Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Comic relief: Hanna Barbera Cartoons

This is some stuff I used to love when I was a little boy...as opposed to a mature lad of 10 when I graduated to reruns of Jonny Quest and original episodes of Space Ghost and The Herculoids. Note a "Zock the Laser Dragon" action figure from the Herculoids circa 1967 that fetched $3,400 in a geek auction a few months ago.

Of course I used to sneak a look at The Banana Splits. Can you name all four, and the hook line of their campy yet ground breaking live action mini feature, Danger Island (featuring a young Jan Michael Vincent)?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Roethlisberger: The Reality vs. the White Myth of the Gates Affair

My boy the Field Negro recently laid it out there, as I did on Facebook and everyone got deathly quiet, even squeamish. Note that Kobe, Pacman, Tank et all...even Vick, that cretin Plaxico "Dirty Harry" Burress--all didn't get the benefit of the doubt. All got slammed before any disposition of their cases. All vilified. But a white Superbowl QB...one who has a reality show owned by ESPN and ABC's parent...well. I guess Brett Favre has sullied the image of the white superstar pocket protected QB enough once you get beyond Mr. Gisele Bundchen's utterly p-whipped persona. No, we can't have that.
Such is our fully vertically and horizontally integrated corporate media at work. And doing so, as with the stupid coverage of Skip Gates and the Cambridge cops, to the continued censorship & intellectual peril of us all.

As for newsworthyness, as a commenter stated: "Nothing imparts a sense of urgency more than a black penis invading a white vagina."

Here's an NFL video of what Big Ben has to say. Too bad Gates no such largesse from good white folks...

Friday, July 24, 2009

RIP Storyteller: E. Lynn Harris

Lynn, some people thought you were the second coming of Richard Wright. Some people thought your were our version of Sidney Sheldon, popular but crappy. Some people thought you were an undercover crusader--showing the black community a distant mirror of the ugliness it reflects on issues of gay life. Some people thought you weren't forceful enough, or opened up our "dirty laundry" of life on the DL.
But that pales in the face of the many--not the some-- who just liked your work as a way to pass the time on the train, or by the pool, or liked you as a person. You didn't create or destroy any genres. You didn't hawk and crow about your books as if they were a bootleg DVD. You weren't my idol, but I wanted to be successful like you. Why? Because you just plain told good stories. Ain't that something to exhault, treasure?
RIP, storyteller...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Couldn't resist--The Daily Show and the Obama Citizenship Loonies!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Born Identity
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJoke of the Day

The real face of anti-Healthcare reform

Oops! But again, we're told it's only a joke...
Read the background here. My dad says this fool better watch himself at the next AMA convention...

Black in America 2nd round live chat tonight 8pm Eastern

Reminder (CNN flipped the schedule--the planned Weds segments air tonight due to the President's press conference): Live Chat on The Retort!

Rich Assholes, Debt Collection, Hedge Funds & Healthcare

The hedge fund--those lovely instruments that enriched a few, then crashed the economy and stripped the rest of us--owned the debt collectors (the lovely folks who call and hound you for $50 you owed back in 1993, and resell the zombie paper so it remains on your credit report). And they owned the arbitration company to which consumers were FORCED to use in the event of any dispute. Kinda the way insurance companies, HMOs and Big Pharma does. And a lot of other corporate heavyweights who deal with ordinary people. They can what they please to you; you have to use bought arbitrators...
Well, the Minnesota Attorney General, channelling Eliot Spitzer when he wasn' chasing ass, saw right through that. Details here. Recall, for 8 years the states had to protect the little guy, as Bush-Cheney had other aims. Now, the states are broke, and Barack, Holder and a re-tasked FTC are trying to pick up the pieces. At least Minnesota had the sand to strike back, forcing this relationship out in the open, and causing a divestiture of the arbitration element. But the philosophy of greed, adhesion contracts, disparate power, lobbying--it's still there. Same genes as Big Healthcare and Big Pharma ; the DNA is dug in deep and the hedge funds are just that material without all the brick and mortar trappings. Fanboys and girls--capital's just recycled rich folk largesse. Contrary to well placed myth, it doesn't come from noble widows & orphans investing their pennies. And in turn, these leeches own the smaller leeches, like credit card companies/debt collection firms. And I bet Goldman Sachs is in there somewhere hahaha.
Note: (so you don't think I have it in for arbitration as a concept), in family law/divorce, or in commercial settings where the parties are on equal footing and want to hold down the drama, arbitration works. The American Arbitration Association agreed--volunteering to get out of consumer related arbitration. They make enough skrilla on corporate/commercial stuff.
Perhaps Barack needs to play up this populist approach...this unified gang out to make money and screw YOU...in the health reform maelstrom. Entrenched power and greed can always brainwash the clearly malleable skulls out there. But linkages like this are hard for even the most seasoned moron to ignore. And finally more than a few will wake up. Not only on healthcare, but financial regulations, banking/credit card protections, etc.

