Well somebody pop a hole in my top and tell me it ain't suped up Kool-Aid.
I was thirsty and craving something sugary-sweet so I walked around the corner to the Chinese store for one of their $1 quart juices. But what do you know? The "homemade" lemonades, Iced Teas and Fruit Punches all went up a quarter.
Who said that we're not still in a recession?
See I knew I should have went to the Harlem Book Fair.
Kola Boof, Sudanese-American writer and former Osama Bin Laden sex slave, is currently tweeting and facebooking about an incident that happened during the Harlem Book Fair in which she was heckled by Amiri Baraka,writer and activist, who too was reading at the Book Fair. Boof, who is known for not letting things slide, allegedly slapped the 77-year old Baraka for his apparent disrespect. I don't know much more about all the details other than the fact that Boof has been tweeting about it all evening. And that there might be video of the incident. See for yourself:
A Facebook friend of mines posted this video on her profile page. Here is the description:
"PSE leaders, attending SEIU Member Leadership and Action Conference in Los Angeles March 25-28, took part in a flash mob and rally in support of Teamster drivers attempting to organize truck drivers. Created on March 31, 2011 using FlipShare."
They could have at the very least, practiced a routine. And I don't have to point out to you guys, the irony of union members and supporters to trying to convince folks of the value of organizing union by engaging in a disorganized dance routine, right? Nope, probably not the most effective and best way of getting the message across.
But, I give them an A for effort - and the chanting at the end.
So on Saturday, I was tending to my side-hustle, dog-walking (whatever - it pays the bills), when my client (no not the dog but the dog's owner) gifted me a bottle of hand sanitizer with a note attached, "a special gift for my favorite dogwalker to ensure good health." I really don't like hand sanitizer but I thought it was pretty neat. Not only is it shaped like a pen but when you open it, it has a aerosol-like pump for easy dispensing. I returned her gesture of good health with "thank you" note and threw my new find in my purse. Later in the day, I was playing with the hand sanitizer (because what else are you suppose to do with it?) when I noticed some writing on the bottle. This "gesture" of good health was not my clients alone but also came courtesy of
one of the local W.I.C (Women.Infants.Children) organizations here in Philly. Yes, I had just been snookered by my clients attempt to pass-off a gift she probably didn't want or already had too many of, off to me. Anyway, my clients' re-gifting got me thinking about the enormous amount of giveaways, also known as swag, from government - other government related - agencies I have amassed over the years. As a society, we are drowning in swag. Whether it be at a community festival or a community meeting, there is always a table set up where a person can leave with a bag full of freebies and useless mementos. Of course, the most obvious forms of government swag are pens, pencils and highlighter markers. I have collected so many pens from government agencies that I will never in my life have to purchase another pen again. However, over the years, government giveaways have essentially began to rival what could be best describe as a low-budget award show, including:
t-shirts and hats, head and wrist bands, key chains, miniature teddy bears and stress-relief squeeze toys, pocket mints, wallets and id holders, coffee mugs, foam cup holders and water bottles, notepads, mousepads, sewing kits, condoms and lubricant, calculators and rulers, Frisbees, footballs and tennis balls, tote bags and reusable shopping bags, lotion, combs, toothbrushes and other toiletries and my personal favorite, bottled water from the city's Water Department. In some ways,
I can sort of understand how giveaways can serve a purpose: If used effectively, little trinkets can aid in the marketing and advertising of an agency's goals and initiatives. For example, the W.I.C. approved small bottles of hand sanitizer, reinforces important messages about hand cleanliness, especially around children. Plus, what better way of attracting your target audience to your booth or table at a festival, workshop or neighborhood meeting than baiting them with the promise of a free "I heart Recycling" non-recyclable plastic wristband?
However, some of these items can be a waste of money and have no practical purpose nor any connection to what it is a particular organization or government agency is trying to promote. Take for instance: the most unique giveaways I'd received was an authentic plaid Kangol hat from the Department of Human Services. While very cute and fashionable (and yes, I did wear it a few times), it didn't even have the agency's logo on it nor did it have any direct relation to its anti-truancy program - the reason why they were giving them out - so what was the point?
Earlier this year, California Governor Jerry Brown's administration directed
all state agencies and departments to stop spending taxpayer dollars on free giveaway and gift items as part of continuing efforts to cut costs and tackle the state's enormous budget gap. According to the Brown administration, a statewide audit revealed that from 2007 to 2010 state agencies and departments spent a total of $7.5 million on items including key chains, squeeze toys, pens, hats, trinkets, shirts, cups and other gift items.
