Monday, January 28, 2008

Go To Hell, Andy Rooney

Andy Rooney: You're Still A Negro To Him

Television makes me angry.

These days, whenever the TV is on in my house, it's tuned in to Spongebob Squarepants or the surprisingly cool Backyardigans. Every now and again, however, I'm able to secretly escape the ghetto of children's programming and watch something (supposedly) for adults. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I was able to watch three shows in their entirety - each of which made me angrier than the program that proceeded it.

The first program was aired on PBS. Usually, public television is a pretty safe bet. I decided to watch American Experience. This installment featured the despicable exploits of one Walter Freeman, the man who popularized the lobotomy. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't surprised at the horrific progression of events that lead a psychiatrist with no surgical training to become a celebrated butcher who routinely destroyed people's brains with a pair of ice picks. I was mortified by the none-too-subtle attempt, on the part of the narrator, to paint this man as a tragic hero. Apparently, although Freeman mutilated thousands of people, including children as young as four years old, and was kind enough to leave a (PLEASE don't access the following link if you do not wish to see disturbing evidence of Freeman's atrocities) photographic record of his crimes against humanity, his is a story of a decent man gone mad with power. As always, when biographers pull this kind of shit, I can't help but wonder if Freeman would get the kid gloves treatment if (here it comes) he were a black man. I'm sorry to have to say it but the only white man in history who seems to be off of white folks' redemption radar is Hitler (and even he has his sympathizers.)

The second program that pissed me off was none other than Real Time With Bill Maher. A bit of disclosure here: I can't stand Bill Maher. First, every single time I see his smug, self-satified, self-righteous face I imagine myself pushing my fist into it. Second, I can't get beyond the time I saw him shamelessly defile himself by flirting on-air with the disgusting, dude-faced Ann Coulter. Third, I can't appreciate the way he shits on people's faith. Only a true asshole would speak so dismissively, so often, of what other people hold dear. Finally, I'm convinced that he, and folks like him, are infinitely more comfortable casting aspersions at the clown currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue than they are addressing legitimate social injustice. At any rate, his guests were some random conservative, some self-avowed redneck and DL Hughley. The only times I could manage to distract myself from thoughts of pulling Maher's brain out through his nose were when the always entertaining Dan Savage showed up, and when the redneck, in response to the topic of beef cloning uttered, "When did cows stop fucking?"

Last and least was last night's 60 Minutes. Overall, it was a pretty good show. Of course, for dessert, the producers have tirelessly exhibited the need to serve up a heaping portion of shit pie by giving Andy Rooney undeserved airtime. If you think Flavor Flav is the worst thing on television, you get an 'F.' Among other things, I learned that Andy's family had a live-in maid during the Great Depression and Andy's not terribly worried about an economic downturn. According to him, "I don't know much about economics, but I don't believe we're in a recession, or a depression, whatever the difference is."

If any of you can name me ONE SINGLE INDIVIDUAL on the face of God's Green Earth who gets paid more for doing less, I'll forsake Obama and vote for you when the primaries come to Texas.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Office of My Familiar

"I never noticed how phat your ass is, Boss."

My wife is a pharmacist. That means she's got her doctorate (Pharm.D.) and is a nationally recognized and state-certified professional. I'm not simply bragging on my lady here (not that it would score me any points since she stopped reading my blog long ago). I mean, I'm extremely proud of her and I understand the economic and social obstacles that she's had to overcome to accomplish her goals, but the whole reason I'm mentioning it is because of two work-related incidents she's shared with me.

The first was recurring. While we were living in Virginia some years ago, she was working with a pharmacist who happened to be a black male. If any of you can recall my Heathen Manifesto post, he was the Credit to His Race who had two families, and had the temerity to chide her about not belonging to a church. At any rate, she began to notice that as soon as he became comfortable with her, he suddenly lost all traces of his professionalism. Propriety and pretense devolved into frequent and often bizarre inappropriateness. In her eyes, this fall into unsuitable familiarity was precipitated by the fact that she was a black woman. Because she was a "sister," he immediately assumed that he could get away with what one of my Houston frat brothers refers to as, "that ol' bullshit."

