Friday, July 31, 2009

Reverend Ike (1935-2009)

The famous “prosperity preacher” Reverend Ike died on Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 74.

The L.A. Times obituary is here.

During the 1970s, Rev. Ike became a pop-culture type unto himself – the lavish-living, charismatic black evangelist. At the height of his popularity, he had a fleet of Rolls-Royces.

Richard Pryor lampooned Rev. Ike with his character “Daddy Rich” in the movie “Car Wash.” And embedded below is Roscoe Lee Browne as “Reverend Sam” in an abbreviated episode of “Good Times.”

In recent years, Rev. Ike has been a presence on the internets. Click here to hear a 2-minute bite from a free sermon downloaded from Rev. Ike’s website.

‘They killed Cornbread!’

Speaking of Laurence Fishburne, here’s a 10-minute clip from “Cornbread, Earl and Me,” the 1975 movie in which young Master Fishburne first distinguished himself.

By 1976, Fishburne had grown up enough to be cast as a soldier in Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam epic “Apocalypse Now.”

(This one’s for you, bklyn6.)

Murdered today: Jeffrey Devon Jackson

Jeffrey Devon Jackson, 17, was shot and killed early this morning on the street where he lived in Newport News, Va.

According to a local news website, witnesses “heard the teen pleading for his life and [then] one gunshot.”

Two criminal justice professors at Northeastern University report that, from 2002 to 2007, the number of gun homicides involving black male juvenile victims rose 54 percent.

“Future demographics suggest that the concern for at-risk youth should increase over the next decade, “ wrote James Alan Fox and Marc L. Swatt. “There is a significant need for reinvestment in children and families – in essence an at-risk youth bailout during these difficult economic times.”

The report by Fox and Swatt (“The Recent Surge in Homicides involving Young Black Males and Guns: Time to Reinvest in Prevention and Crime Control”) is downloadable here.

‘Soul Power’ in more cities

This is me doubling down on my previous recommendation of the documentary film “Soul Power.” So much great concert footage in that flick. (Just look at those Spinners!)

“Soul Power” opens today in Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston, Seattle and several other cities.

In August, the movie rolls out to D.C., Denver, St. Louis, Miami, Dallas, Atlanta, Memphis and Richmond, among other towns.

If you’re in Charlotte, New Orleans, Pittsburgh or San Antonio, you’re gonna have to wait till September. Wherever you are, keep an eye out.

Don’t know if there’ll be a soundtrack album. So let me hit you with a cut from the “When We Were Kings” CD, which features sounds from the same music festival.

Click here to hear James Brown doing “The Payback.” You can watch this performance in “Soul Power.”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy birthday, Laurence Fishburne.

Actor Laurence John Fishburne III is 48 years old today. Which is a good enough excuse to post this old video of Mr. Fishburne with the original thug rapper, Schoolly D:

Murdered today: Vincent Mark Harris

Vincent Mark Harris was shot early this morning outside a San Bernardino, Calif., apartment complex. He died at a hospital shortly thereafter. He was 28 years old.

Homicide is the leading cause of death for African-American men in their 20s.

Brew ha-ha

So... President Obama is gonna crack a few beers at the White House this evening with Skip Gates and that Cambridge cop, Sgt. Crowley.

You wanna bet Obama ends up in handcuffs?

A free Rudresh Mahanthappa download

Progressive jazz with a South Asian flavor? Yeah... I can point you to a FREE MP3 (if you’re registered at

Brooklyn-based alto sax man Rudresh Mahanthappa (about whom I first blogged in 2007) has an album out under the group name Indo- Pak Coalition. Album’s called “Apti.”

Click here to hear the title track on my Vox blog. To download it, follow this link to AllAboutJazz.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bernie in Brooklyn, tonight and tomorrow

If my Bernie Worrell post on Monday got you off – and you’re anywhere close to New York City – listen up.

Bernie’s new supergroup, SociaLybrium, performs tonight and tomorrow night at Brooklyn’s newest performance space: Littlefield.

SociaLybrium includes P-Funk guitarist “Blackbyrd” McKnight (pictured), bass giant Melvin Gibbs and drummer J.T. Lewis.

