her extremist, Christian sect also found Palin to be useful. Believing that he had a direct line of communication to God, Palin adopted Pastor Kalnins as both her religious counselor and her political adviser. Pastor Kalnins and other sect leaders were able to mobilize a voting block for Palin by preaching that their members would be condemned to” a lake of burning fire” if they did not cast their vote for her. (It is reported that one of Palin’s early election slogans was Cast Your Vote for Palin or Be Cast Into Hell!)

Sarah Palin made history on Dec. 4, 2006, when she took office as the first African-American woman to hold the position of state governor. Since taking office, her top priorities have been what she has termed “resource development.” It turns out that this is just a fancy phrase for milking the federal government and directing resources to her pet projects. Others like her include Marion Berry and Kwame Kilpatrick. While Berry and Kilpatrick were eventually exposed for the ghetto figure-heads that they were, Palin has been able to effectively fuse her minority status together with her gender to create a protective shroud against criticism. Comments pointing out the truth are rallied back as sexist and racist. This tactic is so successful that the Democratic presidential nominee is now using her as his personal mouth piece. In spite of her new status as a media darling, Sarah Palin is simply a fast talker who can’t be trusted.

Sarah Palin touts herself as a leader with “executive” experience. Even if we set aside the fact that she defers to a store-front preacher with no political background and that her rise in politics was the result of an affirmative action fast track, there is still the matter of her family. Throughout her personal pursuit of political gain, she has given birth to no less than five children. It seems that family planning and personal responsibility are basics that Palin has chosen to ignore.

Palin’s oldest son and daughter carry the sins of their mother – Hezekiah is addicted to crack and La’Shawnda is unmarried and pregnant. Not surprisingly, Palin has expressed not an ounce of shame about her children’s difficulties. Instead, she is parading her daughter’s “baby daddy” on the national stage with claims that marriage is imminent. (Insiders report that the “baby daddy” was actually threatened with physical violence by elders within Palin’s religious sect if he refused to participate in the current sham.) Unwilling to help her son through his addiction, Palin has made Hezekiah the government’s problem by forcing him to join the military.

The saddest and most shameful of all is Palin’s neglect of her youngest child, Pooty. Born with developmental disorders, Pooty Palin has been left to the care of his oldest sister while Palin selfishly pursues political power and her husband hangs out on the corner with his basketball “homeboys.” Palin’s short comings as a mother clearly reflect what we can expect from her as one of our nation’s top leaders.

Although we know painfully little about the real Sarah Palin, what we do know is enough to make us all tremble at the thought of her representing the American people. Sarah Palin is an extremist figure who does not reflect our values as a nation.

Sarah Palin? Welfare Queen, yes. American Vice-President, absolutely not!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oscar Grant was Murdered by a BART Police Officer



Oscar Grant was murdered by a police officer on New Year's Day. Read it aloud, and do not use a "euphemism" such as: killed, shot, or an accidental victim of gun discharge. Say it with emphasis one more time, "Oscar Grant was murdered by a police officer on New Year's Day."

In the age of Obama, the more things change, more they stay the same.

I wonder how many excuses the Right Wing police fanboys and knee jerk reactionaries will make to explain the logic behind shooting a person who has surrendered and is already subdued.

Maybe it was magic? Perhaps, young black men have a special gene or mutant power that makes guns spontaneously activate and shoot them...some sort of suicide by cop evolutionary adaptation.

Sad, very sad.

Let's see how Fox News and the others spin this one. And let's see how fast this murderous cop, who has already resigned, has his trial moved to the suburbs, and a narrative is inevitably generated where the BART killer is valorized as some type of "victim."

Again, sad, so very very sad.

