Saturday, May 31, 2008

Random wrongness

Obama quits his church

According to Chicago journalist Monroe Anderson, Barack Obama and his family have resigned their membership in Trinity United Church of Christ.

Follow this link to see a breaking-news video clip on CNN, with Roland Martin commenting by telephone.

Anderson blogged:

“What worries me is this: Can we expect a President Obama to cave in to the whims and will of the right on policies and issues he knows are important...? Can we expect him to genuflect to negative reports by an uninformed, misinformed or ill-willed media? Is the candidate of change willing to go-along in a willy-nilly get-along fashion?

“I hope not, but I’m not sure.”

I say: After the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a left-wing Catholic priest, acted a clown last Sunday as a guest speaker at Trinity United... mocking Hillary Clinton and drawing more negative attention to Obama... Obama had to make a break.

Or else spend the next five months having to answer for the next loudmouth who decides to pop shit from that pulpit.

I’m curious to see how much pushback there’ll be from black folks. You know... calling Obama a punk or a sellout for abandoning his faith community because of Fox News.

If Barack Obama is so na├»ve that he didn’t understand the political ramifications of belonging to a black-nationalist church, then he’s not as sharp as he appears to be.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A free Luther Ingram download

If you recall the name Luther Ingram, it’s probably because of his big hit single from 1972 – “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right.” One of the great soul ballads of the 1970s.

I remembered the hook vividly. But until I heard it again recently, I didn’t remember the intro. It’s a real sweet intro, with a weeping guitar, and it made me think: “Those ’70s soul records were put together well!” The unsung heroes were the arrangers and sessions musicians.

Anyway, Luther Ingram passed away last year. And his music has been hard to find.

His LP “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right” was digitally reissued this month. But here’s the deal: It was ripped from vinyl, with a few crackles and pops.

Personally, I’d find it hard to spend money on that... especially because there’s a new “Best of Luther Ingram” CD, which evidently was made from the original master tapes. (It’s downloadable from iTunes.)

For a FREE MP3, however, I can tolerate a few crackles and pops.

Click here to hear how the old single sounds on my Vox blog. If you want to download it, click the song title below.

“(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right” (MP3)

Spelling Bee time!

Darn good thing I stopped by A List of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago five minutes ago... or else I might’ve slept (literally) on the Scripps National Spelling Bee semifinals later this morning.

I had no idea the Bee was back upon us! I am so happy now!

(Shonda Rhimes, creator of “Grey’s Anatomy,” has been live-blogging the early rounds at ALOTT5MA.)

So... 45 kids have reached the semifinal round. At 11 a.m. Eastern Time (8 a.m. Pacific), ESPN will broadcast all the action and the drama LIVE from Washington, D.C. ... with ABC presenting the finals tonight in prime time.

And guess what, y’all? There’s a Jamaican girl still in the mix! Yep, a little racial rooting interest for those who might need it. Her name is Sade Dunbar.

Go, Sade! Don’t let the South Asians intimidate you.

(Oh, you know those 45 semifinalists include little Shiva, Sameer, Sidharth, Samia, Akshat, Arushi, Kavya, Jahnavi, Mouctika and Vaibhav. The Indians don’t bullshit!)

Lordy... it’s gonna be like trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve now...

UPDATE (05/30/08): They’re dropping like flies, and it’s only 8:30! Canadian crew’s getting wiped out by words like tonneau and hooley.

10:02 a.m. (Pacific Time) – They’re down to the Top 24... and the black girl’s still in it. ...

10:34 a.m. – Yeah, girl! Sade Dunbar just advanced to the next round. She nailed galbulus... a devilish word I’d never heard of. Look like she struggled with it, too. But she got it! She is one of the Top 16. ...

11:22 a.m. – Aw crap. Sade’s gone. She missed hidradenitis, talkin’ about “H-Y...”

But that’s all right. She finished No. 15 out of 288 competitors this year. And she bore the hopes and dreams of a people on her wee shoulders. I salute you, Sade Dunbar.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Two free Luther Thomas downloads

Ready for more eccentric blackness?

Alto sax man Luther Thomas is a rather obscure free-jazz blower from St. Louis, now living in Copenhagen, Denmark.

