Sunday, July 31, 2011


Well, it's over...almost.

Last night was Delaware Shakespeare Festival's final performance of The Winter's Tale in Rockwood Park. It was a wonderful audience, more vocal than most. We also didn't have any of the weather issues which plagued our run during the second week. But more than anything, everyone seemed to have a ton of fun doing the show and we all had a great time at the closing night party.

Fortunately for us, we'll have one more shot at the show this coming Thursday. The company has been invited to perform at The Freeman Stage in Selbyville, DE. Admission is totally free, so if you're in the area and would enjoy an evening of Shakespeare, I wholeheartedly recommend coming to see us. I must admit this is one of the most solidly performed productions of Shakespeare that I've had the pleasure to work.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Elzhi

Zhi channels Esco.

I've had a love/hate relationship with the current trajectory of hip hop music. Much of the recent work has placed an emphasis on lyrics that employ very few words but still communicate the emcee's wit and cleverness. It's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it challenges rappers to work within very narrow parameters while still practicing the age old ritual of artistic one-upmanship. However, it conversely acclimates the listeners to a much less syllabically rich lyrical tapestry. The audience is no longer able to process the same quantities of information.

I hope the efforts of emcees like Elzhi work to counteract this phenomenon. This type of ability should not go unnoticed. This is truly a dope track. I hope you enjoy.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Old News

I'm hitting the hay. But while checking my email tonight, I've been enjoying my revisit to the Auto-Tune the News series of videos by The Gregory Brothers. Here's my absolutely favorite:

I'm sure you've seen these, especially judging by the views these videos have. But if not, enjoy!

I love this clips!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Rhymes of Our Lives

"I Used to Love H.E.R." by Common

The funny thing about this track is that even though it was released in 1994, I didn't actually hear it until some time around 1999 or 2000. I first heard Common on the Rawkus compilation album from 1999, Soundbombing II. His appearance on the album, a track called "1-9-9-9", was one of the stand-outs on the disc and inspired me to know more about him. Eventually, I found my way to his most recent full length record (at the time) One Day It'll All Make Sense and his legendary Resurrection album. After purchasing both and entering them into heavy rotation in my CD changer I became fascinated with "I Used to Love H.E.R.", as so many did upon its initial release. Never before had I heard such a well conceived and executed metaphor in a hip hop song, or anywhere for that matter. This song is an exquisite poetic moment.

I hope you enjoy.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Great Escape

I'm hitting the sack, but I leave you with a truly inspiring story.

Judging by the amount of views, you may have already seen it. But if not, be prepared to glue yourself to the screen for the next eight minutes. This is absolutely remarkable.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Great Divide

from "Study Shows Racial Wealth Gap Grows Wider" by Pam Fessler:

There's long been a big gap between the wealth of white families and the wealth of African-Americans and Hispanics. But the Great Recession has made it much worse — the divide is almost twice what it used to be.

That's according to a new study by the Pew Research Center, which says that the decline in the housing market is the main cause.

The numbers are astounding. The median wealth of a white family in 2009 was 20 times greater than that of the average black family, and 18 times greater than the average Hispanic family. In other words, the average white family had $113,149 in net worth, compared to $6,325 for Hispanics and $5,677 for blacks.

That's the largest gap since the government began collecting the data a quarter of a century ago, and twice what it was before the start of the Great Recession.

For more, see here.

Preface: There is a possibly controversial assumption being made here. Please feel free to comment in order for us all to weigh the idiosyncrasies of this issue.

Yesterday, I had to appear at the Philadelphia courthouse for jury duty. I thought it odd, actually. Out of all the places I've lived, I've spent the least amount of time in Philly (it'll be a year in five days) but apparently the demand for jurors here is substantial.

I showed up at 8:15am for my day of service, passed through the standard issue metal detectors, and made my way into the initial juror holding room with a couple hundred other potential jury candidates. After about an hour of waiting and napping, a group of us was summoned upstairs to a courtroom for interviews. After more waiting, and some light reading, we were all told the defendant for the case we would have examined decided to make a plea. We were no longer needed for that particular case. Therefore, we were all sent back downstairs to the initial holding room for the possibility of being selected for other cases. More waiting and napping occurred. Finally around 11:30am, our group was called once again. We were led out into the hallway and told we were free to go. Cue waves of relief! We were given explanations for our employers and checks for our time (Mine was for nine bucks. I don't know what anyone else got; probably nine bucks.). I made my way home and fell asleep for the rest of the day. Eight fifteen in the morning doesn't really float my boat.

