01/25/15

New Era of Jim Crow

These are racist:

hats

And, I’m not referring to the state colleges represented. Although University of Georgia is racist. How else can you explain their refusal to win any significant football championship or even a single game against the Gamecocks notwithstanding the presence of so many great African-American athletes on their team? They must not want them to win. Racist.

No. Look more closely. On each hat. You see it? Not so subtle?

Yup. Pre-fabricated, curved bills.

Racist.

I have been looking for a University of South Carolina hat for a SoCal homey. Grey. 7 1/2.

Flatbill.

Not on that rack, apparently.

Guess what? (This is rhetorical question blong day.) Hats have ALWAYS been flat brimmed. That’s literally how they are made. Forever. It’s not a style or a statement. Every hat I bought in the ’80s was flat brim (term wasn’t used). The mesh snapbacks (term wasn’t used) and the game day fitteds. The brim came flat.

You know what you did to make them not flat? You curved the crap out of them until they looked like parabolas or teepees. You folded them like a paper airplane crease or you cupped them gently in your palms. Or maybe you allowed the size of the hat to shape the fit. A snug fitting hat literally pulls the bill into a natural curve without manipulation. Regardless of the methodology, you tailored them to your personal taste and style.

But, let’s keep it one hundred:

Curving the bill of the cap was a kind of headwear mutilation. That is not the design of the traditional ball cap. They come flat.

Of course sometime in the ’90s, black youth had the temerity to start wearing them as manufactured. Inviolate brim. Oversized. Even for a time, including manufacturer stickers and tags.

This of course became a great outrage to many. I assume they were the same folks who despise sag busting but relish the literal ubiquitous proliferation of yoga pants and cycling panties.

The reaction has been so significant that manufacturers have literally started offering most hats with a built in curve. It’s like a mock turtle neck. Or those stupid socks that have the baseball stirrup painted on. Use a dang stirrup!!

So, why is this pre-fab detail racist? Shouldn’t a hat come any way the market demands? Straw? Ten-gallon? Fidoraed? Pinwheeled?

Look, there is only one reason to make a hat this way, and it’s not because people want curved bills. See supra the variety of ways such a hat condition can be achieved.

One reason:

To ensure that the hat CANNOT be worn flat billed.

How do I know this? Because, any flat bill hat can be made curved. I did it for roughly 20 years. With great pride. A pre-curved bill, however, cannot be reverse engineered flat, sans maybe an industrial iron or shoe press.

So, these pre-conditioned hats have become a kind of culturally political statement — aka as against a kind of culture. You are not permitted to wear our hat in that way, even though a properly manufactured flat brim hat would allow everyone the opportunity to wear the hat exactly as they prefer.

I mostly want people to wear whatever they like and however tailored. Curved, flat, duck-billed. Don’t care.

But, let’s not pretend like we’re serving a constituency when really the goal is just to deny one.

flatbill

Written and performed by sintax.the.terrific. Music produced by Nomis.

Lyrics, yo.

Today’s blong here:

Old Hat

10/8/14

An Anniversary: Four Years of News Rap

Feeling wistful at four. Sometimes you just have to get back up. Everything you do. Start. Middle. Finish. Complete the task. I’m somewhere in the middle. Of song blogging and life.

Happy birthday song blogging.

rap birthday

Chingy knows what time it is.

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by Dalama Jones. Lyrics here.

Today’s blong here:

Not Finished

10/7/14

Move Something

I have been rapping for 25 years. This impossibly archived Baltimore Sun article proves it. Yeah, you read that right. Denim shorts. Trust me, son. Smooth.

So it seems weird that my first commercially distributed solo record, Simple Moves, turns only 10 this year. Of course, there was certainly plenty of music before that, including this gem

sonkissed cover

But, Simple Moves was really the beginning of the modern me and, for about 100 people, a kind of industry classic.

As a result of a highly scientific Twitter poll, it’s also been chosen as the album of the month, available for free download at the Illect Recordings Bandcamp page and embedded below.

“One act of love is worth a thousand words I rap to you.”

I mean it as much today as I did back then. God bless and enjoy.

08/27/14

Mott Haven 2014

tre 2014

A House on Beekman.

Mott Haven 2013.

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by juicebox jackson. Lyrics here.

Today’s blong here:

Break Chain

08/23/14

Back to School

lighthouse kids

And, now for my annual and inappropriately scholastic double entrendre.

Written and performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced Dalama Jones. Lyrics here.

Today’s blong here:

Pick Up Lines

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:

08/21/13

Back to School

Today’s blong is dedicated to that one mom who’s in the pick-up-line three hours early every day. She can’t keep her eyes off me.