Fast forward to the present. My wife works with a Jewish man (let's call him Mike) who is the pharmacist-in-charge. The two of them are the regular, nine-to-fivers at her current location. Other pharmacists are often brought in to provide coverage when one of them needs to take off. Recently, an outside pharmacist (let's call him Elroy) was hired to take over for Mike when he had a doctor's appointment. For about a half-an-hour, Mike, Elroy and my wife worked together with seamless professionalism. As soon as Mike left for his appointment, Elroy asked, loudly and to no one in particular, "Alright! Where the party at?" In her words, "This Negro thought that the pharmacy transformed into a nightclub just because a white man went to a doctor's appointment."

She's not alone. EVERY SINGLE black female professional that I know has had to endure (or is doing so currently) some kind of come on, ignorant comment, leer or improper gesture from some brother that gets just a little too familiar. Now, before you rush to judgment about me, I recognize that this is not endemic to my people. Men being what they are, women in general have historically been exposed to both sexual and non-sexual workplace incongruities. Having acknowledged that, I still find it regrettable that some brothers just can't check that player shit at the office door. If I had a dollar for every complaint I've heard, from my wife, sister, mother, and women friends, about some failed attempt at workplace pimpery, I'd move my family to the Hamptons. If any of you would-be office Lotharios are reading this, my suggestion to you would be to focus on your God-damned job. Apart from having to occasionally bear witness to some of the shittiest game I've ever seen, I'm tired of sisters at my job regarding me with suspicion just because I smile at them and say "Hello."

Blaxplanation Disclaimer: I realize it was wrong to take a pic of a genial, professional black couple and contaminate it with that unfortunate quote, but, like the recently-removed editor of Golfweek, I'm just trying to generate some readership.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

"Slave For A Day"

On occasion, unchecked white liberal guilt can (evidently) be mined for entertainment purposes.

A Haitian theme park called, appropriately enough, Memory Village, could be in the works for whites who seek to assuage their angst over their ancestors' brutality. The 'Slave for a Day' attraction is sure to appeal to the above-mentioned guilty libs, sadomasochists with unresolved Negro issues and, considering the activity ends with a full out rebellion, anyone who wants to get to get his or her Toussaint L'Ouverture on. From the article:

"They [visitors] can choose if they want to be spectators or participants. If they take part, they will be given traditional African clothing and then 'kidnapped', chained and forced to march to a slave ship in a mock crossing of the Atlantic.

They will then be part of a re-enactment where slaves were taken to market to be sold and later broken down with torture in quarantine and put to work on a plantation.

Towards the end of the 12-hour stay, visitors will take part in a recreation of the slave rebellion which eventually led to the establishment of Haiti."

The founders of the "project," a married American couple named Ron and Carla Bluntschli, have already raised a considerable amount of money and need about $700K to make their dream a reality.

Where to begin? I basically had two separate and distinct reactions when I initially read about this. The first was disgust. Some of you have seen Michael Moore's brilliant documentary Roger and Me, which chronicles, from Moore's unique perspective, the deleterious effect the closing of a GM plant has on residents of Flint, Michigan. For many, the most disturbing part was when a local woman who is selling rabbits, "For Food or Pets," smashes a rabbit's skull (apparently it didn't make the pets list) and skins it in preparation for a meal. For me, the sickest part was when members of Flint's upper class, while most of Southeastern Michigan disintegrated around them, decided to get all prissied up to spend a night in an abandoned prison. If memory serves me correctly, some of those bastards were literally walking around old cell blocks with half-full martini glasses. I've never been a fan of ghetto tourism in any of its forms. Apart from the obvious stupidity of those who promote and take part in it, it perpetuates the insulting idea that the socioeconomic position of an entire segment of the population can be fully understood simply by throwing on some prison stripes or submitting to a questionable form of "torture." If visitors to Memory Village really want the authentic slave experience perhaps they should allow Ron and Carla to kill their children, rape their wives and daughters, abduct them and everyone they know and drag them to a foreign, hostile, indecipherable country, steal, plunder, inhabit and force them to forsake their motherland, destroy their entire familial structure, enslave them for approximately 400 years, subject them to sub-second class citizenry status for about a hundred years after they release them and THEN chide them for having the temerity to bring any of it up. Yeah. That'd be about square (thanks to Breez for reminding me of this wonderful line).

