Thursday, January 28, 2010

Random Musings

As I try to keep my nose to the grindstone transcribing interviews and writing papers worthy of publication, I've noticed a couple things recently. Now that I've been at home with Little Man and his runny nose for a few days, I've had a chance to piece some of my thoughts together.

OBAMA - The State of the Union Address gives us yet another example that our President is gifted with his rhetoric. We need to see, however, a change in his game plan when it comes to pushing policy. There's only so much extending of the olive branch across the ailse before you say F*&k it and get it done. You start to look like a clown when you keep trying to collaborate with folks who have no intention of helping you be as productive as you need to be to earn a second term.

GUN-TOTING WASHINGTON WIZARDS - I'm tired of athletes not recognizing the privilege they have earned to make millions playing a game, and the attitude of entitlement that seems to come with it. Should Arenas and Crittendon lose their ability to play in the league forever? No. I also hope that Gil's contract doesn't get voided, but if it does, I won't shed a tear for that stupidity, and I also won't need tissues if Crittendon is done in the league. Brother Sharpton is right in saying that letting these fools off easy is equivalent to saying we expect nothing more from Black athletes.

DIDDY GIVES SON A MAYBACH - It's well within his right to buy his son whatever he damn well pleases, but a $350k car with a driver? WTF does that teach the kid? If Diddy had to spend $350k, why not buy the kid some property, or make an investment that the kid will still be able to capitalize on when he's say 40. This is how you promote WEALTH. Hood-rich spending habits get you broke. Having the kid give a $10k check to Yele Haiti is nice, but how 'bout we spend $10k on the car, and send the kid TO Haiti with 350k in tow to renovate buildings so that they won't fold like envelopes the next time the earth shakes. Diddy's work ethic is the stuff of legend. He can't rob his son of developing a similar one by not having him EARN his Maybach.

JERSEY SHORE A CULTURAL "PHENOMENA" - At least you can say MTV is an equal opportunity employer when it comes to giving people the opportunity to totally denigrate themselves and their cultural legacies in front of MILLIONS. Proud Italian Americans now understand how many Blacks feel watching Flavor of Love, College Hill, or The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I have no time for any of that garbage.

Back to the grindstone...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Black Hollywood Taking Steps Backward

Was at Best Buy with Little Man. As I passed the racks of DVDs, I figured it couldn't hurt to see if there was anything new out that hadn't made the theatres featuring a cast with more than one Black person, or a story about Black people . For some reason, these movies hardly make it to the theatres these days. This is especially important to me as Little Man's ability to differentiate skin color and understand race increases. Amidst all the celebration of The Princess and the Frog and the first Black princess, overall there are fewer and fewer stories that feature black main characters, and even fewer that feature stories of Black life. One site I visited had the following as the Top 5 Black movies of 2009:

1. Precious
2. American Violet
3. Princess and the Frog
4. Black Dynamite
5. Good Hair

Of these five, American Violet only opened in 5 cities. Black Dynamite was also released on a limited basis. So even at the top of the list, very few Black movies are getting major releases and the opportunity to make money like the Disney-backed Princess.

ROOT OF THE PROBLEM: In order for most movies to make it to a theatrical release, they must be picked up for distribution by a major production company. The most famous example currently is Tyler's Perry's relationship with Lionsgate. Perry has made Lionsgate execs look like geniuses by being one of the most bankable moviemakers in Hollywood, and therefore he gets to keep making movies with them. Those not as famous as Perry, have to go the Film Festival route, and roll the dice that they may or may not get tapped by a production company for a theatrical release. American Violet was distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films, Good Hair benefited from Chris Rock's relationship with HBO. Black Dynamite will be distributed by a relatively company, Apparition.

WHAT I WISH WOULD HAPPEN: There is a critical mass of Black leading ladies, men, and directors that have had a enough success where they can leverage their notoriety and resources to not only make, but distribute films that they want to make instead of hoping, praying and complaining that more suitable roles come their way. Mel Gibson did this when he made The Passion of the Christ, and he got to laugh all the way to the bank when the movie made almost $400 million domestically. It's hard to imagine that if Will Smith (who already has a production company, Overbrook Films, which produced ATL), Denzel (direted Antoine Fisher Story), and Chris Tucker (a reported $20 million per movie guy) got together, they couldn't produce a good story from some up and coming screenwriter with a tight script. But alas, the lightbulb has not quite gone on yet, so until it does, I'll continue to support the products of Code Black Entertainment, see what I can find at Film Festivals. If and when I happen upon one of said celebrities, I'll be sure to put the bug in their ear. There are too many talened Black actors, actresses, directors and writers out there for me, my family and the rest of the world to not know who they are and what they can do.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Souled Out on Fatherhood

Was listening to Hezekiah Walker's "Souled Out" in the car the other day, and after a weekend where I almost laid hands on Little Man, I realized how souled out I am on Fatherhood. Some notes from a young Dad.

