Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Big City Snob

Why can't Austin have a sushi place open past 10 PM on a Tuesday night? When I get out of work late because my internal clients forget about end of month billing, I need a stiff scotch and fine raw fish. I know it's hard to remember deadlines when the end of the month keeps changing from the 30th and the 31st. Especially after about....oh, I don't know...


Johnny Walker Black, take me away......

Monday, September 29, 2008

No Soup For You, Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bush!

The bail out fails.

Image courtesy of the Huffington Post.

What Happens When Someone Throws 6 Touchdowns and Nobody Cares?

New York City is a great place and I can't wait to move back there. The thing about the city is that, other than 9/11, nothing is ever really bigger than the moment. Even though Wall Street is falling like a stone and Brett Favre has a career day. The Mets collapse rule the day.
Not a great way to close Shea Stadium.

By the way, Newspaper Headlines are still a force in our culture. They just need to adapt that power into a faster news cycle. I believe Newspapers, with new leadership can adapt.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Too Funny

The quote at the bottom:

"As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska." - Sarah Palin


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate Moments

John Dickerson from Slate.com put together some of his favorite presidential debate moments. I wonder if he will update the reel after last night.

Round 1

Because of my recording duties with the LEOG, I missed last night's debate. Actually, I'm kinda glad I missed it. This week was so full or political spectacle, I needed a break. I watched the replay very very late.

The reviews of the debate make sense to me. Since it was the first debate, I figured there would be no major mistakes, fire bombs or drama. They need to feel each other out and they don't want to use all of there best stuff. I think McCain is behind the eight ball a little bit because he didn't crush Obama in this debate. Opening with the economy didn't flow well for McCain. Obama sounded reasonable on his foreign policy beliefs and has a command of the issues. Of course, McCain has more experience with foreign policy, but he seems rooted in old rhetoric.

The pundits are really focusing on body language, which I always find interesting.

I wonder if this is McCain's sigh or watch-looking moment. We will have to stay tuned.

Paul Newman: 1925-2008

I always admired this man. His work, his family life, his philanthropy. The world lost a great citizen.

The trailer to one of his most memorable roles:

Friday, September 26, 2008

So This is How Chase Is Going to Pay for WaMu...

I understand Chase is buying Washington Mutual. Chase is my bank and I chose Chase based on their management and asset mix. In other words, I thought they were a good bet not to get caught up in this mess. They didn't sign people with terrible credit for terrible mortgages and they didn't go nuts on the financial products based on those terrible mortgages. All in all, I feel pretty good that my bank is still standing.

As I checked my account balance online I notice a check I wrote for $70.00 was cashed for $75.00. I got the image of the check I clearly wrote $70.00 in the number box and spelled it out. I went to my local Chase branch and they credited me my $5.00. But I have to wonder...

Is this a coincidence this happened? Is this how they raised the funds to by WaMu? Perhaps they processed millions and millions of checks all over the world, charging an extra $5.00. Would anyone notice? It's like the scheme in Office Space with all the extra cents.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

She is Starting to Make My Head Hurt.

Margaret Carlson said the best thing about Sarah Palin I have heard. Margaret said on Countdown with Keith Olberman tonight that she was from a small town and the Gov. Palin is giving people from small towns a bad name.

Even Katie Couric in this interview where Gov. Palin struggles again to make sense of her foreign policy experience has the look of a mom struggling to teach a child.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

They Watch TV So I Don't Have To.

One of the coolest things about the Internet is the ability to grab the content you want. This is especially helpful when smart people filter the best for you. For example, Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post highlighted this appearance by Wanda Sykes on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

Jason also puts himself through hell to liveblog the Sunday Morning Talk Shows. The running commentary is awesome, especially when he throws in his wife's comments. Readers can email questions and comments to be participate in the action.

Other great TV critics I follow are:

Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post. I have never seen a full episode of American Idol and I never will (how American Idol cheapens the art and craft of music is a discussion for later). She does a great job pointing out how "craptastic" the whole process of determining the winner has become.

Belinda Acosta
of the Austin Chronicle. A wonderful, witty writer who uses her perspective as a Mexican American woman to provide a unique view of TV culture. An IBP for sure (Intelligent Brown Person, I am going to copyright this term).

David Bianculli of TV Worth Watching. David appears on the great NPR talk show Fresh Air and provides excellent commentary.

Walking and Chewing Gum.

I can't believe that John McCain wants to postpone the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates.