Shows start at 9 p.m. The price is $10.

Murdered today: Andre Darnell Bradford

In Columbus, Ohio, early this morning, 47-year-old Andre Darnell Bradford was stabbed and killed after an argument on the street with a 44-year-old man.

For African-American males of all ages, homicide was the fifth-leading cause of death in 2004. More black men died from murder than from diabetes.

For white males in 2004, homicide wasn’t even among the top 10 causes of death.

A free Jorge Ben download

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer David Byrne has had a most excellent post-Talking-Heads career as a record executive.

Byrne’s boutique label, Luaka Bop, is 21 years old. Luaka Bop has released a lot of hip music by artists from around the world... such as Susana Baca, Tom Zé and Zap Mama.

Byrne is especially fond of Brazilian music. And I’ve got a funky FREE MP3 by Jorge Ben off the Luaka Bop anniversary compilation, “Twenty First Century, Twenty First Year.”

To hear “Ponta de lança africano – Umbabarauma,” click here. To download it, click the title below.

"Ponta de lança africano - Umbabarauma" (MP3)
More on this album

Random wrongness

(Hat-tip: Teresa Wiltz at The Root.)

Victoria Jackson is nutty as fuck.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Murdered today: Ronald James

Ronald James of north St. Louis, a former federal prisoner, was shot and killed with an assault rifle this morning. He had just gotten into his car. Ronald James was 31 years old.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, homicide is the leading cause of death for black men between the ages of 15 and 34.

For white men in that age range, the leading cause of death is accidents. The second-leading cause is suicide.

What could possibly be more cute than...

... circus dogs?

Tuesday 12-inch Flashback: ‘Cool It Now’

Posted without comment.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Murdered today: Leanne Smith

This morning, 40-year-old Leanne Smith of West Philadelphia – a mother of two – was shot and killed in her car by her ex-boyfriend. The shooter then killed himself.

More than 7,300 black people were murdered in America in 2007, according to the FBI. (Compared to about 7,000 whites murdered.)

That’s an average of 20 black people a day murdered. Every day.

Of those 20 homicide victims per day in 2007... three of them were women or girls.

New cuts from Bernie Worrell, Bootsy Collins

Where the P-Funk heads at? Rubber fans and funkateers... you out there? Because this might make your day.

Two of the guiding forces behind Parliament-Funkadelic are still actively recording. But you gotta search like a hound dog to find the product.

Keyboard genius Bernie Worrell is down with a loose avant-garde collective called Method of Defiance, one of Bill Laswell’s groove units.

The new Method of Defiance album, “Nihon,” was recorded live in Japan two years ago. It contains a cover of Funkadelic’s “Cosmic Slop,” with a wiggy Moog-synth intro from Mr. Worrell.

Click here to hear “Wootwo/ Cosmic Slop” streaming on my Vox blog.

Meanwhile, monster bassist and master showman Bootsy Collins contributed to “Funk For Your Ass,” a James Brown tribute CD released overseas last year.

Click here to hear “Let It Flow,” featuring Fred Wesley and the late Bobby Byrd. This track was co-written, co-produced, engineered and mixed by Bootsy, and he sings and plays on it too.

I can’t believe Bernie is 65 years old... and Bootsy’s still a big ol’ kid at 57.

Posted without comment

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Murdered today: Anthony Sanders

Early this morning, 28-year-old Anthony Sanders was shot in the head and killed on the street where he lived on Chicago’s South Side.

According to the Justice Department, more than half of all gun- homicide victims in the United States are black.

Think about that. If an American is murdered by gun... it’s a 50-50 chance he’s black.

Que Sarah, Sarah

So. Sarah Palin is no longer the governor of Alaska. But you know we haven’t heard the last from her... or from those YouTube funsters who like to mock her.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cosby tweets the news

Yep, Bill Cosby is really on Twitter. And yesterday he posted a few tweets regarding Skip Gates and President Obama. (Read from the bottom up.)