To be honest, I actually look forward to the day when I'll be able to serve as a juror. It may be the last place in the system that is America where an individual's voice can truly make a difference. But now is simply not the time, primarily because I do not currently have the financial stability to sustain a jury stint longer than the three hours of yesterday's adventure. Evidently, I'm not the only one. Most of the African and Latino American communities in this country are struggling with the same economic difficulties as I am. And I'm willing to bet my last dollar most of the black and Latino folks in that holding room with me were fully prepared to claim financial hardship as the primary reason they couldn't serve. I certainly was. So are we to conclude that the only people in this country who are financial capable of serving as jurors are white and Asian people?

In a system that disproportionately tries and imprisons people of Latin and African descent, this is a really big problem. If I, a politically charged, black, male, motorcycling theatre artist from the South, were on trial for a crime and I had a sea of white-only businessmen and property owners deciding my fate, I would be hard pressed to consider that a "jury of my peers".


Monday, July 25, 2011

Rap Historians

These guys...

If you need to get caught up, check out part one here.

One of the best things about these segments from Jimmy and Justin is that they are perfectly happy to inject some relatively obscure tracks into these hip hop medleys of theirs. I mean, the average tourist on the streets of New York probably won't be familiar with songs like "The Choice is Yours (This or That)" by Black Sheep or "Award Tour" by A Tribe Called Quest. Hopefully Fallon's audience, both in the studio and at home, will take some time to go find some of these songs they may not know and learn a bit more about the vast variety in hip hop music.

I hope Justin and Jimmy keep going on these. These clips are super-dope!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reverend Tyson Does It Again

It's waaaaaaaay too late for me right now, especially considering I have a duty to perform tomorrow. So I leave you tonight with one of my heroes, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.

This is science literacy at its absolute best.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Elzhi

If you are unfamiliar with the work of Nasir Jones I would suggest having a listen here, here, and here before watching the video below. These are selected track from his legendary 1994 release Illmatic, which was the inspiration and blueprint for Elzhi's latest project, ELmatic. Download a free copy of ELmatic at Elzhi's website here.

A couple days ago I posted a tribute to The Roots, a group of artists who have significantly affected my views on artistry and performance. I think Elzhi's collaboration with funk/soul/hip hop/experimental/jazz band Will Sessions is a wonderfully fitting example of the kinds of things capable with live instrumentation in hip hop. After having a listen to the original Nas tracks, then the Elzhi recreations, I must admit the flair and texture of actual instruments is much more appealing and inspires more interest and movement, at least with me. There's something about the inconsistency and unpredictability of live sound that catches my ear in a way programmed counterparts simply doesn't.

Don't get me wrong; my admiration for hip hop producers like Pete Rock, DJ Premier, and J Dilla. The feats they achieve with programmable instrumentation are nothing less than extraordinary. But every once in a while, I crave live sounds. Thankfully, this album delivers a healthy blend of both. Give it a listen. It's dope.


Friday, July 22, 2011

A Man Possessed

This is Jim Meskimen, and he's simply brilliant.

I'm such a sucker for stuff like this.

I spent almost an entire year at York University studying the intricacies of voice, text, and speech sounds in the service of theatrical performance. One of the most important and challenging part of my studies was the exploration of accent and dialect patterns. We spent significant amounts of time practicing the most effective ways to dissect and reproduce any given dialect or accent, with a substantial emphasis on using the International Phonetic Alphabet. In fact, there is a wonderful book by co-authors Edda Sharpe and Jan Haydn Rowles called How to Do Accents (See here.) that serves as a easy-to-use guide on the journey towards playing new dialects. In the book, Rowles and Sharpe emphasize the importance of finding the sensory and rhythmic aspects of a new dialect and using them as the foundation around which the dialect is built. Mr. Meskimen's here is a fantastic illustration of someone who's employed these aspects to delightful effect.

