Enter your email address to receive notifications when there are new posts
Powered by BLOG ALERT
You will get emails when I post a new blog. You will not get them for any other reason. I post on average 4 times a month. Each email will have a link to unsubscribe. You will not get any spam from me or Blog-Alert.

You have 1014827 hits.

Latest Comments
Recent Entries

Blogs I follow:
The Briefing Room (White House)
The Future is Fiction
East Bay Bicycle Coalition
The Quiet Extrovert
Electrons and More!
Crystal Math
Green Eggs & Ham
Ghost Town Farm
30 is the new 13
The Gubbins Experiment
$0 Web Hosting
User Profile
Oakland, CA

You are currently viewing archive for April 2007
Posted By Bakari

I recently saw a MySpace "survey" which included the question "Is Rap music disrespectful to women?"
My thought was "Of course.  All of it.  Even the songs and artists which aren't.  Especially rappers such as Public Enemy, Underground, and TuPac, and current artists OutKast, RasKaDee and Dead Prez with their "Mind Sex".  Oh and the lyrics of the Fugees, Queen LaTifa, and Lil Kim, very offensive to women."
A little on the sarcastic side, obviously.
Point is, that is a really stupid question.  Rap is not one song, one artist, or even one style.  There are artists who objectify women in rock and country, and there are artists who do in rap as well.

The important question is, when there are so many political, and/or positive, and/or fun and upbeat, and/or meaningful, why is it that NWA and Snoop Dogg are considered representative of the entire genre.  Why are gangsta rap, hyphe (the glorification of stupid for its own sake), dirty south and crunk, the dominate styles in their respective times?
While there may be many complex reasons, it is important to remember that the promotion of a song or group is controlled by major record labels, radio stations, and concert venue owners.  The vast majority of these are white. 
I'm not saying it is a deliberate conspiracy, but it is interesting that NWA got more air time than Public Enemy, when the former was hardcore gangsta rap, promoted violence in general, was disrespectful of women in particular, while the latter was purely political, and rapped about such things as the aftermath of slavery, alcohol abuse in the black community, and the use of the word "nigger" by ignorant black americans.

I used to dislike the entire genre for the same reason; until I started to find the numerous exceptions to the generalizations expressed here. Fact is, it is a style of music, not a type of content.  Beyond the question of who chooses what style becomes popular, the question remains, why are so many rappers the way described?  And in that, there is the same chicken/egg question raised by all of the media influences people arguments.  Does the community build its morals based on the music they listen to, or do they choose to listen to music that matches their morals?  Does art imitate life, or life imitate art? I think the question of why the community thinks this way is more important than why rappers do.  If youth were offended by the lyrics, they would stop buying the albums, and the rappers would stop writing that way. I think internalized racism very relevant, but not exactly accurate. It is more that many black people have bought into the idea that the black community is in some way fundamentally separate from society at large.   While many sub-cultures in the US make some effort to assimilate, in a way blacks try to move away from the rest of society.  Of course this is true to a large extent of youth in general.  But when a punk or a goth or a skater white kid writes a note to a teacher, they generally do not use the sub-cultural words they use with their friends.  Some black children seem unaware that they aren't speaking proper english, and use slang even in formal settings.  Black youth are told that math, history, english classes are not relevant to their problems, to their community.  This is an extremely destructive, but widespread belief. 


<entire blog at MySpace>

Posted By Bakari

It's heroin, not crack.

Not that I am surprised.  I just use the term "crack-head" because it's got a certain ring to it, which "heroin-addict" lacks.

I hear from one of my former neighbors, who bought some of my furniture today, that the crazy pet-abusing child-threatening neighboor-robbing 3-broken-car-owning driveway-full-of-crap trailer trash neighbor is actually being evicted!


Apparently despite the drug sales, the credit card fraud, the identity theft, and the burglary, he still couldn't pay the rent.
Supposedly that time the cops were here for so long, it was for his girl, not for him.  That explains why she hasn't been around for a while.  Supposedly she will be away for a good while, from all the identity theft she was caught involved in.
The former neighbor who told me all this, she warned me to watch out.  Now that he's being evicted (dear god I hope they take his kid) he has nothing to lose from hurting his neighbors - especially ones he has a grudge against, i.e. ME. 
So, one of these days something of mine will be missing, or maybe there will be a brick through the window of the truck or trailer.
But, it will be worth it!
Won't have to deal with him ever again after that.  Won't have to listen to him cursing and threating his 2 year old for walking more than 5 ft away from the driveway.  Won't have to worry about the revenge that might or might not be coming some day.  Won't have to worry about drunkenness giving him the courage to actually start a fight - I'd have the advantage of being sober and not an idiot, but he'd have the advantage of surprise, size and weight, and probably countless street and prison fights in the past.  Considering that he already has nothing, I couldn't even sue for damages.  Even if I "won", nothing good could come of it.
But it may be a moot point very soon.  He didn't pay his rent.  They're throwing him out.
Ding-Dong the witch is dead!  Which old witch?  The wicked witch!

Posted By Bakari

Its that one line that stands out.  Its what people hear first.  It seems dramatic in its vulgarity; and so it's taken out of context.

This is not the typical bass thumping, "hey baby, lets get in on" song.
It is not about dominance, nor pleasure.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

"Help me" is more key to the feeling than "I want to fuck you like an animal".