Obama's response:

"Presidents are going to have to deal with more than one thing at a time," he said, "it is not necessary for us to think we can do only one thing and suspend everything else. With respect to the debates it is my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who in roughly 40 days will be responsible for this mess," he said. "I think it is going to be part of the president's job to deal with more than one thing at once. I don't see why we can't be constructive in helping with this problem."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New to me! Yes, I know I'm slow.

I am sitting in my favorite bar in Austin-Longbranch Inn- watching the Colbert Report. I know I can be slow in cultural phenoms, but damn Colbert is funny. I have never watched his show before. Yes, I know. I said I can be slow sometimes. Cut me some slack.

Posted by ShoZu

The Day Genius Struck Twice

Today would be the 82nd birthday of John Coltrane and the 78th birthday of Ray Charles. Two men who changed music and challenged convention. The creators of "sheets of sound" and soul music, respectively. 

Don't Make Him Angry. You (White People) Wouldn't Like It When He's Angry

This article by Sam Fulwood III posted on theroot.com  is so on point.  I understand the image of control black men must have to succeed in this world. It is often viewed as aloof or uppity.  I live with this everyday.  I believe people have issues with IBPs-Intelligent Brown People.  Especially brown people, by the way they act when they encounter an IBP.

Why Obama Can't Get Mad

As much as we want Obama to go off on McCain, angry black men don't become president.

Sept. 22, 2008--I'm sick of folks yapping about how Barack Obama needs to do a war dance on John McCain's head.  Sure, McCain and his GOP allies are telling lies and appear to bear no cost for repeatedly doing so. And, yes, the Democrats' response has been, to say the least, lame and tepid. I understand; it's maddening to witness McCain and his right-wing, populist running mate Sarah Palin deep diving into the muddy waters, only to watch Obama stay aloof, safe and clean on the shore.

Predictably, natives of Obama Nation are restless. Some, like columnist and blogger Arianna Huffington, implored the cool and collected Obama to show some passion. Get veins-popping-and-eye-bulging angry, she wrote recently on The Huffington PostWeb site.

"Being likeable is obviously a good thing in politics," Huffington wrote. "So is being analytical and thoughtful and composed. But the last seven-plus years demand more than detached analysis—and certainly more than a beaming smile. They demand indignation. Outrage. Fury."

Even here on The Root, Terence Samuel vented his frustration at Obama's approach, writing, "This is not a civics seminar; it's a knife fight, and the McCain camp is bringing automatic rifles. Right now it is not about the American people getting it. It is about Obama getting it. He's getting hit over the head with a baseball bat and looking like he wants to file an amicus brief about it."

But if Obama wants to get elected president of the United States, getting mad is the last thing he can afford to do. He may be the Democrats' standard bearer, but he is still—as the McCain camp consistently points out with their unsubtle "not like you" messaging—a black man.

This is a struggle that black men—especially those of us who work in professional settings and want to remain there—grapple with daily: Showing our anger, no matter how justified, is a death sentence. We feel outrage. We want to say and demonstrate our daily frustrations, but we don't dare because we know that the release of our pent-up emotions can't ever be explained after the fact.

And so it goes for Obama in his quest for the highest prize in all of America. We won't know whether the nation is ready to cast aside enough historic prejudices to elect a qualified, smart, articulate and family-oriented black president until after all the votes are cast. For the first time in U.S. history, the possibility exists.

But, let me assure you, there's no need to hold the vote if Obama blows his stack before then. It might satisfy some Obama supporters to see him put McCain-Palin in their places, call them out John Wayne-style and pummel them into submission. For a quick, exhilarating minute, it would feel like the 21st century equivalent of Joe Louis' 1936 knockout of Nazi Germany's Max Schmeling.

But it would be political suicide.

Journalist Mark Shields said as much on a recent broadcast of PBS' News Hour, noting that Obama won the Democratic nomination because he didn't scare white people. "He has always been controlled," Shields said. "He's always been incredibly disciplined. And I think there is a concern about his ever becoming an angry black man that would somehow be a threatening figure to some voters."

Call it the Sidney Poitier syndrome. During the racially tense '60s, Poitier was a huge Hollywood-box-office draw. He made history in 1963 as the first black man to win an Academy Award for his role as a non-threatening Negro in Lilies of the Field. Rarely did he—or any iconic black male celebrity like Jackie Robinson, Sammy Davis Jr. or Bill Cosby—exhibit any public anger.

