04/17/14

Freedom Trail Reprise

I’ll plagiarize myself from a year ago. I can’t say it any differently:

If you’ve ever been to Boston you’ve probably been forced to walk, likely by a mom or wife, some portion of the “Freedom Trail” against your will. You have to wonder why one must abandon so much self determination to walk a trail named “freedom” but, anyway. The Freedom Trail is, of course, a walking tour of Boston’s historic sites, where I’m proud to say I had a pair of Stan Smith’s re-cobbled only a few years ago. I also had a bracelet smithed out of a soup spoon.

Liberty is a type of collusion. An agreement among everyone to respect the rule of law in service of freedom. It’s completely voluntary.

Collusions, however, are easily broken. In fact, there is extraordinarily high incentive to do so. Our susceptibility to violence, therefore, is evidence of how well and complete the collusion of our liberty is working. We’re easy pickings. When an assailant from within or without violates the contract — the agreement not to fall into anarchy — they exact from us a cost. A toll for being so free, so open, so liberated. Our martyrs, whether at a marathon or in an elementary school or on a skyscraper, are a kind of penance paid to democracy and inalienable rights. Like a soldier or revolutionary, when we are murdered exercising our freedoms, even ones as routine as a road race, it is literally a kind of patriotic act. Every mundane act of our lives is a declaration that we would be free in spite of the ongoing danger to do so.

Pronation. It’s not just the roll of your foot when you run. It’s what we are when we run. Pro-Nation.

And, they’ll run again this weekend. A marathon and a freedom trail.

boston-marathon-map

Performed by ipoetlaureate. Music produced by juiceboxjackson.

Today’s blong here:

Pronation

03/30/14

News Genius

Oh if I had a nickel for every time I was called one.

It also happens to be the name of a news archive site that now hosts lyrics to my Press Junket blongs!

news_genius

News Genius is a family of sites, including Rap Genius, which, in the tradition of Wikipedia, relies on crowdsourcing to accumulate content and related annotations. For example, if one of my songs were to ridiculously reference Monopoly’s billionaire mascot, Uncle Pennybags, a site user could post the song and annotate that particular lyric to explain the reference. This is all totally hypothetical, of course. No one would ever say Uncle Pennybags in a rap. In gang parlance, that would make you a mark.

So my man Methus has volunteered to post my blong entries and begin the annotation process. But, the clever thing about it is that anyone can join him! Feel free to transcribe past blongs or contribute to exposition of lyrics already uploaded. If nothing else, for me, news genius will be a good library of my blong material and compliment to what I do here. I hope it expands your enjoyment.

Sincerely, the News Genius

03/23/14

Appall Bearer

Fred Phelps Sr., founder and pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, died this week. The members of Westboro Baptist Church, over a 20 year period of time, have used military funerals as a vehicle to protest and prophesy the judgment of God over the alleged sexual sins of America, principally homosexuality and child abuse in the Catholic church.  Their protests have infamously employed signage that expressed among other and equally horrible things, “America is Doomed”; “Pope in Hell”; “Semper Fi Fags”; and “God Hates You.”

Regardless of your worldview, there is judgment in death, either for its brutal clarity or its terrible meaninglessness. Phelps knows now for certain which.

fred phelps

Performed by theipoetlaureate.  Music produced by dj clutch.

Today’s retread blong here:

god Hates You

03/18/14

Insider Trading

There is a billion dollars at stake. That’s like 10 or 12 times a million dollars. At least. Let’s just say it’s a LOT. Like graphing calculator type stuff. And, so I have spared no resource in preparing my NCAA March Madness bracket this year. Expert statisticians. Advanced metrics. Historical trends. Time travel. I took 50 jumpers. Wore a tank top.  

And, no matter how improbable it may seem, know that I made these recommendations based on my own research and analysis and prior to this past week’s games. Just check the publication date. Totally ahead of time. Not after I watched all the games or specifically the Monday after all the games. Totally last Tuesday. Errr, I mean today.  I know some of these are pretty dubious but I just have a really good feeling. Almost like I’ve seen them already.

So, I would like to make the following, way-ahead, totally legitimate picks:

Mercer over Duke. I mean nothing crazy here. Pretty popular upset choice.

Harvard over Cincinnati. Sure.

North Dakota State over Oklahoma. Uh huh.

Dayton over Ohio State. Duh.

Then Dayton over Syracuse. Double duh.

Stanford over Kansas. Obviously.

And, of course Tennessee in the Sweet 16. I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know though.

So, I’m sure none of this will happen. But, if it does, it’s because I’m a total basketball genius.

The ipoetlaureate knows a little thing about banging on the boards:

me and kris rotated updated

Not to be racist but guess who’s not getting the rebound here?

Performed by ipoetlaureate. Music produced by djclutch.

Today’s song blog and annual tradition here:

The Madness

03/4/14

A Penalty Box

Luckily, I have an operative on the ground.

bugsy moran

Alias: Bugsy Moran.
Education: Elementary, Middle, and High Schools; rigorous 12 week correspondence course in drawing; Driver’s ed; BDP’s You Must Learn; and going to a lot of Russian type places.
Fluencies: English, Russian, 90s era R&B slang, and MLB rulebook.
Expertise: Snideness; disdain; condescension; karate; knows which hand to use for balls and which hand to use for strikes (that didn’t sound right); and the ability to blend into any college Sunday School class without being seen. Like literally seems as though he’s not ever there. Brilliant.

This Ukrainian offensive by Russia seems like overcompensation, right? Some residual hockey stick envy.

We beat them in Group Play.

