Thursday, December 15, 2011

Welcome to Koontown

Well, as many of you know, I have a new book coming out on January 17, Koontown Killing Kaper. Here's the official theme song (there will be an original soundtrack produced by Triple Threat coming your way). Hope you enjoy:

What happens when you smash “The Boondocks” head-long into “Family Guy”? You end up with one of the most outrageous, most offensive, most hilarious books you may ever read.

Koontown Killing Kaper

In Koontown, all the rappers are being killed, and rumor has it that it's vampire crack babies doing the killing. Desperate, the police reach out to Genevieve "Jon Vee" Noire, ex-super model/ex-homicide cop/private detective. Together with her former partner, Genevieve must navigate the dangerous world of gangsta rappers, shady record executives, corrupt cops and politicians, '80s pimps, welfare queens, secret sistah societies, Ubernoggin, and the National Guard. Can our heroine survive the chaos and insanity to save her beloved Koontown while it explodes all around her? 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

For the Record ... I'd Whip Dat Ass

Funny, I often feel like I'm chained to the internet. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Podomatic, etc., etc., etc. I think there's even a Myspace page out there somewhere with my name on it. Yet, I know I'm not nearly as connected as a lot of you out there. And, to be completely honest, I ignore most of the stuff I'm apparently connected to. There are too many internet controversies, curiosities, and sensations that I've never even heard of or paid attention to.

It took me an e-ternity (sorry, couldn't help it) before I heard of this whole Amber Cole debacle. And, once I found out, I promptly tried to ignore it. After all, as the father of a four-year-old black girl, why the hell would I want to hear about a 14-year-old black girl going down on some boy, allowing herself to be videotaped, and then having that video going viral. Why would I want to put myself in that girl's father's place? And I thought Laurence Fishburn had it bad.

Yet today, something on my Twitter timeline did catch my attention. Apparently, some brother, Jimi Izrael (apparently he's got a little fame to him) actually did imagine that he was Amber Cole's father and posted his imaginings on Jezebel. As I said, I ain't goin' there. That place is too dark, too depressing to even contemplate. However, something that Jimi wrote did catch my eye:

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Harrowing Tale of America's First "Crazy Negro"

Lifted from Ira Berlin's Slaves without Masters. Draw your own conclusions (but I prefer to promote "insanity")...

In 1811, Christopher McPherson, a free Negro of considerable talent and modest wealth who also styled himself “Pherson, the first son of Christ,” hired Herbert H. Hughes, a white schoolmaster, and opened a night school for free Negroes and slaves who had the consent of their master. Classes began at dusk and ran until nine-thirty, and Hughes taught “the English language grammatically, Writing, Arithmetic, Geography, Astronomy, &c. &c.” for a fee of about $1.25 per month. The results were most promising. The school opened with twenty-five pupils, and McPherson noted that “from frequent application since, ‘tis expected the number will shortly be doubled.” McPherson was so pleased with his initial success that he publicly boasted of the school in the Richmond Argus, and recommended “to the people of colour throughout the United States (who do not have it in their power to attend day schools) to establish similar institutions in their neighborhoods.” Excited over the new possibilities, he hoped “that everyone who loves his Country, and has it in his power will generously further and foster every institution of the kind that may be established throughout this happy Union.”

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Bill Campbell: Misanthrope Show -- Episode 28: Troy Davis Blues

I was down at the Supreme Court holding a candle last week as "Justice" Clarence Thomas decided to let Georgia go ahead and murder Troy Davis. I've been trying to articulate my thoughts on the matter since but have failed so far. For now, this blues-oriented podcast will have to do. Please give it a listen. I think a lot of you will enjoy.

