Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Used to be a Poet

Like a lot of kids raised on hip hop, I took a turn at writing poetry. I dabbled in college. But really cranked out some grade A crap at the dawn of the 21st century following a nasty break-up.

The early stuff was kinda emcee-ish. Thankfully, all of it has been lost.

The later stuff was mostly cheap therapy. From 2001-2004, I posted a lot of it here.

Honestly, there were genuine flashes of brilliance. But I never felt like I found my own voice. Reviewing my own stuff often revealed my poems to be an exercise in imitating everyone from Charles Bukowski to Gil Scott Heron to whomever was appearing on Def Poetry Jam.

When I left LA in '05, I stopped writing. For various reasons. Mostly, though, 'cause I had nothing to say. And Langston Hughes always said, "The prerequisite for writing is having something to say."

Well, I still don't know if I have anything to say. Yet, here I am hacking away for all the world to see. Wouldn't you know it, I even tried to write a little poem the other day. Actually, I wrote it a couple months back. I just forgot about it until now.

"another anybody"

a hug

is a hug
is a hug
is a hug

except for

those embraces
that come

after the end

when
your favorite
friend
lover
someone
has become

just another anybody.


(c) Tim Adkins, 7.14.07

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Snakes on a Wedding (With Strong Bad, Too)

Last weekend, I traveled to Columbus for three planned nights of drinking with a bunch of assholes I know from Ohio (plus one unplanned night shooting Jack Daniels with a ridiculously hot blonde from some other state) to help one lucky bastard celebrate the exchanging of vows with his new bride.

During the weekend, I can't tell you how many times we watched these two videos--or how we tripled over with laughter singing their songs and doing their dances.




Obviously, neither video is new. I think most of us had seen one or the other prior to the weekend. Though, I don't believe any of us grasped just how hilarious they could be. In tandem. When shared with fellow travelers. Friends and family. Drunk or sober.

I surely wouldn't expect anyone reading this entry to appreciate them to the degree all of us did. In the way that we did.

But that doesn't really matter, now, does it?

You can't explain a good time. Nor can you recreate it. It happens when it happens. Only a fool would deny it. Only a truly lost soul would apologize for it.

*Raises glass of water*

To good effin' times.

P.S. Congratulations B and Whit.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Today is the day.

The day they march on Jena.

Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the righteous hordes of justifiably pissed off Black folks from all points North, East, West and South.

But for what?

Early observations by the mainstream media sound simultaneously invigorating and frustrating.

A 21st Century Civil Rights Movement? Say word.

I s'pose Jena is as good a catalyst as any. Yet, I wonder how many folks are able to grasp what's really at the heart of the most recent and egregious example of "Southern Justice"?

It's not merely about the noose. Or even whether the kids should be tried as jueveniles or adults.

The trouble in Jena, LA stems from the gross disparities in how differently pigmented kids are charged and punished for similar crimes.

Yes, there was a tree. And, yes, there was a noose. There was also, as we now know, a group of Black kids who beat up a White kid and were consequently charged with attempted murder. That happened in December of last year. Well after the tables had been reversed on at least one occasion. Peep this excerpt from the Washington Post story linked to above:

"White partygoers attacked a black student in one clash but were not charged, according to police statements. The next day, the same black student and some friends spotted one of his attackers and, they said, chased him. The students told police that the white student pulled an unloaded shotgun but they wrested it away. The student who pulled the weapon was not charged. But police arrested the students who took it on theft charges."

If the Black attackers had been treated in the same fashion as the White attackers, there wouldn't be a post on this blog about the biggest little town in Louisiana. Hell, there wouldn't even be a Jena 6.

(I will not even address how asinine it is to charge one kid with theft of a firearm while the kid who drew the firearm goes uncharged.)

Yet, after reading through some of the coverage and hearing people talk about the cause, I worry that this point is being lost.

I hope that someone will refocus the conversation. That there will actually be a conversation instead of the shoutfests that traditionally ensue when sexy soundbytes are left alone to tell a story.

I hope that the kids in Jena get a fair shake. All the kids in Jena.

And I hope that the righteous hordes are celebrated more for their critical than for their mass.

Lord knows the prize is still waiting to be realized.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Art of the Cereal Sandwich

I eat a lot of cereal. Sometimes twice in one day. It's easy. It's healthy. And it can be boring. If it is allowed to be.

Each time I go to the grocery store I pick up a few boxes of cereal. Whether I need them or not. I keep a couple at work and a couple at home so there's always something decent to eat. Because I keep a good variety in both places, that means I also have options.

Those options are the key to making a cereal sandwich.

