I almost passed out at my first baseball card show. I was like 14, maybe. My mom drove me to the local Marriott where it was hosted. I paid, I suppose, the $5 admission and then stepped into the ballroom/expo/conference hall gone third-world market bananas. If you’ve mercifully never been to a memorabilia show, it’s full of people (and by people I mean, men) who have zero regard for hygiene or hardly pants, even. But, there are baseball cards. Like Mayan-temple, bricked-high boxes of baseball cards you’ve only dreamed of seeing. I ran around the circuit of vendor tables twice, stumbled back out into the lobby clinching my Beckett Monthly, and then collapsed in hyper-ventilation next to my mom. I really didn’t think I would be able to go back in. It was too amazing.
A staple of card shows is signed memorabilia. Cards. Balls. Game worn jerseys. Chewed chaw. Athletic supporters.
Last night’s State of the Union felt like this weird double dare of an address where President Obama kept taunting congress to send him all this legislation that he would just sign. “I’ll do it,” he kept threatening. As everyone seemed to slip lower and lower into their chairs, desperately agreeing, “Okay, man, whatever you want.” “Energy bills.” “Congressional insider trading bills.” “Gas bills.” “Your restaurant check.” “A 1984 Topps limited edition Tony Gwynn.” “A bottle of syrup.” What began as rigorous clapping quickly devolved into a sort of collective cowering as the offers got weirder and weirder. “Small domesticated animals.” “A handful of Fritos.” “A Box Set of 24 Season 3.” “I’ll sign ‘em. You just wait!”
The President has plainly turned his attention to the 2012 election and has deftly co-opted the right’s language of a leaner more efficient government. In one of the all-time, oratory plot twists, he admitted that Washington was broken. The address was generally strong and laid out what the President termed “A Blueprint” of future success, which seemed to include American auto manufacturing, American energy, American values, and some lady from Charlotte with two-toned bangs.
Perfectly, one of the most prolific hip-hop contributors of a generation, Jay-Z, had a series of three albums, painstakingly entitled, The Blueprint, The Blueprint 2, and The Blueprint III. You can’t make this stuff up. I have doubts about any rapper that needs three full sets of schematics.
Anyway, in honor of the President’s “blueprint,” I paid homage to Jay-Z’s hook in the refrain for tonight’s blong. As elementary as the original.
So, basically if you didn’t watch the SoU and you have no idea who Jay-Z is, this song will make about as much sense to you as three albums by the same name.
Performed by ipoet. Music produced by pumpkinFoot.
Today’s song blog here:SofU: The Blueprint IV
I can’t complete the song I had planned for today, tonight.
I have another music project of slightly greater urgency that’s taking precedent; I hope I can share about it shortly.
Hopefully something this evening. Thanks for all the recent traffic and patronage.
It’s just an impossible thing that one of the most revered figures in college football would essentially lose it all in the wake of a child abuse scandal and possible cover-up and then die of cancer within months. It’s a sad day for everyone. Although he made what was likely a severe, severe mistake in judgment, I hope he died in peace, with a sense of dignity, and solace that there had been tremendous good in his life. All of us will die with sin on our hands. It’s easy to forget, but we never should.
Below is the song I did around the time news of the scandal broke and the original post is here.
Performed by ipoet. Music produced by Diaz from Hungary.
Today’s song blog here:Dorm Dreams
SOPA winds up being pretty close-to-home-hitting. If you haven’t heard, there is a bill before Congress to give additional law enforcement powers in order to police intellectual property piracy on the internet. Think going to jail for your beach trip YouTube slide show set to Billy Joel’s “These Are the Times to Remember.” On Wednesday, various online sites protested the bill by going black for the day.
But, long before mp3 players and Napster and digital music were ever a twinkle in the panicking public’s eye, hip hop had been wrestling with the ethical and legal issues of digital and intellectual property rights for decades. A culture built on the sonic lifting of data bits, called sampling, understood the beauty and the bravado of attempting to take the work of another and make it your own. Whether the same disco break juggled between two turntable record players or the electronic database of drum hits on a Dr. Sample or the rubbery touch pads of an MPC60, growing up, hip-hop was always taught to share.
