Monday, January 31, 2011

Dear Wiz Khalifa

Remember LL Cool J? Remember him putting out 'I Need Love' a month after 'I'm Bad'? Heads tried to claim that Cool James was losing his edge and had gone soft on the radio, rather than keeping up with the tough guy, B-boy image from his previous album 'Radio'. The similarities with today's hip-hop scene are uncanny, with hip-hop finding a foothold in the internet and the mainstream media finally catching on. Wiz, your new single 'Roll Up' is the bubbly-sounding, radio friendly single that should take you from the smoked-out underground clientele that made you popular, to the 16 year old suburban crowd that will paint your pockets green. The fact that there is such an option is evidence of the divergence that hip-hop takes during its peaks, where an artist can either cater to the sound that made them famous or record a chart-buster.

Taking a look at the song's contents, it's surprising that the song is entitled 'Roll Up'. Normally, a song wit that name coming from you would be dubbed a smoker's anthem before heads even hit play. Compared with the Batman (subjective) to your Robin, Curren$y, you've taken upon the art of making music for the charts rather than the fans that got you to this point. Such a song is the airy, vapid, easy, non-threatening flow that's required for a foray into the mainstream. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Think about it this way: Spitta sold less than 50,000 records after BOTH of his records albums dropped in 2010 to almost universal acclaim. In contrast, between Ghostface Killah, the blogs and the entire Twitterverse, 'Roll Up' was getting ridiculed as softer than terry cloth. That your song is getting so much flack is an indication that your album is going to sell, and well. Do I think your softer sound is good? No, not in the least. I'd rather the 'Deal or No Deal' Wiz than the 'Rolling Papers' Wiz any day, but I'm not your target audience anymore. I guess you'll be laughing all the way as you roll up to the bank...

Solar Death Ray

Forget DARPA and their supposed 'futuristic weapons'. They take decades to do everything, unlike this 19-year-old teen from Indiana who made his own very own death ray for $90, using nothing more than a traditional satellite, 5800 little square mirrors and the power of the Sun! *cue Birdman theme music* When its one-centimeter heat spot is focused correctly, the 'death ray' sets fire to anything in its sights, which is impressive for some kid in his backyard. At the end of the day, it's a nice way to mess with your neighbors. Definitely time to scheme on one of these for the summer...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Kidz in the Hall - Pledge Allegiance to the Dope (ft. Curren$y & Mickey Halstead)


Kidz in the Hall - Pledge Allegiance to the Dope (ft. Curren$y & Mickey Halstead)

At this point in hip-hop, I'm happy to listen to any record whose title includes a different noun than 'swag'. That it's 'dope' on this new Kidz in the Hall cut doesn't do much more for me, yet such a nice track can do wonders for such a drab title. The Kidz are known more for Double-O's production than Naledge's mic skills, though it's the rapper that supersedes the producer here. Having heavyweights like Spitta and Mickey Halstead on the song doesn't hurt either, though after Curren$y raps, it's a bit of a letdown. Regardless, it's nice to hear from Kidz in the Hall. Been waiting on something new to jam to since 'Fresh Academy' and 'Out to Lunch'. Enjoy the loosie, people...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Kid Daytona - On the Hill (Music Video)

As much as people like to complain about rap videos, they're just a way to visually perform the song and convey the song's meaning. All that really changes in videos nowadays is the locations. So I guess it's no surprise that the Kid Daytona switched his locale up in his video for 'On the Hill'. Set in majestic wooded area of Friday Harbor, the scenery shows Daytona literally on a hill looking down with binoculars. I guess that's to say that he's head and shoulders above the competition in hip-hop. Not the most valid claim, but the visual does match the idea of the song. Glad to see this thing getting rotation on MTV2, too. Check out the video...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Neighborhood Newsletter (1/24)

Why I have little, if any, faith left in humanity...

Student Pays $14K College Tuition In One Dollar Bills

Two Suns? Twin Stars Could Be Visible From Earth By 2012

How Much Sex is Enough?

Street artist Banksy to be unmasked via eBay auction

Today's Young Kids Learn Tech Skills Before 'Life Skills,' Study Says

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

What happens when mom unplugs teens for 6 months?

Smoking gun letter reveals Vatican directly ordered pedophiles be protected

California Town Fights Recession by Printing Its Own Currency

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dear Comcast (re: NBC merger)

Net neutrality, anyone?

They say you shouldn't shoot the messenger. Well, what happens when the messenger and the ones sending the message are one in the same? What happens when the same people making the news become the same people delivering it? What happens when the media outlets and the content providers merge Saiyan-style to destroy every other entity not named Disney? That is my beef today, Comcast. Now, we're not going to get into how much I hate your cable service and it's ridiculous hidden charges or mysterious 'shut-offs'. Today's not that day. I will, however, delve into your recent acquisition of NBC, and how utterly destructive it is not only for me (the end user) and media as a whole.

Comcast, by taking over NBC, you've become the first cable company to own a major broadcast network. Let that sink in... You OWN NBC. That means, anything that NBC puts out as its own, you own. You're held solely responsible, liable and accountable for the NBC imprint and everything that comes under it. By that token, everything coming from NBC has to have your oh-so-shadowy stamp of approval on it, which is scary to say the least.

You guys will be able to control who, what, where and when NBC broadcasts instead of them having their own jurisdiction. No longer will NBC be its own entity in terms of the content it puts out. Everything that you do, they will have to do, which includes broadcasting news and shows that you approve, advertising what you approve and partnering with firms that you approve. NBC essentially won't have its own identity. It may as well just become the Comcast network and end the speculation.

The only reason you guys bought NBC is because you see the way that online movie and television watching has picked up, and you want a piece of that pie (not that you have your own pie factory, or anything). It's really sickening from a consumer's standpoint. It's like watching the Walmart take over your town by taking down every other store that sells everything Walmart doesn't sell. You're buying out the market because you realize you might not be able to compete soon.

Cable companies like yourself are trying to become the online content providers, not by providing content, but by buying the people that do. While that's pretty good business, what part of the ethical or competitive game is that? What happened to innovation and new firms being allowed to supersede corporate money and might? Maybe I'm a purist, but by cornering the market, it only shows how cornered you guys are: that you stretched yourself thin on traditional cable and are trying to buy your way out. NBC probably won't be the last purchase, especially if the FCC continues to let you walk all over them. But hey, who am I kidding? It's not like I watch the Office or 30 Rock on TV, anyway. Shout out to Hulu, Netflix and all those illegal sites that shall not be named...

Video Games vs. Real Life


The line between the real and fantastical is something that I ponder on the daily. If not because I love video games, then because our world is oftentimes too rooted in what is real and what isn't. Thus, I always wonder what would happen if the portal between the video game world and ours was somehow opened in a Space Jam-esque phenomena. That is the inspiration for designer & illustrator, Aled Lewis' project Video Games vs. Real Life. Lewis takes some classic video game characters from early video game-dom (sp?) and juxtaposes them with where they would probably end up if given a shot at real life. See if you can name any of the characters after the jump...

Dear Vybz Kartel

As a rule, I've tried to keep the whole light-skinned versus dark-skinned debate off Dear Whoever, because it's simply a matter of preference and one's own self-worth when dealing with what skin shades they find attractive. Skin color is something that has hotly been debated in the black community for well over a century, with the 'paper bag test' and other ways of excluding anyone thought too dark to make it.

That said, I nearly vomited when I saw the above picture, Vybz. I'm holding no punches. You. Look. Turrible (Charles Barkley voice). You look like Tyrone Biggums' estranged Jamaican cousin. Those lips are ashier than the crackpipe you smoked to come up with the 'cake soap' idea. I don't know whether to call your condition jaundice or to just pronounce you dead. You are now what the Native Americans would call a 'pale face', which is ironic, because I'm sure the rest of you is blacker than an S of spades. I had no clue being a proverbial human zebra was in fashion.

Vybz, what made you think that cake soap was the solution to your own self-hatred? What's the matter? Have you been brainwashed that bad that you think the only way to continue your debatable success in dancehall is to be lighter-skinned? If so, you're sadly mistaken. The only dancehall artist with lighter skin to truly have a big break was Sean Paul, and he isn't even fully black! (Portuguese, Chinese and Black, if Wikipedia serves me right) If you're really doing it to improve upon your success, then why not take a page out of Beenie Man or Buju Banton's book (sans the cocaine trafficking in Buju's case) and... I don't know... make good music? 'Clarks' was a catchy tune, but can you really make a career of unofficial endorsement songs?

Regardless, the 'cake soap' product placement, no matter how much you claim it to not be a medical recommendation, will catch on like wild fire fiyah in Jamaica and you know it. A generation of young Jamaicans are going to see you and think the only way to salvation is through light skin. How DOPE is that? As if years of socioeconomic control by the British wasn't enough, here you come telling kids that dark skin is wrong. With brainwashing this good, who even needed slave masters? When we can brainwash our own selves, who needs overtly Caucasian standards of beauty? Kudos to you, Vybz. If anyone could undermine over a century of progress for blacks and make themselves look like a spectre in the process, it was you. I only hope all that 'air conditioning' that turned you into a walking dust bunny can make you disappear...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hip Hop's Lost Relics

Let's rock!!!

If you grew up in the 90s, and didn't watch Legends of the Hidden Temple, then please consider your childhood null and void. That said, along with the funny team names, ubiquitous temple guards, and Olmec's weird catch phrases, the best part of the show was finding out about whatever treasure those retarded kids had to retrieve in the temple. It was always some feather, or a helmet or an item that we wouldn't bat an eyelash at today. That got me to thinking... If there was a 'Hip-Hop Legends of the Hidden Temple' what would some of the treasures be? Yeah... What are some of hip-hop's lost relics? Hit the comments if you think I missed something. *cue mystical, eerie music*

Drake's Blackberry

One of the most memorable tracks of 2009 was Drake's 'Say What's Real' off his So Far Gone mixtape. Drake waxed philosophical about being 'real (whatever that means) in hip-hop over Kanye's 'Say You Will'. At the end, Aubrey spits this gem:
Understand, I can get money with my eyes closed / Lost some of my hottest verses down in Cabo / So if you find a Blackberry with the side-scroll / Sell that motherf*cker to any rapper that I know
So... Where is Drake's famed lost Blackberry with the side-scroll? Has it been lost in the sand? Has some random Mexicano picked it up, erased everything and signed up on TelCel's Blackberry plan? Or has (insert rapper here) come up with it somehow and used the verses for his own diabolical purposes? We will never know...

Busta's dreads

For those of you who started listening to rap after 2006 (year?), Busta Rhymes did not always have a dark caesar with the grain. As a matter of fact, the first man of the FlipMode Squad used to look a whole lot crazier. Along with a knack for brightly colored bubble jackets, leather overalls and random exclamations on tracks, Bussa Buss was known for those locks. Flowing wild, much like his personality on wax, the dreads were put to rest in a now missing video promoting his 2006 album The Big Bang. To be honest, the locks are probably in some compost heap out in South Dakota by now, if not re-attached to some child's head via Locks for Love...

DMX's sanity

Contrary to popular belief and his sad position today, DMX was That Dude in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The dog had 5 platinum albums under his belt and was singlehandedly holding Def Jam up by its bootstraps at one point. Somewhere along the line, the miracle rock known as crack made its way into X's life, and the man's sanity has been lost ever since. A failed BET series, numerous arrests that would make COPS look like Law and Order, and 8 kids later, DMX and his sanity are nowhere to be found. I wish Drag-on was the lost one instead...

Juelz Santana's bandana

Among the pink Timbs and furs, swag splashers and skull apparel, there was a Dip Set fashion statement that flew under the radar yet over our heads at the same time. That, my friends, is Santana's bandana. What looked like a large paper towel crown draped over the head of a tall midget was actually the generic bandana that was synonymous with back pockets. Santana's bandana almost never seemed to fall out of its oddly-angled place, regardless of how many spastic 'A-YOO's' he threw out in his verses. Now that Juelz isn't Dip Set (is he or isn't he? This label BS needs to stop), the bandana has gone by the wayside.

The G-Unit Piece

Fresh off the success of his debut album 'Get Rich or Die Trying', 50 Cent had signed The Game and Young Buck to his G-Unit imprint. Curtis had buried Ja Rule into the dirt and like most fighters, needed a notch on his belt to make his victory complete. Thus birthed the G-Unit piece, complete with platinum and diamond encrusted EVERYTHING, and the spinning center. Of course we know that very piece was snatched at some point, with numerous people coming up as the owner (see above). The original chain's whereabouts are now unknown...

Any more pieces of hip-hop you think should be included? Use that little box below the post, please!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Freestyle Friday (1/14)

Okay, so Freestyle Friday kinda went by the wayside to begin the new year. No need to worry though, Dear Whoever's got you covered to go into the weekend with two freestyles to rock to. The first one is by Lupe Fiasco on 97.3 in Connecticut. As always, Wasalu goes off the top and puts most rappers to shame. I wouldn't say it's his hottest freestyle ever, but compared to the dire lack of good ciphers out ther, Lu stands head and shoulders above most. The second one is by my new favorite rapper Show TuFli on Deal With No Deal Radio (#shoutout to Hunter College). Show does a three minute, swagger-laced verse a capella and has the guys in the studio going nuts with his punchlines. I'm still looking for a mixtape or a serious release, but TuFli's consistency is something to marvel at. Check out both freestyles and keep your browsers locked to Dear Whoever. Happy Friday people!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Neighborhood Newsletter (1/12)

That's all I've got to say about the Tuscon killings

US Government Strategy To Prevent Leaks Is Leaked

56% of Americans Retiring With Debt

Researchers Discover a Gram of Bacteria Can Hold More Than 900 Terabytes of Data

Four Loko Recycled Into Fuel Ethanol

CES 2011′s Five Greatest Gadgets

8 Annoying Things Couples Do

Muslim Sex Ed Book Sparks Controversy

Twitter Shows Nation's Regional Accents

Swine Flu Vaccine Could Cure All Flu for Life

San Francisco Opens Country's First Gay Museum

Nike SB Dunk High – ‘Statue Of Liberty’


Yes, I'm a bit too old for Nike SB Dunks, but these just caught my eye immediately as somewhat of a collector's item. That's definitely the old man in me talking. Even so, Nike's clearly been trying to up the standards of their designs as of late, and this hi-top offering is no different. The shoe features a sea-green leather exterior that will reveal a rusty underside with regular wear and tear from skating, ass-kicking or whatever strenuous activity you put these through. Not to mention, they've got a special logo on the tongue to commemorate Lady Liberty herself. The Statue of Liberty Dunks drop in February, just in time for the weather to start clearing up. Check out a better view after the jump.


Dear Future Girlfriend

It only made sense... *bops head*

It's a new year, but the same problems we faced in 2010 are the same ones that'll rear their ugly heads in new and innovative ways. One such issue is that of relationship woes. Relationships are easy to get into, but hard to deal with and much harder to sustain when people don't see eye-to-eye. Even worse is when one partner switches up their standards or backslides into a dangerous romantic state, leaving the other confused and in a one-sided relationship.

That said, I think this year needs to be one of well-defined, yet achievable standards. My future girlfriend, it's time for you to get acquainted to what I want. Often, in this highly matrifocal society, women are afforded the driver's seat in relationships. In my circles, far too many times has the onus been on the man to be patient, accommodating, caring, and understanding, without receiving the same in return, or receiving it half-assedly. It's time to let my needs be known. Future girlfriend, here are my list of (non-sexual) demands requests hopes for you and us:

- You don't have to be interested in the same things as me, but being able to converse on a number of different levels is imperative. Whether it's about rhesus monkeys overtaking the Congolese population, why Sarah Palin needs a muzzle, or whether Julian Assange is a bastion of free speech or a terrorist, have something to talk about other than yourself. If you're good-looking sans personality, it's about as attractive as Hannibal Lecter's plastic surgery patients.

- We need to be honest with one another, not in the sense that we should trade journals and have three-a-day 'honesty' hours. I mean more so in the sense that if something is amiss, you bring it to my attention, rather than waiting for me to ask you.

- Comfort me when I'm down, and I'll do the same. Make me smile and I promise I'll give you a reason to smile every day. Do the opposite, and the romantic pot you piss in will be yanked from right under you. Point. Blank. Period. Relationships are about reciprocation, in feelings and ideology.

- Everyone has emotional baggage. That's just the way romance works. The point of getting into a new relationship is to alleviate the wrongs that your previous partner did and leave the baggage behind, all while making newer, happy memories. If your baggage is too much for you to handle, you should trust me as your significant other to fix what he did.

- Speaking of exes, if you have a recent ex, please please please please, either cut him off or establish your own boundary for acceptable contact. Your ex is your ex for a reason. If he's still in your life (and you still visualize the two of you together), that leaves the door open for a gang of misunderstandings and arguments for us. I wouldn't say I'm the jealous type, but my Spider senses tingle when I see you keeping him around.

- I don't care about your monetary, employment or educational status as long as you're constantly and gainfully working toward something. I know I can get into ruts of slacker-dom, as do many of my peers. At the same time, there's no excuse to be completely stagnant. Have a plan or an idea or... SOMETHING!

- Infidelity is punishable by getting cut off completely. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. You want to get all 60's on me and experience 'free love'? Get on Craigslist's casual encounters and leave me out of your menagerie of sexual exploits. At this age, monogamy is the name of the game. Two players, and we all win... Any more than that is a crowd and a headache.

- Last, but not least, if it doesn't feel right, let's take a step back. We shouldn't invest in something we're not sure about. There's nothing more backwards than jumping headfirst without surveying the landing, though I'm guilty of it as much as the next. Moderation at the beginning is a virtue. If we're not on the same page, let's hold our heads until the dust settles.

To all you budding feminists reading this saying 'Who does he think he is?' and 'No woman is there to be your personal footstool!', consider this: If you were to begin a relationship and a man were to eschew any of these edicts, would you still want to be with him? Better yet, if a man were to do all these and more, would there be any issue? This letter isn't a list of exhaustive demands I have for you, future girlfriend. The list is simply retorts to problems I've faced in relationships and hopefully a viewing window into what I think should be tenets of a healthy relationship. Misunderstandings are natural in romance; that goes without saying. Yet, the little amount and discordant manner of dialogue between the sexes illustrates how little we're willing to understand one another. So, to my future girlfriend, let's build on a foundation of understanding, not hot air and sparks. It'll be well worth the effort on both sides.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Show Tufli - Don't Let Me Go


Show Tufli - Don't Let Me Go

Another Tuesday, another Show Tufli track to whet your ears with. Since I started listening, the Harlem native is 2/2 in my ears. The beat for 'Don't Let Me Go' is heavily sampling Consequence's 'Disperse', yet the effect is nowhere near lost in this relaxing riff. As with the rest of Tufli's tracks, this one has a lot of introspection and fanciful wordplay. I really want to know where he's trying to go with this Tufli Tuesday initiative, because it's promising. Hearing another NYC rapper making moves is refreshing, and I'll be looking out next week again...

3 Minutes

The day that light sabers become a standard in combat, is the day I will be first in line waiting to unleash the Dark Side of the Force on an unwitting adversary. Such is the premise of this short movie, 3 Minutes. I won't divulge exactly what goes on in the 3 minutes, aside from it is action-packed and involves the use of light sabers in an industrial park. The Ross Ching-directed short film was shot using a Canon 5D Mark II and the Canon 7D, which explains the crazy picture quality for a non-professional movie. Honestly, talk won't suffice for this bad boy. Check it out and decide whether you can handle 3 minutes...

The Transforming Motorcycle

Yes, yes people!! The 'Future' is coming, complete with laser vision, dehydrated food and transforming vehicles!! Okay... So the first two are nowhere near fruition, but the last one is shown in the above video. The Uno Transformer made its debut at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, and features the capacity to transform from a triple-wheeled unicycle to a sleek two-wheeled motorcycle. The Uno uses a gyroscope to balance itself and does its transformation while accelerating for maximum stability and speed for its small frame. It's completely electric-powered, meaning you won't have to break your bank, and lets out zero-emissions, meaning it's 'green' by default. The only thing that the Uno's design sacrifices is horsepower, clocking in at a top speed of 35 MPH. You won't blow by the Ducatti's and Kawasaki's, but you'll definitely look cool doing it. Check out the BPG Uno III in action.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Outasight - Losing My Mind (prod. 6th Sense)


Outasight - Losing My Mind

If you like very brash, cacophonous music, then please skip down to the next post. If you, on the other hand, enjoy very earthy, soulful music, then Outasight is the artist for you. OU, since his 'Never Say Never' recording has been doing shows and steadily building his fan base. Today he let loose this track, for no apparent reason, and I was immediately cast into a state of almost-catatonic relaxation and calm. It goes without saying that 6th Sense is behind the boards. The track, like many of Richard Andrews' works is an ode to the twenty-something crowd, filled with the trivialities and struggles of growing up sans a silver spoon. Dig the vibes...

Game of Thrones

It's been a while since the term 'get medieval on that ass' has been usable without drawing stares, weird retorts or general confusion. This April, though, I'm going to break that one out, just because HBO is trying to do the same with its new series, 'Game of Thrones'. The show revolves around the fictional (or stylized?) region of Westeros, where the summers can last decades and the winters can last a lifetime, and the struggle of numerous noble families to acquire the Iron Throne. It's early, but I can definitely tell that HBO has another hit on their hands. The scenery looks just as dark, rustic and bubonic plague-infested as it can given out paltry knowledge of medieval society. Then again, who's looking for that with all of the sex and violence coming from the trailer? Either way, it's time to start boning up on your swordsmanship and jousting...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Neighborhood Newsletter (1/7)

I know more than a few people going to this college. Maybe even me...

13 Years Later, Notorious BIG Investigation Back On

10 Words That Will Make Your New Band Name Suck in 2011

Our Brains Are Shrinking. Are We Getting Dumber?

Giving up media causes withdrawal symptoms

I’ve given up using soap & shampoo forever

In Internet Age, Salutation 'Dear' Goes the Way of the Dinosaur

Love Analytix: The Female Dictionary

Why Not Let Kids Vote?

In New York City, 41% of Pregnancies Aborted

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The VICE Guide to #Based Music

Over the past few weeks, I've had trouble ignoring the phenomenon that is Lil' B the Based God. The Bay Area native has a choke hold on the internet's fickle throat, and with his #based moniker he's made Twitter his personal stomping ground in little more than a year. That said, his music has always gone over my head, either due to my own doubting his musical ability or general ire towards his 'so ridiculous, it's genius' modus operandi. You can't deny the man's work ethic or his overall intelligence. Lately I've been seeing Lil' B tweets popping up on my timeline, and instead of questioning them, I found myself nodding in agreement. Maybe I'll never be a Lil' B fan. Maybe #based music is little more than a fad. Whatever the case, he has my ears, and after this feature with MTV's VICE, he might have a lot more in 2011. Check out exactly what #based music is, and the inspiration for his seemingly random song titles...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

LRG Spring 2011 Collection

It's been a minute since I've posted any clothing, sneakers or apparel in general. I think I came to a realization about fashion, or clothing brands more specifically: If a clothing brand doesn't have a motif, a theme or a general feel to its apparel, then it's less likely to catch on. The most successful brands that my generation is drawn to like SUPREME (not my favorite, but influential nonetheless), Polo, Orisue, Levis among others, all have branched out into becoming 'lifestyle' brands that encompass a way of living or thinking. LRG, in their Spring collection does just that, exemplifying an earthy approach to fashion and life. Set in the woods, shores and skies of Washington and San Juan, and featuring a buttery-smooth song in backdrop, this preview from the good folks at LRG is a testament to their brand: simple, refined and one with its surroundings, no matter if it's the forest or the concrete jungle. Check it out...

Show Tufli - Fli On My Own


Show Tufli - Fli On My Own

Show Tufli's 'Tufli Tuesdays' have been a mainstay on the blog circuit for the past few months, but none of the releases have whet my interest. I suppose with a new year, there are a few artists that can catch fire, especially with consistency. I can't say I dig the biting of Kanye's GOOD Friday initiative, but this release is a step in the right direction from the Harlem native. 'Fli On My Own' is a song about it's namesake - being 'Fli on your own. Sometimes in the shuffle of trying to make our dreams come true, we get caught up in what other people think. Show's here to remind us that standing alone is the only way to go. Check out this week's Tufli Tuesday. I'll be checking next week to see what he brings to the table...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dear Huck Finn

Erasing the word 'nigger' from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn erase the dynamic that makes the book so memorable...

via Publisher's Weekly:
Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic by most any measure—T.S. Eliot called it a masterpiece, and Ernest Hemingway pronounced it the source of "all modern American literature." Yet, for decades, it has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the country, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright, appearing again and again on lists of the nation's most challenged books, and all for its repeated use of a single, singularly offensive word: "nigger."

Twain himself defined a "classic" as "a book which people praise and don't read." Rather than see Twain's most important work succumb to that fate, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the "n" word (as well as the "in" word, "Injun") by replacing it with the word "slave".
The term 'to whitewash', as defined by, means:
  •  to whiten with whitewash.
  • to cover up or gloss over the faults or errors of; absolve from blame.
That second meaning is sacrosanct (look that up while you're at it) with trying to censor, make invisible or control the viewing of something. Whitewashing something literally means that whatever you had before is covered by plain white... Whatever was under it, no matter how ugly (or beautiful; depends on the beholder) is gone. Whitewashing is why the media butchers facts, why politicians are all liars and why by 2020 the Iraq War might not be in history books anymore. Whitewashing is what is happening to you, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, when the publishers of one of your new editions take the word 'nigger' out of your pages in lieu of 'slave'.

The word 'nigger' is synonymous with Southern culture from the early 1800s onward. It was as American as apple pie and baseball even past the Civil Rights Movement era. Though the negative stigma attached to its use has lessened the ease of its use, no doubt there are some people who still say 'nigger' as a term of hate towards Black people. That said, 'nigger', while hateful, is a part of Southern history, which is encapsulated in you, Huck Finn. Why are they trying to take some of your thunder away?

I'll tell you why: It's because people are uncomfortable with the ugly, hateful, detestable history of our country, and would rather whitewash over it with rosy rhetoric than paint the picture as it really was. It's because most people can't stomach the way 'nigger' was casually used in the South as not just a hateful word, but a general term for Black people. It's because people would rather gloss over the way things really were, to portray things the way they want them to be.

Somewhere in Anytown, Middle America, there is a 6th grade literature class going through a tour of classic American books, of which you are a part, Huck Finn. They're going to open your pages and take in the story, but instead of getting the truth - the real, gritty truth - they'll get the sugarcoated abridged version. They'll get the version in which Huck and Nigger Jim are equals in society's eyes, not the one where Huck first sees Jim as a 'nigger' before all else. Do people really want that? Do they want you to lose your effect. One of the reasons you were such a profound book is because of the candid portrayal of the racial attitudes that pervaded the U.S. at that time. Why would they want to rob you of that privilege? Why would they want to dilute you for the sake of safety? By taking 'nigger' out of your pages, the only bad vibe going away is the awkward moment when a white student has to say it around mixed racial company (I would've been able to live without that in my classroom). Censoring you, in essence is erasing the racist ideology that this country was built on, giving an imperfect and incomplete perspective on it. You, as a classic piece of literature, deserve more than that...

Limitless (2011)

Can we stop using Kanye's 'Power' as the theme song for every movie, TV show and sports segment?

Have you ever wondered what you could do if you were the 'maximum' you? Maximum, as in using all of your potential and all of your abilities at your best. Optimization has been a goal of behavioral engineering for years. Technologically, of course, we're years from such a feat, but Hollywood has done the legwork for us. 'Limitless' is the story of a formerly coke-addicted writer coming across an experimental drug that maximizes the user's potential. Within a few days, Bradley Cooper's (who's becoming a favorite actor of mine) character finishes a book, predicts stocks, learns a language and becomes a more charismatic version of himself. Trouble comes afoot when he discovers that his 'miracle pill' is part of a greater plan. The movie looks like it's going to be interesting, if not because Robert DeNiro is in it, then because of the idea that there is a 'pill' to improve oneself. Somewhere in some underground laboratory, there's a team of scientists hitting their heads on a wall because Hollywood stole their idea. I guarantee their version wouldn't have been as entertaining, though...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Dear Phonte & 9th Wonder


When one's friendship stops taking precedence in lieu of business, other relationships or simple personal preference, maybe it's time to take a step back and realize what caused the friendship to hit the rocks in the first place. That's when what used to be the best of friends can turn not into enemies, but strangers. They know and love one another, but won't talk for fear of alienating one another even further. They'd rather split amicably than risk destroying the friendship. Phonte and 9th Wonder, it's a blessing in disguise that you guys were able to thrive alone for a while before reconciling.

Both of you had some growing to do, obviously, before you could come to this point. I'm not sure about the personal growth that you underwent, but professionally you both have carved out nice little niches for yourself. 9th, you've become one of the most heralded producers of the past decade, and Phonte, you've been as consistent an MC as we've seen in the game. I love that you both were quick to denounce any rumors of new Little Brother work, because your friendship rekindling doesn't mean you're automatically going to click musically. In fact, I wouldn't expect you guys to work on anything at all. While it's excruciating as a music fan, as an overall admirer of healthy friendships, it's heartwarming. Your reconciliation is oddly inspiring me to reach out to some old friends. You said it best, Phonte... Maybe 2 plates of food and a long conversation is all people need to resolve their differences.

The song speaks truth...

Dear Oprah

There's something about certain entrepreneurs that makes me smile, but at the same time makes me want to hurl. They're so enthralling because at times, they can show us exactly why we're (we as in non-millionaires) exactly how to get to a similar position: cutthroat business strategies, schmoozing with the right people and almost shameless promotion. The same thing that enthralls us, however, is the same thing that gives rise to ridiculous ego-stroking, a sad vanity complex and a holier-than-thou spin on everything. Such is your plight, oh great Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Yes, I enjoy the fact that now all the brainwashed adoring fans of Sofia can get 24 hours of all Oprah, all the time, but does the world really need that?

Oprah, there's no doubt in my mind that your network will be a day-long ode to new-age self improvement fads, Dr. Phil philosophy ideologies and makeovers. Most troubling about the idea of you having your own network is how excruciatingly preachy it will be. The thing I dislike about you, Oprah, isn't that you try to help people and be a modern-day guru. I could care less about that. The fact still remains that a heft amount of what you preach, you couldn't know less about. How a person sit there for hours and listen to you talk about parenting, when the only kids you have are your 'daughters' in South Africa? How can anyone take your advice on relationships and marriage, when you've been living with a business partner posing as a romantic partner? Even Dr. Phil... There's something problematic when people flock to a person's teachings simply because you say that person is a consummate professional. That's like trusting the mystery meat in the cafeteria, just because the lunch people are serving it.

