Tag Archives: culture

The Analog Divide

Let’s face it, radio as we know it is on its last legs.  Portable media is giving people what they want; access to the music they want, when they want it.

Satellite radio was the last ditch effort to save a dying format.  When HD Radio is finally enforced as the standard for broadcasting, I honestly think radio as we know it will be silent forever.

Unlike TV, there won’t be converters to add to existing radios.  They will become relics of a former generation dead before their time much like the portable TV’s and the VCR.

Technology is progressing so fast that people don’t realize the convinces they are losing.  No longer can you create portable, reusable recordings and easily use them elsewhere. 

Cassette tapes allowed us to record audio from radio, LP, microphone, CD or other cassettes and easily play them elsewhere.  I say easy because you can literally pop out a tape from one device and play it in another. You could even loan your recording to someone for them to playback. Can you do that with your MP3 player?

VCR’s allowed us to record a video and use it the same way cassette did for audio. Can you DVR, iPod, iPhone or other media device do that?

In the digital world there are many different formats for audio and video. MP3, OGG, MPC, AIFF, AU, MIDI, WAV, WMA, ACC RA, MPEG, AVI, MKV, MOV, QT, WMV, FLAC, FLV, MP4, ASF, SWV and countless others.  And if you think that list is long, just wait a few more months because there will be others.  Some devices support a mix of them but not all.

In the analog world there was CD (though this really is digital), VHS cassette and audio cassette.  Each had its own player and could play and media of its type that was inserted into it with no need to check the specs or compatibility.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. It’s my chosen profession. I just see what’s going on around me more for the have nots and how they are affected.  Suddenly the days of $40 for a low-end TV and $200 for a high-end have been replaced with $200 for a low-end TV; $10-$20 for a portable  to play your existing music vs. $100 (plus the cost of a computer or laptop not to mention internet access) to play new media formats; and we can’t discuss the cost of DVR’s because you can’t buy them, only rent them.

I see the have nots suffer just to have modern convinces while the cost of living goes up. When changes like these come around it is good to educate yourself on the costs long term.  We probably won’t have another change like these soon but when we do, you’ve been enlightened.

The Pressure to Give

Natural disaster are, well, disasters.  Recently there have been many; Hurricane Katrina in 2007, Indonesian Earthquake in 2009 and Tsunami in 2004 and now the Haitian Earthquakes of 2010.

As technology progresses, we now have easier methods of donating as well as finding out who has donated.  Everyone wants to know if you donated to the relief efforts (see a list here) and recently a list of celebrity donations has been tabulated. The reported contributions are below.

Alyssa Milano

$ 50,000
Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie $ 1,000,000

George Clooney

$ 1,000,000

Gisele Bundchen

$ 1,500,000

Lance Armstrong

$ 250,000


$ 250,000

Oprah Winfery

$ 1,000,000

Sandra Bullock

$ 1,000,000

Tiger Woods

$ 3,000,000

Looking at the contributors and contributions side by side, everyone asks the same question, should (insert name) have given more?  I wonder should we even ask this question.  Granted they make way more than most of us will so they should be able to give more right?  That answer depends on how you look at it.  We don’t know how much have have set aside for donations to other charities or even how much they have donated without reporting.  Why do we even need to know how much someone gave?  Is it just to validate our own insecurities about how much we can give? 

Many people, celebrities included, give and don’t seek press exposure.  They do it because they want to help others and strange as that might sound.  And others don’t give and it is totally ok with them.  It’s their money and they do with it what they can.  That’s the freedom we are allotted in this country.

Something that is often overlooked at times like these are businesses.  Oil Companies, manufacturers, restaurants, banks, casinos, etc all record record profits yet we never pressure their support.  We often ask for those within our own places of business to give but that’s not the same as a donation from our jobs themselves.  As I’ve heard it from some bookkeepers, "businesses don’t want to give large sums to charities for fear of later backlash from employees because of using the economy as a reason for lower raises and pay."  I can only hope that isn’t true but of course businesses won’t admit that themselves.

Before we get into the battle of how to spend someone else’s money, we should remember that we are donating to help others, not to validate our principals.  It’s ok not to give just as much as it is to give what you can.




Earthquake in Haiti

As I’m sure many of you all heard, there was a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti.  Tune into your favorite news (real news not gossip) sources for coverage and details. 

