Monday, April 30, 2007

Instantly addicted... to lolcats!


Total flippin’ WEIRDNESS!

Only on the World Wide Web can you experience the likes of I Can Has Cheezburger?

It is a phenomenon. Cutesy animal pics + cutesy captions = the ne plus ultra of useless Internet distractions.

Some of the posted images are ridiculously cute, like “We R not slipperz!”

Some are make-believe smutty, like “Invisible Buttsecks!!!”

Some are undeniably cool, like ”Ice Cream Zombie.”

And they got hundreds of ’em!

I’m addicted. I’m not even a cat lover. But then, it’s not all cats. Just mostly.

I tip my hat to Rottin’ in Denmark, who recently blogged about I Can Has Cheezburger? He called it “the most geeky-awful-tremendous-appalling Website I've ever seen.”

He seems to be addicted too.

I had been blissfully unaware of the Internet meme known as “lolcats.” But blogger Anil Dash recently broke it down in interesting fashion.

I mean, a picture like the one up top (created by Lizz K.) speaks for itself. But as a writer, I’m interested in how this cutesy caption language, this patois (or “catois”?) seems to have its own grammatical rules.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Rose Mills (1926-2007)

I buried my mom yesterday.

The only thing I want to say about it here pertains to the mood of anti-immigrationism arisen in America… and people like this who gnash their teeth about non-white immigrants.

My mom spent the last 15 years of her life in a nursing home. Her daily care in recent years was provided by young black women from places like Sierra Leone and Guyana.

I never interrogated any of them regarding their legal status. I don’t regret that. What I regret is, I so rarely thanked them for spoon-feeding my mother.

If you’ve got loved ones in nursing homes, chances are they’re being kept clean by non-white immigrants.

When my mother took a turn for the worse four weeks ago, most of the doctors who treated her were South Asians with names like “Singh.”

And, sure, my first impulse was to wonder about this glut of foreigners – “What is this, a hospital, or the fucking Concert for Bangladesh?” – but the fact is there’s a doctor shortage looming in the United States. I’m sure India needs them more, but we got ’em, so let’s be grateful.

Last week, I found myself outside a shopping mall in Silver Spring, Md. Plenty of immigrants in Silver Spring these days. A little brown-skinned boy toddled up to the mall and pointed. “That’s where Santa lives,” he said, his voice vaguely accented. Behind him, his mother said, “Huh?” And the little boy said: “This is where Santa lives.”

You’re telling me that kid ain’t American?

The Vice President and His Mulatto (p.p.s.)

Brenda Gordon has also sent me a fascinating artifact relating to the half-hidden history of her family… and of American politics.

It’s a newspaper article dated November 29, 1832. Here’s what the Lexington Observer and Kentucky Reporter had to say about the marriage of a white man, Thomas W. Scott, to Adeline Johnson, daughter of future U.S. Vice President Richard M. Johnson and his octoroon slave/common-law wife Julia Chinn.

(Mrs. Gordon discovered about a decade ago that Richard Johnson and Julia Chinn are her great-great-great-grandparents. She transcribed this article from a microfilm copy at the Kentucky History Center.)
Marriage Extraordinary! MARRIED, In Scott County, on the 8th inst. By the Rev. ------*, Mr. THOMAS W. SCOTT, a white man, to Miss ADELINE J. JOHNSON, a mulatto girl, and reputed, or acknowledged, daughter of the Honorable Richard M. Johnson, one of the Representatives of the state of Kentucky in the Congress of the United States!

A few days after Mr. Scott became the happy husband of the FAIR and lovely Adeline, he was presented by her father, the “good Colonel,” with a fine tract of land, known as the “Blue Spring farm,” for which a deed has been regularly made and entered of record in the office of the Clerk of the Scott County Court. The deed runs, “to Thomas W. Scott and Adeline J. Scott, his wife, jointly, their heirs,” &c.

This is the second time that the moral feelings of that portion of the people of Scott county who possess such feelings, have been shocked and outraged by the marriage of a mulatto daughter of Col. Johnson to a white man, if a man, who will so far degrade himself; who will make himself an object of scorn and destation to every person that has the least regard for decency, for a little property; can be considered a white man. About two years and a half ago, a Mr. DANIEL PENCE, married IMOGENE, Colonel Johnson’s eldest daughter; and, as has more recently been the case with Mr. Scott, was soon after rewarded for his degradation, by being put in possession of a large farm and a number of slaves to cultivate it.

How long will the people of Scott County – of Kentucky – permit such palpable violations of the laws of their state to be commited with impunity! How long will the moral and religious part of the community suffer such indecent and shocking example to be set for their sons and the rising generation, before they put their veto upon them? – before they consign to private life at least, if not to infamy, those who encourage such violations of the laws both of God and of man? The laws of Kentucky forbid, under heavy penalties, a white man’s marrying a negro or mulatto, or living with one in the character of man and wife. Why should Pence and Scott not be held amenable to the laws? What are the Grand Jury of Scott about? … Will they suffer Pence and Scott to go unpunished because they have become the sons-in-law of Col. Johnson? – We hope not. We hope to see the supremacy of the laws of the country maintained, although persons high in office should be made to feel their weight.