A cereal sandwich does not require bread or condiments or swiss cheese or anything. It requires a bowl, some milk and multiple boxes of cereal. The cereal, of course, will be mixed in a layered fashion that mimics the appearance of a sandwich.

You start with something flaky to simulate a base:


Then add a clustery kind of cereal for the meat layer:


Pour on something long and/or grainy:


Then drizzle a layer of mixed consistency cereal for the mustetchup:


Drop another layer of the flaky:


And finish it with your dairyish product of choice (mine is almond milk):


Serve and enjoy!


[Disclaimer: The preceding post was not sponsored by Trader Joe. But it damn well should have been. All the money I give that guy. Sheesh!]

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mighty Mercury

I like women's college basketball. A lil bit. Usually, I root for Tennessee. I should attribute it to Pat Summit, but I had a small crush on Ace Clement back in the day and somehow kept rooting for her alma mater even after she completed her eligibility. I've never claimed to be a Lady Vols fan, though. I'm susceptible to taking an occasional liking to great players who don't wear orange and white. And I wouldn't want to be accused of being a sports bigamist. 'Specially not where women's sports are involved.

I did come close to the worst form of bigamy with Diana Taurasi. When she played for UConn, she was, in a word, undeniable. Three rings in four years. 'Nuff said.

While she was hardly a one woman show during the just completed WNBA play-offs, some things don't change. Dee Tee is, and probably always will be, undeniable.

Peace to the World Champion Phoenix Mercury.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I'm Having An Affair

I met this girl when I was 10 years old. And what I loved most is she had so much soul.

Well...actually...it wasn't so much the soul as it was the cursing and the nudity. I think I appreciated her essence at first sight. But when you're meandering through adolescence, "shit" and nipples own your attention in a way that the ethereal just can't compete with.

This girl hooked me oh-so-innocently with Fraggle Rock. When rainy summer days confined me and Youngblood to the basement of our folks' house, I quickly graduated to Not Necessarily the News, Computer Games and endless reruns of every Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steven Segal movie made between 1983 and 1989.

She really started to hook me with a One Night Stand and wouldn't let me go when she aired Inside the NFL, Tales from the Crypt, Dream On, Def Comedy Jam and most of Mike Tyson's greatest hits.

A few episodes into both Real Sex and The Larry Sanders Show, someone in my house decided to cancel HBO. Maybe there was a link there. Maybe not. I certainly would have appreciated one and been confused by the other. Which would have been which, though, is anyone's guess.

Whatever the case, HBO long ago claimed its place as my "main chick." Even when her signal came up scrambled on my TV, I always knew she was the one.

We stayed apart for most of the second half of my high school career, reconnected sometime during my undergrad and we've been together ever since. 'Cept for a couple of times when we tried to quit each other. The quit never seemed to stick, though.

We had Oz when I lived in Pittsburgh. The Sopranos, too. Matter of fact, we had many words over The Sopranos 'cause I didn't like that the show made her everyone's chick. Long as she kept giving it to me, though, I was hard pressed to leave her. We drifted a bit after I moved to LA, but she won me back with The Wire and Six Feet Under. When those shows were on hiatus, she kept feeding me America Undercovers to keep the sheets warm.

Our relationship cooled slightly with Carnivale and Deadwood. Enjoyed a quick boost with Def Poetry Jam. She accented that with a plethora of hookers, strippers and Real Sex. She missed me with Sex and the City, but I wasn't mad that she had something that was just for her and her girls.

She nearly lost me with Curb Your Enthusiasm. I thought it was well structured and executed, but I just can't watch Larry David for more than 3 minutes. No matter how much I dig shows about messed up people living in California. She did, however, make it up to me with Entourage and we found our relationship in a really good rhythm as The Sopranos handed off to Six Feet Under which yielded to The Wire. That, of course, would bring us back to The Sopranos to start the cycle again.

Then I left LA. Lost her for a little while. Got her back. But the chemistry was off. She broke The Sopranos into two half seasons. Entourage made me feel homesick for a life that didn't exist anymore. Six Feet Under finally crafted its own epitaph. Rome didn't work for me. Neither did Epitafios. 'Round that time, I discovered The L Word. Which was cool for a couple of episodes, but didn't command my attention. I watched the debut of Weeds and, for the first time in my life, started coveting my girl's neighbor. Then I moved out of the apartment with the subscription to Showtime and my girl really showed me her gangster.

The Wire: Season Four
.

To my eyes, it was the greatest accomplishment in the history of scripted dramatic television. The four kids coming of age way too fast. The mayoral campaign. The Kobe Bryant-ruthlessness of Marlo's crew. All dancing in perfect compliment with each other. It wasn't gonna get any better than that. How could it?

