Wednesday, February 27, 2008

They Call Me Bruce

In addition to being 3 kinds of crazy, I am also very bright. (And handsome, too. My mee-maw says so.)

The bright part (and the crazy, but not the handsome) helps explain why I am a Laker fan.

Although, I should tell you (after listening to the local feeds of the last 3 Laker games courtesy of NBA.com's free online radiocasts) I am not nearly as bright as Southern California's preeminent marijuana defense attorney.

Some people call that guy Bruce.

I just call him "the guy who cleverly bought ad time on AM 1060 during a bunch of Laker games so people like me would blog about him."

(P.S. Legalize it.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Revolution Is Here

Run DMC made me.

Sort of.

I grew up in a small town in Ohio in the '80s. At about the same time my fifth grade self started scratching out a world view, I dubbed a friend's copy of Raising Hell. After that...well...you might say it was all down hill. Hurtling toward a perspective that was simultaneously wide open and narrowly defined.
"Fuck Amerikkka, still with the triple K..." ---Ice Cube
Public Enemy. NWA. BDP. EMPD. Redman. Cypress Hill. Rakim. All of 'em trailed Run DMC fairly predictably. At best, that music told stories which didn't appear in my history books and never made the reels of the newscasts available to me. At worst, it violently condemned the majority of the dogmas which had been fed to me. Resulting in what would best be described as a very young, paling version of Black militancy. I viewed a lot of the things in this world--things like the US Congress, Nike and all basketball referees--not simply as enemies to be opposed to, but as special incarnations of evil.
"Every official that comes in/cripples us, leaves us maimed/silent and tamed and with our flesh and bones/he builds his home..." ---Rage
Hip hop, of course, is not the only music I've ever encountered. And Black militancy is not the only philosophy I've ever digested and spit back up, in some part, as my own.

As I've aged, supreme righteousness has given way to agnostic cynicism. Sort of. Maybe it's more like practicality at this point. It's very easy to snipe at the country you live in when your passions are tweaked by local injustices. But in the long, broad view so many of the things that I find fault with seem to be less about what is unique to the United States and more about the most common shortcomings of humanity in general. That recognition can be fleeting when witnessing the grossest of grievances in one's own backyard, but it has become part of the base of my personal belief system. It does, however, contrast sharply with hope. The salt that desperately needs some pepper to prevent a belief system from succumbing to a self-loathing fatalism.
"Now you know I'm only human, instead of all the things I'd like to be..." ---Gil Scott-Heron
America has a bloody history. Some of the ugliest moments in the whole human narrative.

Slavery. Annihilating the First Nations. Japanese Internment Camps. Jim Crow.

And that's just the easy stuff to condemn. Nevermind the pieces of the story that concern hoarding of wealth and resources. Or the unequal distribution of rights allegedly guaranteed all citizens. Or...well...I'll stop there. I think you get the picture.

But, in the big picture, what country is not bloody?

Nation building is not an idyllic endeavor. At best, it involves a war of words. At worst, men make oceans of blood in order to draw the boundaries separating them from their neighbors. Mayhaps, they kill their neighbors to get more land for themselves. Whatever the case, it's not a pretty picture.

What counts most, though, is what a nation does after the blood has been spilled.
"The Revolution is here..." ---Common
Let's suppose that a motivated group of Americans decided that we hated what America has become and agreed to re-revolt. Today, we wage a massive war and we win our revolution overthrowing the government in the process. Tomorrow, what are we gonna do? We have to build our own country. And what country are we gonna build?

*Pause*

That's a damn good question, inn'it?

We would have to build something. Otherwise, we'd run the risk of a counter-revolution. And all our efforts would be for naught.

Of all the different forms of government we could cut and paste or modify to our liking or create from scratch...are we really gonna come up with a remarkably better system than the one that is already in place and has been evolving for 230+ years?

Frankly, I think not.

Resignation does not hold an obvious place within the act of revolution. Within the process, though, it is a key component.
"Change is easy. Living it is hard." ---Kelly Tsai
I am a Bicentennial Baby. Not quite as Twy-centennial as my friend born on July 4, 1976, but born in '76 no less.

The bulk of the bloodiest, most unjust chapters of the American story precede my life. Among those chapters, there are many egalitarian pages. Whether charting the best or worst of times, I cannot say that America itself is solely to be lauded or denounced. Rather it is the people who created and maintained our institutions who deserve credit or blame.

It is the people whom this Grand Experiment has always been by. It is the people whom this Grand Experiment has always been for. It is the people who have changed institutions to make this union more perfect. Rather, more closer to perfect.

And it is the people who will always have to live with those changes. Even the ones that make us less perfect.

When we encounter those changes, though, that's when we get revolutionary.

Rather, more revolutionary. Than we already were.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"He's Named Like My Name."

I used to think "Max Power" was the best name anyone could possibly have.



Used to.

This guy--known simply as Dr. Brilliant--is the new champ.

Dude.

Dr. Brilliant.

Wow.

Let's Talk About Patriotism


Let's talk about patriotism.

Why not? Everyone else is.

(Well, everyone who's not obsessing over tonight's big showdown between Kobe and Shaq, that is.)

Historically, my heart tends to bleed.

And, at previous points in my life, I've viewed symbols like the American flag, the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance as gross reminders of all that was promised and never delivered. I'm not alone in that feeling. Disenfranchisement is contagious when the Joneses are 20 paces ahead of you and the Smiths are standing on your throat.

In the most recent years of what some would call my adulthood (it's a generous label for me, I know) I've taken to referring to the United States as the Grand Experiment.

