Fasten, fit closely, bind together.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Who's Down Wit' G.O.P???..... Nobody!!! 

I'll admit the Republicans did have some bad luck. Their convention started only one day after the MTV Video Music Awards took place in Miami. With so many celebrities nursing hang-overs, it is understandable that the G.O.P. finds themselves lacking in celebrity star power this week.

Or maybe they simply do not want any celebrity endorsements. Maybe the G.O.P. feels like N. Dot in regards to Hollywood's A-List Celebrities. Maybe that is why they decided to go another route entirely, shunning Hollywood's top talent and instead courting such B-level stars as Stephen Baldwin and Ron Silver.

Much like Teddy Roosevelt, Stephen Speaks Softly and Carry a Big Stick

Stephen Baldwin, who you may remember from such reality shows as Celebrity Fear Factor and Celebrity Mole, is referred to by the G.O.P. as the good Baldwin, Alec being the evil, liberal Baldwin. In a CNN interview Stephen revealed that he isn't concerned with specifics when it comes to George W. Bush and his policies. Stephen supports Bush because he is the candidate who most clearly displays a strong faith in God. (A very important quality for a presidential candidate to have in a secular nation founded on a clear distinction between church and state!!!)

And then there is Ron Silver who spoke at last night's RNC opening night festivities. In the days leading up to the convention, conservative pundits were crying foul, claiming there was some big liberal media conspiracy because network television had decided not to televise the opening night of the RNC. They had Ron Silver speaking on the opening night... Ron Silver!!! The man looked insane, like a Central American dictator, like Al Pacino bursting into flames and sprouting horns in The Devil's Advocate.

Quick name one movie Ron Silver has starred in. (Trick question, Ron has never starred in a movie.)

Of course the Republicans did have the always reliable Don King making the rounds at the convention.

But things are looking up for ten-gallon hat troupe, the always charismatic Arnold Schwarzenegger, takes the stage tonight for what promises to be a speech filled with memorable quotes. However, the G.O.P. speech writers must be careful not to let Arnold's oratory abilities and broken English overshadow the eloquent speech Bush is sure to deliver.

Monday, August 30, 2004

What's in a Name??? 

In recent years we have seen the sports media shift the spotlight to an ever-younger crop of athletes. The Little League World Series showcases 12 year old boys playing baseball. ESPN televises the games nationally and even internationally. Swimmer Michael Phelps, age 19, won 8 medals (6 gold, 2 bronze) at the Olympics. Nike signed LeBron James to a $90 million endorsement contract before his high school graduation (Powerade just came out with a new flavor: LEBRON, yummmm). With this surge in youth athletics and the wealth that comes with it, it is understandable that parents will stop at no lengths, spare no expense, to see that their children succeed. Parents send their children to sport summer camps, hire personal pitching coaches, weight trainers, dieticians, and gurus of every sort. Richard Williams sent his pre-teen daughters Venus and Serena to the Florida tennis academy of teaching pro Ric Macci. Parents send their gymnast daughters to places like the Karolyi Ranch where they train 18 hours a day mastering the art of the pummel horse.

While parents can go any one of these routes in attempting to mold their child into the next Tiger Woods, there is a much simpler and more surefire way to ensure your child is adulated by sports fans everywhere. Just name your child something that rhymes with BOOO.

Sports fans love to participate in the game. They bring banners, paint their faces, wave white hankies, wear foam fingers, and bang thunder-clappers all in an attempt to root their hometown heroes on, and to feel as if they are part of the action.

I went to a number of Islander/Rangers hockey games at the Nassau Coliseum during the early 1990s, when hockey still attracted the nation's attention (and mine). Both Rangers and Islanders fans would attend the games, and every time, without fail, the Islander’s fans would begin a derisive chant of ‘1940’. Taunting the Rangers fans with the year of the last time the Rangers won the Stanley Cup. The chant would echo throughout the arena, it was deafening, and it got the point across. It had been over 50 years since the Rangers had won the championship, it was a huge albatross that hung around the franchise's neck, and the Islander's fans wanted to chant the date as a constant reminder. The mood would turn vicious. Beers spilt, threats were made, fans were at each others throats. At times I felt I was at the Roman Coliseum and not the one on Long Island down the road from Roosevelt Field Mall.

This is the power of a good chant. It turns the atmosphere in the stadium electric. The key to this type of fan participation is to have a chant with clearly defined, easily annunciated syllables. Fans would gladly chant Shaquille O'Neal's name, except you simply cannot chant so many syllables while maintaining any semblance of cohesion in the crowd. DEFENSE (DE-FENSE) is a popular chant willing the home team to stop the opponent. But by far the vocal weapon of choice is the booo. It is easy to pronounce, easy to chant in unison with the entire stadium. Fans may boo their own team when they play poorly, or booo a poor call by a referee or umpire. But the booo can be used in another way as well. Enter Duce Staley.

Duce Staley is as mediocre a running back as you will find. His career with the Philadelphia Eagles was marked by decidingly average statistics. Over his 7-year career Duce averaged 49.1 yards per game and his career high for touchdowns in a season is 5. Hardly Pro-Bowl numbers, yet he was a fan favorite. Why you ask? Quite simply because his named rhymed with booo.

When Duce would carry the ball for the Eagles a thunderous BOOOooooo would swell up in at Lincoln Financial Stadium. The announcer would translate this noise for the television viewer at home. The fans aren't booing the Eagles, they are chanting Duce's name. Duuuuce is just a vocal twinge away from Boooo. It didn't matter that Duce lacked break-away speed, that he couldn't find his way into the end zone. Duce incited the crowd. He made the Eagles fans feel as if the game was interactive. By chanting his name like some Gregorian Monks, the fans felt like they were willing the Eagles to the end zone.

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Duce in the off season and during last Friday's pre-season home game the Steelers' fans got an opportunity to use their collective booooo to urge Duce onward.

