Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Senseless Killing of Derrion Albert

WARNING: This video footage is graphic so you may not want to watch it if you get emotional very easily. It's really tragic.

Video courtesy of GlobalGrind.com.

I wasn't going to post the video but I think that ADULTS need to see this video. More light needs to be shed upon these type of incidents that get swept under the rug as far as national media coverage is concerned. There's no reason a young man should have to die for this to be brought about as an issue worthy of national attention. This happens EVERY DAY people! And instead of sitting around waiting for the powers that be to do something people need to realize that change starts with us. It's like I said yesterday, if you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem! Where were the adults while all this was going on?

This is REAL LIFE! It's not about your kid or my kid, it's about kids in general. It's about human lives. It's about the future.

For me, the worst part about this is that this kid wasn't even participating in the brawl/melee. It appeared he was an innocent bystander. Even if he wasn't an innocent bystander once he was down on the ground and obviously unconscious there was no need to continue beating him more and more. Again, where were the adults/security/administrators?

What also hit home for me is that this is the type of situation that most of us that grew up in an urban area (or the surrounding suburbs) were exposed to as a teenager or participated in. I know me and my boys were involved in our fair share of fights and a few of them escalated to the level of a brawl. We were not scared to get involved in stupid when we were younger and some of us might have even wanted to be involved in something like this because we thought it was cool or that it made us look tough. But we blessed to survive with only cuts, scratches, and maybe a lump on our faces.

We're older now and we've lost a lot of friends along the way to violence and we've realize how dumb we were back then. But now as an adult I think about the kids nowadays and the level of recklessness and carelessness with which some of them live their lives and it really scares me. I think about all the stuff that me and my friends survived and how that could have easily have been one of us suffering the same fate as Derrion. Not everybody survives these situations though, and it resonates deeply with me because I've lost friends to violence more times than I care to have experienced. Whether it's a fight or a gunshot it's a loss of life. They say Derrion was an honor student. Maybe he would have been the next Obama, Ben Carson, Bill Gates, or the guy that saved your life somehow. Maybe he would have somehow made the world a better place for his family or for all of us. Maybe he would have just been a regular Joe Schmoe on the street that you didn't think twice about. But now his life will be remembered by a fatal beating that could have easily been avoided. It's maddening and saddening.

My prayers go out to Derrion's family and friends and also to those who beat him as well as everybody else out there acting niggorant. Also, sometimes people need to put the camera down and do something. I can't stand that the camera person was so enthralled by the fight that they didn't think to go and get help. There's so much wrong about this story that there's gotta be something right to come as a result of it.

Rest In Peace Derrion Albert.

This guy? Seriously?!?!

My co-worker told me I look like this guy, Rio Ferdinand...


Monday, September 28, 2009

If you're not a part of the solution, you're a part of the problem

When I'm not surfing the InterWeb, bloggin', or otherwise blowing off time, I mentor a 15 year old here in Baltimore City. I'm not supposed to be bloggin' about my mentoring or the kid but I kinda need to get this off my chest. If I get fired then I understand.

This past Sunday my mentee and I went out for a few hours and I ended up taking him to the Walters Art Museum in the Mount Vernon area of Baltimore. This was after we'd tried to go to the Central Branch of the Enoch Pratt Library (shot out to the Pratt Contemporaries by the way) only to find out it was closed. Naturally, he wasn't too excited about going to an art museum and the only reason he wanted to go to the library was to "get on his myspace page". But I decided he could use a smidgeon of culture that didn't come in the form of a television show so we were going to the art museum.

As we're walking through the museum he starts talking about his "hood". How his hood "made him" and everybody in his "hood" knows him, etc., etc. At 15 years of age I can somewhat understand why his view of the world is as large as the borders of his neighborhood. Expanding those horizons is something I'm trying to work on with him. When you only see your future within a certain geographical boundary, it limits your view of what you see as achievable in your lifetime.

Speaking of lifetimes though, after he made a few more comments about his hood and asked me what I KNEW about the hood (which makes me chuckle at this point in my life), I asked him this.
"Since you want to stay in your hood, how long do you expect to live if you continue to live there?"
His completely relaxed response..."'Till I'm 19."

What in the F?