* The Rev. Thomas Henderson, Principal of the Choctaw Academy, is said to have performed the marriage ceremony between Mr. Scott and Miss Adeline. We incline to doubt his having done so; for we have a higher opinion of Mr. Henderson than to believe he would be guilty of such an outrage against public opinion and the laws of his country.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Bonus MBP: Los Angeles Times

The L.A. Times ran the following correction on Wednesday:

“A caption with a photograph in Sunday’s Calendar section of the Staples Singers performing a 1972 concert said Mavis Staples was on the left. She was on the right.”

That photograph isn’t on the L.A. Times website. But an interesting profile of Mavis Staples is.

This is the sort of photographic misidentification I find hardest to forgive... when it’s attached to a nice, long story about that person.

The “Where's Waldo?” aspect also sucks. I mean, the real Mavis was in there somewhere. Just took ’em two tries to point her out.

Oh well...

The Vice President and His Mulatto (postscript)

Brenda Gordon thanked me warmly for yesterday’s post. She also sent me a link to the above image: a political cartoon from 1836 which attacks Richard M. Johnson by mocking his love for Julia Chinn and his fathering of quintroon daughters.

Titled “An Affecting Scene in Kentucky,” the cartoon shows Johnson – at that point the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee – distraught after reading the New York Courier and Inquirer (a pro-slavery newspaper). The cartoonist put these words into Johnson’s mouth:

“When I read the scurrilous attacks in the Newspapers on the Mother of my Children, pardon me, my friends if I give way to feelings!!! My dear Girls, bring me your Mother's picture, that I may show it to my friends here.”

That’s supposed to be Julia Chinn in the painting, wearing the turban. Of course, being an “octoroon” (one-eighths black), the real Julia Chinn most certainly wasn’t brown-skinned. Johnson’s two daughters even less so.

The cartoonist also ridicules the black man at Johnson’s right side, having him (in Negro dialect) pledge “de honor of a Gentlemen dat all de Gentlemen of Colour will support you.”

The cartoonist was Henry R. Robinson, a prominent illustrator of the era. In fact, you can order a lithograph of “An Affecting Scene in Kentucky” for yourself from the Library of Congress! (Click here, and you can also read a little more about the cartoon, including what those other characters are saying.)

You can also read about the cartoon here, at the Harper’s Weekly website.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Vice President and His Mulatto

Half-hidden in the pages of history is a fascinating tale about race, sex and politics in 19th-Century America.

Let’s begin in the present day with Brenda Gene Gordon, a 67-year-old white woman in Chandler, Ariz. Very nice lady.

Mrs. Gordon is directly descended from a U.S. vice president… but she didn’t discover that fact till recent years. Her ancestor is Richard Mentor Johnson of Kentucky, the ninth Vice President of the United States (1837-1841). He served under Martin Van Buren.

How on earth could Brenda Gordon not have known that her great-great-great-grandfather was Vice President Richard M. Johnson? Wasn’t this fact passed proudly from generation to generation inside her family?

No, it was not.

Why not? Because the woman who bore Johnson’s two children – a woman named Julia Chinn – was, by law, a Negro. And in Johnson’s time (not to mention since), that was scandalous.

“I grew up never hearing the names Richard M. Johnson (even in Kentucky history classes) or Julia Chinn,” Mrs. Gordon wrote to me during a recent email correspondence.

How much of a “Negro” was Julia Chinn? Well, she was a slave… a slave Johnson inherited from his father. She was “Negro” enough that Richard Johnson couldn’t have married her legally.

Yet she was his mate. His common-law wife, in effect.

“She was the hostess at his Kentucky home when [French aristocrat] the Marquis de Lafayette visited,” wrote Lindsey Apple, a retired Georgetown College history professor, in answer to questions from me.

Evidently Julia Chinn was one-eighths black (i.e., she had one black great-grandparent). She was described as a “mulatto” but she was, more precisely, an “octoroon.”

No paintings of Julia are known to exist, but she must’ve been very light-skinned. Her two daughters by Richard M. Johnson – Imogene Chinn Johnson and Adaline (or Adeline) Chinn Johnson – both married white men.

Which means that Imogene and Adaline were bona fide, fully vested white people. Well-off ones at that, because Richard Johnson gave some of his farmland to each of them and their husbands.

Growing up, “Imogene and Adaline Johnson lived in their father's Kentucky home and enjoyed their parents’ undivided attention,” wrote historian Wilma King in 1997. “Johnson, a Baptist known as a humanitarian among his contemporaries, indulged his daughters and provided for their education. … Imogene and Adaline Johnson received instruction ‘until their education was equal or superior to most of the females in the country.’ ”

Quite extraordinary.

Especially when you consider that Richard Mentor Johnson was a politician. His career included service in Kentucky’s state legislature (1804-1806; 1819), the U.S. House of Representatives (1807-1819; 1829-1837) and the U.S. Senate (1819-1829) prior to his becoming vice president.