This aural phenomenon is not unique to Duce. It works with any athlete who has the good fortune to have his name rhyme with Boooo. Daryl ‘Moose’ Johnston was the fullback for the Dallas Cowboys during their early 90s dominance. A fan favorite, and booed (mooed) to no-end. The New Orleans Saints have a tight end named Boo Williams who is received with the same roar every time he catches a pass.

The late sports journalist, Ralph Wiley, wrote a column about Luke Walton (Bill Walton’s son) in early June. Luke, a Lakers rookie, turned in a huge game and kept the Lakers from falling behind 2-0 against the Pistons in the NBA Finals. Walton had 8 assists and made some beautiful passes. The Lakers’ crowd began chanting Luuuuuuuke which just like Duce, can be tweaked into a roaring Boooo. The crowd loved him.

Wiley referred to Luke as the “White Magic”. He went on to discuss Larry Bird's controversial comment that the NBA needs more white superstars, or even a single white superstar, because that is what the fans want to see. The idea of Wiley’s article was that if another Lakers' role player such as Kareem Rush, or Devean George had turned in the type of performance that Luke did, the crowd wouldn't have been chanting their names.

But I offer another postulate, the fan's chanted his name because it rhymed with booo, and thus could be easily chanted from the rafters. Kareem can’t be yelled with such fluency, Devean certainly can’t be screamed from the stadium's rafters. Luuuuuuuuuuke Walton is a superstar in the making.

Jerry Seinfeld jokes that if you name your son Jeeves that you're pigeonholing your child for a lifetime of dusting and dish-washing. While few aspire to work as butlers, there are millions of parents who want would like to see their sons and daughters play professional sports. Name your kids wisely.


Friday, August 27, 2004

The Public Discourse Elevated to Withering Heights 

I was watching ESPN's Sportscenter this morning when I was blindsided by a faceoff between blowhard Micheal Irvin and the ever-combustible Stephen A. Smith. ESPN has these crossfire conversations quite regularly. The network usually pairs one fiery orator with a more subdued, cerebral analyst.

ESPN will group the likes of former relief pitcher Rob Dibble with the oracle-like Peter Gammons.

One of the best pairings is the always flammable Sean Salisbury and the egg-headed John Clayton, who plays the alto to Salisbury's soprano. Salisbury yells his arguments at the nerdish Clayton. You're never quite sure if Salisbury will leap across the desk and punt Clayton out of the studio.

You need some give and take. Some contrast. Some ebony and Ivory. Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser host their PTI show as if they were starring in some sort of mismatched buddy comedy as Spike Lee and Woody Allen. Contrast is a key to this particular format. They play off one another.

Besides competent analysis, these TV tandems are funny. Wilpon and Kornheiser realize that debating the finer points of NFL Instant Replay is the trivialist of topics. But part of the reason we watch is because they are witty and they seem to be having a good time with the subjects at hand.

Stephen A. Smith and Michael Irvin simply yell at one another.

No jokes. No give and take. No clue. Only yelling. Now I think I have some idea what it sounded like at the Giant Cricket Gambling Ring in Hong Kong. Lots of screeching. They are essentially the same person. They get worked up to a rabid level (although I suspect Irvin gets his energy from some supplemental sources, I'm not sure how Smith gets so worked up) and begin screaming incredulously at one another.

The topic they were discussing was beyond inane. Irvin was arguing that NFL pre-season Football is a big event, and that the player's compete with the utmost of passion. Stephen A. was arguing that the Olympics is a bigger draw and the players care more. That's like comparing apples and oranges. Irvin pointed out that while there are empty seats at the Olympic events, the pre-season NFl stadiums are sold out. Hey Michael, the Olympics are being held in Greece. The NFL games are being played in the US. If you want to make a legitimate observation, compare the TV ratings in the US for the two events, not ticket sales.

The topic was pointless as were the debaters, but it was not completely devoid of humor. Irvin argued that pre-season football (where the starters play about 5 minutes a game) is a display of pure passion, and the American value of HOPE. Wow. He went on to say the NFL pre-season is a "must-see" because you get to see 3rd and 4th string football players competing for a roster position. Why is this a "must-see" TV you ask? Irvin explains these players are competing so that they can provide for their families.

Yeaaaaa, that is not exactly why I watch NFL games. The NFL isn't some ill-concieved reality show starring 5 lower-middle class janitors trying to clean enough toilets so that they can provide for their family. It's professional football. You want to see tackles, touchdowns, two-point conversions. Watching men provide for their family does not increase the drama and is not the reason anyone watches the NFL.

I know ESPN won't fire these two, but I would suggest that they at least seperate them. I can't take that type of verbal assault at 8:00 AM.

Pericles on the Swift Boat Controversy 

As the Swift Boat controversy has largely dominated news for the past week or so, there may not be a whole lot left to say about the scrutiny John Kerry's service record is now facing that hasn't been said already. Hell, Pericles (as recorded by Thucydides) already adressed this subject back in the day, not long after the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War.

Pericles: "For there is justice in the claim that steadfastness in his country's battles should be as a cloak to cover a man's other imperfections; since the good action has blotted out the bad, and his merit as a citizen more than outweighed his demerits as an individual."

Me: Now any Billikener could tell you I'm no fan of the Kerr-bear. And I do think he's brought all this Swift Boat business on himself with all his salutin' and high-falutin' over what a war hero he is. But I'm inclined to agree with the Pericles (the Per-bear?) on Kerry and what his "demerits" may be, in terms of certain exaggerations/opportunistic moves on his part. Bottom line: the man put himself in a position where he could have got blown to hell for the USA. Yes he came back and said some focked-up shit after, but should we not allow him the benefit of the doubt to some extent? Vietnam was a very long time ago.

Now can we talk about something else??

