Thursday, June 30, 2011

His Name is Cain...

And he knows black people.

Goldman: Before you announced your campaign, you said that the liberal establishment is scared that “a real black man might run against Barack Obama.” Are you suggesting Obama isn’t really black?

Cain: A real black man is not timid about making the right decisions, that’s what I meant. Look, I’m not getting into this whole thing about President Obama. It is documented that his mother was white and his father was from Africa. If he wants to call himself black, fine. If he wants to call himself African-American, fine. I’m not going down this color road.

Goldman: But you’re saying he’s not really a black man.

Cain: Not in terms of a strong black man that I’m identifying with. I identify with a strong black man like Martin Luther King Jr., or my dad, Luther Cain Jr., who didn’t have a lot of formal education, but he had a Ph.D. in common sense.

For more, look here.

First of all, Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. got B.A. in sociology from Morehouse College (the Alma mater of both Herman Cain and myself) and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston University. So the comparison to his dad seems incredibly awkward and misplaced. I'm not quite sure if he understands the difference between a Doctorate in Philosophy and whatever he's claiming of his father. It's just weird.

But that's not what I want to talk about.

I have a reasonably close member of my extended family who is conservative. It makes Thankgiving dinners quite interesting. Every time the conversation turns to politics (which seldom happens for obvious reasons) there is absolutely nothing on which we can agree. He's against women's rights, against gay rights, against Medicare for all, pro-corporation, anti-regulation, and against affirmative action (Which, I guarantee you, is the only reason he got his last job.). He has spent a lifetime promoting at the top of his lungs beliefs that I spend my life opposing at the top of mine. And he's 20 years older than me, so he's got a head start.

However, with all that, he's my family. He's a decent person who makes mistakes(!) and is trying to figure out this world just like the rest of us. He and his wife maintain a wonderful home and raise their children as well as they know how. He's a very loyal, charming, thoughtful, and assertive individual. I wouldn't categorize him as anything less that a upstanding and respectable guy. And no matter how energetic the political discussion may grow, I would never employ such a personal attack as what Herman Cain unleashed today.

Cain has political differences with Barack Obama. But Obama has grown up with a single parent, earned an unparalleled education, help build a gorgeous family, and inspired millions of people around the world with his historic accomplishments. By anyone's definition, at least anyone with some **** sense, would consider Obama to be a strong black man.

You better stick with the issues Cain. Obama's manhood is way out of your league.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Rhymes of Our Lives (Morning Edition)

I fell asleep. Sue me.

This track came out when I was in the middle of the sixth grade, and it was absolutely everywhere. During these years in my town, it was fashionable for kids my age to learn the words to all the latest music to prove we were in the know, especially in regards to impressing the ladies (Really? What what were we thinking!?). With this particular tune I was determined to know every line inside and out. So began learning Ice Cube's lyrics diligently.

The only problem was that my parents weren't into buying hip hop tapes for me at the time. The lyrics coming from the west coast were simply too vulgar and abrasive. And to be honest, I wasn't too interested in much of it either for the same reason. So I had to learn this track by chance encounters on the radio and television.

I got pretty good, too. By the time the track had been around for a two weeks or so I had about 85% of the lyrics down and could, more or less, fake it the rest of the way. So I was eager to flaunt my proficiency for all the beautiful women! However, there was one lovely lady that stood above the rest, Courtney Daniels: my first crush. Ask anyone attending A.G. Cox Middle School during 1993 and they would tell you Courtney was FOINE! I don't know too many cats who wouldn't give their left eye to receive a coveted mid-lunch love letter from Ms. Daniels.

So I was keen to show off my knowledge of "It Was A Good Day" for her as soon as I could. I had to get the jump on the rest of the guys! So as soon as I had a chance and Courtney was within earshot, I went in. The first verse went swimmingly, and I could tell the circle of listeners was impressed. But when I started into the second verse, my most difficult section, there was some improvisation that had to be done; I figured no one would know the difference.

I was abruptly corrected, and subsequently trumped in my lyrical recitation by Courtney Daniels herself. She knew the song like the back of her hand; way better than me. She proceeded to finish what I had started, leaving me silently dumbfounded at her excellence of lyrical recall. All I could do was listen in shock as she rattled off the entire track then whisked away down the sixth grade hallway. She completely stole my thunder.