In one breath, it is remarkable. Stunning. Mesmerizing. The absurd ascendence to the top of the world's moleheap in such a short amount of time despite nearly being ripped completely apart from within. The evolution toward the potential spelled out in its founding documents. The sheer vastness of all of it.

In the next breath it is puzzling. Incomplete. Exasperating. The lack of governmental courtesy/empathy (see: no apology for slavery). The ongoing double standard in our criminal justice system (see: Rockefeller Drug Laws). The half-assed intrusion into foreign affairs (see: do I really need to list these for you?).

For me, there are moments when it is cool as hell to live in the United States and there are moments when it is downright embarassing. On the whole, after 230+ years, I think there are more moments that inspire the coolness than there are that evoke the embarassment. Which, I believe, counts as a better than fair success rate if you buy into the notion of the Grand Experiment.

Does that make me a patriot?

Probably not.

But it does make me an American. For some better. For a lil bit of worse.

Today.

And tomorrow.

Which, I trust, will inch all of us closer to that deferred dream.

'Cause if it doesn't, then I'm moving to Saturn.

Monday, February 18, 2008

__________'s Lesson

I watch The Wire.

You may already know that about me.

My house has HBO on Demand.

Which means that I am one week ahead of the episode schedule. Because, like the best reason for doing anything, I can be.

I have just watched episode #58. I will not spill any details here, but I will make one comment before I am able to view the final two hours of the finest achievement in the history of dramatic, scripted television.

Based on what I have seen thus far this season--coupled with the teasers of what is to come in the final episodes--one lesson appears to be revealing itself as the primary moral of the show:

The Game is always faster than everyone who plays it.


Does that mean none of us should play? That depends upon the game. And, naturally, on the player.

(Word to Planet Patrol.)

Post-Script: That still comes from Season 4. Just in case you thought I dropped a spoiler.

There's Been a Gil Sighting

Two, actually:





Technically, that's the same event. But you can forgive some creative license where Gil Scott-Heron is concerned, right?

'Specially when the news involves Gil still being alive--and still able to perform.

I have to admit, I was a lil bit surprised. Also a lil bit sad. Though, I s'pose, Gil is exactly where he ought to be in life. A soft echo of a rebel yell released long ago by lungs who sought to collapse themselves.

Whither the Neo-Coms?

Yes, I did mean to type an "m" there. Not an "n".

In this case, Neo-Com equals Neo-Communist.

A friend of mine loathes communism. For reasons deeper than I have time or energy to get into right now. (Why he is my friend may also require an explanation of similar depth. Another time for that as well.)

The point I would like to make here is that it appears there is a budding "Communist" bloc building. Rather, a bloc that is gaining in coherence as the parties to it are defining a common enemy.

And that enemy is America. Which is pretty much everyone's enemy right now. Especially for self-loathing Americans. Rather, for George W. Bush-hating Americans.

Capitalism, in principal, is not a bad idea. Neither is Communism. It is the way those ideas are implemented and the systems they evolve into that stir up the passions of men. (Unless, of course, you have a merciless opposition to the principal(s) in the first place. If you do, then there's really no talking to you at all. Your mind is closed.)

George W. Bush-haters, to some degree, detest highly-concentrated, hyper-capitalism that sustains itself through the spectre of fear. Hence, they hate the America that is right now. (And, perhaps, has been for the bulk of recent memory.)

Wait...what does that have to do with Neo-Communism?

Youknow...I'm not entirely sure. The article I've linked to above makes clear distinctions between the polled feelings of the Russian people (they have been fleetingly disenfranchised by the US govt) and the actions of Putin's administration (he's taken full advantage of that current feeling to his own benefit). It also links them causally. Showing us that Putin retains that totalitarian tendency of some of his predecessors. The one that has been used to stoke the fires of anti-Communist forces the world over. The same one that has also cleaved citizens living under Communist governments closer to the State's breast.

But what about China? They're still nominally Communist, but they hardly resemble the best practices as described by Lenin or Mao. And are they really that interested in aligning with the Russians? Aren't the average citizens of both countries competing for the same scarce resources? If not now, then eventually, no?

I'd like to think that we're smarter today than our ancestors were when it comes to gauging the true threats of ideologies that don't synch up with our founding principles. But, in talking with my friend, the fierce foe of Communism everywhere, I'm not so sure.

Communism ain't what it used to be. Right?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I've Been Cheating on You

I like the word "consumed." Primarily because I am easily consumed by things and it feels much better to type those seven letters than it does to confess to a run-of-the-mill-case-of-OCD. Besides, the act of being consumed--in the best of cases--can be considered a byproduct of passion. And passion is always good. Except for when it's used as an adjective to describe a crime or a fruit juice.

Anyway...

A couple of weeks back, I was consumed by the Pau Gasol trade. Then the Shaq trade. Now, the Kidd deal. In short, it's been all-NBA, all-the-time for me. Smack in the middle of the heaviest part of the NCAA hoop season.

Before that (and, of course, in addition to it), I was consumed by the "capital P" Primaries. Moreover, I hopped onto the Obama train. And that thing moves. Fast. Real fast. (Ask Hillary.)

Part of why I boarded the bus that is darker than blue concerned Barack's web site. Some folks say it gives the good Senator from Illinois a very Mac-y sheen. For me, it demonstrated considerable imagination. Rather, the stories comparing it to Hillary's online presence implied to me that Barack is gifted with as much imagination as he is possessed with the profound ability to inspire. Frankly, that's a good thing in my book. Both of 'em.

So, there I am. Riding in passenger car #32. On the Barack Express.

Keeping a whole other blog.

*gasp*

Yes, I've been cheating on you. With Barack Obama. And maybe Showtime, too.

But I can totally explain it...

I swear...