Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The First Black Anybody

Everyone has "that one" in their life right now, right? That one friend or relative who sends you every article, video, blog or humor item that has anything to do with Obama, making your e-mail inbox swell from 10 to 100 messages on a near-daily basis? If you don't, you probably are "that one" and if you are, I salute your commitment to political spam... I mean, getting the word out. For me, "that one" is my Auntie Brenda, so whenever I see a have e-mail from blakin, I skip over it because I know it will be long and/or time-consuming. But I recently found a moment to hack through my blakin e-mails and read a piece by Frank Schaeffer of the Huffington Post entitled "Obama Will Be One of The Greatest (and Most Loved) American Presidents."

I don't know why, but of all of the Obama fodder in my box, this one made me more than a little "Yes, We Can" -- it actually made me weepy, emotional and (dare I say?) hopeful.  Not only because this self-described life-long Republican and Christian is so eloquent about the virtues of Obama, but because it's the first time the simplest argument to vote for Obama occurred to me.  He will absolutely be the best president this generation has ever seen - -because he HAS TO BE. 

The First Black Anybody, it hit me, is always superlative whenever he or she crosses lines that have not been crossed before.  Not only are they preternaturally gifted in their field of choice (Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe, Ralph Bunche, W.E.B. DuBois, Leontyne Price, to name a few), they also possess the demeanor, will power and acumen to earn the respect even of those most resistant to their presence in a heretofore homogeneous field.  The First Black Anybody knows everyone is watching him or her, some with fingers crossed, some with eyes askance, and if they "mess up," it becomes painfully unlikely that The Second Black Anybody will get their proverbial turn at bat.

Obama, put plainly, is a man without a net, so he must cross the high wire intact, or perish.  Does old boy McCain have that kind of pressure on him?  Um, not so much.  Of course, The First Black Anybody theory isn't the only reason I'm voting for Obama, but I must say, I do love that he's the guy who's playing "all in" because he does not have the luxury of hedging his bets. And that's the guy who for damn sure knows how to play his cards.  And since I have no other metaphors to mix, I will close by saying feel free to use this argument with any undecided friends of yours because even though there is a level of facetiousness and whimsy to it, it's really kinda true.

Deep Pop.  We Love It.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lite Pop: The (Old) Girl Can't Help It

This will be brief, because it is filled with shame. The shame of guilty pleasure. But I can no longer contain it -- I must share it and let it fly free, because perhaps then I can let it go. I watch "Dancing With The Stars" and have since season two (believe it or not, we are not at the shame part yet). But never have I enjoyed a season or contestant more than right now. In case you don't know, Cloris Leachman (of "The Last Picture Show," "Mary Tyler Moore" and "Phyllis" fame) is one of the celebrity dancers this year, and at 82, the oldest to ever compete on the show.

I never thought anything would top the embarrassing-but-real anticipation of one-legged Heather Mills' prosthetic popping off in Season 5 (it never did, but she did keel over once) but oh my, how it has been topped. (Insert aforementioned shame here.) Cloris Leachman is completely insane and her dances are beyond Billy Ray Cyrus horrible but THEY ARE SO ENTERTAINING! With her archangel of a partner Corky Ballas, Cloris is SHAKING HER TA TAS:



and this week in the middle of her "jive" to "The Girl Can't Help It" she even GETS HER WIG YANKED OFF AFTER SMELLING CORKY'S FARTS. Oh yes, you read right. Farts. Proof that I am not kidding? Click below:

Fortunately, Cloris is in on the joke (my conscience won't let me think otherwise), so even when she rambles semi-coherently to the judges and the camera, you can tell she is just doing her best to entertain. And because of said entertainment value (low-brow and wacky as it may be) it's the first time I've ever considered picking up the phone to vote. Click below if you need another taste of the shame/hilarity (this is after her first dance):


So, if you are looking for a jaw-dropping controlled car crash to watch next Monday, tune in to ABC at 8pm to check out the latest stylings of the incomparable Cloris. Phyllis Diller, gird your girdles -- there's a new octogenarian clown in town!

Lite Pop.  We Like It.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Sacred Institution Between Two Unwilling Teenagers

Y'all know what I'm referring to, right? The third in the most-awesome series of SNL political spoofs ever? You know -- the Joe Biden/Sarah Palin debate parody from Saturday night.  Tina Fey and gang were on fire and never did they shine more brightly than with the single line above.  If you want to catch the full context, watch the video above.  It will show you the whole segment but if you just want to hear the line (the whole sentence is actually "I believe marriage is meant to be a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers") scroll about six minutes in.

