Friday, January 30, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
What’s the tougher job: Housewife or Working Mom?
Check out the anecdote I’m leading with, below. It has nothing to do with my major premise. At least on the surface…
The scene is the Washington DC Metro Red Line, between the Rhode Island Avenue and the Catholic U. stops. The train’s slowed to tortoise pace due to “track work.” Bored and ruffled, I eavesdrop on two white women who look to be chaperones for what’s apparently a middle school field trip…yet quickly, as I crane my neck like I have no damn sense, I realize that all these kids are theirs. One of them carries a nylon backback with a “Palin” sticker. Not McCain-Palin. Just Palin.
Turns out the two of them of them are housewives from rural Virginia visiting the Capital with their brood in the aftermath of the annual anti-abortion march protesting the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Funny, they talk about the crowd. On 1/20 I could have shown them crowd, Lord. Funnier still, they live only 25 miles away yet are only now marveling at our decaying, unreliable subway. As if Kismet, there’s a poster for a cable TV show on TLC about an evangelical Christian family with sixteen children. Oh, the conversation moves to Michelle Obama. Nothing positive yet nothing nasty, either, as quite a few sisters got on at Rhode Island Avenue. My molars grind anyway when one grouses to her daughter, “She [the First Lady] must have had such an easy time of it."
Now, diagonally across from me all this time sits a young Hispanic woman with a long pony tail. That, not her security guard's uniform, caught me attention first. She’s pretty but has that tired, beaten look. Not ennui. Not the weariness of her young blond counterpart also seated, punching on a Blackberry and sporting a vinyl satchel embroidered with the name of large D.C. law firm. The Hispanic woman nuzzles a little girl who's clearly doing her homework on the train. No wedding ring on the mom's finger. Before a tunnel cuts her signal the woman finishes a conversation on her mobile phone. Perfect English, not Spanish. Something about rent, cut back on hours. Health insurance…
That’s the vignette. Here’s the totally unrelated premise. Being a mother is the toughest job on earth. But is being a housewife so? No.
My mother, who was a housewife till she decided to go back and get her degree, then a masters then a real job, would agree were she alive. I’m sure she, like a lot of middle class women from the 1950s to the 1980s and irrespective of race or color, had sprinkles of Kate Winslet- “Revolutionary Road” moments.
Being a working mother/wife is very hard. And being a single working mother is toughest of all—especially if you don’t have the type of job where Blackberries are de riguer. The only reason housewife is even in the mix is the mom component.
So...let me have it with both barrels, or agree. Talk to me about equal pay battles, pregnancy leave, the fulfillment of motherhood versus the glass ceiling, giving it all way to be with one’s baby. Knowing “Dora the Explorer” episodes by heart. I’m only a man, after all. Being a husband and dad, well that’s supposedly a piece of cake…
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Who said "Journalism is history's first draft?" Was it my boy Mencken? Oh well, here is history's first cut, by two journalists. Remember them--journalists? Real journalists...not pundits, blowhard "commentators," talk show clowns. Writer, Former Washington Post Bookworld editor, NAACP Crisis editor and now professor Jabari Asim offers What Obama Means. If Gwen Ifill were white and around in the late 60s she'd be called a "dean:" like Spivak, Chancellor, Smith, Severeid, Shore, Brinkley. Nuff said. I'm not cheezing here. This is Gwen. Her book is Breakthrough.
