Saturday, February 28, 2004


  • First, something serious: I first saw this over at Fimoculous. Author/scholar Naomi Wolf recently wrote a New York magazine story about how, 20 years ago at Yale, Harold Bloom made sexual advances on her. Wolf's point in writing the essay, ostensibly, is to raise the issue of how Yale maintains a wall of silence around incidents of sexual harassment and, in essence, is uncaring about how women are treated at the institution.

    For anyone who's ever been in the academy, Wolf's points are important though hardly a revelation. My own department at UC Berkeley has had a scandalous record - like probably ALL college departments - and most of these incidents have been quietly swept under the carpet or ignored completely. Frankly, given that I could care less about Harold Bloom (his intellectual conservatism aided the cause of the Right during the '90s Culture Wars), I also thought Wolf was raising important issues about the ways in which sex is wielded as a weapon on college campuses, usually to the detriment of women.

    I mean, this shouldn't be a surprise to say that women have it pretty bad in academia. They, across the board, are tenured at a lower rate than men. They find it far more difficult to raise a family then their male counterparts. I'm sure they're also likely to get paid less for all this. And of course, there's the issue of sexual harassment which, whether manifesting in college football recruitment parties or in someone's office hours, seems never too far away from the Ivory Tower.

    Yet, instead of being supported, Wolf is getting attacked from everywhere. Here's just a partial listing:
    • In the Chronicle of Higher Education, the reporter quotes Camille Paglia (jesus, isn't she so five minutes ago yet?) as such: When she was a graduate student there more than three decades ago, [Paglia] said, her fellow female graduate students "were having affairs right and left with faculty members." "I never did," she said. "It wasn't my style, but women freely chose. No one felt that they were abused."

      This has to be one of the most absurd defenses I've ever seen mounted...maybe Paglia was quoted out of context but she makes it seem like NO kind of coerced sexual situations existed at Yale in the early '80s and given that I know this kind of shit happens NOW within the academy, I find it highly unlikely that Yale would have been so unblemished in its past. Plus, Paglia is about one step from saying, "they asked for it." I agree with Paglia's point that women are not these meek flowers waiting to be plucked by male professors - they have agency, certainly - but in trying to counter Wolf's claims, Paglia seems to step far past the other side of the line.

    • At least the Chronicle was trying to be objective. Editorials in The New York Observer as well as go on the unabashed offensive on Wolf, trying to destroy her story's credibility, questioning her motives and defending Yale's actions.

      In Slate, Meghan O'Rouke sounds less a culture editor (her formal title) and more like a cruty legal analyst. Here's a typical passage: Yale's response to her disclosure of a 1983 offense is not necessarily predictive of its response to a present-day offense—not just because the statute of limitations for what Bloom did to Wolf expired 18 years ago, but also because what Bloom did may not have been explicitly wrong by Yale's standards at the time and by law (though from our vantage point it looks sleazy).. I understand O'Rourke's point - one should be careful in bashing Yale today for what it may or may not have done 18 years ago - but even though the Slate author argues that "this may sound like splitting hairs," it really does seem like O'Rourke is splitting hairs and missing the forest for the trees.

      In fact, O'Rourke's piece bears a disturbing similarity to fellow Slate writer Jack Shafer's obsessions with debunking Peter Landesman's New York Times Magazine story on sex slaves in the U.S.. What is it over at Slate? Is there something in the water cooler out there that encourages them to become nitpicky gnats over small details while losing sight of the bigger picture? I'm all for journalistic credibility too but O'Rourke is picking an odd fight.
    I fail to really understand what the hell is so outrageous about Wolf's claims? A male professor hit on her in an inappropriate manner and Yale is failing to deal with that. I mean, seriously, what the hell is so surprising with this?

  • Congresswoman Lynn Woolsley tried to intervene on behalf of an accused rapist in a case involving a 17 year old Asian American woman who was assaulted and raped by the son of one of Woolsley's aids. (In predictable but still pathetic fashion, ultra-right-wing conservative commentator Michelle Malkin put Woolsley on blast, calling her a "rapist-loving feminist.")
    (both spotted at

  • We're in awe of Sasha Frere-Jones who just wrote his first of at least six upcoming pop culture/music stories for The New Yorker, beginning with a fantastic profile of the enigmatic disco-era producer and musical provocteur, Arthur Russell.

  • Saw this over at,'s "People in the News" gossip column: Gibson's 'Passion' Sparks Christian Fashion Craze
      Mel Gibson's new movie The Passion Of The Christ has inspired a new craze across America for Christian-themed jewelry. The hit film, which follows the final 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life, is at the center of continued controversy with accusations of potentially inciting anti-Semitism. But as well as fierce debate, the movie has also led hordes of people to buy such souvenirs as crucifixes, lapel pins and cards tied to the film's promotion. A particularly popular item is a pendant fashioned from a single nail made of pewter and attached to a leather strap, say officials of Bob Siemon Designs, licensed by Gibson's Icon Productions to produce jewelry linked to the film. The pendants represent the nails used in the film to fasten Christ to the cross. The company has shipped around 75,000 cross pendants to Christian bookstores across America and approximately the same amount of nail pendants.

  • "Smart is sexy" - so says the tagline for, the "Ivy League of dating." Sharon and I came upon this - of all places - on the backpage of the SF Bay Guardian, next to ads for penis enlargement, bartending school and nude modeling offers. I took a look at the site and it's basically designed for lonely, elitist graduates and faculty at a "select group of excellent universities" which, includes Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Harvard, etc. but only one public school from what I could see: UC Berkeley (woo hoo! I feel so validated...) Just to make this very clear, here's what they say: "To join you must be a graduate or a faculty member from one of our group of excellent schools. You may provide proof or we will verify your status for you." Yes, that's right folks - if you're from UT Austin, UC San Diego, NYU, Hampshire, Williams and Mary, etc., you need not bother applying. Wow, this is like intellectual eugenics.

  • How come no one thought of this sooner? It's the Chinese Restaurant Project, whose mission it is to "collect the take-out menus from every Chinese restaurant in the USA."
    (also spotted at

  • I found this blog, Girls Are Weird, because author Theresa linked to my recent gay marriage postings. She has good things to say on the subject herself, but I'm also enjoying reading her voluminous opinions about everything from the Grey Album and copyright, to the upcoming Beyonce, Missy and Alicia Keys tour. My favorite though? Theresa's confessionals about her dating history. She does claim elsewhere that she has a penchant for attracting bastards and apparently, that's no exaggeration.

  • Friday, February 27, 2004


    (seen at

    (seen at Hella Hip-Hop)

    (photo by Philip Sherburne)

    Thursday, February 26, 2004


    I would have just added this to my blog update below but it deserves its own spotlight. Let Them Sing It For You stores a database of different words from a variety of pop songs (for example, for "I", it uses Chris Isaac's wailing "I" from "I Don't Want To Fall In Love"). Then, you program in a phrase you want it to "translate" for you into these song bits. The results, to be sure, are wacky - though, in all fairness, it's not anything that the folks at Plunderphonics or anyone who's ever played with spliced tape, hasn't done before. It just makes it more tech accessible.

    It's not a perfect system. I was able to get it to translate some of these favorite lyrics o' mine from Public Enemy's "Don't Believe the Hype: "back, caught you looking for the same thing, it's a new thing, check out this I bring." But when I put in these Tribe Called Quest lyrics, "back in the day when I was teenager, before I had status and before I had a pager," the site didn't have the words "teenager," "status" or "pager" in its database. I'm pretty damn sure Ghostface wouldn't work so hot in this either. Still, it's bound to keep you amused for at least a little while.
    (spotted at usefulnoise)


  • Are Outkast guilty of "red face"? Kandia Crazy Horse thinks so in a well-written criticism of Outkast's performance at the Grammy Awards this year.

  • I could care less about seeing The Passion of the Christ, but props to for their "Man on the Cross Street survey". Comedy.

  • On the Passion tip: "Women Dies During Screening". Looks like Mel Gibson kept the scenes of graphic violence a little TOO real.
    (spotted at catchdubs)

  • This is dumb hot. I'm not even a huge dub fan per se, but this Dub Selector interactive flash jawn has me open like a bag of candy. For real - you could spend hours here, channeling your inner Lee Perry. The crazy thing is that it's damn near impossible for you to sound off-riddim here (hint: someone should tell American Idol singers about that).
    (spotted at catchdubs)

  • Asian moms are a consistent lot. Triet over at Effervescently Meaningless posted an email from his mom and I swear my mom could have sent this too, scary.

  • Imaginary Girlfriends. Basically, it's like phone sex except it's by letter and there's less sex involved. Brilliant? Evil? Both? But hell, this ain't nothing new - we've ALL had imaginary boy/girlfriends - this just takes some of the imagination out of it all.
    (spotted at fimoculous)

  • Speaking of imaginary girlfriends, Nerve.Com's Grant Stoddard tests out the "Real Doll" and has the photos to prove it. Disturbing yet oddly alluring all the same...
    (spotted at

  • Not only is this (fake?) ad for Nutrigrain bars funny as all hell, but they got a dope Ananda Shankar sitar funk track pumping underneath. The director, Justin Reardon, has a collection of similarly bugged out clips - check out his Nintentdo ad.
    (spotted at The Black Table's Black List)

  • From fake ads to real ones, those Quiznos ads, with the singing rodent puppets or whatever the hell those possum-lik mutations are, are plenty disturbing but not nearly as disturbing as the originals. Listen to the original theme, called "We Like the Moon" as sung by Joel Veitch and his "spongmonkeys."