So when the rest of the world finally got around to sampling in rock ‘n roll and country western and sharing music files and video over the worldwide web and between their personal electronic devices, without permission, rappers had long been building a kind of collective and borrowed digital art museum for generations, about which no one had ever previously given a flying flip.
Of course, with the proliferation of ways to boost and jack and replicate others’ hard work, record companies and television stations and movie houses and book publishers and the like got sort of cranky about it all. That crankiness has apparently resulted in a pretty serious piece of proposed legislation that threatens the way we’ve grown accustomed to enjoying the internet.
The internet works mostly because it is a free-for-all. It’s like information capitalism. Wikipedia is a shining example. How could an online encyclopedia, which J.D. Wackadoo from your son’s little league team might have contributed to, be more accurate than World Book? Well World Book may have had, let’s be generous, an editorial team of 50 people. Wikipedia has a team of millions. And, for every proffered opinion of Johnny Screwup, Wikipedia enjoys 10 pair of expert eyes trained on that same entry. Or, maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, thousands and thousands of really smart people are the payoff for also allowing us doofuses to participate too.
Anyway, it is the culture of collaboration and shared information which makes the internet maybe the most powerful tool ever created (that actually feels an understatement). Where the potter in Nepal and the potter in Appalachia can Skype Raku jokes.
The issue also implicates a philosophical divide. How one sees him or herself. Are you the cumulative, frankensteined product of your family and friends and influences or are you some a priori, self-made island? Do you deflect or claim credit for your success, in whatever measure enjoyed? When we become convinced that we have “made” this or “invented” that or “composed” these, we are confessing an obliviousness to the shoulders of work upon which we actually stand.
Stealing is wrong. In most cases, illegal.
But, when we share ourselves over the internet or otherwise in life, we are celebrating, in the best way, our derivative and common selves. It’s certainly a choice to call such conduct “piracy” and ourselves “thieves” and “robbers.” I suspect, though, doing so will feel something like pirates walking their our own gangplank.
Performed by the ipoetlaureate. Music produced by djclutch.
(Little piece of trivia — the beat for today is a remix, by djclutch, of a song I did called Ad Infinitum off my debut solo record Simple Moves (available on itunes). It’s part of a group of remixes djclutch imagined entitled Similar Moves. Appropriate to today’s entry, therefore, I suppose it is a kind of sample of a sample of a sample. Like stealing the same thing three times . . . from yourself. I wouldn’t last a day in jail. I look great in orange. I mean great.)
Today’s song blog here:Walk the Plank
Today’s song blog is necessarily unavailable out of protest to its own self.
$15 for 80 songs.
The entire first year catalog of song blogs here.
I really don’t want to sell them at all. Much less at a deep, insulting discount. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Disclaimer: Some of my best friends are black. No, seriously.
It’s become trite to talk about race issues in terms of opportunity. It’s very typical to say that certain minority groups, including African Americans, need to be given more opportunity — in education, in business, in management, in coaching. But, I think we misperceive what exactly the sentiment means to say. I suspect many unthinkingly reinterpret the phrase “more opportunity” as something like “help” or “correction” or “adjustment” or “reparation.” In other words, the opportunity is not seen as correlated to overlooked merit or qualification; it’s just some sort of make-up.
But, opportunity is not just a debt owed. It’s the cure for present wrong.
I used to hear black people lament a lack of ethnic Barbie dolls or say that they couldn’t imagine a black President or question the racial casting on television shows. The criticisms seemed related to whether or not they could hope for something themselves. I couldn’t really understand it. How did the race of others in cultural position affect one’s ability to imagine it for yourself?
And, then I had a son. Who wants to play pro basketball. And, he starts asking about the color of his own skin.