In that day and at those points in history, trailblazing black men succeeded because they didn't scare white people, unlike the civil rights protesters or—God forbid—the Black Panthers or the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and his followers in the Nation of Islam.

Now those were some bad-assed, angry black men. They didn't care whether their righteous anger frightened the white establishment. In fact, they relished the way their rhetoric, dress and behavior seemed to rattle dry, white bones. None of them had a shot at being elected president.

Let's be real: Obama can't win the White House by only making black people feel proud for slapping some sense into The White Man; he needs white votes—lots and lots of them—if he has any reasonable chance to win.

So stop all the foolish, short-sighted demands for Obama to open a can of whoop ass on the campaign trail. Come on, people, just five more weeks to go. Don't press a brotha to self-destruct.

Sam Fulwood is a regular contributor to The Root.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Judge for Yourself

Ok. Here is the video of the Josh Groban performance to drove me nuts. I watched it again and it still drives me nuts. The problem is not him, it's the fact that he is placed in a position where he can't win. The song list was weird. That might be a rights issue. Where were the Quincy Jones themes (Hikky Burr, Sanford and Son)? The Cosby Show theme? Hey, they did instrumental stuff like the Simpsons theme. What about SWAT? The A-Team? Ok what about the Bosom Buddies Theme? The Facts of Life? Different Strokes?

Plus Groban is about 27. What does he know about TV themes? In his generation, most of the TV shows don't have themes. I am not a fan of his style of music, but he has talent. I just think his management people didn't put him in a position to show his music strengths. The theme to the Fresh Prince was not even that good when Will Smith did it. Movin' On Up? Really? Last I checked, JaN'et Du'Bois is doing pretty well.

The Tyranny of TV

As I watched the Cowboys beat the Packers last night (and more importantly, secured my win in my week 3 fantasy match up-Thank God for Jason Witten!), I saw a variation of the above notice in a disturbing news crawl. 

This is a dispute between Time Warner Cable in Austin and the Austin NBC affiliate KXAN. Of course, this is about money. Time Warner charges a fee to us to carry KXAN and doesn't cut the parent company of KXAN-LIN-TV a share of the profits. Here is the KXAN/LIN-TV side.

Now this is the same crap that is keeping  the NFL Network from being displayed on Time Warner Cable.

This is my opinion on this stuff. The Time Warner, NFL Network thing is all on the NFL Network. The NFL Network wants to part of premium sports packages. The problem with this is that the NFL Network won't offer the Sunday Ticket to cable providers-only to DirecTV, a satellite provider. So Time Warner, as well as Comcast, want to keep the NFL Network on the basic cable tier. I think this is fair, because the games are what people really want. NBA TV on Time Warner is in a separate sports tier, but they of NBA League Pass, So I could get all of the games.  

This leads into my problem with the Time Warner/LIN-TV issue. Of course, I could switch pay TV providers, but Time Warner has a monopoly in Austin. I can't get Grande Communications, a regional cable provider where I live. AT&T Uverse is not in my condo community. And I am sorry, satellite sucks. It does go out in the rain and the trees do block signals. I have satellite radio in my car. I know this happens and it has happened to bars with satellite I have gone to in Austin. So I can't easily switch to another system that carries KXAN, the NBC station. Here is some of the programing I can lose:

NFL Football Oct 5- Pittsburgh @ Jacksonville
Oct 12 - New England @ San Diego
Oct 19 - Seattle @ Tampa Bay
Nov 2 - New England @ Indy
Nov 9 - NY Giants @ Philadelphia
Nov 16 - Dallas @ Washington
Nov 23 - Indy @ San Diego
Nov 30 - Chicago @ Minnesota
Dec 7 - New England @ Seattle
Dec 14 - NY Giants @ Dallas
Dec 21 - San Diego @ Tampa Bay
January - Playoffs- Teams TBD
February 2 - Super Bowl
College Football Oct 4 - Stanford @ Notre Dame
Nov 1 - Pittsburgh @ Notre Dame
Nov 22 - Syracuse @ Notre Dame

Mondays at 8 PM

The Office 

Thursdays at 8 PM

Today Show 

Weekdays 7-9 AM

Tonight Show 

Weekdays 1035-1135 PM

Now, NBC.com and Hulu.com could cover the shows, plus 30 Rock and SNL. But the football games and other sporting events will be a problem.

