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:

01/9/14

Manopoly

Janet Yellen broke it.

Up until her confirmation this week, the Federal Reserve System was chaired by a long line of these guys:

pennybags

But, our obsession with demographic firsts is pretty stale. Numbers don’t really care.

You go, girl.

yellen now

Performed by the ipoetlaureate. Music produced by djclutch.

Homemaker Equity

01/7/14

To Me

I was born on this day many years ago. And, so, in a sense, was news rap. I think this calls for a vintage Swatch.

birthday

12/31/13

2013 Year in Review

What did you expect from a year that ended in the number 13? Tasteful pop star performances and privacy on your cellular calls? 8, 20, 14, 17, 39 and 7 in the Mega Millions lottery? (If so, that’s a really, really specific set of expectations.)

I mean, it was never going to go well. It was numerologically cursed from the jump. And, true to form, it was a real stinker. For the president (NSA, Obamacare). For privacy (Eric Snowden, Facebook). For the Middle East (Syria, Egypt, Iran). For southern reality tv show stars (Paula Dean, Duck Dynasty). For victims (Sandy Hook, Trayvon Martin, Boston Marathoners, Colorado, Amanda Berry et al.). For truth telling (Manti Teo, twerking, Lance Armstrong). For pop stars. Actually, they had another really great year. (Cyrus, Macklemore, and Pope Francis)

For me. (Blonging was down 50% and my cats ran away)

All unlucky.

But, the weird part about a year in review is how we like to try and puzzle together all of these unrelated stories into some coherent tale, Magnolia style. What was 2013 about?

But for those individuals, who comprise our news, the news story is their 2013. It’s not part of some bigger 12 month tapestry. George Zimmerman does’t know Ariel Castro. (Although we sure would have preferred he’d profiled him instead.) The “news” they lived was their life.

So, Michelle Knight won’t remember 2013 as the Year of the Big Hoax. “Silly Jimmy Kimmel!”

And, Eric Snowden won’t be making a slideshow of his Instagram Greatest Hits.

And, I’m doubting that Pope Francis is Obama’s Person of the Year.

They lived it.

And, so no matter what Time or CNN or MTV or Carson Daly or Twitter tells you, your 2013 wasn’t about Miley Cyrus or Mayor Rob Ford or rainbow looms or government shutdowns or even Mandela.

2013 was about your life. Your accomplishments. Your failures. Your accolade. Your scandal. And maybe that makes 2013 better or worse than were you to vicariously adopt the lives of complete strangers. But, at least it’s yours.

This year kids thought it was funny to try and “knockout” complete strangers. Here’s to a rash of unsuspecting assaults of affection in the new year.

Performed by ipoetlaureate. Music produced by fab da eclectic.

The year’s last blong here:

Knockout 2013

12/29/13

AVAILABLE NOW: YEAR THREE Album Release

The entire song anthology from this site’s third year of operation is now officially available here.

year three cover final

At 42 songs it’s notably shorter than it’s predecessors but no less news rappy. It includes smash hit blongs about deer antler spray, beef with an entire State, a lost cat, and a song about the Boston Marathon bombing called, “Pronation.” Get it? As in patriotic and the incline of your foot as you run. How do I keep coming up this stuff? Name me someone else who is doing this kind of work. Anyone.

To make it up to you for any perceived slight in length, the whole thing is downloadable for FREE. And, if that’s not enough, I’m also making available, for the first time ever, YEAR ONE and YEAR TWO for FREE, as well.

That’s 201 songs for nothing.

TWO. OH. ONE.

There are entire music careers with less inventory. I’m giving you a double Benjamin for nothing, in the twilight of mine.

All I’m asking is that you tell someone about rap news. Just one.

Now bandcamp will allow you to compensate me, however, as you see fit. And, if handsomely so, I will not decline. But, even a token payment is appreciated. Or nothing at all.

Thanks to the devoted followers of news rap. My press junkies. I’m tremendously blessed.

12/28/13

The Twelfth Day

wise men
Performed by Rap King Cole a/k/a theipoetlaureate a/k/a sintax.the.terrific.  Music produced by Freddie Bruno.

