Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New York Times Does Feature On Acting, Inadvertently Demonstrates Why Modern Movie Acting Sucks


So the Times, to get us all excited for their annual Hollywood issue, gave us an exciting multimedia preview of said issue today called '14 Actors Acting.' One-minute, silent clips of pure acting from the Times's 14 favorite actors of the year. These clips, the Times says, will "show - with a few gestures and props but without dialogue or story - what acting is." Wow. More than that, "these brief clips portray not only the art, but also the joy and vigor of performance." You might think, then, that you'd see some good acting in these clips. But of course you would be wrong. Rather, you see the sort of excessively mannered, thoroughly phony, utterly self-conscious and self-aware, actorly acting that tends to win awards at the Oscars and get raves from your local newspaper of record's movie critic. Specifically, we get:

  • Jesse Eisenberg trying to do Mark Zuckerberg gone psycho by making a ridiculous expression in which he clenches his teeth and furrows his becurled brow
  • Robert Duvall doing the same old winking cutesy wise old man thing he's done in his last, what, two dozen movies
  • Lesley Manville playing a breakdown so broadly you'd think she was doing an opera performance for the benefit of the people in the 800th row in a megachurch
  • Tilda Swinton tearfully tugging her hands across her face so slowly and emphatically it looks like she's being recorded in slow-mo
  • Michael Douglas sitting in a chair and pretending to pretend to ponder old age and the mysteries of life, then lifting up and hopefully cocking his drooping head in a procedure that takes at least ten seconds, as if to mime thinking, "well, I'm still technically married to Catherine Zeta-Jones," and finally gazing into the camera in supposed-to-be-haunting-and-profound fashion, as if to say, "but I'm still really old and it makes me sad." All while doing stupid mannered things with his thumb and forefinger
  • Jennifer Lawrence doing a supremely awful job of reenacting the shower scene in Psycho
  • Natalie Portman, who's trying to effect a transformation from cute girl who can't act into sex symbol who can't act, doing an atrociously exaggerated take on existential weariness while stripping
  • Chloe Moretz trying to portray anger, I think. Judging all by the teeth-baring, she might simply be pretending to transform into a vampire
  • And some other stuff that isn't quite as bad.

And here's some actual acting:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

WATCH BLAKE GRIFFIN/Vick/Moments From The Last Weeks of LKL

Blake Griffin and teammates marveling/basking in replay of his greatness.

What I have to say about Blake Griffin will be pretty short. Blake Griffin isn't a great basketball player. Not yet, anyway. He struggles to guard pretty much anyone, is useless from beyond 10 feet, the occasional pretty jumper notwithstanding, and doesn't even have great touch around the basket. Oh and he lives at the line and can't make free throws. In large part a dunker, he only makes 48% of his shots (going into tonight's 44-point effort). His team is dramatically better with him off the court. This makes sense if you think about it. If a guy makes a little less than half of his shots (all of which are two-point shots), and just half of his foul-shots, a possession ending in that player taking a shot or going to the free-throw line will produce, on average, 1 point. In today's NBA, that is terrible. To put in perspective just how terrible that is, a team just as good, offensively, as Blake Griffin would be the 5th worst offensive team in basketball. Not coincidentally, the Clippers, Griffin's team, are the 4th worst. Griffin does not make his team appreciably better on offense, and he makes his team a whole lot worse on defense. A pretty huge guy, he can't even set a screen properly. The only respect in which his play actually makes the Clippers better is rebounding; per-minute he's one of the best twenty or so in the league at that.

That said, Blake Griffin is the most exciting player in the NBA and you better watch him now before he busts his head open flying through a backboard. This is so for two reasons; Griffin's game is sick, and the sick part of his game is the only part he has. Griffin has no real post game. I don't know if he's shot a hook shot in his NBA career. (Actually, he has, but it feels like he hasn't.) Ditto on turnaround jumpers, bank shots, drop steps/any systematized steps, and, like, post catches followed by simple footwork and a non-flashy layup. Nor can he shoot the ball. All he can do is fly, dunk, and execute a spin move faster than Twista can say 'dreidel dreidel dreidel.' Griffin is 100% highlights - even his rebounds of missed free-throws are highlights - and what spectacular highlights they are. Watching Griffin is like watching an airborne linebacker with the agility and demeanor of a puppy. Griffin's game is solely about attacking the basket, and yet, Griffin doesn't really go to the basket; of his dunks, maybe 5% are of the straight down the middle of the lane, arm raised perpendicular to the backboard variety. Griffin's M.O. is to leap up in a general area a few feet away from the basket, and then to reach over and dunk it from there; he has the oddest sense of angles I've ever seen. And when he does make contact, it's like he's tackling the basket and everyone around it. For example, this happened tonight:

Notice how his teammates' reaction is to hug each other for protection. In a dozen games, Griffin has taken the entire career of his closest physical comparison, Amare Stoudemire, formerly the last word in big-man athletic spectacle, and turned it into something hopelessly banal. One guy can dunk the basketball really hard; the other guy makes you forget you're even watching basketball. To watch Amare on the same court with Griffin is like listening to Joe Fatal's verse after Nas's on 'Live at the Barbecue.' Hopefully Griffin isn't getting career advice from Salaam Remi and the Trackmasters.