UPDATE (07/25/09): “Boondocks” creator Aaron McGruder joined Twitter two weeks ago... and he also tweeted yesterday about the Skip Gates affair:

“I don't know why Henry Louis Gates being arrested is so funny to me. Probably because I am no longer a decent human being...”

Wanna check out other black celebrities on Twitter? Peep my new link list in the sidebar – Twitter, Please! (Not that I wanna encourage that Twittering shit...)

The ‘Thriller’ dance lives on

Last October, more than 4,000 people in 10 different countries performed Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” choreography at the same time.

This year’s “Thrill the World” event is bound to be an even bigger deal. People are practicing already... as you can see in this Voice of America report:

Saturday morning cartoon

Friday, July 24, 2009

A sellable moment

On Gayle King’s satellite radio show today (via the “Oprah Radio” channel), Henry Louis Gates said he’s not ready to put the Cambridge cop confrontation behind him.

“I want to use what happened to me to bring the public’s attention to racial profiling,” Prof. Gates told Gayle. “I wanna make a documentary for PBS or HBO or someplace on racial profiling, on this kind of arbitrary and unacceptable behavior on behalf of the police force.”

A documentary, Skip? Really?

Meaning it’s now in the professor’s interest to keep this thing cooking in the media? To not squash it?

If so... too bad for President Obama. Because, for however long people talk about the arrest of Skip Gates, they’ll remember how Barack Obama said the police “acted stupidly.” Doesn’t matter that Prez is trying to pull those words back.

On my Vox blog, I’m streaming part of that Skip Gates interview from “The Gayle King Show,” as replayed on L.A. talk station KFI during the popular “John and Ken Show” this afternoon.

Included in this clip is some sassy commentary from John and Ken... which will give you an idea of how this story is reverberating throughout Talk Radio Land. And not just among partisan right- wingers, because John and Ken aren’t that.

Anyway... click here to listen.

A free Khiza download

Here’s the last dance-music download of the week... courtesy of British-born producer Khiza.

Click here to hear “Aey Khuda” on my Vox blog. (The singer is a Pakistani teenager named Omer Nadeem.) To download the FREE MP3, click the title below.

Bollywood swingin’!

“Aey Khuda (feat. Omer Nadeem)” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store

Obama’s boner

As soon as President Obama said Wednesday night that the Cambridge police “acted stupidly,” thereby inserting himself into a trivial incident, I knew he’d made a big political mistake.

Now it’s looking like Obama’s bonehead play might cost him more than a few days’ distraction from health care.

It could be the biggest mistake of his career. The kind of mistake that gets written into the history of American presidential politics.

It’s not just that Rush Limbaugh and Fox News are beating him up about it. Rush and ’nem be stomping on Obama daily. They are in the stomp-on-Obama business. If it wasn’t this Skip Gates deal, it’d be something else.

But. It’s trouble when they hit him with something that sticks... especially in the minds of voters in the middle. The Left loves Obama; the Right hates Obama. The Middle makes all the difference.

And what’s gonna stick is: The President of the United States, having incomplete information, chose to attack some local cops. And to make it about race. On prime-time TV.

Talk about acting stupidly.

Today, Prez is in damage-control mode. Below is a 6-minute clip of Obama addressing the daily White House press briefing, in which he tries to restore his standing as Conciliator-in-Chief.

Maybe it’ll work. And maybe this will become a “teachable moment” about when the President of the United States should lip off... and when he should hold his tongue.

(Perhaps Prof. Gates could do with such a “teachable moment” his own self.)

E. Lynn Harris (1955-2009)

Popular novelist E. Lynn Harris, who wrote about black gay life, died today. He was 54 years old. has posted an obituary.

I never read any of Mr. Harris’s writing. But I’ve always respected his impact on the book publishing business. He paved the way for the Black Lit boom of the last 15 years... even though major publishers at first rejected his work.

I’m streaming a 4-minute audio bite from E. Lynn Harris’s 2003 memoir, “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” (read by Richard Allen).

To listen, click here.

Random hotness

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Playlist: White comedians on race

You want “post-racial”? Not today.

1. “Cracka Ass” – Bill Burr

2. “Michael Vick” – Nick Di Paolo

3. “I Enjoy Being White” – Louis C.K.