I poured out plenty of liquor for the end of The Sopranos and thought it met a brilliant demise. I eagerly jumped on board for John From Cincinnati, which turned out to be weird as hell and devoid of anything to like about it. And, while I watched every minute of the most recent season of Entourage, it still makes me for more homesick than anything else.

Despite the fact that I couldn't stop laughing at Flight of the Conchords, something hasn't been quite right with me and HBO. Which may explain my current predicament.

When the second season of Weeds kicked off, I caught a couple of episodes accidentally. Remembered that I never understood how the main character jumped from her husband's funeral to serving smoke. And, then, I saw the episode where Uncle Andy took lil Shane Botwin to the massage parlour. Ree-effin-diculous. I refused to miss an ep after that one.

I didn't immediately declare my love for Showtime. It has came out in dribs and drabs as I've fought off an addiction to Weeds. (I still really need to have Nancy's dots connected.) I haven't made up my mind about Californication but I'll give Agent Mulder's new show time to find itself.
This past weekend, I fired up the On Demand and finally gave Dexter a shot. For some reason, the heroic anti-hero totally worked for me. I watched all 12 episodes in less than a day. I found it to be a generally predictable mystery, but completely gripping no less. As if you're supposed to be able to solve the riddle before the characters do so that you'll have a profound rooting interest as they inch toward the answer you already know. Nevermind that the lead is a serial killer. (A good guy. Sort of. He only kills other murderers, rapists and despots.) After Dexter finally discovered and dealt with the Ice Truck Killer, I recognized that I might have a problem.

I think I'm cheating on HBO with Showtime.

I'm already kinda planning my weeks so I don't miss Weeds and Californication. I notice that Brotherhood is also on On Demand and I feel like I need to scramble though the first season of that show before its season two opener accompanies the premiere of Dexter's second go round.

I watched a little bit of Curb Your Enthusiasm when I flipped past it last week. I have no interest in Tell Me You Love Me, though. If it weren't for the forthcoming series finale of The Wire, I might leave my main chick altogether.

So I'll give her one more chance to win me back.

While I wait, though, I'll probably be watching Showtime.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Johnny Drama v. The Wolf


Yesterday, in Louisiana, a cry was heard:

"VICTORY!"


Yesterday, in Michigan, a calm voice countered,

"Well, let's not start sucking each other's dicks quite yet, gentleman."


Neither conflict is 100%, all-the-way, set-in-stone, no-going-back, irrevocably and completely resolved. Clearly, the Wolf wins.

Progress is progress, though. I think.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Problem, Meet Solution

In English, the President of Zimbabwe's surname, "Mugabe", roughly translates as "gross, willful incompetence." Ironic for a man who holds seven--count'em seven--non-honorary degrees.

That may be slightly unfair to Bobby Mugabe. Navigating your own newfound independence is never easy. After the former Rhodesia fully relieved itself of British colonial rule, he and the rest of the Zanus may have owned the hearts and minds of many Zimbabweans, but there was a mountain of English-inspired detritus to sort out. While land distribution and coalition building dominated the political agenda in the free third world nation circa 1980, first world nations in the West and East counted their billions, raced to corner the market on the next technological revolution and plowed through piles of cocaine like it was oxygen.

Even before Bobby Mugabe was rechristened a corrupt dictator, he and his country were, how you say?, in a hole.

That, though, doesn't excuse the Allyson Felix rate of inflation that has crippled Zimbabwe during the first few years of the 21st Century.

Shit is so bad over there that Zimbab-expats can't even send money back home for their families to buy groceries. One dollar today may only be worth 50-cent tomorrow. Whether they have the scrilla to buy a bag of rice or not, people in Zimbabwe still gotta eat, right?

Therein lies the problem. And here, courtesy of NPR's Marketplace, is the answer.

My Shona may be a little rusty, but I think "Sadza" translates as "clever application of capitalism."

Or something to that effect.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Does the Truth Have Cancer?

Yes, Cornell West does say "prostate" when he means "prostrate" somewhere around the 1:30 mark.

More important, though, is the discussion about the Jena 6 that starts about 2:30.

From what I understand, every decent human being with a pulse is obligated to blog about the Jena 6. While I've never been accused of being decent, I seem to have a pulse.

And I, most assuredly, think the situation in Jena is collossally effed up.

I first heard about it via Newsweek a few weeks back.

And then my guy Big Chris sent me this petition.

Days before the Sept. 20 rally that Mos speaks of in the clip above ^^^, it looks like common sense and fairness are slowly getting the upper hand.

Clearly, the story is far from over.