I just want to point out for those that want to help to investigate the charity or relief organizations carefully and thoroughly. Not only are there a lot of scams out there, it is important to know where your money is going.  Many people were surprised after Hurricane Katrina when they gave money expecting it to go directly to the victims only to find out the funds were spent in other ways.

The first thought is usually Red Cross but there are many more.  Red Cross does not give money directly to victims.  They use funds to help people get back on their feet.  They are an aid organization which is a good thing considering the response given by FEMA.  Many other organizations work this way but it is important to know what your money is going to.

Please donate food, blood, money or your time to them to help people of tragedies.

There are many other organizations that give aid.  MSNBC has a list of them here.  Visit their sites and choose the one that best fits your ideals on aid.

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti and their friends and family.

The Old School rap about Rap

The New Year is here.  It will be the time for many beginnings and endings.  Hip Hop, in its constant state of flux, will yet again evolve this year as it has in previous years. Many artists will flourish and others will fail.

There’s no avoiding the fact that Hip Hop is getting older. Once something is created, it has no choice but to get older until it no longer ceases to be. 

In Hip Hop, old things become Old School; people, ways of thinking, ways of doing, movies, dance and music.  Just about everything.  So when exactly does it become old? These days it seems almost instant.

Radio Stations often label music as "old school" before they play it. Recently, I heard the Old School label before a song by Tupac. Of course to me, Tupac, isn’t an Old School artist.  Old School to me, ends (or begins depending on how you look at it) in 1992.  Just about the time there was a major change in Hip Hop.

Another time, it was for a song that was released in the previous year.  How does a song that is a year old become Old School?  One major factor is the lack of structure within Hip Hop.  Swing, Ragtime, Jazz and Blues all have structure in the way they are defined by time period and sound even though they are all derived from the same type of music. 

Hip Hop currently has a weak structure.  In its struggle to remain hip, new labels are added as people try to define themselves.  The results are things like Crunk, Rap Metal and Trip Hop.  Other art forms have periods to define their history by either artist (Van Gogh’s Blue Period), major change (Harlem Renaissances) or time period (Romanticism).

One day Hip Hop will join the ranks of these other art forms and self-organize.  When it happens, I hope that the Hip Hop community embraces these labels with maturity because immaturity is what binds us to the Old School label.  We fear our past because we have been taught that old things are relics and un-cool.  Music has always followed the trend of young vs. old.  For it to last, we must go the way of Jazz and Classical and embrace the past performers and learn from what they teach us. History always teaches us to learn from the past, not to reject it.


Worse than the N word? Baby daddy/Baby momma

Baby mom(s) and baby dad(dy) are relatively new.  I can't put an exact origin on them but that doesn't matter.  What matters is their usage.

In short, the terms are disassociation's from a parental roll and relationship to the other parent. What does that mean? It illustrates that the relation to the other parent is not a direct connection but only through the child. It lessens the other parents worth and attempts to weaken the responsibility of involvement of the two parties that created the child.

This type of thinking and behavior has two fallout's: First, it has become far too easy and trendy to have children and not be involved with their lives. Second, more and more single mothers are left to fend for their children, some times from multiple fathers, either on their own or through the help of friends and family.

The divorce rate is pretty high but the rate of unmarried single mothers is even higher. I'm not advocating that marriage is for everyone but I do believe that both parents should be actively involved in the development of their children.

Actively involved doesn't mean seeing them every few days or sending money.  It's both parents making the decisions that will impact the child's life; sports & activities, schooling & child care and religion & culture as well as discipline and play.  No parent should dominates in these choices alone nor should they have to.

We need to evaluate slang a little closer before we adopt it.

World AIDS Day 09

Today is World AIDS Day. Millions have it and of those many don’t know. Education is the key to prevention and eradication. If you’re not at high risk, inform someone who might be.

I know it’s not as trendy as Breast Cancer these days but it does still exist.  Millions all over the word get infected and die every year.  It’s not something that is genetic so it can be stopped.  Help fight the disease, find a cure and cause it’s prevention.  Visit the site above and get involved so that we can say we wiped out a disease in our life time.