I still can’t figure how he managed to get elected and re-elected – in Kentucky! – when his love life with a Negro slave was pretty much an open secret.

Johnson’s political enemies certainly spread the word about his babies’ mama.

Duff Green, a partisan journalist of the era, is said to have described Julia Chinn as “a jet-black, thick-lipped, odiferous negro wench.” Duff declared it “astonishing” that Richard Johnson had “reared a family of children whom he endeavored to force upon society as equals.”

Prof. Apple, in his email, told me: “Some of the propaganda, i.e. mudslinging said he tried to introduce his wife and daughters into Washington society. I have found no evidence to substantiate that.”

Indicative of the historical fog surrounding Julia Chinn, author Roger G. Kennedy, in his 1990 book “Rediscovering America,” stated wrongly that she “served as the vice president’s official hostess in Washington.”

Prof. Apple points out that “Julia died in the cholera epidemic of 1833”… several years before Johnson became vice president. And during Johnson’s years in Congress, Julia stayed behind in Kentucky, overseeing his large farm.

At least Roger Kennedy knows there’s a story here. He described Julia Chinn as a “deliberately forgotten woman.”

Forgotten indeed. But she lurks in the annals of U.S. political history.

No less a man than Abraham Lincoln made reference to her. And not in a good way. He exploited Richard Johnson’s relationship with Julia Chinn to score a point against Stephen Douglas during the legendary Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858.

Lincoln asserted, to the applause of his audience, that “I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races… nor qualifying [negroes] to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people…”

Lincoln went on to say this:

I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. …

I will add to this that I have never seen to my knowledge a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men. I recollect of but one distinguished instance that I ever heard of so frequently as to be entirely satisfied of its correctness – and that is the case of Judge Douglas’ old friend Col. Richard M. Johnson. [Laughter.]

Is it any wonder that, even among Johnson’s descendants, some historical amnesia took hold?

Which brings us back to Brenda Gordon. She has been researching her family’s history for the past decade. (I stumbled across an old post of hers on a genealogy website and decided to track her down. The first I’d heard of Richard M. Johnson was while reading that passage from the Lincoln-Douglas debates.)

Brenda Gordon’s interest was piqued when she acquired family photos and memorabilia dating back to the time of Daniel B. Pence. He was the man who married Julia Chinn’s older daughter, Imogene, in 1830. (Daniel and Imogene had six children. One of them was Brenda Gordon’s great-grandfather, Daniel Franklin Pence.)

It was an uncle who sent Ms. Gordon pages from the Pence family Bible. He also sent her photocopied pages from a 1932 book, “The Life and Times of Colonel Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky.” This uncle also sent along his own drawing of the family tree.

“I don't recall whether my uncle and I actually talked about Julia being a mulatto, or if I read it in the pages from [the 1932] book,” Gordon wrote to me. “My uncle had a wry sense of humor and when he got to my daughter on the drawn tree, he wrote the following comment: ‘Does this mean Leigh's the first red-haired pick-a-ninny in captivity?’ ”

I’m not crazy about pickaninny jokes, but Brenda Gordon’s uncle highlighted an intriguing thing: the amorphousness of the color line. Usually when a prominent white man snuck sex with a colored girl, and it resulted in a baby, that child was raised among the colored folk… as colored. Such was the case in my own family, just three generations back.

Julia Chinn’s offspring, however, got a passport to whiteness. I mean big-time, because Imogene Chinn Johnson – daughter of a slave – owned black slaves herself after she married Daniel B. Pence.

By the time Brenda came along, the full family story may not have been considered her birthright… but a white identity surely was.

“I really don’t know if the silence came from race issues or not,” Brenda Gordon wrote. “It’s quite possible because my mother (also named Imogene) was shall we say ‘social minded.’ My birthday parties were announced in the newspaper and I went to social dancing school at the right age and on to belong to the Jr. Cotillion. My family didn’t have any money, but we appreciated nice things, were attractive and intelligent. … The emphasis seemed to be on the Pence surname rather than Johnson.”

And now that Gordon has dug up the truth? Well, this happened:

“I haven’t lived in Kentucky for over 40 years, but still have friends there and go back every few years…. However, I do know that race is still a big issue there whether or not they admit it. … A few years ago when I was there visiting friends and doing some research I told them about the family history, as I thought it would be of interest to native Kentuckians. However, one of the husbands definitely didn’t want to read or hear anything about it, and we had all been friends forever.”

Yep. That’s what you get for looking too deep in the woodpile.

“I certainly don’t have a problem with the heritage and just find the whole thing fascinating,” Gordon wrote. “Searching for more information has given me many hours of entertainment.” (I feel you, sister.)

Plus, Brenda has new insight on her middle name, “Gene,” which may be a “watered down” version of Imogene… a direct callback to her quintroon ancestor, Imogene Chinn Johnson. (Yes, “quintroon” is a word. At least it used to be. Times were different back then, you know.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Name this guitarist, win a prize.

I’ve got a feeling I’ll give away the “Mingering Mike” book this time.