  • There are few rules you should really observe in society. Treat others as you would want to be treated yourself. Be kind to children and animals. Give up your seat on the bus for little old ladies. And do not, for the love of god, battle Jessica Hopper. Our girl Hopper was complaining about how the new issue of the Fader includes photography bordering on kiddie porn and this dumb ass, wanna-be Gavin McInnes-type responded in his blog, aiming for smarmy but landing on asshole instead. In a just world, this dude deserves a raging case of open genital sores. Or at least to get his car keyed. Whatever's clever.


    nice slippers

    Just in time for Oscars, me and Sharon meld minds about why Lost in Translation ain't worth the hype.

    Actually, my favorite criticism of the film may actually have come from Hua who said, "I was more annoyed that they made it seem like Japanese people looked up to Roger Moore."

    Just to show that it's not just us, Lost in Translation got slammed in Japan Today. The film is just about to open in Tokyo and you'd have be pretty naive to think that at least some Japanese filmgoers won't be a little pissed off about it. If it flops over there, 1) no one should be surprised and 2) it should give American cheerleaders of the film some pause.

    Wednesday, February 25, 2004


    I originally wrote what I am posting below on a message board, in response to a post that took umbrage to the idea that racism and homophobia are equivalent in their history or level of oppression. This person was arguing that gays and lesbians have not suffered either the day-to-day oppression that people of color have to deal with because of racism, nor have they experienced the kind of large-scale acts of oppression that have accompanied, for example, the treatment of African slaves.

    This has not been an uncommon reaction by some sectors of communities of color who have bristled at the attempt to relate current queer rights activism to the Civil Rights Movement or similar movements lead by people of color for racial justice. I wanted to state, in no uncertain words, how I feel about this kind of intolerance towards queer rights by people who should really know better:

    "The Oppression Olympics" refers to the idea that somehow, you can deny someone their suffering in order to posit your own. People who play the Oppression Olympics get so hung up on their own entitlement to being the Chosen Ones of Fucked Up History that they're defensive that anyone else would try to lay claim to that legacy, even in what is clearly a show of solidarity.

    After all, it's not like gay and lesbian activists are trying to hijack the Civil Rights Movement's legacy and in the process, somehow minimize the African American experience. What they have done is tried to draw parallels between the ill-logic of racism with the ill-logic of homophobia. What could possibly be the point of forging walls between communities who have BOTH suffered terribly in the course of history?

    As a visible person of color and someone who studies race and racism, I'm fully aware of the complicated and abhorrent histories suffered by all kinds of communities. Because of that, it seems to me that it's far more socially powerful and progressive to MAKE linkages between people rather than seek to separate and treat oppression as a competition to see who has been fucked over worse. Which is worse? The near-genocide of this country's indigeneous population or the Middle Passage of African slaves or the Jewish Holocaust? And if you choose one as the "winner" does that negate the other two? I certainly hope not - these are all terrible examples of humanity gone awry and ALL need to be remembered if we are to avoid repeating them again.

    The ban against gay marriage is, in its civil ill-logic, almost identical to the hysteria that created anti-miscegenation laws in the 19th century. People quoted the Bible, they spoke about how "unnatural" it was for races to mix, blah blah blah. I mean, even as recently as 40 years ago, states actually had laws ON THE BOOKS that forbade marriages between whites and people of color. Nowadays, we can all agree that such laws were absolutely ludicrous. So is it with the issues around gay marriage. There is a linkage here, one that cannot and should not be denied.

    May I also invoke the memory of Audre Lorde, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin and others who, throughout their lives, struggled with the so-called "love that dare not speak its name". These men and women recognized that their oppression came along multiple axes of power - they were decried for being BOTH Black and queer and I very much doubt they would have ever sought to divide their suffering into neat boxes that could be weighed on a scale against one another.

    I suspect that part of the ire might come from the fact that homosexuality is treated as a form of whiteness among some people of color. Within communities of color, queers are often treated as traitors and outcasts but lest we forget, there are MILLIONS of queer Blacks, Asians, Latinos, etc. in the U.S. who are doubly marginalized - both from outside society and within their own community. Dare I say, for them, racism and homophobia are not forms of oppression that oppose or negate one another but are part of a larger web of discrimination and intolerance that billions around this world suffer from.

    Now is not the time to be splitting hairs or playing the Oppression Olympics. Now is the time that all of us who have ever suffered under the weight of intolerance - whether as people of color, as the underclass, as women, etc. to recognize the wisdom of James Baldwin as he said unto Angela Davis:

    "Some of us white and black know how great a price has already been paid to bring into existence a new consciousness, a new people, an unpresedented nation. If we know, and do nothing, were are worse than the murderers hired in our name. If we know, then we must fight for your life as though it were our own - which it is - and render impassible with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night."

    Think about it.

    Tuesday, February 24, 2004


    According to CNN, President Bush has come out in support of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

    Up until now, despite all the polls and all the scuttlebutt about Bush being vulnerable in November, I never really believed that he was going to lose...mostly because I'm cynical. This presidency, as many of you out there will agree, has been beyond our worst nightmares and as much as we wish we could wave a wand and make Bush disappear, but he's proven to be supririsingly tenacious and able to get the American public to side with his most of his policies, no matter how contentious or misguided the rest of of us find them.

    Finally, I'm starting to change my mind. By supporting this Amendment, Bush is revealing his own vulnerability and desperation. I don't doubt, in my mind, that on a moral level, Bush believes that he's doing the right thing but no one as politically coached as Bush is would ever come to this kind of public decision without ulterior gain in mind. This is, simple, naked and plain, an attempt at forcing an election-year issue that can drive a wedge between himself and his Democratic opponents.

    It may yet work. The majority of Americans do not support gay marriage and it's safe to assume that a large number of them would be all in favor of an amendment. Whether or not the amendment would ever pass (keep reading below) is almost besides the point: if the Republican machine can whip the public into a paranoid frenzy around gay marriage and use it to club the Democrats with, Bush may have made a very shrewd (albeit reprehensible) political move. The Demos have already come out blasting Bush's plan, which likely plays into the President's gambit but at least they're doing the right thing. We hope.

    This could, however, seriously backfire on Bush. It is very hard, in this day and age, to campaign on such a blatant show of intolerance even with presumed, populist support. Moreover, let's face it: Constitutional amendments are no easy sell. This country, in the 1970s, failed to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, a far, far less radical proposition (hey, men and women are equal!) than what is being floated out now. With the exception of Prohibition (and we saw how well that went), most amendments don't limit rights, they create them. Even though most of the major Democratic candidates do not support gay marriage, they also do not support a ban on it, preferring to leave it up to the states to decide (it's a bullshit, cop-out move - "states rights" gets trotted out anytime a federal politician wants to take a pass on making a stand). It is highly unlikely this Amendment will make it out of Congress UNLESS the Republicans are able to wield it in such a way as to force scared Democrats to vote their way in order to save future Congressional seats.

    Even then, it's also questionable whether people in the states would actually ratify this. Despite the opposition to gay marriage, I would hope and I have some faith in the idea that many Americans would realize that taking a step to ban gay marriage, at the Constitutional level, is one step too far. Like I said, I could be wrong about that, but I still have some faith in my fellow citizens.

    The only good thing I see out of this right now though is that it's a sign that Bush is panicked and ready to do whatever he needs to do get people's minds off of Iraq and the non-existent WMD, off of the economy and its shortcomings for working people, off of Bush's fumbling of international relations, off of his sketchy military record during the Vietnam War, off of the deficit, etc. etc. He thinks gay marriage is his trump card but he's playing it now because he knows he's vulnerable. At last - something good out of an otherwise bad day.


    don't you have this yet?

    Grey Tuesday is upon us - for those who slept, you can download DJ Danger Mouse's Grey Album today. If you don't still don't know what that is, you're hopeless - skip this thread, go below and read about Lost In Translation or something.

    Monday, February 23, 2004


  • I don't know why I feel surprised but I wasn't expecting the Indianapolis Star to have a huge opinion - let alone three of them - about the current gay marriage controversy in San Francisco. However, the Star commissioned three columnists to share their opinions about the current situation and they offer a summary of the three columns. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised, but all three are at least nominally supportive. One is flat out supportive and the other seem to pass the buck to judicial and legislative decision-makers but none come out and say, "this is wrong wrong wrong...damn these crazy Bay Area queers to hell." Refreshing - who knew Indy was so progressive?

    Meanwhile, here in San Francisco, S.F. Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders writes a strangely critical view on gay marriage. I say strangely because her logic is impeccably flawed - she prefers the "oh my god, they're breaking the law" approach and dismisses the idea that couples who are getting married in S.F. right now are practicing a form of "civil disobedience." She's apparently appalled that people would compare the current gay marriage controversy with the Black Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and '60s, arguing that CRM pioneers like Rosa Parks faced far more hostile receptions in the South of that era than any of these gay couples do in San Francisco. This doesn't work for me on multiple levels.