One of these days, there will be a rematch. :)


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Latest from Reverend Tyson

Why did they hook him up with the erudite set? What's with the fake fauna in the window?

It's been a while since I've checked up on my main man Dr. Tyson. So tonight I cranked out a youtube search, filtered the results by upload date, and this was the first interesting clip that popped up.

A few days ago I was talking with someone about the Drake Equation (See here.) in a conversation involving the search for extraterrestrial life. In that same discussion, we also covered the possibility of living organisms under the ice surface of Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. We even got around to speculating the possible intellectual capacity of galactic travelers that may have swung by Earth. In each of this bits of the discussion, the information I've learned while listening to Dr. Tyson proved to be a welcome addition to our talk.

I'm quite excited I've found this set of lectures from Dr. Tyson. When he speaks during his guest appearances around the country, he doesn't really have time to elaborate on much of the information he presents. The nerd in me looks forward to Dr. Tyson expanding upon many of the topics I've heard him highlight over the years.

You know, I keep a growing list of astrophysics questions on my iPod just in case I bump into him.

Yup. I'm a big dweeb.


Monday, June 27, 2011

"I Am A Child."

Top Gear Season 17 episode 1

Funny. I've just posted the link to this video on the facebook wall of my friend Gary. Fourty-five minutes later, I was charged with potentially ruining a child with fanciful flights of speed and horsepower. I'm now smiling from ear to ear.

Enjoy. This is a really good one, too.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Classic Moments

This simple video is a record of what can only be described as a classic hip hop moment.

The Roots w/ "Weird" Al Yankovic cover "Accordion" by Madvillain

Last week on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon "Weird" Al Yankovic sat in as a guest of The Roots, Jimmy's house band. However, what never airs are the many jam sessions The Roots enjoy with their various guess artists. Fortunately for us, Questlove (The Roots drummer and unofficial mouthpiece) is an extremely generous cat who doesn't mind giving us the behind-the-cameras moments that are so extraordinary.

The lovely thing about this track is that it raises so many more questions for me.

Is "Weird" Al a fan of MF Doom and Madlib?
Did Quest give him the chords to play or did he just start into it?
Was Black Thought there, writing perhaps?
And if he was, why wasn't he rhyming!?
Does this mean we're gonna get a "Weird" Al/Roots/Madvillain performance on the show?
Is Al going to be on the next Roots album?
Are The Roots going to be on the next "Weird" Al album?
Is Al going to do a MF Doom parody?

To be honest, the purpose of these jam sessions is for the musicians to have fun messing around with harmonies and melodies for the sake of practice and fellowship. So many of my questions probably won't be answered; or at least answered the way I want. Nevertheless, this track is simply marvelous and I'm thrilled they put it out here for us.

And Quest's responses are priceless!


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Gil Scott-Heron

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" by Gil Scott-Heron

I'll hang back. I think Mr. Scott-Heron said plenty.

Thanks, Gil.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Samples Before Bedtime

So it's bedtime for me. My 45-minute ride home from rehearsal took two hours tonight due to maintenance on the bridge I took back to town. The traffic when from four lanes to ONE lane, so you can imagine the bottleneck that ensued.

So, to keep me company I spun my iPod up to DJ House Shoes and his album called King James Version Chapter 1: Verse I-V. Essentially, it's a collection of samples used by J-Dilla, all strung together to give the listener a fascinating and unique musical landscape through which to explore Mr. Yancey's body of work. Have a listen to Verse I.

This album is available for purchase on If you're a fan of J-Dilla and/or interested in having a bit more understanding as to how hip hop producers turn old records into new ones (in which case you'd have to also buy some Dilla records), pick up this album. It's brilliance is quite underrated.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hip Hop Summers: 101

I'm throwing down a gauntlet tonight. If you claim to be a follower of hip hop music and culture and you DO NOT know the words to this song, then you have some studying to do. (There are songs I should know that I don't. So I have studying to do, too!) As far as I can tell, summer doesn't begin in the world of hip hop until this song starts spinning on the radio.