Here’s the contest: Click here, listen to the audio track, then tell me who that guitar player is.

The first person to put the musician’s name in the comments section will win a copy of the great new book about D.C.’s imaginary soul superstar, the one and only Mingering Mike. (There’ll never be another one like him… because he never existed in the first place!)

Have fun.

UPDATE (04/26/07): We have a winner. Pandyora correctly identified the artist as Bill Frisell.

This track, “Blues Dream,” is from his 2001 CD “Bill Frisell with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones.”

Feels like it belongs in a David Lynch movie, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

MBP of the Week: Washington Post

I may develop carpal tunnel syndrome tipping my hat to Craig Silverman (my Canadian soul brother). On his Regret the Error blog today, he highlighted the following correction from yesterday’s Washington Post:

“A photograph in the April 20 Sports section purporting to show Louisiana State University quarterback JaMarcus Russell instead showed teammate Craig Davis.”

That’s JaMarcus Russell pictured above. To get a look at Craig Davis, click here.

Thanks again, Craig Silverman. I couldn’t do this without you.

Let me remind my readers that it occasionally happens to white folks too. (Occasionally.) Here’s a correction that ran in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last Friday:

“REO Speedwagon was pictured in the photo on Page 2 of Thursday’s Get Out section. The caption misidentified the group as Styx.”

UPDATE (04/26/07): Don’t know what it is about the Louisiana State University football team. But Craig Silverman cites another LSU-related Misidentified Black Person this week.

The following correction is from yesterday’s Chicago Tribune:

“The identity of an LSU football player was incorrect in a photo caption on the back page of Tuesday’s Sports section. The player shown was not LaRon Landry but teammate Dwayne Bowe.”

The Chicago Tribune sports section is the worst serial offender I’ve encountered since I began cataloging MBPs.

Matter of fact, Tuesday’s fuck-up comes one month after Tribune sports editor Dan McGrath told journalism blogger Richard Prince: “Our department is taking a hard and probably overdue look at our process for identifying photos in the hope of making it more reliable and eliminating such errors in the future.”

In the hope of making it more reliable…?

Yeah, okay. Keep hope alive, Mr. McGrath.

Meanwhile, I’ll remind everybody of this MBP classic, as corrected by the Chicago Tribune in early 2006:

“On the back page of Thursday’s Sports section, a photo of Serena Williams with members of the group Destiny’s Child was misidentified as Beyonce Knowles.”

Oh, and speaking of tennis… there’s this correction the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s website:

“A caption for a photograph on Page 1C of Monday’s Sports section incorrectly identified Lori McNeil, a coach for the U.S. Fed Cup tennis team.”

Gee, I wonder who they said she was? (My guess is Zina Garrison.) I got any readers in the Broward or South Palm Beach area who can lay hands on an April 23 Sun-Sentinel and see?

UPDATE (05/02/07): I was right! Am I good, or am I good?

I went to the trouble of purchasing a back issue of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, because its correction didn’t provide full disclosure on the misidentification of tennis coach Lori McNeil.

Sure enough, the photo caption on April 23 said “Zina Garrison.”

Monday, April 23, 2007

Andrew Hill (1931-2007)

I got dem bourgeois Negro blues…

Any of you black folks out there grew up in the black part of town, then moved out of the black part of town, and then when you visit the black part of town you see some fucked-up shit that just makes you go “Dag”?

Yeah, me too.

I was driving in Prince George’s County today, near the D.C. line, and I saw something incredible. Dude drove past me with his left foot stuck out the window.

That’s right, the driver’s left foot – clad in a red-and-black athletic shoe of indeterminate brandage – that foot was outside the car, its heel resting on the sideview mirror. Just chill like that.

I’ve never seen such a thing before. Never even heard of such. Is this the new hip shit, and I’m the last to know about it? Because it sure doesn’t look hip. Doesn’t even look comfortable.

It looks fucking IGNORANT is what it looks like.

Swear to God, where are those old-school cracker-ass P.G. County cops when you need ’em?

Makes me think that the people on a mission to ban the N-word are fighting a losing battle, as long as there’s at least one individual like this per 100,000 normal Negroes. Because really, what can you say when you see something like that?

I suppose you could say: “Nice shoe, brother. Thanks for letting me and everybody else see it. While you’re driving. In traffic.”

But the refrain which leaps more readily to mind is this.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Artifact: How the negro race is ‘very different’

In honor of Confederate History and Heritage Month, I reached for a little Harriet Beecher Stowe. She, of course, was the pious Northern abolitionist who wrote the earth-shaking novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” 150 years ago.

I’m more interested, however, in her non-fiction follow-up book, “A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” In it, Mrs. Stowe described the real-world influences on her made-up characters, and she expounded upon the religious ethics of chattel slavery.

Harriet Beecher Stowe was a gutsy woman. She appealed to the consciences of white people on behalf of black people, and it worked; “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is said to be the best-selling novel of the 19th Century.

But that doesn’t mean she had anything close to a present-day understanding of race differences and what we enlightened modern folk call “black cultural modes.”