I'm not going to lie that response had me dumbfounded for a millisecond. The kid is 15 and he doesn't see himself living past 19 because he lives in a neighborhood that he can't visualize himself not living in. Or better yet, a neighborhood he doesn't want to get out of.

It's crazy but at the same time it makes a certain kind of twisted and unfortunate sense. I won't go on a diatribe about why it makes sense and what factors contribute to a teenager having this perspective of his life-span (and being completely comfortable with it) but I will say this...

When it comes to the children being our future and helping them grow into adults with sound decision-making skills and aspirations for their lives, IF YOU ARE NOT A PART OF THE SOLUTION, YOU'RE A PART OF THE PROBLEM!!!

If you're not helping a child (even if it's your own child) by being a positive role model or something that has a positive impact on his/her life, you should be. And if you're being a negative influence (or don't know if you're being a positive or negative influence) in a child's life you should go PLAX YOURSELF immediately. By not being a part of the solution you are indeed contributing to the problem whether you want to accept/believe that or not. Indifference is not acceptable.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Weekly Football Picks - Week 3

Team Name this week is "PurpleHeysoose". Obviously inspired by you know who.

Redskins over Detwat. I wouldn't be surprised at allif the Skins (my team) lost this game but I'm gonna give them the benefit of the doubt and say that close call with St. Louis along with all the heat they're taking (especially coach Zorn) will inspire them to win this game.

Green Bay over St. Louis. Green Bay will beat St. Louis the way the Skins (my team) were supposed to last week.

Minnesota over San Francisco. Brett Favre will get injured this game but it won't matter because Adrian Peterson will be the difference. It'll be closer than most people will expect though. San Francisco's defense is going to get-up for AP.

New England over Atlanta. After the Jets game last week I don't expect New England to lose. But since Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner are on my Fantasy team I'd like to see them put up nombres.

Tennessee over Jets. I simply do not believe in the Titans when they are playing a team with a solid defense (see Titans vs. Pittsburgh, week 1). But this week I think they're going to muster up enough offense to squeak by the Jets. The Jets' defense is going to play well. Chris Johnson will not explode like he did last week. But in my mind this is a must-win game for the Titans and they'll find a way to pull this one out. Courtland Finnegan will have an interception in this game.

Philly over Kansas City. Mike Vick FTW! Even if he'll only have about 7-10 snaps I bet he's a factor against a team as weak as the Chiefs. Dwayne Bowe needs to catch a TD and get 100 yards though for my fantasy team. Thanks in advance.

Giants over Tampa Bay. Do I really need to say why they'll win. Did you see their game against Dallas in Week 2? Byron Leftwich will get sacked at least 5 times this game. Especially if Justin Tuck plays.

Baltimore over Cleveland. This is going to be a tough divisional game but I don't expect Brady Quinn to be able to withstand the pressure Baltimore's defense will put on him.

Houston over Jacksonville. After Andre Johnson's performance last week (ok ok, SCHAUB TOO!) I can't pick against them when they're playing a team like the Jags. I feel sorry for Maurice Jones-Drew.

New Orleans over Buffalo. Sorry T-Ho. Drew Brees will be the MVP this year and he'll put up 300+ yards and 3 TDs on the Bills even if he were using his LEFT ARM, lol.

Chicago over Seattle. I can't stand the Seahawks. I feel sorry for TJ Houshmazilli.

Pittsburgh over Cincy. Can't bet against Mike Tomlin in this one. I think the injury to the guy with the long hair hurts Pittsburgh a lot more than we think.

Denver over Oakland. Oakland isn't for real. Denver isn't for real. But Denver will beat Oakland this week, even if the game is in Oakland.

Chargers over Dolphins. The Chargers WRs are too big. Sproles is too quick. But, this won't be an easy win.

Indy over Arizona. Anquan Boldin will score at least 1 TD this game. I'm trying to speak good things into existence since he is on my fantasy team. Initially I had picked AZ to win this game but the more I thought about Peyton's performance on Monday night the more I realized that if this game is close, the Colts will win. And if it's not close, the Colts will already be up by 14-21 points anyway.

CowGirls over Carolina. Jake Delhomme really does SUCK people. He really does. And as much as I hate the CowGIRLS, I can't say I think they'll lose this one.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekly Football Picks - Week 2

My team name was "JetFavre&TheNewYorkBretts".