We'll see. At least I won't have to talk to a goofy arbitrator first.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Allegory for What's Wrong with Comic Con....

From Newsweek. The title & dek tell it all:

Seven Ways to Be Cool at Comic Con

The annual geek-vention for comic fans is now as glossy and star-studded as Us Weekly. Here's how to look like a real fan.

And check out photo blast from the past. As in Triassic old...was Nichelle Nichols fine as spider spit back then or what?

The seeds of our destruction are fertilized with our hype. Comic con's no exception...

And let's add Skip Gates and Health Care reform into this...

I'm thinking of this format from now on once I get my digital camera.

Elon James White is also doing commentary on CNN's Black in America 2 on www.blackretort.com

Monday, July 20, 2009

RIP Frank McCourt

No Kelly Monday today. Today we mourn a great novelist, superlative human being. A lowly teacher. Imagaine that--not a video vixen writing a "franchise." A teacher, who inspired millions.

Bravo Francis. Bravo. Many folks couldn't care less unless you could appear on The Wendy Williams Show. But I do.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

State Budgets and Convicts. Maybe it's time for Norplant?

State budgets are in the toilet. Prison populations are booming. Gangs--from La Eme and MS-13 to cracker meth cadres and teen family killers to numerous African American goon confabs...are taking over these places. So what to do? Maybe folks on the outside are getting more enlightened--relying on technology to patrol the cellblocks Yet more surprising comes common sense with regard to reducing the number of convicts out there. So says the Associated Press:

"Prior to this fiscal crisis, legislators could tinker around the edges - but we're now well past the tinkering stage," said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, which advocates alternatives to incarceration.
"Many political leaders who weren't comfortable enough, politically, to do it before can now - under the guise of fiscal responsibility - implement programs and policies that would be win/win situations, saving money and improving corrections," Mauer said
In California, faced with a projected $42 billion deficit and prison overcrowding that has triggered a federal lawsuit, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to eliminate parole for all offenders not convicted of violent or sex-related crimes, reducing the parole population by about 70,000. He also wants to divert more petty criminals to county jails and grant early release to more inmates - steps that could trim the prison population by 15,000 over the next 18 months.
In Kentucky, where the inmate population had been soaring, even some murderers and other violent offenders are benefiting from a temporary cost-saving program that has granted early release to nearly 2,000 inmates.
Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is proposing early release of about 1,000 inmates. New York Gov. David Paterson wants early release for 1,600 inmates as well as an overhaul of the so-called Rockefeller Drug Laws that impose lengthy mandatory sentences on many nonviolent drug offenders.
"These laws have neither curbed drug use nor enhanced public safety," said Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "Instead, they have ruined thousands of lives and annually wasted millions of tax dollars in prison costs."
Policy-makers in Michigan, one of four states that spend more money on prisons than higher education, are awaiting a report later this month from the Council of State Governments' Justice Center on ways to trim fast-rising corrections costs, likely including sentencing and parole modifications.
"There's a new openness to taking a look," said state Sen. Alan Cropsey, a Republican who in the past has questioned some prison-reform proposals. "What we'll see are changes being made that will have a positive impact four, five, six years down the road."
Even before the recent financial meltdown, policy-makers in most states were wrestling with ways to contain corrections costs. The Pew Center's Public Safety Performance Project has projected that state and federal prison populations - under current policies - will grow by more than 190,000 by 2011, to about 1.7 million, at a cost to the states of $27.5 billion.
"Prisons are becoming less and less of a sacred cow," said Adam Gelb, the Pew project's director. "The budget crisis is giving leaders on both sides of the aisle political cover they need to tackle issues that would be too tough to tackle when budgets are flush."
In contrast to past economic downturns, Gelb said, states now have better data on how to effectively supervise nonviolent offenders in their communities so prison populations can be reduced without increasing the threat to public safety.

A source close to a well known Georgia conservative state senator sighs, "Things we wouldn't have even deigned to discuss as recently as last session are now options we may have to stomach, okay?" [Thus ended my long-distance interview with the law-n-order crew...Maryland governor and General Assembly folk weren't anxious to talk to me.]