For the sheer fun of looking into the past, I present a small piece of “A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

Here, Mrs. Stowe stretches out on the passage in her novel where Uncle Tom has a vision of Jesus Christ. (“Suddenly everything around him seemed to fade, and a vision rose before him of one crowned with thorns, buffeted and bleeding. Tom gazed, in awe and wonder, at the majestic patience of the face; the deep, pathetic eyes thrilled him to his inmost heart; his soul woke as, with floods of emotion, he stretched out his hands and fell upon his knees…”)
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE: The vision attributed to Uncle Tom introduces quite a curious chapter of psychology with regard to the negro race, and indicates a peculiarity which goes far to show how very different they are from the white race.

They are possessed of a nervous organization peculiarly susceptible and impressible. Their sensations and impressions are very vivid, and their fancy and imagination lively. In this respect the race has an oriental character, and betrays its tropical origin. Like the Hebrews of old and the oriental nations of the present, they give vent to their emotions with the utmost vivacity of expression, and their whole bodily system sympathizes with the movements of their minds.

When in distress, they actually lift up their voices to weep, and “cry with an exceeding bitter cry.” When alarmed, they are often paralyzed, and rendered entirely helpless.

Their religious exercises are all colored by this sensitive and exceedingly vivacious temperament. Like oriental nations, they incline much to outward expressions, violent gesticulations, and agitating movements of the body. Sometimes, in their religious meetings, they will spring from the floor many times in succession, with a violence and rapidity which is perfectly astonishing.

They will laugh, weep, embrace each other convulsively, and sometimes become entirely paralyzed and cataleptic. A clergyman from the North once remonstrated with a Southern clergyman for permitting such extravagances among his flock. The reply of the Southern minister was, in effect, this:

“Sir, I am satisfied that the races are so essentially different that they cannot be regulated by the same rules. I at first felt as you do; and, though I saw that genuine conversions did take place, with all this outward manifestation, I was still so much annoyed by it as to forbid it among my negroes, till I was satisfied that the repression of it was a serious hindrance to real religious feeling; and then I became certain that all men cannot be regulated in their religious exercises by one model. I am assured that conversions produced with these accessories are quite as apt to be genuine, and to be as influential over the heart and life, as those produced in any other way.”

The fact is that the Anglo-Saxon race – cool, logical, and practical – have yet to learn the doctrine of toleration for the peculiarities of other races; and perhaps it was with a foresight of their peculiar character, and dominant position in the earth, that God gave the Bible to them in the fervent language and with the glowing imagery of the more susceptible and passionate oriental races.

Access denied

I happened to be at LAX Airport a couple of weeks ago. And while killing time in a frequent-flyer lounge, I decided to jump on one of those free computer terminals they got… do a little Internet browsing.

Naturally, I called up the Undercover Black Man blog to check for fresh comments.

And I was blocked. Whatever filtering software they have in place prevented me – or anybody else – from diggin’ on some UBM.

The reason for the restriction? According to the software, this site contains Hate/Violence and Pornography.

Say what?

The hate-speech blockage, actually, I understand. That’s what I get for throwing ”nigger” around like it’s the thing to do. Can’t expect an Internet filter to appreciate nuance.

Indeed, this blog is intended for adults… not corruptible freckle-faced 12-year-olds (like that little fuckstain in the picture).

But pornography? Do they have software nowadays that can see into a man’s soul?

I don’t get it. But I blame Travesty’s ass.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

James Wolcott digs me!

I try to keep my ego down in the basement. Well-fed, to be sure, with plenty of fresh water… stroked and petted as time allows. I just rarely let it run loose outside.

But hella bella, guess what, you guys? James Wolcott, one of the best bloggers in America, likes my shit!

He first showed me some love three weeks ago, paying particular attention to my running tally of Misidentified Black People.

And yesterday, Mr. Wolcott took note of my critique of Lawrence Auster and his post-Virginia-Tech race baiting.

Thank you, James Wolcott. You’ve led quite a few intelligent eyeballs to this site, and I am very grateful.

Amusingly, Auster has reacted with an ego-indulging post on his View From the Right blog, headlined ”Wolcott attacks VFR.”

Oh how it delights Larry Auster that a “dyed-in-the-wool liberal like Wolcott” would take the time to “[cast] me as a repellant and odious character.” His universe is so very full of enemies.

Well, I hope Auster savors the moment’s attention, because Jim Wolcott and I have similarly concluded that the best way to deal with this malign jerk in the future is to let him prattle away in well-deserved obscurity.

(And while my ego is scampering freely in the daylight, let me also thank Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker for showing me some love back in February.)

UPDATE (04/21/07): Dang, I just realized something that makes Lawrence Auster’s words seem especially silly. It’s so obvious, I should’ve pointed it out in the first place.

Auster claims (based on no apparent evidence) that “barely a week passes in which a white American is not killed by a non-white immigrant or illegal alien.”

Well, let’s assume that to be true, for argument’s sake. In fact, let’s assume that each and every week, a white American is killed by a non-white immigrant or an illegal alien.