The most amazing thing about this video is how Jim is able to use the rhythms and idiosyncrasies of each new impression to continue the argument and story of the text. Playing Shakespeare's work is already difficult enough without having to change dialects mid-thought. Somehow, as absurd as it seems, the transition between Droopy Dog (This guy.) and Morgan Freeman (This guy.) seems almost natural and organic.

I listened to the clip once through while following the text he used and it's true he missed and/or paraphrases some bits, but the sense of it is all there. And considering he played in 25 different dialects, I think I'll cut him some slack.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Simple Tribute

"Act Too...The Love of My Life" by The Roots feat. Common

I wonder how my musical life would have been different if I was never exposed to The Roots. Perhaps I would be much more into other genres of music, like classic soul or reggae. Maybe I wouldn't have such a unrelenting desire to see or hear live music (because live Roots shows are simply the best in the world). It's possible I would have never even become an artist, rather a veterinarian or a motorcycle mechanic. Because The Roots are, quite literally, one of the most influential groups of musicians to my personal sense of artistic aesthetic. They have been at the epicenter of just about every important moment of hip hop for the last 15 years, (the exposure and mentoring of J Dilla, the formation of The Soulquarians, accompanying Jay-Z's appearance on MTV Unplugged, performance in the concert film Dave Chappelle's Block Party, the house band gig on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, etc.) and have proved to be one of the most consistent, thoughtful, versatile, and innovative groups in the history of music.

This is my favorite track from their 1999 release Things Fall Apart. They do Philly proud.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Confessions of a Turk

Can someone please tell me what's going on at MSNBC?

Cenk? Any thoughts?

For the uninitiated, Cenk Uygur is the co-founder and main host for the internet political talk show The Young Turks. TYT began in 2002, and has since become a significant outlet for liberal/progressive political commentary. TYT's Youtube channel receives about 19 million views per month, making it one of the most popular destinations on the internet.

This video doesn't surprise me. For as long as I've been alive, the media and the government have shared an unwritten agreement not to prod too deeply into each other's affairs. Unfortunately, this press/political group massage ensures the public will never really know the truth about what our government is doing, and why. More power to Cenk for holding fast to his ideals. I think he made the right move.

I think I hear Current TV calling. Keith, can you get this guy a job?


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Rhymes of Our Lives

Craig Mack
1000 degrees
You'll be on your knees
And you'll be burnin', beggin' please!
Brother FREEZE!

Craig Mack's hip hop career was a cascade of misfortune and ill-timed circumstance, especially considering how important he was to the start-up of Sean 'Puffy' Combs' Bad Boy Records. When "Flavor in Your Ear" was released in 1994, it became the signature sound of Bad Boy production until the release of Ready to Die by the Notorious B.I.G. However, Puffy eventually shifted Biggie into the flagship role of Bad Boy's artist line-up, leaving Craig Mack to flounder in the wings. Ever since Puffy's disinterest in promoting him, Craig struggled to find a recording company that he could call home, and it's rumored he eventually left music alone all together in 2008.

Personally, I always felt badly for Craig. I honestly believe he was, and probably still is, a very talented emcee and deserved the opportunity to continue making music like this.

If anyone knows where Craig is now, shake his hand for me and thank him for this track. It's a classic.


Monday, July 18, 2011

A Quick Thought on Auditioning

In the past couple of weeks, I've attended what feels like a gazillion auditions, for various theatrical productions in the greater Philadelphia area. In all honesty, I've had a ton of fun at every single one.

However, there is an element to auditions that I never considered (or realized) when studying to become an actor. Auditions are really, really hard work.

Firstly, there's the task of simply getting to the audition location. Since most thriving theatre communities exist in major metropolitan areas, this will almost always involve crowded buses, tardy trains, or heavy road traffic. Planning time for unforeseen delays and detours can be quite tricky, especially on days with multiple auditions (like today).

Then there is the extreme variety of roles for which I've been auditioning. Each one is so very unique and different from the next; it's a tough job keeping up with who is who and making the transitions from playing one character (with a distinct set of beliefs, needs, and ideals) to another. This element is compounded by the necessity of reading all the wonderful plays I've been sent in order to have a more complete sense of who these people are. It truly requires a full time effort.