Random and final thought: I do hope the Grant family gets a better attorney--one who understands that it is not proper form to appear on television while wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Moreover, and that it is doubly inappropriate while wearing said attire to discuss the murder of a client.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

6 Year Old Boy Misses Bus Drives Mom's Car to School: I Must Ask, Is He a Black Ign't or Poor White Trash?



Yes, I said poor white trash. Laugh, don't be upset. I know what you are thinking, for our purposes of nomenclature, ign't is universally reserved for less than respectable negroes, while white ign'ts are referred to as PWT, i.e. poor white trash, or Caucasian sub-human.

Perhaps, this is the Latarian Milton plague run amok. I have two thoughts on the matter. One, it could be that the media is now primed to pay attention to stories about badass kids driving cars now that brother Latarian Milton has become popular. Two, the other possibility is that more children are now stealing cars and driving because of Latarian's example.

I have to ask: is this a white ign't or a black ign't? What do the clues tell us? I vote PWT aka Caucasian sub-human. Why? Let me share my inductive reasoning:

1. There was no interview or picture of the family. White folk tend to hide their shame, while ign'ts revel in it and grant interviews;

2. The child is driving a 2005 Taurus. This is a rather pedestrian vehicle. The fact that the car is only 3 years old implies it was purchased new. Ign'ts lease the most current SUV available and then have it repossessed within a year;

3. The child was desperate to go to school. He didn't drive around the 'hood. He knew that school was a good place because it had phys ed and breakfast. White ign't children know the value of an education;

4. The mother fell asleep and both kids were taken by child protective services. I propose that mom was tweaking on meth, the State found a house in utter disrepair, and it is in rural Virginia. These factors equal meth country. And, mom is white because ign'ts are not doing meth...yet;

5. Mom was named Jacqulyn and this could be a curve ball. Yes, the name is sufficiently ign't and "creative," but to my ear it screams more Caucasian cave dweller/PWT, i.e. sort of like Daisy or Tripp or Bristol, than black ign't. I could be wrong, perhaps this is a black ign't married to a PWT family? My, the progress brought by the age of Obama;

What do you, my respectable negro friends and allies, think? Is this an ign't family, a PWT family, or something all together different?
What is the logic governing your conclusion?

The story follows:

Boy, 6, Misses Bus, Takes Mom's Car Instead

10-Mile Trip to Va. School Ends With Crash but Without Injury

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 7, 2009; A01

The word "miracle" can be overused. But when a 6-year-old boy drives a Ford Taurus for more than 10 miles, weaving in and out of oncoming traffic, slams into a utility pole and no one gets hurt, well, maybe miracle is appropriate.

That's what happened on Virginia's Northern Neck on Monday morning, when the first-grader missed his school bus and decided to drive his mom's car to elementary school so he wouldn't miss breakfast and PE, authorities said yesterday.

"It's a miracle that somebody didn't get killed," said Northumberland County Sheriff Chuck Wilkins, of the boy's drive along Northumberland Highway. "We're a rural area, but if we do have a rush hour, that's it."

The boy's parents were later arrested and charged with felony child endangerment. Wilkins said the father, David E. Dodson, 40, was under court order not to leave the 6-year-old and his 4-year-old brother alone with their mother, Jacqulyn D. Waltman, 26, at their home in the town of Wicomico Church. But Dodson left for work at 6:30 a.m., and Waltman was still asleep when the 6-year-old missed the bus and then drove off at 7:40 a.m. for Northumberland Elementary School, Wilkins said.

Sgt. Thomas A. Cunningham Jr. of the Virginia State Police said the boy is not particularly tall for his age and was "possibly standing" while driving the Taurus. Wilkins said the child had an idea about how to start, propel and steer the car from playing video games.

Once he got going, the boy navigated his way along Route 200 (Dupont Highway), across a bridge spanning the Great Wicomico River, and then turned west on Northumberland Highway, which is about 140 miles from Washington. He made it through two intersections, Wilkins said, and then was "doing a pretty great rate of speed" as he passed cars on the two-lane road while not wearing a seat belt.