This is a person in pain - in total desperation:

"Help me; I broke apart my insides... I've got no soul to sell"
Fucking her is a last resort, an escape from his reality which he knows he can not truly fix, "the only thing that works for me, help me get away from myself."
The next line after the hook shows the unhealthy dynamic at play "My whole existence is flawed; you get me closer to God"
He wants faith, he does not have any left.  He is empty inside.  He is tormented.  "...have my isolation...have the hate that it brings...have my absence of faith, you can have my everything". 
After the word "fuck" we don't hear these lines.

Just because he does the penetrating does not make him the one with power in the relationship.  "Help me, you make me perfect.  Help me become somebody else."  It is he, not her, who is scraped off his knees.  He who drinks her honey.  She "is the reason [he] stay[s] alive."

In the rest of the album this is expanded upon.  He is a broken man.  She enjoys the dynamic they have, or at the least is willing to take advantage of it.  He is the one being used.  His fucking her may be the only aspect of their relationship in which he has any semblance of control.

At first listen the music is loud, fast heavy - but it has a very "dark" [excuse the expression] undertone, it is not upbeat, it has that bump, but it is depressing - its the feeling of depression thinly veiled, of enthusiasm as distraction, like taking pain killers and running on a broken leg.  The pain is still there, no matter how fast you go, no matter how euphoric you feel in the moment.

It is a feeling, I suspect, which more of us can sympathise with than we would care to admit.

At least, that's how I interpret it.  I'm no poet.  I could be totally wrong.

I do not find it offensive.

A friend of mine did not like this song.  That's what inspired this, of course.  I guess thats what Catholic school does to a person, even if they didn't really buy into it.

Posted By Bakari

As you probably know (if you have looked at my profile, or spoken to me for half an hour) I've had a lot of jobs. About 25 in fact, of about 15 different types, ranging rather widely.

I can't remember one in which I have enjoyed the commute to work as much as the commute home.
And not just because of the 15 mile bike ride at 2pm through sunny Berkeley and Oakland, around the lake, along the "bike boulevards" in near perfect weather.

Today, I took a few extra moments before someone left with their bike to cut off the end of a used inner tube. I had noticed their headlight was too loose for the handlebar, and I made a shim out of the piece of tube, and now instead of pointing straight down, her headlight points forward. Which means its just a little less likely that she gets hit by a car sometime.

The majority of our customers are commuting to work everyday by bicycle. Our service (my mother thought it funny that I refer to the shop as "our" after my 2nd week) helps them to do it. It means they don't have to take the bike on a crowded train, convince their employer to provide a secure place to store it, or worry about someone stealing their wheels or handlebars or lights or whatnot when its locked up.
Quite a few of them don't have cars at all.
I used to not have a car. I remember crossing a 4 lane divided highway to get to the laundry mat in the snow. In this culture, not having a car is a major sacrifice - it is pretty much THE major sacrifice. I see a big difference between someone who spends a little more to get a Prius, and someone who could afford a car, but instead relies on bicycle and public transportation.
Yesterday there was a guy here with that extend-a-bike thing, with a sign on the back advertising hauling. He said his most common cargo is groceries. I have to admit a bike beats bio-diesel on environmental impact any day.


I had not really ever thought about just how much I have picked up from my years of doodling about with my own bikes, and occasionally those of friends and family. I've been called by other mechanics at my shop for advice. Of course, most people wouldn't have taken apart a 3-speed internal gear / hub before. I got that old women's Raleigh from Joe's basement that one time, and rode that heavy old thing up Shane Dr to Berlex. When it stopped shifting right, I fixed it. I thought nothing of it at the time. I didn't realize that most people would either take it to the shop, junk it, or just live with one gear. I didn't think of the potential of making it worse, of loosing parts - not that I haven't done those things.
The first wheel I tried to true (and probably the second) I took form a slight wobble to completely tacoed, totally folded over, and irreparable. My first "10-speed", I disassembled the gears to figure out how they worked. I couldn't figure out how to put them together again, and ended up just tying them off in my preferred gear.
Fortunately, all my irrepairable mistakes have been on my own bikes.
The 10 year subscription to Bicycling magazine certainly helped. And reading the Nashbar catalog every month. working alongside Larry or Joe and pretending to know what we were doing. And of course, more than anything, hating to ride the bus with my classmates in junior high and not being able to afford repairs. Eventually people started asking me for tune-ups, neighborhood kids, classmates, family; and this way I was exposed to different types, different makes, different years, different quality levels.


<entire blog at MySpace>

Posted By Bakari

It must have been that I started writing these meaningless silly ones, sort of like this one, instead of the constant barrage of opinionated, angry, political/philosophical crap I started out with, that whole "Chapter #; in which..."

800.  Wow.  Really wish I could see who all these people are. 
I barely know 8 people, are they reading them over and over, or have I somehow caught the attention of total strangers? 800 views of 50 posts, that's an average of 16 each!  Now I need only adding in sublminial messages, and before long I could - dare I say it?- RULE THE WORLD!
Mwah HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!

2 more!  already?  how is this possible?  Does the mere act of posting count as a "view" by myself?  And even then, who's the other one?  Just now?  in the time it took me to post the above blog?  WTH?  who are you?  why don't you ever comment?  yabadahlieoto?!?! what is the smiley icon for confused? hows that?