Now, if you recall, before the vice-presidential debates came the demand that Gwen be removed as moderator. This was from a slew of the same deranged wingnuts who were slapped down by Barack and Rahm the Terrible this week. How ironic. And allegorical. Maybe they had gwen confused with Donna Brazile? For Gwen's using the news and facts adduced through real journalism to frame the new paradigm of national politics Barack espouses. Yes, patriotism and progressivism. Jabari, on the other hand, offers a thesis controlling the internal transformative forces: what this means for "us folk" within the general polity. Yes, there's overlap here, even in use of primary source material. So? I'll posit that the distguishing contrast between the two works appears to be this global versus local view. Gwen shows the new paradigm for America using Barack as the vehicle; Jabari shows the new paradigm for black people and the changing nature of power, powerlessness and politics. The comparison: both are masterful, objective--something even the wingnuts should take a look at should they decided to build rather than urinate. Of course I think the authors should have gone a further in fleshing out the cultural aspect (you know I say culture affects crime, politics, education)...it's time Barack mounts the bully pulpit to denounce all bamma-dom and ghettofabulousness. That's my only criticism. But alas that's sociology, not history. Hopefully someone can build on this wonderful first cut and add this culture dimension as history settles itself.
Check back, fanboys & girls, for I hope to include interviews with the authors. In the meantime, buy the books. Give me your thoughts.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Now we come to Rick "Doc" Walker. Hero to Washington Redskins fans and bane to Dallas-ites. Former tight end, promulgator of the ol' "Fun Bunch" and those loveable "Hogs" under now fallen icon Joe Gibbs. Well, on Doc's local ESPN radio's "The Locker Room," co-hosted by real sports journalist Kevin Sheehan, Doc showed his usual foot in mouth (oh yes, in this era of let the moron fan speak, let the old athlete bray like a donkey for ratings sake) in glowing form. Nothing wrong with what the winning school did, Doc says. This is just the spirit of crushing an opponent, Doc says. Doc went on a true screed against anyone emailing or calling in to challenge him. Fags they are. Or namby pambies. Juice bar folks. People who never "played the game." (recall, we're talking about a little girls' hoops game, and sportsmanship). Just like, in Doc's stated world, no white writer was allowed to do a film review of "Notorious." Or teams should recruit from prison to get the thug quotient up (of course, the erudite Doc was speaking metaphorically--and I'm sure he understands what that means). Doc's got a million of these nuggets and puts Sheehan through this crap trhe way Hannity would produce eye rolls in Colmes. Notice Colmes called it quits.
But to hell with all y'all elitist fags 'cause who cares? Doc is a nice exemplar of the coarse bamma niggah-think we need to excise. Folks like that should NOT take comfort in the events and message of 1/20/09. It means a new paradigm for us all. Somebody tell Doc Walker what that word means, please.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
And read the details here. Look, America has "put aside childish things" and thus rejected the Toby Keith/Ted Nugent culture of the last decade. But do we have to swing the pendulum this far in the other direction? As Joaquin (who I love, for real) said in Gladiator: "It vexes me. I'm terribly vexed."
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
And speaking of that, I decided to meld it with some themes from my childhood. And why not? A black president. A BLACK PRESIDENT. Something I dreamed a lot--even when I watched these shows. You know I love my allegory. This is more about transition to power, rather than Inaugural hoopla, I suppose. Here it goes:
Having fun? Full of wistfulness, fellow oldheads? Now here's the irony (perhaps more allegory, to come)--in reality, the networks took off shows like the Herculoids, Jonny Quest, etc. because they were too "violent" and expensive (despite the serious writing, characters, etc.), instead replacing them with crap like The Banana Splits. Hmmm...
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
Speaking of culture, it seems the South as failed again--their NFL teams choked worse than "red" precincts on Election Day.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Thursday, January 08, 2009
The National Association of Black Journalists, whose members have often been critical of Black Entertainment Television, is backing BET founder Robert L. Johnson's bid to the Federal Communications Commission for approval of a new "urban" television network.
"We're trying to expand the footprint of African American ownership," NABJ President Barbara Ciara told Journal-isms. "Clearly, it's an opportunity to negotiate with him to broaden the news landscape. I would like to think people will learn from their past."
In December 2002, BET canceled just about the only black-oriented news shows on national television: "BET Tonight with Ed Gordon"; "Teen Summit," a public affairs program; and "Lead Story," a Sunday journalist roundtable that originated from Washington.
