Category ArchiveRace & Racism
Demagogue: one who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots. - Mencken
This post is going to be short and to the point. I’m pissed off and depressed about enough different things right now - political and not - that I am not really in the mood to spend too much time delving into the cesspool of Limbaugh, Coulter, Malkin, Gibson et al. Y’all can play one round of match the wingnut blowhard to their words though:
a. No, we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say. … That’s what Christianity is.
b. The use of Graeme Frost was part of a larger left-wing strategy to hide behind children and use them as cannon fodder in their losing bid to get S-CHIP passed into law.
c. I know the shooter was white. I knew it as soon as he shot himself. Hip-hoppers don’t do that. They shoot and move on to shoot again.
d. You know, this is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into.
But we ain’t even stopping there.
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At Eastshore Aikikai, where I practice Aikido, we’re pushing the geriatric envelope pretty hard. I’m in my mid-fifties and I’m in no way the oldest person in the dojo; there are also several students who are only a few years younger than I am. Get off my lawn, you whippersnappers or I’ll throw you off.
My mother is in her 80s, though, and she still belongs to a bowling league. Granted, bowling is a lot lower impact than Aikido. It’s also the only one of two sports I know of where people regularly die during participation, the other being golf. Of course the reason for that is that both are sports that have participants of any age, including the very old.
Yesterday, the Decider paid a visit to New Orleans. You won’t be surprised to hear that he “delivered a message of hope”. More grating, he claimed “[Katrina] didn’t effect the spirit of a lot of citizens in this community”. Both in Washington, and in Louisiana, political games are being played.
Meanwhile, the rebuilding of New Orleans is turning into an exercise in ethnic, and class, cleansing. Many of the people who lived and worked in the city are still housed in trailers - as reported here (YouTube clip). What Americans don’t know, and what they must know, is that many Black people are not being allowed to return to their homes in New Orleans:
Among the miles and miles of devastated houses, rubble still there today in New Orleans, we found dry, beautiful homes. But their residents were told by guys dressed like Ninjas wearing “Blackwater” badges: “Try to go into your home and we’ll arrest you.”
See more details at Greg Palast’s blog, where you will also find clips (such as the YouTube one above) and info on the not-to-be-missed investigative documentary, New Orleans: Big Easy to Big Empty.
Bush got one thing right, though: the people’s spirits have not been crushed. People like Kawana Jasper are fighting for a future in New Orleans.
(Many more testimonials can be found at Voices from the Gulf).
And we can help. We can pressure politicians to have public housing in New Orleans reopened. We can throw whatever small weight we have behind the Gulf Coast Civil Works Project that envisions hiring the citizens on the Gulf Coast to rebuild their city, instead of shuffling more money to large contractor who import sub-living wage labor to do the work.
I published this a decade ago at a now-defunct website called Gravity, run by Cuda Brown (a pseudonym). I’ve been looking for a time and a place to republish it. This is the place and, in the words of Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, now’s the time.
The first time I heard the phrase — “white black man” — Zola Kobas was talking about me. He paid me that compliment after hearing me play the trumpet at a July 4th party hosted by a mutual friend, Ade Knowles. When, three-quarters of a life ago, I had originally become interested in jazz, I was simply pursuing music which moved me. That Zola, a political fugitive from South African apartheid, should see me as a white black man affirmed the African spirit I cultivated in the heart of jazz.
When I was a young boy learning to play the trumpet I looked for musical heroes. Rafael Mendez, a Mexican-American who made his living playing in Hollywood studios, was my first. I admired his virtuosity and expressiveness. I was particularly attracted by the Hispanic part of his repertoire, with its tone colors and rhythms which sounded so exotic, and sensual. Then I discovered jazz.
My first jazz record was A Rare Batch of Satch, which I had urged my parents to get through their record club. I had heard that this Louis Armstrong was an important trumpet player and thought I should check him out. At first I didn’t quite understand why this man was so important. But I listened and listened and, gradually, I began to understand his music. There was Armstrong’s tone — by turns jubilant, plaintive, tightly-coiled, tender — his ability to bend notes, to worry them. And his rhythm, his amazing ability to stretch or compress time, to float phrases over the beat. This rhythmic freedom was quite unlike anything I knew in the military band music which was the staple of my instructional and playing experience. It was exciting.
Above all, there was the blues. There was its emotional provenance, grief, resignation, longing. And there was the sound, the particular notes, those so-called “blue notes.” It wasn’t until much later that I learned enough about music theory to know which notes these were, to know that these notes didn’t exist in any European musical system. But I could hear these notes, I could grasp their expressive power. I wanted to make them mine.
By Michael Bérubé
Well, I’ve been meaning for weeks to write something about Barry Bonds and steroids and sports, to follow up on Bill Benzon’s work. I remember Bill asking me whether Tiger Woods’ Lasik surgery should be considered a form of performance enhancement, and I replied that laser vision is useful mainly for putting and chipping, not for the rest of the game; when Bill asked how much of the game consists of putting and chipping, I said, “uh, most of it.” But right around then, Tiger went and lost the U.S. Open to Angel Cabrera, and he lost it on the greens while Cabrera boomed out these ungodly long drives. I believe Cabrera had the longest driving-distance average for the week, and long drivers never win the Open. (It requires more precision than long drivers usually possess.) So go figure. And then, of course, there’s the fact that Cabrera smoked cigarettes on the course throughout the tournament. Unheard of! Don’t tell me nicotine isn’t a performance enhancer. . . .