I, for one, certainly hope there will only be one America left standing when denouement day comes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Eau de Bi-duss


What, exactly, is this cologne supposed to smell like?

[Photo by Terry Richardson. I think.]

Monday, September 10, 2007

Brothers From Another Mother?

Marc Newson and Tinker Hatfield.

Newson's work circa 1986:


Hatfield's work circa 1996:


Okay, maybe the latter just borrowed a bit of inspiration from the former. But I'm sure he did so in the most brotherly manner.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Kind Words

'Round about this time last year, I rented a room in a house in Springfield, VA after finding myself caught in something of a personal crisis. It amounted to moving into the movie, Old School. More or less. And it was, in part, the catalyst for launching this blog.

I'm still renting that room. I think the crisis has abated. And I'm somewhere in the middle of the second act of Old School.

(I'm also still keeping the blog--which has evolved into something other than what it was intended to be. Probably for the better.)

As I've progressed through the re-adolescence process, I've predictably become acquainted with a host of new drinking buddies.

One of these new comrades in inebriation--who is currently studying law at the University of Virginia--spent the summer at his folks' house in Georgetown. Some weeks ago, I accepted a beer from his father, took a seat in their living room for the very first time and swapped stories with my dude, his parents and my housemates from Old School.

Obviously, weeks passed since I parted company with the training wheel attorney following the end of that evening. The other day, he came by the house and said something to me that rosed up my cheeks and left me speechless.


"My Mom paid you one of the greatest compliments I've ever heard," the future magistrate reported. "She said, 'He was the coolest person who has walked through that door in the last five years.'"

*Pauses*

*Still paused*

Uh....

*Goes back to pause*

Okay, I don't really know what to type next. I certainly didn't know how to respond after hearing that sentence.

I remembered bee-essing with his mother and finding out that our families had quite a few things in common. I remembered admiring the various artifacts that decorated their living room and asking questions about several of them. Then I resisted the urge to self-deprecate and tried to express my most Miles Davis-est of thanks.

I believe I went quiet for a little while after that.

I'm still not sure what to do with those words. Their speaker appears to be a person of some esteem. I think she's a historian and professor. Regardless, that's a fairly powerful assessment.

Maybe they're true. Maybe they ain't. Maybe it doesn't matter whether I'm able to digest them or not.

The thing is, I s'pose, that someone said them. And that someone said them about me.

Open Letter #001

Dear America,

Please stop worshiping your animals.

If you choose to become a pet owner, remember that. You bought it, you didn't give birth to it.

Oh...and always scoop the poop.

Thanks.

Sincerely,

Tim

Friday, September 07, 2007

Killing the Revolution

The slow erosion of the manufacturing sector of the US economy is no accident. It was, as this book would tell you, an inevitability.

The goal of industry is efficiency. That's what produces profit. In the time-honored pursuit of efficiency, labor costs rank as arguably the most logical sacrifice. Which is really only a sacrifice for the people who perform the labor.

As American industry has matured, it has mastered the reduction/elimination of labor costs. Hell, before morning even broke on the Industrial Age, the country built itself up largely on the backs of Africans who were captured, imported and sold into slavery. Shortly after the 13th Amendment rightly killed that golden-egg laying goose, the Industrial Age finished its breakfast and punched in. Initially, industry required an abundance of manpower in order to function. Before the lunch bell rang, though, inventive industrialists had created machines to cut the number of workers needed to perform the labor. When other machines sped up travel--and captains of industry (those devilish pots) determined American workers to be greedy--outsourcing was born. By dinner time, most manufacturing jobs in the US had disappeared or been transformed into service/creative jobs.

During the course of this American day, many dreamers have planted picket fences and lived happily ever after--thanks to their own labor or their ability to capitalize on the labor of their neighbors--while many others have been disposed of like they were torn, stained t-shirts.

The point here, at long last, is that a bunch of Americans may get pissy about losing their jobs, but a bunch of other Americans are still smoking the pig. And as long as there are enough people living high on the hog, the collective rage that results in revolution remains quelled. In this country, it may even be dead.

In China, though, they're slurping their noontime ban mian while the revolution quietly bubbles.

By now, we've heard plenty about how the Chinese economy is a fire-breathing tiger.

With the Beijing Olympics less than a year away, the tale of two countries is growing longer and more prominent by the week.

The next move for the People's Republic mirrors the dusk play we've already watched in the US.

And I, for one, am left to wonder whether the Chinese government will sag under the heavy load of Chairman Mao's dream.