A solution would be have a service provide an a la carte system to programing. No pay TV service provider wants that, because it kills their monopoly. But you know what "monopoly" is going to be doing it? SiriusXM. (By the way, I don't consider Sirius-XM a monopoly. Between radio, HD Radio, webstreaming, podcasting, iPods and iPhones I can get just about every music choice and news choice I want.)

This was part of their merger deal with the FCC and why I was for it. The FCC wants to lead pay TV providers down the a la carte road. I think that would be good news and would hopefully give consumers more choice.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Where is John Legend When He is CLEARLY Needed?

On a night of way too much TV:

The Emmys
Cowboys vs. Packers
Mad Men
Last game of Yankee Stadium
True Blood

I am watching the Cowboys because of my fantasy team (I have Terrell Owens and Jason Witten). During a commercial break, I switch to the Emmys and I see Josh Groban. I have heard of this guy but never heard him sing. His voice sounds to me like New-Age Broadway. He did a medley of TV theme songs, including "Movin on Up"- the theme for The Jeffersons. To quote my man Bill Walton, "It was terrrrrrrrible." It made me want to throw it down on him, big man!

I am sure there will be a You Tube clip of the full medley which included the rap from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I will post the video as soon as I can find it and give it a proper critique. I have return to football to stop the bleeding in my ears.

End of an Era

One of the many gifts my father gave me is a love of sports. I am from Chicago, where we have legendary sports arenas. Wrigley Field, Comiskey Park, Soldier's Field, Old Chicago Stadium and I will throw in the United Center.

If Madison Square Garden is the most famous sports arena in the world, then Yankee Stadium is not to far behind. I have been there a few times and I always enjoyed my time there. WFAN the premier sports radio station in New York put together a nice piece of the Top-25 moments at Yankee Stadium, voted by fans.

For those who scoff at sports, I think they miss point of community that stadiums build over generations. This might be the only common ground Giuliani had with the black community in the 1990s-a love of the champion Yankees. For those of us that can't stand the Yankees or their insufferable fans, there would nothing sweeter than for the Yankees to lose tonight and be eliminated from the playoffs tonight.

As the US financial System Burns, Europe Laughs

From the LA Times:

Europeans on left and right ridicule U.S. money meltdown

Fears Grow For Economy As Shares Continue To Plunge
Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images
A street scene near London's financial center. Among Europe’s economies, Britain’s most resembles America’s in its vulnerability. Europeans cited Alan Greenspan and greed as culprits in the Wall Street meltdown.
They list greed and Greenspan among the culprits, and there are comparisons to . . . Albania. But amid the gloating, there is fear for financial systems in Britain, Spain, Italy and elsewhere.
By Sebastian Rotella and Janet Stobart, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
September 20, 2008
LONDON -- It's a rare day when finance officials, leftist intellectuals and ordinary salespeople can agree on something. But the economic meltdown that wrought its wrath from Rome to Madrid to Berlin this week brought Europeans together in a harsh chorus of condemnation of the excess and disarray on Wall Street.

The finance minister of Italy's conservative and pro-U.S. government warned of nothing less than a systemic breakdown. Giulio Tremonti excoriated the "voracious selfishness" of speculators and "stupid sluggishness" of regulators. And he singled out Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, with startling scorn.

"Greenspan was considered a master," Tremonti declared. "Now we must ask ourselves whether he is not, after [Osama] bin Laden, the man who hurt America the most. . . . It is clear that what is happening is a disease. It is not the failure of a bank, but the failure of a system. Until a few days ago, very few were willing to realize the intensity and the dramatic nature of the crisis."

In an interview Thursday in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Tremonti drew a comparison to corruption-ridden Albania in 1997, when a nationwide pyramid scheme cost hundreds of thousands of people their savings and ignited anarchic civil conflict.

"The system is collapsing, exactly like the Albanian pyramids collapsed," Tremonti said. "The idea is gaining ground that the way out of the crisis is mainly with large public investments. . . . The return of rules is accompanied by a return of the public sector."

On the other end of the political spectrum, among leftists who have long predicted calamity for what they call the "savage neoliberal capitalism" of Wall Street, there were gleeful allusions to the stock market crash of 1929.

"Between the dread of a world in the midst of collapsing and the shiver of pleasure that finally something serious is happening to the kingdom of liberalism, how to orient oneself?" Eric Aeschimann wrote Thursday in the newspaper Liberation, a voice of French intellectuals whose disdain for capitalism persists in the 21st century.