Cassandra Wilson - Strange Fruit
Nina Simone - Backlash Blues
Elvin Bishop - What the Hell Is Going On
Muddy Waters - Mannish Boy
Roebuck "Pops" Staples - Black Boy
Solomon Burke - Proud Mary
Rodriguez - Rich Folks Hoax
John Lee Hooker - The Waterfront
Robert Pete Williams - Pardon Denied Again
Son House - John the Revelator
Big Bill Broonzy - Black, Brown and White
T-Bone Walker - Left Home When I Was a Kid
Elmore James - Rollin' and Tumblin'
Little Walter - It's Too Late Brother
Sonny Boy Williamson - Fattening Frogs for Snakes
BB King - Chains and Things
Pigmeat Markham - Here Comes the Judge
Alan Lomax Collection - Early in the Mornin'
Oscar Brown, Jr. - Brother, Where Are You?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Quick Question on Racial Representation

Less than 1 million black men today are festering in America's prisons. There are over 15 million black men who are not. Yet, so much of our music speaks of violence, drug use, and criminality.

Publishers claim that over 80 percent of books published by African-American authors are categorized as "ghetto lit"--which, of course, also speaks of violence, drug use, and criminality. Yet, according to 2010 census data, only 30 percent of the African-American population lives in predominantly minority-majority (not even majority black) neighborhoods.

I've been wondering of late, why then is our culture--dominated by the Sonys, Random Houses, Clear Channels, Def Jams, and BETs of the world--so terribly unrepresentative of its African-American audience?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Bill Campbell: Misanthrope Show -- Episode 27: No Effin Clue

I'll admit it, I'm feeling a bit weird today. Yesterday, I was happy for the end of the Clintonian sell-out Don't Ask/Don't Tell, but I've been even more disheartened by Georgia's decision to execute Troy Davis. I'm not particularly surprised. The one thing I've learned about our justice system is that they'd rather keep someone falsely imprisoned or put an innocent man to death than ever admit a mistake. Nevertheless, I spent yesterday morning every official in Georgia I possibly could to register my dissent. A whole lotta good it'll do. In America, the barbarians are not at the gate. They hold the fucking keys.

Aside from that, in my quest to become an amateur historian, I've been reading about slavery a lot. Never a recipe for happy times.

So, I was pretty much at a loss as to what to play for this week's Bill Campbell: Misanthrope Show. I hope you enjoy:

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Random Thought on Race

The world wasn't even aware of the concept of "race" until after Nathaniel Bacon gathered a bunch of black and white indentured servants of slaves to fight their master in 1676.  After Bacon's Rebellion was quashed you start seeing "race"-based treatment. Indentured servitude (which was supposed to be for five to seven years but could last indefinitely) is ended for Europeans. The decision is made to finally make slavery a lifelong "occupation" for Africans and their offspring. And the Virginia House of Burgesses forces every white male in the colony to participate in regular slave hunting parties.

In other words, to base any of your assumptions, convictions, whatever--whether negatively or positively--upon "race" is to fall for the oldest trick in the slavemaster's book.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Obama's Rule" -- Another GOP Lie

For the past few years, I've been noticing a disturbing political trend. It's not just the political rancor and the huge divide in what constitutes in this country as "The Right" and "The Left." It's that we've been so divided that it's no longer a matter of disagreement on our interpretations of reality. We are now actually disagreeing on the facts that constitute said reality.

In my limited contact with some of those on the Right and self-proclaimed Tea Party members, I've sometimes wondered, Where the hell did you come up with that? Despite what some who know me may think, I readily admit that I don't know everything. However, I am a mild political junkie. Yet, sometimes someone on the Right will say or post something or share an article that leaves me absolutely baffled. I have no clue what they're talking about and oftentimes can't even find out where what they're saying is actually coming from.