Here, I'll even put up the lyrics so you may follow along. Don't say I've never done anything for you.

Verse 1:
Here it is, a groove slightly transformed,
Just a bit of a break from the norm,
Just a little somethin' to break the monotony,
Of all that hardcore dance that has gotten to be
A little bit out of control; it's cool to dance
But what about a groove that soothes and moves; romance?
Give me a soft subtle mix,
And if ain't broke then don't try to fix it.
And think of the summers of the past;
Adjust the base and let the alpine blast.
Pop in my CD and let me run a rhyme,
And put your car on cruise and lay back cause it's summertime.

Verse 2:
School is out and it's a sort of a buzz.
Back then I didn't really know what it was,
But now I see what happens it's
The way that people respond to summer madness.
The weather is hot and girls are dressing less,
And checking out the fellas to tell 'em who's best.
Riding around in your Jeep or your Benzos,
Or in your Nissan stting on Lorenzos.
Back in Philly we be ou in the park.
A place called the plateau is where everybody goes.
Guys out hunting and girls doing likewise;
Honking at the honey in front of you with the light eyes.
She turn around to see what you beeping at;
It's like the summer's a natural afrodisiac.
And with a pen and pad I compose this rhyme,
To hit you and to get you equipped for the summertime

Verse 3:
It's late in the day and I ain't been on the court yet;
Hustle to the mall to get me a short set.
Yeah I got on sneaks but I need a new pair,
'Cause basketball courts in the summer got girls there.
The temperature's about 88.
Hop in the water plug just for old times sake.
Break to ya crib change your clothes once more,
'Cause you're invited to a barbeque that's starting at four.
Sitting with your friends cause y'all reminisce
About the days growing up and the first person you kissed.
And as I think back makes me wonder how
The smell from a grill could spark up nostalgia.
All the kids playing out front,
Little boys messin' round with the girls playing double-dutch.
While the DJ's spinning a tune
As the old folks dance at your family reunion.
Then six o'clock rolls around,
You just finished wiping your car down.
It's time to cruise so you go
To the summertime hangout; it looks like a car show.
Everybody come lookin real fine;
Fresh from the barber shop or fly from the beauty salon.
Every moment frontin' and maxin';
Chillin' in the car they spent all day waxin'.
Leanin' to the side but you can't speed through,
Two miles an hour so everybody sees you.
There's an air of love and of happiness,
And this is the Fresh Prince's new defintion of summer madness.

There will be a test on August 31st. Be prepared.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Common and No I.D. Making More Magic

Here's a brand new track by Common and No I.D. called "Summer Madness." Have a listen.

No I.D. and Common have been collaborators since Com's first album Can I Borrow A Dollar? all the way back in 1992. Their most legendary and critically acclaimed partnership is their work on Com's second album, Resurrection, which is without question one of the most important productions in the history of hip hop music.

This track appears on a new EP from No I.D. called Cocaine 80s-The Pursuit EP. You can download it here:

All it'll cost you is a tweet!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Rhymes of Our Lives


"What's Up Doc (Can We Rock)" - Fu Schnickens feat. Shaq

This track was a sleeper, and I don't remember meeting anyone who followed rap who didn't rhyme along with the numerous hip hop quotables in this song. In fact, I have a friend from back home that built an entire track around a hook that included, "B-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D STICK 'EM!!! HA, HA, HA STICK 'EM!!!" (Is that a good way to write it?)

The thing I fondly remember most about this song is the way Shaq seemed to fit in with these guys quite seamlessly. If I'm not mistaken, this was considered the beginning of his hip hop career, which had some moderate successes. But none of what I heard after this appearance felt as alive and fun as this. I've always wondered why he didn't simply stay with the group. There was real chemistry here. (Perhaps now he's retired...)

Nevertheless, the song is a banger.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Current TV Has Been K.O.'ed

from "The Mouth That Roared Begins a New 'Countdown'" on

Keith Olbermann returned to cable television on Monday mad as hell and pointedly madder than other self-described liberal anchors on his former channel, MSNBC.