It's probably hard to quantify how successful, or even expensive, these small giveaways might be to government agencies, who often have to find creative ways to market themselves as well as get their message out to the community-at-large. As such, it would be foolish to think that just by eliminating the purchase of coffee cups, pens and mousepads, we have reached a solution to the multi-million-dollar budget shortfall many municipals find themselves in. At a time when we are struggling with balance budgets and lay-offs on all levels of government, I think that it is equally important to be good custodians of the public's money too
But to a larger point, most swag is pretty useless, if not junk, which quite honestly, I can do without. The keychains from various city, state and federal departments I have collected over the year? They are mostly in the trash. I mean, I got them because I was there in the right place, at the right time and they were free. And since I don't have that many keys for all those keychains, what's the point in keeping them anyway?
Very quickly, check out this video of two young buls ("boys" for my non-Philly folks) being followed, aisle to aisle, in a supermarket by an over-zealous store manager:
In the words of Jay-Z "What more can I say?"
The dynamic behind what inspires folks to get angry and then move to action is a very interesting phenomenon to witness. From Gawker:
"Netflix's phone lines are overloaded, its blog comments maxed out and its hate mail has become a trending topic on Twitter. All because of a $6 price hike. Here's a recording of Netflix's overloaded customer service line turning away calls, via All Things Digital. And via the Wall Street Journal comes word that angry customers brought Netflix's blog post about the price hike to its 5,000 comment maximum. "Even a dog knows the difference between being tripped over and being kicked," read a comment with 338 "likes." Meanwhile, "Dear Netflix" became a trending topic on Twitter thanks to tweets telling the company to "fuck off!" and that "you suck baby dick" (wow)."
Yeah, the Netflix outrage, in the grand scheme of things, is quite ridiculous. Seriously, the government is on the verge of cutting $600 billion in domestic spending (& possibly Medicare) & folks are bitching about $6?I get the fury - in a way. It's about the principal of matter. The little guy, once again, is getting screwed over by the big, bad, greedy corporation, who is forcing you to spend an extra $6 a month (for a grand total of $15.99 a month) for the privilege of storing that single DVD, which has been collecting dust on you're coffee table for about a month now. And odds are, you probably haven't even bothered to watch it - yet. As far as I'm concerned, Netflix is still the best $7.99 a month I've ever spent
. And it is still $100 cheaper than what I was paying for cable TV, plus I don't have to deal with commercials. Folks, who complain about their online library must not remember what it was like to begrudgingly sit through the 1,235th-rebroadcast of Transformers on HBO because there is nothing else on the other 500 channels you've flipped through (seriously, what are the back channels even for?). I enjoy finding rare and never-before-heard of films, TV shows and documentaries on Netflix and I enjoy watching them when I'm ready to watch them.
Sure, I can't get all the new blockbusters but let's be honest, most of them suck anyway. Plus, that's what torrents and free internet streaming channels are for.All I'm saying is for us to have a little perspective here: it's a $6 increase on a service you don't have, to have. If you don't want it, don't pay for it. Last I'd check, renting season 4 of House is still a privilege whereas Social Security and home energy assistance are both entitlements, which despite paying taxes for, might not be available to you in the near future...
...but, if Netflix raises its' prices again to anything over $20, well then grab the pitchforks, torches and the angry mob and let's burn this baby down. I will certainly meet you at the castle's doors ;)
:"The chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, Chen Bingde, told reporters he thought the U.S. should cut back on defense spending for the sake of its taxpayers."Moreover:"he said. . . . 'China’s military budget of $95 billion this year is the world’s second-highest after Washington’s planned $650 billion in defense spending."This appears to be the big fat, sloppy elephant in the room everyone seems to be working around. Military spending is out of control. We are engaged in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one humanitarian invention in Libya and three covert operations in Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, our leadership is slashing the financial security of average citizens and pondering the idea of to raise - or not to raise - the debt ceiling. Much has been raised about President Obama finally calling the bluff of Eric Cantor and the rest of the Rethugs over the debt ceiling but where was all this nut-grabbing when he conceded to $600 million in domestic cuts while the Defense budget is largely exempt from this same level of
Why? Because it's an oxymoron. From Clutch:
"In a recent interview with Elle magazine, Oprah’s affable stylist pissed off sisters with natural hair by saying kinky hair was the only kind he’d recommend altering because it has “limited styling options.”When discussing the difficulty of keeping “kinky” and “curly” hair tamed in humid climates, Walker advises: “I always recommend embracing your natural texture. Kinky hair can have limited styling options; that’s the only hair type that I suggest altering with professional relaxing.”After getting the verbal crap beat out of his by the Natural Nazis, Walker "clarified" his original quote:Let me first say that there is no such thing as “bad” hair, and I have long ago freed myself from being afraid to use the word “kinky” and also from being accused of not liking natural hair. We have become a multi-cultural society that embraces many different looks and styles when it comes to hair. It is my Mission to help you grow strong, healthy hair, and wear it in the style or styles that best suit your likes and particular hair type. When it comes to curly and kinky hair (there is a difference), I leave the political correctness of “going straight” or staying natural to a woman’s personal preference. Once again, my advice is based on how to best achieve strong, healthy hair. So for those who would like to engage me in a debate about who has more racial pride and self esteem, based on hairstyle preference and use or non-use of chemical relaxers, know that I believe in personal freedom, and in the use of advanced technology when it yields positive results, which many of today’s (versus yesterday’s) chemical relaxers do deliver. It is a fact that kinky hair (my Type 4 definition) is extremely fragile and breaks easily. Even when you are very careful, something as simple as combing can break this texture. It is very difficult to achieve a longer length when the hair breaks, even with simple combing. That being said, there is the style option of wearing braids, dreads, or twists, which allows the hair to grow longer because it is combed less often. Another style choice is to simply wear a shorter cut, which is very attractive on some women but just not right for others. So when I say to embrace your natural texture, but consider relaxing kinky hair, am I contradicting myself? I don’t think so! You see, even relaxed hair can still be worn naturally. If you want a natural look, but find that your kinky hair is difficult to manage, breaks too easily, lacks shine and luster, and limits your preferred styling options, I say feel free to consider a mild chemical relaxer, sometimes called a texturizer, that eases your hair to a more manageable texture and allows you to Make Peace With Your Hair.