Diversion, enhanced drug treatment, family therapy/intervention, transition training etc--that will help. It's beyond axiomatic that this is cheaper than incarceration. And what to do about criminals who aren't even citizens? Perhaps that should be a new use for Guantanamo. Would be poetic justice if you aren't a Castro fan. But maybe another sacred cow is needs be examined. The one saying we can't nip the problem in the bud, so to speak?
I met a Dr. Strangelove-type cat--no wheelchair but round shades and a bizarre accent he says is Scandinavian--at writers' event in New York a few weeks ago. He reads my books; he follows the blog. The mad scientist (social scientist) composes thriller & sci fi short fiction. But he's bona fide academic who teaches at a major university within the NY-NJ-CT region and advises on human resources issues of all things. My new pen pal asserts we should offer prisoners early release if they consent to sterilization. Male and female. And early release--even clemency--for those who consent to pharmaceutical and other medical, etc. research (including dangerous space and undersea exploration). Yep. He says money should be set aside to pay young girls--and even housing, tuition, etc. assistance-- in "at risk" neighborhoods etc. to use Norplant and Depro. And extensive cultural interventions to keep the latinas from getting pregnant--like money or US citizenship in return for some tied tubes?
Mengele stuff, yes Lord. Scary. But...?
Listen, this might get traction. Stranger things have happened. I never thought I'd see a day when there'd be (1) a black president, period, and (2) hardcore Republican state legislators (who usually make the GOP pols in Congress look like Oxford dons) supporting all kinds of prison reform. Maybe this track--the mad scientist & eugenics track, will be a norm one day? Anything's possible, and we're running out of alternatives. Our president says "No excuses." Your thoughts?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Vacation Books! Not all all Beach Reads need to be mindless...

Three upcoming reviews on stuff to take in the car, the crowded Amtrak coach, the stuffy plane...so you can unwind and be enlightened once you reach your destination...Kiss the Sky, the debut novel by former NPR host and current MSNBC and CNN commentator Farai Chideya, John Wasik's The Cul-De-Sac Syndrome, which challenges us to rethink how we live & build our communities, so we can live better, and Triangular Road, American Book and Dos Passos award-winning author Paule Marshall's long awaited memoir. Come on...aren't you sick of getting sand or mustard in your Nora Roberts and Grisham books?

Friday, July 17, 2009

RIP Walter Cronkite, RIP Journalism

The allegory of allegories, the metaphor of metaphors. Walter, at least try to rest in peace. I know it's hard to rest when Fox, CNN and MSNBC and lord all of local TV news is urinating on what you tried to do.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Michael Jackson's face. If only...

What an average 50 year old African American man should have looked like. Happy, focused, cherishing the highlights of his amazing career. A sort of Springsteen of black music.

But no...

Goldman Sachs: maybe we should tax 'em to pay for some real health care?

Here's Robert Scheer's quick and dirty take on Goldman Sachs doing it up big while the rest of struggle. The dots Scheer expounds upon aren't imaginary. But the lines maybe a little scetchy. Still, argulably Scheer can make is point just on these dots regardless of the connection. Barack's done nothing yet to erase them.

Check it out here. And cheer for Goldman Sachs. Be glad someone's making a big ass bonus and access to a cool mortgage and the best docs and schools. Then weep for the rest of us. It's called ambivalence. Oh, and that's the Goldman Sachs tower, lording over the New Jersey shoreline...smirking at the wasteland that is Manhattan since the crash...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jeff Sessions, Sonia Sotomayor and White Male Stupidity

Maybe this is what he and his bumpkin constituents were expecting?

Life is all right in A-merrrr-ree-ca/If you're all white in A-merrr-ree-ca...


Monday, July 13, 2009

Kelly Miller Monday-Third Installment

Essay from 1909. Lots to extrapolate for 2009. And something in this for all points of view:

"Ridicule and contempt--both outward and within private conversations--have characterized the habitual attitude of the American mind toward the Negro's higher strivings...

A people who have made such sacrifice and run such risks for the sake of knowledge, who of their own scanty means were ever willing to support schools for the education of their children, although their property mad been taxed for the support of an educational system from which they were excluded, surely deserve a larger and fuller draught of that knowledge of which the regime of slavery permitted them to gain only a foretaste."

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Mandela! The Graphic Novel

Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book (W.W. Norton 2009 hardcover $27) comes out July 17 in the US. It's the latest in a newfangled genre of graphic nonfiction bios. The range of subjects is stunning: from Malcolm X to J.Edgar Hoover. And most are of amazing quality: crisp and informative narrative, vivid artwork, clean lettering. This bio of Mandela is likewise amazing, appropriate for all ages. But what sets it apart is that is a collaboration. The author is the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The artist is Umlando Wezithombe. Umlando is a group, not a person. A collective of many young South African artist-illustrators. Imagine what you'd have in the typical American graphic novel/sequential art orbit: superstar writers, tempermental artists, anal retentive letterers and inkers coming together, eschewing money arguments and ego? Ha! But it happened here. All for the love of this man. Listen, it took 35 years and a civil war's interruption to build the obelisk to our comparable icon--George Washington.
The book steps over but doesn't leap-frog controversy (ANC violence, ties to Communism, ANC corruption and the elephant in the room--Winnie Mandela). Likewise, the narrative is more episodic rather than a straight line from birth to prison to freedom and detente with De Klerk to the split with Winnie to the marriage to the First lady of Mozambique to the formation of the Foundation. By necessity, most graphic bios don't have that leeway. Imagine David McCullough's John Adams in this form. You can't? Well this is why the story must arc in this manner. Here, the story doesn't suffer. Here, the story shines, figuratively.
As for the art, even the lettering and quality of the panels, the word is shine. Literally. It's hard to imagine that a group, not an individual, created this from penciling to inking.
The book is wonderful for younger people, yet retains a look and read adults will appreciate and enjoy. Fanboys and girls will like this too. Nothing amateurish about it. Indeed, it may be the first graphic coffeetable book, which is not a bad thing given our seeming revulsion to things educational in some circles.
So impress your friends this summer. And learn something.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Kelly Miller Mondays-Part Deux