4. “ ‘Blank’ Americans” – Ralphie May

A free Sasha download

Dance-music download week is turning into a world tour. Today’s track comes from an English rock band called Doves... by way of the hotshot remixer Sasha (pictured).

Click here to spin “Jetstream (Sasha’s Subsubdubdub)” on my Vox blog. Eleven minutes long it is. Sounds like the kinda groove Sylvester would be jamming if he were still alive.

To download the FREE MP3, follow this link to RCRD LBL.

Posted without comment

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Live-blogging President Obama’s health-care press conference

5:13 p.m. (Pacific Time) – When President Obama promises that his reform plan will “keep government out of health-care decisions”... and that reform will “not be paid for on the backs on middle-class families”... he is acknowledging the profound problems inherent in the concept of socializing medical insurance.

Now we can debate whether or not those promises he just enunciated make any sense...

5:28 p.m. – The main thing I wonder, based on Obama’s opening statement, is:

1) If the government “limits” the amount of money insurers can “force you to pay out of your own pocket,” and;

2) If “no insurer will be able to deny you coverage for a preexisting condition,” then...

... will this destroy the basis upon which health insurance is a profitable enterprise? And, therefore, will private companies stop selling health insurance because there’s no money in it?

And if private companies get out of the insurance business, does that mean the U.S. government will become the only player in the game?

Will “reform” be a side road towards a single-payer system?

5:34 p.m. – Wow. Is Obama on the defensive or what? ...

5:57 p.m. – I am amazed that Obama answered the Skip Gates question... and especially to say the Cambridge police “acted stupidly.” That’s gonna suck a lot of attention away from health care, which was supposed to be the President’s focus. ...

6:17 p.m. – Actually, I’m a little cheesed off that Lynn Sweet even asked him about Prof. Gates. Is Barack Obama the Negro-in-Chief or the Commander-in-Chief?

7:08 p.m. – MSNBC’s Chris Matthews just echoed a point I made here on Sunday.

Regarding the press conference, Matthews asked, rhetorically, whether President Obama had explained why we need to change the health-care system, what those changes would be, and how America would pay for it.

“It’s not clear to me,” Matthews said, “that he did any of those things.” Whoa.

And Matthews wants health-care reform!

8:13 p.m. – Even MSNBC’s Ed Schultz – Obama’s biggest cheerleader on a channel full of cheerleaders – says the President’s performance tonight was too “passive.”

A free Random Soul/Vincent Kwok download

Today’s dance-music freebie comes from the land down under, courtesy of Sydney’s own Random Soul (a.k.a. Yogi & Husky) and Australian- born DJ/producer Vincent Kwok.

Click here to hear “Music Is My Life” on my Vox blog. It’s got an old-fashioned disco feel that I like. To cop the FREE MP3, click the song title below.

“Music Is My Life” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store

A question about Byron Allen

Has anyone ever been on TV so long without people giving a shit? Seriously, who goes out of their way to watch Byron Allen? And yet, there he is on TV.

I stumbled on his syndicated show “Comics Unleashed” late last night.

Just as I’ve occasionally stumbled on his weekend interview show, “Entertainers with Byron Allen.”

And whenever I stumble upon him, I say to myself, “Dang. That corny muhfuggah still on TV?”

’Twas 30 years ago that Byron Allen – at the tender age of 19 – got his breakthrough gig as co-host of NBC’s “Real People.”

On “Comics Unleashed” last night, Byron Allen said that as a 14-year-old, he was writing jokes for Jimmie “J.J.” Walker... along with David Letterman and Jay Leno. (Letterman and Leno got a weekly salary; Byron Allen got $25 per joke.)

That’s very cool. But Byron Allen’s success isn’t about being funny. It’s about being a brilliant businessman. Because he owns his current shows. And he produces lots of other time-filling “content” for TV and the worldwide internets... such as “Beautiful Homes & Great Estates.”

God bless him.