Other drivers noticed. Two people called the sheriff's office, one called the state police, and at least one motorist "shouted at him to get off the road when he came to an intersection," Cunningham said.

The boy had gone 10.4 miles, the sheriff said, and was about a mile and a half from his school in Heathsville when he decided to cross the double line and pass again. But this time, he saw a tractor-trailer coming toward him in the other lane.

He quickly whipped the car back into his lane, but, unlike in video games, the car swerved out of control, skidded into an embankment and then struck a utility pole on the rear passenger side. Wilkins said the force of the impact cracked a wooden beam on top of the utility pole. The Taurus was severely damaged, if not totaled, Cunningham said.

Northumberland deputies Jeff VanLandingham and Roger Briney arrived first. "He was crying, hysterical," Briney said, "not from any pain -- he was just adrenalined up on fright." Briney said another motorist said she was driving 60 mph when the boy zoomed past her.

Briney said he unzipped the boy's coat to check for injuries, found none and zipped it back up -- and the boy turned and walked away. "I said, 'Where are you going?' " Briney said. "He said: 'My school's right over there. I'm late.' I said, 'We'll get you to school.' "

"He was just bound and determined," Wilkins said, "he did not want to miss breakfast and PE." The meal "may have been his primary goal," the sheriff said. The sheriff said the boy told him that he had trained on video games such as Grand Theft Auto and Monster Truck Jam.

The boy was taken to Rappahannock General Hospital, was released and was back in school for PE that afternoon. He was not identified because he is, well, 6. The boy and his brother were placed in foster care; his mother was in jail, officials said.

"We were just very blessed that it ended the way it did," said Theresa Larsen, assistant principal at the boy's school. Larsen said the school's principal, Arnette Butler, asked the boy, "What were you thinking?" He looked up and told her, "I just had to get to school."


Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: the World War Z NPR Interview, the Walking Dead, and Zombie Goodness



I have read the zombie opus World War Z several times--in fact I have a copy autographed by the author, Max Brooks--he also signed my first volume of the Walking Dead graphic novel...don't you envy me? I also recommend that anyone who has read the book also buy the audio book. Yes, the audio book is that good as I have listened to it many, many times and never bore of it.

NPR did a great interview with Max Brooks where the zombie war is taken to be a real event. This NPR segment is both frightening and amazingly entertaining as the show is opened up to the audience, callers who should be commended for how seriously and introspectively they formulated and asked their questions. As I posted before, I can't wait to see the World War Z movie which is slated to be released in 2010. Next week, we will have more zombie goodness as I finally get around to reviewing the comic book series the Walking Dead--I have been thinking about this one for a long time, so please chime in as I believe this post will be worth the wait. Who knows? maybe I will in fact start the zombie themed website which, I as a ghetto nerd, have been long pondering. If this find success I will finally write my zombie novel if, fingers crossed, I can get an early committal from a publisher. Send a ghetto nerd some positive energy please cause he needs it!

Until then, enjoy.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Gordon Gartrelle Says: Black NBA Players, Your Charities Are Raggedy.

The Salt Lake Tribune recently featured a disheartening article about the failure of most NBA players’ charities.

I’ve included the most cringe-worthy excerpts below:

Among the findings of The Tribune's analysis of 89 stand-alone NBA player charities: Together, they reported revenue of at least $31 million between 2005 and 2007, but only about 44 cents of every dollar raised -- or $14 million of that $31 million -- actually reached needy causes. The average NBA player foundation put just 51 cents of each dollar it spent toward charitable programs, well below the 65 cents most philanthropic watchdog groups view as acceptable. Tax records show budgets are quickly eaten up by poor planning and administrative costs.
...


The Tribune's analysis also found that players commonly rely on family members instead of independent experts to staff their boards, in many cases, violating IRS rules intended to ensure adequate oversight. More than two-thirds of player-run foundations filing IRS forms between 2005 and 2007 had family members, friends or past sports associates on their boards. In several cases, the boards were made up entirely of family members. ''They are all illegal,'' said Marc Pollick, of the Giving Back Fund. ''The IRS just doesn't have the arms to go after everybody.
...