"The decision to cancel them was made by Bob and myself," Debra Lee, BET president, said then. "These shows were losing money" — an estimated $3 million to $4 million per year — "and we could not find advertisers to support them. There came a day of reckoning." Likewise, Johnson in 2000 pulled the plug on BET's magazines, BET Weekend, a 1.3 million-circulation Sunday feature magazine, and the serious-minded Emerge, which claimed 170,000 subscribers. That left the network with a reputation for being interested only in showing jiggling music videos. In 2000, Johnson sold BET for $3 billion to the Viacom media conglomerate.
"This is not BET," Karen Wynn Freeman, NABJ's executive director, said of Johnson's plans on Friday. "It's the ownership piece that we feel strongly about."
Johnson's new company is to be called Urban Television LLC. Johnson is seeking permission to share time on 42 stations owned by Ion Media Networks Inc., a successor to Pax TV, a family-oriented broadcast network that operated on several UHF channels. Ion Media owns 49 percent of the venture; Johnson's RLJ Companies, 51 percent.
Sharing time on the Ion stations is possible with the advent of digital channels. The stations share different audio channels on the same frequency, so that a second network could broadcast 24 hours a day.
NABJ joined a coalition of other supporters after a Dec. 23 luncheon meeting with Johnson at a Washington restaurant, Ciara said. The others — not all present at the meeting — were the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association, the International Black Broadcasters Association, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, the NAACP, the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, National Bar Association, National Urban League, Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Video Access Alliance. Johnson made a presentation and anticipated their concerns, David Honig, executive director of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, told Journal-isms.
At the meeting, "the thing that really got people's attention the most was that independent producers can get their stuff on the air and they'll still own it," Honig told Journal-isms. "This was well-received by people who can't kick the doors in because the doors have been locked."
"Urban plans to offer 'entertainment, informational and issue-oriented programming directed at and responsive to the needs, interests and concerns of the African American community and other historically underserved viewers.' When was the last time a television application arrived at the FCC promising anything remotely like this?" Honig wrote in the FCC filing. "Or proposing to triple the number of African American owned local television stations, all at once? And on top of that, to create the first African American over the air national network?
"Never did we dream that in our lifetimes we might have an opportunity to witness this, the birth of the nation's first over-the-air African American television network. But this year, so many things once thought impossible are taking place." He wrote that only eight African American stations remain among the nation's more than 1,700 full-power commercial television stations.
But the venture is opposed by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which represents the cable industry. "The problem for cable operators is that Johnson wants the Federal Communications Commission to force cable to carry Urban's programming," Ted Hearn wrote Tuesday for Multichannel News. Honig told Journal-isms he was hopeful an agreement could be reached with the cable representatives.
The National Association of Broadcasters, which represents broadcast networks, backs the proposal. "This is the type of free, innovative and niche programming that NAB has always believed should flourish in a digital multicast world, but which has been blocked for competitive reasons by the largest cable" systems, said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton, Hearn reported.
The Media Access Project/Common Cause said its support was conditioned on a number of things, John Eggerton reported for Broadcasting & Cable.
"They also want the FCC to establish benchmarks for public affairs programming. Urban has promised at lest seven hours a week, but the groups want the FCC to better spell out the programming requirements, including finding that a lineup devoted primarily to infomercials wouldn't cut it."
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
One of the greatest crime/mystery writers of all time. Had dinner and drinks with him, Stuart Kaminsky and others in Charlottesville Virginia back in 06 and I thought I was eating with Zeus and Apollo. Yeah, it was like that. If you don't know who Westlake is, then damn it look him up. Not just for the Parker and Starke mysteries...but also stories and books which became movies (of which he also penned the screenplays), from Point Blank, Payback, The Hot Rock and The Grifters, to Martin Lawrence in What's the Worst that could Happen.