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Najaf, Iraq 



I get the NY Newsday delivered to my apartment. This morning I opened the Sports Section and began reading Shaun Powell's column titled, "Marbury has lost his game at Games". Powell wrote about how Stephon Marbury was one of the few NBA players who immediately accepted the invitation to play in the Olympics, and yet, playing on Team USA hasn't done anything for Marbury other than shatter his confidence. Powell wrote-

More than most of his teammates, Marbury has looked shaky. This is a player, mind you, who has career averages of nearly 21 points and eight assists in the NBA.

Marbury has averaged just 4 points and 3 assists a game in the Olympics on 6-for-30 shooting (2 for 16 from 3pt). The other teams weren't even guarding him through the first 5 games. They were daring him to shoot. I was reading the article agreeing with every word Powell wrote, lamenting that I would have to watch Marbury brick his way through the upcoming Knicks season.

It was 8am and I turned on the TV. The USA quarterfinal game against Spain was at the half. The US had a slight lead and they were interviewing Marbury. He was 4 of 5 from the field with 10 points at the half. A fluke I said.

It turns out Powell was wrong and so was I. Marbury became the first US player in the Olympics to show any sign of a shooting touch. He scored a US Basketball Olympic record of 31 points, including a record six 3-pointers.

He carried the team in their 102-94 victory over Pau Gasol and the Spainiards. They now move on to the semifinal round. Marbury didn't do anything fancy. He was simply able to make a jump shot, a valuable commodity on a team devoid of shooters.

My feelings towards Marbury are definately of the love/hate variety. I loved when he was a talented point guard at Lincoln High School in NYC, who was headed for NBA stardom.

I thought he was foolish to leave Kevin Garnett in Minnesota, where the two young stars would have would have complimeneted one another's game. I loved when the Knicks traded for him to bring some excitement to the Garden. I hated when he looked completely anemic during the pool round of the Olympics. I'm still skeptical about Marbury, but if he can remember how to shoot during the next two games of the Olympics, and throughout the upcoming Knicks' season then he'll have made a believer out of me.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The First Real Gangsta 

From the Washington Post:

Hip-hop impresario Benny Boom, who has directed videos for P. Diddy, Lil' Kim and LL Cool J, didn't need to have his arm twisted to join an anti-Bush advertising campaign.

"I felt like Bush stole the last election and the whole country kind of got robbed and bamboozled, and I wanted to make sure I did my part besides voting," he says. When he was approached by the liberal MoveOn PAC, "I was like, yo, I want to do an ad myself."

A celebrity-saturated effort to defeat the president kicks into high gear tonight in New York with a premiere featuring music by Moby, the Roots and Natalie Merchant, and appearances by actor Kevin Bacon, Boom, liberal radio hosts Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo and onetime candidate Howard Dean. The opening-night glitter is designed to publicize the forthcoming MoveOn advertising campaign, which includes all manner of famous people....

And later:

... What is striking about the spots is that they contain no mention of the Democratic presidential nominee.

"I'm more passionate about being opposed to Bush," says Boom. "George Bush is probably the first real gangsta we have had in office. John Kerry needs to be a little bit more of a gangsta himself."

Sidenote: Benny Boom isn't the only one contributing to the MoveOn.org ads because he feels so bamboozled. Moby had something to say too:

"I'm not working under any grand assumptions that my involvement will change the course of the election," Moby says. "My great fear is that we will wake up on November 3, George Bush will have won and we will say, 'What more could we have done?' "

And my greatest pleasure is picturing Moby's whiny little bitch-face wake up on November 3 and realize that American politics doesn't revolve around celebrities.


Not So Fly 

In a news story that calls to mind the departing Clinton Administration removing the letter "W" from all the keyboards in the White House, Ted Kennedy has been placed on the Department of Homeland Securities' "No-Fly" list. Last Thursday Kennedy spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his first-hand experience with the government's problematic 'watch' lists.

Kennedy says that a US Air ticket agent wouldn't let him on a flight out of Washington to Boston, because his name was on the national 'no-fly' list. The list is designed to keep those designated as potential terrorists from flying. With help from an airport supervisor, Kennedy was able to fly home, but then the same thing happened coming back to Washington.

Kennedy says he had to enlist the help of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to get his name removed from the list. The process took 3 weeks in all.

The Department of Homeland Security tried to explain the incidents. A DHS spokesman said, "on one flight Kennedy was misidentified as someone who needed extra screening when going through security, because he was mistakenly identified as someone on a watch list."

Mistakenly identified? Ted Kennedy? This face?

Ted Kennedy has only been the most recognizable Senator in the country for the past 30 years. It seems problematic if it takes such a well-known figure 3 weeks to get his name removed from the "no-fly" list. What about the average traveler who is mistakenly marked by the DHS?

What seems more likely is that Ridge and the GOP are busting Kennedy's chops. Afterall, George W. Bush was known as quite the practical joker at Yale.

If anything they should tag Kennedy as someone who needs to purchase an extra seat on the airplane to accomodate his ample proportions.

[Via CBS News]

Monday, August 23, 2004


I was on the subway with my girlfriend last week when she pointed out to me the inordinate number of commuters in our car wearing rubber yellow bracelets. And it wasn't just a family of tourists outfitted in these bracelets, rather it was a real cross section of the city- various ages, races. I didn’t know what to make of it. I thought it might have something to do with the War in Iraq. I remember people put yellow ribbons on their doors during the first Gulf War to show support for the troops.

Then last Friday I was at a public pool and noticed that all the lifeguards, on duty and off, were wearing these same yellow rubber bracelets. I looked at the mothers, and their children, many were wearing these same bracelets. I’m normally pretty hip to the scene. I surf the web. I read the Metro Section of the NY Times. I watch VH1's Best Week Ever. I’m up on the latest back to school fashions. But I hadn't heard anything about these yellow bands. I asked one of the lifeguards, a 16 year old girl, why everyone (and their mother!!!) was wearing a yellow bracelet. She showed me hers which read LIVE STRONG and told me that-

You can get them from www.wearyellow.com. You give a donation and it supports Lance Armstrong and his cancer fund. You should check it out it’s a really good cause.