I'm not going to get into the whole politics of Black hair. It's all been said, blogged, tumblred and done before. And I kind of agree with his overall point that women should be allowed to rock their coils any way they please. However, what I can't - no, won't - let him slide on is this false characterization that the courser the hair, the limiting and harder it is to manage - particularly a natural style. A
lot of "us" are scared of our natural hair and after a lifetime of trying to "tame" it, we wouldn't know the first thing about how to maintain our hair in its natural state. And unfortunately, many stylist aren't immune to that thinking or practice. Likewise, how "freeing" is a relaxed hair when the moment a raindrop or bead of sweat touches it, you go running for the nearest cover?
Very quickly.From the Progressive: "Given Obama’s record, you might think that there might be more political space for blacks to criticize the President. Not so. Take it from me. If you dare to tell it like it is, you instantly and unsparingly get bashed and called a “hater.” I go on a lot of talk radio programs geared toward a black audience, and whenever I point out Obama’s flaws, this is what I get: “We ought not to air our dirty laundry in public.” “We need to show a united front.” “Obama can’t do everything. He isn’t Superman.” “Obama is cleaning up the mess Bush left.” “He got health care passed.” “The Republicans won’t give him a break.” “The attack by the ‘birthers’ is an attack on black legitimacy, so we must defend him.” “He’s not the president of black America; he’s the President of the United States of America.” “His family sure looks good. He and Michelle are good role models for our kids.” “It’s our fault the Obama Presidency hasn’t kept its commitments. We need to ‘make him do it.’ ” “Shut up and sit down and support the President, or there will be nothing he can do anyway.” Morning syndicated radio show host Tom Joyner told his audience that blacks who criticize the President are “haters” and need to be quiet because Obama doesn’t need the black vote to be split. Joyner asked, “What would it be like without a black man in office? . . . If you don’t support him it will be much worse.”And here is the money shot:"The dilemma of black politics is whether it is about changing the system or running it. Is it about ending the empire and elitism or running the empire and somehow becoming part of the elite? And what will people sacrifice for the latter?
That is it in a nutshell. It's no reasoning with our folks anymore. I don't know whether to be sad or glad to have witnessed this phenomenon. If I had been reading about this level of pathology (because that's what it is) in a book, I probably wouldn't have been able to fully appreciate what it is.
From Shadow and Act:"The folks at Twitch, who broke the initial story about Spike Lee’s involvement in the US adaptation of Oldboy, just revealed that Josh Brolin is the production and financing company’s (Mandate Pictures’) top choice to star as the lead character in Spike Lee’s direction of the Japanese manga made popular by Park Chan-wook’s 2003 award-winning film." Interesting
.For those who don't know, the original film version of the manga had an all Korean cast and the lead was played by Choi
Min-sik.To better illustrate my point, here is a side by side comparison of Josh Brolin (white guy to the left) and Choi Min-sik (Korean guy to the right).
So, here is my question: is this just another example of whitewashing? If so, should we hold the producers as well as Spike Lee, although he is just a hired director, to the same standards that we have held others, who engage in this form of cultural appropriation?Not to long ago, we were all (or at least some of us) seething over M. Night
Shyamalan's lack of Asian cast members in the live action version of Airbender. And most recently is the outrage over the casting, or impending white-washing, of the lead character in the live action version of the popular Asian-animated series Akira. That movie is set to be directed by Albert Hughes of the Hughes Brothers. I'm not trying to start no stuff here but if this sort of cultural assimilation was happening to For Colored Girls...(and I'm not talking about the Tyler Perry version neither) or Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, Black folks would be all on it. Listen, there is no other black director, who I respect more than Spike. He is a proud race-man, who pulls no punches, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. But I have to say that Spike, who recently took Clint Eastwood to task over his lack of Blacks soldiers representation in any of the WWII flicks, is being surprisingly quiet about what appears to be the bastardization of yet another Asian films by Hollywood. I'm just saying...