The Economics of Hip Hop

There’s no denying the money portion of Hip Hop culture.  So much so that there are more slang terms for money in Hip Hop than any other word; cheese, denaro, duckets, ends, stacks, bean, green, dead presidents, scratch, scrilla(h), dough, bills, cheddar, paper, Benjamin’s, loot, bacon, and a lot of others I don’t know or can’t think of.

No matter what you call it there are only two things to do with it in Hip Hop; get it any way you can and spend it frivolously. According to Fabolous, you should grab things of the shelf as if you were robbing the place and just Throw It In The Bag. But does rap teach us that saving money is for fools? 

Let’s take the case of NBA player Antoine Walker. He had  over 12 years in playing basketball and made well over $110 million (about $9 million a year) and is in debt.  He was arrested a few months ago for gambling debts totaling over $822,000 in Las Vegas.  Now I won’t pick on him too much (for helping to lead the Miami Heat to their first championship ever) but he helps to illustrate a point that just throwing your money away isn’t the smartest thing to do.

Many people have suffered from money troubles; MC Hammer, Charles Barkley, Wesley Snipes, Scott Storch, Garry Coleman and many others.  Many carry the Kanye West ? Can’t Tell Me Nothing train of thought right into financial ruin. The very first lyrics of the song goes:

I had a dream I can buy my way to heaven,
When I awoke, I spent that on a necklace.
I told God I’d be back in a second,
Man it’s so hard not to act reckless.
To whom much is given much is tested.
Get arrested, guess until they get the message.
I feel the pressure, under more scrutiny,
And what I do, act more stupidly.
Bought more jewelry, more Louis V,
My momma couldn’t get through to me.

This brings to light the thought process of many individuals that know the proper action to take yet constantly make that the wrong one.  And why not, Hip Hop is full of flashiness. We went from gold teeth and chains to platinum teeth and grillz and spinning rims.  Hip Hop as always been about show.  Once again, Kanye (he just has good examples) tells us in Diamonds from Sierra Leone Remix:

It’s in a black person’s soul to rock that gold
Spend your whole life trying to get that ice
On a polo rugby it look so nice
How could something so wrong make me feel so right, right?

So many of us know what it’s like to be without that as soon was we get it, the hood rich mentality takes over and the need to show others that you are among the haves rather than the have nots is overwhelming and dangerous.  Money management isn’t taught in all schools and rarely is it disgusted in the home.  Often, children are causes or enablers for lavish spending.  Baby clothes by designer companies thrive on Hip Hop dollars.  A sneaker for a 3 year old can fetch almost as much as a teenagers but last for a shorter time due to the growth of the child.

Music is not to blame.  After all, it’s entertainment not instruction. There is no single source that here.  Culture, peer-pressure, family history or bad luck.  You name it and it’s a contributor.  Though the music mostly says to floss, rock diamonds & ice and to drive cars with big shiny wheels, remember that unless you wrote that hit song, it isn’t paying your bills.

One thing I hate is when people use the economy as an example but for this I must.  Many people are losing their homes and cars because they can’t afford them any more.  The difference between them and Hip Hop culture is that they once were in the position to have and afford these things.  Often times, those of the Hip Hop culture have these things before they can afford them.  Affording something isn’t the ability to pay for it, it’s the ability to maintain it while taking care of your other responsibilities as well.


Worse than the N word? African American

For the next installment of this series, I present to you a curve ball.  You may be wondering why this word is on the list.  Of course this article is here to explain it but first let's educate ourselves a little:

Af·ri·can?Amer·i·can Pronunciation: ?a-fri-k?-n?-?mer-?-k?n, -?me-r?- also ?ä- Function: noun Date: 1855 : an American of African and especially of black African descent ? African?American adjective

eth·nic·i·ty Pronunciation: eth-?ni-s?-t? Function: noun Inflected Form(s): plural eth·nic·i·ties Date: 1950 1 : ethnic quality or affiliation <aspects of ethnicity> 2 : a particular ethnic affiliation or group <students of diverse ethnicities>

race Function: noun Etymology: Middle French, generation, from Old Italian razza Date: 1580 1 : a breeding stock of animals 2 a : a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock b : a class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits, or characteristics 3 a : an actually or potentially interbreeding group within a species; also : a taxonomic category (as a subspecies) representing such a group b : breed c : a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits?