    1) Saunders wants to play what labor historian Robin Kelley has called "comparative suffering" and which I prefer to deem "the oppression Olympics" where one group posits their oppression as superior to another's, thereby negating that the other group even undergoes any suffering. I don't know if Saunders really wants to get into a debate about which is more hateful - racism or homophobia - and given her severe lack of historical knowledge, I don't think anything she'd have to say on the topic would be particularly credible.

    2) After all, she writes of Rosa Parks, "In 1955, Parks was a lone black woman on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, who after a hard day of work, courageously refused a driver's edict to give up her seat to a white man." This, of course, is the familiar myth of Rosa Parks as the "lone black woman" but scores of historians, including the aforementioned Kelley, have debunked this, pointing out that Parks was part of a much larger civil rights movement in Montgomery and that her decision to refuse to move to the back of the bus was neither random nor lone but part of a calculated strategy laid out by local CRM groups. Parks was part of this larger movement in every way possible and in this respect, it is not outrageous to compare queer couples getting married in San Francisco with her. After all, both are doing so in the face of widespread local, state, federal and cultural opposition. Both are doing so with the knowledge that they join a larger movement towards what they think is the morally right thing to do. I'm not saying that the queer rights movement and CRM are equivalent - they come from two entirely different eras, but that doesn't mean that they aren't comparable. One gets the feeling that you could easily go back to 1955 and find a columnist like Saunders decrying the Montgomery Bus Strikes as illegal and unworthy of support. The thing is - Saunders will absolutely be on the wrong side of history when this all goes down even if she doesn't know it yet.

    3) Saunders writes: "Rosa Parks stood firm in hostile territory, the segregation-era South... Segregation was a system that subjected blacks to relentless humiliation.San Francisco is gay-centric." The comparison here is totally disingenuous - as Saunder herself writes, Parks was in hostile territory, meaning the ENTIRE SOUTH. Well, last I checked, S.F. is gay-centric BUT THE REST OF THE NATION, hell, the rest of THE WORLD is not. That seems like fairly hostile territory to me.

    4) Saunders also writes, "When Rosa Parks defied the law, her fate and the outcome of her cause were uncertain. In San Francisco, the issue of gay rights has been settled in every area but marriage. As Jesse Jackson noted, gays always could vote and enjoyed other rights. The only question left is whether same-sex marriage can be called marriage -- and there are plenty of gay people who don't care about the outcome." First of all, Jesse Jackson is just wrong on all this - read Margaret Cho's recent reply to him. Second of all, the statement that "there are plenty of gay people who don't care about the outcome" is even more abhorrently disingenuous than her previous statement. No doubt, in any civil rights movement - be it based on race, class, gender, etc. - you will find many who are just fine with the status quo. In the case of the CRM, there were many Blacks who had no real issue with segregation and did not "care about the outcome." That, however, does not change the moral issue at hand here.

    True, there are many queers who feel like the institution of marriage is a flawed one (many straights couples believe this too) and I think that's a perfectly fine stance to take - I may even agree with the logic. But marriage, by its very treatment under the law IS a civil right. It is a pact that is recognized, endorsed, even rewarded by the state. As such, to approve it for one segment of the population (straight couples) while denying it to others (queer couples) is a fairly clear case of civil prejudice and discrimination. Whether all queers support the idea of gay marriage or not is besides the point.

    By the way, in a previous column, Saunders also compares the current situation to a hypothetical one were polygamists began clamoring for marriage rights. This is a cheap card to play - one that many conservatives have already deployed. I don't think it's even worth trying to debunk except to say that it's far easier to prove that polygamy is a damaging social practice (since it historically, in the U.S., has been used to subjugate women) in ways that queer relationships are not. Ok, next!

    5) Lastly, Saunders writes, "As for the self-congratulatory term "civil disobedience" -- well, the civil part is missing. Hello. It can't be civil disobedience when there is no civil penalty, and there is a government sponsor." Well Debra - you are right in pointing out that said couples don't face persecution by the city since the city is essentially endorsing the current trend, but how did you manage to overlook that these couples are facing the sure-to-come wrath of the state and federal government? At least in the case of Montgomery and other flash spots in the CRM, actvists could nominally (and I stress "nominally") count on the support of the federal government that was supposed to have protected them - and in rare cases, a begrudging JFK and Lyndon Johnson did so by sending in the National Guard to help desegregate schools and cities. Queer activists are facing a President who is theoretically contemplating a Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage or at least, some kind of federal legislation to that effect.

    It's a complete reversal, in some ways, of the CRM experience where organizers had to contend with a hostile local government and indifferent but theoretically supportive federal government. In this case, we have a supportive local government but an unquestionably hostile state and federal government. I'm not sure if anyone should really make the argument about which is better or worse. Surely, I'd rather be queer in San Francisco right now than Black in Montgomery circa 1955, but then again, I'm not sure if I'd rather be gay in Montgomery right now or Black in San Francisco in 1955. These kind of historical attempts at non-critical equivalence (vs. simply noting the moral parallels) are inherently flawed and no self-respecting historian would try it. Saunders is no historian, no comment on whether she's self-respecting or not.

    6) Let me just state this again - those who oppose gay marriage on the grounds that it's illegal or immoral are on the wrong side of history. And you can huff and puff all you want about how wrong I may be for saying that but there are few things I am more certain of. Just an anti-miscegenation laws were morally indefensible a scant 50 years ago, the current opposition to gay marriage will similarly be recognized in the same way. It won't happen tomorrow but it will happen.

  • The Toronto Star recently published a story about how black youth respond to hip-hop and how the music/culture has shaped the public's perception of them. In the Star article, several of Toronto's Black youth express frustration with how they only understanding that people seem to have about contemporary Blackness comes exclusively through hip-hop. For example, it quotes one Cara Eastcott, a high school senior, complaining that during her school's Black History Month assembly, "There was nothing about the civil rights movement, the struggles people had to go through in Canada ? still do ? the diverse black community here, blacks in politics. It was just one big hip-hop talent show. It was a BET (Black Entertainment Television) video ? basketball, bling bling and hip-hop, that's what black culture was."

    This is an important topic - and not one that's gotten a lot of play save Ta-Nehisi Coates' Village Voice article from last June about 50 Cent and the representation of Blackness in contemporary media. While it's become quite fashionable to talk about hip-hop's multicultural community and mass appeal to many beyond the Black community, as a media-driven music and culture, hip-hop still represents Blackness to most around the world. The images and ideas that hip-hop espouses may be consumed by a rainbow coalition but they still largely only represent Blackness (ok, Aesop and Slug aside). No wonder many Black youth would be angry with the ways in which their realities are represented (or not) through the media machine of hip-hop. It must be even more infuriating to see the ways in which Blackness becomes uncritically consumed, appropriated and paraded by a variety of other youth, Black, White, Asian and otherwise. I hope this piece, along with Coates', helps to invigorate more discussion about the ways in which hip-hop mediates Blackness to the wider public and the social consequences that arise thereof. Ironically, for a music that's so traditionally thought of as race-conscious, the racial debate has all but disappeared from contemporary conversations around hip-hop. It's high time race comes back into it since, as many have always known, it never left to begin with.

  • I have absolutely no interest in going to go see Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (I find Christianity, as a whole, off-putting so you can only imagine my antipathy towards Gibson's particular orthodoxy) but I thought David Denby's review of the film for the The New Yorker to be one of the more intelligent and articulate critiques of the film - one that doesn't solely play the anti-Semitisim card but also notes that Gibson's view of Christ undermines the benevolent nature of Jesus that the mainstream Christian Church has cultivated for eons.

  • I'm not just putting Sex and the City last because it's rather more frivalous than the previous three topics but let me just say: the series finale was kind of wack. Provided, it is tough to wrap up any series and I suppose we should all feel blessed that there wasn't some bizarre "this was all the creation of an autistic imagination" (St. Elsewhere) or "let's get Joannie and Cha Chi married" (Happy Days) send-off but SATC tried to do just a 'lil too much in too little time. Only Miranda's self-contained storyline - dealing with Steve's aging and increasingly senile mother - had real heart to it. Charlotte's baby quest was busted ass tired three seasons ago and while it's nice to know Samantha doesn't always have to play the unrepetent slut, she hit her high point earlier in the season with her breast cancer battle and is now little more than a narrative afterthought.

    As for Carrie. *sigh* Well, I'm glad she ended up with Big John but for chrissake, what terrible writing and thin chemistry between the two of them. 'Cuse me for saying this but after six seasons of Big torture, it would have been nice to have enjoyed the two of them having more of a moment together than Chris Noth saying, "Carrie, you're the one." It's enough to make you reach for the air sickness bag. Unlike other detractors, I'm not mad at how they resolved Carrie and Petrovsky's relationship except to say she should have noticed he was single-minded and self-centered long before he asked her to come to Paris. It took her until now to figure that out? And damn, her heartbreak lasted about as long as it takes to pop a bag of microwave popcorn. Oh well.

