Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Re: The Texas Air National Guard memo controversy:

"We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry." Dan Rather, in a statement issued 9/21/2004.

When Dan Rather said "I know that this story is true" and "(an apology or retraction was)..not even discussed, nor should it be. I want to make clear to you, ...if I have not made clear to you, that this story is true", he put his credibilty on the line. That credibilty is his commodity, his merchandise. Without it his shelves are bare.

Whether the error on the part of CBS News was a conscious reflection of their political bent remains unclear but the effect on their perceived integrity and veracity is unquestionable.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Rap is to Music...

...as Etch-A-Sketch is to Art (Quote attributed to Anonymous)

Needless to say I am not a fan of that genre of noise known for it's glorious promotion of the "thug life", which includes the true pursuit of cash, drugs, sex, violence and tight rides. For the most part that doesn't bother me, however, except when one of the homies pulls up beside me with his volume ramped to the max. Then I'll try to drown him out with my Smooth Jazz or Classic R&B or Contemporary Christian. Usually it's a losing battle, though.

No, what really bugs me is rappers-turned-actors. Now, I know that Hollywood has historically sought singers to act in movies, mostly because they bring with them a smitten following. Guys like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra (who was actually a pretty decent actor), even the Beatles, automatically sold tickets regardless of the product on screen. So what is it about rap/actors that grates my sensibilities like a stuttering auctioneer? Is it the names? Like Ice-T, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Method Man, Mos Def, LL Cool J, DMX, Snoop Dogg? Ice CubeOr could it be that these guys just can't act?

It seemed for a time Hollywood was loathe to release any movie without Ice-T or Ice Cube Ice-Tgracing the screen with their scowling, stilted performances.

Before I begin painting with too broad a brush, let me acknowledge a couple of exceptions that validate the rule; Will Smith is a credible performer (with a real name) and Queen Latifah has the potential to grow in the field.

Not surprisingly, a few trained actors have taken exception to the proliferation of rappers on the silver screen. Samuel L. Jackson was quoted on a TV interview program expressing his chagrin:

"It seems that if you're a hip-hop artist and you're a rapper and you have a following, you are more likely to get a movie role than you are if you graduated from Juilliard, or NYU or the Actors Studio," Jackson remarked.

That's a sad commentary and an accurate reflection of the pitiful state of American cinema. Of course, from Hollywood's perspective, it's all about the Benjamins and as long as fans continue to line up to see their favorite rapper in the latest drama, action flick or comedy, Ice-T and Ice Cube will be able to stay in the bling-bling.

Okay, that's a rap.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Brother Ricky

I think people who are not big sports fans get caught up in that "athletes as role-models" thing a bit more than hard-core fans do. Real fans are more willing to accept the flaws and peccadillos of their athletic heroes, as long as said hero continues to perform at a high level in their chosen arena.

And then there's the unique story of Ricky Williams. For those of you who don't follow the Sordid Side of Sports, here are the highlights: Ricky Williams is a very talented running back who played for the NFL Miami Dolphins. Ricky WilliamsAt the height of what had the potential to be a Hall of Fame career, and just days before the start of the 2004 training camp, brother Ricky informed the Miami team management that he no longer wanted to play football. He explained that he had lost the "passion to play" (his words, not mine) and said he wanted to travel, to explore exotic locales and revel in the adventure that is life (my words, not his).

Surprisingly, quite a few sportswriters felt this high-minded independence was refreshing and laudable. "Yay, Ricky," many exclaimed, "eschewing the lure of big bucks and the brutality of football for the aesthetic refinements of life, what a role-model." (Of course, that's not a direct quote, but you get the idea.)

As chagrined as the Miami Dolphins were, all was swell in Ricky-land. That is, until it was revealed that brother Ricky had failed a number of NFL mandated drug tests and would have been subject to a lengthy suspension had he not retired.

Having been unceremoniously outted, brother Ricky decided to shed the legalistic impediments of society like so many defensive backs and admit to an unabashed love for good marijuana.

Taking a page from the Bush Administration's war strategy, brother Ricky headed off the temporarily (and uncharacteristically) speechless sportswriters with a preemptive statement which suggested strongly that he should look for a new dealer:

"I didn't quit football because I failed a drug test," he said. "I failed a drug test because I was ready to quit football."

Of course, a great story like this can't end right there. Here's where it actually gets kooky. First the Miami Dolphins informed brother Ricky that he owed the team in the neighborhood of $8 million for signing bonuses and unachieved incentives. Brother Ricky replied that he didn't have the money (no points for guessing where it all went). Then, after some time to ponder his fate, which was not quite as idyllic without enough funds to purchase the highest quality cannibis, brother Ricky hit on a great idea. He contacted the Dolphins management and told them he'd un-retire and joyfully return to the team- but only if they gave him a raise.

Fortunately (or not, depending on your position) common sense prevailed and brother Ricky's great idea was pushed out-of-bounds.

So let's recap: Man quits a multi-million dollar job because it restricts his freedom to get high; man eventually realizes that not having a steady paycheck restricts that freedom even more; man goes to boss and offers to return, but only if the boss gives him a raise; man can't understand why the boss slams the door in his face.

And get this; brother Ricky actually has a foundation, rickywilliamsfoundation.org, for helping underprivileged children.

What a role-model.