col·or Pronunciation: ?k?-l?r Function: noun Usage: often attributive Etymology: Middle English colour, from Anglo-French, from Latin color; akin to Latin celare to conceal ? more at hell Date: 13th century? 3 : complexion tint: a : the tint characteristic of good health b : blush 4 a : vividness or variety of effects of language b : local color ?12 : skin pigmentation especially other than white characteristic of race <a person of color>?

na·tion·al·i·ty Pronunciation: ?na-sh?-?na-l?-t?, ?nash-?na- Function: noun Inflected Form(s): plural na·tion·al·i·ties Date: 1691 1 : national character 2 : nationalism 1 3 a : national status; specifically : a legal relationship involving allegiance on the part of an individual and usually protection on the part of the state b : membership in a particular nation
4 : political independence or existence as a separate nation 5 a : a people having a common origin, tradition, and language and capable of forming or actually constituting a nation-state b : an ethnic group constituting one element of a larger unit (as a nation)

So what's so wrong with this word? First and foremost, we are Americans.  If we want to shake the social stigma that we don't belong here we need to stop referring to ourselves using a hyphenated adjective. This adds a qualitative form on our citizenship which says to others that either we're not from here or we don't want to be here.  The term Hyphenated American was once used as slur much like the N-word for people whose roots were from other countries.  Times have changed and this is no longer the case but it is important to know the history and meanings of the words we use.

Second, let's play an game that you probably played as a child.  One of these things is not like the other; Japanese-American, Italian-American, Canadian-American, African-American, Irish-American, German-American.  Give up?  These people (sans Africans) are from countries and Africa is a continent. Africa itself has many nationalities within it.  People from the continent of Africa don't refer to themselves as Africans, they use the country they are from, much like we do.  Using the term only denotes that you don't know where you are from.

This leads use to the third reason, We'll use some logistics on the definition.  Anyone from Africa who immigrates to this country is an African-American. This of course mean people with white skin.  This might confuse and anger some people but by definition, it is what it is.

Fourth there's the obvious fact that not every dark-skinned person is from Africa. There are people from the Caribbean with the same skin color who are just as proud of where they are from and don't appreciate the African suffix attached to their nationality. In examining this phenomenon around the world, we are the only country which uses such prefixes to denote ethnicity and nationality.  There aren't any African-English or Vietnamese-French. People are comfortable with who there are and where they are from.

Which is what is missing from many people here.  Too few of us, myself included, know exactly where our ancestors are from.  For as long as we have been free, not too many of us have traced our roots back to where our families are from.  Information is in abundance today and so are scams.  Do your research before committing to such a service if that it how you wish to find your heritage. Be sure to do some research on your own prior to handling over any money.  This will afford you some important family time getting to know those who share your genes.

Common Sense, Manners and Home Training

You’ve heard it several times in your life about someone’s kids;  "They have no home-training." Do something stupid and someone may say; "You have no common sense!" Say or do something rude and very quickly; "You have no manners!"  All are usually followed by "Didn’t your parents teach you?" Hopefully they did or will if they haven’t.

After dwelling on it for a bit I started to wonder who created these rules and when? Who decided that I should hold the door for someone behind me to be courteous rather than shut the door quickly for fear that they may be out to get me? That I should help an old lady across the street rather than continue to my destination and face being late thus inconveniencing another person?  Well it seems that society does as a whole.

Though society makes the overall judgment on how we behave, parents individually determine what to teach their children.  If you think "Please" and "Thank you" are a waste of breath because people are typically ungrateful, fine don’t teach these rules to your kids. "What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine" so I don’t need to tell my kids that they need to ask before taking something from someone else. There is no difference between inside voices and outside voices because I can’t hear when people whisper.

Some of these rules exist to keep you in compliance with the law while others are opinions on how others want you to behave around them. Whether you agree or not can save you from glaring looks, whispers and unwanted comments.  I can also go as far as save your job, relationship or get you out of trouble with the law with a lesser or no penalty at all.

So what makes sense so common? Why does everyone know that green means go and red means stop or that you’ll get burned if you touch a hot stove?  One word, experience. No matter how many times you tell a child that a stove is hot, they don’t believe you until they actually touch it and feel the heat.  Sure they’ll point to it and say the word hot but it doesn’t really hit home unless they have experienced hot versus cold. 