    Anyways, Sopranos kicks off March 7th, with season three of The Shield coming about a week or so later. Woo hoo!

  • Saturday, February 21, 2004


    doom run run runs, the doom run runs

    If you haven't seen the new video for Madvillain's "All Caps", you're missing out on a great mesh of music and animation. And peep: it's all hand-drawn. CG gets the gasface.
    (spotted at 1976 Worldwide)

    Friday, February 20, 2004


    speaks for itself
    (spotted at

  • There's nothing worse than touchy, defensive white men who seem to think the world revolves around them, and moreover, that any general comment made about white supremacy is somehow directed explicitly at them. Case in point: Mark Jenkins goes after Jeff Chang with an embarrassingly sloppy column that wholly misinterprets Jeff's now-infamous "Da Capo critique". Jeff, never one to let a scrub try to school him, blasts back with a righteous fury. Jenkins - duck down!

  • Okay ya'll, this Jay-Z remix thing is already way out of hand. It gets crazier everyday. Now there's the "Double Black Album", mixing up Jay-Z with (yup) Metallica. I know I came out in full support of Danger Mouse's "Grey Album" but listening to the "Double Black Album," it just doesn't sound as fresh. Maybe I'm just tired of hearing the Jiggaman over 1,001 different beats.
    (spotted at different kitchen)

    Meanwhile, Mark over at Hella Hip-Hop gets props for keeping track of all the various Black Album remixes. So far? 12! Crazy, I'm telling you, crazy.
    (speaking of "The Grey Album" though, if you've living in a cave and still haven't downloaded a copy yet, Grey Tuesday (2/24) is your day)

  • Mark your Tivos suckers - Ego Trip and VH1 Present: TV's Illest Minority Moments (terrible name, cool show): Sunday, February 22, 10pm (watch it after Sex and the City)

  • Over at, Amy Blair regularly writes columns based on reading through personals. This week, she singles out ads by men offering oral services to women. I just want to note that Amy combs through the NYC Craigslist and that's all cool and what not (read: whatever), but if she really wants to find the folks who wildin' out, she needs to roll with the original Bay Area Craigslist. The Bay gets their freak on like no other - don't front.

  • Whenever Julianne Shepherd gets into the writing zone, she's so ill, the CDC should put an alert out. This time, she writes about the David Banner/Chingy/Ludacris show in Portland. Is she crunk? Yes, she is.

  • The great thing about Hua Hsu writing about Kanye West is that I just know it's going to be gooooooood. The bad thing is that it means that when I have to write about Kanye West, it's going to be that much harder. Bastard.

  • The current furor over gay marriage, especially in my home 'hood of the Bay Area, is like a clarion call for Margaret Cho to exhort everyone to "Step Up" as she describes in a recent blog posting. I got more to say on this whole issue but for now, Cho expresses anything I'd want to and more.

  • Holy crap, Jazzbo actually updated his site - and with aplomb too. He dishes the inside dirt on The Neptunes and Wacko Jacko. Hot ish. Pha'real.

  • Porn meets speed dating. Well, sort of. Hilarious read regardless from the gal at Pornblography.

  • Thursday, February 19, 2004


    Kerry does his best Frankenstein impression
    Edwards does his best RFK impression

  • I don't want to be mean, but that is just a TERRIBLE photo of Kerry. Dude looks like death warmed over in the microwave for a few seconds. I think it's a Right wing conspiracy - someone made sure that CNN ran the most unflattering pic of the Demo front-runner in their story about the 2-man race for the nomination. I'm scurred just looking at it for too long.

  • I've been following the insanity over at the University of Colorado, off and on, but it's just getting to ridiculous proportions. Coach Gary Burnett simply has to be one of the most stupid and least media-savvy coaches in Division I today. Not only did he sound laughably unconvincing in claiming that neither his program - nor any other in the NCAA - would eever stoop to using sex or alcohol to recruit players, but his latest gaffe has been to ridicule former kicker Katie Hnida, who recently said that she was raped by a CU player while playing for the team. The school has put Burnett on administrative leave and one can only think that his firing is just moments away. When that happens, it will be far too soon. I know it probably won't go down like this, but in a more just world, Burnett shouldn't be able to find a job coaching pee-wee football. Forget that, I wouldn't let dude sit next to me at a foos ball table - what a clueless disgrace he is.

  • Even though Valentine's Day has already come and gone, it's not too late to understand what your floral bouqet means for your relationship. Ever wonder what a bouquet of anthuriums symbolize?
       "I'm really cheap and not sure I like you that much in this stage of our relationship."

      It's hard to imagine anyone liking a flower that looks like Gene Simmon's tongue, so even when the florist proposes anthuriums ("Hey, they're red, they look like hearts - see?") a steadfast swain won't cave. A man who gives anthuriums is so on the fence about you that he's got splinters up his butt. Proper response: "I guess they ran out of roses?"
      (spotted at

  • I don't even know what to say - just look:

    (spotted on

  • Wednesday, February 18, 2004


    roll on, willy, roll

    First of all, how does Matthew Rogers, manage to advance despite all the judges agreeing that his rendition of "What You Won't Do For Love" was waaaaaaack? I'm telling you why - it's because he's this white yahoo reppin' for red necks and pick-up trucks and there's no other white contestants who fit that same bill. AND, if I have to listen to him brag about how "I was in the Rose Bowl" one more time, I'm gonna holla. Who cares if you played college football? If you were first string for an NFL team, ok, navel-gaze away but really, we don't give a fuck.

    In some better news, my girl DJ Anna mentioned that William Hung has been offered a recording contract by Koch Entertainment. Say what? Dude is gangster large. MSNBC has more on the story.


    you think this will hurt manolo blahnik sales?

  • Alas, it's time to bid adieu to Sex and the City and I have to say - the writers have done a fantastic job of closing the show out with some of the best material they've ever created. Everything this second half of the season feels so much more deep and meaningful rather than just a series of cheap laughs and titillating sex talk. For once, I actually feel real depth coming from the main four leads and it's been a wondrous thing to witness. I looooove Miranda and Steve together as a family - she seems so much better for the relationship yet doesn't sacrifice the edge that's been her signature. Charlotte seems so much less annoying now that she's settled down in her new family life (and let's face it, cute dogs never hurt). Samantha has been incredible the last few episodes, not simply dealing with her breast cancer, but also how adult her relationship with Smith has been. Carrie...well...Carrie's been her twitterpated self as always, surprisingly the weak link in the chain since she keeps coming off seeming rather twiggy around her new Russian/artist love interest but she also gets to grow into a relationship in a way that we haven't seen with either Big or Aidan. Personally, I'm rooting for Big though I'm predicting she comes home to New York and chooses neither man. We'll see come next Sunday. I'm genuinely sorry to see the show go, especially since it's riding such a high wave right now.

  • I'm loving Alias right now. It's entirely, absolutely convoluted and I pity the fool who stumbles into this show mid-season (hell, I pity anyone who hasn't watched the first two seasons). I mean, the Da Vinci Code is less confusing but if you've been a hardcore fan of this show, it's paying off in spades. Lauren, Covenant? Teaming up with Sark? Sydney and Vaughn making eyes at each other again? Jack, the biggest bad ass ever? Marshall married and a father? Gimme more, more, more. All this needs is for Lena Olin to come down on her price and this show is so far off the hook, there's no reeling it back. (Note to Quentin Tarantino: you still are better at making movies than starring in them.)

  • If you haven't watched Arrested Development please do? Besides being the drop-dead-funniest sitcom on t.v. right now (ok, after The Simpsons), it brings us the return and redemption of Jason friggin' Bateman. That has to count for something - maybe everything. What next, will Skippy from Family Ties pop up? Can the return of Jim J. Bullock be too far behind? Seriously, Bateman is great, the whole cast is great, the writing is on point and funny and you're missing out if you're missing out.

  • I stopped watching Survivor early into the "Africa" installment and I haven't regretted straying away but with this new All-Stars format, I'm back and loving it. So much shit-talking and back-stabbing, this is why they invented reality television. I, like millions, are just gleefully waiting for the day that Richard gets served off the island. It will happen, people. It might even be better than seeing Jerri get voted off of "Australian Outback."

  • Last but not least, this isn't a TV show but I caught the second half of Wong Kar Wai's Chungking Express and seriously, it has the best closing scene ever. Besides the fact that Tony Leung is positively hunkalicious and Faye Wong ain't looking bad in a flight attendent uniform, there's just something so giddy and wonderful about how this scene ends. In Tony's eyes we see attraction, adoration and most of all, this belief that the future is limitless. It is such an incredibly optimistic statement, communicated in just a look and then, just to top it off, Faye's cover of "Dreams" (Cranberries) kicks in just to seal the deal. It's better than ice cream.

  • Sunday, February 15, 2004


    College Republicans at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island have established a scholarship designated for white students only. This is supposed to be a parodic criticism of affirmative action policies and while this will surely get the outraged attention of people everywhere, all it's really going to do is make these guys seem like a bunch of misguided racist morons. Which of course, they are. And why is always College Republicans who come up with dumb shit like this?