Atlanta over Carolina
Minnesota over Detwat
Packers over Bengals
Titans over Houston
Oakland over KC
Jets over Pats
New Orleans over Philly
Skins over Rams
Cards over Jags
Buffalo over TB
49ers over Seahawks
Pitt over Chicago
Broncos over Cleveland
Ravens over Chargers
Giants over CowGirls
Indianapolis over Miami

Right now (Monday at 2pm) I'm sitting in first place by 5 points.

Weekly Football Picks - Week 1

I'm late on posting this but I wanted to share. I'm in a NFL Football Pick'Em Pool that my co-worker sets up every year. The way it works is that everyone that signs up for the pool puts up a bottle of wine and at the end of the season whoever has the most points wins all the wine. You pick a team each week and you get a point for each win. I tend to change my team name weekly so I'll add that to these posts (which, in the future I will post at game-time on Sunday).

My team name week 1 was "MBC".

My picks for Week 1 are below and I'll put my week 2 picks up tomorrow.

Pittsburgh over Tennessee
Atlanta over Miami
Denver over Cincy
Minnesota over Cleveland
Indy over Jacksonville
New Orleans over Detwat
Dallas over Tampa Bay
Philly over Carolina
Baltimore over Kansas City
Jets over Houston
Giants over (my) Redskins
Cardinals over 49ers
Seattle over the Rams
Packers over Bears
New England over Buffalo
Chargers over Oakland

My standing after Week 1....First place by 1 point.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Respect Mos Def!!!

I went to see Black Dante last night in Baltimore at Club Sonar off the strength of my man Kevin having an extra ticket that he gave me the "homeboy hook-up" on. Sonar's one of those small venues that feels much more intimate than going to a large arena to see an artist. I prefer these smaller venues over arena performances but most of the artists I wouldn't mind paying to go see perform at the larger venues.

The point is this post is not to talk about Sonar, that's just my segue into what I really want to talk about which is the overall experience of the Mos Def show. I'll try to be quick:
  1. A local band/group called Soul Cannon was performing when I got there. It took me a minute to get into their sound (the band was rocking by the time they got into the 3rd song or so) but in the end, I think they were a pretty good. They guy on the mic served as the group's Black Thought and he was a pretty solid rapper.

  2. Sidebar: 1st beer purchased --> Natty Boh

  3. The next act was some guy named Hussein from New York. I am really upset that I can't remember his full name because this guy actually held his own solo onstage for like 6 straight songs just spittin'. And not any party songs or dance songs, but like straight lyricism with bangin' beats for about 15 minutes or so. I really liked his set.
  4. The next act was some cat who looked like a cross between Buckshot and Michael Pittman. Yes, I know that's random. What's worse is that he walked like Forrest Gump when he had the braces on his legs. Anywho, he sucked BALLZ. The end.

  5. Sidebar: 2nd beer purchased --> Natty Boh AGAIN (they were $3, I'm just sayin)

  6. The next act was Jay Electronica. A guy I will admit I've heard a lot of positive things about and even heard NaS give him props so I was anxious to hear his set. I have NEVER listened to a Jay Electronica song in my life. Not for any reason in particular though. And considering he impregnated Erykah Badu I was already questioning his sanity. Turns out that Mr. Electronica started off with a bang (came out and dropped the "Who Shot Ya" instrumental to do his "mic check" over) and had me siced! But it was all downhill from there. The rest of his performance seemed like a drunken stupor of half-performances of songs (like a verse and a half) and jokes that went over about 90% of the audience's head. At one point I actually felt bad and thought to myself: "This guy is actually going to lose potential fans who have heard good things about him because this performance was HORRENDOUS! He must be drunk/high." Needless to say, I was glad when his set ended. I really felt like he did himself and his music a disservice withe subpar performance. You could tell he was a decent rapper but his stage show was pathetic. I hope he reads this (because we all know he cares what I think).