Expressing nostalgia for "the good old days when bankers jumped out of windows," Aeschimann condemned as "extortion" the rescue of U.S. corporate giants by the very state that free-marketeers resent.

But fear accompanied gloating. The crisis threatens to worsen woes -- inflation, unemployment, weak growth -- of regional powerhouses including Britain, Spain and Italy. Joaquin Almunia, an ideologically moderate Spanish Socialist who is the European Union's economic commissioner, offered a simple analysis.

"It has been a problem of greed," he told El Pais newspaper. "In Europe it can't be said that we did nothing, European banks bought toxic products. . . . Nobody knows when this will end."

Anxiety was acute here in London. Britain's FTSE 100 stock index swung wildly this week, dropping about 8% between Monday and Thursday, then rocketing nearly 9% on Friday.

Among the European economies, it is Britain's that most resembles America's in its vulnerability. The big news of the week drove that home: an announced $22-billion rescue-takeover of the wobbling HBOS bank by Lloyd's TSB.

In ordinary times, regulators would have opposed the merger of the giants as anti-competitive. But beleaguered Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose economic expertise is one of the last arrows in his political quiver, pushed for the deal.

"The financial tsunami that has engulfed Wall Street since the weekend hit these shores yesterday," the Daily Telegraph declared in an editorial Thursday. "It swept away the country's biggest mortgage provider -- and with it, much of the [financial sector's] regulatory machinery. . . . The government has prevented a banking collapse that would have had unimaginable consequences for the economy."

But a more optimistic school of thought saw the week's events as an inevitable period of reconfiguration from which the markets -- and U.S. economic dominance -- will emerge reasonably unscathed.

This analysis gained ground with the strong recovery of European markets Friday.

In addition to the FTSE, France's CAC 40 rose more than 9% and Russia's RTS index jumped 22% after trading resumed after a two-day suspension.

"This time next year we'll be seeing things back to normal," said Eamonn Butler, director of the Adam Smith Institute, a think tank here. "The last thing we need is to slap more rules on the system. . . . From time to time, businesses fail and the worst thing a government can do is to bail them out because that just passes the cost on to the taxpayer and creates a moral hazard."

The spectacle across the ocean has left a lasting impression on many Europeans. Hanna Evers of Berlin, a cellphone retailer interviewed in the shopping district of Wilmersdorfer Street, said she was angry about the amount of money that had been "burned" in recent days.

"And I'm furious when I see the pictures of Americans who thought they were on the sunny side of life and now have lost their homes and have to live in their cars," Evers said. "I definitely do not feel sorry for the bankers who lost their jobs in the last couple of days. I can't believe that a country like the U.S.A. could have been so careless on a money issue!"

"I was taught that the U.S.A. is the motherland of moneymaking," she added. "And now all I can see is a herd of headless chickens running around on Wall Street."

Rotella reported from Madrid and Stobart from London.

Special correspondents Maria De Cristofaro in Rome and Christian Retzlaff in Berlin contributed to this report.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"My Man..."

Saturday Night Film: American Gangster.

I saw this film in the theatre last year and loved it. It debuts tonight on HBO. One thing I enjoy about watching films in multiple viewings is getting inside the interplay between certain actors. I have always loved Denzel Washington. He has a walk I wish I had. He strolls with a rhythm, his gait swings with confidence. Check it out in the trailer:

Russell Crowe and Josh Brolin put in great performances in the film. My favorite interactions are between Denzel and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Here is one scene:


Special shout to my man Joe Morton as Charlie Williams, Frank Lucas's lawyer. Joe is in so many movies and TV shows, it's ridiculous. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Morgan in 2000. He was receiving some award from the Screen Actors Guild and I was playing in a jazz band, that provided the entertainment. A very nice and gracious man.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Of Course You Need Money. That's Why They Call It Money!"

The financial mess is troubling. The lack of knowledge of how the American financial system works by the American public is equally appalling-especially for minorities and low-income people. There are many reasons for this and I think blame falls on the system and the people. Access to clear information is a problem, but people have to make it a priority to seek out the information. I think basic personal financial education should be a requirement to graduate high school. The consumerism the United States fashions is part of the problem as well. As a society, especially in the black community, we must look and think about what is really important and what is valuable. I will try to contribute to this conversation and seek out intelligent information.