We assume that everyone knows the difference between hot & cold and shouldn’t be surprised that the stove is hot to the touch.  Too many times we make assumptions about how people should conduct themselves.  Even worse, we impose our own judgments on others and then shun them when they don’t live up to our unknown expected standards.

Until we are born with an instruction manual or all parents are give the same copy of the Guide to Life there will be no common sense. Home training will always exist but it will always be different ways to going about it and will results will not always yield the same behavior in children. Manners will always differ per family structure thus conflicts are inevitable. Until we all agree on what is acceptable without compromise, home training, manors and common sense will be a paradox.

Words people use that are worse than the N word

Preface: While working on this series, Jay-Z appeared on Oprah and they had a short discussion about this topic. This brings about a great time to introduce this topic since it is in the always in a topic of interest for many.  Incase you missed it, here is the interview.  If not, scroll ahead or click here.

First, let's get it out of the way; nigger, niggers, nigga and niggas.  There, now we can move on.

For a long time, I've been able to step outside myself and see things for what they really are.  It's sort of like in cartoons where someone has a near-death experience and then they see themselves laying on the ground while talking to a ghost or the grim reaper.  Being able to put aside my own judgments and opinions is a skill that I have honed over the years.  Knowing when and where to use it has always been a challenge due to people not really knowing what to expect as your opinion.  Often times this type of thinking doesn't go along with popular opinion and getting others to see that is though but thankfully I have also been blessed with the great ability to use analogies very accurately to express my views.

Language is a huge part of Hip Hop, a little more so than it is in normal life.  How can it be more?  Because unlike normal language, the language of Hip Hop is in a constant state of evolution.  Slang changes so often that a meaning today may not be the same meaning tomorrow (Down Low?ahem). The language of Hip Hop has also been picked up and adopted by other cultures but it is often not used with the same respect as it was intended.

Before I get into the details, let me give you a little background on what this is about…  In early 2008, I decided to learn a new language.  Always itching for a challenge, I chose Russian.  Mainly because it was the only language of which many people around me spoke as their first language and partly because it was something different. In case you are wondering Japanese was my other choice because of my love of anime and manga.  To do this I decided to engulf myself in its culture as well, something they try to do in school when teaching language classes but I think they do a poor job of it.  Or maybe I wasn't paying attention, I'm not sure on that one. 

While trying to learn the language I wanted to know how people learn a new language and in doing so I found something interesting.  There was an article on use of profanity.  I don't know if it's typical for people to want to learn profanity in another language but they sure do joke about it often.  Having no interest in learning profanity, I read the article to see how other cultures view its use.  All my life I've used it but I try now minimize its use. The article mentioned that profanity was most often used by the poorer people of society and that the upper class felt it was beneath them to speak such words.  I certainly can relate to that though my tastes haven't grown with my bank account.

I decided to look into how other cultures view profanity and offensive words and saw the same result; used by the lower class and shunned by the upper.  This got me thinking about our society. There are those in the upper class that make their money of being foul mouthed; Howard Stern, most rappers and many comedians of both genders. Now I'm wondering what happened to us? 

Why is America and Hip Hop the exception?  Figuring it out for America is too big a question for me to tackle but I can handle Hip Hop. This one is simple; because it's popular to do. Chances are that your parents use it, and so do your friends.  You hear it sung in songs and delivered in poetry.  Laughed at on TV and ridiculed in politics.  Some use it for shock value, some use it for expression and still others can't tolerate the sound of it.

For blacks there has always been one word that went from a racial slur utter by others to a term of endearment spoken proudly by kin. And all with the change of 2 letters.  It's used is so often that even as a racial slur it doesn't carry the same impact as it once did. So much so that it is now accepted use among some races that used to use it in malice.

But this isn't about that word. Countless others have debated it many times over and will for generations to come. This is about the words that are used everyday which are secretly damaging but people don't realize it.  Their use is typically due to a lack of understanding the repercussions of their meanings much like the N word.

Since there are many words to explore this will be many articles explaining each word in detail. In this series I will shine a light on these words and explore deeply their meaning and the problems with their use.  Do you use these word?  Come back soon and find out if you are furthering social damage with your words.

Numbers Game

Statics are a funny thing.  They can be molded to prove any point and they can be totally made up to begin with.  Back in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s it used to be common to say to teens "You don’t want to become another static."  This was a scare tactic used to deter teens away from drugs, gangs and other illegal acts.  I always wondered why reducing the value of someone’s life down to a number was significant as if statics weren’t taken on everything in life.