Let’s see… 52 weeks in a year… carry the one… that’s 52 dead white folks.

Do you know how many people were murdered in America in 2005? Care to guess? Go ahead, take a stab at it… give it your best shot…

No, you’re way off. According to the FBI, in the category it labels “Murder and Nonnegligent Manslaughter,” the United States tallied 16,692 victims in 2005.

Which would mean that Auster’s supposed epidemic of white death at the hands of violent colored immigrants accounts for .003 percent of the total of persons killed in America. That’s three thousandths of one percent… hardly a drop in the bucket. So his rhetoric doesn’t even make sense.

More significantly, the FBI’s data show that the murder/manslaughter rate for 2005 was 5.6 killings per 100,000 population, while the rate for 1986 was 8.6 per 100,000. Yes, the murder rate has gone down over the past 20 years – even as the number of Hispanics in America has doubled!

If Lawrence Auster’s bullshit social theories were correct – i.e., that “the immigration of poor non-whites into a prosperous, majority-white country… triggers feelings of racial alienation, racial envy, and racial hostility on the part of the non-white immigrant,” and that such alienation and hostility is externalized as violent crime aimed at whites – then surely the U.S. would be turning more deadly, not less, with the swelling brown population and shrinking white majority.

(The rates of forcible rape, robbery and property crime have also declined over the past 20 years.)

Points to ponder, my friends. Especially for you Auster fans checking out this blog to assess the caliber of my intellect.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Can Lawrence Auster feel shame?

Oh crap. I done went and offended Lawrence Auster’s sense of propriety.

He sent me an email last night. He called me a “rotten character” for criticizing his blog post about the Virginia Tech killings… “especially in light of our past friendly correspondence.”

(Mr. Auster also took time to slam my “unethical and vicious conduct” in revealing the identity, last December, of a white-nationalist blogger called “The Realist.” I did that in my very first post for this blog. If you check it out, you’ll see that Dr. Ian Jobling outed himself as “The Realist.”)

Anyway, given the information now available concerning the victims of mass murderer Cho Seung-Hui, it’s obvious that Lawrence Auster is unqualified to judge my character and ethical conduct. Or anyone else’s.

Reluctant as I am to engage in name-calling, the man is a jerk.

Twenty-four hours after the nightmarish news arose from the Blacksburg campus, Auster wrote: “Has anyone ever added up the number of white Americans killed by non-white immigrants over the years…?” He added that “barely a week passes in which a white American is not killed by a non-white immigrant or illegal alien.”

Well, since Larry Auster wants to add up numbers, let’s consider some of the persons gunned down Monday at Virginia Tech:

Prof. G.V. Loganathan (pictured) was born in India. So was graduate student Minal Panchal.

Grad student Partahi Lumbantoruan was Indonesian. Doctoral candidate Waleed Shaalan was Egyptian.

Junior Daniel Perez Cueva was an immigrant from Peru. Grad student Juan Ramon Ortiz was Puerto Rican.

Freshman Reema Samaha’s family is from Lebanon. Ross Abdallah Alameddine was also a Lebanese-American.

Freshman Mary Read was born in Korea to a white father and a Korean mother. Freshman Henry Lee (born Henh Ly) was a Chinese immigrant and a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Undergraduates Ryan Clark and Erin Peterson were black.

Will Mr. Auster shed a tear for any of these people and their families? Or just for the white victims?

I don’t know the racial composition of Virginia Tech’s student body, but it seems that non-whites might’ve been disproportionately victimized by Cho Seung-Hui.

That’s not what’s important, of course. The important truth here is that whites and non-whites, immigrants and natural-born citizens, all of us share alike the risk of exposure to crime and mayhem in modern American society.

Race has nothing to do with what happened at Virginia Tech… except to a racist.

Lawrence Auster presents himself as a pious Anglican, an upholder of traditional Judeo-Christian values. He will have to answer to his God for what he’s written this week.

(To read Washington Post profiles of the Virginia Tech murder victims, click here.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The racist response to the Virginia Tech killings

If you care to read a fucked-up white response to yesterday’s murder spree at Virginia Tech, here it is, courtesty of “traditionalist conservative” blogger Lawrence Auster.

He posted and replied to an email of mine this morning, which you’ll also see via the link.

I’ve corresponded off-and-on with Mr. Auster for more than a year. He’s a curious character, and I’ll probably have more to say about him in the future.

For now, just take this as proof of the fact that a high IQ ain’t everything.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

MBP of the Week: New York Times (yet again)

The New York Times last week published a story about statewide school budgeting. (Stay with me... I’m building to something.)

Apparently, the deal cut by the Republican-controlled state Senate gave short shrift to Westchester County, which is represented by a newly elected Democrat, Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Republican leader Dean Skelos said it wasn’t a partisan power play, but that Ms. Stewart-Cousins and her fellow Democrats “fell asleep at the switch.”

Ms. Stewart-Cousins responded: “When you have Dean Skelos even pretending that somehow I sat in the chamber and said nothing – as if this were some discussion that was open and aboveboard – it is absolutely ridiculous.”