Here is a synopsis about what is going on:

Investment banks made gambles on bundles of risky mortgage loans.  They packaged these loans into financial instruments (Bonds, etc.) and sold them as investments for banks, municipalities, foreign investors, rich people, and retirement systems. When people could not pay back the risky mortgage loans, the owners of the loans would take back the property, usually at a loss. The loan would default. When the loans defaulted, the bundled financial instruments would not bring any return on the investment for the banks, municipalities, etc. The investment firms were holding financial instruments that became worthless. That is why they failed and the government let some of them (Lehman Brothers) fail. No one wanted to buy them because they had no other profitable businesses (Chase bought Bear Sterns and the government helped because Bear Sterns had some value). All in all this is part of how the free market works, businesses succeeds and businesses fail. The government is involved because of the scale. We are talking about trillions of dollars.

The scary thing is the government bailout of the insurance company AIG. AIG provided insurance for these banks, municipalities etc against this thing happening with these financial instruments. Essentially, with all of these types of financial instruments failing, AIG did the math and realized there could be a run on the insurance companies. AIG did not have the assets to cover all of the policies it was holding. The government had to step if the banks take the losses on these financial instruments or try to re-insure them with other companies, then banks will not lend money to other banks, business, people etc. The cost of insuring or taking the losses would be too much and the flow of money would stop. Moreover, because everything is so intertwined, nobody can really drill down to what exactly makes up these financial instruments or who owns what.


This is a very basic synopsis of what is going on. I would suggest these websites to stay informed:

www.bankrate.com-The best consumer finance website. The have education modules for all of your personal financial needs.

www.thebigmoney.com-Slate.com's new offspring dedicated to finance and economic news and issues.

www.smartmoney.com-This is the Wall Street Journal personal finance website and magazine. Good stuff and very helpful with breaking down the macro to the micro.

www.wsj.com-Still the standard for financial journalism. They cover everything. There is a premium charge for complete access to the site. Hey, I'm an MBA so I have to have it.

www.economist.com-For the world view on the U.S., this magazine is great. Plus you can get information on the world markets.

www.blackenterprise.com-This might be the best written magazine for African-Americans. The website is very informative.

If you really get into this stuff, there are thousands of sources for information. I tend to like ready websites or magazines, rather than watch CNBC or other financial networks. The nature of television doesn't let people digest these issues thoroughly in my opinion.  Shout out to Bloomberg media also. There is a reason this guy is a billionaire.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Still Experienced....

Jimi Hendrix Shotgun Live 1965 Night Train Oldest Known Film.

38 years ago today, Jimi Hendrix died. He is the greatest rock guitarist ever. Period. There is the electric guitar before Jimi and after Jimi.

This clip is when he was doing the chitlin' circuit with the Isley Brothers. Note his aggressive showboat style.

Jimi Hendrix is the rockstar we all dream to be.

"War! What is it Good For?" Answer: Only a Great Song: Norman Whitfield 1940-2008

Norman Whitfield (left) passed away on Tuesday September 16, 2008.  Along with his writing partner, Barrett Strong, were responsible for ushering in the "psychedelic soul" era at Motown. 

One of the greatest gifts my father gave me was impeccable musical taste. Motown's music was one of the main soundtracks of my youth (Stax/Volt, The Beatles and Jazz are the other soundtracks). Norman was a musical visionary. As a producer, he was the force that changed Motown's sound palette. Trippy, yet solid drums. Blast of colorful horns, wah wah guitars. Ya, this brotha was Right On! Can you dig it? Besides "War" for Edwin Starr, Check out this list of hits he wrote, co-wrote or produced:

1963: "Pride & Joy" - Marvin Gaye

1964: "Too Many Fish in the Sea" - The Marvelettes

1964: "Needle in a Haystack" - The Velvelettes

1964: "He Was Really Sayin' Somethin'" - The Velvelettes

1964: "Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)" - The Temptations

1966: "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" - The Temptations

1966: "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" - The Temptations

1966: "(I Know) I'm Losing You" - The Temptations

1967: "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" - Gladys Knight & the Pips, also recorded by Marvin Gaye and Creedence Clearwater Revival

1967: "You're My Everything" - The Temptations

1967: "I Wish It Would Rain" - The Temptations

1968: "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)" - The Temptations

1968: "The End of Our Road" - Gladys Knight & The Pips

1968: "Cloud Nine" - The Temptations

1968: "Ain't No Sun Since You've Been Gone" Diana Ross & The Supremes

1969: "Friendship Train" - Gladys Knight & the Pips

1969: "Runaway Child, Running Wild" - The Temptations

1969: "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby" - Marvin Gaye

1969: "I Can't Get Next to You" - The Temptations

1969: "Don't Let The Joneses Get You Down" - The Temptations

1970: "You Need Love Like I Do (Don't You)" - Gladys Knight & The Pips, also recorded by The Temptations