“This is to be a newscast of contextualization,” Mr. Olbermann told viewers on his new channel, Current TV. He promised to posit “that the weakest citizen in this country is more important than the strongest corporation.” His first guest and contributor was the muckraking filmmaker Michael Moore, who joined him in bemoaning President Obama’s decision to not seek Congressional approval before attacking Libya. At the same time on MSNBC, Mr. Olbermann’s successor, Lawrence O’Donnell, asked a longtime Obama confidant, David Axelrod, to respond to the president’s critics on the issue of same-sex marriage.

For more, check here.

I must admit, Keith's looking pretty good. It was endearing to see him back on television doing what it seems he absolutely loves to do.

I will say this. Keith is now the Chief News Honcho at Current TV in addition to hosting Countdown. And judging from the programming that book-ended his show, there's a lot of content there that's being overlooked due to our addiction to what Jon Stewart calls the "sensationalism and laziness" of the mainstream media (See CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, etc.). I hope Keith realizes that his presence on Current may possibly bring attention to many areas of social concern presently being tackled on his new network. However, that's no excuse to get carried away. No one needs yet ANOTHER 24-hour cable news network full of over-zealous pundits and polarizing shouting matches between the left and right. Fighting the urge to re-populate the place with more "contextualization" could, with a little luck, breath a little life back into the bewildering state of journalism.

Good luck, Keith. I'm glad you're back.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Good Ol' Days

Other than learning lines and watching movies, I've been spending my evening looking over some of these.

It's funny what we remember as kids; what affects us. If you're between the ages of 27 and 31 and you're parents were fortunate enough to pay for cable, you'll be smiling for the next five minutes or so. Enjoy!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Gil Scott-Heron

Here is Gil Scott-Heron's 1974 track "The Bottle".

Some time ago I remember having a conversation with my friend Mark, around the time Kanye West released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, about the trend of featured/guest artists on the majority of hip hop albums. Rap music has seemed to retain, and rightfully so, its ties to a foundation based in cipher (a cyclical rap session with multiple emcees rhyming one after the other). However, the first ciphers were mostly attended by emcees of like beliefs and experiences, and the cipher itself was a way in which these artists collectively told the stories of their communities.

I think Mark's reservation with the current practice of guest artists in hip hop is that many times a featured emcee functions more as a marketing tool rather than an additional voice to support or amplify a given aesthetic. I also think he's absolutely right.

For me, the most glaring example of this was during the LL Cool J and Canibus beef that captivated the hip hop world during the summer and fall of 1998. In the build-up to the war of words that followed their collaboration on LL's "4, 3, 2, 1", Canibus and LL had a phone conversation in an attempt to extinguish an inferno of hype and instigation that eventually led to their legendary battle. During that call, LL exposes how the higher-ups at his record label wouldn't allow Canibus to be in the video for "4, 3, 2, 1" and forced LL to replace 'Bus's verse with a rhyme from Master P; all in service of marketing to the South. (Listen to the entire call here. The part about Master P begins at 1:31. Note: this recording is not family friendly.)

What does all of this have to do with Scott-Heron, you ask?

Well, as I was listening to this track I began to wonder how a Gil Scott-Heron album would look and sound if it were released today. Setting aside anything about proper marketing or promotion, or whether or not Clear Channel or Viacom would ban him from their broadcasts for advocating against their corporate tyranny, what would it be? Who would produce the first single? Who would direct the first video? And who would possibly be able to appear as a guest on the album?

My first impulse is no one, at least not in a recording context. Any attempt to cram another singer or poet onto one of his tracks may only serve to weaken it through excess, dilution, or lack of focus. Gil is an absolute archetype and absolutely relentless in a way that is exceedingly specific to his own work. I've listened to quite a few poets and emcees over the years, and I simply can't imagine too many of them finding their footing within Gil's sense of political sophistication. That was the very root of his influence. Even though we've seen echos and remnants of it in recent times, the core of his impact will never be duplicated.

However, a live setting would be much different. And with the right guest artists (of which there are plenty) it would have been something to see.


Friday, June 17, 2011

The Winter's Tale: Off We Go!

Tonight was my first rehearsal with the Delaware Shakespeare Festival's cast of The Winter's Tale, and I had a really good time. It felt fantastic to be sitting with this large group of people at the beginning of a process that seems as if it's going to be enriching and quite exciting. This is my second experience with this play and I'm looking forward to being part of how this group tackles the play differently than the last. I'm also playing a different character this time (Antigonus before, Polixines now), so I'll be interested to explore a new journey through this play.