Player charities often hold annual lavish fundraising events that lose money or barely break even. Pollick at the Giving Back Foundation said these galas can turn into "fun-raisers instead of fundraisers.'' NBA free agent Robert Horry's Big Shot Foundation reported $206,086 in fundraising expenses for 2005, its first year of operation, but, according to tax returns, the efforts raised nothing. The year's tab included $38,000 in artist's fees; a total of $38,120 in building and venue rental; a $27,486 expenditure on an unitemized "commission"; $23,005 in food; $25,000 in golf course fees; $17,368 on hotels; along with other four-figure expenditures on a disc jockey, sound and lighting, trophies, video rental, logo shirts and security.

Retired NBA power forward Chris Webber's Foundation holds an annual star-studded poker and golf extravaganza at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, called C-Webb's Bada Bling. Now in its fourth year, the party is billed as "a celebrity weekend'' with a 56-star guest list including comedian Jamie Foxx and singer Gladys Knight. In 2006, the first year the event was held, party organizers reported spending $243,000 on catering and $327,561 on event production. The foundation also reported losing $530,590 on special events for the same year, tax returns show.
...

Though shining examples of NBA charity work abound --including noteworthy efforts by the five Jazz players, all of whom run effective charities -- player foundations' noble motives often go awry, as even the league acknowledges.


Why do the charities run by the Utah Jazz players have to be the most professionally run ones? (For those who don’t watch basketball, the Jazz has the reputation for being the whitest team in the league).

It’s not even that these players’ charities are failing—that can happen to the noblest, best run charities; it’s that they’re failing in stereotypically ign’ant black folk fashion.

Throwing lavish, flashy celebrity-centered parties that cost more than they make? Hiring unqualified family members to run what could be multi-million dollar organizations?

It’s one thing for degenerate black people to be raggedy, but when those who claim to be uplifting their communities—those aspiring to or living respectable negro lives—are raggedy, it’s just depressing.

Black ballers, tighten the fuck up.

A Younger, Pre-presidential Barack Obama Appears on the TV Show, "Check, Please! "



Bro'bama, of all Hyde Park eateries, why would you give a positive review to Dixie Kitchen? This restaurant's food is neither tasty nor especially well presented. Plus, they water down their drinks--and charge you for a full priced drink if you want them to add more tequila to an already weak margarita.

I hope this isn't the first in a deluge of restaurant reviews in which our new president gives other, even more questionable endorsements...if a video is unearthed with Barack Obama giving a thumbs up to Cedar's of Lebanon, I may have to exit stage left.

Brother, I hope that you exercise better judgment in your policy making than in your taste in restaurants.

But, Barack Obama was right about the power of those Johnny Cakes:

A New Feature for We Are Respectable Negroes: You Too Can Join Our Tribe



We have lots of fun and excitement planned for the upcoming weeks...and something a bit devious in mind to coincide with Barack Obama's inauguration.

As we begin the new year, we have also added a new feature on our sidebar where you can join us as "Members of the Respectable Negro Tribe." So please, one and all, respectable negroes, our friends, and those aspiring to be more respectable, come join our extended virtual family.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Chauncey DeVega says: Some New Year's Predictions for 2009



Another year has come and gone. The truism that time speeds up as we grow older does indeed feel true...at least to this 30 something negro. For many years, one of my favorite New Year's eve activities (in addition to drinking, revelry, and all around debauchery) has been listening to the turn of the year special edition of the radio show, Coast to Coast AM.

This show is notable because 1) Art Bell, the original host of the show, leaves retirement, returns to the mic, and proceeds to share his unique brand of wit, insight, and seemingly infinite patience with the Coast to Coast AM family; and 2) the audience, with Art Bell's gentle encouragement, makes a range of predictions that are frightening because they all too often turn out to be both true and entertaining, while simultaneously being for the most part utterly ridiculous--yet delivered with the weight and sincerity of a religious proclamation.