They get bounced in the quarters.

No medal in Sochi.

russian hockey

So let’s pick a fight with Ukraine.

These geo-ethnic controversies are frustrating. A product of contrived borders and old regimes. The Ukraine recently ousted its pro-Russian President, Viktor Yanukovych, only to have Russia threaten some military response, including occupation of the largely Russian speaking Crimea region of the Ukraine.

Many have proposed that Europe exercise leverage over the Russian elite by freezing so many of their financial assets as are invested there. Apparently even Russians don’t trust Russia with their wealth and have moved it out of the country in significant amounts. Europe could pressure point Russia’s affluent class to sway it’s political one into pulling back from its border with Ukraine and the Crimea region.

But, that would mean Europe would have to be willing to shudder that extra and robust economic activity. Russians are betting they won’t. I was trying to explain to my son the other day that sometimes we can’t be courageous in life because of dependency. Fossil fuels. Tobacco. Slavery. We can’t change course because the institution or the infrastructure is too big and important to us. It creates too much revenue or jobs or security or normalcy.

Everyone agrees this is a bad look for Russia and devastating for the Ukrainian people. The G8 has plenty of methods in sanction.

The question is how badly do we really want them out?

Written and performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced Haralduz7.

Today’s blong here:

Crimea River

02/17/14

Advice and Consent

I’m especially thankful for Presidents this year and their constitutional, if not limited, authority in nomination. My wife took this on our recent trip to observe it first hand.

capitol

Yeah, I know. That’s not the White House.

But, trust me on this one, Happy Presidents Day to me.

Performed by theipoetlaureate.  Music produced by nomold.

Today’s blong here:

The Least Powerful King

02/14/14

Will You?

As always, this is dedicated to all the men who have some difficulty planning Valentine’s Day. Wait, that’s redundant. To all the men.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my beautiful and gracious wife.

vday

Performed by ipoetlaureate. Music produced by juiceboxjackson.

Today’s blong here:

Be Mine

01/29/14

Yeah, We Had One

snow day 2014

A snow day.

Don’t forget to download Year Three for free.

Performed by theipoetlaureate (d/b/a sintax.the.terrific).  Music produced by re:flex the architect.

Today’s blong here:

Snow Day

01/27/14

Where I’m From

It’s sort of a joke among friends that I claim everywhere as my hometown.

So, I’m originally from Detroit. Well, actually I was born at the University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arbor. But, we lived in Pontiac. For four whole years. So, I’m really from Pontiac. But, I claim all three. And, I’ve seen 8 mile. And, I’m 1/16 Dodge Charger. On my mom’s side. So, all of Michigan. But, I’m pretty clearly Motor City.

But, I’m also from D.C. Actually, Northern Virginia. Or more specifically Burke, VA, in Fairfax County. But, I worked downtown two summers and went on a lot of field trips to see the triceratops on the mall. And, I vote fairly regularly. So, I’m pretty Georgetown. But, my grandparents retired to Harrisonburg, and I’ve been to the Luray Caverns. So, all of VA, basically.

I lived 8 weeks between the East Village and the Upper West Side. Plus, I saw Do the Right Thing. And, I love falafel. So, I’m NYC for sure. But, technically all white people are from NYC.

And, I’m from Charlotte.

And, Charleston.

My parents retired to Knoxville. Err, maybe not Tennessee.

But, my dad was born and raised in Alabama. So, Roll Tide. Or, I guess War Eagle. Or whatever.

And, my grandmother was born and raised in Greenville, SC. Where I live now. And, I eat boiled peanuts and cheer for something called a “gamecock.” So I’m basically deep south native.

When really pressed, I confess that I’m from the “Baltimore/Washington Metro area.” People know that place, right? Plus, it sounds way hip hop.

This gets the biggest eye roll from my wife and a quick, “You’re not from Baltimore or Washington.”

And, she’s right.

I’m from Columbia.

Maryland.

My last year of elementary school. Middle School. High School. First girlfriend. First Kiss. Learned to drive. Wore some rayon shirts. Played some ball. Made some friends. Wrote my first rap.

Columbia was part of the “New Town” movement of the seventies. It’s a planned community that prioritizes neighborhood autonomy and socio-economic integration through graduated housing and preservation of green space. And boredom. That’s not true. Columbia was amazing. In the belief of its founder, Jim Rouse, private developers “could plan and build an environment that nurtured the growth of people.” Pretty ambitious.

And, its neighborhoods sort of spoked around this hub called the Town Center, which featured a . . . get ready for it . . . mall.

But, don’t laugh. Malls were super cool in the eighties and all my best memories are from this one. It had giant glass pyramids coming out of the roof and a Spencers and Britches Great Outdoors and this hobby store upstairs that had one book of baseball cards that I checked every. single. week.

Unfortunately, this same mall was featured prominently this past weekend in national news when three individuals were fatally shot there. And, for better or worse this might be the last time my “hometown” makes any kind of significant news to cover here. And, so I’ve pretty unsympathetically bootstrapped my entire life’s story with it.

My deepest condolences to the families. I’ve tread the gun control issue before and won’t again. But, we clearly have a problem, whether or not it’s one that can ever be sensibly fixed.

Just like all hometowns, Columbia had its good and bad. In some ways it accomplished the diversity it promised and in other ways it was just more of the same.

But, Columbia reminds that for all our good intentions and smart design, you can’t demand community. Or good will. Or real understanding. You can’t make people like each other. Or promise never to shoot.

There are some things you just can’t plan.

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by Dalama Jones.

Today’s blong here: