Huey Freeman would say it went cheap: Viacom swallows BET for $3 billion. Peep game, and welcome to the machine:
NEW YORK (Variety) - Viacom Inc., fresh off its acquisition of CBS, could be planning another major coup -- a purchase of Robert Johnson's Black Entertainment Television in a stock deal that could be worth as much as $3 billion.

The move would combine BET Holdings, including a roster of musicvideo-based cable networks, with Viacom's MTV and VH1 -- a nice fit, industry players note. Johnson would be able to focus on some of his other ventures, like nightclubs, publishing and airline DC Air. And BET's 35% owner Liberty Media could get a nice chunk of Viacom stock -- something that's missing from its portfolio.

Johnson owns 60% equity of the company and BET president Debra Lee owns 5%.

BET has publicly estimated its networks' value at about $2.7 billion. Aside from the BET network, BET Holdings owns BET on Jazz and 50% of BET Movies/Starz!3. BET has 63 million subscribers.

BET and Viacom spokesmen declined to comment but sources said it's basically "a done deal."

Wall Streeters said that cable networks are much more profitable when they are part of a larger family. Stand-alone Oxygen Media, for example, is desperately seeking investors for a cash infusion.

The deal would end Johnson's 20-year ownership and control of the largest black-targeted cable network at a time when start-up competitors like Major Broadcasting Corp. and New Urban Television are beginning to pick up cable-affiliation deals.

Johnson began BET with an investment of $15,000, but was able to raise $10 million for his fledgling company by selling stakes to
communications giants like Time Inc. and Taft Broadcasting. Over the years, he expanded into restaurants, nightclubs, magazines and an interactive Web site called

But Johnson has also drawn criticism from those who say BET provides a low-brow mix of entertainment, mainly musicvideos, rather than uplifting programming for his primarily black audience.

In 1998, Liberty and Johnson bought out other public shareholders' equity in BET Holdings for about $380 million. The purchase price, $63 a share, valued all of BET Holdings Inc. at about $1 billion.

"The one big gap in Liberty Media portfolio has been Viacom,"' said Derek Baine, senior analyst at Carmel-based media research firm Paul Kagan Associates. "I'm sure Liberty would love to have a stake in Viacom."

Baine speculates that Liberty Media would be paid in stock and would then buy more stock in Viacom on the open market, as it previously did with News Corp.

As for Viacom, it will be "able to leverage and rebrand channels, as they did when they adopted TNN and turned it into the National Network," Baine said. "That's one example of how a huge conglomerate like Viacom can make their customers more aware of a brand and programming."

Man on film: So these right'chere are two I will be avoiding: "The Legend of Bagger Vance" and "Marci X." Yes, that's me whose words you're reading. I'm the one underneath this custom-fit humorless-ass-can't-take-a-joke PC mask, and sho 'nuff you're hearing me clearly. Megadittoes to Variety writer Todd McCarthy's take on it: Whispered horses couldn't drag me to see this thing.
"The Legend of Bagger Vance" is a lightweight, modestly engaging yarn sporting reductive mystical and philosophical elements that are both valid and borderline silly.

Robert Redford's carefully mounted telling of a fictional '30s golf match between two real-life legends and a local Georgia champion is very much of a piece with his numerous previous films about the "inner game" in athletics, competition and self-realization, such as "Downhill Racer," "The Natural," "Quiz Show," "A River Runs Through It" and "The Horse Whisperer."

But while the picture is involving enough on a moment-to-moment basis, it generates no special excitement or feeling, which is partly attributable to the relaxed nature of golf as well as to the simply defined characters.

The up-to-now untarnished box office record amassed by Will Smith will be scuffed a bit with this DreamWorks/20th Century Fox co-venture, which looks destined for just OK returns domestically and internationally.

Steven Pressfield's beguiling novel pivots on the curious master-student relationship that develops between Bagger Vance, a deep-thinking guru who imposes himself as a caddie, and Rannulph Junuh, a long-ago rising star of the links who pulls himself out a decade-long bender to take on golf titans Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen in a special match.

Alluding to past lives dating back 20,000 years and ever-ready with nuggets of Eastern wisdom that serve to correlate golf and "the game of life," Vance, in the course of an intensely played 36 holes, guides his protege toward the discovery of his Authentic Swing, the pure and natural expression of any person's game, personality and soul.

So, like, in the year 2000 -- with Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Notah Begay III taking no shorts on the world's fairways -- I'm s'posed to flock to the theater to bask in the glow of Will Smith doing this year's version of the Majestical Mystical Coon act? No thanks. And while I'm at it, I'm even less encouraged about this, even with Variety's Claude Brodesser breaking it down for me:
Lisa Kudrow, currently starring with John Travolta in "Lucky Numbers,'' is in final negotiations to topline "Marci X."

The fish-out-of-water comedy is about a Jewish American Princess who is forced to take control of a hard-core hip-hop record label. She must try to rein in one of the label's most controversial and top-selling rappers, whose fictional hit (called "Shoot Ya' Teacha") is creating PR problems.

The Paramount project was written by Paul Rudnick ("In & Out") and will be produced by Scott Rudin ("Shaft").

Kudrow, best known for her role as Phoebe on NBC's "Friends," has been landing meatier roles in features since a deft comic turn in 1998's "The Opposite of Sex"

No director is attached to "Marci X" as yet, though a deal is imminent and an early 2001 start is being planned.

I mean, seriously! The plot's going to make Farrakhan forget all that peace-love-and-soul stuff he was kicking at the Million Family March. And where's the Anti-Defamation League when you need 'em? Don't they kick up a fuss at movies anymore? They ought to be protesting this film if its makers are going to be so baldfaced about calling its lead character a J.A.P.

My costume? "Teched-out gangsta"!, fool! Last Halloween, I was still employed at ANG Newspapers, driving out to Pleasanton and putting in work on the News Desk (special shout-outs to my roaddogs Chris "C-Dub," Vicki "Master Thespian" and my real dogs Mulder and Ebo of the Walker crew in Tracy, holdin' it down in the 2-0-Nizzine).

So I figured I could get by comfortably with wearing pajamas and slippers. It was pretty nice. I think the only other person to dress up was Jane Montes, a talented, personable and intelligent young woman who donned all-black clothing and some face paint to pretend to be a demon. The year before that, Ankita donned her belly-dancing costume and I made Christmas come two months early with the help of a red suit, a wispy white beard, a hat and a strategically positioned pillow.

This year? Nothing. I mean, I could've gone lateral -- with my red pocket T-shirt, oversized black-and-grey-checkerboard thermal shirt, black jeans and black boots -- and told folks I was dressing as Stendhal's "The Red and the Black" (Al Gore's favorite book). But that's hella obscure, kna'mean?

So, I'm standing on the Powell BART platform (freshly acquired copy of October's "Street Spirit" newspaper, published by these guys, rolled up in my back pocket). The train pulls in. I find a seat, flop down and set my backpack beside me. Whipping out my deck and firing it up for some MP3'age, I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass.

I think about it for a minute. Then I say to myself, nope: Ain't a damn thing wrong with this picture. Then I pull down my friend-gifted, freebie-shelf-originated olive-green woolen cap and grin.

No Shift!: A magazine I really liked shuts down. Here's to its speedy and profitable reincarnation.
The "laughing tiger": ... is what this photo reminds me of. Has anyone else read Stephen King's "The Dead Zone"?


More not than hot: Having satisfied my curiosity (as well as having my vanity torched), I took down a picture I'd posted at AmIHotOrNot? A total of 317 people rated me, giving me a 3.5 out of 10 rank. Oddly, the score was enough to make me "hotter" than 80 percent of the men who had also submitted their pictures.

This whimsical, impulsively conducted experiment in vanity and free-market face value now concluded, readers may now return to the regularly scheduled program of "me blogging loads more important stuff than silly shit like this."


The possession of Suzan-Lori Parks: It's detailed in an interesting article by Shawn-Marie Garrett in the October 2000 issue of American Theatre magazine.
Parks has always resisted the directives of the force she and other experimental African-Americans quietly call the "colored police" -- artists who insist the community should offer positive role models through its art and "keep it real." Instead, Parks wraps her dramas around losses so great that they defy the the directive to "keep it real," to remain within the boundaries of realism, a form toward which African-American drama has often turned to escape the painful distortions of minstrelsy. The losses Parks has theatricalized are the losses of humanity, dignity and life; of place, time, culture and family; and finally of a rightful place in World History -- the kindof history that gets written down and taught in schools.

Yet her methods make some in the African-American theatre community uncomfortable, and, significantly, Parks's plays are rarely produced at theatres exclusively devoted to the production of African-American drama. A plan to print a symposium on Parks's work in Theater magazine had to be scrapped because the editors could not find African-American critics willing to go on record with their opinions. Though several invited critics said they admired Parks's talent, they objected, in essence, to her politics. Her tendency to attract predominantly white audiences and directors sparks further questions in some minds about whether she is speaking to or for the African-American experience.

But Parks's plays simply differ from representations of "black life" (and Parks would insist that "black lives" is more accurate) that aim to be "realistic." Parks shows that history is and always has been as much enemy as ally to the collective memories and shared secrets of a black people jettisoned into a white world. Both American and European histories have tended to excise their black parts or to hide those parts behind larger-than-life, shadow-casting, white symbolic surrogates (like Abraham Lincoln, the Great Man who "freed the slaves," single-handedly). For Parks, written History can ultimately serve as only a partial record of the black experience, which has been passed down as much through expressive forms as written ones. Moreover, traditional theatrical forms could not accommodat, as she writes, "the figures which take up residence inside me."

Because theatre itself is an event that allows people to gather in a specific place in time, it is "the perfect place to 'make' history," Parks reasons -- to fill in the gaps in the story of African-America by "staging historical events which, through their happening on stage, are ripe for inclusion in the canon of history." Yet only one of Parks's history plays, it turns out, is even loosely based on what 25 years ago might have been confidently called "historical fact," and that one, Venus takes considerable liberties. The others are pure poetic invention, sometimes celebratory, sometimes sexy, sometimes cruel, always playful, often hilarious. They also leave room for ambiguity concerning their characters' choices; there is a stubborn refusal on the part of the playwright to romanticize the experience of oppression. The characters struggle and suffer, but are also always viewed through the lens of a pervasive, sometimes absurdist, sometimes tragic, sense of irony. They rarely "do the right thing." They are not heroes or saints, facing racism with the calm dignity of martyrs; nor are they hapless victims, caught up in forces beyond their control; nor are they instigators of civil disobedience. Human folly -- whether black or white -- is never smoothed over in Parks's plays with the balm of sentimentality. The experience of oppression is not ennobling, and the oppressor, rather than being fetishized or demonized, is often simply absent. The immediate experience of Parks's characters is more like that of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, who sees history not as an arrow or a spiral but as a boomerang, for which one had best "keep a steel helmet handy."

Intelligence quotient: Took an IQ test here, mostly 'cause I saw that she'd taken it and scored a 143 (allegedly higher than her weight). I pulled down a 134, finishing in nine minutes (comfortably ahead of the 13 minutes the test permits). Over here, my score appears to be enough to put me in a bell curve's "gifted" range (unless Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein would object, of course). This could reassure me about traveling abroad, but I might be tempted to morph into an ugly American if I put too much stock in it. Further encouragement toward a swollen head lies over here.
Quoted in this week's Industry Standard: On page 41, two interesting statements ...
"When I wasn't in charge, my aggressiveness was considered 'arrogance,' 'being militant.' When white counterparts demonstrate the same traits, it was 'assertive,' 'initiative.' Covad CEO Robert Knowling, Jr. (Los Angeles Times)

"You can appear to be part of a system. You can create the illusion that you're permanent." Multimedia documentarist Bryan Rich, on the rootless, nomadic life that cell phones and e-mail allow (

And on page 51, from James Fallows' column on "location, location, location."

"A decade's growth in networked communications, far from eliminating the need to meet or travel, has brought us more clogged highways, more jammed airlines, more costly real estate in the few chosen areas where high-value industry wants to congregate. I therefore offered a tasty free meal and drink to the person who could best explain this anomaly and demonstrate why and when the Net would free us to live in Tahiti while "working" in midtown Manhattan."
Fuck Halloween, ghosts and goblins -- and the LAPD too!: This straight-up bullshit right here is my biggest fear all day, every day.

Sunday October 29 3:01 PM ET Police Kill Actor at Los Angeles Halloween Party

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -- A police officer responding to a noisy Halloween party at a mansion north of Beverly Hills shot and killed an actor, who police said pointed what turned out to be a fake gun at him, police said Sunday.

Anthony Dwain Lee, 39, who appeared in the 1997 movie ''Liar, Liar'' and on several television shows including "NYPD Blue,'' was shot several times early Saturday by Officer Tarriel Hopper who fired through a glass door from an exterior hallway, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement.

The shooting took place about 1 a.m. at a crowded party attended by scores of costumed guests, many of them actors and other entertainment industry professionals, at a mansion known as "the Castle'' for its spires and stained-glass windows, the Los Angeles Times reported.

It was not immediately known who owned the house or if the owner attended the party.

"He was a Buddhist. He hated violence. It is amazing he died this way,'' Mitch Hale, a writer whose play "Buffalo Soldier'' starred Lee and earned him a local acting award, told the newspaper. "He was an incredibly gifted actor and person. It's devastating ... Why did they shoot someone at a Halloween party?''

Police said Hopper and Officer Natalie Humphreys were attempting to find the owner of the home in the Benedict Canyon area of Los Angeles after neighbors complained about the party. The officers were at the rear of the house when Hopper looked into a small room and spotted three people.

Police said that when Lee saw the officers he pulled what looked like a handgun and pointed it at Hopper, who, in fear for his life, fired several shots from his service pistol, wounding Lee, the LAPD statement said.

Lee was later pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

Officer Charlotte Broughton, a spokeswoman for the LAPD, said many of the party-goers were in costume. One guest told the Times that some of guests were dressed as cops, but it was not known if Lee was wearing a costume. It was also not clear if Lee realized Hopper was a real officer with a real gun.

The police department said Lee's supposed weapon was a fake, "a replica semiautomatic pistol, dark in color.''

The shooting is being investigated by the LAPD's Robbery-Homicide Division and a team from the district attorney's office.

Another party-goer, Robert Hull, told the Times, "It was a shock that an officer would shoot at such a party. This was an exclusive party with security. Some of these people are making six figures, and this officer saw a toy gun at a Halloween costume party and opened fire.''

Another of the victim's friends, Mary Lin, told the newspaper, "His biggest fear was getting killed by cops, because he's a tall black man.''

Lee's friends said Sunday they were planning to hold a candlelight vigil in his honor Monday evening.

On death: A number of musical performers and artists remember where they were when they heard John Lennon was dead, and Keith Richards leads off the lineup and closes out his reflection with these words.

My father just passed away, and he winked at me just before he died. I really feel a lot better about death now. I'm getting off on that wink.
Ophi-Ophi-ra-ra-ra: "The Jewess is Loose" at her site, but to truly peep game, you have to pick up the November-December 2000 issue of Utne Reader and read "Bubbe Got Back," her essay on positive body images, race and "booty"/beauty standards.
"You're a white girl shaped like a black girl," my friend Anika put it bluntly. "And the African American men in my family love a healthy woman." We devolved into a Jimmy the Greek-style postulation of my booty's origins. Was it courtesy of my Middle Eastern father, a dark-complexioned Israeli with a notable "bump" himself? Or did it stretch back to ancient days, when, according to some speculators, the original Hebrews were black?

"I mean, look at those tomb paintings of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt," offered my friend Dyann, a churchy Pentecostal girl who was raised to believe that the Jews were God's chosen people, and was eager to make the connection. "They're shown as brown and black! And where do you think those full lips, and those springy curls come from? From us, that's who!"

Grateful that somebody supported me for draggin' this wagon, I didn't protest. She had a point. Indeed, my butt has been a cultural ambassador, a passport to insta-credibility in many a multicultural setting. ...

Yet ... I'm white, for all intents and purposes. I tan to a deep eggshell color and my melanin meter is on E. But I also have enough loyal black and Latina girlfriends to retain a storehouse of their painful experiences. They've all endured rejection by men of color who expected them to be my antithesis: ethnic girls who look white. A bigger body is still cool, for the most part -- but longer hair, lighter skin, and green or hazel eyes receive preference.

Possessing all those traits myself, I get a spontaneous surge of sisterly guilt with each new nonwhite boyfriend. Is it a case of take-the-best-and-leave-the-rest, ethnic in body and white by trait? Does this guy have an "issue" with the women of his culture that he's acting out on me? I've gotten pretty good at filtering out those fools. I once declared a short-lived ban on guys who hadn't dated their "own" women. Hypocrisy registered swiftly and I lifted the embargo, since my scorecard was mostly devoid of Jews.

But in many ways, my guilt about hurting women of color by dating interracially is there because I owe black women my life. They gave me a vocabulary that allowed me to rise above an all-consuming body hatred replete with obsessive exercise, calorie-cutting, and self-loathing. My black girlfriends called my thickness "healthy" and modeled their own girth with a confidence that shattered everything I'd been taught to believe. Thanks to their influence, I fell into step and gradually came to embrace myself the way I was built. So my house was made of bricks, not twigs? Solid, man.

Beauty OR the beast?: As Kurt Cobain never sang, "Rate me/do it again and again/Rate me/Do it again and again ..."


It's more than quintupled in the last year? "Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam ...
Democrats are pitchin' woo: They've got the incense, candles, oils and silken sheets. They're also pouring a fine w(h)ine, a rich and heady brew for folks who look like me (and maybe you).


Liberal, liberal, liberal, liberal, liberal -- yup, that's me!: So at Metafilter, a thread links to a SpeakOut vote-match service that lets surfers match responses to political issues with flesh-and-blood candidates and parties.

So, I took it. From first to last, my leanings (as filtered through the candidates) are for Nader (scoring 96 percent, with 106 percent on personal issues but only 86 percent on economic issues), Bradley, Gore, Lieberman, Browne, Hagelin, McCain, Cheney, Bush, Buchanan, Keyes and Phillips. (Why no LaDuke or Foster, though? That's foul.)

Also surveyed my political philosophy.


Why, of all the Nerve ... : Bored after listening to the last inning of the World Series, I set my phaser, er, browser for "smut," but found this instead of what I'd expected. Searching for the proper site on Google (thinking, hey, maybe they've gone and switched up their URL or something), I found this Vancouver, British Columbia, site. After reading this intriguing essay, somehow I found this review of my original destination, which led me to various instances of praise (here and here) for my employers.


Duet in B-cool: Cecil Taylor and Greg Osby enjoy nice profiles in the San Francisco Bay Guardian this week.

De gustibus non disputandum est ...: When I pick up the paper, I find myself gravitating to the columns: I thought I caught Tony Green's last column on Jimi Hendrix, but I know I read and liked his latest, which they're calling his debut. In discussing his opinion of some of today and yesterday's pop music (as well as his nephew's), it covers some of the same ground as Michelle Goldberg's compare-and-contrast piece on the success of Radiohead's "Kid A" and Americans' cultural tastes.

Fisher-Price nostalgia, anyone?: Classic album covers reimagined over here.
"Ethnic" relief: This is an AP story that Infobeat's Entertainment Express sent out in the mail this morning.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - UPN's Utah affiliate asked the television network to limit its "urban/ethnic programming" or give the station the right to cancel its contract. The request from Salt Lake station KJZZ-TV concerned UPN's Monday night lineup, which features comedies with predominantly black casts: "Moesha," "The Parkers," "The Hughleys" and "Girlfriends." KJZZ General Manager Randy Rigby said the station was responding to poor ratings in Utah, which is less than 1% black. The Monday night lineup brought in half as many viewers as the next lowest performing night, Rigby said.

KJZZ's complaint was one factor in UPN's decision last week to move its affiliation to another Utah station, KAZG in Ogden, as of Jan. 16. UPN said negotiations eventually broke down over other questions: how much the network should pay the affiliate to carry its programming, and delays in network programming to make way for Utah Jazz basketball games. On Oct. 13, KJZZ had written the network with eight demands. The last, which UPN made public, read: "KJZZ will have the option, with 90-day written notice, to cancel this contract should UPN increase the urban/ethnic programming above the current two hours per week."


Led astray, run amok ... : A San Francisco youth site called Bamboozled gets love for listing the speech El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz gave -- nicely recreated (incarnated?) by Denzel Washington in "Malcolm X."

In some obscure way we saw a relevance between the way people see kids and adolescents, as portrayed by the media and adult stereotypes, and the word bamboozled.

The child IS father to the man: Starmama pulled my coat about confusing Eddie and Gerald Levert a minute ago. Touring through her page, I found mention of me and my sweetie's visit to Berkeley Bowl, as well as a load of other folks she knows about (Elis is the only familiar blog) and whom I ought to visit.

All together now, and say it loud: "Bloggers is a beautiful thing! Bloggers is a beautiful thing! Bloggers is a beautiful thing!"

"I had what alcoholics refer to as 'a moment of clarity'": Yes, it's a Jules Winnfield line from "Pulp Fiction," but it's what flitted through my head when I read about George Curry's big plans for next year. Can't wait!
Gimme intie rock!: Or whatever else Chuck D.'s gonna be a part of.
Yessssssssss ... : "Somedays I feel tangerine/Somedays I feel blue ..." Thanks again, bro.


Don't believe the hyp(h)e(n)!: Or believe in it as I do.
Dude, I salute your initiative: ... but I seriously doubt a successful outcome.
If you're not an iBook enthusiast ... : Don't click here.


So glad I unplugged my idiot box ... : Funny as hell. Astonishing. Most of the comments over here mirror my perceptions. Disappointed with Jada Pinkett-Smith, but more disappointed with Spike Lee's inability to draw a fully realized female character (and no, "Girl 6" doesn't count). Paul Mooney's presence was a real pleasure.

Damon Wayans needs to get some kind of award, as one iMDB reviewer put it; as another one added, a lot of the movie's humor is interstitial: for instance, picture Wayans' Pierre Delacroix (nicknamed "Peerless Dauphin," for some reason -- "P.D."?) and his father Junebug (Mooney) in a comedy club dressing room, with Mooney all tricked out in an "Original Kings of Comedy" loud-ass suit and orange hat, and the two of them just talking as Gerald Levert's "Dream with No Love" plays in the background. How can I hear Gerald singing and not think of his father Eddie? A nice touch.

And some critics didn't quite know how to handle the prospect of seeing a minstrel show. Joke's on them, and all of us: Eminem and Limp Bizkit haven't had to blacken their face, but the song (as well as the sentiment) remains the same.

Excellent dancing, OK acting, totally thought-provoking ... and if you still don't get it, come check me and we'll build on it, son.

Don't believe the hype(rlink)!: Eth from Ethmar is gettin' linky with it. He also points out a resource I'll be sure to visit more regularly.


An Ed Bradley moment: The esteemed "60 Minutes" newscaster appeared on "The Chris Rock Show" last season, and mentioned the fight he almost got into when he went to Vietnam. Seems a local offered him a piece of watermelon, totally unaware of the fruit's standing in the African-American community. Bradley told Rock he had to stop and breathe deeply to make sure what was happening wasn't what he thought was happening. Turns out it wasn't, actually: the fellow was just trying to be friendly.

So tonight Ankita and I hit a restaurant, Canton, in the 1100 block of Franklin Street in downtown Oakland. She orders the lemon chicken. I ask for steamed chicken. With a straight face, the waitress -- a twentysomething Chinese woman, and likely a recent arrival (to be honest, I can't be certain: All I had to go on was her thick accent and slightly scrambled syntax) -- told me that mostly Chinese folks order the steamed chicken, and wouldn't I like to try the fried chicken instead?

"The fried chicken? You don't say. Really?" You never know how thin a smile you can arrange on your face when you think you've just been insulted. I just looked at Ankita after the waitress left. Ankita helped cool me out, pointing out that it was unlikely that the waitress knew 'bout fried chicken and folks who look like me.

So I took the fried chicken. It was lean, tasty, juicy, with easily removable skin: quite good.

But just to be ornery, I will be ordering the steamed chicken the next time I go.

More of A.T.N.T.F.T.M.Y.P.Y.P.: Over here. (courtesy sperare)


All the news that's fit to make you piss your pants: Here, here, here and here.
Right here we're gonna go back ... way back! Now that's what I call old-school. Fresh for '93! (courtesy MeFi)
Local vocals: What a gig this must have been.


D.C. residents taxed without representation!: So, Eleanor Holmes Norton and the crew are fixin' to do a lil somethin'-somethin' 'bout it.
They live in Brooklyn, baby ... : And if you do too, or anywhere in the N.J./N.Y./Conn. area and want to help Mos Def and Talib Kweli support their struggling bookstore, Nkiru, I'm'a put you up on somethin'. Go here on Saturday, kid.


Now you Z(ack) him, now you don't ... : Go bye-bye.


An answered question:
MODERATOR: Governor Bush, Norma Kirby has the next question and it's for you. Where are you?

BUSH: Hi, Norma.

MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: How will your administration address diversity, inclusiveness and what role will affirmative action play in your overall plan?

BUSH: I've had a record of bringing people from all walks of life into my administration and my administration is better off for it in Texas. I'm going to find people that want to serve their country. But I want a diverse administration, I think it's important. I've worked hard in the State of Texas to make sure our institutions reflect the state with good, smart policy. Policy that rejects quotas. They tend to pit one group of people against another. It doesn't good for America. It's not what America is all about. But policies that give people a helping hand, so they can help themselves. For example in our State of Texas I worked with the legislature, both Republicans and Democrats to pass a law that say if you come in in the top 10 percent of your high school class you're automatically admitted to one of our higher institutions of learning. College. And as a result, our universities are now more diverse. It was a smart thing to do is what I called it, I labeled it affirmative access. I think the contracting business in government can help. Not with quotas but help meet a goal of ownership of small businesses, for example. The contracts need to be smaller, the agencies need to be -- need to recruit and to work hard to find people to bid on the state contracts. I think we can do that in a way that represents what America is all about, which is equal opportunity and an opportunity for people to realize their potential so to answer your question, I support I guess the way to put it is affirmative access. I'll have an administration that will make you proud. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Vice President Gore?

GORE: I believe in this goal and effort with all my heart. I believe that our future as a nation depends upon whether or not we can break down these barriers that have been used to pit group against group and bring our people together. How do you do it? Well, you establish respect for differences.
You don't ignore differences. It's all too easy for somebody in the majority in the population to say we're just all the same without an understanding of the different life experience that you've had, that others have had. Once you have that understanding and mutual respect we can transcend the differences and embrace the highest common denominate or of the American spirit. I don't know what affirmative access means. I do know what affirmative action means.
I know the governor is against it and I know that I'm for it. I know what a hate crime statute pending at the national level is all about in the aftermath of James Byrd's death. I'm for that law, the governor is against it. I know what it means to have a commitment to diversity. I am part of an administration that has the finest record on diversity and incidentally an excellent -- I think our success over the last eight years has not been in spite of diversity but because of it because we're able to draw on the wisdom and experience from different parts of the society that haven't been tapped in the same way before. And incidentally, Mel Carnahan in Missouri had the finest record of diversity in any governor in the entire history of the State of Missouri and I want to honor that among his other achievements here. Now, I just believe that what we have to do is enforce the civil rights laws. I'm against quotas. This is with all due respect, governor, that's a red herring. Affirmative action -- they're against the American way. Affirmative action means you take extra steps to acknowledge the history of discrimination and injustice and prejudice and bring all people into the American dream because it helps everybody, not just those who are directly benefitting.

MODERATOR: Governor, are you opposed to affirmative action?

BUSH: If affirmative action means quotas I'm against it. If it means what I'm for, then I'm for it. You heard what I was for. He keeps saying I'm against things. You heard what I was for and that's what I support.

MODERATOR: Mr. Vice President, you heard what he said.

GORE: He said if affirmative actions means quotas he's against it. It doesn't mean for it ... are you for it without quotas?

BUSH: I'm for what I just described for the lady.

GORE: Are you for what the Supreme Court says is a constitutional way of having affirmative action?

MODERATOR: Let's go on to another --

BUSH: It speaks for the fact that there are certain rules in this we all agree to, but evidently rules don't mean anything.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves, that we are underlings": "Mercury, Planet of Communication, switches gears into retrograde motion on the 18th and continues this way until November 7th -- Election Day in the U.S! Any debates during this retrograde could be very interesting, indeed. Be wary of misunderstandings, misquotes, misdirected emails and overheard whispers. Set aside some extra time to get where you need to go. Tongues and traffic alike could get all tied up in this time of reversed planetary motion." (courtesy
"This one's optimistic" ... : Aw shucks, Cecily, t'wernt nothin' a-tall.
Who wants to be a Monkeyfister?: I do, especially when critiquing white privilege -- check the reference -- and a company's racist statement.


Miss "Saturday Night Live"? Here. No, really, you're welcome. (courtesy Lucky, courtesy Green Plastic)
Texas -- a state of denial: Dead is dead, but the ratios mentioned herewith still nail down a grievous point about the death penalty in the Lone Star State.

For example, the report says, about one in four murder victims in Texas is a black male. But since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976, the report says, only 0.4 percent of prisoners executed in Texas have been put to death for murdering black victims. ...

In 84 cases, a Texas prosecutor or police officer "deliberately presented false or misleading testimony, concealed exculpatory evidence, or used notoriously unreliable evidence from a jailhouse snitch." ...


Adventures in bigotry: A reason to be cheerful, I suppose, that Ankita and I didn't take the coastal route back to the Bay Area from Seattle last spring ...
Reelin' in the years: Overheard on the house speakers at the Barnes & Noble Cafe in Oakland's Jack London Square -- "Here at the Western World," by Steely Dan. Sic transit gloria Donald and Walter, I suppose. Yes, I cut my teeth on cassette tapes of their past works during the summer of '94, blaring them out of a store-bought boombox while chasing down stories as an Oakland Tribune intern. I still play the tape with "Aja" on one side and "Gaucho" on the other, despite the head's slippage and the occasional ambient fading-in-and-out of a couple of songs on my crappy battered walkman.

The music seemed so Californian ("Babylon Sisters" -- "Drive west on Sunset to the sea ... San Francisco show-and-tell ... "), so sunny and yet twisted, so jazz-informed and -inflected 'sted of Joni Mitchell's dreaded "jazzy." I did get to read a nice Rickie Lee Jones interview recently at work -- another 70s California pop survivor -- and wandered into Virgin and found her new CD at a listening booth. It opens with a spare, rhythmic and au courant cover of the tail-end track on "Can't Buy a Thrill."

Of the moment indeed: Who are dotcommers, at their stereotyped worst, but the New Hollywoodies? "Show biz kids/making movies of themselves/you know they don't give a fuck about anybody else"?


Bet he only stepped out for a pack of cigarettes ... : This is twisted.
Screen out capitalism!: It's an interesting experiment, this Anti-Capitalist Operating System thingy. But it asks me for these Javascript-type permissions on behalf of its server, you have to be using a current-generation 4.0 or higher browser (one or the other), and even at the end of all that it still looks like a blank turquoise Windoze screen. It means well, but it's more work for the gesture than for the idea. YMMV ...


The Lady returns ... : Click here to check out a fairly long-lived Sade fan site, where there's a link for the new video for "By Your Side," the first single off "Lovers Rock," her new album (out November 13th). Or go to her official site.
Monocle Man goes dot-com?: I saw it on Inside so I know it's true 'cause David Remnick sez it's gonna happen. (courtesy Romenesko)
Politician? Nope. Pop star? Uh uh. Poet? Well ... : Indira Gandhi's grandson on his debut tale of woe.
"It is strange that most of my verses were born during phases when I wasn't at my happiest. Some of them are not overly positive and question the times that we live in."


Demons and heroes: "Everything alters everything." (courtesy eatonweb)
What really gets Marilyn Manson's grits: "Bad grammar ... makes me more pissed than anything in the world, as someone who respects the educational system or someone who just respects the way things are intended to be in America," he says. "We have the ability. There's no reason that people can't simply use decent grammar."


It's all about the Benjies ... what?: BET to -- "We own you."
Good grief ... : Annalee Newitz has it all wrong: This is techsploitation.
Pro Bono: On third world debt.
"I'm aware that it's a lot more glamorous to be on the barricade with a handkerchief around your nose than it is to be at the meeting with a briefcase and a bowler hat, but I think that we're getting more done this way."


Eagle shmeagle!: The DSL has landed.
Just in passing ... : Stacey in Seattle passed this Seattle Times article to me. I've been reading the writer's bylines for a while. I thought I saw something about this on PBS before as well ...


St. Joan of Art takes it all on faith: Even if you don't feel like buying Ms. Osborne's latest record, you can still go visit her magazine.

"There was no guarantee anyone was going to release it ... I really did it before I got any interest from other labels; if no one had cared, I would be working in a Fotomat or something right now.

But as an artist, your only real power is to just keep creating. I felt like the only thing I could do was to keep working and eventually something good would happen with that. That's all you can do. You don't have much political power in relation to a big multinational corporation. You just don't.''

Paging Allen Iverson ... : The athlete formerly known as "The Answer" could really stand to read this ol' Horizon Magazine interview with Me'Shell N'dege'Ocello.
"Hip-hop is a great, great thing that happened to the music industry; it's also a detriment," she says. After seeing Nas, RZA, Wyclef and Mase on an MTV roundtable discussion, the singer said she found it very detrimental to hear young, Black men saying that people should basically be happy that they were making rap records � because the alternative could be that they were "breaking into and robbing" their houses. "What's that about?" she asked. They make rap records about violence, which I don't consider to be among the most progressive ideas in America. It's all about making money, and then if you critique it, you're seen as a playa hater. What about educating people of color and giving other alternatives?"

Rude, crude and totally uncalled for!: You'll have to ask James where he found this.


What goes up must stay up: A blog in Argentina, I think, was the last one I saw before my laptop froze last night (and why do I say it "froze," when what happened was that it sat on my bed's quilt and there was no place for excess BTUs to vent from beneath it?). I just had time to jot down a site that makes a cogent case for personal sites to preserve content, like, forever.

Bumper (grocery-)car(t) boogie: So how thick did it get in the aisles at the Berkeley Bowl? For the last half of our trip there this afternoon, the wife foraged far afield for veggies and I just laid in the cut over in the soda aisle. Whipped out my headphones, punched up my CD player and let Sade's "Diamond Life" lower my blood pressure for me.

Now playing ... : Feels like I've been listening to the "Bamboozled" soundtrack all week (since the movie ain't out yet here, and just haven't gotten it together to finish my assessment for posting over h'yah.


Race, employment and whatnot: My wife called my attention to an article by staff writer Josh Richman in today's Oakland Tribune. In it, nine criteria for "decoding" hidden racism in employment decisions are listed, as categorized by David Wellman, a community studies professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a research sociologist at the Institute for the Study of Social Change at the University of California at Berkeley.
  • 1. Is the employer's decision supported by fact?
  • 2. Does the employer apply its standards consistently among people of different races?
  • 3. Does an inconsistency in applying the standards favor whites over African-Americans or some other minority?
  • 4. Did the employer's explanation of its decision change when the employee challenged it?
  • 5. Is there statistical data to support the claim of unfair treatment?
  • 6. Did the employer abide by its own rules and standards for granting jobs and promotions?
  • 7. Did the employer properly consider the employee's evidence and claims?
  • 8. Did the employer follow progressive discipline, warning the employee of any unsatisfactory performance and suggesting improvement?
  • 9. Did the employer follow its own stated policies on dealing with racial inequality?
    A "trifecta," of sorts: In one episode of "Seinfeld," actor Jason Alexander's character George Costanza was obsessed with scoring a "trifecta," or having sex, eating and watching TV all at the same time. This afternoon, I did manage to field a story, listen to some music (Putumayo's "Latinas: Women of Latin America") and eat a hearty brunch -- a Valais (turkey sandwich with Emmenthaler and cheddar cheeses), salad with French dressing and a large latte in a big, round red mug -- at Cafe Elodie on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. They had friendly service, nice art on the walls, two big black leather couches and a loveseat -- and, most importantly, they had plenty of outlets for plugging in my laptop and modem. OK, not a true "trifecta," but schweet nonetheless!
    They're coming for me and mine ... : So I got home last night, checked the machine and these guys, bless their hearts, had left a message. They gave me a day and time, a number to call if I need to reschedule and it's apparently all good. And it'll happen within the 15 business days they said it would, too. I'm astonished. Gobsmacked.


    For the want of a connector ... (sigh): So, I have a PowerBook 1400. It's rockin' System 9.0 and rollin' with the crazy-fresh Sonnet G3/333Mhz/512K cache upgrade. It's got an ADB port, a DIN-8 serial port and a SCSI connector on the back, and two PC card slots on the side. Now, given all that: How does a brother go about connecting his spanking-new Ricochet 128kbps modem (which connects using RS232 and USB adapters) to his 'Book? *And* keep his sanity?
    Oh snap!: Business 2.0, you done fucked up now.


    Food for thought: What would have tonight's vice presidential debate been like if Winona LaDuke and Ezola Foster had been invited to participate?
    Plane-ly speaking: (ssssshhhhSSShHHH-WWHHHOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM!!!....) The Blue Angels have been doing passes over our building all today. Guess it's fleet week again. People have been popping up out of their cubes all day and running to the windows. Wicked loud noise. I keep expecting to see local anti-dotcom activists in the cockpits, with big ol' Sun Microcomputer dots on bandannas -- like kamikaze pilots' big red meatballs -- tied around their helmets ("I got yer 'B2B' right HERE! Boo-yah!! Boo-yah!!") and taking out known new economy edifices left and right.


    Bookmark 'em, Dano!: 3 Black Chicks ... Who'd've thunk it? Hell, yeah!
    One big difference: The way they sing 'Amazing Grace' is not the way we sing 'Amazing Grace,'" he said.
    First presidential debate last night? Frustrating. Although I like how each man's words occupy a long line. It's like an ode. You get a sense of the rhythms, the long pauses and beats within the lines. The statements, all fortified with campaign fodder and election-year bromides, barely extemporaneous except when prodded and jabbed by Lehrer's queries, are oddly exciting. It's the lack of filter that's the thing that draws me in, makes me want to dissect the experience as transcribed.

    What sticks out in my mind? Certain words. "Lockbox." "Wealthiest 1 percent." "Work(ing) both with Republicans and Democrats." "Fuzzy math." And also certain feelings: Lethargy. ("Is THIS what I'm supposed to be choosing between?") Anger. ("I can't BELIEVE these two are the people I'm supposed to be choosing between!") Empathy. ("Well, no WONDER people are looking elsewhere, if this is what choosing between those two means ...")

    I'm going to have to come back to this. On a more cheerful note, a copy of Anna Deavere Smith's "Talk to Me" fell into my hands at work. It's really exciting and moving stuff. Check here or here to find out when she's coming to your town, yo.


    "I'm bored with the rock thing. Aren't you?"


    From Romenesko today:

    MARION'S PILL PROBLEM?: Jim Killam, adviser to the Northern Star at
    Northern Illinois University, has fired off this e-mail to colleagues: "For the
    benefit of those who do not see the Chicago Sun-Times, I will describe Friday's
    front page. The lead headline, in about 144-point type, is 'AMERICANS GET
    ABORTION PILL.' Directly below that headline is a 4-column photo of Olympian
    Marion Jones, an American flag draped around her sholders. The headline
    reads, 'MARION TAKES TWO.'"
    While scrolling through my employer's back pages, I came across this.


    The vow reminds me of two digital photographs I saw at APAture 2000 yesterday afternoon, as well as the following manifesto posted beneath them:


    I promise to be a good "digital humanist" and abide by the following eleven commandments as a photographer.

    1. No studios, real locations.

    2. No professional models

    3. No zoom lens

    4. No props

    5. Use only on-camera flash and available light.

    6. Always hand-held camera

    7. Only carry one camera even when working as a team

    8. When showing a collection, show an equal number of photos from each photographer on the team.

    9. No cropping pictures

    10. Don't title your picture with words

    11. Break the preceding rules when your conscience says it's necessary.

    the 1001 project

    Kieran Ridge/Hiromi Oda

    feb. 30, 2000

    This woman earned an article in this month's Art Papers.

    Spin has reviews of Photek, Roni Size/Reprazent and the Black Eyed Peas that bode well for perusal. They're not as enthusiastic about The Sea And Cake's new joint, "Oui," but what else are fans for if not ignoring the critics?

    Other than that, it was slim pickings looking around in DeLauer's for interesting things to read after the wife finished work and wanted to browse for a bit.


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