None of which means a damn thing to me.

Except that the Times ran a photograph of Anita Hill (remember her?) misidentified as Andrea Stewart-Cousins (bottom photo).

Here’s how the New York Times corrected the error today:

“A photograph with an article last Sunday on the Around Long Island page, about the formula for financing schools in the new state budget, was published in error. It showed Anita F. Hill, a professor at Brandeis University, not State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat from Westchester.”

Proving that the Misidentified Black Person phenomenon can occur in the best of newspapers. Again and again.

UPDATE (04/16/07): This week’s MBP runner-up is the Associated Press. Hat-tip to Craig Silverman at Regret the Error, which today reprinted the following correction from the Advocate newspaper (Baton Rouge, La.):

“The Associated Press incorrectly identified James Harris as Willie Brown in the caption of a photo that ran on Page 1C of Thursday’s Advocate. The Advocate regrets the error.”

Both Willie Brown (left photo) and James Harris played football at Grambling College (now Grambling State University); both had successful careers in the NFL (Mr. Brown is a Hall of Famer); and both attended the funeral last week of legendary Grambling coach Eddie Robinson. I guess this mistake was inevitable.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Buuullshit: Look who’s defending Imus!

The right-wing NewsBusters blog quotes Rosie O’Donnell on this morning’s “The View” as sticking up for Don Imus.

Apparently, to Rosie, it’s all about the Bill of Rights.

“[T]he point of the story is, if it impedes on free speech in America, democracy is at stake,” Rosie said. “Because democracy is based on freedom of speech and freedom of the press. So we really have to worry about that in this country. ... [I]t’s not a freedom if you outlaw certain words or thoughts, because then the thought police come and then before you know it, everyone’s in Guantanamo Bay without representation.”

From the nearest rooftop, I call bullshit.

Two counterpoints:

1.) Remember all that “ching-chong” crap that came outta Rosie’s mouth not too long ago? She probably figured she couldn’t criticize Imus for his “ching-chong” moment without having her own thrown back at her. So might as well pledge allegiance to the First Amendment, right?

Buuull followed by shit.

2.) Do you imagine Rosie would be gettin’ all Constitutional if Imus had described the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “some nappy-headed bulldykes”?

(And you know some of ’em gots to be!)

Yeah, me neither.

Way to be there for the sisterhood, Rosie.

Monday, April 9, 2007

So in mud…

I don’t have much time or energy to expend on Don Imus. But I do want to point you all to a few pertinent links.

To listen to Imus’s conversation today with the Rev. Al Sharpton on Rev. Al’s radio show, click here and stream it.

As always at times like this, black bloggers are crucial when it comes to breaking it down, sorting through the pieces, then putting it all together again, funky-side-up.

A brother called “plez” shifted his rifle scope to the left when he blogged:

“first, i deplore what Don Imus said because it was aimed at college students and not professionals, and the fact that he had to stoop so damn low to try to grab a laugh in what i would consider a fading career in broadcasting. he’s not funny, he’s not relevant, and he’s not going to have much of a television show after this week.

“second, what the HELL is going on with Rev. Sharpton and Rev. Jackson?!? looks like they are falling over each other trying to ‘interview’ every clown who makes a racist/insensitive remark. i didn't know either of them had a radio show and now it begs the question, what the HELL do they talk about when there’s no Don Imus or [Michael Richards] to skewer?”

Addressing himself to whites who would point to Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle by way of entitling themselves to make racial wisecracks, the ever-clever Assimilated Negro blogged:

“Listen crackas, I’m not saying it’s fair, or that it’s not a double standard. It totally is. But guess what? American apple pie is filled with double-standards, injustices, and transfatlie goodness... but no apples! And since regulating usage of racial humor and epithets is one of the few things we can do with any sort of legitimate authority, excuse us if we’re not in any rush to let crackas like Imus and Michael Richards go all kkkrazy with their repressed racist feelings. All we have is the race-card; y’all have the everything-else card. So just fall back and let us lynch a cracka when they act out of line, okay?”

There’s at least one contrarian who argues (only half-jokingly) that Don Imus is the one who is owed an apology. It’s “dburt,” a.k.a. Afronerd, who blogged:

“Once again, due to the oh great and powerful White man, factions within the African-American community are angry, motivated and ready to march in order to oust Imus from his radio gig. I ask today, what I have continued to inquire about since this blog’s inception - where are these self-same folks when many in the minstrel end of the hip hop spectrum commit similar acts against Black women? I was listening to the Michael Baisden show this afternoon and as much as I like Baisden’s program, he said something that actually became the lynch pin for my current position on this topic. Baisden wondered why did it take two full days for Imus to apologize. Conversely, we are closing in on two decades and the hip hop community has yet to apologize to women of color for years of degrading imagery. Matter of fact, we’re not even asking for an apology or a boycott. And here’s the kicker - many young women of color will continue to dance in clubs around the country to the very music that disrespects them. …”

Afronerd’s basic point was echoed by Jasmyne Cannick, who blogged:

“[W]hat’s funny to me is that Sharpton defends Imus in a way by trying to make it about the fact that it’s a public television show where the slurs were heard…

“50 Cent and other rappers are on hundreds of radio stations around the country at any given minute of the day using the word ho and bitch, not to mention they’re also on television with their videos that do the same thing. And I guarantee you, there’s way more money in hip hop with these rappers degrading Black women than Don Imus will ever see.