STRONG like Arm and yellow like color jersey the leader in the Tour De France wears.

I did just that. Lance Armstrong 7-year cancer survivor, and 6-time Tour De France champion is trying to raise $5 million for his Cancer Foundation. The yellow LIVE STRONG bracelets only cost $1 each, a very modest donation. They can be purchased at Niketown stores or ordered online in bundles of 10, 100, or an entire case of 1,200 bracelets. But I know what your thinking… I want to outfit my son’s entire little league team with LIVE STRONG bracelets, but I’m not sure that their skinny wrists will be able to hold the bracelet on. Not to worry they come in youth sizes as well.

If I was the type of guy who got excited about innovative marketing plans, I'd be tickled pink by this one. It really is a smart way to raise money. Most people can afford the $10 donation that buys you 10 bracelets. However, most people do not have 10 wrists. So when the shipment arrives you dispense the the wrist bands to 10 of your closest friends. This furthers the cause by getting people such as myself curious about why everyone is wearing the yellow wrist bands. Which in turn gets me to visit the WearYellow website (and take the time to post about it on my blog!).

Its been a tremendous success so far. All the various bundles of bracelets are on back order, even the 1,200 pack. And there have been 16,573,946 requests since November 4, 2003. With that many bracelets in circulation cancer doesn't stand a chance.

I'm not the type of person who boycotts Nike sneakers because they were manufactured in Indonesian sweatshops. But I do approach anything Phil Knight has his hand in with a certain amount of skepticism. Nike is bankrolling the production of these LIVE STRONG bracelets. The WearYellow wesbite links to Nike.com. An innocent bystander like me decides to check out the WearYellow website. Five minutes later I’m on Nike.com and I’m taking my credit card out about to purchase a pair of Retro Jordan IV’s for $110.

I'm also skeptical of Lance Armstrong. His is a feel-good/inspirational story. He overcame cancer and continues to dominate cycling's premier event, the Tour De France. In July, former Armstrong assistant Emma O’Reilly made claims that revived past suspicions about Armstrong and blood doping. O'Reilly said that Armstrong asked her to dispose of used syringes and that she gave him makeup to conceal needle marks on his arm. Armstrong insisted that he is drug-free and is suing O'Reilly. These were just rumors, but competitive bicycling (it still sounds like an oxymoron to me) is riddled with blood doping accusations, and if Lance used this enhancement it would make his story a lot less inspirational, and give a new meaning to his LIVE STRONG motto.

People love supporting a cause that is non-political, consumes no time or effort, and cost a nominal amount of money. It's one of those ubiquitous causes that you can't not support. Its for a good cause, they’re fighting cancer, you feel like an asshole if you aren’t wearing a yellow bracelet.

This bracelet phenomenom is a lot like when the A-list celebrities turn out for a save the Uruguayan Rainforest. Paris Hilton doesn’t know if Uruguay has a rainforest (neither do I) but she does know that it is an event, a happening, and that Nick Cage will be there. It's like those Che Guevara T-shirts. People who wear them know little about Guevara's politics (he fought alongside Fidel Castro) but they know (if they even know this much) that he had long hair, road a motorcycle, was the Cuban equivalent of James Dean, and has a profile that looks good and makes for a fashionable T-Shirt. People don't know what type of cancer Armstrong had, or why there is such a thing as competitive bicycling. But they do know that the yellow bracelets are for a 'good cause', that they are fashionable, and that they have a vague mantra written on them that you can't possibly argue with. Who doesn't want to LIVE STRONG?

Well I’m taking a stand I will not wear a yellow bracelet (although I will still try my hardest to LIVE STRONG), and I will not, under any circumstances, like Lance Armstrong.


Thursday, August 19, 2004

Addendum to N. Dot's Addendum 

George W. Bush is using the Iraqi Olympic Soccer Team in his latest re-election campaign advertisements. In those TV spots, the flags of Iraq and Afghanistan appear as a narrator says,

At this Olympics there will be two more free nations -- and two fewer terrorist regimes.

While Iraqi Olympians are happy that Uday Hussein, who was responsible for the torture of Iraqi athletes, is no longer overseaing Iraqi athletics, the Iraqi Olympic Soccer players are not enthused by Bush's new political advertisement. Iraqi midfielder Salih Sadir said, "Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign. He can find another way to advertise himself."

Ahmed Manajid, felt a bit more strongly about the topic. "How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women? He has committed so many crimes." Manajid,22, is from Fallujah. He says coalition forces killed his cousin, Omar Jabbar al-Aziz, who was fighting as an insurgent, and several of his friends. In fact, Manajid says, if he were not playing soccer he would "for sure" be fighting as part of the resistance.

[Via Sports Illustrated]

So I guess what Manjid is trying to say is that he is not going to be appearing in any campaign ads for President Bush. What I'm wondering is if Iraq wins the gold medal in soccer, will President Bush invite them to the White House for a meet and greet?



