Friday, August 20, 2010


This weekend, a magical lineup of Hip-Hop acts will come together to perform at the 2010 Rock The Bells concert. Since I can't go, I will be putting together my own playlist of the headliners and rocking it LOUDLY to have my own Rock the Bells experience, minus the obligatory weed smoke and hard-guy screw faces. Enjoy.

Deep Cover
What's My Name?
Doggy Dogg World
Drop It Like It's Hot
That's That Isht

Can I Kick It
Bonita Applebaum
Check The Rhyme
Jazz (We've Got)
Buggin Out
Award Tour
Electric Relaxation
Oh My God

Wuuuuuuuuu Tang Clan
Protect Ya Neck
Da Mystery of Chessboxin
Method Man
Can It Be All So Simple
Ice Cream (GhostFace, Rae, and Meth)

I Ain't No Joke
Paid in Full
Know the Ledge (JUICE)
Don't Sweat the Technique
Microphone Fiend

The Bridge Is Over
Outta Here
Return of the Boom Bap
Black Cop
MCs Act Like They Don't Know

Children's Story
Mona Lisa
Teenage Love
Hey Young World

DJ Premier (Instrumentals)
DWYCK (Gang Staar)
Just To Get a Rep (Gang Staar)
Real Hip-Hop (Das Efx)
Full Clip (Gang Staar)
Kick in the Door (B.I.G.)

So looking forward to playing this out, and I don't even have to sit through the non-descript opening acts.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On Dr. Laura, Blagojevitch, NBA Ballers

This week I've got the dissertation mojo rollin', so the blog action will be reduced to a verbal drive by of things that have clouded my mind as I try to get the diss out:

I've read on a couple of different sites that Dr. Laura wasn't racist with her decision to use the N-word. WRONG! Racism is based on the notion that one leans on their ethnic privilege to maintain traditional institutions of power. Dr. Laura boasting to a Black woman caller that she told her Black bodyguard that she wanted him on her basketball team because "White men can't jump" is exactly the kind of stereotype reinforcement that is characteristic of simple-minded bigots. She later admitted having little grasp of the politics around the N-word, and that's where she should have begun the conversation. I wish her luck doing speaking engagements to other simple-minded folks whose grasp of race is as wide as a hair follicle.

It appears shocking that this seemingly arrogant dude got off especially when you hear that there were FEDERAL WIRETAPS involved, but at the end of the day his hand was NOT caught in the cookie jar. Simple. I'm actually surprised that the jury was 11-1. When I heard deadlocked, I was thinking 7-4 or 6-5. As 72 year-old Chicago native, Leota Johnson, noted from the courtroom, pay-for-play politics in Chi-town is normal. I'll be on the lookout for Blagojevich's "How to Get Off" reality show

For those who want to crush NBA ballers for symbolically saying "GIVE US FREE" by manipulating their contracts so they can get out urban "hot spots" like Denver (Melo), Cleveland (LeBron), and Minnesota (Garnett) to play in more attractive cities, I say stop hatin'. I don't know too many people who wouldn't pack up shop IMMEDIATELY if they had the opportunity to make more money in salary and other income by relocating to a more metropolitan area. It's about time the players started to cultivate their own leverage against owners who've been making money off their backs for years. They just better do it before they get locked out next year because the owners won't leave the rabbit hole open for ever.

My prayers go out to those in Pakistan dealing with continued flooding and destruction stemming from the monsoon. The notion that an area as large as London is underwater is mind-boggling.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hooray Marriage! The Book Closes on Year 8

As I again sit in a hotel room (for the 3rd year in a row) with no prospect of seeing my wife on our Anniversary, I again turn to my internet family to share and reflect on what she has meant to me over the last eight years. This year is especially poignant for us because we saw friends fall from the ranks of the married. So since I shared all my accumulated knowledge last year, I've only got a story and a recommendation this year. Indulge me if you will.