And now about Michael Vick. Michael Vick is my city's team's quarterback. I haven't seen a minute or a highlight of his play. This isn't, primarily, a reflection on my disapproval of Vick; I haven't watched football for several years now. If I did, however, I don't know if I could watch. It seems to me that two factors, and only two factors, should be relevant to whether one forgives Vick. First, one's general attitude towards forgiveness - forgiving murderers, rapists, thieves, dog-killers, significant others who cheat on you, whatever. Second, one's attitude about how wrong killing and torturing dogs is. Hence, there are a couple coherent positions you can have on why we ought to forgive Vick. You could believe that anyone who's genuinely contrite should eventually be forgiven for anything that they do, whatever that might be. That's a noble position; it's also one that very few, if any, people hold. Or, you could think that murder, rape, being Bernie Madoff, etc. is unforgivable, but killing and torturing dozens of dogs is not. What makes no sense at all is to say that Vick's playing football well should have anything to do with whether he should be forgiven, or has anything to do with whether he's a "changed man." What also makes no sense is to urge forgiveness without acknowledging that such forgiveness is predicated on an implicit discounting of the value of dogs' lives.

So for example, here the 11-time National Sportswriter of the Year complains that:

Wednesday, the L.A. Times ran yet another front-page story about how some of the 47 rescued pit bulls from the Vick kennels are doing. You know the answer because you saw the story the first 100 times: not well. Some of them still shake, cower and won't bark.

I love dogs, too, but how long does Vick have to star in "The Unforgiven"?

To me, this begs the question: what do you really think about torturing dogs? Is Reilly trying to say that 100 articles about any atrocity is too much? Of course not. If Vick had raped just one woman and left her in a state of permanent clinical depression, no one would ever write, look, this is the hundredth time we've read that this rape victim is living in a clinic and hasn't cracked a smile in years. I like women too, they make nice playmates, but, like, how long are people going to wring their hands over this shit? Of course not. So implicit in the claim that it's time to forgive Vick is the notion that electrocuting, drowning, hanging, and torturing dogs just isn't that serious a matter. Fine! Just let me know what it is about a dog that makes him soooooo much less worthy of consideration than the average person. Then maybe I too will complain that too many stories are being written about silly little dogs and their silly little shaking/cowering/not barking problems. But you need to make an argument; you can't just say, "all we've got here are some dogs still too traumatized to bark after being released from Vick's dog farm three years ago, time to get over it" like the conclusion follows from the premise.

Then Reilly continues:

Just press "pause" for a second and look at what he has done.

A man fresh from the clink is turning the NFL upside down. A man who was arguably the most reviled athlete in this country in 2007 is now the toast of American sports. Imagine that. Michael Vick ... is the favorite to win MVP this season.

Well how about that! Yes, maybe Vick has killed dogs, but he can really run and throw a ball. Well yeah. He was born fast and athletic. He has a brother who might be as talented as he is, it runs in their family. What is Reilly saying here? That Vick's genetic endowments redeem what a sicko he is, or was? So if Brad Pitt had done what Vick did, would Reilly be writing, "just press pause... a man fresh from the clink is still really good-looking! All over America, women are rediscovering Brad Pitt's cheekbones and going to see him in really bad movies!" Oh, but Vick isn't like Pitt - it's not all natural ability, he has to practice to get this good. Vick has worked hard at throwing a football this well. Many repetitions, hours of mind-numbing practice. The guy could be sitting at home reading Shakespeare, but no, he's working hard on throwing a football. The pain, the agony, the intense ennui this sensitive literary soul goes through to amuse millions of fat middle-aged men and their drunk sons. Yes, I am just so impressed that this man has found a way time and time again to throw a ball into a painted off section of a grassy field someplace that I wouldn't care if he murdered my sister.

Me, I think Vick is the most exciting athlete in American sports. Does that mean I approve of hideous cruelty to pit bulls?

As long as by 'exciting athlete' no moral judgment is being passed, then no, of course not. I think Hitler was an exciting orator - doesn't mean I approve of the gassing to death of relatives who actually appear in my family photo albums. On the other hand, I don't make a weekly habit of watching his speeches in rapture at how awesome he was at waving his hands around really super fast. Not my thing. But seriously, this is such a straw man argument. Thinking Vick's an exciting athlete doesn't mean you approve of electrocuting dogs. Therefore, it's time to forgive Vick. Huh? I'll bet he's exciting but that doesn't mean I want to cheer for the guy.

In fact, in a backward way, Vick has been the best thing to happen to pit bulls.

"It's very true," says John Goodwin of the Humane Society of the United States. "For the big picture, Michael has been a tipping point. Since his case, there have been 30 new laws enacted all over the country toughening dogfighting penalties...