"I'll be honest as hell with you. I did write out a will before taking this trip."
-- Lamar Odom, summing up everyone's feelings on the 2004 Olympics

"I guess you can never domesticate them. Like I'm not domesticated, I'm never gonna be a domesticated person."
-- Mike Tyson on Montecore the Tiger

"I'm like toilet paper, toothpaste and certain amenities -- I'm proven to be good. I've still got 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years left."
-- Shaquille O'Neal

"I'm tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money. I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok."
-- Shaquille O'Neal

"I didn't quit football because I failed a drug test. I failed a drug test because I was ready to quit football."
-- Ricky Williams

"I'm halfway intelligent. I'll figure something out."
-- Ricky Williams on his post-retirement life

"All you're doing right now is just flabbergasting your mouths because there are no solid answers right now."
-- Emmitt Smith to reporters at Cardinals camp

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Dear Mr. O'Reilly, 

First, I would like to thank you for providing me with the motivation I needed to fnally put in my two cents about Ricky Williams' sudden retirement (and penchant for pot). Ricky Williams has an interesting story. He is one of the top NFL running backs, and yet he retired at the age 27 in the prime of his career, with millions of dollars left on his contract. I wanted to write something about Ricky, but I just didn't have an angle. You certainly did though.

Yesterday I came across your Daily News column from August 9th. And you broke down why Ricky Williams retired- He wanted to spend more time with his bong. While Ricky stated that he no longer desired to play football, that he wanted to travel and take pictures, you saw right through that smoke screen. You wrote-

Anyway, Ricky Williams and millions of other young Americans love their pot and are willing to make great sacrifices to consume it.

I must have missed that memo. I didn’t realize Ricky retired from football to smoke weed.

Bill, I know where your concern lies. I’ve watched your show and you lament the decline of family values. You often ask what kind of example are these celebrities, these role models setting for our children? Ok I'm going to go with your theory for a moment, let’s say weed was the reason Ricky retired. Let’s examine the side effects of the drug-

Marijuana caused Ricky to want to travel the world (gasp!), spend more time taking photographs (double gasp!!), spend time with his kids (dear god!!!), and here is the worst part take guitar lessons (what kind of long-haired, flower child, Hippy nonsense is that)!!! Weed-induced traveling and photography? What will Dick and Jane think?

And Bill I have to hand it to you, you even found the cause of Ricky’s demise, he is a victim of rap music’s subliminal pedaling of pot. You write about the rise in marijuana use within the black community-

But during the '90s, pot consumption by African-American men and women between the ages of 18 and 29 increased 224%!

You even include an exclamation mark(!)!!!

The 10 years from 1992 to 2002 coincided with the rise of the rap industry. Icons such as Snoop Dogg and Ludacris glorified marijuana, and I believe their message fell on willing ears.

(Bill, won’t you leave Ludacris alone. Isn’t it enough that you ruined his endorsement deal with Pepsi?) But fine, let’s say Snoop, Redman & Method Man’s How High, the Up in Smoke Tour, Afroman’s Cause I got High, all do normalize marijuana and encourage our youth black and white, (I don’t know if you’ve heard Bill but a lot of white kids are listening to rap music too) to use the drug. You are still overstating the dangers (health and social) of marijuana, and you don’t seem to know much about Ricky Williams as a person either.

1. Marijuana isn’t the real danger in professional sports or otherwise. College standout and Celtics 1st round pick Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose. Mark McGwire, Ken Caminiti, and Jason Giambi have ruined their health using steroids to compete at the highest of levels. And yet you chastise Ludacris for encouraging marijuana use. Marijuana didn’t cause the rise of gang and gun violence in the inner cities, crack cocaine did. These are drugs that can harm athletes, kill people.

2. Your connection between the likes of Ludacris and Ricky Willaims is tenuous at best (it seems to me the only thing they have in common is that they are both black). Bill, I know you like to break everything down real simply, get at the crux of the matter. So here it is, Ricky Williams doesn’t have those kind of dreads. His braids aren’t the tightly-pulled corn rows of Luda or Snoop, rather they are some old-fashioned beeswax dreadlocks, in the tradition of Bob Marley or Ben Harper (who really does know how to Burn One Down). Bill listen up, Ricky is soft spoken, Ricky doesn’t go clubbing with Lil’ John. He takes guitar lessons. I know, these pot smokers are a nuanced bunch, it's hard to keep up with them.

(notice the tight intricate weave of Ludacris’ hair)

(which contrasts with the free, libertine fall-as-it-may coiffure of Ben Harper, Bob Marley and Ricky Williams)

So what else is wrong with Ricky? What makes him such a lightening rod for media attention and your scorn? What makes his story un-American? You write-

Think about all the good Williams could have done with the money he was earning. Life in the National Football League is no easy venture, but athletic ability is a gift that should not be discarded lightly.

Ahh, now I get it. Ricky is lazy. He isn’t making the most out of his God given talent, and that certainly doesn’t mesh with the American work ethic (maybe that’s why he is traveling abroad).

I don't know if you heard, but Ricky Williams never wanted to be a professional athlete. He hated the lime light. He wore a helmet fitted with a tinted visor so he wouldn’t have to look people in the eyes, so people couldn't see his eyes. He would leave that same helmet on during post-game interviews. The man had social anxiety disorder.

But again I know we have to think of the children. What will they think when a 27 year-old athlete quits on his team. Leaves the Dolphins hanging just before training camp starts, and deprives Miami of a 3rd consecutive 1,500 yard rushing season. Well NFL teams very often quit on players. Quincy Carter got cut by the Cowboys for allegedly failing a drug test. Ricky Williams also allegedly failed a 3rd drug test just before he retired, but the Dolphins wouldn't have cut him. Ricky was one of the best players at his position, Quincy wasn't. Goodbye. As long as the player performs well and puts fans in the seats team owners could care less what their players snort, smoke, or inject. Think Barry Bonds.

So Bill what is it exactly that makes you so angry, so disappointed in Ricky? I undertsand Ludacris has hoes in different area codes, and that Snoop Dogg has played a large role in the demise of the King's English (fer shizzle my nizzle), but Ricky is a pretty harmless guy. I think I've figured you out though. You have a problem with someone who has made $15 million by the age of 27, hasn't blown it all on 4 Bentleys, and now is financially secure enough to spend his time how he wants to spend it. The horror. So what kind of example is Ricky setting for our children? Don't work in a job you hate, follow your passions.