This happened a couple of weeks ago when a Tea Partier I'm following on Twitter posted an article about "Obama's Rule," which, according to the article (which, unfortunately, I can't find a link to now), is currently strangling the Congo. Now, there was actually a new regulation placed on the electronics industry in the Dodd-Frank Bill, forcing them to provide proof that their gold, coltan, tungsten, and tin ore have neither come from conflict regions within the Democratic Republic of Congo or has been provided by the "warlords" in that country. While intended just for certain regions of the Congo, the article I read (and many self-interested business leaders and Republican politicians) asserted that this new regulation is strangling the entire country.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Bill Campbell: Misanthrope Show -- Episode 26: Burning Down the House: A Post-Punk Party

Last week, after laying down what I felt was a shining moment of rantitude with my very calm, very rational monologue about the Tea Party, Jack Johnson, Obama, and the ever-evolving myths of White Supremacy (check it out: I Is Regusted), I asked Mrs. Anne Thrope what she thought of the music on the show. You could've seen my head about to explode when she almost called the show "adult contemporary." My inner Chris Tucker falsettoed in protest. After all, how can a show that features hip-hop, funk, jazz, rock, world, and all kinds of electronica be considered "adult contemporary." Like any good spouse of an overgrown child, Mrs. Thrope pacified me by saying, "Well, there definitely is a Bill Campbell style."

Fair enough. So, I decided to switch it up this week. And I chose to do it with some post-punk music.

While I'm still not much of a rock fan, I do find something very intriguing about the post-punk period from the late '70s to mid '80s that infected both sides of the globe. I don't know if it was Cold War fatigue, all that inflation, all those recessions, all that premature death-wishing of "late capitalism" talk, the rise of Thatcherism and Reaganism--oh, there were so many things wrong with the world back then--but something really lit a fire under these musicians' asses. And that's what I admire most about the period. It was as though nothing really made sense. Therefore, everything was up for grabs. These post-punk musicians took punk, rock, funk, disco, roots reggae, dub, ska. There were fools picking up instruments for the first time and going in to record. There were nerds going all MacGyver and building synthesizers in their garages. It was a powerful mishmash of everything one could possibly think of and creating a diverse, dynamic sound.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Baby Socrates

One of the most fascinating aspects of being a parent is watching our little ones grow into full-fledged human beings. We document and beam with pride along with every development our children make: baby's first solid food, the subsequent first solid waste, baby's first crawl, baby's first steps, etc.

Well, I will forever shine when I remember Friday, September 2, 2011 (ironically enough, her grandfather's 63rd birthday) 6:17pm. It was the moment that not-yet-four-year-old KiddieBop (aka "The Kid," nee "Poohbutt") beat her father in an intellectual debate.

SCENE: Moving Car

KIDDIEBOP: Daddy, can we go for a walk after school on Monday.

DADDY: Maybe Tuesday. You won't be in school on Monday.


DADDY: Monday's Labor Day.

KIDDIEBOP: What's Labor Day?

DADDY: It's a holiday when we celebrate workers.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What Would FDR Do?

"What would FDR do?"

It was a question former Clintonian Robert Reich asked on Twitter last week regarding to the Supreme Court's looking primed to shoot down "Obamacare." It was yet another unfavorable comparison to former Democratic presidents Obama's received pretty much since the Tea Party emerged in the summer of '09. Why can't Obama be more like FDR? LBJ? Carter? Clinton?

I often answer, especially with the last two, with a "Thank God, he ain't." Here we have a president who's accomplished a bunch of historic shit, who, as Rachel Maddow pointed out a few weeks ago, has come through on 85% of his campaign promises, and, with stiff opposition put universal health care on the books (Yes, I know it's neither perfect nor what everybody clamored for, but, to paraphrase LBJ, "I know it's messed up, but put it on the books. We'll fix it later." That's pretty much how our system works. They put something in place and modify it as time goes by. The Medicare and Social Security that you so prize today ain't what they were when first enacted.). Yet, I constantly hear how Obama's done absolutely nothing, how he's weak (in the face of the Tea Party who goes armed to public meetings talking about revolution and 300 death threats a month), and why can't he be more like the aforementioned presidents.

I blame a lot of it on the economy, of course. Unemployment's high. Insecurity's even higher. Everything else pales in comparison. I can blame the media, the Right Wing propaganda machine, Liberals penchant to whine about everything and their superhuman wobbly-kneed ability to make even their historic successes look like monumental failures. Nostalgia, romanticism. I can blame a whole host of things. But I mainly blame history.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I know I'm late to the game. I always am. But I just finished watching Skin with Sophie Okonedo (a goddess) and Sam Neill (so ubiquitous he's at least a demigod). It's one of those based-on-a-true-story stories about a white couple who give birth to a "dark-skinned" daughter during apartheid-era South Africa.