My Dad's consistent piece of advice when it came to women was "Jon, make sure you find a girl that's in your corner." Early on, I never thought this was exactly Yoda-like wisdom when he would say it, but as I got older, and the relationships became more complex, I quickly realized that my Father was laying on me the type of simple wisdom that one must pay their dues to understand. Having a "girl in your corner" did not mean the most sexually adventurous girl, or the girl who would bark like a dog while hopping on one leg like in Coming to America. It also didn't mean the girl who felt it was her duty to plan my life for me. When I started dating Nkechi Okoro, she had many "friends", and I felt I had no shot as I was an assistant second grade teacher making just enough to still live like a college student with my roomates who were all doing a fifth year because of their ridiculously difficult engineering majors. Nevertheless, we exchanged phone numbers, and soon were involved in a Turnpike Love that gave me the ability to navigate the NJ Turnpike with my eyes closed. One night at the close of one of our marathon phone conversations, I expressed that I wished we could see each other that weekend, knowing that we wouldn't. I was awakened by the phone three hours later

Me: "Hello"
Voice on the other end: "Did you still want to see me?"
Me: "Of course"
Voice on the other end: "Well, come down stairs and open the door"

At the moment I hung up the phone it was clear that this was the type of woman my Dad was talking about. The type of woman my roomates and I had dubbed a "Franchise Player". We were engaged a little over a year later, and August 10, 2002 remains one of the happiest days of my life. I often tell people that I know that I am capable of anything because of who I was able to marry. They usually laugh and think I'm just being charming, but I'm serious every time I say it. So with each passing year, much like an NBA franchise, I try to improve to keep the franchise player happy and avoid a LeBron-like exodus of my Franchise Player.

According to, the #1 reason marriages fail is because of financial problems, and as someone who's spouse makes more than him (sacrelige in some circles), I have to make sure I'm at least doing my part. My suggestion to my peers in the marriage game is this: THE FINANCIAL SUMMIT. Usually there's one party who handles the finances and comes up with the budgets, etc. I submit that the FINANCIAL SUMMIT should absolutely be necessary for couples so that there is equal participation in the financial planning of the house and so that ALL events and expenses are considered. Do we remodel the bathroom or kitchen? Do we go to this wedding or split? Where we going for the holidays? Vacation? Where's Lil Man going to school in the Fall? The longer you stay in the marriage game, the more grown up and important these decisions become, and they should not be left to the person with the perceived financial skillz (even if they do have multiple degrees in economics, finance, etc). So I highly recommend that old head and new couples alike do like the Mrs and I will do Sunday and set an appointment to sit down with notepads, calculators, and pencils and plan out the fiscal year so that you can celebrate those special moments as they should be celebrated.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Getting Over Fear of the Water

As I sit here on press row watching Finals during the 2010 US Swimming Nationals, it gives me a unique opportunity to reflect on how far swimming has carried me. I've been involved in the sport for more than twnety-five years now, and it's hard to imagine that I was once the kid who was terrified to jump off of the diving board. In fact, I was the kid who wouldn't jump off the board unless someone was positioned directly under me.

All these years later, swimming is still paying the bills and while I get to marvel from the deck at the growing popularity of swimming as a spectator sport and the celebrity of swimmers like Phelps, Jones, and Coughlin, I can't help but be disturbed by the continuing trend of young people drowning all across this country. My heart sank earlier today as I read the story of the seven youth who drowned in the Red River in Louisiana. Even more saddening was that of all their family members who were assembled to enjoy some good bar-b-que, none of them could swim either, so they had to stand helpless as their young ones were taken away in the fast moving current. It makes me thankful that as scared as I used to be standing on the edge of the diving board, one meter off the ground, my mother made me stick with the sport. I can't imagine the terror that those kids must have felt as they found themselves swept away from the safety of the ledge where they had been playing minutes before. As a member of USA Swimming, it's absolutely necessary that we do more to curb such incidents from continuing to happen.

Data from a study done by the University of Memphis in partnership with USA Swimming indicates that FEAR is one of the biggest factors keeping parents from involving their kids in swim lessons. While I understand the initial hesitation, I would humbly direct those parents to the example of my mother, who doesn't know how to swim, but was adamant that all three of her chidren (and now her grandson) learn how to swim. The fear of watching your little ones go through lessons is nothing compared to the lifetime anxiety you'll feel every time you're near a pool or open water with the knowledge that your loved ones can't swim. For the ethnic families that worry about the damage that chlorine does to relaxed hair, go with braids for a summer, or au natural until the kids are water safe. The sad reality is that cities large and small will continue to cut pool time from their recreation budgets as long as the public does not make use of facilities. Swimming has been too good to me for me to look at it as a sport that is killing members of my community.