Taking a cue from Art Bell's Coast to Coast AM, I bring you my mix of predictions--ridiculous, serious, prophetic, and absurd as they may be. In 2009 I predict that:

1. The party ends for Barack Obama, as the Blagojevich scandal lays bare the corrupt core of Chicago politics. Obama is dirtied as being "guilty by association," and the mainstream media--prodded by Right Wing talk radio and Fox News--make this one of their dominant memes for the first part of 2009.
2. The "N-word" was buried in 2008. 2009 will see funerals for racism and Black politics. Funeral plans for poverty, heterosexism, and general stupidity have yet to be announced.
3. Tom Brady will be forced to sit out the 2009 NFL season. Matt Cassel and the New England Patriots, enraged by missing the 2008 playoffs, begin a reign of terror in the NFL that ends with them winning the 2009 Superbowl. Tom Brady is traded to the Detroit Lions the following season.
4. The economic crisis of 2008 could result in two radically different outcomes. In the first scenario, America takes the lead in evolving capitalism forward: the result is a new Pax Americana. In the second scenario, the economic crisis results in a global Depression that lasts for at least 3 years. Tens of millions of Americans are made homeless and tent cities become a common sight across the country.
5. Oprah Winfrey, long dogged by rumors that Gail King, her longtime friend, is actually her lover, finally comes out of the closet when Gail, upset over Oprah's close relationship with Michelle Obama, threatens to release incriminating photos of her and Oprah in a post-coital embrace. Stedman releases a tell all book, "My Life as Oprah's Beard." The book stays atop the New York Time's best seller list for 52 weeks.
6. Al-Qaeda activates its sleeper cells and unleashes a coordinated attack on mass transit systems across the United States. Always evolving, Al-Qaeda uses white European women, many of them Chechens, to carry out the attacks.
7. A South American country, quite likely Brazil, suffers a Mumbai style attack, which leaves hundreds dead, and thousands injured.
8. In its last major policy act, the Bush administration orders a massive air strike on Iran's nuclear program and military infrastructure. Iran retaliates by ordering its Al Quds forces in Iraq to destabilize the nascent civilian government. The United States is forced to halt its withdrawal of forces from Iraq. In a Tet Offensive style assault, the Taliban launch a nationwide offensive against NATO forces in Afghanistan. NATO forces, stung by mounting casualties, begin to plan an imminent withdrawal from the country.
9. In an effort to distract the public from the mounting economic crisis and his plummeting popularity among white, Obama Republicans and "Middle Americans," Barack Obama opens long-classified files which conclusively prove that life exists on other planets, and that UFO's have visited the Earth thousands of times. Riley Martin is appointed director of NASA's Human-Extraterrestrial First Contact Project:



10. China is emboldened by the success of its Navy's mission to counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden. The Chinese leadership, as students of history, decide to take a cue from what was a then rising power, the United States, and its mission to fight the Barbary pirates in North Africa. Accordingly, China leads an expeditionary force to stabilize Somalia and the surrounding region. They succeed fabulously. China begins to increase their power projection throughout Africa in an effort to secure key natural resources.
11. With the declining price of oil, the leadership of Arab petro-states find themselves increasingly unpopular among their citizens. Unable to provide subsidies and services to their people, the regimes of several OPEC countries are overthrown by Islamo-fascist political parties. The United States, China, and the EU convene a conference in response to this crisis but they cannot come to a consensus. The West braces for a series of inevitable terror attacks.
12. Bill Cosby wins a MacArthur genius grant for his work to improve the life chances of young people in underclass communities.
13. The movie Black Dynamite wins the Oscar for best picture:



