Friday, August 5, 2011

Victims in Hurricane Katrina Bridge Killings Get Justice

I mean, it's not often us black people are given justice in police brutality cases. This was a horrible crime committed by horrible people during a horrible disaster. The article from the New York Times:
A federal jury found five current and former New Orleans police officers guilty on Friday afternoon on all counts in the unjustified shooting of civilians just days after Hurricane Katrina, and of orchestrating a wide-ranging cover up over the ensuing years.
The all-guilty verdict brought a decisive close to what the mother of one victim called a “six-year battle” that has dogged this city since Sept. 4, 2005, when the streets were still flooded.
Four of the defendants – Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, Sgt. Robert Gisevius, Officer Anthony Villavaso and former Officer Robert Faulcon – were convicted of federal civil rights violations for coming onto the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans on that day and opening fire on two families. James Brisette, 17, and Ronald Madison, 40, were killed and four others gravely wounded.
Prosecutors charged the officers with immediately beginning a cover-up, and the jury agreed, finding those four defendants as well as retired Sgt. Arthur Kaufman guilty on charges of obstructing justice, fabricating witnesses, lying to federal investigators and planting a firearm at the scene to bolster the story.
The defendants face potential life sentences.
From Amadou Diallo, to Sean Bell, to Oscar Grant- previously, you could pop a black man and get away with it, so long as you were wearing a blue suit. When police officers are acquitted in police brutality cases, it sends the message that they are immune from the same laws they are responsible for enforcing. Given that most of the more publicized incidents involve black men, the failures for the judicial system to adequately prosecute these officers has further weakened trust between the cops and black communities. I hope that this ruling will lead us in a new direction.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Don't Compromise on Tar Baby

For the past couple of years, President Obama has endured a lot from angry voters and politicians from the other side of the aisle. While the political environment is generally hostile in America, with scrutiny of politicians' personal lives and character assassinations being commonplace, but the vitriol aimed at the President was different this time around. The newly created Tea Party featured many bigoted voters, proudly waving signs that caricatured him as a monkey or alleging Kenya as his true birthplace. Quite simply, the President was subjected to a fair amount of racism.

Such antics didn't come as a surprise for most black people, considering we already were aware of how pervasive racist sentiments are. Yet Rep. Doug Lamborn's (R-CO) comments last week on a political radio show were particularly outrageous and the overall reaction that followed was alarming. The quote:
“Now I don’t even want to have to be associated with [Obama], it’s like touching a tar baby and you’re stuck, you’re part of the problem now. You can’t get away.” 
He called the President a tar baby! Merriam Webster define's tar baby as "something from which it is nearly impossible to extricate oneself." However, anybody with a brain knows that the Congressman was referring to the racism term, prevalent in the early 20th Century along with other racist caricatures like pickanney, porchmonkey, coon and Sambo.

Having apologized more than a week after making the comment, the Congressman apologized  for "using a term some find insensitive" and also had the audacity to assume his half-assed apology was sufficient, telling the Denver Post, "I am sure that he will not take offense and that he'll be happy to accept my apology because he is a man of character." Wow.

And you know what is more absurd that Lamborn's usage of a racial slur and his determination of what (black) people should be offended by? Obama has not even acknowledged the comments. Some will argue that there is enough on his plate for him to have to worry about some dipshit calling him a previously archaic racist term. I was then reminded by how deep this racist stuff is. It is so deep that the most powerful man in this country is still not empowered enough to defend himself against people who are perpetually disrespectful towards him.

Why Yelp Works.

There have been plenty of articles since it's inception which detail the faults, evil genius, marketability, problems, and perfections which encompass the scope that makes Yelp what it is. Many tend to constantly point out the faults and problems, which usually come from their own failed experiences with the website. Some just appear to dislike the reviewers and reviews themselves. And there seems to be no end to journalists critiquing reviewers for their "uselessness". There is even a tumbler dedicated to posted reviews it identifies as "douchebaggery". And let's not forget the growing market for businesses helping other business deal with bad Yelp reviews:  

How To Handle A Bad Review On Yelp? by marlonbaugh1

Sure I've seen the annoying spammers who ruin the experience for some and create fodder for funny Yelp talk discussions for others. And I've also gone to some Yelp high starred places and had mediocre/bad experiences, but I wouldn't necessarily blame Yelp or the Yelpers for that.

My experience with Yelp has by far been way more pluses than minuses. I admit that I am a bit biased since I have become a Yelp elite, but even before I could fathom being in the in-crowd, I loved what Yelp had to offer. It was a place where I could write. I had, once upon a time, a blog which I had started with high hopes of actually doing something with. But I got caught up with college and my blog suffered as a result. But then I found myself unemployed, out of college, and needing an outlet other than hanging out at home watching Korean dramas. And there was Yelp. I loved to party, go out, and hang with my friends- and though I had only used the site to see reviews on businesses I planned to visit, I found myself wanting to write about my experiences. 