One point three billion people live in Zhōngguó. The way I read the stories linked to above, there are a lot of them who are smoking the pig, yet there are an awful lot more whose backs are being broken while their dreams get another deferment. I also gather that the number of people on the wrong side of that equation could grow if China moves to abandon the manufacturing sector that is still making it such an industrial powerhouse.

That probably won't happen, though. The Chinese will surely benefit from borrowing the American playbook on how manufacturing can yield to service and innovation. Perhaps their car makers will lock down the market on alternative fuel sources and give the people what they really want: clean air, a more vain mode of transportation and employment to create and service those machines. Maybe some other breakthrough will allow communism and capitalism to run parallel to each other more efficiently.

In a worst case scenario, though, the dream could explode. Struggling farmers. Fed up miners. Laid-off factory workers. Displaced middle managers. If they don't make it to the supper table as China steams through its day, the revolution could get new life in the People's Republic.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

You Can't Re-Use a Nickname (Or Acronym)

Honestly, this is mostly about nicknames. But there's a good reason to avoid re-appropriating acronyms, too. I'll get to that in a minute.

There are two nicknames that mean something very specific to me:

- LT
- The Fab Five

Anyone who was a teenager before 1996 will tell you that LT redefined the linebacker position for the Giants. Those same people will also tell you that the Fab Five always wore navy and maize. And often rocked black socks and bald heads, too.

LT is not Ladainian Tomlinson. LT is Lawrence Taylor.

The Fab Five are not Carson, Jai, Kyan, Ted and Thom. The Fab Five are Jalen, Chris, Juwan, Jimmy and Ray.


The first one is obviously more egregious than the second one. You just don't give a guy a nickname that has already been claimed by one of the greatest competitors in the sport he plays. It doesn't matter than no one other than his mama can pronounce his real name. That's lazier than it is effed up.


The second one might make a little more sense as the five members of the University of Michigan's 1991-92 freshman class held down a vastly different job than did the five queer style experts. That one is lazy and grossly unoriginal. The real Fab Five took their moniker as a play on a nickname for the Beatles, which was terrifically appropriate and mildly clever. The Queer Eyed-guys...well...being gay doesn't extend special privileges to you where words like "fabulous" are concerned. 'Specially when a nickname has already been claimed.

Once a nickname has been established within the popular lexicon, it's no longer available for public consumption. You, and everyone who wishes to refer to you, are gonna have to knock your heads together and think of something else. Simple and plain.

There is a shining example of why this rule should be heeded.

- DMV

Everyone in America--and probably a lot of people who are trying to get into the country--knows that DMV is the place you go to get your driver's license.

Everyone, that is, except for some idiot(s) at a radio station in DC, WKYS 93.9.

Generally, that station is pretty cool. Not listen-to-it-all-day-every-day-cool, but cool no less. Recently, though, they've taken to referring to the metropolitan area that includes Washington, DC, Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland as the DMV.

Nevermind that most folks in that area simply call it "The Area." Some genius at WKYS decided that DMV was a better way to describe it.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when an afternoon drive personality invited listeners to call in and talk about what was happening in the DMV. The very first caller launched into a tirade about the trauma he recently endured trying to register his car. Dumbfounded, the personality allowed him to tell the story and informed the caller that they weren't looking for stories about that DMV. To which, the caller replied, "That's stupid. Everybody already know what DMV means."

Which, ladies and not-so-gentle-men, is precisely the point:

Everyone already knows what some nicknames (or acronyms) signify. If you plan to be famous, cross those ones off your list of choices and get your own shit.

Rant concluded.

Monday, September 03, 2007

On the Humble

Woke up in the late AM on Labor Day thinking I'd make it a day on, not a day off.

Fixed a healthy breakfast. Egg whites and turkey bacon.

Watched the end of a movie I'd started the day before and not finished. Smokin' Aces. (Predictable ending. Tried too hard to be a marriage of a Guy Ritchie movie and The Usual Suspects. Helluva cast, though.)

Hit up the gym. Did an hour of cardio. Then chest and back. Even some ab work.

Enjoyed a good steam. Showered. And slipped into some denim shorts and a fitted white t-shirt.

Caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. And felt kinda diesel.

Drove to the mall. Jumped out the car and strode in. Chest on puff. Arms slightly clenched. Trying real hard to show off the little bit of muscle I've put on this summer.

As I strutted through the mall, I noticed a small mob walking in my direction. With a tall Black man in the center of it.

It was Caron Butler.


World-class athlete. Millionaire. Strolling through the mall. Deservedly wearing 19 times more swag than me.

Feeling just a lil bit humbled, I smiled to myself. Kept my chest up. And kept it moving. Far from the dieselest man in the mall. But diesel enough for me. For today.