  7. Sidebar: 1st cocktail --> Ciroc and cranberry (LET'S GOOOOOO!!!!)

  8. Next act, TALIB MF-ING KWELI!!!! I've seen Talib a couple times already so I knew what to expect. He didn't disappoint as usual. Did all my favorite joints (Hot Thing, Get By, Never Been In Love Before, Hostile Gospel, etc.) and he has a knack for controlling the crowd. Definitely a performance that set the tone for Mos.
  9. Finally, MOS DEF. Before I start talking about Mos's performance I want to put this out there. I like Mos Def for the most part but I am not really a follower of his music. I am more so a fan of his features than anything else. I like Black Star far more than I like what I have heard from Mos Def as a solo act. I actually have all of his CDs but I haven't listened to any of them other than a little bit of The New Danger. So my goal was to assess how his show was and not the quality of his music necessarily. Especially since so many people already seem to think he's dope which I don't doubt as far as his lyrical content goes. But music is more than just lyrics.

    Mos came onstage in penny loafers, black jeans, and a black t shirt. He started off on those big-azz drums I saw him play on Letterman a few weeks ago. Oddly enough, I enjoy the songs where he plays the drums. I have no idea what the song's titles are but I like the sound of the drums a lot. Moving on though, I mention his clothing selection because he wouldn't stay in the black t shirt long and the penny loafers were foreshadowing what I think was one of the best parts of his performance.

    He started off doing that singing bullshyt that I do not really enjoy but it appeared the crowd (aside from me) was really into it. After about 3 songs of that he brought it to some of his more recent stuff for 3 or 4 songs. Again, it appeared everyone was really enjoying the show. I however, didn't know the words so I just nodded to the beat. By the time he got to something I actually knew the words to (and not just the chorus) you can guess who was on stage beside him...TALIB KWELI. Turns out they were doing a Black Star set. YESSSSS! After the Black Star set Mos decided to do some more singing type ish, then channel James Brown for a quick sec, then gave a shout-out to none other than Kanye TuDa.

    Peep the audio of him taking up for Kanyeezy.

    And that is why the title of this post is "I respect Mos Def". After shouting out Kanye to what seemed to be a good amount of boos from the audience he said something along the lines of how Kanye is his friend and he is sticking by him even though he made a mistake. He also said that Kanye didn't touch or hit Taylor Swift so the amount of hate and castigation and media coverage isn't commensurate with the mistake he made. He then drove home the point that Kanye is getting more coverage and hatred for what he did than Joe Wilson and his "you lie" comments during Obama's specch. He also mentioned how he felt Jay Leno should not have pulled the Donda West card during the interview in which Kanye apologized. I definitely agree with Mos on that point. It was after that comment that I whispered to my man Kevin: "Now watch this room divide along racial lines". It was one of those half-serious-half-joke comments but it was pretty obvious to me that the people clapping were mostly Black (the audience was definitely diverse) and most of the people booing Kanye or putting up their middle fingers were white. I'm just saying. But I respect Mos for sticking up for Kanye even though he didn't have to say shyt about Kanye during that performance. And not just sticking up for him but giving what he definitely thought was a plausible reason to not hate Kanye or find him unforgivable. Kudos to Mos Def and his loyalty. His logic though, I'm not sure I agree with 100%.

    After that my favorite part of the show came up. Mos channeled Michael Jackson and did Rock With You (my favorite MJ song of all the times) and covered Billie Jean. And he actually covered Billie Jean pretty well doing the MJ dances and all. After that he did one of the funniest things I've ever seen at a concert. He took the audio from "Randy Watson's" performance on Coming to America and he covered THAT. LOL. It was completely hilarious as he went word for word with the infamous Randy Watson and shouted out "sexual chocolate!" After this he did "Umi Says" which is a song I actually like a lot. From there he ended the show with some old school tunes and although some of the audience had cleared out (it was 1:30 am on a Wed.), lots of people stuck around and made their way up close to the stage just to get a closer view of him before he left.