    I mean, college lefties I knew weren't the most strategically gifted people I knew either but a scholarship for whites only? I'm sorry, but in a world filled with evil geniuses like Karl Rove, these guys are strictly sandbox in their sophistication. Enjoy the attention guys and I hope the forthcoming beatdowns will be suitably painful.

    P.S. Jason Mattera, the brain trust behind this plan, is a Puerto Rican who himself received $5,000 in funding designated for "minority students". I'm sure many will point out the hypocrisy but let me just ask the obvious question: Jason - you give back that five grand yet?


    yeah, we're bummed too


    I had been meaning for weeks now to write up how much I like the current season of Angel but WB had to up and go cancel the show. This sucks on multiple levels especially the show has actually been really good this season (its fifth), blending some of the best writing I've seen on this show ever, mostly good storylines (but ya'll kind of axed Lindsey a little quick, no?), and great chemistry between the main crew, especially with Spike having ported himself over from Buffy.

    Speaking of which, if Angel really does end (and apparently, this isn't so certain according to the folks over at Joss Whedon's blog), it more or less spells the end to the Buffy-verse in terms of forming a constant presence on television for the last half decade or so. There's rumors that WB might still be down to air movies built off the Buffy-verse but that's kind of a weak consolation prize.

    Anyways, what I wonder is if Whedon and company are going to try to tie up all the strings they can before the end of the season. One expects that, unlike Sex and the City and Friends, we're probably not going to see a round of weddings hitting Angel by May, especially since none of the current characters are really romantically linked to one another right now. And while I'm sure a nation wants to see Buffy and Angel reunited ('cause it feels so goooooood) I just don't really see that happening right now with only 9 or so episodes left in the season, but hey, you never know. (this story originally spotted at

    Update: Here's a thoughtful analysis of why being a "cult hit" is far worse than it sounds. (spotted at

    Speaking of endings - apparently, Pierce Brosnan's days as James Bond are over. I have mixed feelings about this - I mean, he was surely an improvement over Timothy Dalton but am I the only person who thought that while Brosnan looked the Bond part, he just never played 007 with the kind of charisma that Connery or even (god forbid) Roger Moore did? Brosnan was just far too smug as Bond, lacking a sense of humor.

    Then again, maybe the real problem is that the whole Bond franchise has been well-nigh bland the last 10 years. Especially at a time where action films have taken a quantum leap forward thanks to everything from The Matrix's special effects to John Woo's gun-fu to Lord of the Rings' pathos, Bond is still the same formula done over and over: cool gadgets, nice car, hot women and some dialobical plot to take over/destroy the world. Yawn. For once, it'd be nice to see some actual dialogue that wasn't a bunch of one-liners or a storyline with some sophistication. Wouldn't it be great to see a Bond movie directed by David Fincher? Or Bryan Singer? Or the Wachowski Brothers (ok, maybe not them right now)?

    As for who can replace Bond - Sharon wants to nominate Johnny Depp which I'm all for (but of course, would never happen). Some have bantied about Jason Stetham (Snatch, The Transporter) and apparently, Clive Owen (The Croupier) was asked but passed - Owen would have been excellent, maybe he'll reconsider? Just please, please, please, not Colin Farrell.

    Saturday, February 14, 2004


    iron bamboo: straight outta taipei?

    Saw this one over at - it's a Taipei Times article about Iron Bamboo, a pseudo-gangsta rap group that's blowing up in Taiwan. What I noticed about this article, beyond just the profile of the group itself, is how snarky and condescending the author, Max Woodworth is. This isn't meant to be a music column or review but dude is actually penning a hit piece masquerading as reporting. Foul ball. Iron Bamboo might be faker than a bootleg VCD sold in a Taipei night market but Woodworth's approach is so self-aggrandizing in its attitude, he might as well just interviewed himself instead.

    Friday, February 13, 2004


    too cool for college, kanye's not
    too cool to bare his inner teddy

    This is likely going to be a major conversation piece as more people listen to Kanye West's College Dropout album. West, who is the son of the former head of English at Chicago State, lampoons the quest for higher education (i.e. college and beyond) on this new album and this is ruffling quite a few feathers, including my own. The digs mostly come on two or three tracks, the most egregious being on the "School Spirit 2" and "Lil Jimmy Skit".

    I noticed over on the 10 Reasons Why Hip-Hop Is Dead, the convo has already begun. Here's my two cents - as someone who used to work with working class and inner city youth at a job training center, I know that four year universities are not a realistic goal for a lot of teens and that there's not enough training available to help them find work in the labor market that isn't dead-end, minimum wage crap. Preaching about college is a great ideal but that shouldn't overtake a larger social agenda that also includes real options for youth who opt (or are unable) to attend college.

    At the same time, Kanye's not really talking about an alternative - dude just seems to be really bitter at the idea of college, and makes pursuing higher ed seem like a fool's errand. Actually, worse than that, he makes it seem like going for your masters, even your BA, is selfish when you could already be out there, earning for your family. I know the skits are meant to be hyperbole, but he's not making a joke of it though, at least not that I can tell.

    Listen. Decide. Return. Discuss. Please!

    This is in the comments section but was worth upgrading to the posting. Says Milo: "Kanye, nobody coulda' put a wire in your jaw with just a high school diploma."


    This is a first. I've been called onto the carpet, not for something I wrote in this blog, but for something I didn't write. Clyde, over at Hip Hop Logic posted this criticism of me and J-Smooth for being late-comers on the story about the Native American protest over Andre 3000's Grammy performance:

      You know, Jay Smooth and Oliver Wang have been my twin stars in the constellation of hip hop bloggers, in part because they almost always come correct on the political tip. So when I heard that Outkast was being brought to task by Native American groups for their bullshit appropriation of Native symbols, I knew these guys would be on it. But they weren't.
    What kills me is that Clyde admits he didn't post on it sooner because he didn't actually watch the Grammys. Well dude, neither did I - I read the results, heard some stories (like the 50 Cent thing) and wrote my post based on that. If I didn't report on the protests, maybe it's because 1) I noted that a lot of other bloggers already did and 2) I don't report on every possible thing I could post on. All this aside, Clyde also tries to pull my racial card with this little dagger:
      We won't discuss the fact that if Justin did blackface or some other loser showed up with fake slanty eyes, these brothers would be all over it.
    Well, there's currently a petition trying to censure Lost in Translation for stereotyping Japanese and I didn't post about that before (ok, until now) and that's about "my people."

    BUT, now you all know that Native Americans think Andre 3000 is a bastard and Asian Americans think Lost In Translation sucks so I think that means I've done my blogging duty for the day.

  • Let me also add that Justin Timberlake is catching a bad one for being a punk little coward for back-stabbing Janet. (seen on Hua's blog).

  • Wednesday, February 11, 2004


    Ok, I swear I'll stop plugging this album soon but my review of DJ Danger Mouse and his now infamous Grey Album is in the S.F. Bay Guardian as of this week. (the irony though, of course, is that Danger Mouse got hit with a "cease and desist" order. Read my man Joseph Patel's MTV story on it - he was probably the first to break it.)

    Update: The folks at Illegal Art have done an immense public service by posting the entire Grey Album online. This is hot - they manage to throw up the middle finger at both EMI and RIAA. (as seen on

    Also, if you want to read a reaaaaaalllly long-winded interview about yours truly, Tadah over at Urban Smarts interviewed me last week and the full long transcript is available now.

    I also forgot about this this interview on from last fall.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004


    Here's the poll's home page. Read. Return.
    Personal observations:

      1) I'm horribly out of step with the critical mainstream. Out of the top 50, I haven't even heard 39 of the LPs. I'm a lil' more with the masses on the singles though (25 out of 50).

      2) I would have thought "Rock Your Body" would have scored higher. It
      has that same kind of infectious pop appeal as Beyonce but maybe it
      was a lil too bubblegum? Or maybe just too old?

      3) What I really can't believe is that "Frontin" scored so low - that was massive! Every club I was in last year had hordes of drunk white women (the populist standard) asking for it.

      4) Sean Paul's "Get Busy" probably deserves to be higher than where it is but I'm chalking that up to general dancehall apathy among the voters (myself included, I didn't put it on my list though in hindsight, I probably should have).

      5) Diwali shoots - scores! Twice.

      6) It's also worth noting - perhaps not surprisingly - that indie rap 12"s are nowhere to be found here unless you drop down to Lyrics Born's "Calling Out", tied for 119 or Kweli's "Get By" at 101. Notably absent: Atmosphere and Aesop. So much for emo-rap as the future of hip-hop...

      7) Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised by this either but urban (read: black) music scored 14 of the top 25 slots in the singles poll but only 4-5 in the top 25 album slots. Is this because people now accept hip-hop as pop but "serious" albums only come from white indie rockers? Oh, I guess that'd be, "yes."