It's an intriguing flick. It's one of the few movies to ever explore race as a social construct (Black Like Me, Watermelon Man, and, ugh, Soul Man) come to mind. You watch a father's desperate struggle to have his daughter officially recognized by the state as being "white" to glean the advantages that that would garner her while society at large views her as "coloured." Since one's race is basically what one is perceived to be, you can only imagine the consequences. And, of course, it ain't pretty.

I am one who believes that race is, indeed, a social construct. Therefore, I found the movie very interesting and enjoyed it (as much as one can "enjoy" an apartheid flick) for exploring that. Also, as an American, I found it interesting because South Africa's construct of race differs a bit from ours. Having been ruled by the One Drop Rule for the lion's share of this country's existence, we have only relatively recently started to recognize that there's such a thing as a "mixed-race" person. Black is black is black is black. Though the character of this film was categorized as coloured it seemed like she was treated more as a black. Skin has piqued my interest in what the societal and legal differences were/are between black and coloured in South Africa.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Old School -- A Hip-Hop Haiku

Old, fat, and grumpy
Who the hell's this Kreayshawn bitch?
Damned punks, wear a belt!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Fatherhood Haiku

In honor of Tyrese's fatherhood poem, I have been bitten by the poetry dung beetle and have decided to write my own haiku. I hope you enjoy.

Condom broke, I'm broke
Shitty diapers, mortgage due
I'm a proud father

Monday, May 23, 2011

How to Become a Skinny White Chick

In the proud tradition of Madame C.J. Walker, Dove announces a miracle bath product that will ... well, take a look for yourself.

I hear it's selling like hot cakes beef patties down in Jamaica

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Less Attractive Than Whom?

You may have heard this already, but yesterday Psychology Today posted yet another "scientific" study on the inherent inferiority of the African "race." Apparently, some dude pulled a PhD diploma out of his ass Lucky Charms cereal and asked "Why Are Black Women Less Attractive"?

The London School of Economics- and Birckbeck College-affiliated "evolutionary psychologist," Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa proves that he himself and his supposedly scientific field has not much evolved beyond the--I thought--discredited field of social Darwinism. Apparently, his phrenological study on how the Negro has smaller brain capacity and, therefore, cannot attain high levels of intellect nor responsibility was thrown out by P.T. His empirical study on how the Negro cannot possibly experience pain was dismissed after one Negro on P.T.'s Board promised to inflict pain if the study was published.

But our intrepid Dr. Kanazawa would not be deterred. After all, it is science's duty to, every few years, show without a scientific doubt that melanin superiority necessarily equates to every-damned-thing-else inferiority. So now, the good doctor pressed a new wrinkle into the African Inferiority Debate (A.I.D.): Testosterone.

According to Doctor Kanazawa, the Negro has an overabundance of testosterone, which somehow makes the Negress less attractive than women of other races while the Negro male remains just as adorable as all the other men out there. Oddly enough, during the turn of the last century, it was the Negro's overabundance of testosterone that made him especially susceptible to the effects of cocaine--turning his darky, little brain mad and turning the colored into a wild, growling, jungle beast whose muscles, already genetically honed for hard labor, became superhuman in strength, leading to an animal frenzy that had to be beaten into submission (you know, like Rodney King).

I guess with evolutionary psychologists ... the more things change the more they stay the same.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Damn ...

I just read this last night in Hoodlums: Black Villains and Social Bandits in American Life by William L. Van Deburg and needed to share it.