However, I feel the most challenging aspect of this flurry of auditions is meeting and interacting with the various personalities in the audition room, especially from directors. Each one has his or her own feel, sense, or impulses for making theatre. Being open and receptive to such a wide range of suggestion and adjustment is an absolute must, but more often than not leads to intriguing discoveries in the moment and movement of an audition. And every moment requires complete commitment and abandon. I'm tellin' ya, tough stuff.

Nevertheless, everyone I've met has been nothing but welcoming, accommodating, sincere, and professional. I'm really very happy to finally be making my way, and in such a first rate theatre community. I'm having a great time.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Hook

My only hope tonight is to get you hooked (if you haven't been already) on watching this.

This is the first bit of Long Way Round, a documentary filmed in 2004 following motorcycling buddies Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor in their journey from London to New York. Their trip took over three months and covered approximately 19,000 miles, all on BMW 1150GS motorcycles.

My good friend Matt and I have a continuous discussion about circling the country on our bikes, and this documentary is a powerful inspiration for us. He's already done something similar when he and one of his motorcycling friends from Louisiana rode the Trans-America Trail. Check out their ride reports here if you're interested. It was quite a ride.

Even if you don't have interests in motorcycling, this is still a wondrous journey to watch.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Elzhi

Here is a clip of Elzhi performing a quick verse at The Conga Room in Los Angeles during a Slum Village show in 2009.

For me, this is Elzhi's greatest asset as an emcee. His ability to write incredibly intricate verses, with loads of alliteration, assonance, hyperbole, and simile, makes him one of the most talented lyricists in this generation of hip hop artists. With the current climate of rap music I feel that although there is never a shortage of cleverness and wit, lyricism is at a premium. It's always refreshing to witness an emcee that is willing to take time working with the poetic limitations of rap.

Elzhi goes hard.


Friday, July 15, 2011

We're Open!

Last night, we opened Delaware Shakespeare Festival's The Winter's Tale in Rockwood Mansion Park, just on the outskirts of Wilmington, DE. It was a wonderful night.

If you get a chance to see it I can guarantee you'll have a lovely summer evening in the park, as long as you bring enough bug spray!

Look here for more information.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Soul Painters from Brooklyn

I promise. Once this show opens this weekend, I won't be so lame with writing stuff. This week has been rigorous.

So allow me to give some shine to my homies Not Blood Paint.

NBP is a rock/funk/rock/theatre/rock band born in Michigan and based in Brooklyn, NY. They'll be playing at The Knitting Factory this coming Saturday (July 16th), one of the most celebrated music venues in the city of New York. If you're in the area and are down with dope music and mesmerizing live performances, check these cats out. They put it down every time.

For more info on NBP, check out their blog here.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Big Deal

Once again, it's past my bedtime. Tech rehearsals for The Winter's Tale are going well. Tomorrow is our preview performance, and I'm really looking forward to it!

This is what's caught my eye this evening.


A fourth straight day of negotiations intended to head off a possible government default ended on a tense note Wednesday, with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and President Barack Obama squaring off over the Republican's call for a short-term extension of the federal debt ceiling.

At one point, Obama said the political wrangling confirmed what the public considers to be the worst of Washington, according to Democratic sources familiar with the talks who spoke on condition of not being identified.

Multiple sources, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Obama told the gathering that "this could bring my presidency down," referring to his pledge to veto any short-term extension of the debt ceiling. Sources say he vowed, "I will not yield on this."

For more, see here.

I'll only say one quick thing about this. If it's true the President walked out on the Republicans today, then more power to him. It's about time he stopped letting the Republicans maneuver him into corners time and again. And sure, I understand the political reasons for his past cave-ins, but I think he truly has the upper hand this time, and he better not let it go.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Tonight was another night of technical rehearsals at Delaware Shakespeare Festival. The show is coming along well, but I'm beat. So I leave you tonight with a breathtaking clip of the talents of one Casey Stoner.