During an election we’re told that every vote counts.  This point was hammered home heavily during the 2000 Presidential Election in Florida.  It was also such a huge topic, it spawned a movie based on the premise called Swing Vote.  Next year we’ll be taking a census here in the US and there are already flyers, radio commercials, internet ads and news articles to prepare us to be counted.

Are all of the numbers just hype? A lot of them are:

  • 9 out of 10 dentist recommend Magic Toothpaste
  • More than 50% of marriages end in divorce
  • TV Ratings
  • Box office gross
  • Record sales
  • News Polls
  • Mock Elections

If you listen to the numbers it sounds as if everything is one sided. Dentists only seem to like 2 brands of toothpaste but feel very strongly about 1 of them, divorce has the same probability as a coin toss and of course more people decided to watch the last episode of M.A.S.H. and Who Shot JR in Dallas then who watched the final episode of Roots.

As with all statistics the question remains, "How do you dispute it?" I’ve always been told that I have a greater chance of dying before the age of 27 because of my skin color but had I been born a different color, I had the same chance of dying of teen suicide.  The difference in the two is that in school, they teach you the signs of depression and suicide plus how to prevent them but they don’t teach you the signs of how to identify and prevent someone from dying of drug or violence related causes.  Sure there is the "Say no to Drugs" and D.A.R.E. campaigns.

You can’t dispute statistics because you don’t have the data used to generate them. I know this because 99% of the readers reading this don’t know where to find the data.  How do I know that? I don’t! But you can’t prove that I don’t any more than you can prove that any other statistics are real.

This is not to say that statistics can’t be trusted. Statistics should be questioned and scrutinized harder than they currently are.  If someone quotes a marriage statistic, respond with how many of those people remarry. If 9 out of 10 people recommend something, you should dismiss it because it’s advertising.

One interesting view on statistics has been Freakonomics, an economists view on statistics.  The book produced from this blog is a must read and has some interesting analysis of topics such as backyard pools are deadlier to children than guns to how profitable selling drugs really is.  A link to the book is below but blog link above is also worth looking at.

You may have noticed that there were no links to statistics or actual numbers in this post.  The reason being I can’t verify any of the numbers or their sources.  Many websites will list a source but no way to verify the data itself so I haven’t provided a source.  As with all of my posts, if I mention something of value, I try to provide a link to more information to educate those who are unaware of topics and as a source for more information.  This site is about raising discussion and the more information there is, the more intelligent the conversation can be.  Remember, question everything.

Back to School

It seems every month has some sort of theme in this country that involves spending money.  This month is the annual Back to School push.  Stores put supplies, clothes and other items on sale and in advertisements in hopes of cashing in on this yearly affair. But that in itself is not the issue at hand.

The issue is preparation at this time of year.  All too often, people give themselves a month or less than 30 days to get ready for a typical school year lasting at least 180 school days or 8 months. You don’t have to look hard to find ways of saving money for back to school items. Don’t get me wrong, saving money is a good thing.  No one wants to pay as much as they can for things if they can get them for less.  Even the rich know that paying a lot for things is foolish if it’s not necessary.

No, my issue is with the people who can’t afford to buy school supplies for their kids.  Not because they can’t buy the supplies themselves, but because they waited until the last minute for something they knew was coming. The school year typically ends sometime in June and starts again at the end of August.  In that time between, many families go on vacation, plan repairs, send their kids to camp, have BBQ’s and spend money in other ways. Freeze pops and trips to the beach may be fun but when these items leave you in a situation where you must decide whether to buy your child a pencil and paper or pay a bill is a terrible position to be in.  And more importantly it is a bad lesson for your children.  Waiting until the last moment rather than properly planning of a major purchase (and yes this counts as one) is a lesson that man learn too late in life (think foreclosure).

As a society, we start Spring Break planning in January (typically 7 days),summer vacation planning in March (typically 7 days) and Christmas shopping in October (only 1 day) but we only give ourselves only 30 days to prepare our children to learn.  Something sound funny here? Or is this a major misplacement of priorities?  I’ll let you be the judge of that because I’ve already made up my mind.