    HOT COMMENTS (call me self-aggrandizing but these are my favorite part of P&J, reading over people's laser-targeted comments about pop music. Some of it is most definitely wankery but occassionally you get some brilliantly clever and intelligent observations in the mix.)
    • OutKast don't hate the game, they just change the fucking rules. All
      you critics (I mean, all you funky fresh colleagues) who hated on
      this one just because, you know, you knew your voice would be that
      much louder to hate on a record this butters: Get a striped shirt and
      a whistle and blow.-SACHA JENKINS

    • "Beware of the Boys" brought back memories of listening to Hot 97
      with my little brother in the car , protesting when my dad tried to
      turn off the radio in favor of his Indian classical music tapes. Dad
      could tolerate hip-hop way more than rock, which he thought was
      tuneless garbage.-GEETA DAYAL

    • I'd take a sip of Kelis's milk-shake over a lick of Beyonce's jelly any day.-AMY PHILLIPS

    • I swear when Snoop and Pharrell's "Beautiful" came out, crime dropped
      to an all-time low in South Central L.A. Gangstas were seen all over
      town crooning like bitches. They dropped their gats and bought floral
      arrangements for their 'hos. Yeah boiiii.-HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA

    • The thing about Andre 3000 is that he is profoundly black. This is
      not a "positive" blackness?Dead Prez raising a fist, Talib Kweli
      getting by. This is a personal and accidental black-ness. This is
      describing the entire experience?the way we walk on sunny days when
      it's raining inside?when you meant to only write a song. This is "Her
      from the city, so her got to be witty." This is an attempt at
      new-world multiculturalism?"now all Beyonces and Lucy Lius" betrayed
      by Southern slurring of that last syllable.-TA-NEHISI COATES

    • I wish Big Boi and Andre 3000 were gay, and a couple, and advocates
      for gay marriage.-SMITH GALTNEY

    • Be r*al! If somebody else stepped up with the beat from Cee-Lo's
      "I'll Be Around" or Missy's "Wake Up" or Timbaland and Magoo's own
      "Indian Flute," you'd have a heart attack and start pitching features.-SASHA FRERE-JONES

    • Without a doubt, the debut of the year was by the U.K.'s Led
      Zeppelin. I know, everyone says they're just ripping off the White
      Stripes and Queens of the Stone Age, but they are so much more than
      that. Who else would have the guts to debut with a three-disc live
      set? Their deadpan take on every conceivable '70s rock
      excess?including, hilariously, the de rigueur 20-minute drum
      solo?works as well as it does because these guys can actually play!-SCOTT SEWARD

    • Dear Postal Service: "Singing" over "beats"? That's called "r&b,"
      crackers. Better withdraw that patent application.-JON CARAMANICA

    • So now the young Black man, having waxed so eloquently about guns,
      blunts, and be-a-tches, will speak of love. Of biblical love and
      filial love, undesirable love and unrequited love, terrifying love
      and heavenly love, of Hottentot Madonna love and other hookerlicious
      oxymoronic forms of love, of goddess cult love, of love for hearth
      and home and of love cast out into the wilderness. Andre 3000 y'all.-GREG TATE

    • Did hip-hop really need the validation of the Democratic field during
      the November debate? Wesley Clark weighing in on OutKast? Dennis
      Kucinich's theme rap? Somewhere down there, Robert Moses is saying,
      "For this I destroyed the South Bronx?"-HUA HSU

    • I'm biding time till Apple releases an "iRecord Store Clerk"who can
      scowl at me and ridicule my every purchase. Then I'm on board.-JERRY DANNEMILLER

    • In homage to Jay-Z, I'd like to say: Thank you God my personal
      savior, whether you are man woman or simply energy, the omniscient
      ether making me the best list-maker on earth, and forcing all those
      other unfortunate suckas to step up their game once I am gone. You
      are truly divine.-JULIANNE SHEPHERD

    NOT SO HOT COMMENTS I'm not trying to hate but some of these comments so overstate their point, I couldn't help but draw attention to them)

    • There should be a bumper sticker on the back of the OutKast company
      dune buggy that reads, "Money Talks But Bullshit Walks All The Way To
      The Bank To Count The Loot That Tales Of Rollerskates And Lollipops
      Showered Upon Us In Our Attempts To Create A Hybrid That While Never
      Devoid Of Funk And Certainly In Keeping With A Long Tradition Of
      Trickster Mischief Makers Nonetheless Adds A 21st-Century
      Diamond-Studded Wristwatch Hard Gleam To The Eye Of The Tiger That We
      Most Assuredly Have By The Tail! We Deserve Every Penny Because We
      Work Harder Than Anybody To Perfect Our Imperfections And Somehow We
      Still Manage To Rock The Bells Occasionally Beep Beep Ya Ass!"-SCOTT SEWARD
      (ed: whoa! slow down dude! de-caff f'real!)

    • All summer I felt stalked by "In Da Club." It poured out of speakers
      in every bodega, SUV, boom box, and clothing store I walked past.
      When I came out of the subway in Brooklyn it greeted me on DeKalb
      Avenue, sending me home on the flow of a groove that was infectious,
      sinister, and funky. It'll take the Neptunes another 10 years to
      smell the fumes on Dr. Dre's Caddy.-NELSON GEORGE
      (ed: "In Da Club" was crazy hot but let's not overstate it. The Neptunes are racking up new classics so fast they've already lapped themselves. Dre will do fine but dude's not God.)

    • Justin Timberlake's falsetto singlehandedly ushered me back into
      loving the Top 40.-HILLARY CHUTE
      (ed: this is one of those "wanna-be populist" statements that's profoundly anti-populist.)

    • Jay-Z's retirement makes perfect sense: hip-hop has entered a post-MC
      phase. Rhymes are passe?. Turn on Hot 97: it's all about Diwali, the
      new Jus' Blaze beat, the latest Neptunes songlet. The world's biggest
      MC is 50 Cent, a rapper who can't be bothered to open his mouth.
      Dancehall is blowing up, even though American listeners don't
      understand a single word.-JODY ROSEN
      (ed: there's a phenom going on here but for the love of God, "rhymes are passe"? I know it's phrased as a question, but even still. And just to point out - it's Just Blaze, not Jus'.)

    • The most interesting figures in hip-hop for me over the past two
      years have been the Streets, Northern State, Dizzee Rascal, Bubba
      Sparxxx, and Slug. Not an African-American among them. Can it be that
      each artist's otherness relative to hip-hop proper is bringing new
      styles, new impulses, and new concerns to a genre that's 25 years old?-CHRIS HERRINGTON
      (ed: I'm baffled as to how anyone can only like the Streets, Northern State, Dizzee, Bubba and Slug at the expense of other interesting hip-hop figures who actually happen to be African American...Andre 3000 anyone? Missy? Lil Jon? Timbaland? Fanny Pack? Mr. Lif? My point clear yet? Herrington is from Memphis but for a moment, I thought maybe he lived in Williamsburg.)

    • The problem is, being a pop star these days often means being a star
      of pop culture, not pop music.-NATE PATRIN
      (ed: see above about anti-populism masquerading as populism)

    SO NOT HOT QUOTES(I swear to god I'm not trying to pick on Rob Sheffield but I just couldn't NOT highlight these two pearls)

    • I love "Hey Ya!" But who even pretended not to? It's the most
      accessible hip-hop hit since Kris Kross's "Jump."
      It's also a hopeful
      sign that people still crave weirdness from pop music even in this
      most conformist of times.-ROB SHEFFIELD
      (ed: Has dude not been to a club or listened to the radio since the days of Cross Colours, Aaron Hall and the first Bush administration? Kris Kross? I'm aghast.)

    • Who's the leader in da club that's made for you and me? F-I-F T-Y-C
      E-N-motherfuckin-T!-ROB SHEFFIELD
      (ed: WASP please!)


    It's been over a month but I finally got around to updating my Soul Sides blog with five new song appreciations and five new album appreciations. Artists being highlighted include: Alicia Keys, Eddie Kendricks, The Beatles, Kanye West, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, and James Brown. Enjoy.

    Monday, February 09, 2004


  • A well-written album review that lays into the LP/artist can be a work of beauty. The NY Times Ben Ratliff takes Norah Jones to task for putting out a blank and bland sophomore album. Some of my favorite lines that Ratliff drops:
      "She reflects, she wonders, she grows wistful; she considers falling in or out of love, and when she pledges it, as in the song "What Am I to You?," she does so in certifiable clichés about skies falling and butterflies."

      "The persona in her songs — let's not call it Ms. Jones herself, because her life couldn't be this dull — might have lived practically anywhere in the developed world, at any time during the last century. Somehow Ms. Jones's work has managed to make a virtue of vagueness."

      "Perhaps what listeners respond to in Norah Jones isn't the honesty of the acoustic sounds, but the limited emotional range of the music."
    Good stuff, good stuff. (spotted at Jeff Chang's blog)

  • Ok, so the Grammy Awards are done and can I just ask a few key questions?
      1) Evanescence? W T F? No wonder 50 Cent stormed the stage, rocking his Gorilla Unit t-shirt and basically saying, "fuck all ya'll." This is just more proof that the Grammy Awards operate on some strange logic that I hope I'll never understand.
      2) "Shake Ya Tailfeather" for "Best Rap Peformance by a Duo or Group"? C'mon - did any of the voters actually listen to that shitty soundtrack song? Maybe they were dazed by all the ass that got flashed at them in the intro of the video but this particular award was ridiculous.
      3) I love Coldplay as much as the next guy but um...their album came out in 2002, they already bagged their Grammy(s) in 2003 so why they hell is "Clocks" beating out "Crazy In Love" and "Hey Ya" for record of the year? Hua makes a great analysis - maybe Beyonce and Outkast split the vote, leaving Coldplay an easy run for the award but even still - "Crazy In Love" and "Hey Ya" both DEFINED 2003's pop music year in ways that "Clocks," excellent as it is, will never be able to do.
      4) Outkast wins "Best Album." And everyone still thinks they're going to split up. Well, if Simon and Garfunkel can get reunited, one can still hold out hope for Andre and Big Boi.
    Hua puts the smack hand down too on his blog. Peep this zinger: "The Black Eyed Peas are this generation of collegiates' Fugees, only they suck." Ouch!