What makes him noteworthily eccentric is his vocal style. He writes and raps like Melvin Van Peebles with brain damage... nasty, funky and political.

Click here, for example, to hear a profane and raunchy rant called “Jerry Springer Ho Ya Know.” (Funny!)

Then click here and hear Luther Thomas drop one on President Bush. It’s called “Bushshit.” (Timely!)

If you want these tracks as FREE MP3s, follow this link to Luther’s MySpace page where you can download ’em (plus others)... if you, too, have a MySpace account.

Keep your freak flag flying high, Luther Thomas!

Lightspeed Champion is coming to America.

Today, I revisit the concept of “eccentric blackness,” which I blogged about here and here. I have a warm place in my heart for black musicians who do their thing with a difference.

Off the wall? Out to lunch? Bring it on!

In March I pointed to two free downloads by Lightspeed Champion, a.k.a. Devonte Hynes. Born in the U.S.A. but raised in England, Hynes is a quite idiosyncratic indie rocker. I mean... look at him.

Lightspeed Champion returns to America next week for a club tour in support of his debut album. He’ll hit D.C., Philly, New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, L.A. and more. A busy month indeed.

In eccentric fashion, he is hyping his tour with a nutty 2-minute YouTube video (below). And he says he’ll be on “Conan O’Brien” on June 6... a week from tomorrow. Yay for eccentric blackness!!

More black eccentricity coming later this evening... You have been warned!

MBP of the Week: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

For this Misidentified Black Person, I’ll need help from my readers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area... or anyone who can lay hands on a hard copy of Sunday’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Here’s a correction that ran on Monday:

“Bishop Eddie Long of Georgia... is one of six televangelists being investigated by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. An incorrect photo was published with a Sunday report.”

But the correction doesn’t mention who was in the incorrect photograph.

And the incorrect photo isn’t online.

I’m dying to know who it was! I bet it was Bishop T.D. Jakes. If someone could please find out, I would be most grateful.

(Hat-tip: Regret the Error.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The newest anti-Obama smear

Do a Google blog search for the phrase “walking gaffe machine.” That’s the latest line of attack against Barack Obama from the right-wing noise factories.

Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin, in a column last week, described Obama as a “walking, talking gaffe machine”... because Obama does things on the campaign trail like mixing up Sioux Falls (South Dakota) with Sioux City (Iowa).

Now “walking gaffe machine” is spreading across the blogosphere like a rash on a baboon’s ass.

Rush Limbaugh, on his radio show today, pumped up the meme. He called Sen. Obama a “walking gaffe machine” for claiming that his uncle had helped liberate the Auschwitz concentration camp. (Actually, the Soviet Red Army did that; Obama was referring to Buchenwald.)

“Don’t we think these guys running for president ought to know something about their own country?” Limbaugh ranted.

I have two things to say. Number one: Compared to Scott McClellan’s fresh reminder that the Bush Administration plunged us into war with a campaign of deception and propaganda... Obama’s misstatements don’t seem like much.

Number two: Rush Limbaugh isn’t qualified to police other people’s gaffes. That genius didn’t even know that polio and smallpox are caused by viruses. Seriously... Rush has never heard of “the polio virus”!

On April 24, Rush Limbaugh talked about a news report that said scientists are pessimistic about the development of an AIDS vaccine.

“We’re talking about a virus, are we not?” Limbaugh said. “Do we have a cure for any virus? ... We don’t have a vaccine against the common cold, which is a virus. ... My common sense is, we don’t have a cure for any virus.

“And so the notion that we were ever gonna have a cure for AIDS, or even a vaccine for it...”

At this point, someone informed Rush that smallpox is, indeed, a virus. “Smallpox is a virus,” he said. “So we do have a vaccine for that. ... But polio, that’s not a virus.”


The greatest achievements of modern medicine – the eradication of smallpox and the near-eradication of polio – Rush Limbaugh is totally ignorant about.

Click here to hear a 3-minute audio clip of Rush revealing this ignorance. It’s quite comical... unless you happen to have HIV or know someone who does.

Speaking of comical, let’s remember that sweet day in 2004 when Michelle Malkin got OWNED by Chris Matthews on “Hardball.” The subject: Sen. John Kerry’s war wounds:

Jimmy McGriff (1936-2008)

Soul-jazz pioneer Jimmy McGriff, a master of the Hammond organ, died Saturday in a New Jersey nursing home. It took a few days for the word to spread to the mainstream press.

McGriff was 72. His prolific recording career stretched from the early 1960s to shortly after 9-11.

James Harrell McGriff was born and raised in Philadelphia, and even served as a Philly cop in the ’50s before devoting himself to the music.

There is a jazz-organ brotherhood that McGriff is smack in the middle of. He desired to learn the instrument after watching Richard “Groove” Holmes. McGriff took lessons from Holmes’s mentor – the great Jimmy Smith.

Eventually, McGriff inspired a young sax player named Charles Earland to switch over to the Hammond B3.

Click here to hear “The Worm,” which was a hit single for Jimmy McGriff 40 years ago.

Funeral services will be held next Tuesday at the Harold O. Davis Memorial Baptist Church in Philadelphia.

Random Japaneseness

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

‘Buket’ saga

A Southern California grafitti vandal known as “Buket” was arrested today by L.A. County sheriffs.

They were determined to catch him because he was showing out on YouTube. The video below shows “Buket” bombing a Hollywood Freeway overpass in broad daylight.

Cops take that shit personal.

According to authorities, “Bucket” is actually Cyrus Yazdani, a 24-year-old college graduate with an art degree and a job in Las Vegas.

You should see how YouTube viewers – who watched his videotaped exploits by the tens of thousands – are reacting to news of Yazdani’s arrest:

“ha! this fucker got sent to prison!!!”

“What a piece of shit. All taggers are punk ass bitches...”

“IDIOT!! What an embarassment to your family you are. Too bad you didnt fall off.”

YouTubers, man. They build you up, they tear you down.

A free Odetta download

As you all know, I like searching the internets for the best free (and legal) music downloads out there. Over the past 10 months, I’ve linked to more than 180 FREE MP3s.

Today’s freebie is the coolest ever. For one thing, it’s 28 minutes long! It’s so long, I can’t stream it all on my Vox blog. (Vox limits the size of audio uploads.)

It’s a live performance by the legendary folk singer Odetta. Her 1996 set at the Kerrville Folk Festival is available on a budget CD called “Odetta.” (It was originally released under the title “To Ella.”)

The 28-minute track – “Suite: Ancestors 1” – is an extended medley. Click here to hear a 13½-minute excerpt which combines the prison songs “Another Man Done Gone” and “Ain’t No More Cane on the Brazos”... the slave lullaby “All the Pretty Horses”... the “white spiritual” (as Odetta and others call it) “Poor Wayfaring Stranger”... and the folk ballad “900 Miles.”

The complete track – which you can download by clicking the title below – also contains “Red Clay Country,” “Oh Shenandoah,” “I Just Can’t Keep From Cryin’ Sometimes” and “I Be’s Troubled.” Nothing but Odetta and her guitar. It is quite breathtakingly beautiful.

For this gift, all thanks are due to Silverwolf Records and IODA Promonet.

“Suite: Ancestors 1” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store
Album available at eMusic
Album available at Amazon

Random hotness

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sydney Pollack (1934-2008)

Movie director Sydney Pollack, a Hollywood hitmaker for four decades, died this afternoon from cancer. He was 73.

Mr. Pollack will be best remembered for “Tootsie,” a classic American comedy. But I’m embarrassed to realize how many of his films I haven’t seen, such as “Three Days of the Condor,” “Absence of Malice” (even though I was a journalist) and “Out of Africa.”

His first feature film as a director – “The Slender Thread” in 1965 – starred Sidney Poitier and Anne Bancroft. I never saw that one either, but I’ve embedded the trailer below to honor his passing.

Sydney Pollack was one of the celebrities Elvis Mitchell interviewed for his upcoming chat show on Turner Classic Movies, “Elvis Mitchell: Under the Influence.” That show is due to premiere in July.

A free Hamiet Bluiett download

Baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett, a founding member of the World Saxophone Quartet, is a titan of avant-garde jazz.

Let me point you to a FREE MP3 of Bluiett and two other serious cats – percussionist Kahil El’Zabar and violinist Billy Bang (about whom I blogged last September).

This trio, under the group name Tri-Factor, released a 2002 CD titled “If You Believe.” Which is also the title of the free track.

Click here to hear it on my Vox blog.

Follow this link to if you wanna download it. But there’s an error; the track is labeled “Dark Silhouette”... but it’s actually “If You Believe.”

The full album is downloadable from iTunes and Amazon.

Now for something extra. Below is a 10-minute profile of Hamiet Bluiett recently broadcast on KECT, St. Louis’s public television station. Old dude reminds me of Grady on “Sanford and Son.”

Random wrongness

Liz Trotta has apologized...

... for her “lame attempt at humor” regarding the thought of Barack Obama being killed. It came at the end of a 3½-minute piece on Fox News earlier today. It is embedded below. (Hat-tip: Politico.)

Meanwhile, Team Hillary blames the Obama campaign for “inflaming” the controversy over Hillary’s own assassination remark.

You know what? I’m thinking that Barack Obama’s greatest deed in life could be his preventing the shameless Mrs. Clinton and her swarm of dirt dobbers from rising to power.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Oh no she di’in’t!

Thanks to commenter odocoileus for pointing out this jaw-dropping “joke” by Fox News contributor Liz Trotta this morning:

DMX, keepin’ it mad real

Hat-tip to Ernest Hardy for pointing to this hee-larious video of rapper DMX talkin’ shyit... alongside British fanboy prat Tim Westwood.

Watching this clip reminds me to remind y’all: May is Mental Health Month.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

‘Hillary’s Downfall’

This wicked and profanely funny video was written by James Adomian, a comedian and George W. Bush impersonator. (He played Bush in “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.”)

“Hillary’s Downfall” has been online for a couple of weeks... but is still timely.

Tsvangirai has returned.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai returned today to Zimbabwe, where he will face President Robert Mugabe in a run-off election next month.

Reports of political violence – specifically the beating and killing of Tsvangirai supporters by government-backed thugs – have been coming out of Zimbabwe for weeks.

In that context, consider this headline from an editorial published yesterday in the Zimbabwe Herald, the government-run newspaper:

“Let’s Disembowel Tsvangirai on June 27.”

Not till the end of that editorial do you realize the word “disembowel” is meant figuratively. (Or is it?)

According to the Herald, Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are sock puppets for the “regime change agenda” of Britain and the United States.

“[I]f some among us continue giving the Westerners hope by voting for the MDC, they will only be too eager to keep ratcheting the pressure in the hope that one day, we will capitulate,” according to the Herald.

“However, if we send a clear message to them that we have seen through their ruse by shunning Tsvangirai and overwhelmingly endorsing President Mugabe, they will be compelled to leave us alone.

“June 27 is the day we should send that message, let it be the day we disembowel the neo-colonial project.”

Follow this link to watch a 1½-minute BBC news report on Tsvangirai’s return to Zimbabwe.

Friday, May 23, 2008

‘We cannot forgive you this, Senator...’

Yes, Keith Olbermann is the most self-important jackass on American television.

Whenever he unburdens himself of another so-called “Special Comment,” I prepare to be astounded yet again by his graceless prose, his ham acting, his pretenses to historical wisdom and his overarching tone of disrespect.

Still, I am mightily entertained whenever Keith goes off on Hillary Clinton... as he did tonight.

It helps that she had it coming.

Random hotness

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bonus freebie: ‘Conquer Mentally’

Want more hip-hop to remind you of the Golden Age? Producer Presto has a new CD dropping in mid-June. It’s called “State of the Art.”

The track “Conquer Mentally” is available now as a FREE MP3. It features Sadat X (remember Brand Nubian?), O.C. and Large Professor.

Click here to spin “Conquer Mentally” on my Vox blog. Click the song title below to download it. (I also got the video cued up...)

“Conquer Mentally” (MP3)
More on this album

A free Roots download

Philadelphia’s hip-hop heroes The Roots have a new album out – “Rising Down.” I can point you to a FREE MP3 off it, courtesty of the music blog Pampelmoose.

Click here to stream “Get Busy” on my Vox blog. To commence downloading, hit this link.

Random wrongness

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Remembering Fats Waller

Thomas “Fats” Waller – one of the great jazz musicians of all time, and probably the funniest – was born on May 21, 1904. He had a fruitful recording career, but he died too young – in December of 1943.

I’m streaming one of Waller’s final recordings on my Vox blog. Click here and check out “The Reefer Song,” alternately titled “You’re a Viper.” (“Viper” was a slang term for marijuana smoker.)

Curiously, this pro-pot ditty was recorded under the direct sponsorship of the U.S. government. It was a V-Disc... made specifically for U.S. armed forces overseas as a morale-booster.

One never knows, do one?

Random Japaneseness

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Playlist: Live from Jazzfest 2008

I can’t believe I’ve never been to New Orleans. I have two good friends who love that city – one for the food and the weirdness, the other for the music and the food. (And I love music, food and weirdness.)

One of these days I’ll get it together and check out Jazzfest. Until then, let me tell you about in case you don’t know.

That’s a site where, if you register, you can purchase and legally download good-quality MP3s (or, if you prefer, FLAC files) of live gigs.

They got hip artists such as Will Bernard, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and Steve Kimock. And they got festival shows... including sets from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival a few weeks ago.

I’m streaming some of that Jazzfest funk on my Vox blog, by way of DigitalSoundboard... because it’s never the wrong time to get your NOLA on. Click the song titles below to listen.

1. “Mr. Go” – Bonerama

2. “Meters Medley” – Bonerama

Bonerama (pictured above) is all about the bone. Trom-bone, that is. This band puts four trombonists out front. Founders Mark Mullins and Craig Klein came out of Harry Connick’s big band.

These performances are from Bonerama’s May 1 set at Tipitina’s French Quarter.

3. “Bring In the Noise” – Porter Batiste Stoltz

Also known as PBS, Porter Batiste Stoltz (pictured below) is a spinoff of the Meters. Bass player George Porter was an original member of that legendary groove band; drummer Russell Batiste and guitarist Brian Stoltz joined the Meters during the 1990s. You best believe this is a hard-funking power trio. (All three share singing duties.)

This recording is from PBS’s May 2 gig at the Howlin’ Wolf.

4. “Squeezin’ My Heart” – New Orleans Allstars

This one-off jam band included George Porter, Ivan Neville (Aaron’s son) and a peculiar Swedish performer – Theresa Andersson – who calls New Orleans home.

This tune is from a May 2 set at the Howlin’ Wolf. And if you’re interested in Ms. Andersson’s looped vocal effects and violing playing, below is an unrelated video that shows her in action:

Random hotness

Random wrongness

Monday, May 19, 2008

Another Obama song

You’d think that people would have had enough of Barack Obama songs. I look around me and I see it isn’t so.

And what’s wrong with that?

I blogged about the mariachi Obama song. I blogged about several reggae Obama songs. The latest comes from an L.A. rock ’n’ roll combo called Pistol Opera.

The track is called “Obama,” and it might be a goof. (Sample lyric: “Like Abraham Lincoln crossed with the Mack. Once you go Barack, you never go back.”)

Or maybe it’s just a money-making move. Could even be sincere. Who knows?

To hear “Obama” streaming on my Vox blog, click here.

It’s downloadable from eMusic and Amazon.

UPDATE (05/19/08): Hmmm. Turns out it’s a goof and it’s sincere. Eli Braden of Pistol Opera fancies himself a bit of a comedy writer. Four months ago, he blogged: “I’m Totally Gay For Barack Obama.” It’s an amusing post.

When Cosby blamed whitey

A couple of years ago, I tracked down and bought a copy of Bill Cosby’s doctoral dissertation.

Y’all know Cosby likes to flaunt his doctorate, right? He even puts “Ed.D.” on some of his television credits. You ever wonder what his thesis was about?

Here’s the title: “An Integration of the Visual Media Via ‘Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids’ into the Elementary School Curriculum as a Teaching Aid and Vehicle to Achieve Increased Learning.”

Cosby presented this dissertation in September 1976 at the University of Massachusetts.

Here’s what’s interesting about it. Whereas Dr. Cosby has lately been stressing personal responsibility and the failure of black folks to lift themselves up, he was humming a different tune 30 years ago.

Back then, it was all whitey’s fault.

“Schools are supposed to be the vehicle by which children are equipped with the skills and attitudes necessary to enter society,” Cosby wrote in his introduction. “But a black child, because of the inherent racism in American schools will be ill prepared to meet the challenges of an adult future. The ‘American Dream’ of upward mobility is just another myth.”

Yeah. Bill Cosby wrote that.

He was wrong then. He’s right now.

“Far from being prepared to move along an established career lattice, black children are trained to occupy those same positions held by their parents in a society economically dominated and maintained by a white status quo,” Cosby continued in his dissertation.

“Because urban children come from a poor socio-economic environment, teachers – instilled with their own racist attitudes – are quick to make assumptions about the cognitive abilities of their students.”


“The failure that minority children experience from the very outset can only reinforce the debilitating sense of worthlessness whites convey in a variety of ways,” Cosby wrote, “and so feed the self-hatred produced by discrimination and prejudice.”

Damn. He was on some Jeremiah Wright shit! He even quoted from Stokely Carmichael’s book “Black Power” to define the scope of white racism in American society.

According to Cosby, “[t]he ferociousness with which racism is perpetuated transcends all class levels.” And white people “are raised with a counter myth of white supremacy (power and domination) and intellectual superiority (by which to assert their power and domination).”

Of course, with the passage of time it’s now evident that no matter how high you pile the leftist horseshit, it won’t make black kids do better in school... and it won’t decrease the rates of black violent crime.

Those are things only black people can fix.

Something DVD-licious from Curtis Mayfield

I didn’t know this new DVD was coming... but as soon as I stumbled on it, I ordered one. And I bet some of y’all will do the same in a few minutes.

It’s “Movin’ On Up: The Music and Message of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions.” The DVD trailer is embedded below. If you want to read a review, try this one or this one.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

‘The Black List’ is opening soon.

Back in January, I blogged about a new documentary film by my friend Elvis Mitchell and his friend, photographer/filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

It’s called “The Black List: Volume One,” and it’s a series of interviews with notable black folks.

Mark your calendars; “The Black List” opens May 30 at the Laemmle’s Grande 4-plex in downtown Los Angeles. It will open in New York City two weeks after that, and it’s due to premiere on HBO in August.

Variety has praised the film as “a rich and revealing work of portraiture.”

Below are Elvis and Tim talking about “The Black List” at the Sundance Film Festival.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A free Thornetta Davis download

Detroit’s own Thornetta Davis flew across my radar screen a dozen years ago. She was an indie rocker backed by a white funk band called Big Chief.

Now she is a full-on blueswoman.

Follow this link to Ms. Davis’s MySpace page, and you can download a FREE MP3... if you have a MySpace account also.

It’s a live performance of “Damn Your Eyes,” a tune that’s been recorded by Etta James, Bettye LaVette and Sinead O’Connor. This version is from Thornetta’s 2001 CD “Covered Live at the Music Menu.”

Click here to stream “Damn Your Eyes” on my Vox blog.

Last August, I streamed a track from Thornetta’s 1996 indie-rock album “Sunday Morning Music” (downloadable from iTunes). I want to do it again. So click here to hear “And I Spin”... a track I would use in a TV show in a heartbeat. (Especially the chorus.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rematch in Zimbabwe

The government of Zimbabwe has set a date for the runoff election between longtime ruler Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, the challenger who got more votes than Mugabe the first go-round.

The new election will be held on June 27.

Tsvangirai has been out of the country for weeks while his supporters have faced a violent crackdown by pro-Mugabe forces. But Tsvangirai is due to return to Zimbabwe tomorrow to renew his campaign for the presidency.

Below is a 4½-minute profile of Morgan Tsvangirai produced by the U.S. government’s Voice of America. It was uploaded to YouTube two weeks ago.

UPDATE (05/19/08): Tsvangirai canceled his return trip to Zimbabwe, citing a supposed assassination plot against him. It’s a damn shame, because now it’s starting to look like Tsvangirai might lack the courage to see this thing through.

In the words of one political analyst at the University of Zimbabwe: “If he doesn’t come back, he will be demonstrating that he is fearful of Mugabe, therefore he is less of a leader than Mugabe.”

Anti-Obama rumor of the day

A blogger I hadn’t heard of – former CIA officer Larry C. Johnson – is spreading a rumor about Michelle Obama. To wit:

“I now have it from... four sources (three who are close to senior Republicans) that there is video dynamite – Michelle Obama railing against ‘whitey’ at Jeremiah Wright’s church.”

Johnson continued: “Republicans may have a lousy record when it comes to the economy and the management of the war in Iraq, but they are hell on wheels when it comes to opposition research. ... I am told there is a clip that is being held for the fall to drop at the appropriate time. ... It is their October surprise.”

Sounds like bullshit to me. I’m willing to bet that this smear will go the way of the Hillary Clinton lesbianism rumor. That is, nowhere.

Even my favorite Obama-hater, Lawrence Auster, seems to suspect this is worthless hype.

According to Wikipedia, Larry Johnson is a Republican, but has posted at the liberal blog Talking Points Memo to bash right-wingers. Johnson is a Hillary Clinton supporter.

The pro-Clinton blog HillBuzz was all over Johnson’s rumor last night, with a post titled: “Michelle Obama Caught On Tape At Trinity United Making Racist Remarks.”

The rumor has spread this afternoon among conservative websites such as (“If this is true, it could be lethal.”)

I’m telling you... this is nothing.

Random stank-butt funk

There are a few musicians I’m a “completist” about. If their name is anywhere on the credits, I wanna own that music. Keyboard wizard Bernie Worrell, for example. And bass player Jamaaladeen Tacuma.

I’m that way with guitarist Jef Lee Johnson too. Which is why I recently downloaded a few tracks off a 2007 album by Ursus Minor. I found out Jef was a charter member of that jazz-funk quartet.

Ended up turning myself on to a Minneapolis rapper named Brother Ali. He’s white, he’s an albino, he’s legally blind, he’s a Muslim, and he can rap.

Click here and listen to the Ursus Minor track “Doin’ the Do,” featuring Brother Ali.

The hook is strong, I like Jef Lee Johnson’s chicken-scratch rhythm playing, and I really like how Ali interacts with the musicians. (“Guitar-picka from Phila on some other shit...”)

Just a little random funk to get you ready for the weekend.

On ‘drinking the Kool-Aid’

One of my longtime commenters, Matt Norwood, mentioned something curious in the Jim Jones thread.

He’s convinced that the phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” originated not with Jonestown... but with Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters in the 1960s.

Matt says there’s an “edit war” raging on Wikipedia over this matter.

I was gonna let Matt’s comment slide, even though it riled me up. I mean, damn... it’s so fricking obvious by the way people use the term, it’s a reference to the Jonestown Massacre.

Then a British website linked to my Jim Jones post. And a commenter there wrote that “the cliche itself – Drink the Kool Aid – predates Jonestown by about twelve years, and refers to the use of LSD – a psychoactive drug – forty years ago as chronicled by Tom Wolfe in The Electric Acid Kool Aid Test.”

Enough of this bullshit! Let me prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that “drink the Kool-Aid” became an American colloquialism only after the mass suicides at Jonestown.

Just check the archives of the New York Times, America’s newspaper of record.

The first appearance in the New York Times of the phrase “drank the Kool-Aid” was on January 20, 1989.

It was uttered by Jack Solerwitz, a lawyer who’d represented striking air traffic controllers (and was ruined professionally as a result). “I was the only lawyer who kept the doors open for them,” Solerwitz told the Times, “and I thought I’d get a medal for it. Instead, I was the one who drank the Kool-Aid.”

“Drank the Kool-Aid” didn’t turn up again in the New York Times till 10 years later. But since 1999, it has appeared more than a dozen times.

Variations of this phrase became popular after the dot-com bubble burst in 2000. Consider the first appearance of “drinking the Kool-Aid” in the Times... in an op-ed column by tech journalist Rodes Fishburne:

“The saying around San Francisco Web shops these days, as companies run out of money, is ‘Just keep drinking the Kool-Aid,’ a tasteless reference to the Jonestown massacre. For some, there isn’t much Kool-Aid left.”