I found an interesting YouTube clip by a young cutie-pie named Chanelle, who shared her experience of being an audience member at a “Comics Unleashed” taping. (Turns out the studio audience gets paid!) Check this out:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Random hipness

A free William Umana download

Dallas-based producer William Umana favors a “tribal house” sound... with a little Latin tinge, befitting his Colombian birthplace.

Today’s FREE MP3 is “Viva El Circuito.” Click here to hear it on my Vox blog. Click the title below to download it.

“Viva El Circuito (feat. Sinoa)” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store

Tuesday 12-inch Flashback: ‘It’s a Love Thing’

Yeah, SOLAR Records put out some hit singles... but not many great singles. And this ain’t one of those. (I’d rather be spinning “Career Girl” by Carrie Lucas. Oh well...)

Monday, July 20, 2009

‘The Eagle has landed... on your fuckin’ jaw!’

This old clip of Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin punching out a silly-ass conspiracy theorist went viral today. It’s a beautiful thing.

A free Todd Terry download

I wanna get thematic with the FREE MP3s this week. So each day, I’ll be posting a dance-music download... even though I can’t dance a lick! First one comes from house-music DJ/producer Todd Terry.

Mr. Terry’s worldwide reputation is such that his fans call him “Todd the God.” The Brooklynite has been spinning since the 1980s. Last Saturday night, he did a set at the Arenile club in Naples, Italy.

Click here to hear “When You Hold Me” on my Vox blog. This 1992 track is from an EP called “The Unreleased Project, Part 1.”

To download the MP3, click the title below.

“When You Hold Me” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store

Random wrongness

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Do we need comprehensive health-care reform?

I know President Obama wants this to be his signature achievement. But he hasn’t yet persuaded me that America needs to radically overhaul its health-care system.

I’m willing to bet reform won’t happen. Maybe it shouldn’t happen.

The people pushing hardest for it are leftists who embrace the ideology of government control of markets (not to mention “soaking the rich”). Leftists such as the folks at and the Huffington Post class warrior Jason Linkins.

But Barack Obama knows he can’t sell reform to the American people as a matter of wealth redistribution.

That’s why he hardly mentions the uninsured any more. He’s trying to talk the talk of middle-class populism, saying we must control the “skyrocketing costs” of health care.

Question one: Why is it the government’s business to “control” the cost of health care, as opposed to the cost of food, clothing, gasoline or movie tickets?

Question two: How will a trillion dollars in new public spending “control” the skyrocketing cost of health care?

This morning on “Meet the Press,” NBC’s David Gregory did a good, tough interview with Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s health secretary. (It’s embedded below.) She did not state a clear, compelling case for health-care reform.

If any readers have given thought to this issue and would like to explain it to me, please let’s carry this discussion to the comments section.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Happy birthday, Nelson Mandela.

Today was the 91st birthday of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president.

In his honor, I am streaming on my Vox blog a 4-minute excerpt of “Mandela: An Audio History,” which was produced by National Public Radio in 2004.

Click here to listen.

The voices heard in this clip, interspersed with newsreel audio, are (in order): Coloured activist Eddie Daniels, South African Communist Party member Denis Goldberg, former Member of Parliament Helen Suzman, former political prisoner Sonny Venkatrathnam, African National Congress member Joe Matthews, Mr. Mandela, and activist lawyer Dullah Omar.

Lyndon LaRouche is nutty as fuck.

And so are his “LaRouche Youth” acolytes.

Saturday morning cartoon

Friday, July 17, 2009

Booker T. and the NAACP

This being the 100th anniversary of the NAACP, it behooves all history geeks to explore the fascinating early years of America’s preeminent civil rights organization. Especially the shift in power away from Booker T. Washington’s brand of non-confrontational race politics.

In 1909, that power shift was a delicate business.

It’s no secret that the NAACP was founded and led by well-born white liberals. One of them was journalist Oswald Garrison Villard, grandson of the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison.

Villard’s father, Henry Villard, was railroad rich... and he owned the New York Evening Post and The Nation, which provided a platform for young Oswald’s political writing.

A self-described “radical” when it came to the Negro question, Oswald Villard authored a “call” to meet – signed by 60 prominent blacks and whites – which would result in the formation of the NAACP. This meeting was labeled the National Negro Conference.