As a goof, I searched The Winter's Tale on youtube and this is what came up.

Now I don't know about you, but I think stop-motion animation is hilarious. I'm loving this.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bye Bye Weiner (A Quick Thought)

If you've been following this story, then you knew this was coming.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

As long as I've been alive this has been the climate of American politics; the politics of personal destruction. It's been the fog that masks the true dysfunctions and complications of government ever since Richard Nixon and Watergate. And even though I'm sure a hint of this has always permeated political chatter, and politicians have never been saints, the only function of these sagas is to distract the electorate from the true issues.

I hope we can someday move beyond this type of political discourse, but with cats like Andrew Breitbart around, I'm highly pessimistic.

Good luck, Anthony.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Average Rap Battle

To the uninitiated, I would suggest doing two things before watching this video.

1. Go watch some actual emcee battles to see how it really goes on.
2. Warm up your sense of humor.

Other than that, enjoy!

Programming Note: Memorizing lines is going well, so hopefully I'll be back writing more substantial stuff soon. Thanks for sticking with me.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Back to the Grind

"10 Best Day Jobs for Actors" from

I’m not talking about waiting tables or tending bar.

I’ve had a lot of jobs. One day at my current day job, someone asked me how many I’ve had. After counting, I realized that I have had over 30 days jobs. Some of them were great day jobs for actors. Others not so much. Here’s the run down of the jobs that I have seen work out best for actors.

For more, look here.

I gotta get back on the grind. Do you have any suggestions?


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Story Time with Pete Rock

from Complex magazine:

Without question, Soul Brother #1 Pete Rock is one of the most prolific, influential, and respected hip-hop producers of all time. His song catalog is extremely revered thanks to '90s classics such as Pete Rock & CL Smooth's "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)," Redman's "How To Roll A Blunt," Run DMC's "Down With The King," and Nas' "The World Is Yours," as well as modern day gems like last year's breath of fresh air, "The Joy," with Kanye West and Jay-Z.

And let's not forget the masterful remixes he created (and at times added dope lyrics to) with iconic artists like Public Enemy, House of Pain, and Jeru the Damaja, plus, his highly regarded Soul Survivor solo projects. Yes, twenty years deep, and Mount Vernon's finest remains among the top beat makers and most heavily sought after DJs in the industry.

More here.

Much like the Complex article featuring DJ Premier (look here!), Pete Rock runs down the stories to some of his most well-known and beloved tracks. Have a look!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Gil Scott-Heron

Tonight, I'm a man of few words and tons of fatigue. Driving with no air conditioning through the heat wave of the decade takes its toll. Nevertheless, I didn't want to go to bed tonight without at least sharing another poem by our current Emcee of the Month, Gil Scott-Heron.

I'm sure Gil will succeed where I am failing tonight.

Quick Programming Note: I will be posting lightly this week. I have to finish learning lines for a play, and if I don't get down on it, I'm toast!

Thanks for sticking around.


Friday, June 10, 2011

The Rhymes of Our Lives

I've never been able to listen to this song just once. Most of the time I play it at least three times in a row.

I've mentioned Chubb Rock's quintessential track "Treat 'Em Right" before in Hot Music: A Love Story. Because of the frequency with which I listened to that infamous mixtape, my affinity for this song grew at almost the same rate as for "Hot Music" itself. I firmly believe Chubb Rock is one of the most underrated emcees in hip hop history. He's a gang of classic verses and tracks like "Just the Two of Us", "The Chubbster", "Ya Bad Chubs", his appearance on 3rd Base's "Back to the Grill" (which also featured Nas), and his freestyle on the final episode on "Yo! MTV Raps". Check for this cat. I've never heard him come wack.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

That's Good Cornbread!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Cornbread Samurai.

The classics never get old.

And I'm being lazy tonight. I hope you enjoy!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Steve Jobs' iCity

He's not playing.

Not only is he building a city, but it's going to look like a friggin' UFO.