Casey is a professional motorcycle racer in the world's most prestigious class of two-wheeled racing, MotoGP. He rides for the team fully funded and supplied by Honda, which also employs three other MotoGP racers: Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso, and Marco Simoncelli. In 2007 Casey won the MotoGP championship riding for Ducati, and has made the move to Honda for at least the next two seasons.

This video is a fantastic demonstration of how much skill and moxie these guys have. Because what Casey does here seems simply otherworldly. Have a look.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Stop Playin'

Tonight, I have no commentary, no insight, or no thoughts that need extensive exploration. It's too late for that.

All I want to know tonight is when Tim and Bus are going to release this track!!!

We need to get someone on this right now.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Quick Thought on Community

As of this morning, I've been a member of the Philadelphia theatre community for 11 months and 10 days. I've mailed or emailed dozens headshots and resumes, attended tons of auditions, and seen as many plays as my time and resources can afford. It's been a difficult, exhausting, wonderful, inspiring, thoughtful, blinding experience. Even though it's been a year, it's really only felt like a month. I hardly know where the time went.

And in the first months, I hardly knew a soul in town.

Tonight I went to see a fantastic outdoor production of Richard III by Commonwealth Classic Theatre Company. (If you have a chance, check it out! There's information here!) Some of my castmates from Delaware Shakespeare Festival's The Winter's Tale where there to enjoy the show. (If you have a chance, check us out! There's information here!) After the show, many of us stuck around to meet new people, catch up with old friends, and laugh with familiar faces.

As the stories and conversations played on, I began to feel something different about myself tonight.

I genuinely felt as if I was becoming a part of something in this town; a collective; a culture; a society. Due to the important work I've done so far in Philly (both on my own and with others), I've begun to build a respectable history for myself here. I'm no longer the guy that someone met at the bar one time, humbling announcing myself as the new guy in town. I have new energies in my life that are becoming important and welcomed facets of my experience. I felt the beginnings of friendships and important conversations. I sense I'm starting down the right path towards being a productive member of a first rate theatrical community.

It's a good feeling, and I'm incredible grateful.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Elzhi

This is an interview of Elzhi by The Hip Hop Chronicle UK. Decent interviews of this cat are hard to find.

Why is the camera moving around so much!? Hold still!

What's best about this dude is his genuine sense of humility and gratitude. I don't think Elzhi ever really planned to be as much in the (relative) limelight as he finds himself now. He's a former member of one of hip hop's most legendary groups, consistently mentioned as one of the most gifted rap lyricists working in this era, and is part of a small number of very talented emcees who carry torches for Detroit hip hop. I think all he ever hoped was to be a dope emcee and give some hot live performances. I have an immense amount of respect for this cat's accomplishments so far, but most especially for not losing himself along the way.

In addition to this video, I've found this written interview of Elzhi by Kevin Nottingham. (See here.) This is a very smart interview and fills in a lot of information most of the videos don't capture. I encourage you to have a look.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Blue Yonder

Is this it? Have we arrived?

from the Daily Mail:

It's been cleared to take to the skies for more than a year - but that's not much use when you're supposed to be able to drive it, too.

But now the flying car has at least been declared officially road legal. It means the Terrafugia Transition could be in U.S. garages as early as next autumn, after two years of delays.

It may not be the world's first flying car, but its makers say it is the first to have wings that fold up automatically at the push of a button.

For more, check here.

As much as I've been hoping for the eventuality of personal automobile/aircraft hybrids purchasable by the general public, I have reservations about this thing. I'm not certain our society is prepared to handle the responsibility of flight-for-all. I mean, we can't even get through a week of morning and afternoon commutes to work without having accidents all over the place. What makes us think we're ready for mass quantities of flying cars?

On top of this the Transition has a sticker price of $200,000, more or less the same as a Ferrari 430. Which means that only people with enormous amounts of money will even be able to consider buying one. And even with the limited number of Transitions that would be in service at that price, there will still be those that 'hooliganize' their usage. I can see it now; some fool that's had one too many trying to use I-95 as a runway.

Nevertheless, if I had the money I'd have one of these in a HEARTBEAT. Sign me up!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Deep Crates

I can't believe it's been three years since I started checkin' for this cat's videos.