We only know what we know. And, if you’ve never seen something it’s real easy to conclude that it doesn’t exist. And, the thing about racism is that it’s so self-fulfilling. Is it any strange thing that when a group of people have been excluded from an activity for generations and generations that you would fail to find them there? That when people have been refused education and training that they’d be unqualified? That when they aren’t allowed to have financial opportunity and status they don’t become members of your country club or golf course?
And, so the prejudice is compounding. They aren’t allowed to participate and then you fault them as personally incapable when you don’t find them in precisely the place where you excluded them from in the first instance.
I was pretty moved by this ESPN Outside the Lines story about black youth from West Philly who participated in a Work to Ride program, which gave them an opportunity to ride horses in exchange for working their stalls. During the boys’ time in the program, they were also taught polo, a sport of the predominately wealthy and white. They’re now national scholastic champions. The first black team ever.
There are few things more sacrosanct in hip hop than Ralph Lauren. I don’t know when it started. Raekwon and Ghostface looked like Macy’s men’s department mannequins gone wild. Thirstin Howl III apparently works at the Brownsville Polo Outlet Mall. But, when rappers display markers of status, including Polo, that’s really all it is. It doesn’t mean they’ve actually been accepted in any meaningful way. It’s like the difference between a fan and playing the game.
So, when kids go from wearing Polo to playing it, and receiving Ivy League scholarships for their ability, opportunity begins to change perception and perception, reality. Not because it’s some sort of saddlebacked make-up call for all the lost generations of black polo players, but because they’re good as crap at polo. It’s just no one cared to check.
We still live in a world where words like “ride” and “polo” and being “in the club” can have very different meanings depending on the color of your skin. Here’s to Kareem Rosser and his teammates for starting to blur the distinctions in slang. I suspect the Doctor would have been a pretty big fan of the Sport of Kings.
Performed by the ipoetlaureate. Music produced by Diaz from Hungary.
Today’s song blog here:A King's Sport
In case you missed it because you’re a normal person with better things to do, Mitt won New Hampshire last night. Paul took second.
I don’t have any plans on voting for Romney.
But, he strikes me as the guy at the water cooler who doesn’t like sports but tries to make football conversation anyway. “Oh, yeah, Thomas Brady sure is a great football thrower and quarterback player.”
Romney is hyper-competent. In the words of a good friend, “He just runs thangs.” Although his campaign certainly emphasizes his managerial abilities, he also seems constantly forced to stray into all sorts of social and ideological areas out of his depth and concern. I think this is largely where he invites the flip-flop criticisms. He would rather just nerdily solve problems. That inclination probably would make for a good president. But, instead he has to run around pretending he likes fife and drum marches and three-cornered hats. No one’s really buying it.
Up next is South Carolina, the sort of cornered animal of the political electorate. Republican voters in SC see their entire way of life as being under a kind of cultural and political assault. Romney’s tendency to forget he’s the problem-solving adult in the room will be on full display.
But, if he wants to win SC, my home state, he’s going to have to go through me. And, I’m promising free kittens and rainbows if elected. An, unassailable platform.
I am on the road and utterly exhausted. I’m sure there’s not a complete sentence or thought in this entire entry. Between the pardons in Mississippi and unrest in Syria and Sarah Burke’s accident, there was probably a better story here. But, sometimes you just have to pull the trigger and do a SC primary rap, right? (In the history of communication, have those words ever been written before??)
Performed by the ipoetlaureate. Music produced by djclutch.
Today’s song blog here:Don't Tread on Me
Whirlwind week past. Atlanta to Knoxville to Lexington. Couple rap blogs. Some TX notoriety. A birthday. Bunch of no-good college brats at my crib last night. National Championship game tonight. I’m heading to Charleston this week. Oh, and my job.
It will be dicey this week but I’ll do my best to make sure your news world continues to be wrapped up in rap.
As a placeholder, remember the year anniversary of Congresswoman Giffords and the other victims of last year’s AZ shooting here.
Performed by the ipoetlaureate. Music produced by pumpkinFoot.
Today’s song blog here:A Safe Way