Everyone needs a little (and sometimes a lot) of help sometimes which many organizations are willing to provide it, especially when it comes to children:

A local radio station here in Philly 100.3 The Beat is giving away free hair cuts and I’m sure others will follow suit with their own promotions to aid in the back to school push.  After hearing about this I started to wonder to myself why don’t we start this type of charity and thinking in June rather than in August. If you started the week after school started and bought one type of supply each week through the summer, by the time school started you would have all of the supplies needed for the whole year.  What’s better is you’ve now spread out the purchases to more than one lump sum and more than likely able to better budget you summer and school purchases.

As a matter of fact, I’m going to start this planning right now for next school year.  I want to have our students in a better position next school year than they are for this coming school year.  We only have these types of promotions on radio stations whose markets are mostly black but this should end.  If we want to make a change in our lives we need to get better at planning for the future.  Teaching this lesson early in life is a great way to get there.  If you are not of school year age and are either in the education profession, or know someone with school age children now is the time to get on the ball.  Start a new program at your, call it what you want and take all the credit for the idea if you want but lets make a change.  Not because Obama is president, because it is necessary!

How to say goodbye

Today we said good bye to Michael Jackson in a very public way.  There’s no doubt about his fame, his legacy and the amount of people he touched.  For a few hours, the world stopped and watched as the Jackson family held a public memorial the honor the man the the world adored so much.

As the family said a tearful good bye in front of cameras and the whole worlds eyes, thousands of people in the Staples Center scream out "We love you Janet!", "Usher you are my baby!" and "We miss you Michael!".  On their way out of the Staples Center, many more stop for interviews and declare that they just saw a "great show", "will miss him very much" and "I still can’t believe he’s gone." 

The day before as I watched fans scream in joy for being rewarded with tickets to the memorial service, I prepared myself for the the things above.  Again the day before, Debbie Rowe, the mother of the two oldest children lashed out at reporters asking questions about getting the children.

It’s a shame that even in times of heartache and pain, those in the public eye can’t have a private moment to grieve.  Most of us will never have to deal with camera flashes and questions while trying to decide where to lay someone to rest or how to settle their debts. 

Press releases and public appearances while fighting back tears and pain are necessary but hard to do as we’ve seen many times before with grieving celebrity families.  Those that can, ask for privacy and depending on how popular they are get their wish.  But this is Michael Jackson, the man whole has been in the public eye since he was six years old. In a situation like this, it was a given that a public service would be the only option.

As a grieving public we too have a responsibility to let the family get their affairs in order and allow us in when they are ready. We claim to know our celebrities but we really don’t, not personally anyway.  We know the parts of them that they let us see, the dressed-up watered-down versions of themselves that is allowed to be public. We strive so much to have the connection that those truly close to them have but will never achieve it.  That determination is what makes us fans.  As Prince once put it, "Fan is short for fanatic?" and he would rather be surrounded by friends.

So if we are to be friends, why can’t show our extended friends the same respect we would our personal friends? Because they are not our real friends. Friendship is give and take but we want celebrities to give themselves to us while we take it all in. We want to own them so we buy paraphernalia.  We want to be them so we buy the clothes they wear and dress like them. We want to know all about them so we research them, learn their stories and share their personal experiences.

But the one things we don’t want are their troubles that come with being famous.  We want to watch them go through it so that we can be entertained even more by them. So why can’t we give them just a few moments to themselves since they have given us so much?  Because we have a slight disconnect we it comes to how others feel. Others emotional wellbeing is as important to us as our own.  We’ve lost part of the bonds we had to other humans. We celebrate death and victory of war at the same time. Vengeance, loss, pain and joy are all experienced at the same time these days but we only think about the side that we see.  If it’s the good side, we never think about those that experience the bad but if we get the bad we only want the good. 

It’s time we start seeing both sides of the equation. We need to know that sometimes when we experience joy others get pain.  Not only should we acknowledge their pain we should try to understand it.  Even the times when we feel indifferent.  We are all people, we all feeling things differently and we all need to respect each others feelings.

Is Hip Hop appropriate for advertising?