This funky homo sapien's name is DJ Funktual and he's been running this series of "Top 10 Samples..." since the spring of 2008. Around this time I was beginning to develop an interest in how hip hop tracks are orchestrated, and how the producer fits into the creative process. As I was searching for videos on sampling and beat making, I stumbled upon DJ Funktual's first "Top 10..." video (see here). I was instantly a fan. Funktual's genuine love and exuberance for classic funk and soul music is delightfully infectious, and his knowledge of samples and break beats is incredibly extensive.

So far, DJ Funktual has gifted us 490 samples in just the "Top 10..." segment alone; he's many more videos that focus on samples rock records, reggae records, Issac Hayes records, an so on. It'll take you quite a while to exhaust his offerings, so you better get started. This cat knows his stuff.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

History of The Amen Break

So it's way too late for me to be a constructive writer. Instead, I offer you this video.

This marvelous clip tells the history of one of the most influential six seconds of music in the past 60 years. Have a listen, and thanks for sticking with me.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Rhymes of Our Lives (Audition Special)

I usually don't like to do "Rhymes/Lives" segments twice in one week, but this time I couldn't help it. I'm super-excited!

Tomorrow I have the pleasure and privilege of kickin' a rhyme in an audition. I've been waiting 15 years for this opportunity. He's what I've picked.

The Pharcyde - "Passing Me By"

I have an audition in the morning for a play called The Bombitty of Errors, which is a retelling of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors in rap verse. The audition notice requests the actors bring one comedic monologue and one hip hop verse. Now, the monologue I've been exploring for a little less than a year now; Charlie from In Arabia We'd All Be Kings. But the verse (the last one on the track by Fatlip) has lived with me for well over a decade. I remember my friend Miguel buying The Pharcyde's debut album Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde back in 1992 and playing this track like it was the only music that had ever been created. Our pre-teen brains soaked the lyrics like sponges.

By the time college rolled around, and the era of Napster, I had rediscovered this tune, eventually purchasing the album myself on CD. Needless to say it was rotated substantially during those years.

I can't wait for tomorrow. This is going to be fun!


Monday, July 4, 2011

Irony: 101

If this didn't cost someone his life, I would have been rolling on the floor when I read this:

from the Associated Press

Police say a motorcyclist participating in a protest ride against helmet laws in upstate New York died after he flipped over the bike's handlebars and hit his head on the pavement.

The accident happened Saturday afternoon in the town of Onondaga, in central New York near Syracuse.
State troopers tell The Post-Standard of Syracuse that 55-year-old Philip A. Contos of Parish, N.Y., was driving a 1983 Harley Davidson with a group of bikers who were protesting helmet laws by not wearing helmets.

You can read the rest here.

I live in a no-helmet-law state (Pennsylvania). It's not easy being a motorcyclist here. When I have conversations with folks here about riding motorcycles, I frequently get someone glaring at me with the 'organ donor' face. It's as if they're having one last look at me before I meet some untimely fate on The Schuylkill Expressway; like I have some kind of death wish.

The culture of motorcycling here is under substantial stress due to the frequency and severity of motorcycling incidents, especially those involving head injuries. A University of Pittsburgh study done in 2008 found a 32% increase in head injury deaths and a 42% increase in head injury hospitalizations in the two years after Pennsylvania repealed its universal helmet law in 2003. This increase happened in spite of the growing number of motorcycles on the roads.

You can read the study here.

Now, imagine there's a gang of people in your city who look like Nick Nolte. If you befriend any of these folks, there is a possibility s/he might take a picture of your junk and put it on the internet. Now, some people will simply choose not to make friends with a Nick Nolte; they'll be pretty safe. But others will remember his work in Paris, je t'aime or Affliction and think, "Well, Nick Nolte can't be that bad, can he? I mean, he's a halfway decent actor and an interesting guy. Let me see what he's about." All of a sudden, the government makes clothing optional in your town, and now these Nick Noltes are snapping 32% more junk this year than they did last year. They're able to defame 32% more people on the internet, that means more people getting fired, or ostracized, or even arrested for indecency in cyberspace. If that happens year after year, then you're simply going to start fearing, dismissing, or hating everyone who looks like Nick Nolte.