    Plus, J-Smooth's running commentary on the Awards show are not to be missed either.

  • Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name" is an incredible song. Kanye West produces one of his most sublime tracks ever - those falling piano keys are an amazing touch and Alicia sounds great crooning over it - this song totally captures the soul spirit of the Chi-Lites or the Philly Sound. But girl - please stop talking over the song! Who the hell cares if your cell phone is breaking up? Or that you use milk instead of water for your hot chocolate? Girl, you are not Barry White who could get away with yapping over the music because, well, he was Barry fucking White. As Alicia Keys, sing honey. Play the piano. But don't go on for half an hour about what you did during your day - none of us care. The monologue makes better sense in the context of the video, which aims for a cinematic narrative (and stars Mos Def as the object of Alicia's affection) but even there, the monologue goes on for far too long. I should cop the song's instrumental and acapella and just edit out the inane patter.

    Updated: My man Rawj wrote to suggest that "You Don't Know My Name" owes more of its excellence to the Main Ingredient than Kanye per se, arguing that Kanye basically just looped 8 bars of the Main Ingredient's "Let Me Prove My Love To You" to make the song. I took a listen to the portion of "Let Me Prove My Love To You" that Kanye uses. You can easily hear where Kanye crafted his beat from but I actually think he accomplishes something more for Alicia's song than just looping an "obvious" sample. Most people wouldn't listen to this track and think, "oh, beat" - Kanye heard the potential and tweaks the song to make it work. You listen. You decide.

  • This feature is already a few months old now but I can't pass up a story on Asian Americans and sex - in this case, pornography. Wantedlist.Com is a Netflix-like DVD-by-mail company, except they truck exclusively in porn. It's actually an entirely simple (and therefore brilliant) idea - avoid the shame and embarassment of lurking in video store backrooms by having porn shipped to your home discreetly. Actually, the long defunct Kozmo (I still shed a tear for them) had this idea on lock - apparently, porn was one of their biggest cash cows (that and home-delivered ice cream I suppose) but unlike Kozmo's failed business plan, Wantedlist is likely doing quite good for themselves simply because they've been one of the first to really make a name for themselves in the market. What's the Asian American angle? Well, the company was founded by Anh Tran and Danny Ting - here's an Asian Week feature on Tran and Ting.

  • Tran was an Asian American Studies major at UCLA - dude needs to hook up with UC Davis Asian American Studies professor Darrell Hamamoto who has produced the first Asian American porn movie. (I'll have more to say about Hamamoto's film after March, when his short Yellocaust is screening at this year's S.F. Int'l Asian American Film Festival along with Masters of the Pillow, the "making of" documentary about Hamamoto's film.

  • Saturday, February 07, 2004


    willy is down with yellow power. salute!

    I can't even keep up - better heads have taken over the Willy Worship, like but I'm still peeping the science. At this point, there's at least a half dozen remixes dedicated to his performance of "She Bangs." The best so far could be DJ Java Joel's "Travesty Of Justice" remix which puts Willy over Jay-Z's "Dirt Off My Shouler" beat. Maybe Timbaland should look into making Willy his next "Beat Club" member.

    But hey, you can't be properly Asian American without a techno hit so here's eXr's "She Bangs" Reload. Move over "Bizarre Love Triangle," there's a new Asian anthem in town!

    Still hung on Hung?Crazy ya'll, crazy.

    Friday, February 06, 2004


  • 2004 already has what will promise to be one of the best pieces written on pop music this year. Sasha Frere-Jones pens a stunning feature about Timbaland, the Neptunes and the future now sound of pop. Seriously - this piece is incredible. Here's my two favorite lines:
      "Digital technology also enables you to turn what you're hearing in your head into great recordings without waiting for humans, or history, to catch up with you."

      "Pop opens many doors and this is one: a great record can knock any paradigm out of shape, if only for three minutes."

    Read. Absorb. Enjoy.

  • new-J-Smooth offers up his Grammy predictions. He's seeing Missy, Beyonce and Outkast taking top honors.

  • new-More reasons why Margaret Cho kicks serious ass: Some dumb ass Republican organization (yeah, I know, redundant) is planning on picketing her upcoming Houston performance. In reply, Margaret posted this blog entry, an "open letter" if you will, and she includes the following warning:
      "Protesters, please be warned. Fans of my work are not the nicest people in the world...Queens do not play. They will fucking kill you. Lesbians know how to throw a punch that will leave a very large bruise, and aren't opposed to kicking protesting men right in the balls. The underrepresented, unvoiced, ignored part of our population, the great many that make up the Cho Army are something you are unaware of, and pretty much the gang not to fuck with. We are the baddest motherfuckers on the block. I don't want to see you protesters get injured, emotionally or physically. I don't want to see a drag queen make you cry. Which will happen, if you actually do show up with picket signs and all your protester accessories."
    This actually makes me want to roll through to Houston just to see a fight break out and let's face it - most Republicans aren't good in a scrappy street brawl, preferring instead to sit behind a desk and send in soldiers to do their fighting under the false premise of "weapons of mass destruction." Which, if you think about it, is even more gangster than the Cho Army.

  • Yo - there's a De La Soul FAQ? While it mysteriously is missing all its discographic info (wack), it does tell you what "Dan Stuckie" means (cool). (spotted at

  • According to my man Jazzbo, the hottest new must-have albums in the hip-hop world is not The Grey Album but John Mayer's CDs. Clearly, this is a sign of the forthcoming Apocalypse.

  • I spotted this Chuck D quote over at Sam's Blog:
      "As of this year DEAD PREZ, THE COUP, COMMON , TALIB, THE ROOTS, or artists like them or wanting to be like them have to be more confrontational within the House Of Rap and Hip Hop to maintain the voice of sense. It's a damn shame that in 2003 the DIXIE CHICKS made 98% of the rappers look like soft, clueless, happy ass slaves ."
    Damn, Chuck putting it down. Hope someone's listening.

  • If someone's going to name their blog 10 Reasons Why Hip-Hop Is Dead, they got my attention. (spotted at Different Kitchen)

  • This album has been bootlegged more times than Grateful Dead concert tapes but the Pete Rock-produced INI album still sounds goooooood after all these years (probably close to 10?). Classic, classic Soul Brother #1 production and Rob O and especially Grap Luva handle the song-writing with skill. How the hell did this not get released again?

    INI rocks the spot/it's like that 'cause they keeping it hot.

  • Thursday, February 05, 2004


    on my block, where everything is everything fah sheezy
    (The Block II, 1972)

    Last night, Sharon took me to see the brand new Romare Bearden exhibit at the SFMOMA. I confess - I am a total stranger to the world of visual art but the upside is that every new exposure, even to artists who are anything but obscure, is like a revelation. Bearden's work in particular, left me in awe, especially his collage work. I like the way in which his jumbled "found" images from magazines, photographs and newspapers form into larger, cohesive thoughts and ideas, especially around race, culture and cities - three themes dear to my own heart. Here are a few others that I was particularly struck by which are at the exhibit:

    (The Street, 1964) - I wish I could have found a bigger image online - this collage is amazing.

    (Profile/Part II, The Thirties - Midtown Sunset, 1981)

    The exhibit, after finishing up in S.F. in May, moves on to Dallas, New York and Atlanta. Also, this morning on KQED's Forum show, they devoted a whole hour to talking about the Bearden exhibit (you'll have to scroll down to "Thu, February 5 -- 10 a.m." to find it).

    Tuesday, February 03, 2004


  • As usual, Sasha Frere-Jones is KILLING it on his blog. Today, he has one of the funniest set of hip-hop reviews I've read in a long time where The Bravehearts, Northstar, Young Gunz and Memphis Bleek all get ravaged (as they well deserve to be).

  • File under: What the F?! According to VH1.Com's "Best Week Ever" Blog:
      "Variety reports that there's a new reality show in the works based on Gilligan's Island! Stranded together, the contestants will fill the roles of characters from the original show: Gilligan, Skipper, the millionaire, the movie star, et al."
    The soul of Bob Denver weeps (and he's not even dead yet). Hey, but since we're at it, maybe we can recast some other TV classics as reality shows: I Dream of Jeannie (don't think this hasn't been discussed over many a power lunch on Melrose - hot chick in belly dancer-wear, having to "serve" her master? I smell Emmy!); Happy Days (except this time, instead of getting all weepy-eyed nostalgic for the 1950s, we can set in the far-back era of the '90s, where Al's is now a strip mall convenience store); and just to flip it, we should do The Real World but with all actors, working off a script every week. It's like post-ironic irony!)