"In the five decades between the end of Radical Reconstruction and the start of the Great Depression, more than 3,200 black men, women, and children were executed by southern mobs. Few of the perpetrators were brought to justice, fewer still punished for their crimes. Evidencing a marked June-to-August seasonality and heavily concentrated in the "Black Belt" running through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, this plague of lynching fever peaked during the 1890s, went into remission during World War I, reappeared in the early 1920s, and experienced a final decline during the 1930s. Despite the best efforts of the reform press, the black pulpit, and groups such as the Commission on Interracial Corporation and the NAACP, vigilante 'justice' was meted out to a black victim nearly once a week, every week between 1882 and 1930."

Friday, May 6, 2011

Where Credit Is Due

In our incessant 25/8 news cycle, nothing happens without an ensuing controversy. In what should be a self-satisfied victory lap for the Obama administration for the assassination of Osama bin Laden, controversies abound for said assassination. Was bin Laden armed or not? Did he use a woman as a human shield? How much did Pakistan know? And, most annoyingly, who deserves the credit for putting the World's #1 Bad Guy down.

While many are surprised that the last controversy has begun to swell, we really shouldn't be. There are many out there who absolutely despise Obama and everything that he's done. Many of them will simply refuse to give him any credit for anything. It's much like when my boy Bart in Blazing Saddles disposes of the behemoth bad guy, Mongo, with an exploding candy gram. His white sidekick, Jim, congratulates Bart on his ingenious invention, and Bart says something along the lines of "Yeah, but they'll never give me credit for it."

So many of them want to give Bush as much credit as is humanly possible. Many because, as I said, they simply don't want to credit Obama for anything--even when he does something they like. Others because they want to justify the use of torture--sorry, "enhanced interrogation." One can't blame them, of course. There is an ongoing federal investigation in the Justice Department of many of the proponents of torture and what they did or did not do during their time in the Bush administration.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Oh, My!

I am an American. As I have often joked, we kicked the Brits' asses twice and saved their asses twice. We owe them absolutely nothing (though, they have been taking a big one for the Anglo Alliance team during this whole "War on Terror" thing).

I am African-American. Sixteen percent of the Revolutionary Army was made up of my people, and we've been fighting ever since. Besides, who took up this whole slavery thing with gusto on our continent in the first place?

I am also of Jamaican descent. Runaway slaves on that island (known as Maroons) fought the British for centuries. While never gaining full independence like their Haitian brethren, the Maroons fought so ferociously, the British ended up suing for peace. The interior mountain region of Jamaica was never officially colonized because of the Maroons.

And one puddle in this muddied gene pool of mine, one can find Scottish ancestry. My peeps have been used and abused by the Brits. Bonnie Prince Charlie almost took it to the redcoats, but what can you do?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tiger Mothers and Other Reaffirming Stereotypes

I admit, I've been mildly intrigued by the idea of reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother ever since the fire storm over Amy Chua's book erupted a few months back. For those of you who haven't heard, Battle Hymn chronicles Chua's battles with her daughters and the utter abuse they take in the author's quest to be a proper "Chinese mother."

As many of you know, I read books for a living. As soon as this bad mutha hit the office, I scrambled to have it assigned to me. Mission accomplished, I started Tiger Mother yesterday and am about halfway through. This is what I think so far ...

First, I must make perfectly clear, that I hate exceptionalism in all its forms. For nations, it simply means that we Americans will rush headlong into countries like Afghanistan simply knowing that, because of our inherent goodness, we will not suffer the fates of Alexander the Great nor the British Empire (see how that's working for us).

As far as race goes, I believe that exceptionalism is simply the PC flip side of racism. These backhanded compliments will laud any race in one particular area while subtly suggesting that they are inferior in all others. In the 1840s, while enslaved Negroes were being called "lazy" and "shiftless" in one breath, the very next breath admonished those "slovenly" and "dirty" Irish and Germans to be more like the "hard-working," "industrious" darky. The "model minority" was born and continues to thrive to this day--though the levels of melanin have pretty much changed.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fo'evah Coonin'

So, last night, in an attempt to embrace the ensuing insomnia that's been plaguing me these past couple weeks, I plugged my headphones into some '90s hip-hop and curled up on the couch to David Wondrich's Stomp and Swerve: American Music Gets Hot 1843-1924. In it, Wondrich acerbically details the birth of American popular music: the minstrel/"coon" show.