    Overall, the show was good. I definitely enjoyed Talib's set more than Mos's but that was probably because I'm far more familiar with Talib's music. But I definitely like the show that Mos Def put on and wouldn't advise against going to see him in a venue like Sonar.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trailer: More Than A Game

Most of you know I'm a huge LeBron fan. With that said...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why Serena, Kanye, and Lil Mama Matter More Than You Want to Believe

Exhibit A: Serena Williams outburst at the U.S. Open

Serena's outburst was just about as uncalled-for and even more disrespectful than Kanye's decision to jump onstage and pull a "Kanye". Normally, Serena is very well-spoken and tactful both on-and-off the court. I'm always impressed by the intelligence, composure, demeanor, and classiness of the Williams' sisters which is why this strikes me as an unfortunate aberration for Serena. Of all the things I could imagine her saying I would have never thought she'd swear to God that she'd shove a tennis ball down the line judge's throat. That's harsh, lol. Could I see her calling a line judge or umpire stupid or straight up wrong about a call, YES. Shoving a ball down someone's throat is so Ving Rhames slash R. Kelly of her (you'll get that one eventually), lol. Outside of that I was equally disappointed in the post-match interview where you could see on her face that she knew she was wrong for having done it, but was too prideful to admit she was wrong, apologize, and take the heat. I'd have respected her a lot more in this shytuation if that were the case. But as far as I know she has yet to formally apologize or make a statement and that's pretty disappointing. There are a lot of young Black girls that look up to Serena and Venus and I think by not coming out and making a statement saying that it was wrong and people shouldn't react this way, she's doing a disservice to those young girls that look up to her. YES, she has a social responsibility to do this! I don't care what anyone says.

UPDATE: Serena has apologized.

Exhibit B: Kanye West storming the stage (again) at the VMA's

Watch the video here

First off, this focking guy! Seriously! This is the second time Kanye's pulled a stunt like this so there's really no excuse whatsoever as far as I'm concerned. Apparently he was sauced up off Hennessy the whole night and I'm sure that had something to do with it. But nevertheless, even off a fifth of that yak he's got to know he can't pull a stunt like that TWICE! Maybe the pressure of Amber Rose's increasing celebrity is getting at his insecurities? But realistically, homie is biting the hands that feed him. Does Kanye not know that some of the same people that listen to country music's Taylor Swift are also buying his records as well? He's not moving that many units solely of the bruhs and sistahs out here, let's be real. Not to mention that outside of record sales, fan-bases, and pop culture attention whoring, Kanye was FLAT OUT WRONG for jumping onstage like that! And not just WRONG, but CLASSLESS (read: without class, tact, or respect). For a man who tends to think so highly of himself in terms of his level of sophistication and the "finer things in life" he enjoys (Amber Rose, included), he sure knows how to act indignantly obnoxious (read: like a fucking spoiled bratty azzhole). Beyonce should have grabbed his dumb-azz by the ear and pulled him offstage (sidebar: I swear Beyonce is acting more and more like an old, wise and all-knowing Black woman nowadays than ever. Sasha doing the performing, singing, and videos though, lol). Funny thing is, I wasn't surprised one bit by what Kanye did. That's actually the sad part. Kanye is a great producer, an on-the-verge-of-great rapper, and a pop icon. If that's not enough for him to let his "big ego" go limp for a minute and humble himself and realize that God has given him things a lot of us will never see then he should at least have some respect for his fellow artists, musicians, and fans of not only himself but Taylor Swift. This was the biggest display of azzhole-ishness from Kanye thus far and the unfortunate part is that I'm sure there's more to come. Blame on the a-a-a-a-alcohol Kanye. Good luck with that.

Oh yeah, Kanye has apologized, unlike Serena. To his apology I say, WOMP!

UPDATE: Video of Kanye apologizing on Jay Leno 9/14/09 (courtesy nahright.com)

Read about it here

This one is the least offensive of these incidents. In fact, it wasn't offensive at all, just out-of-place. The people that were enjoying the Jay-Z and Alicia Keys performance surely cared nothing about Lil Mama and may have only known her (if they knew her at all) from America's Next Best Dance Team (or whatever that show is called). Mama's situation was one in which no matter how siced she was that the Jay and Alicia performance was crankin', she needed to keep her "Lil" azz in her seat.

It was a disrespectful move in the sense that you don't get onstage with two (arguable) legends (definitely one legend at the least in Jay-Z) uninvited and try to steal the spotlight. I remember when 50 Cent did this while Kanye and Jay-Z were performing in NYC a while back and I thought all hell would break loose. It turned out that Jay-Z handled that shytuation with the same class and swagger that he handled this one. Jay actually embraced 50 when he did it and he ignored Lil Mama, which was probably the right thing to do no matter how many of us wanted him to pluck her Lil azz off the stage. Or better yet, Alicia or Bey could have handled the light work in this case considering Beyonce and/or Alicia's thighs are thicker than Lil Mama's entire body.