How many swaths of land in your town could use a revitalization like this? Think about it. How many empty parking lots and abandoned buildings with restricted access exist where you live? How many useless business parks with a bunch of off-white single story boxes occupied by very bored people do you pass everyday? Some of you may even work in them yourselves. How many out-of-date strip malls, or airports, or entire city blocks must we endure? How unimaginative have we been about reclaiming and re-purposing all this space we've misused?

Last year the city of Detroit began a project that I feel is very similar in scope and impact as the new Apple headquarters plan. Because of the cities decline in population and manufacturing during the past few decades, Detroit has begun reclaiming some of its abandoned sections of town and returning them to use for farming and agriculture. When I heard this I thought it was a magnificent idea. It requires an immense amount of grace and humility for a city to admit needing to take a step back to go forward. And really, that's only if one believes that creating farmland is a step back. (Personally, I don't.) It suggests an awareness and understanding of being flexible and responsive to not only the environmental but socioeconomic tides that greatly affect our world, especially in recent times.

Read more about Detroit's project here.

I think Apple's new headquarters is moving along the same path. Yes, the circumstances are much different. Detroit is a city looking to serve its residents, Apple is a corporation whose primary objective is to make profit. But I feel Steve Jobs' approach to building this new headquarters follows a philosophy of developing spaces for human occupancy that cooperate with the environment and the community. He talks about the desire to stay in Cupertino and continuing to pays taxes there. He highlights the fact the new headquarters will increase the amount of landscaping on the property by 350% and that it will have its own power station fueled by cleaner and cheaper means than the public grid. And more than anything, it seems he wants to build a campus that's truly a nice place to be for employees and visitors to Apple's headquarters. Aesthetic awareness seems to be a major emphasis of this project.

I hope one day I'll have an opportunity to actually see or visit this building. I think it will serve as a model of how we in America should begin thinking about the spaces in which we live. And keep in mind, these types of things have been going on in other parts of the world for sometime. I mean, Ferrari practically put a rain forest in their new factory for Christ's sake!

Now if he can just move the assembly of Apple's products back to the US, he might be on to something.

That's right. Look on the back of your iPhone/Pod/Pad/Book/Life. "Assembled in China" never looked so elegant.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"I remember when I lost my mind..."

The only way you didn't hear this song during the summer of 2006 is if you never found yourself within 50 feet of a functioning radio.

This is a live performance of "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley from Top of the Pops in 2006.

I was in Vancouver when "Crazy" was released, immersed in the work of the Voice Intensive. Hence, I didn't hear it until June when I flew back to Baton Rouge. No, I didn't have ready access to a radio in Vancouver. Those Canadians...

I actually think my first encounter was while working at Louisiana State University's student radio station KLSU 91.1 FM. The music director had put it in rotation. Seeing as how KLSU is primarily an über-indie alternative rock type of affair, the insertion of a track as popular as "Crazy" into the line-up was quite an achievement.

Because this song was a glimmering pearl in the dank and murky waters of pop music.

I cannot remember a time in which this song came on and didn't immediately make me feel like singing, shouting, and changing the world. It was like being injected with gold-plated happiness. I remember one specific instance when my homie Mark had learned the chords on his guitar. I stopped by his place one day just to hang out. He grabs his ax and with his best nine-year-old face said, "Watch this!" When he started in, I recognized it immediately and sang loudly and uncontrollably along with him. My homegirl Kesha, who was Mark's roommate at the time, overheard the jubilant and off-key ruckus coming from Mark's room and dashed in with a camera to immortalize the event. Somewhere, there is a picture...

Every so often I revisit this song to remind myself how music is supposed to feel. It's easily one of the most influential and magical songs of my lifetime. And as far as Rolling Stone magazine was concerned, it was the best song of the last decade.

Danger. Cee-lo. Third album, please?


Monday, June 6, 2011

Tony, Tony, Tony...

Dude. Your name is Weiner.

Really, dude. You REALLY should not have done this. You're a United States congressman who's last name is Weiner.


I got your back homie, because you have political beliefs with which I tend to agree. And truthfully, this thing has nothing to do with your ability to govern. But you've made things way more difficult than they need to be for yourself.