The second reaction I had to this story was one of unabashed amusement. This is because I can imagine some Haitian kid named Hennrick getting paid to gleefully dole out daily beatings to Memory Village guests. I can imagine Hennrick announcing that today's revolution will begin promptly at 3pm. I imagine Hennrick's friends and family regarding him with utter disbelief when he reveals to them what he does for a living. I also imagine Hennrick being besieged by requests for dates from some of the very people whose asses he's spent the last few hours whipping. Now that I think of it, I've probably got a few dollars lying around the house somewhere to donate to Ron and Carla.


Friday, January 04, 2008

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy

"I guess you didn't plan on me whippin' that third-place ass in Iowa, huh?"

Despite what ingratiating, pin-headed Uncle Thomases like Michael Steele would have us believe, if the 2008 Iowa Caucus has shown us anything it is that Obama just might have a shot. His preliminary encapsulated Iowa victory isn't exactly celebration-worthy but it does lend the Obama machine some short-lived credibility. While it isn't exactly shocking that he managed to get the drop on Edwards and Hillary, it is somewhat surprising, considering all of the ground he had to make up over the last few months.

Now come the inevitable attacks, from the Clinton and Edwards camps, on Barack Obama and his seeming lack of leadership ability, his admitted marijuana use, or his...well, we'll just see. But you'd better believe that between now and New Hampshire John's and Hillary's hatchet people will be engaging in some curious political alchemy in an attempt to transform a likable and capable opponent into a potential national liability. Unsurprisingly, the Clinton folks have been the first to hint that things are going to get nasty. Oh well. I guess attacking someone else is easier than convincing the voting public that you actually possess the experience that you fault others for not having.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Taking A Position

..because I'll be damned if I'm going to be on the wrong side of history.

OK. Here's the thing: I despise politicians. I always have. They'll say and do whatever they have to say and do in order to manipulate the public into voting for them. At the national level, each party is so compromised that one is likely to believe Ralph Nader when he says that the only difference between Republicans and Democrats is the velocity with which their knees hit the ground when the corporations come calling. Having admitted that, I have to reveal to you that I've decided to back Obama.

Why? Two reasons. The first is because I have no use for any of the other candidates. A person who takes up the moniker Another Conflict Theorist wouldn't be going Republican for obvious reasons. That leaves the Dems and one or two independents. Unsurprisingly, they're an especially feckless, unimpressive lot. Here's how the main "contenders" stack up as I see it..

John Edwards - For all intents and purposes, Edwards is playing the role of The Great White Hope. Joe Biden isn't on anyone's radar (fuck him for jumping in bed with the credit card companies a few years ago, anyway) and Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd are running with about as much conviction as Master P mustered for his turn on Dancing With The Stars. So John Edwards finds himself in the unique position of being the only white man in his party with a snowball's chance in Hell of getting the nomination. Point blank, Edwards is full, to the brim, of shit. This is a rich man who has benefited from white privilege his entire life. He's proclaimed that he intends to confront the problem of American poverty head on. That sounds fantastic but are we really supposed to accept the idea that a man with his pedigree will work to level the economic playing field for minorities and the poor at the expense of those like himself?

Dennis Kucinich - Kucinich would have gotten my vote in undergrad. Back then, my only concern was backing a horse who regurgitated all of the anti-right liberalism that I'd accepted as the gospel. Nowadays, when I look at Kucinich, I see a certified loon who has publicly expressed a belief in ghosts and alien visitation. Seriously. Those are the things that give me pause. Admittedly, I like his views on just about everything. However, if I have a problem with this self-proclaimed "faith healer" running for the highest office in the land I might have a problem with Kucinich's campaign. I tend to vote NO on quackery.