Bill please stick to the politics and Pepsi advertisements. Leave the football to more qualified politcal pundits like Rush Limbaugh.




The Gambling Bug 

Police in Hong Kong arrested 115 people during a raid on an illegal betting syndicate that gambled on battles between huge crickets.

The fight was billed as a championship between crickets from Hong Kong, Macau, and Guangzhou on mainland China. Police seized $1,000, 200 crickets, containers used to carry the insects, and bamboo sticks used to agitate the crickets.

Cricket fighting can be traced back to the Tang dynasty of 618-907. Traders of the battling insects hunt out the fiercest crickets and devote many hours training them, the Post said. A champion cricket can cost up to 20,000 yuan, or $2,600, each, it said.


Addendum to the Got's Post 

Just wanted to add this picture to George's Olympics post below. Also I wanted to say I'm feeling the Bluff's new look. Holla!

Members of the Iraqi delegation pose with members of the United States' delegation during the Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Olympic Games (news - web sites) in Athens, Friday, Aug. 13, 2004. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Monday, August 16, 2004


I don't think I watched much of the 2000 Olympics. But since I’m getting over-aged (the designation for an Olympic soccer player 23 yrs of age or older), with surprisingly more time to watch TV, I spent much of this weekend taking in the Olympic festivities. Some things that caught my attention-

USA Basketball Team

Much will be written about the USA Basketball not-so-Dreamy Team’s dismantling at the hands of our 51st State, Puerto Rico. People will make statements like-

“The international Game is different. It’s a big adjustment for the American players. The 3-point line is shorter, the lane is wider.”

Not to mention the lane is a trapezoid! That’s complete nonsense. The ball is still round and the basket is still 10 feet high. The NBA players should have no trouble adjusting to a trapezoid, rhombus, or any other geometric/geographic oddity.

ESPN’s NBA analysts have written about ways to improve the selection process for Team USA. They say it shouldn’t just be a group of the biggest names from the NBA who are willing to give up their summer vacation, but rather a real team, complete with role players, bench players, and specialists (particularly of the 3-point variety). I agree that this is the best approach. The Pistons proved that a team with good chemistry will beat superstars who are playing 1-on-1 basketball.

But part of me wants to say that this should not even be an issue. Chemistry comes into play when the players are on a relatively even playing field. There are only a handful of international players in the Olympics that play in the NBA. Dirk and Peja aren’t even in Athens. Manu Ginobli and Carlos Arroyo are the best competition Team USA will face. This being the case, Team USA should be able to will themselves to victory. Talent doesn’t always overcome good team chemistry but an overwhelming amount of talent usually does. Lets not forget Vince Carter jumped over Fredrick Weiss’s 7’2’’ head in 2000!!!

However after sitting through yesterday’s blowout at the hands of Puerto Rico, I’m no longer sure whether these NBA players can even play basketball. I was quick to dismiss Newsday columnist Shaun Powell’s call to revamp American basketball from the ground up. Powell says that US basketball needs to be completely remade. He says NBA players have too long relied on athleticism, and young players need to be taught how to shoot, dribble and pass. I think he might be on to something.

I’m tempted to blame the entire thing on Stephon Marbury. I felt like I was watching a Knicks game. No chemistry, poor shooting. All of the players looked terrible. And even the veterans on the team looked horrific. Jefferson looked frightened. Iverson missed no less than 722 3-pointers (in the 1st half alone!), and Duncan looked perplexed. Add to this mix, ballers like Shawn Marion who looked like he wouldn't make his High School's Varsity Basketball team.

Much has been written about how Team USA is young, 23.8 yrs old on average, but I’m not buying into that excuse. Richard Jefferson has played in 2 NBA Finals. Iverson was MVP. Marbury won the PSAL championship at Lincoln (You’re my boy Starbury!!!). Duncan has not only won 2 NBA Championships and a handful of MVP awards, but is gernerally considered the NBA’s best player.

And this team isn’t just a bunch of show-boating thugs either. People might write off Iverson and Marbury because of their tattoos and palming of the ball. Fine. But Duncan is the poster boy for intelligent, fundamental basketball. In fact Duncan’s nickname is the Big Fundamental for Christsake!!! So when I hear that the USA didn’t send its top players, or that the top players didn’t want to go, I think it’s a pretty poor excuse. Duncan is one of the top 3 players in the world, and by far the best player in the Olympics. Duncan should carry this team on his back.

I can’t explain the level of frustration I felt watching this debacle. It had me wondering why I was even rooting for these guys.

Iraqi Soccer Team

On the other hand you have The Iraqi Soccer team a team you can really root for. They beat soccer powerhouse Portugal 4-2 in a preliminary match last week. And yesterday they beat Costa Rica 2-0 in the Olympic Quarterfinals. Olympic Soccer isn’t as highly regarded as the World Cup or the European Championship. The teams are comprised mainly of young players, with only 3 “over-age” players allowed per country. But, winning the Gold Medal is still a big deal no matter how you look at it. The Iraqi team really is a real feel good story. They had to be airlifted in to Athens by the Australian Airforce, and they haven’t even had a soccer field to practice on since their home stadium in Baghdad was destroyed.

Let’s go Iraq!

Bob Costas

The highlight of the Olympic Coverage had to be Friday night’s Opening Ceremonies. NBC’s coverage of the event taught me two things-

1. There really is a country called Micronesia.
2. Bob Costas is hilarious. On par with Bill Walton as far as commentators go.

Sarcasm is dead. At least the whiney Mo Rocca Daily Show/I Love The 80s and I’m wearing black horn-rimmed glasses kind of sarcasm. I’m subscribing to the Bob Costas’ school of sarcasm.