In planning that meeting, Villard was in a tricky spot. How could there be a “Conference on the Status of the Negro” without the most influential black man in America – Booker T. Washington – taking part? Prof. Washington rubbed elbows with U.S. presidents!

But Villard envisioned an “aggressive” new movement... a watchdog group for black people’s rights. And ascending Negro leaders such as W.E.B. Du Bois had already rejected Booker T. Washington’s “accommodationism.”

Villard “realized that Washington could have little influence with a gathering of men and women such as were behind the coming conference,” according to NAACP historian Charles Flint Kellogg.

Complicating this ideological schism was the fact that Oswald Garrison Villard had been a friend of Prof. Washington’s and a supporter of his work at the Tuskegee Institute.

Here’s an excerpt from Kellogg’s “NAACP: A History of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People” (1967):
CHARLES FLINT KELLOGG: A few weeks before the conference, Villard visited Tuskegee to talk to the students. He felt that he was much too radical and outspoken for Washington’s comfort and that Washington disapproved of what he said.

[Villard] was critical of the school. He complained of its lack of coordination and of the need for expert educational supervision and deplored the “essentially commercial” tone. ...

Although Villard never broke with Washington completely, his growing relationship with the more “radical” group [of black activists] contributed to his disillusionment. ...

Aware as he was of the presence of two factions in the Negro world – one headed by Booker T. Washington, the other by Atlanta University Professor William E.B. Du Bois – Villard was nevertheless determined not to let this controversy interfere with the conference nor with the formation of a permanent organization.

It was in this spirit that he wrote a frank but cordial letter to Washington, inviting him to attend the conference, but tactfully making it possible for him to decline.

It was not to be a Washington movement or a Du Bois movement, he explained. It was to be an aggressive organization, ready to strike hard blows for the rights of the colored people.

Because of Washington’s educational affiliations, Villard understood the delicacy of his position. Washington would be welcome at the conference, but his absence would not be misinterpreted.

In turning down the invitation, Washington showed insight not borne out by his subsequent actions. “I fear that my presence might restrict freedom of discussion and might, also, tend to make the conference go in directions which it would not like to go.”

A free Rene Marie download

A year ago, I blogged about jazz singer Rene Marie, who’d been invited to sing the National Anthem at an official function of the city of Denver.

Ms. Marie caused a scandal by singing “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” (a.k.a. the Negro National Anthem) to the tune of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Remember that?

I thought Rene Marie was out of line doing that... even though her fusion of the two “anthems” was an impressive work of art.

Well, a studio version of her “Star-Spangled” mashup is available as a FREE MP3.

Click here to hear it on my Vox blog. To download the MP3, follow this link to Ms. Marie’s website.

This piece is actually the “third movement” of a song suite titled “Voice of My Beautiful Country.” You can download “Lift Ev’ry Voice” as a separate track, or you can download the entire suite.

(Hat-tip to singer Fay Victor, who pointed to this download in a Facebook update.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hearty congratulations...

... to David Simon, my good friend, whose HBO miniseries “Generation Kill” today received 11 Emmy nominations... including a writing nomination for himself. Oorah!

Posted without comment

What could possibly be more cute than...

... a little kid making up a story? (This girl is so sweet, I almost wanna cry.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An evening of ‘conservative comedy’

So last night I motored down to the Laugh Factory on Sunset, lured by a “conservative” standup comedy show. I wanted to see how much that would suck.

I expected a fair degree of suckitude because the organizer was Evan Sayet, a hack comic who relentlessly promotes himself on right- wing talk radio. (I blogged about him last year.)

Sayet’s Hollywood résumé includes writing for Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect” and “The Arsenio Hall Show.” But I hadn’t heard a good joke out of him yet.

I was curious to see what other conservative comics would be performing.

Well, guess what? There were some decent comics. And in the midst of all the partisan knife-throwing, there were some decent punch lines.

Not from Evan Sayet, however. Dude cracked two “teleprompter” jokes within his first two minutes onstage. Seriously... is that the best shot they can take at Barack Obama? That he knows how to read a speech?