This was a definite after my ridiculous run-in with Vango. I had had such a bad experience that I just needed to let everyone else know and hopefully help save someone else's night. And using Yelp has definitely made my night many times and also saved me from sure disasters. 

I've found some fantastic restaurants and have some really great experiences because of Yelp. Since I've become elite I've even been able to meet some other fellow Yelpers and they are extremely awesome. Extremely. They welcomed me with open arms and I have had the pleasure of throwing down on the dance floor with some seriously fun people, eating delicious food, and boozing with people who I hope to be like when I grow up. And boy do we Yelpers booze. Be jealous. 

Businesses often offer Yelp deals and you can sometimes even swing with some freebies.  Yelp, in my opinion, is good for business. Shoot, they've got me feeding my hard earned money back into the economy as often as I can. And I rarely regret a penny lost or moment spent out. I've met some fantastic fellow Yelpers and experienced some bangin' food and drink. I have become a real foodie and I thank Yelp for the extra push. 

So how do you feel about Yelp? Do you Yelp or do you know someone that does? Have any good or bad experiences with it? 
Speak on it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Forgotten Social Network

Before there was the obsolete Myspace, the befuddling google +, and the powerhouse (and increasingly annoying) Facebook- there is one oft-forgotten social network that was for me and many other black youth/adults the start of our true social internet experience. That website is: Blackplanet.

Come on. Don't look at me like I'm crazy. I know y'all giving me the side-eye right now, but I know- I just know- you remember having a profile or two. Especially the old ones which actually started teaching us how to do html and all, since we wanted sparkly banners, flaming icons, backgrounds of our favorite rapper or just cash, and scrolling sentences saying how hot we were. Don't act like you don't remember.

I definitely remember and I won't front about my experiences with it. When our young generation began embracing the internet we all went on there for aol's chatrooms and places like Blackplanet. There was no google search, youtube, wikipedia, or pandora. It was a pretty simple process of waiting until your mom got off the phone, turning on aol and waiting for the annoying scratching booting up modem thingy to connect, then going somewhere trying to interact with others on the internet.

We'd accept friend requests from random people, giggle with our friends over stalker boys, and try to make our profiles as flashy as possible so that we could get lots of hits. But then that quickly became boring and obsolete, especially when things like Myspace came on. Blackplanet was popular in the black community, but Myspace was popular with everyone- even internationally. So I stopped using blackplanet and you did too. That was ninth grade for me.

Then I headed to college and as I said in an earlier post: one of my older college friends had told me about her experiences with dating/being involved with men from the internet, and I was interested, especially because I wasn't getting any attention from the people in my tiny college environment. I wanted to feel pretty and I wasn't getting that from the various men (I admit I was only interested in black men at the start of my college life- quickly grew out of that, thank God), so I decided to try something new and different.

Blackplanet had(s) definitely changed. Now it's mainly a more grown (and sometimes sexy) crowd, and for all intents and purposes, it's another free internet hook-up dating site. It used to be majority middle school/high school kids just interacting with each other, rarely with the intent to actually meet up (or maybe that was just me and my friends?). Now it's definitely utilized for two people to engage each other over the internet than meet up. That's what happened to me. But after my experience I deleted my account, feeling that it was just not for me. It was nice having guys message me expressing how beautiful they thought I was, but I had no interest in meeting up with these guys and they clearly had no interest past sex. That's just not me.

I recently stopped by the site and it still looks the same as it did when I was in college. They've tried to make it more sophisticated to keep people interested, but I don't know anyone who actually has an account (or is willing to tell me they do). I'd say it's pretty obsolete in this current technological age, but maybe you'd beg to differ.

So then: Has Blackplanet become obsolete? Do you even know what Blackplanet is? Have you ever used (or do you still use) it? Got some stories?

I know I'm not the only one who used it. Break it down.

Please T.E.V.I.N. Comeback!!!

This is the second straight post celebrating music from the 90's. Perhaps it is the nostalgia from Teen Nick's new lineup featuring some of the decade's best programming. Or maybe it is the dire state of the current economy, especially in light of the shitty debt deal that recently passed. But I would love to spin around rapidly in place, magically disappear in thin air and then discover myself fifteen years younger rocking pigtails and neon sweatsuits while jamming to my first crush ever, Tevin Campbell.

He was one of the hottest acts of the New Jack Swing era and had a voice that made you second his youthful age. How fortunate Tevin was to first be introduced to the world in 1989 with the hit song "Tomorrow (A Better You Better Me)" and then teamed up with Prince (OMG Prince!!) to record "Round and Round" which was a one of the leading singles from the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack. His first LP entitled T.E.V.I.N. dropped two years later, cementing Tevin's role a major player in contemporary r&b.