In the end, I'm sure she regrets attention whoring what she did and she has even issued an apology (see Serena, an apology). But the truth is, nobody really cares because she's not a star. And this feeble attempt to steal two gigantic star's time in the spotlight will only make it tougher for her to achieve that stardom she apparently seeks. In short, Lil Mama lost. And she'll probably stay losing because of this shytuation. It's one thing to be famous, and it's another to be infamous.

Exhibit N: As in NIGGER/NIGGERish

My issue with each of these incidents is that they involve a semi-famous or ridiculously famous Black person doing some shyt they know they had no business doing. Serena KNOWS she has no business telling the judge she's wants to shove the tennis ball down her throat. Even in the heat of the battle Serena knows not to say something like that (out loud). So in the end what *some* people will see is just another young Black girl with fame and money but no home training and the ability to revert to a "ghetto girl" if put in the right/wrong situation. And yes those people will see it that way even though Serena and her sister's track record of intelligence, and classiness are fairly well documented/photographed/video'd. Of course it isn't right and of course there are tons of people that won't view her that way. But *some* people will and *some* young Black women will be pre-judged because of it. With great fame comes great responsibility, socially. Even if you don't want it (à la Charles Barkley).

Similarly, Kanye's second time jumping on stage and having an outburst not only shows that he's either "apeshyt" (as he likes to say) or has no self-control, class, or respect for other artists. Is he that much of a narcissist? We all know Taylor Swift can't touch Beyonce with a 10 foot pole (pause) when it comes to the two videos in question. And for the record, I'm not even a big Beyonce fan but I respect what she's accomplished as an entertainer and businesswoman. But for Kanye to go and grab the microphone from Taylor Swift and interject the way he did was completely classless and tasteless. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Beyonce is big enough to handle her own. And Kanye taking up for his big sister in law is less impressive to me than him bringing Amber Rose everywhere dressed like she wants to get it on every 5 minutes. And considering Kanye's done it once before he should have known to stay in his seat, no matter how much Hennessy he drank prior to and during the show. Speaking of, bringing an open bottle of Hennessy to an award show and drinking straight from the bottle is classless in-and-of itself, especially when you're the alleged Louis Vuitton Don. Let alone doing it with a woman accompanying you as captivatingly (I know, it's not a word) sexy as Amber Rose on his arm (even if she condones or encourages it). Using his own words against him as well as Jay-Z's, it seems that Kanye must have dropped out of college because he realized he could pay for school but he couldn't buy class. Donda West isn't just rolling over in her grave, she's doing the worm. Imagine that.

I won't touch on Lil Mama again other than to say that what she did could also be argued as another example of a young Black person acting an azz and trying to get some attention for it. It was just lame.

In the end, all of these incidents are deeper than just someone making a mistake or bad decision that makes he/she look bad. In a sense, it makes us ALL look bad and it makes us all look like...

...that is, in the eyes of *some*.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

NFL Survivor Pool

I participate in an NFL survivor pool every year. The rules are that you pay $10 per entry and you pick one team each week to win. If the team wins, you advance to the next week. BUT, you can't pick that team again for the remainder of the season. At the end of the season whoever is left splits to the prize money which is usually a little bit less than $10 multiplied by the number of people who entered the pool.

Every year I've been in the pool there have been at least 200 people which means potential a $2000 payout. My first year I came close to winning and the Ravens (shocker) blew it for me in the final week of the season. This year I'm hoping I can last until the end.

If this sounds like something you're interested in, take a look below and sign-up:

You have been invited to join a football pool. Mitch is organizing a Regular Season Football Survivor Pool.

In order to join the pool, simply navigate to www.simplysportsware.com/JoinPool.aspx?poolId=c9269f80-b339-419b-87cd-13666f296b71 and enter the following information:

Pool name: SP2K9
Pool password: goravens

Enjoy the NFL season!

The cost is $10 again. Same rules as usual. They will be on the front page when you sign in. Feel free to forward this to all of your friends as the more the merrier. I will accept Paypal to kavalsky@comcast.net. Any questions can also be directed to kavalsky@comcast.net.

Good luck to all.