“He’s not a bright man,” Sayet said of President Obama. “He was asked about Hamas. He said it goes good with pita bread. Not a bright man, that’s all I’m saying.”

Okay... first thing: After “Bruno,” Sacha Baron Cohen owns the Hamas-hummus pun. Second: A good joke has to be grounded in some kind of reality. You cannot goof on Obama’s intellect. It makes no sense.

There was a lot of Obama-bashing last night, naturally. A woman in the corner was selling “Obaaaama” bumper stickers, with a drawing of a sheep alongside the Obama “O” logo.

Steven Crowder, a Dane Cook wannabe, mocked the fact that Obama was named one of People magazine’s sexiest men. “We’re not talking about Hugh Jackman here,” Crowder said. “He looks like a photo negative of Alfred E. Neuman.”

The audience – about 100 people, including many white-haired white folks – dug it.

My note-taking wasn’t pristine, so I forget who delivered this pip: “This country is going down faster than Barney Frank at a West Hollywood bathhouse.”

The “edgiest” comedian was Bo “Bald Eagle” Clark... whom even Evan Sayet described as a “redneck.”

Clark wore a camouflage vest with an American flag patch. He was the only comic who cursed. And his recurring punch line was “Nuke ’em.” As in North Korea: “Nuke ’em. South Korea is enough Koreans.” (I laughed.)

Clark was so over-the-top with his references to “camel jockeys” and “diaper-heads,” I half suspect his whole act is a mockery of rednecks.

The most surprising performer was Al Sonja Schmidt, a black woman who has written for such shows as “In Living Color” and “The Parent ’Hood.” Her standup act is based upon her being “ostracized” by friends and family since she became a Republican.

I say Ms. Schmidt has a future in bashing Barack Obama for white audiences. Here’s one of her Obama jokes: “Hollywood gave us the Marx Brothers, and this year they gave us a Marxist brother.”

Here’s a brief video clip of Al Sonja Schmidt:

Addressing the NAACP

President Obama tomorrow will address to the 100th annual convention of the NAACP. Do you know who was the first U.S. president ever to address the NAACP?

It was Harry S. Truman... on June 29, 1947, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

I’m streaming audio of that event on my Vox blog. Click here to hear a 3½-minute excerpt.

If you’d like to download the complete 12½-minute speech as an MP3, follow this link to the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. Or you can download it from the American Rhetoric website.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The last to know

The secluded housemates on the British version of “Big Brother” just found out – this morning! – that Michael Jackson is dead. Check out their reactions. (Hat-tip: TV Tattle.)

Random Japaneseness

Tuesday 12-inch Flashback: ‘Encore’

This was Cheryl Lynn’s second-biggest hit. And also the first chart- topping single for songwriters Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. (Frankly, I don’t think it has aged well.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

New cuts from Honeychild Coleman, Maya Azucena

Here’s a quick sonic update on two progressive female artists I’ve blogged about before.

Click here to hear “Torch Song” by Honeychild Coleman. Her digital album “Halo Inside (Come La Luna)” was released seven months ago.

Click here to hear the jazz/pop standard “Angel Eyes” as modernized by Maya Azucena. Maya’s EP “Taste This!” also came out seven months ago.

Random hipness

How it feels to give up a kidney

My friend Susie (a.k.a. quirkychick), a longtime commenter on this blog, recently donated one of her kidneys to a friend. How deep is that?

Last week Susie blogged about how she’s feeling one month after the transplant. Click here to read. I love her writing.

I also recommend this post she wrote in April, explaining her decision.

Susie promises to blog more about this saga, and I’m looking forward.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A free Lions download

The Lions are a multiculti reggae/groove ensemble here in L.A. They’re tight, and they’ve got a FREE MP3 up at the Amoeba Music website.

Click here to hear “Sweet Soul Music” streaming on my Vox blog. This piece was recorded live during a Lions in-store appearance in February. To download it, follow this link to

Interesting side note: The singer on this track is actor Alex Désert. (He co-starred in the sitcom “Becker.”)