1970: "Psychedelic Shack" - The Temptations

1970: "Hum Along and Dance" - The Temptations (later covered by Rare Earth and The Jackson 5)

1970: "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)" - The Temptations

1970: "War" - Edwin Starr

1971: "Smiling Faces Sometimes" - The Undisputed Truth, originally recorded by The Temptations

1971: "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" - The Temptations

1972: "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" - The Temptations

1973: "Masterpiece" - The Temptations

1973: "Let Your Hair Down" - The Temptations

1976: "Car Wash" - Rose Royce

1976: "I'm Going Down" - Rose Royce

1976: "I Wanna Get Next to You" - Rose Royce

1977: "Ooh Boy" - Rose Royce

1977: "Wishing on a Star" - Rose Royce

1978: "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" - Rose Royce

Some thoughts on the above lists:

1. Ain't Too Proud To Beg-This song has one of the greatest opening lines ever. Too bad most people don't know the rest of the lyrics. Eddie Murphy illustrated this talking about his pops in Raw.

2. I Wish It Would Rain-David Ruffin had one of the greatest soul voices ever. He could go from Otis Redding grit to Sam Cooke smoothe in an instant. Listen in the second verse, as he says, "cause cryin' eases the pain" as the rest of the Temptations cascade with their back vocals. Beautiful man, I tell ya.

3. I Can't Get Next To You-This song is so great. I love the lyric, "Unhappy am I, with all the powers I posses. Cause girl, your the key to my happiness." The vocal arrangement is great also.

4. Car Wash-One of the best movie themes ever.

5. I Wanna Get Next to You-This is not much more than a great chorus hook. Again, everyone knows the chorus and nobody knows the rest of the lyrics. Who cares? You know you sang this hook for someone you loved.

R.I.P Mr. Whitfield.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The League of Extremely Ordinary Gentleman

Imagine the voice of  John LaFontaine

 "In a world without honor, there are a select few who preach about valour and commitment to heroic tradition of the illustrated tome. Men so special, they have form a league of intellectual vigor and righteousness. This league.....






and introducing Greg the bass player...


The League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen."

Ok whom am I kidding?  This is a collection of very passionate and knowledge gents that view the world through the lenses of comics and graphic novels. They also possess an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture from the 1970s and beyond.  The recording goes up every 2 weeks on Wednesdays. Today is the LEOg number 12. The discussion is a free flow of issues concerning comics and the industry, music, movies and pop culture. It features the electric bass stylings of yours truly as a bed for the mayhem. I must warn you, these are long, funny recordings were drinking is encouraged. There is salty language, but in these times, heroes have to be blunt!


This is a group on the best movie review website in the world-Spill.  Extremely funny and not for the faint of heart. The animation is great and movies are reviewed on 5 levels-

1.  Better than Sex

2. Full Price

3. Matinee

4. Rental

5. Some ol' BullSh*t!

Once you are hooked, you will go back and find the archives of old reviews and start looking at them to reassess movies you saw. Spill is fun and full of passionate people. Go there because you need real movie reviews done by real people.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

45 Years Ago Today.

August 28th, 1965 can be called one of the peaks of the Civil Rights movement. The March on Washington culminated with perhaps the most famous speech in American history- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's "I Have A Dream Speech". 45 years later on the same day, Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Who knows? If Obama gets elected, that speech and his speech on race might be as well regarded as Dr. King's speech.

September 15th, 1963, 45 years ago today, can possibly be considered one of the saddest days in the Civil Rights movement and American history. The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing struck a chord with the American public. This crime still haunts a lot of people, including Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice. She was school mates with Denise McNair. Spike Lee's wonderful documentary, 4 Little Girls, should be required viewing in all schools.

Historical events like this put things in perspective for me. This event happened in my parents lifetime. This type of sanction hatred is what has scarred many baby boomer-black & white. The racial sensitivity concerning Barack's campaign is because these wounds are still healing.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Love Blondes

I just picked her up yesterday. She's a blond, with a nice curvy build. Her voice is a full body sultry song. It can be sweet and sharp. I love to feel her up and down and make her scream. She is a sexy beast.