Anyway, within a few weeks, Lance Armstrong had publicly defended Floyd Landis, tossing in the claim that some hockey players are juiced; Gary Player showed up at the British Open and claimed that ten (unnamed) golfers are steroid users; and before I knew it, the issue of steroids in sports had gone way beyond my ability or my desire to deal with it. (Just for the record, though, I am typing this post without the aid of caffeine, my daily performance enhancer. I wanted to be “clean” just this once.) So here’s all I have to say about Barry Bonds today:
One of the most revolting things about this spectacle is that it allows a certain kind of white guy the opportunity to profess his undying, if retroactive, admiration for Hank Aaron, regardless of how said white guy actually felt about Hank Aaron 33 years ago. Now, I’m not saying that Aaron doesn’t deserve our undying admiration. He damn well does. But for all I know, some of the same people who were fuming about Aaron surpassing Ruth in 1974– hell, maybe some of the people who were threatening Aaron and his family– are now pretending to be outraged at Bonds on Aaron’s behalf. Feh. What a truly disgusting scene that was when Aaron was chasing the record; no one can blame Aaron for not wanting to relive those years. And how very stupid of Babe Ruth’s racist supporters, as well, since everyone knows the Babe was black.
And then we have the secondarily disgusting spectacle of the ghoulish Bud Selig, who, having colluded with other MLB owners in the great Free Agent Collusion Scandal of yesteryear, is now posing as a beacon of integrity and rectitude in fallen times. Feh and feh again, I say.
At least one thing remains clear, however: the record for career home runs by a white guy is still owned by Harmon Killebrew. I don’t recognize that drug-bloated McGwire fellow as a legitimate wearer of the crown.
This post thread is in homage to our showiest of defendants and convicted as the showiest, Teh Chris Clarke. Since he is on the downtime swing of his 2007 rollercoaster blogging, and I have been on tour and missed several of his last postings, I missed the chance to connect and say adieu. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about his contributions to the way I experience the world, and particularly to my experience of the Greater Sonoran Desert.
And not to overstate or overtax the fireball’s interests in the greater deserts of the Southwest, I just concluded my summer solstice tour of some of the region in which and from which I find myself collecting precious alkaloid resources. And this time I took to heart and spirit my own adage - what would Chris Clarke write? - formulating a constant dialogue with the natural environs around me. So I shall share a few of these:
I spent Memorial Day weekend at the International Space Development Conference in the Dallas area held by the National Space Society. I’ve never been to one of these space exploration advocate conferences before, but I get notifications of them - a hold over I think from subscribing to something or other in the dim past. I’ve contemplated attending before, but that’s spendy. So why did I go this year? Why clean out the savings account, accost the parents for funds and go to the flattest spot on the continent? My 15 year old son wants to be a space rocket/vehicle engineer, and recent events dictated that it was time to ease him into the realities of conferences and dressing up for dinner and all that grown up stuff. Not to mention opening his eyes to all the options out there in the field so that if he doesn’t end up as an engineer in the end, he won’t feel he’s failed so much as changed directions.
But never mind about him for now. Here’s what I learned:
1. The demographics of the National Space Society as represented at this conference was rather eye opening and could be summed up in the statement, “It’s been a rough 30 years for the hard space enthusiasts.” I counted 4 African Americans - one of whom, Edward McCullough, actually did a presentation I attended which was probably the most impressive of those I witnessed. Otherwise, looking around the huge main presentation room, I eyeballed the crowd as 99.9 percent Caucasian, with men outnumbering women by about 20 to 1. Grey and white hair by far predominated, and one younger member that I’d put in his 20’s actually came up to the mic and put the whole demographics issue on the table - in terms of ethnicity if not concerning the age issue. He said he’d been coming to the conferences for several years and they were always attended by a bunch of middle class white people and what was the NSS doing to attract a wider demographic? The answer was interesting in it’s phrasing. “We’ve seen when we do outreach that a certain demographic grabs their kids and drags them over to our table/display while members of other demographic groups walk by without a glance. We’re working on that.” He didn’t sound too convincing. It might be appropriate at this point to mention that the convention was in a large hotel in the rich suburb of Addison, TX north of Dallas….
2. There are a lot of people in the National Space Society irritated by NASA policy.
3. One of the best ways to get NASA’s attention is to get one of their very expensive Mars rovers stuck in a sand dune…on Mars.
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Live Blogging the Kentucky Derby!
Sat. 5/5/07 beginning one half hour before start time: 5:30pm Eastern, 2:30pm Pacific. Start time for the race is (I belive) 6:04pm Eastern, on televised on NBC.
[Hey Folks, I’m still fighting a bad cold, so there will be more links than writing here. But that’s OK because I’m not a writer anyway!]
Tomorrow will be the 133rd running of the Kentucky Derby. How many of you know these names: Oliver Lewis, Jimmy Winkfield, or Isaac Murphy?
Oliver Lewis was the winning rider in the very first Kentucky Derby in 1875. He was also Black. In fact, African American jockeys dominated the sport in this country until the dawn of the 20th century:
From Tony McClean:
African-American jockeys rode 14 of 15 horses in that first Kentucky Derby. The horse racing sport was built with the talents of Blacks whose jobs typically included trainer, jockey, and owner.
Decades before baseball player Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier to become the “first” black to play with whites in modern professional sports, black and white jockeys were competing alongside one another on racetracks such as Saratoga.
What happened? Again, from Tony McClean (part II of his article):
To no surprise, some white jockeys resented the choice mounts and big money earned by successful Black riders. Races became combative including several riots between Black and White jockeys in Chicago.