Costas is so genuine, such a Michael J. Fox look-alike that you can’t tell if he’s being serious when he says something like-

I see the Nepal delegation decided to go without the traditional fur hats. Wise decision since it is 100 degrees outside.

Swaziland is known as the "Switzerland" of Africa, for it's mountains and neutrality.

And here comes Bhutan. Looks like they left the sultan at home.

I expected to just channel surf right past the opening night ceremonies but Katie Couric and Bob Costas breathed some life into a routine ceremony normally as action packed as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Speaking of Elevating the Public Discourse... 

I came across author Shelley Jackson's latest fiction project titled SKIN. This short story will be like any other, except that each word in the story will be tattooed onto a different individual. There will be no written copy of the text, rather it will only exist on the skin of the participants. Jackson explains:

"The full text will be known only to participants, who may, but need not choose to establish communication with one another. In the event that insufficiant participants come forward to complete the first and only edition of the story, the incomplete version will be considered definitive. If no participants come forward, this call itself is the work."

Well looks like Jackson has covered all her bases. But I know what your thinking...What if one of the participants decides they've had enough of the word LACKADAISICAL tattooed on their forearm? IRRELEVANT!!! says Jackson-

"The individual becomes the word, they are inseperable. They are not understood as carriers or agents of the texts they bear, but as its embodiments. As a result, injuries to the printed texts, such as dermabrasion, laser surgery, tattoo cover work or the loss of body parts, will not be considered to alter the work. Only the death of words effaces them from the text."

Sounds like the primer for a swashbuckling pirate film, or The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, or the key to finding The Holy Grail. Once all the select individuals are gathered together all will be illuminated...

To date she has 1780 out of 2095 words tatooed onto personages.

I would have my fingers crossed, hoping that I got something interesting, let's say like BOONDOGGLE. But since SKIN is a short story I imagine it will need some rather mundane articles like the, an, a... I'd be hella pissed if I got one of those.

Elevating the Public Discourse 

On Thursday, Bush broke it down quite succinctly while signing a new $417 billion dollar defense bill-

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we,” Bush said. “They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush’s misstatement “just shows even the most straightforward and plain-spoken people misspeak.”

Bush certianly is a straight shooter.

[Via Lars Levie]

Monday, August 09, 2004

Scuba Scare 

An article in today's NY Times warned that Al Qaeda is considering using tourist helicopters in NYC as a possible means of attack.

This does not come as a shock considering Al Qaeda's last attack on US soil involved four airplanes. But what did surprise me is that they are also looking into using scuba divers to attack NYC with underwater bombs-

"Counterterrorism officials have been concerned that terrorists might seek to use a wide range of vehicles and other instruments for attacks, from crop-duster planes and hazardous-material trucks to underwater bombs carried by scuba divers because people who work in those industries are generally subjected to less rigorous security measures."

The NYPD is preparing for this potentiality. The NYPD has a Scuba Team and last month they joined with the U.S. Park Police in a training exercise on Liberty Island in which divers practiced hauling bags of machine guns underwater, in case they have to take back the Statue of Liberty from terrorists.

The team also has practiced taking back the Staten Island Ferry, pulling alongside a ferry steaming across Upper New York Bay and leaping aboard in a surprise attack on mock terrorists.

Those scenarios sound like something out of a Tom Clancy clancy novel. I hope they're paying this Scuba Division of the NYPD better than they are their regular officers, if for no other reason, then because they have to swim in the Hudson River.

I don't want to make light of this potential avenue of attack. I'm sure a scuba diver with a bomb attacking The Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship would be just as deadly as a truck filled with gasoline driving into the lobby of the Prudential Building. But if something as seemingly innocuous as a scuba suit can be used to wreak havoc on our cities what's next?

But I pose this question... Can you really be scared of a terrorist in scuba gear?


Thursday, August 05, 2004

He's So Self-Conscious 

Some choice quotes from Kanye West on Kanye West, in a recent interview with the Associated Press:

"You can't judge 'The College Dropout.' It's something completely different. It's definitely a classic, if I stepped aside from myself and say that. ... we'll see the results in the next six months, of whether it did change the game or whether it is it's own entity."

"My thing is, how can I possibly overly confident? Look at my accomplishments!"

"I had to be a borderline lunatic to think that I could do what I've done. It's crazy ... what I've accomplished is crazy!"

"And I'm very creative. I always want to do something different from what everybody else is doing, ever since I was little."

Kanye West sure digs Kanye West. Me, I wouldn't mind if he gets in another car accident so he has to have his jaw wired again.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

More Kobe Beef Than Japanese Restaurants 

Its no secret that Shaq and Kobe don't like one another. Kobe has called Shaq fat and out of shape. Shaq has said that Kobe is selfish and immature. When Kobe was charged with rape last summer, Shaq was one of the only Lakers not to call Kobe and offer his support. And last month the Lakers traded Shaq to Miami in an effort to convince Kobe to resign.

Yesterday Shaq was on Z100, a Portland Radio Station, and said that the only way Kobe would beat the rape charges against him was if rappers Ludacris, P.Diddy, and Snoop Dogg were members of the jury. Ouch, harsh words from the Big Aristotle.

Shaq isn't one of the 12 angry men on the jury, but he very well may be called upon by the prosecution to testify against Kobe.

A 22-year-old woman, who worked as a waitress at a 2002 party at Shaq's house has told the prosecution that Kobe made unwanted sexual advances towards her. The prosecution wants her to testify as a character witness against Kobe. And for some reason that is beyond me, (maybe I don't watch enough Law and Order) they may call Shaq to testify as well-

"Investigators from Eagle and Los Angeles, sources told Sports Illustrated, then made O'Neal aware, through his agent, Perry Rogers, that he could potentially become a witness in the Bryant case. O'Neal, through criminal defense lawyer David Chesnoff, refused to speak to the investigators, but he could still be called to testify in Colorado."