14. The "healthy" eating zoning initiatives gain traction across the United States. Predictably, over the course of several months inner city communities see the mass closure of fast food restaurants. Unable to find food in their neighborhoods, these denizens begin traveling to the suburbs to shop for food and other necessities. In a domino effect, niche supermarkets such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are forced to accept Link cards and food stamps. They are also forced to carry sugar water and other ghetto sundries. The customer base of these stores demand immediate action to stop the intrusion of "ghetto interlopers." Obama, in one of the most controversial acts of his presidency, issues an executive order mandating equal access to fast food for all Americans as guaranteed by the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
15. With consumer confidence at all time low, and the retail sector in crisis, Obama, with the full support of Congress, signs a economic stimulus package that erases credit card debt, as well as all other types of unsecured debt held by the American public. This bill resuscitates the economy as Americans begin shopping and spending money at rates never before seen. Consequently, the economy grows at an unprecedented rate of 10 percent. Economists begin hand wringing over looming hyper-inflation.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Chauncey DeVega says: A Gift Giving Guide for Less than Respectable Children Everywhere



Christmas may have passed, but our love of gift giving continues. Last week, I highlighted gifts that should not be given to respectable young negro boys and girls this holiday season. Never wanting to be accused of favoritism, I also care deeply about our young ign't boys and girls and would never want those less than respectable negro boys and girls to be left out the holiday season. These young people have special needs. Their lifestyle and culture should be respected. Our children, all of them, be they 'hood, ign't, or "ghetto underclass" should have their unique values nourished and encouraged. In the spirit of the holidays, We are Respectable Negroes brings you the following guide:

Holiday Gifts for Less than Respectable Boys and Girls

1. Sitting on 22's or The Ghetto Dreidle

Hip hop has had a profound influence on American (black) popular culture. Wealth, women, violence, luxury goods, and consumerism are the core values on display in commercial hip hop. Because hip hop is a fantastical canvas for ghetto wish fulfillment, the absurd is the norm in a type of carnivalesque performance of black masculinity. Big things, be they big cars, big money, big houses, or big diamonds are signifiers of success in this imaginary. Because young ign'ts take commercial hip hop as THE barometer of life success, they should be socialized into this lifestyle as early in life as possible. Our solution: the ghetto dreidle. This toy will entertain young ign't children for hours on end. For preteens, spinning the ghetto dreidle implants a subliminal message of economic and social uplift at an early age. For older children, the ghetto dreidle is a literal symbol of, and encouragement towards, the good life. While they may have started out life with only one 22 inch ghetto dreidle, it will impress upon young ign't children an irrepressible drive to "earn" 3 more rims...and the luxury car to put them on.

2. Scarface

Many ign't communities are struggling because of an absence of morally responsible and economically productive men. Because of the prison industrial complex, poor life choices that see many young men of color murdered or otherwise removed from the labor market (and the domestic sphere), single parent, female headed homes are increasingly the norm. These strong women need help. It is a profound injustice that young ign't women, women who have already been victimized by the young ign't men of their communities, should have to raise children alone. Adding an additional layer of complexity to this problem is that a lack of male role models in these communities is synergistic: single parent, female headed households are more likely to be under the poverty line, and this lack of resources may lead young ign't men to join gangs or to otherwise participate in the "underground" economy. These young men are also significantly more likely to be incarcerated and to father children out of wedlock, thus perpetuating the baby mama drama to prison pipeline.

To interrupt this cruel cycle, I suggest that a DVD of the movie Scarface be placed in every young ign't boy's stocking this year because Tony Montana, the movie's lead character, is a perfect role model for the hyper competitive and often violent world that many young ign't boys will eventually find themselves in as adults. The movie's motto, "the world is yours" will encourage young people to be successful. If baby daddy isn't in your ign't child's life, simply place Scarface on perpetual repeat in the background of his room while he sleeps to ensure that your young ign't internalizes the sum total of wisdom offered by this classic film:



When used with older children, Scarface can function as a surrogate father where during difficult parenting moments ign't mothers can simply skip to the appropriate section of the movie for some of Tony Montana's wisdom--if mom is especially ambitious she can use the life size cardboard standup that can be purchased with the special edition of the DVD. In short, Tony Montana as Scarface is the perfect surrogate father for the holiday season--and for every day thereafter.