Here, Miller's responding to a white politician in South Carolina, who was quoted in several Northern newspapers (including Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and Hearst's Herald) saying some not so nice things about black folks in Haiti, and some conflicting things about Booker T. Washington. Many prominent whites at the time--including President Theodore Roosevelt--considered Washington the de facto leader of black America, and admired his philosophy of punting social, political and civil rights for a vocational and small farming foundation (for African Americans in the South not even a generation out of slavery).

"Your position as to the work of Booker T. Washington is pitably anomalous. You recite the story of his upward struggle with uncontrolled admiration: “The story of this little ragged, barefoot pickaninny, who lifted his eyes from a cabin in the hills of Virginia, saw a vision and followed it, until at last he presides over the richest and most powerful institution in the South, and sits down with crowned heads and presidents, has no parallel even in the Tales of the Arabian Nights.” You say that this story appeals to the universal heart of humanity. And yet in a recent letter to the Columbia State, you say you regard it as an unspeakable outrage that Mr. Robert C. Ogden should walk arm in arm with this wonderful who “ appeals to the universal heart of humanity,” and introduce him to the lady clerks of the dry goods store. Your passionate devotion to a narrow dogma has seriously impaired your sense of humor. The subject of your next great novel has been announced at “The Fall of Tuskagee.” In one breath you commend the work of this great institution, while in another you condemn it because it does not fit into you preconceived scheme in the solution of the race problem.

(referencing Liberia and Haiti) Whenever a lower people overrun the civilization of the higher there is an inevitable lapse toward the level of the lower. When barbarians and semi-civilized hordes of northern Europe overran the southern peninsulas the civilization of the world was wrapped in a thousand years of darkness. Relapse inevitably precedes the rebound. I suspect that the million of Negroes in Hayti (Haiti) are as well governed as the corresponding number of blacks in Georgia."

Your dose of Kelly Miller for 7/6/09. Savor and digest...

The Retort is Here. CNN beware. Fox News--scram!

Launching today is The Retort. Our first factual & analytical exploration: CNN's Black in America II. Here's the inaugural link. Here's an excerpt from the press release:

July 6, 2009
Your mother always told you about talking back -- mainly not to do it. To keep your
mouth shut. To mind your manners. To keep your head down and be happy with the
scraps life tosses at you. After all, talking back could get your hurt. Talking back could
get you in trouble. And historically for black people, talking back could get you killed.
But times have changed. They've had their say. Now it's time for a response.
Welcome to The Retort (www.blackretort.com), launching July 6th, it is the place for
political discourse and plenty of "talking back" on black representation in the media. The
site will kick off with CNN's latest installment of Black In America. Last year the cable
network premiered the controversial series to much fanfare and derision. Reported on and
hosted by CNN correspondent Soledad O'Brien, many criticized the series for having a
detached, anthropological approach to black culture. But was this critique warranted?
Was it a true-to-form examination of black life, or was it a primer for the uninitiated?
What was CNN's motivation? How could they make it better? Or was it necessary at all?
These questions, along with critical analysis, satire and more, will be answered on The
Retort, featuring the work of bloggers Jay Anderson of AverageBro, Danielle Belton of
The Black Snob, Christopher Chambers of Nat Turner's Revenge, Cheryl Contee of
Jack & Jill Politics, Charles D. Ellison of The Ellison Report, Gina McCauley of
Michelle Obama Watch and What About Our Daughters, Vernon Mitchell Jr. of Negro
Intellectual, Baratunde Thurston of Jack & Jill Politics, Lamar Tyler of Black and
Married With Kids, Elon James White of This Week In Blackness, Poet, writer Bassey
Ikpi and more.
The Retort will take a critical eye to the representation of blacks in the media. It's also a
chance for you to sound off on your opinions.
It's time to stop being silent and start talking back on The Retort. The time to speak up is
Danielle C. Belton