Here is a half-hour video of the Lions’ performance at Amoeba:

What could possibly be more cute than...

... a toddler singing “Hey Jude”?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A free Dragons of Zynth download

For those wanting to keep up with the black-rock scene, let me point you to a FREE MP3 by Dragons of Zynth, a band from Cleveland with a TV-On-The-Radio type vibe.

Matter fact, TVOTR’s David Andrew Sitek co-produced the group’s debut album – “Coronation Thieves” – in 2007.

Click here to hear a cut called “Anna Mae” on my Vox blog. Want to download it? Follow this link to

The track is off of “Coronation Thieves,” but it’s available now on a new digital sampler from the Gigantic Music label.

Saturday morning cartoon

Friday, July 10, 2009

New music from Living Colour

Here’s news: The loud lads of Living Colour today uploaded a brand new studio track to their MySpace page! It’s called “Behind the Sun.”

This track will appear on Living Colour’s fifth studio album, “The Chair in the Doorway,” which is due out on September 15. It’s the band’s first batch of new material since 2003.

(Hat-tip: Bold As Love.)

Now playing: ‘Soul Power’

Yes, I do plan on seeing “Bruno.” But my first order of business this weekend was checking out the documentary “Soul Power,” which opened today in a handful of theaters in L.A. and New York.

A companion piece to “When We Were Kings,” “Soul Power” focuses on the three-day music festival scheduled to coincide with the 1974 Ali-Foreman fight in Zaire.

The festival presented an awesome collection of talent: James Brown, B.B. King, Celia Cruz, Miriam Makeba, Bill Withers, the Spinners, the Crusaders...

Drawing from many hours’ worth of precious footage, director Jeffrey Levy-Hinte has prepared a joyful meal of a movie. But he takes his time in setting the table.

A third of the movie is over before the first concert scene (the Spinners doing “One of a Kind Love Affair”). I would’ve preferred less behind-the-scenes stuff about the construction of the stage, for instance, in exchange for a couple more music performances.

The performances are thrilling... building up to James Brown and the J.B.’s roaring through “Payback” and “Cold Sweat.”

Quite a coincidence that “Soul Power” would open on the very day that President Obama arrives in Ghana. Because the sight of Muhammad Ali and James Brown in Africa evokes the same sense of cultural magic.

Here is the trailer:


President Obama is on his way to Ghana. Ghana is fixin’ to go nuts.

Random hipness

Ladies and gentlemen... D-Sharp#:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Schwarzenegger droppin’ F-bombs

I think everyone would agree that it’s mildly amusing to hear famous people cuss. Especially when such a person is now governor of a state... and has a funny foreign accent.

Twenty-one years ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger was roasted by the Friars Club of Beverly Hills. Excerpts of that roast – featuring George Carlin, Red Buttons and others – were recently put on sale as a CD and a digital album.

Click here to hear a 3-minute track called “Arnold Schwarzenegger Roasts the Roasters.” After being introduced by Milton Berle, Arnold proceeds to drop five F-bombs.

He also tells a dirty joke in German. (Perhaps Michael Fisher could give us the gist of it.)

Posted without comment

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My dentist is hipper than your dentist.

I was down in Inglewood yesterday to get my teefs cleaned. And my dentist, Larry Strawn, hit me off with a couple of burnt CDs from artists I hadn’t heard of.

Previously Dr. Strawn introduced me to the music of Osunlade. Don’t you wish you had a dentist like that? Larry used to do a little deejaying when he was at Morehouse.

Yesterday Larry turned me on to a singer from Atlanta named Jill Rock-Jones. (He knows I like them black rocker chicks.) Click here to hear a 2002 track called “I Don’t Like It When You’re With Her.”

Larry also hipped me to Tarace Boulba, a funky French brass band. Remember last year when we did Funky Whiteboy Appreciation Week, and Davis Rogan wrote about Ceux Qui Marchent Debout? Tarace Boulba is kinda like CQMD. Both bands are into D.C. go-go music, for one thing.

Click here to hear “Gogo I.”

All that and a free toothbrush. This is gonna be a good week.