We had an open house Monday night. I’m pretty sure there were three cars already in line for today’s pick up.

Back to school.

back to school

Written and performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced Dalama Jones.

Today’s blong here:

Pick Up Lines

07/23/13

The Lion King

Naaaaaaaants ingonyama bagithi Baba!

[Today’s post sort of requires you to picture me at the peak of Pride Rock hoisting a blong aloft over my head. Not a tall order, since I’ve been seen holding blongs aloft before.]

My son’s cat, Hedwig, disappeared about 4 months ago. I’ve previously shared other cat tragedy on this site. Again, this time, we were pretty sure he’d gone to the Great Scratching Post in the sky, if you know what I mean. As it turns out, he wasn’t dead after all and someone recently had brought him to an area shelter. Unfortunately, the shelter didn’t find the ID chip, which robots from the future had implanted, until we were gone last week. So, the shelter called a couple of times without response, including a last message, which cryptically offered that we needed to come retrieve him that same day or else he was “going somewhere.” I later learned that that “somewhere” was a little place we like to call “Anderson County” South Carolina. Let’s put it this way, there’s a Blue Ridge “Beef” Plant Company in Anderson. Plus, Anderson is only slightly friendlier than a cage fight. I’m pretty sure stray cats there smoke Pall Malls.

But, in fact, he had not yet been delivered and I was able to bring him home yesterday morning. There was great rejoicing.

hedwig returns
Photo courtesy of Susan Brewer Photography LLC.

My son and his friend wrote and recorded a song to commemorate Hedwig’s return. Of course, that’s what he thinks you’re supposed to do. I’m not sure where he would have gotten that idea.

Just to be clear, anytime my children want to rap, I try and redirect their enthusiasm — gambling, a life of crime, homelessness. Anything but hip hop music. It’s just not a path I would choose for them. The heavy neck jewelry, the suffocating community support for your art, the cascading waterfalls of money you make. I want better for them.

But, he insisted and like so many fathers before me, I set him up with some egg-crate soundproofing, a condenser microphone, and ice grills.

I would have gone a little different way with the lyricism. Maybe some hot wordplay about the Aristocats or Garfield and Pooky. But, how does the saying go? A boy and his cat?

Welcome back, Hedwig.

“He’s the star of my life.”

Written, performed, and recorded by jwillis and escrilla.

Today’s blong here:

Hedwig Returns

07/22/13

Mott Haven

kisiah

Performed by ipoetlaureate. Music produced by DJ Clutch (adapted from the original instrumental by DJ Kurfu for the song “The Way We Walk” off my debut album, Simple Moves.)

Today’s blong here:

Cry in the Night

10/14/12

Love Hurts

So we just switched from Directv to DISH to save some cash on our monthly television bill. I know. That’s like going to only one Tahoe to save on gas or drinking a diet soda at a Mongolian Barbeque to save on calories. Baby steps. Except if the baby couldn’t actually take any steps at all.

Unfortunately, in the process we lost AMC. They’ve been in a significant contract battle with DISH since the summer. And, whatever hopes there might have been of rectifying the fallout seem all but dashed now considering AMC’s around the clock campaign against DISH. Very subtle. I think they’ve blamed DISH for everything from daylight savings time to asthma. I might have miread it, but I think I saw an ad which implied that DISH was responsible each time an ice cream cone melts.

I have no dog in the fight. I just needed to save like 50 bones a month.

Anyway, Guess what premeired tonight on AMC? Walking Dead Season 3. You know. The serial zombie apocalypse show, where they push arrows through the eyes of the undead and watch their loved ones meet unspeakable ends.

And, guess what my wife’s and my favorite romantic drama is? Walking Dead.

So, guess what we’re not getting to watch tonight? Yup. Walking Dead.

AMC offered a live stream. If you guessed that the site crashed for the traffic you would be dead right, in a manner of speaking.

This is literally our favorite show. We’re night owls anyway. Her photos. My music. But, it’s like we’ve survived something together after every episode. She knows full well that I would die within 4 or 5 seconds of the apocalypse. But, she’s sweet not to say anything. Sometimes she’ll even try and build me up, like, “If it wasn’t for your bad eye, slight build, and chronic indeciveness you could be as fearless as Shane.”

I don’t think I’ve ever written my wife a love song. Maybe a couple lines here or there but never a whole song. Sort of pitiful, right? I mean, I even did a song for that face transplant guy.

So, tonight, melancholy for not being able to watch the premier, and in honor of the romance it brings us, I dedicate this blong.

UPDATE: We got to watch it! They mentioned Greenville, SC. A guy got his leg amputated with a hatchet. And then we kissed a lot. Perfect night.

Written and performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by djclutch.

Today’s song blog here:

Walking Dead