I don't know what Shaq could bring to the case other than a full-length mink coat and a number of memorable one-liners. But I do know if Shaq testifies against Kobe their beef will escalate to a whole other level. It will be grimy like the Biggie/Tupac beef. It will be full of verbal jabs like a Michael Moore/Bill O'Reilly interview. And it will have a certain soap operatic/Days of Our Lives feel to it.

And just to make things even more interesting, yesterday the NBA announced that the Heat will play the Lakers in a primetime Christmas Day matchup. Hopefully Kobe and Shaq will be able to settle this on the court, the basketball court.


Monday, August 02, 2004

Men in Black and Security Levels Raised to Orange 

On Sunday Tom Ridge and The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)warned of potential terrorists attacks on the financial institutions in NYC, Newark, and Washington D.C. The national security level was also raised to ORANGE (the second highest level) for these three cities.

Two months ago I wrote a post expressing my concern that vague warnings from the DHS about possible attacks were not only unhelpful, but actually detrimental to the average citizen. In the above instance, John Ashcroft named specific terrorists at his press conference. He warned the public to be on the lookout for them. Now while that isn't my idea of the best way to catch a threat to national security, I can see the logic behind that. Maybe someone recognizes Fazul Abdullah Mohammed as living in the apartment next door neighbor and phones the authorities. Fine. But issuing a warning about potential attacks in three cities and then telling people to go about their business as usual hardly strikes me as a productive way of stopping terrorism. Although it does create a healthy amount of panic among the populous.

I know what your thinking- I'm always criticizing, but what would I do to improve the Bush Administration's policy on national security??? Well for starters I would have everyone in the DHS sit down for a screening of Men in Black, a film which very succinctly outlines how an effective government agency confronted with imminent danger should respond.

Two scenes in particular would be of particular relevance to the current state of the union-

KAY (Tommy Lee Jones)
Any given time, around fifteen hundred
landed aliens are on the planet, the
majority right here in Manhattan. Most
aliens are decent enough, just trying to
make a living.

JAY (Will Smith)
Cab drivers?

KAY (Tommy Lee Jones)
Not as many as you'd think. Humans, for the
most part, don't have a clue. Don't want
one, either. They're happy. They think
they've got a pretty good bead on things.

JAY (Will Smith)
Why the big secret? People are smart, they
can handle it.

KAY (Tommy Lee Jones)
A person is smart. People are dumb.
Everything they've ever "known" has been
proven to be wrong. A thousand years ago
everybody knew as a fact, that the earth
was the center of the universe. Five
hundred years ago, they knew it was flat.
Fifteen minutes ago, you knew we humans
were alone on it. Imagine what you'll know

* * * *

KAY (Tommy Lee Jones)
We do not discharge our weapons in view of
the public.

JAY (Will Smith)
Can we drop the cover-up bullshit?! There's
an Alien Battle Cruiser that's gonna blow-up
the world if we don't...

KAY (Tommy Lee Jones)
There's always an Alien Battle Cruiser...or
a Korlian Death Ray, or...an intergalactic
plague about to wipe out life on this
planet, and the only thing that lets people
get on with their hopeful little lives is
that they don't know about it.

The point is that these near Armageddons, happen regularly, so not only would it be imprudent to inform the public every time the FBI, CIA, or Dept of Homeland security uncovers some piece of information outlining a proposed attack but it would in fact be detrimental to the public. And yet (here lies the crux of the matter) it would be very beneficial to the administration. I don't want to rehash material from Fahrenheit 911, and Orwellian conspiracy theory, but Bush has built his record in office around the idea that he is strong on terrorism and defense. He is a War president, and is banking in the fact that the country needs to be protected from the terrorist menace.

No where in any of the articles I read about this new code orange terror warning have I heard that the threat was targeted for a specific date. In today's NY Times, I read that they found information on Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan computer showing that Al Qaeda was looking into the logistics of attacking certain financial institutions in NYC, Newark, and D.C. I do not doubt this very well may be the case. But what good does it do to tell the public, particularly the employees who work in these areas, that they are at a greater risk this Monday than any other work day? How are they supposed to be more vigilant in guarding themselves against a terror attack. Are they supposed to bring their radiation suit to work? Strap on their gas mask? Or maybe something more along the lines of telling their family that they love them before leaving for work because it's a ORANGE terror level warning, and when its ORANGE you just never know...

Down on Wall St. today police are stopping all vehicles within a 5 block radius. There is an increase presence of armed law enforcement. Machine guns. Checkpoints. As unpleasant and inconvenient as this may be, these are more effective means of stopping a suicide bomber, than creating public hysteria on a Sunday afternoon. So why then does Tom Ridge hold a press conference to announce that the terror warning has been raised to ORANGE?

I know what some will say- If the Bush administration was sitting on this information and failed to inform the public, and a terrorist attack actually took place, then Bush would be crucified for not disclosing this information to the public. But this isn't good enough. And if there is an attack despite Ridge's warning, Bush will still be criticized for not have done enough to prevent the attack. If the the "terror chatter" really was so profound and dangerous, why not close these financial institutions for the day? Which day? I don't know. Do they?

The Bush Administration likes to remind us that the war on terrorism will be on ongoing fight. As Tommy Lee Jones said, "There's always an Alien Battle Cruiser...or a Korlian Death Ray". The threat will always be there, so if that is the case why not focus on developing a more cohesive and efficient Dept. of Homeland Security, instead of relying on Color-Coded Terror Warnings and public hysteria. The important thing is that "We do not discharge our weapons in view of the public". I couldn't have said it better myself. "The only thing that lets people get on with their hopeful little lives is that they don't know about it." Tom Ridge would be wise to take a cue from Tommy Lee Jones. Be cool. And remember- Those who say don't know and those who know don't say.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

View or Post to our Message Board!
Free Web Counter
Oshkosh Clothing