That was published in April of 2000. “Drinking the Kool-Aid” had never appeared in the New York Times before that.

As for plain old “drink the Kool-Aid,” that first appeared in the Times in January of 1997. Business executive Richard D. Parsons (pictured), a former friend to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, said this about Giuliani’s staff:

“The Mayor doesn’t necessarily surround himself with the creme de la creme. They’re well-meaning, but I’m not sure terribly long on judgment. It’s kind of like if the Mayor says, ‘Hey, let’s all drink the Kool-Aid,’ they all go ‘bottoms up.’ ”

So then... that settles it, right?


Thursday, May 15, 2008

In search of Misidentified Black People

To maintain this blog’s longest-running gimmick – a catalog of Misidentified Black People in the media – I occasionally do the tedious work of searching through newspapers’ online corrections pages (via Regret the Error).

I should be happy when I don’t find any MBPs. Instead, I get a little bit frustrated. (I know they’re out there somewhere!)

For the past week or so, the Los Angeles Times has been misidentifying everybody except black folks.

On Monday, the Times ran a photo of novelist Michael Tolkin but mislabeled it as filmmaker Henry Bean.

The Times last week misidentified a photo of L.A. Laker Sasha Vujacic as Vladimir Radmanovic.

And the Times misidentified a photo of Taiwanese official James Huang as Chiou I-jen (a different Taiwanese official).

The L.A. Times even misidentified a photo of a Kentucky Derby horse. But no MBPs.

If this keeps up, they’re gonna ruin my premise.

Two free KJ Denhert downloads

Native New Yorker KJ Denhert has a new CD coming out in two weeks – “Lucky 7.” But it’s already digitally downloadable from iTunes, eMusic and Amazon.

Unfamiliar with KJ Denhert? I was too. But she’s a singer-songwriter with a jazzy, poppy, somewhat funky sensibility. You can sample her new album by means of two FREE MP3s.

Click here to hear “Little Problems” streaming on my Vox blog. To check out the track “Lucky 7,” click here.

To download either or both of them, click the song titles below:

“Little Problems” (MP3)
“Lucky 7” (MP3)

Bill O’Reilly – the dance remix

(Thanks, dj.)

Bruce Lee speaks

I wasn’t deep into the kung-fu movies as a youngster. But I understood the coolness of Bruce Lee.

In honor of APIA Month, I’m streaming a 30-second audio artifact of Bruce Lee. Click here to listen.

It’s one of several vocal snippets available (plus music) on an album called “Dragon Tales.”

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pinay girls are the cuteness.

Seems like every season on “American Idol,” there’s a Filipina contestant trying to become the first Asian-American winner. (Hooray for Asians!!)

Take Jasmine Trias. She’s now a hero to her race... and she only finished third.

Well, I stumbled on an amateur singer on YouTube, and I think she should try out for “American Idol.” (Except she’s up in Canada. Whatever.)

Her name is Cherry-Ann Guevarra, and that right there... that just fucking rocks! That’s like a comic-book character name.

She’s Filipina. And I think she’s very cute. Cherry-Ann’s voice won’t blow you away. And it sounds like she has pitch problems too.

But if you got a few minutes, check out her acoustic cover of Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” and tell me if you think she’s got potential:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Really? (Really.)

If you’re curious about the origin of this T-shirt, read this article from today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (Thank you, Dre.)

Playlist: All about Joe Louis

Joseph Louis Barrow was born on May 13, 1914, in La Fayette, Alabama.

To get a sense of how big a culture hero Joe Louis became, check out some of these songs from the 1930s and ’40s:

1. “Champ Joe Louis” – Bill Gaither

2. “Joe Louis Is a Fighting Man” – The Dixieaires

3. “Joe Louis Is the Man” – Joe Pullum

4. “Fighting Joe Louis” – Ike Smith and His Chicago Boys

5. “Joe Louis Blues” – Carl Martin

6. “Joe Louis Chant” – Richard M. Jones

Monday, May 12, 2008