Today’s blong here:

Lament of the Diamond Star

12/24/13

And Pondered Them In Her Heart

shepherds

Merry Christmas.

Performed by ipoetlaureate and Sojourners Music. Music produced by djclutch.

Evergreen

12/23/13

Naughty and Nice

To survive charity bullies this time of year, you have to be as tough as a tatted up Cracker.

nutcracker

Merry Christmas Eve.

Performed by Rap King Cole a/k/a theipoetlaureate d/b/a sintax.the.terrific & rheomatic.

Today’s blong here:

Salvation's Army

Salvation’s Army can be purchased at itunes.com.

12/22/13

In Orca News

In the words of Calhoun Tubbs, “Wrote a song about it. Like to hear it? Hear it goes!” At exactly one, I am the world’s leading expert on Sea World Orca raps. No one has dedicated more of their life’s work to the rapping of Orca related topics than me. To the extent such dedication has been recognized by the academies of science, it has. I have been honored with every possible award and accolade ever given for the rapping of Orca songs. 100% of them. I am known, in Orca, as, “meeeeeaaaaawwwwwwwwwuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa the terrific.”

I finally saw Blackfish.

It largely substantiated the hype. In response to the damning documentary, Sea World has mounted a public relations campaign. I think the movie posed two main questions. First, a moral one. Is it right for us to keep a sophisticated mammal with epic scale emotional and environmental need in what amounts to a wash sink? Notwithstanding the cultural and scientific benefits, the answer seems pretty clearly “no.” The second question is a logistical one. To the extent they remain in captivity, is it permissible for trained handlers to swim with them? I think this question is a closer call than the movie implies. The real indictment of Sea World is a transparency one. Trainers were not given relevant information about the behavioral history of the animals. As a result, they likely were not able to make informed decisions about the attendant risk of their regular proximity to them, rightly justifying substantial bitterness. But, the movie represents an incident rate that suggests that the risk of attack might be an acceptable one so long as trainers are made fully aware and necessary precautions are taken to minimize impact to audiences.

The science is already in. How we treat animals says a lot about us. Apparently, we’re jerkfaces.

seaworld

In other documentary news, my wife and I just saw A Band Called Death, about the rediscovery of an all-black seventies punk band from Detroit called “Totally Alive.” Just kidding. They were called Death.

death

A must see. And, it gives me hope that someone’s going to “coming looking” for my blong material one day too. Until then, more Orca raps all around.

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by djclutch.

Today’s blong here:

No Room

12/20/13

Rising Action

I write for a living. And, so I enjoy good copy and a nice turn. But, whoever is doing the correspondence for North Korea is plainly from the future of writing. Or maybe the sideways of writing. Like a type of writing that runs parallel to actual writing. He’s like the North Korean Homer. Or maybe the Commie Charles Shultz. Epic comedy.

In a prior statement North Korea had announced a “Special Operation Action Group,” ambitiously proposing the annihilation of South Korea within a very, very, very narrow timeframe:

Once the above-said special actions kick off, they will reduce all the rat-like groups and the bases for provocations to ashes in three or four minutes, in much shorter time, by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style.

Just yesterday, in reaction to recent South Korean protests, North Korea facsimiled over a statement that again threatened plans to “strike mercilessly without notice,” which is kind of interesting insofar as the facsimile appears to constitute the precise thing they blood-swore to never, ever give. Notice. Maybe they just meant no additional honk at the end of the driveway. I also love how we’re at a technological point where hearing that something was faxed sounds to our ear like an admission to cobbling one’s own shoes. Or smoking a corn pipe.

twain pipe
(The ipoetlaureate enjoying a good drag.)

In the past, the ipoetlaureate has been privy to additional details about the “unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style.” I previously took the liberty of making an English translation of the North Korean threats reduced to music and which also reprises arguably the most famous rap line I’ve ever written (@ 1:40).

I have posted the blong again below in light of yesterday’s additional threats. Here’s to a LOT more pen-pallory between these great giants of discourse in the new year.

Words ostensibly by Kim Jung Un’s personal copywrite. Translation and performance by the ipoetlaureate. Music produced by djclutch.

Today’s song blog here:

The Unprecedented Peculiar Means and Methods of Our Own Style