Ron Paul - A lot of people who should know better seem to be enamored of Ron Paul. I don't get it. Whenever I run into a black person who digs Paul I have to fight back the urge to shake the shit out of them and scream, "He's a fucking libertarian you idiot!" Libertarians, who are overwhelmingly white & male, view the government as this country's predominant oppressive agent. It's the government (taxing them into oblivion, legislating what Americans can and can't do with their property, over-regulating their businesses, creating special protections for minorities, etc.) that is the primary obstacle to their self-fulfillment. If you don't share this worldview you would be (forgive me) a God-damned fool to support Paul (btw, I'd like to know where these broke Paul-pushers will be sending their kids to school AFTER their champion eliminates public funding of education). Also, I'd like to know if Ron Paul's black supporters are OK with his belief that the government's role in addressing American racism ended in 1870 with the 15th Amendment, or his discussing "property rights" while he's supposed to be answering a question about the 1964 Civil Rights Act. By the way, Paul's acceptance of a campaign contribution from the racist organization Stormfront doesn't really bother me. Candidates can't keep track of every single dollar that they receive from donors. My issue is that Stormfront decided Paul was worth supporting in the first place. Obviously, Stormfront sees something in Paul (opposition to Hate Crime penalties, Affirmative Action, etc.) that they like.

Hillary Clinton - Simply put: Hillary's carpet bagging ass is pretending like she's got some hard won experience simply because she's fucked a president. This I don't mind so much. She's using the only leverage she has to attempt to distance herself from Obama. What does make me sad about her campaign is the fact that so many black folks - particularly black women - are supporting it. Recently, she's been parading out a host of famous black people, some quite impressive (others not so much) to counter the Oprah Factor. To that end, Andrew Young came out publicly against Obama, saying that the Senator isn't ready for the rigors of the office. Honestly, an old guard, 'We Shall Overcome' Negro like Andrew Young ought to be ashamed of himself for dismissing Obama because he "doesn't have a support network." Hey Drew, if you've bothered to look down from your Civil Rights status quo perch to notice that Obama might need some help, why don't you offer up your considerable services? Don't you believe it, folks. Andrew Young, like many of the acquiescent Civil Rights Era lap dogs who decorate the White House lawns of Democratic presidents, is a bought and paid for chump who just isn't comfortable with a brother who didn't come up through the same ranks as he. Furthermore, I'm also beginning to take Clinton's questioning of Obama's "electability" personally. You're a fool if you don't believe that some of her jabs (on his admitted use of drugs, on his crack/cocaine sentencing stance, on his handgun control stance, etc.) are racially motivated. The Clinton campaign has even gone so far as to suggest that Obama might have dealt drugs as well. That tells me all I need to know about where she's coming from.

The second reason I've decided to back Obama is because he's a Not Terribly Despicable Candidate Who Happens to be a Black Man and Also Happens To Have A Legitimate Shot at Winning the Presidency. That's right. Up until now, whenever my father told me that I probably wouldn't see a black president in my lifetime I accepted his words on face value. Some time within the last few months it occurred to me that my father could be wrong (wouldn't be the first time - let's just say that backing Beta over VHS doesn't even crack the top 100). Frankly, Americans of every stripe seem to really like Obama. He's positive, charismatic and appears to embody the racial unity upon which many place their hopes for the future.

Sadly, I can't count the number of black folks that I've run into who insist that they're not going to vote for Obama just because of the color of his skin. They insist that they're voting on principle. These are the same people who voted for Bill Clinton primarily because he played the saxophone on Arsenio Hall's show. Where was all the moral conviction when the libidinous, Welfare Reform Act signing, bombing-while-being-impeached hustler was getting lap dances in the Oval Office? It's fine to vote your conscience but I can't help but wonder how rabid the black support for Obama would be if he had a history of shit-talking, sax playing and cheating on his wife.

At any rate, though I'm hopeful, I'm not holding my breath for an Obama victory. He's got some considerable obstacles in front of him. I just think it would be a real shame if he couldn't quite get there because he didn't get enough support from his own people.

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