“Don’t be fooled into thinking this is about Don Imus, because it’s not. It’s much more easier to complain about a white television commentator than to turn and look at yourself in the mirror and criticize your own.”

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Name this band, win a prize.

In the mood for another contest? Then click here and listen to the audio track. The first person to post the correct name of this band in the comments section will win a prize. (For this contest, I will also accept the name of the singer. So you have two ways to win!)

The prize is a funky new coffee-table book titled “Mingering Mike.” It tells the true, peculiar and intriguing tale of an imaginary recording artist in Washington, D.C. … a soul superstar in his own mind.

Mingering Mike never released any actual music. But his dozens of hand-crafted, hand-drawn LPs, for a variety of self-invented record labels, have garnered attention as “folk art” since being discovered by a crate-digger named Dori Hadar.

Believe me, this book is a stone trip. I look forward to giving one away.

UPDATE (04/10/07): No winner this time. I’ll have to give away that “Mingering Mike” book at a later date.

The name of this band is Nine Rain. The singer/front man is Steven Brown from San Francisco, best known as the co-founder of Tuxedomoon, an avant-garde art-rock band dating back to 1977.

The song, titled “The Way,” is from Nine Rain’s self-titled debut CD (1999). Lyrically, it seems to be an extrapolation of the old Marvin Gaye hit “That’s the Way Love Is,” though the Motown writers aren’t given a songwriting credit.

I’ll have more to say about Nine Rain in the future, because I love this band. Meanwhile, thanks for playing!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Some personal time…

A family matter has come up that’ll command my attention for the near future, so things will be spotty on this blog for a couple of weeks. I hope to do a little posting, but nothing close to daily.

Might as well take this moment to say: I really appreciate those of you who’ve been reading and/or commenting over the past few months.

May Obama bless you and keep you safe.

Monday, April 2, 2007

It’s Confederate History and Heritage Month!

That’s right, y’all. Down yonder in the South, April is known as Confederate History and Heritage Month.

Not everybody is cool with this. In 2006, for instance, the mayor of Suffolk, Va., refused to sign a proclamation recognizing Confederate History and Heritage Month. And so the national Sons of Confederate Veterans boycotted that city’s annual Civil War Weekend.

But in Cobb County, Ga., last week, it was a black member of the county commission – one Annette Kesting – who announced the proclamation in honor of Confederate History and Heritage Month.

Kesting, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “said she had no trouble honoring the Confederate cause.”

“They were fighting for their families and their history,” Kesting said. “Everyone is entitled to their history.”

Can’t argue with that. And since my peoples all hail from Virginia – the capital state of the Confederacy – I aims to do my part throughout the month of April to recognize Confederate History and Heritage Month on this here blog.

Shall we start by listening to the voice of an actual freed slave?

Alice Gaston was born as chattel in Gee’s Bend, Ala., in 1853. She was still in Gee’s Bend in 1941 when ethnographer Robert Sonkin visited and recorded this three-minute interview. Alice Gaston had vivid memories of the end of “slavery time.”

It blows my mind to have this woman’s voice coming out of my laptop today, in an America she never could have imagined. I acquired this piece of living history – plus audio files and transcripts of 22 other former slaves – on CD-ROM from a website called Paperless Archives. Check ’em out, they have lots of great digitized artifacts.

Y’all come back now, hear?

Sunday, April 1, 2007

MBP of the Week: Hartford Courant

This latest case of a Misidentified Black Person shows once again that America’s newspapers have a hard time telling basketball players apart. (And lucky for me. I couldn’t have kept this MBP gimmick going for two months otherwise!)

The Hartford Courant ran a real-estate item today about former NBA bad boy Latrell Sprewell (top photo). He’s “asking slightly less than $5 million for his house in Westchester County, N.Y. – even though his former girlfriend is still living there, according to her lawyer.”

Sprewell now lives in Wisconsin, but Candace Cabbil – the mother of four of his children – has remained in the New York house with the kids.

“Cabbil has sued Sprewell in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, alleging he violated a cohabitation agreement and assaulted her; she's asking for a half interest in much of his property,” according to the news report.

“Sprewell has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor assault and child-endangerment charges in Harrison, N.Y.’s town court stemming from an argument with Cabbil last December.”

Oh, that Latrell. Always getting into mischief. At least the Hartford Courant didn’t publish his photo.

They ran a picture of Rick Brunson instead.

Here is the correction posted on the Courant’s website:

“A photo on page J14 of today's Home and Real Estate section is of Rick Brunson of the Los Angeles Clippers, not Latrell Sprewell of the Minnesota Timberwolves.”

Don’t worry, photo editors. Only a few more months and basketball season’ll be over.