The reason the above joke/sentiment made me laugh out loud and almost damn-near cheer my TV (it got the most live-audience applause, too) is because I can't stand that neither the republicans NOR DEMOCRATS will support gay marriage.  I'm not so sure about Palin or McCain, but I know Obama and Biden know better -- two men so knowledgeable about history and civil rights have to know how unfair it is to deny ANY citizen ANY right.  But they choose to pander because they feel they can't risk the political backlash in so close a race. Though I rarely start a sentence with the following because I feel it is reductive, I can't help it in this case. As a black person (that's the sentence starter right there), it is unconscionable to me to ever deny any law-abiding citizen the right to participate in any government-sanctioned activity.  I think about voting rights, property rights, housing rights, hell, even marriage rights (first for blacks -- the broom jump developed because it wasn't legal for slaves to marry -- and interracial marriages were illegal until 1967) and in every case, the people who wanted them were denied such rights because the majority perceived them as "less than."

So they can say all they want about tolerance and "a civil union is just the same" -- but it's not.  It is NOT the same.  Does 1896's Plessy vs. Ferguson "separate but equal" ring a bell for anyone?  Or that it had to be undone fifty-eight years later by Brown v. the Board of Ed? (I didn't even fact check the dates -- they have been seared in my brain since high school because they've always struck a deep chord with me.) Come on, people, let's spare ourselves the decades-long anguish over this and do the right thing now.  Does it make any sense to you that two "oops, we got pregnant" teenagers who don't even want it can get all the rights and legal protections of marriage?  That prisoners like Erik Menendez who murdered his parents can get married?  But good, loving people like my friends Ray Lancon and Sara Washington (I've been feeling your recent pain over this one, girl) can't? If that's not calling somebody "less than," I don't know what is.

California Voters -- No on Prop. 8. Voting any other way says you are against liberty and justice for all. This is not my opinion, this is fact. And it is also a fact that those against gay marriage will be proven wrong and one day gay marriage will be as commonplace as seeing a woman vote (an abomination in 1919) or a black person in a public swimming pool (cause for a lynching before the 60s). 

Okay, so... this is a screed as well as Deep Pop.  But we still love it.

April 7, 2009 UPDATE:  As everyone knows, Obama/Biden captured the White House on November 4, 2008, shattering a ceiling most felt would take several more generations to break through.  But even with that huge leap forward, California took a huge step back by passing Proposition 8.  The matter is still in the state Court of Appeals, and hopefully justice will prevail.  In happier news, Vermont and Iowa approved gay marriage this week, bringing the total of states that sanction same-sex matrimony to four (the other two are Connecticut and Massachusetts).  Four down, forty-six to go!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Lite Pop: Seat Jumpin' Classic #1

*LITE POP ALERT*  Although this website/blog is dedicated to exploring the deeper meaning in popular culture, sometimes you can love something just because, well, it makes your eyes pop.  Or your ass move.  So every once in a while, we are going to write shorter pieces about such.  Hence, "Lite Pop."  Here's a piece originally posted on Facebook:

I don't know if this will become a regular, but I threw a #1 on the title just in case. In my never-ending effort to get rid of all of the crap and clutter I've accumulated since high school (left L.A. with four boxes, came back from college with thirty four and they've been making babies ever since), I'm paring down my super-sizeable record/CD/tape collection. Still on the CDs... going through those early mix-CDs made with .WAV files (remember those behemoths?), trying to see what I can trash. I'm not as sentimental about the CD mixes -- the tapes though, those are going to hurt. Maybe because they took so much planning and effort and you had one take to get it right. So when they came out well, they were like gold. But the CDs? Eh, just reshuffle your playlist and burn again while you drink a latte -- no real time, hours-long commitment.

Perhaps as a result of the ease of CD-mixing, a lot of my CD mixes aren't that good. So on my way home from Whole Foods, I was confident I could trash the one I was listening to. I had all the cuts on iTunes and I could definitely get some better sequencing going than the hodgepodge of Ashanti's "Foolish" (so of its time, the song bores me now) to the Blow Monkeys' "Digging Your Scene" (still love that 80s underplayed classic) to Blu Cantrell's "Hit Em Up Style" that so didn't work. A few more late 90s/early 00's cuts played (Ja Rule, you are off the hip hop map for good reason) but then -- BAM! The horns and drums from Kool Moe Dee's "I Go To Work" kicked in and I was literally jumping in my seat. I know most people love Moe Dee's "Wild Wild West" or "How You Like Me Now" but "I Go To Work" has never failed to make me want to move my body. But now it makes my mind explode too because the lyrics and phrasing are so intricate, propulsive and creative. In my opinion, it's probably his best rap ever. It's great conceptually, rhythmically, musically -- it hits on all cylinders and is a true hip-hop classic -- it would definitely be on my top 10 all-time hip hop song list. Hell, that song is so good it not only makes me want to boogie or write my own rhyme -- it makes me want to exercise! Trust me, that's GOOD.

Kool-Ass Kool Moe Dee

I'm still gonna trash the mix CD, but it was such a nice surprise and reminder of how good songs can be that you haven't heard in a while and how revisiting the past can make you appreciate certain things you may have missed the first time around. So even though the clutter and the crap absolutely have to hit the bricks, sometimes there are benefits to sifting through slowly. Perhaps I have found my anti-clutter theme song? I'll put it on next time I'm trashing things, see if it helps and let you know. 

LLH out.

Lite Pop. We Like It.