Good luck, Tony. You're going to need it.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Big Ride: Epilogue

Today I rode back to my home in Havelock, North Carolina from my trip to Asheville and Deals Gap. In all, I rode about 1,121 miles in the past four days. I also got to see my first burlesque show and canoe down the French Broad River.

I'm pretty beat after the 400 mile jaunt back home, so I think I'm going to keep it short tonight.

I'd like to thank my hosts, Michelle and Jason. I really have a gang 'o fun.

Here's one more picture of the SV on the Gap for good measure.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Gil Scott-Heron

From the Village Voice article "Gil Scott-Heron, R.I.P." by Greg Tate:

You know why Gil never had much love for that ill-conceived Godfather of Rap tag? If you're already your own genre, you don't need the weak currency offered by another. If you're a one-off, why would you want to bask in the reflected glory of knock-offs? If you're already Odin, being proclaimed the decrepit sire of Thor and Loki just ain't gonna rock your world.

Gil knew he wasn't bigger than hip-hop—he knew he was just better. Like Jimi was better than heavy metal, Coltrane better than bebop, Malcolm better than the Nation of Islam, Marley better than the King James Bible. Better as in deeper—emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, politically, ancestrally, hell, probably even genetically. Mama was a Harlem opera singer; papa was a Jamaican footballer (rendering rolling stone redundant); grandmama played the blues records in Tennessee. So grit shit and mother wit Gil had in abundance, and like any Aries Man worth his saltiness he capped it off with flavor, finesse and a funky gypsy attitude.

More here.

In all honesty, I've been going back and forth about having the recently departed Scott-Heron as Emcee of the Month. When I first considered it, I thought it was a decent idea. Sure, my dinky little blog would never be capable of offering a fitting tribute to the loss of such a musical, literary, social, and cultural icon. But if I could contribute to the bouquet of voices celebrating his legacy with such poetry and brilliance, I felt that I would have done my part.

Then I read this article.

I was never aware of Gil's distaste of the recognition he received for being a direct predecessor to hip hop music. For me it seemed to be a natural connection. But after this read, I had to agree with Mr. Tate. Gil is way better than most of these emcees that currently occupy our radio waves and television screens. And though there is a connection, what he was doing was not rap. It's the wrong term for Gil's work, largely because it carries too much of today's social stigma. Gil was doing necessary sociopolitical commentary with flourish, aggression, and thought, accompanied by an instrumental heartbeat recognizable to black community. I don't know what the short and simple label would be that could fit the scope and complexity of his art, but it's certainly not "Godfather of Rap".

However, I do believe emcee is, at the very least, applicable to how he did what he did. The word we hip hoppers know as 'emcee' evolved from the homophonic acronym M.C., which stands for master of ceremonies. That's the key. A ceremony is an event or occasion of communal and spiritual importance; a rite of passage. The word's Latin origin 'ceremonia' means "sacredness" or "reverent rite". Therefore, an emcee's charge is to hold, guide, and enhance the ceremony. And considering his ability to do just that, Gil Scott-Heron was undeniably a master.

Here is Gil Scott-Heron's "The King Alfred Plan". Enjoy.


Friday, June 3, 2011

The Big Ride (Day 2)

What a day, what a day.

In all, I rode a little over 300 miles today. There's not much that I can say that won't be better with pictures. So allow me to present the abbreviated pictorial version of my journey to Deals Gap.

And yes, I know the photos are huge and spilling off of the page. I don't know how to make them smaller. Sue me.

The first road I explored NC 28, from its junction with US 74 and US 129. There was very little traffic and the temperature was cooler than I had expected. The road was draped with tree branches for much of the way, and got quite technical towards the end. It was a good warm up for what was to come next. Here's a photo of my SV650 at the start of NC 28; well the good part.

Then I reached the Gap. From what I could tell this was a light day. The famous dragon sign caught me by surprise when I saw it. For some reason I was expected to see it off in the distance a bit before I got up the resort. Obviously I had to stop and take some shots of the staging area for the Gap's entrance.