I’m not sure if it’s maturity or others influence on myself but there’s something seriously wrong with this:

There’s even a longer version:

And of course the original:

On the surface we have a Burger King ad campaign for a SpongeBob Squarepants toy series using a parody of Sir Mix-a-Lot – Baby Got Back.  But for some reason I can’t help but notice the exploitation of the girls dancing around in the background with what appears to be phonebooks in their pants, as lyrically described in the song.  Granted SpongeBob’s last name is Squarepants and not Squareback or Squarebutt, the song is a close in its attempt at a parody. 

Is this an attempt to sell sex to children? I don’t think so. Though this was/is a popular song (more on that in a later post), this isn’t a a song in heavy rotation today.  It’s mainly played in clubs, bars, sports areas and on Top 40 stations, usually away from SpongeBob’s target audience.  The commercial targets more the adult than the child with with a nostalgic song that most parents with children of this age would recognize. I’m sure they all gave the usual silent disapproving head shake when they saw it as I did and I don’t have children.

Is this in poor taste?  Certainly so!  I don’t think anyone would agree with the idea that children 2-11 need sexual images to be enticed to want toys.  The toy itself is enough.  SpongeBob alone is one of the most popular images for children today.  A silent commercial with just the Burger King logo and flashes of the toys would be enough for kids to want them. I’ve heard some people argue that children seem far worse images on TV but that’s no excuse for continuation of that issue.

In recent years, Hip Hop songs have started to appear along side products more often.  A few years back, Ludacris had a failed campaign with Pepsi when Bill O’Reilly mentioned that Ludacris was a bad influence on impressionable children and citing as an example his lyrical boast that he has ”hoes in different area codes.” 

Boost Mobile used commercials featuring names like Jermaine Dupree, Young Jeezy, Ludacris, Kanye West, The Game and Fat JoeNaz and AZ did a Sprite commercial. 

50 cent has appeared in many commercials for his Vitamin Water and and one for Reebok along side Jay-Z

Speaking of Hova, he and Pharrell both appeared in commercials for HP laptops. 

And on rare occasions, a beef arises in the case if Apple vs. Lugz.

The list goes on and on so it looks like Hip Hop is ready for advertising despite some stumbling along the way.  When done tastefully, any commercial can be paired with any genre of music.  It’s not the artists reputation that is issue but the advertisers themselves that are responsible for the commercials just as much it is the artists and record companies who are responsible for the musical content.  As Sir Mix-a-Lot humbly puts it, "Booty is booty", it just how you present it.

Judge not, lest ye be judged!


I’m sure you’ve seen or heard about it by now but if not?

True this isn’t Hip Hop but it does illustrate a valid point about appearances and talent today. First some names; Ruben Studdard, Meatloaf, Barry White, Aretha Franklin, Wynonna Judd, Jennifer Hudson, Martha Wash, Luciano Pavarotti and Jill Schott. What do they all have in common?  They don’t all look like today’s low-rise or skinny jeans wearing, choreographed dancing, bubble gum artist that seems to come out of the music industry dispenser.

No, she’s a normal person.  Average by some standards, below by others but that’s not the point.  If you watch the media coverage of Susan they all point out the same thing which should be the real story, the audience members’ first reactions.  Everyone is told at some point in their lives that first impressions are important and appearance is everything but what exactly does that mean?  When do first impressions start and stop?  What are the rules for judging someone for the first time?  And are our impressions defined by others or do we make them up?

In this case, when Susan walked on stage everyone clearly had their minds made up about her.  And when she opened her mouth to speak, some people already solidified their thoughts.  And then she began to sing and shocked the hell out of everyone in the audience both in-studio and home.  And I say, Good for her!  It’s rare that people come across events such as this in their lives but did get the important lesson?

That lesson is that in terms of talent, looks don’t mean a think.  Going back to the list of people from before, every one of them has/had a weight problem either before or during their careers.  I’m sure there was some teasing from their peers and strangers but that didn’t stop them from showing their talents.  Even on this show, Susan shined bright.  Now of course the judges knew she could sing before she came on stage and played into her appearance for the audience entertainment but they both (Susan and the judges) knew she would be continuing on.

Looking at music today I have to wonder if we are doomed to 90 lb teenage girls that dance provocatively in videos and guys that must have at least a 6 pack but neither of them with any real talent. Sex sales, we know but only for so long.  It doesn’t keep you coming back for more.  Music today has lost its spark, its passion.  Now it’s short term results but no matter how much you want it to, sex doesn’t last very long in the grand scheme of things.