I have vivid memories rehearsing the lyrics and signing for "One Song" for my class' performance for our second grade graduation. Of course, his innocent demeanor and playful lyrics were acknowledged by listeners but he also had a knack for producing quality music. His second album I'm Ready, garnered Tevin another slew of hits including the title track, "Can We Talk" and "Always in My Heart." Unfortunately, his next two follow ups didn't get much traction, leaving his music career fizzled out. Tevin got a couple of gigs and was featured on a couple of television shows in the 90's but got his big break on Broadway when he joined the cast of Hairspray in December of 2005.

We are stuck with a generation of unimaginative, narcissists who can't hardly hum for r&b singers. We need your music's soulful swing. We need your beautiful falsetto. Point is, Tevin, we need you. The game needs you. So please, comeback!!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Should Have Never Gave You N***as Money!

In the famed words of Dave Chappelle (or Rick James depending on who you're asking), there are some ninjas* that just don't deserve to have money.

I've been sitting on this post for a while since I've been lazy and busy (yes you can be both), but my latest foray into the blogasphere has left cursing under my breath at these ninjas who have money and blow it on the stupidest things. Honestly, as a broke grad school studen,t who is lucky enough to be working part time and trying to scrape together two nickels; people sitting on lots of money who blow it up their noses money so quick and end up broke, in-jail, and bemoaning their own stupidity on Behind the Music piss me off to high heaven.

So here is my list of ninjas (and non-ninjas) who clearly don't deserve to make more than 5 figures a year.

1. Soulja Coon Boy 

Whether or not the rumors of him buying a "swagged" out jet are true, he [and the jokers he surrounds himself with] clearly doesn't know how to manage money if he is already getting tax liens and having a house foreclosed on and he only just turned 21. That's one big ol' fail. Talk about blowing money fast. Swag.

2. DMX

Boy is this tragic. He is one of my favorite rappers and could have been one of the GOATs in rap/hip hop if he hadn't got caught up in the white stuff. Tell me you don't jam to this when it comes on. I blame Tyrone.
He's been in and out of jail, and with his recent release, I can only hope that he makes the right choices and stays clean/sober. His talent is wasted in jail and we need him in hip hop cause many of these fools (though i admit, not all) currently making waves are straight garbage. And even if you don't make any more music DMX, please stay sober, cause you say some real foolish things when high.

3. Ja Rule

As soon as this dude went through his "i'mma cry in ever song like I'm Mary J. Blige" phase, I couldn't take him seriously. That and when he had his whole fued with Eminem, I thought he was a huge tool and douche bag. But I digress. Ja Rule is another case of a ninja who doesn't pay his taxes . He admits that: "
I was a young man who made a lot of money. I didn’t have the best people guiding me. I made mistakes. Things fell on hard times for me. Things kind of spun out of control.” But with money comes great responsibility. Maybe it's the elitist part of me, but you should be able to hire someone who can keep track of your finances and not screw you over, if you can't do so yourself. And as someone who has been working and paying taxes since I turned 16, I just can't believe that he didn't know he had to pay taxes for various things. Guess ninjas can't read or research either unless they want to know which video vixen gives the best dome.

4. Speidi aka. Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag

I had to throw in these two non-ninjas just because I happened to see a Huffington Post headline regarding them being broke. You make all this money on reality tv, spend it on getting ginormous boobs, then end up broke. Poor babies have to settle for living in Spencer's parents beach house in Santa Barbara. Ah the tales of blonde d-listers.

5. R. Kelly

I have to give props to Clutch Magazine for the hilarious new nickname of Kells as "The Pied Pedophile of R&B". He has had to deal with a foreclosure on his Chicago area home meaning no more easy access to the kiddies?
, court battles over unpaid fees, and now another tax lien after he failed to pay the government $837,000. Looks like homie needs a golden shower himself. 

6. Whitney Houston 

Crack is wack y'all. And unfortunately Whitney has fallen back into her old antics. She was definitely on the come up, actually not sounding too terrible on her concerts and actually looking healthy. But she and her daughter just can't say no to that white white. Thankfully she (was?) is in rehab and hopefully will get herself back to these days. Cause she's been like this sadly. Now Bobby Brown is the one making moves while she's just looking crazy. And to both of them, please check your daughter. Cause that ain't cute.

7. Patricia Kluge-

Now you probably don't know who this is. I didn't either til I did a bit of research on bankruptcy in my rss feed and come upon the ridiculousness that is this woman. She is know as the "wealthiest divorcee in history"
(according to Huffington Post), having come out of a divorce settlement, with media mogul John Kluge, with possibly a cool $1 billion (at the lower end $1 million a year). And just 11 years later she's filing for bankruptcy. You my dear are dumb. I'd say more but the idiocy speaks for itself.

These are just a few of the people I could think of who really made me want to kick them in the face. On the bright side, they helped somebodies economy right?

*What is a ninja you ask? No it's not this. It's just another way of saying nigga. But its pc. Happy?
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