3. A Cell Phone with Unlimited Texting and 500 Ringtones

Young ign't boys and girls, as well as their suburban counterparts, love cell phones. This generation texts when it drives, they text when they are sad, they text when they are happy, they text in the toilet, they text helicopter parents after exams...you get the point. Ironically, young ign't boys and girls are amazingly proficient at text messaging yet continue to score poorly on standardized tests of writing and reading. Quite an irony me thinks. Random thought: apparently, this generation is confusing the abbreviated grammar of texting with the wording and explication required for proper essay and research paper writing. And yes, language does in fact evolve, but it would be really funny to see a sentence diagram that included text-speak. Would the grammar be the same? How would it change?

In addition to creating confusion and consternation among those who adhere to the rules of the king's English, the cell phone has brought another plague upon the land, the insufferable ringtone. It could be Soulja Boy, Lil Wayne, T.I., T-Pain, Shop Boyz, Flo Rida, Rick Ross, or some of other crapper, but the ringtone has become an invaluable revenue source for commercial crap rappers with some 270 million tones sold in 2007. The ring tone is the new arms race among ign't youth. As much a necessity as the latest overpriced NBA cross-branded sneakers, young ign'ts must have the latest, "greatest" ringtone to rep for their favorite artist, and to get the young female ign't whom they would like to win the baby mama jackpot with.

The perfect gift for the young ign't in your life? a cell phone loaded with 500 ringtones and an unlimited text package. All day and all night, the favorite ign't child (or manchild/baby boy) in your life, can walk around the house and/or hold down the block while playing his ringtones and texting to his "peeps" and "fam."

4. The Maury Povich Baby Mama and Baby Daddy Game of Life

Ign't young people face many perils on the road to adulthood. Unfortunately, one of the most common obstacles faced by young ign'ts is premarital sex and teenage pregnancy. The Maury Povich Baby Mama and Baby Daddy Game of Life will improve your child's decision making skills as they face this inevitable challenge. To accomplish this goal, the game integrates artistic, critical thinking, and strategy skills. To play, your child rolls a pair of 6 sided dice in order to move their game piece around the board. Designed for play by 2 boys and 2 girls, the goal of the game for young male ign'ts is to avoid responsibility while impregnating the female players--all the while pinning responsibility on the other male players. For young female ign'ts, the goal of the game is to place responsibility for your child on the baby daddy with the most resources. Young girls can also win by earning the trifecta--section 8; child support; and by drawing the rare, paternity test card that allows her to name one of the male players as the baby daddy. This innovative game is full of many exciting twists and turns such as:

1. the "Momma's Baby Boy" card which protects her little "angel" from responsibility card (the male player's mother grants her son several rounds of immunity from any "attacks" by the female player(s));
2. the "You're Going to Jail" card (pulling this card is actually a positive as it protects male players from responsibility for several rounds of play);
3. the "You Are a Guest on Maury" card where ign't girls do their best to convince the audience that baby daddy X is in fact the biological father of said baby:




If an ign't boy draws this card, he enters the "You Are Not the Baby's Father" round. Here, young ign't boys get a chance to shine as they dance to one of the pre-recorded songs included with the game:



The Maury Povich Baby Mama and Baby Daddy Game of Life is a must have for any young ign't boy or girl. It entertains, educates, and provides practical guidance for overcoming the challenges which ign't children and teens will be forced to confront as they grow into adulthood. The Maury Povich Baby Mama and Baby Daddy Game of Life is also an amazing value. In a limited time offer, this wonderful game includes a gift certificate for the newest Maury product, Fat Babies Everywhere!