The old masters die, and we are left with the morons and brain candy specialists. Lord, who's next? My mother loved his stuff, as they were Brooklynites and there's that bond only that borough brings, whether you're black or white, Puerto Rican, Dominican or Jamaican. Mick, Polack or Guinea. The place spawns genius, Don. By the way, how was the trip to heaven? There's a caper story somewhere here...
Monday, January 05, 2009
In LA, Book Soup's toast. Macawber closes in Princeton...Princeton, not Dundalk Maryland. Robin's in Philly (see photo below) gone as of today. Karibu here commits suicide over domestic issues but hey, their mission was hamstrung by piles of ghetto lit and mawkish romances, church lady novels and nonfiction by strippers. Vertigo Books in College Park (Maryland, not Georgia, you bammas!), like England in 1940, stands alone.
So what?! you sneer. I mean, you've picked up your Xbox, your 72 inch flatscreen and your latest Video Vixen-"Superhead" memoir (or novel, hey!) or T-Pain or Toby Keith CD at WalMart, right? You certainly won't find it at your indie bookstore, whether mystery/crime (the staple for folks like me, my colleagues, friends), sci fi shops, holistic stores, etc. Havens for political works and art (like Red Emmas in Baltimore). It's economics. Yeah, financial survival of the fittest, right? It's the Internet. Geriatric business models. Disconnection from what young folks find relevant, eh? WalMart's business model shut them down, or Barnes & Noble's "pack as much crap in there as possible" paradigm is more consumer friendly. Amazon is killing everyone. Yes, that's the conventional wisdom.
You use an indie anything (store, site, person) because you're smart. You're into rationalism. You want your brain to be exercized and engaged as well as entertained. Part and parcel of that is the relationship. Passionate knowledgeable folks provide a service, feed your passion... but that's not a hallmark of our America. Stupid people don't want the relationship. They want cheap brain candy, escapist numbing, from numbskulls who can get them in and out. Hell that has nothing to do with convenience online. Look at how thoughtful people scramble for tech support, expert help, a keen eye or consultation online or on the phone for so many "convenience" purchases. We also fall prey to brands. From Beyonce to Pepsi to Triple Crown publishing (ghetto lit). Brands short circuit thought. That's their purpose. Accordingly, the problem isn't business model. It's culture. Mindset. Yeah, yeah, running an indie, small business is tough. But if your once educated, thoughtful customer base is graying, and being replaced by drooling teens...Heidi Montag wannabees...yes bammas and white trash, too--how can you not close up shop? It's never a question of money. The trillions lost this past year, or wasted in the uglier portion of this war on terror or in Iraq, or within the "motherland" of Africa or through gas pipelines traversing the horror movie that is Russia--got smack to do with money. It's about will. About culture.
When we're smarter again, when rationalism resurfaces from exile, we will have the newest iteration of indie bookstores, indie thought. I willbe alive to see and enjoy. And hopefully, to provide some nice content. Trust...
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Any of these idiots performing on, or fans of, the Blue Collar Comedy Tour (yes, Foxworthy, too...though Larry the Cable is fairly harmless)
Scary crackers at Palin rallies this fall
Anyone who accuses liberals of being socialists...yet lives in a state wholly dependent on Uncle Sam for political pork, federal land, military bases, farm subsidies...
Thursday, January 01, 2009
I just saw my favorite episode. Mrs. Nat's is "To Serve Man." Mine is "Two." Weird I'd pick the love story, eh? But I'm a complicated person. Check out part I of the episode. It won an Emmy. Check out a very young Elizabeth "Bewitched" Montgomery and Charles Bronson! Infuse yourself with great storytelling, unlike the garbage on TV now. Oh yeah go ahead and say "Lost" or "The Shield" are hallmarks of our age, but come on--they ain't that good, and storytelling's been supplanted by marketing. This stuff, however--it's art. Designed to captivate, not sell. Learn something, fanboys & girls. Learn it well...