  • What's been lost in much of the outrage (on both sides) concerning the ridiculous Superbowl "Nipple-Gate" incident is not that a breast was bared but is the allusion to violence that came with it. Some folks have pointed out that it's not like Justin simulated, oh, forced sodomy on Janet but ripping open someone's shirt to expose their breast - especially staged - is pretty f*cked up and if you think that's a prudish thing to say, then you're probably a misogynist who gets off on that sort of shit to begin with. I have no problems with nudity but I have problems with any act, on national television no less, that somehow makes being sexually violent towards women seem acceptable or laudable. I defer to the Dirty Whore Diary blog where the author says what needs to be said in a posting today:
      "I hope that the next time a female nipple is shown on network TV, it's because a smart, successful woman opens her own clothes and proudly bares it, rather than a staged scenario where a creep like Justin "rips" her top. Bravo, CBS. Nude female breasts are verboten, but apparently they're a little more palatable as long as their revelation involves an act of assault."
    Heads are already rolling for this debacle and you know what? Good.


    still dippin'

    I wouldn't say that King T is an unsung hero of LA's hip-hop scene - after all, his role in crafting the West Coast's gangsta heritage, in shepherding in the Alkaholiks, in being one of the fiercest MCs to ever emerge from the Southland are already well documented. However, after releasing some of LA's great rap albums: Act a Fool (1988), Tha Triflin' Album (1993), etc. King T practically disappeared off the map.

    Part of the problem was that he was signed by Dr. Dre to Aftermath and was meant, back in 1998, to release an album that could have and should have catapulted him up the ranks but instead, a combination of label chaos and general industry wariness all but deaded the project. Thy Kingdom Come first appeared in late 2002 but only in Europe. Finally, it's had more of a domestic release (though not exactly being distributed by WEA) and for me at least, one really has to wonder why the hell no one bothered to leak this sooner.

    Even taking into account that Kingdom Thy Come is now nearly six years old, the album still sounds incredible. It helps that Dr. Dre does the bulk of the production, this prior even to the release of his acclaimed Chronic 2001 album. But more than that, King T is in expert form - he may be older now, without the youthful aggression he once exhibited, but now you get an older, more mature OG who doesn't need to sweat just to make a statement. Don't believe me? Listen to his smooth menace on Da'Kron. King T's flow was always one of the best in the game and there's no sign of slowage here - he still rhymes effortlessly, distinctively.

    Thy Kingdom Come is guest-laden, including DJ Quik, Too Short, MC Ren, Koog R Rap, Shaq (?!), and of course, the Doctor himself. I don't know who Killa Ben is but he and King T help light up "Reel Raw" which gets extra props just for using the classic old school "shocking females" routine (i.e. we are here to tell the world/just who are/shocking females!). Dumb hot.

    Dr. Dre handles much of the production (8 out of the 18 total songs) and the sound is clearly pre-Chronic 2001 - it's not quite as funkalicious or richly textured as Dre's later work (nor as tinny as some of his Eminem beats from this same era) - but for six year old tracks, I doubt many will complain. Backing up the Doc includes Budda, Quik, STU and Battlecat, who turns in a definite winner with "Skweez Ya Ballz", a song that features Snoop Dogg in a "let's stay off of Death Row's radar" cameo as "Baby's". Whatever's clever - Snoop and King T together? Take that, it works.

    The album should be available through many fine retailers (I found mine at Amoeba in Berkeley) but online, you can order it from a variety of spots, including Pop Life's gracious host, Sandbox Automatic (where you can here more sound clips). Trust me though - Thy Kingdom Come is worth it. Six years late? Better late than...well, you know the rest.

    Monday, February 02, 2004


  • Apple's iTunes is offering a new cool service to go with all their other cool services. Available for download are now the top singles (according to Billboard from 1946-2003. For either sheer curiosity or actual music research, having all these charts collected in one place is phenomenal. There is a catch: Apple doesn't have rights to ALL the songs in these years, so, for example, the #1,3 and 9 singles of 2001 are not listed. I'm sure this is probably temporary though as Apple has aggressively been going after as many songs as they can to load up to iTunes. Some surprises that emerge from browsing this list.
    • Britney Spears' "...Baby One More Time" was only #5 in 1999? And Cher's "Believe" was #1?
    • Bryan Adams had the #1 single in 1991 with "(Everything I Do) I Do For You". Go to a Ryan Adams concert and request it. I double dare ya. (Also, in that years, Color Me Badd had the #2 hit with "I Wanna Sex You Up": to the...tic toc, oops, they did stop.
    • Wait, Wilson Phillips had the #1 hit in 1990 with "Hold On"? Does ANYONE remember this song?

  • You Got Served is one of those films that for anyone who remotely feels any loyalty to just want to cringe when you see the ads and trailers. At this point, when have we not seen the story of some plucky bunch of urban underdogs trying to come from behind to beat the odds? Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo anyone? This all said, our good blogging buddy Julianne Shepherd writes a funny, insightful review of the movie. You already know she's kicking off to a rollicking start when this sentence ends the first paragraph: [The film] was cobbled together by a writer and editor who are clearly hoarding the last stash of legal ephedra in the country.

  • I've been crazy derelict in not posting something about this earlier but the folks at Footlong Development (what up Asad, I ain't forget you!) have been producing some hot, hip-hop-themed t-shirts for a few months now and I've been fortunate to see most of their designs first-hand. For the hardcore head, all of these shirts harken back to the heady days of the early '90s (you know, when hip-hop was good - zing!). So far, in my humble opinion, their two best designs have been:

    Wicked mon. (shout out to Jazzbo for reminding me about these guys)

  • I have nothing but love and respect for Margaret Cho, who's become not just Asian America's most prominent popular icon (one of 'em at least), but also one of our most public intellectuals. She's witty and articulate and passionate and while I usually am 110% behind everything she writes about pop culture and politics, her recent posting about Eminem neglected to properly do its homework. I actually don't disagree with much of what Margaret has to say about Eminem - lord knows, I've put Slim Shady on blast for being a homophobic misanthrope too, but I'm guessing she isn't aware of the whole, ugly history behind The Source Magazine (whose current Eminem witch-hunt helped spark Cho's thoughts on the rapper).

    Is Eminem a racist? Well, probably, as much as any other white boy from his background would be and that's worth noting, BUT The Source's character assassination is irredeemably disingenous, calculated and hypocritical. Those aren't "brass balls" they have clanging over there, Margaret dear, they're flat and flabby, unworthy of being called cajones. It's just the last in a long line of shameful editorial conflicts of interest that The Source has engaged in and potentially their last since the magazine is rumored to be flirting with financial disaster.

  • Sunday, February 01, 2004


    mike goes big-time

    In the continuing saga of Mingering Mike, he's now big-time enough to have ended up in the "Gray Lady". That's right - it's the New York Times article on Mingering Mike.


    janet does her best lil kim impression

  • Ok, I know Houston is supported by NASA and what not but the re-creation of the moon landing was one of the cheesiest things I've ever, ever seen. I think NASA needs a bad dose of that Levitra stuff (look below).

  • Beyonce sings the "Star Spangled Banner". A nation drools.

  • Ford is spending a grip to promote their GT, a car that costs around a $150,000. Um...the only people who can afford your car are the folks on the playing field - not watching from home.

  • The NFL's ad using "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow"? Genius.

  • Van Helsing looks like a really bad cross between Underworld and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and we know how well both those movies went over. Memo to Hugh Jackman: Wolverine solo movie? Yes. This shit? Hell no.

  • Levitra gets props for taking some pot shots at baseball but I love how male impotence drug ads never actually say what they're about and can only elliptically hint at it. C'mon - just be's about flagging dicks. Embrace the limp. (At least Cialis, in the second half, were willing to go there...though one has to say...their ads were MAD corny. Maybe even worse than Viagra's).

  • Straight up, fu*k The Alamo, aka "where history meets racist, revionist myth."

  • So let me get this straight, Philip Morris can buy ad time during the Superbowl but < can't? Beyond wack.

  • Biz Markie's "Just a Friend" for Pepsi? Yes. Joe Cuba's "Bang Bang" for Chevy? Sort of, ok. Muhammed Ali for Linux/IBM? Huh? What? Actually, Ali is everywhere - he was in "Rock the Vote", that Linux/IBM ad, archival footage in the Gillette ad, and in S.F., there's a big billboard feat. his image being used by Adidas. Is the big man hurting for money?

  • Pepsi leads to Jimi Hendrix picking up the guitar? F*ck that too.

  • Please, please, please - will someone tell Cadillac to dump that Led Zeppelin song from their commercials! I know it's probably expensive to license a Zep tune, but c'mon - give it a damn rest already and find a new jingle. Jesus!

  • Janet Jackson returns. A nation shrugs in indifference. Until Justin Timberlake (in one of the dumbest moves ever on national t.v.), decides to out her breast. Smart one JT - way to sell that bad boy image. Jermaine Dupri might come hunting for your pale ass now.