1. When Little Man is on punishment. Dad is on punishment
When you tell the Little One that he can't watch TV for the rest of the evening that means I don't get to watch any TV because if I do, I'll hear this until it's time to go to bed "But why do you get to watch TV Daddy?". Now the lesson isn't being learned and I'm just getting more angry because the answer "Because I said so" isn't working. Better to just dig into my "To Read" pile and curl up with a blanket.

2. No Hip-Hop in the car...Yet
For now, a solid exposure to Earth, Wind, and Fire, Anita Baker, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder will have to do. Can't have Little Man walking into day care singing "I'm in Miami trick!" or "Niggas compare me to Biggie and 'Pac already..." Needless to say that wouldn't be a good look. So we'll wait til he has a little more discretion before he gets his Hip Hop immersion.

3. No more sleeping in on Sundays
Train up a child in the way he should go, and he'll never depart from it. That means Dad and Mom can't be lazy on Sundays and skip church. The moral and spiritual compass is set early, and gets more rooted with consistency.

4. Hearing Little Man disrespect the Mrs. sends me over the edge
I don't consider myself a hot head by any stretch of the imagination, but when Little Man decides he wants to test boundaries and tell Mommy "NO!" or snatch his hand away, it takes all the WOOOO SAAHHHHs I have in me to keep from turning into the Incredible Hulk and catching a case. Little Man is only 3, so my logical mind eventually wins out and reminds me that he's still learning.

5. I'll change my career in a heartbeat to ensure Little Man gets the attention he
This is the most telling realization to me because I see and observe many parents who are able to do the bare minimum as parents in the name of being able to provide monetarily and materially anything a kid could ever want. That's not the model I have in mind. God forbid, Little Man should succumb to his genes and be swimmer. If it comes to pass, I'll sign him up with one of my coaching brethren and be at every meet. Times are too perilous for young Black men to be a part-time Dad.

Friday, January 1, 2010

No love for coaches

2010 has arrived, and I enter the new decade with some momentum. Dissertation data is collected, my family is healthy, the wife and I have projects percolatin'. December was busy, and I wanted to stop in and post, but just never found the time to sit down and organize my thoughts. Could be because headlines flew furiously as '09 went by the boards. It was hard to really get a chance to formulate a take on it all. The following were things I thought about engaging:

Tiger was pimpin..poorly. And what to think about his choice of side joints?

Oprah announced she's moving on in '11...Who's next? Will there be a next?

President Obama became a pinata after year one...Chile please

All this and a whole lot more made the headlines, but what has moved me to write at the onset of 2010 is COACHING. At it's most altruistic, it's a position where you are tasked to teach young people skills that they will use in the athletic arena, and later in life. At it's worst, it's a position where power is bestowed an abused while making gobs of money. Given that coaching is currently a major part of my livelihood, it boggles my mind how coaches on all levels, from pee wee to pro are being pushed farther and farther away from being teachers and mentors to simply being producers of "success", however that may be defined. I look at the situations of recently fired coaches like Mark Mangino and Mike Leech and can't help but think that continued winning would have kept any complaints from players, boosters, and admin under the rug. Mangino turned Kansas football from laughing stock to contender, and the minute he had one bad season, gone. Mike Leech made Lubbock a relevant city in football-rich Texas to rival Austin, College Station, and Houston. The minute he even considered leveraging his success into a better position, the witch hunt began, and now he's gone.

Sure coaches know what they are getting into when they sign the contracts, but it is still a surprise when success is met with a "What Have You Done for me Lately" attitude. I guess the sacrifice of health and family isn't enough. I see now why coaches with multiple championships (Phil Jackson, Joe Torre) leverage it to the hilt. There is no loyalty in the coaching game, and wins are the bottom line. If you happen to keep players out of trouble and instill a few life lessons, that's a bonus.