Apparently, the whole phenomenon started in the 1840s with a group called the Virginia Minstrels, who combined the African banjo and the European fiddle with more than a dash of burnt cork for their faces and "Negro dialect" for their tongues. They instantly became a national--and later, an international--sensation. I guess as our nation crept towards the Civil War, white folks felt somehow reassured by this black-faced view of the Negro just a-pickin' and a-grinnin' on the plantation. The minstrels' white audiences also felt that these caricatures of African servitude presented an "authentic" look into Negro life.

White groups in black face sprouted up all over and were wildly popular. They dominated American entertainment until the unthinkable happened. A group of black coons calling themselves the "Georgia minstrels" done stoled they thunder. White folks ate 'em up. Georgia minstrels started popping up everywhere. Black folks, it was felt, were just better at cooning than white folks (obviously, this was before the advent of reality TV). They were just more "authentic" on portraying that happy-go-lucky plantation life.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Is This What Our Democracy Has Come To?

What do you think? Gary Busey for Secretary of State? Mel Gibson, Ambassador to Israel? Chris Brown, Health and Human Services? Who else would be a perfect fit for a Donald Trump Cabinet?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why, Some of My Best Friends Are Monkeys Black

I'm sure you probably heard by now, but a California Republican (and reportedly Tea Party activist), Marilyn Davenport is being slammed for emailing this photo of Obama to fellow travelers with the heading, "Now you know why no birth certificate."

Members of her own party in her own state found this image so offensive, they've been calling on Davenport to resign from her state party's central committee.

"It's just highly inappropriate, it's a despicable message, it drips with racism and I think she should step down from the committee," [chairman of the Orange County (Calif.) Republican Party, Scott] Baugh said. "It undermines everything we are doing to reach out to ethnic communities."

Now, this is exactly the kind of drivel that will cause all kinds of shock and blah all over the blogosphere. Before it properly kicks off, I, for one, want to state for the record that I am not shocked in the least bit by any of it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Olivia Newton-John vs. Vaughan Mason

When cultural anthropologists argue about what most consider the apex of Western Civilization, the all-too-brief Roller Disco Era, scholars often split into two schools, Olivia Newton-John vs. Vaughan Mason, and which act perfectly personifies this electrical moment in our culture.

In this halcyon Age of Obama, nobody likes to think of any debate (outside of Kathryn Stockett's The Help) could possibly break down along racial lines. Yet, many do concede that it is nearly impossible to avoid the topic of race when discussing the Roller Disco Era.

In Hollywood's attempt to prove it can even squeeze the black out of midnight, they drained the funk out of disco and the melanin out of roller skating and released Xanadu in 1980. There's a certain Wonder Bread wonder to the movie, which stars Michael Beck (from The Warriors), Olivia Newton-John, and (homeboy) Gene Kelly with music from legendary synth ... uhhhh ... well, you know, ELO (Electric Light Orchestra). Now, in all fairness, the movie did feature that poppin-and-locking brutha who went on to Breakin' fame. And I often imagine that the greatest black actor of the era not named Grand Bush, Stoney Jackson, was in the flick (but he wasn't).

And on the other side of this bloody schism is Vaughan Mason and Crew--the one-hit 1980 wonder with a funky-ass bass line. But damn, what a bass line.

It is time for you to decide:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

National Riff on Juan Williams Day

That Fox money apparently has Juan running scared and running at the mouth. Now, he's admitting that he's afraid of his fellow Negroes when he sees them running in "thuggish packs" hunting down antelope walking down the street. It made us wonder what else Senor Juanito sees when he sees "The Other".


"When I see blacks, dressed in traditional black garb, I make chitlins."

"When I see blacks, dressed in traditional black garb, I jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton."

"When I see blacks, dressed in traditional black garb, I move. Property values are about to plummet."

"When I Zulus, dressed in traditional Zulu garb, I scream, 'Go back to Africa!'"