That what happens when helmet laws are defeated. The general population develops an ever-growing and illogical fear of motorcycling due to feats of ignorance and Darwinism, which leaves the careful ones to bear the criticism. Personally, I'm growing impatient with the view of motorcycling in this place. I shouldn't need to reconcile my choice to ride based on someone else's lack of judgement or preparation.

If I'm still living here when the helmet law debate comes up again, I'm getting on the front line of that fight. A declining mortality rate makes everything easier. It certainly would have for Mr. Contos.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Church of Goodwood

It's past my bedtime. And when I hit the sack, I'll be dreaming of this; watching the hill climb at the Goodwood:

This past weekend was the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the world's most eclectic and, dare I say, inclusive auto and motorcycle show. Every year, the Festival selects a variety of cars and bikes to attend the event in a celebration of internal combustion. This hill climb has seen everything from late model supercars, to F1 racers, MotoGP prototypes, steam-powered vehicles, and even top fuel dragsters cranking out 3000 hp. Additionally, many of the world's most legendary drivers and riders also make appearances, not only to meet the people in attendance but to actually pilot their priceless machines up the hill climb course.

I remember watching drag racing on television with my dad as a kid, and I'm pretty sure that where I inherited my gearhead gene. We would watch these 5000 hp monstrosities billow massive plumes of smoke from those four-foot wide tires and rocket to 280 mph in five seconds. There were racers for whom we would always cheer (loudly); Bob Glidden, Joe Amato, John Force, and Don 'The Snake' Prudhomme. The thing is though, we never had a chance to see them race in person. I can't begin to imagine how it would be to actually see those guys drive their cars one more time. What a sight/sound/smell/taste/feeling it must be.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Elzhi

This cat is so nice, it's actually unfair.

I remember living in Atlanta when Slum Villiage's sophomore effort Trinity (Past, Present, Future) was released in 2002. The big news with Slum Village at the time was the departure of J Dilla and the addition of a new emcee to the group, Elzhi. In those days, I would frequently visit the Saturday night radio show of my good friend Marcel and hang out at the station until the wee hours. It was during one of those visits when Marcel tossed me a station give-away copy of Trinity. I popped it in the cd player of my Jeep Cherokee and had a listen.

I think it took me until track four, "La La", before I fully integrated this gravity of Elzhi's introduction. But after I heard El say, "Gat slangin' with my arm in the shape of an 'L', lettin' my fingers walk/I never been down to earth, I just been deep in thought," I knew I was witnessing the emergence of an incredible artist. And even though Elzhi had been making the usual rounds in the Detroit hip hop scene, his involvement with Slum Village between 2001 and 2010 thrust him into the view of the most well-respected music makers in hip hop. He is the proverbial "favorite rapper's favorite rapper".

One thing to note about Elzhi's process is that he is a writer; he rarely, if ever, works in spontaneous rhyme. Therefore, finding a clip of him performing a non-written freestyle is next to impossible. (If you come across one, let me know!) So here's a quick clip of a written freestyle of his that was posted to youtube about a year ago. Check 'em out. He's ill.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Planking: The Line Between Stupidity and Brilliance

Judging by the number of views this video has, I'm way behind.

For the wiki definition, have a look here.

I came across this fad last night while perusing one of the many message boards I regularly frequent. Like many, my first thought was, "That's about the dumbest thing I think I've ever seen." It just seemed like something people do with too much time and not enough reading material.

But then I began looking around for more examples of this game to get a sense of its scope. What I found was, quite frankly, some of the most brilliant and hilarious photos I think I have ever seen. Here's a sample.

The Taj Mahal Plank

The Great Wall of China Plank

The Rosario on Jimmy Kimmel Plank

The Statue of Liberty Plank

The Overhead Compartment Plank

As of now, this is as close as humanity has come to participating in a worldwide scavenger hunt. It won't be long before we see a plank at The Vatican, planking on the Serengeti, or the Tiananmen Square Plank. It inspires us to get out and see our world with a new sense of wonder and adventure, then interact with that world with a unique sense of humor and aesthetic. Because you have to admit, it's oddly artistic to see someone lying face down in public.

Yup, planking pictures coming soon.