Your network is going to be so predictable, too. I can just picture constant re-runs of your syndicated show, along with Lifetime-quality, man-bashing movies, and shows starring Rosie O'Donnell and Wynona Rider all aimed at stay-at-home moms, self-hating men, and people too brainwashed caught up by your genius influence to change the channel. Your network doesn't look like it's going to be pushing any boundaries or giving the viewer anything ground-breaking. It looks safe, just like any segments you've done with people you used to revile (see: Ludacris and Jay-Z). Rather than do something new with your network, you're further diluting your image in my mind, from someone with a voice that matters to someone with just a voice. Kudos to you for being the first black woman to run a television network, Oprah, but I pray no one calls their cable provider to get OWN. It'll be a $12 addition to their bill they might as well have saved, though it would've probably gone to your 'book club' at the end of the day...


I know I'm not the only frequent NYC Subway rider who wonders exactly what the tracks, tunnels and rails look like outside of the train. These guys, street historian Steven Duncan and videographer Andrew Wonder, got to see just that in their expedition in the belly of the beast known as the Subway. Armed with a Canon 5d Mark II camera, an LED flashlight and a ridiculous knowledge of the inner workings of a rapid transit system, Duncan visits numerous train stations (abandoned and functioning), and runs amok in the tunnels, all while dodging trains, transit workers and cops, and the deadly third rail. Duncan sees everything from decade-old graffiti to a bunch of tunnel-dwelling citizens, some of whom had lived in the Subway tunnels since the 80s.

The most interesting part of the documentary is Duncan talking about some of the penalties for getting caught trespassing, and seeing him maneuver around the Subway tracks and restricted areas, even while people are in plain view. He even shows the viewer New York City's first sewer at Canal Street on the trip, going in a manhole. My question is, how in the world does one become an urban historian, or know about some of these places, without having nearly died a few times? I'm guessing he's done this before, as Duncan alludes to being in Paris and getting caught trying to climb the Cathedral at Notre Dame. Although, this really piques my interest, it's a bit too crazy for me, especially when you think about the smell. Either way, Duncan's journey is visually stunning for those of us curious about the workings of the city's underworld. Too bad he didn't catch any of the sewer dwelling alligators... or the mole people. I'd actually pay to see those...

PS: All you Brooklyn people are going to love the end.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Skillz - 2010 Rap Up

Skillz - 2010 Rap-Up

Another year, another edition of Skillz' annual year-in-review rap. Of course it's a little late, but with the amount of hangovers, I'm sure a few of you guys didn't miss much. I'm not going to lie. 2010 made me worried about a lot. There were a lot of high-profile deaths and a lot of hi-jinx in Hollywood that made me wonder 'where are we going?' But that's neither here nor there. It's a new year and time for a new chronological start. Hopefully everyone is in good spirits. We know Skillz is. Check out his 2010 Rap-Up and have a good Sunday, people!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Neighborhood Newsletter (1/1)

Bill Maher makes me proud to be an American. Oprah makes me sick. Nuff' said...

Arizona Law Banning Ethnic Studies Takes Effect Tonight

2011 List of Banished Words

32% of 9-Month-Olds Obese or Overweight

Mom, This is How Twitter Works (The Laymen's Guide to Tweeting)

4-Second Silences Make Us Feel ... Awkward

Fox News Viewers 'Most Misinformed,' Study Finds

Want to Rein in Deficit? Cut Military Funding

15 of the Most Bizarre Job Interview Questions

Mexican Gunmen Kidnap Last Police Officer In Guadalupe

Robot Waiters

I never thought I'd see the day... Well actually, yes I did. Prophesying an 'I, Robot'-esque scenario aside, this is pretty cool. At Dalu Robot Restaurant, a hot pot joint in China, you'll never have to tip your waiter or worry about him spitting in your food. The restaurant owner also doubles as the proprietor of a robotics firm, so he decided to mix the two. The robot waiters drive around the restaurant on tracks and use radar and magnets to maneuver. I'm not going to lie. It's a bit creepy at first, and isn't as comprehensive, as you still have to take the food off the trays. Still, it's a fun change for those of us looking for some tech in their eating experience...