Outside of the lodging section of the resort there is a tree adorned with the wrecked bits of motorcycles that have met their demise at the Gap. It's called "The Tree of Shame". None of my bike's parts are on it. :)

After I grabbed a bottle of water and checked out some of the other bikes in the parking lot, I decided it was time for me to do what I came here to do. So I mounted my trusty steed and we putted out of the parking lot.

This road isn't for the faint of heart. The first thing I noticed was that most of the corners were incredibly banked, much more than I had imagined from pictures and videos. Some of them must have been 25 or 30 degrees. It took me a while to get used to how I should turn into them; most of the twisty roads I've ridden have been much flatter. But after a mile or two, I got the hang of it and developed a good rhythm. It really wasn't all that bad as long as I wasn't riding like a hooligan.

I eventually caught up to a slower group of riders, so I decided that was a good time to pull over and get a shot of the SV on the road itself. I mean, I need proof!

Here's another picture towards the end of the road. Many of the riders will stop here at this overlook to rest and/or turn around to head back the other way.

I kept going north on 129 until I found myself riding along side this marvelous body of water called Chilhowee Lake. I couldn't pass this place without getting some shots. It was quite beautiful.

Here's another one of just the lake itself.

Now, my homie Matt told me about a road I needed to see called the Cherohala Skyway. I believe "magic" was the exact word he used to describe it. So I guess I had to go check it out. After having a disgusting and delicious chili, jalapeño, and cheese burger, I shot over to TN 165 (the beginning of the Skyway) to see what I found. Here's a picture at the beginning of the road.

If you look carefully, you can see the tail of a Dodge Viper heading away from me. I had to pull over to wait for a whole gang of them to get out of site. They were holding me up.

"Magic" is absolutely right. This has to be the most wondrous 43 miles of road in the Eastern United States. There were all types of features; twisty sections, long sweepers, undulating straights, and breath-taking views. I can't imagine a road being more perfect for riding or driving. Now I know why that horde of Vipers drove up this way today. That's about the only road out this way worth traveling. And in case you're wondering, yes it's better than Deals Gap; by a long way.

I was feeling pretty worn out about halfway down the Skyway. My legs were shaking, my attention wasn't what is was this morning, and my earplugs kept popping out due to changes in altitude. Yea, it was time to head home.

I took the Skyway back to Hwy 28, then made my way back to Michelle and Jason's crib in Asheville. I think I did about all I could do, and I was satisfied with my fatigue. I had visited one of motorcycling's holy grounds, and I didn't fall. That was cool with me.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Big Ride (Day 1)

Well, I've made it safely to Asheville, NC and I'm comfortably in bed at the home of my friend Michelle and her husband Jason. I am excited to spend time with them while I'm here. I think we're going canoeing on Saturday!

The ride to here from my home in Havelock was just shy of 400 miles, which is a record for me. Doing all those miles on the interstate was rather tedious and quite boring (my hip sockets were the biggest complainers), but it wasn't a bad day for a ride. The sun was out and the traffic was light.

Tomorrow, I head out to the Gap. I can't wait to see this place. I talked with my homie Matt earlier this evening and he suggested some other routes to explore in addition to the Gap, so I'll give a report of those as well.

But now, it's time to sleep. Tomorrow is a big day.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Big Ride

Tomorrow's the day. I'm taking off on my bike and riding to my friend Michelle's crib in Asheville, North Carolina. I'm a bit nervous, really. I've never ridden this far on my bike by myself before. I know plenty who have and I'm confident in my ability to make the trip. Nevertheless, I'm still a bit anxious.

The plan is to stay in Asheville tomorrow night, ride out to Deals Gap for the day on Friday, hang out in Asheville on Saturday, then back home to Havelock, North Carolina on Sunday. In all, the total distance is going to be north of 1000 miles. Oh boy...

I'm also going to treat this trip as a sort of mini-pilgrimage. Since my big pilgrimage for this year was cut a bit short, I think this will serve as an acceptable alternative. I'll have time alone to think and consider things. I'm also taking my Winter's Tale work with me, which I plan to attend as thoroughly as the traffic. So far, I'm cautiously optimistic about my progress.

I don't know if I'll have any blog time, but if I do I'll be here. And I definitely won't miss Saturday's Emcee of the Month post. I plan to take a bunch of pictures, so I'll get those on here if I can.

Check you all later!