Great. Maybe the pit bulls who were lucky enough to not get adopted by Vick could write Vick a thank-you note for killing a gazillion pit bulls and calling people's attention to the fact that dogfighting really sucks. Maybe Jewish people should be a little more thankful to the Nazis for killing so many of us and thereby making the world so sorry for us that we got our own country and anti-Semitism is way less cool. In a backward way, you might say that Hitler saved Judaism. Perhaps in Vick's next act he could go to North Philly and start shooting some people to call attention to inner-city violence. He could be the best thing to ever happen to inner-city neighborhoods! In a backwards way, of course.

Before prison, Vick used to be the last one into the locker room and the first one out. After prison, he's just the opposite. No Eagle prepares harder.

Before prison, he practically drove ruts in the McDonald's drive-thru lane. After prison, he's a chicken-and-broccoli guy.

Before prison, the only film room he hit much was the home theater in his Atlanta mansion. After prison, he has become a freak for studying game film of the opponent. Gollum sees more daylight.

Two things. 1, has Reilly ever heard of the term "contract year"? The guy's making a tiny fraction of what he used to make. He's probably interested in playing really well and returning to his pre-incarceration salary. 2, are we seriously contending that changes in diet and amount of game-film viewing has any possible bearing on an assessment of Vick's moral character, and even if so, are we suggesting that these sorts of things hold any substantive weight? Think about how ridiculous that sounds. Well yes, Vick did kill a ton of dogs in sick ways and torture many others. But he's stopped eating McDonald's and he watches tape of himself all the time. Even if not eating McDonald's makes you a better person in some obscure way - I guess it would speak to his being a good employee - can it possibly compare at all to what he did to all the dogs? The fact that he's simply doing what he's supposed to do, as an employee of the Eagles, has some real weight compared to hosing down and then electrocuting not just one dog, but many? Could that be? I guess it could, to an idiot who equates effective play on a football field with moral worth and whose life revolves around writing fawning tributes to fat people colliding into other fat people and concussing themselves. One might as well applaud porn stars for keeping slim figures, assiduously studying their "game film," and valiantly giving themselves STD's so socially maladjusted men can have shit to jack off to. Sheesh.

And finally Larry King, or to quote one of his interviewees, authenticity in a world of plasticity and synthesis. Larry King is retiring (forced out?), to be replaced by the judge at Britain's Got Talent who went crazy over that fat ugly woman. So now bigger-name guests are coming on his show again to say goodbye. Here are some moments, culled from transcripts, from Larry's long departure.

Ricky Martin

In this episode, Larry struggles to understand how Ricky could be gay, wants to know why Ricky named his memoir 'Me' (answer: "it's about me"), speaks for 'the Latin,' hears about Ricky wandering the slums of Calcutta rescuing little girls, and learns that Ricky's being on General Hospital was a very intense and beautiful moment in Ricky's life. Also, not quoted here, Ricky explains twice that he came out because of 'transparency.' Like he's a corporation aiming for full disclosure of his corporate activities. Ah, celebrities these days.

King: Ricky Martin, as you know, is the Grammy-winning recording star. He sold more than 80 million albums worldwide and is the author of a new memoir simply titled "Me."... Why did you title it that?

Ricky Martin: Very simple. It was my life. It was my moments, my ups and downs. It's about me.


KING: You had a surrogate mother?
MARTIN: I had a surrogate mother. And --
KING: Your sperm?


KING: How did you come out?
MARTIN: Well, first to my mother. And she actually asked me, my son, are you in love? And I was in love. And she said, is it with a man? And I said yes, mom, it's with a man.


KING: All along -- of course the people saw your act, you know. It was a very sexual and sensual act.


KING: You're listening to Ricky's new single, "The Best Thing about Me is You." It's a duet with Joss Stone. And from the sound of it you'll be hearing a lot more of this one. This could be a big hit, right? Is this out?
MARTIN: Thank you. Very simple. Reggae-ish, kind of tropical vibe. A lot of people were saying, Ricky, I was not expecting this kind of music from you on your comeback. I thought you were going to do either a power ballad or a "Living La Vida Loca" kind of vibe. And I'm like, well, you know what? I guess life is more simple than that.


KING: To the Latin, though, this is the image. To the Latin, the thought of being gay is very difficult. It's very not macho.


KING: All right. You've been -- do you call yourself gay or bisexual? Are you still bisexual? I mean you -- what are you?
MARTIN: Very confusing. For everybody, but for me. I am gay.
KING: No interest in women at all?
MARTIN: But I am gay. G-A-Y. Gay.


KING: You were on "General Hospital"?
MARTIN: I was on "General Hospital." And it was a very intense moment of my life. Very beautiful moment of my life.


You do a lot of philanthropic work, the Ricky Martin Foundation. You're an activist against human trafficking. What got you into that?
MARTIN: Many years ago I was invited by my colleagues, someone that was building an orphanage in Calcutta, India. And he told me, come and check it out. And I hopped in a plane, I went to Calcutta to see what was going on and when I was there he told me come on, let's go out to the street and let's rescue girls. And I'm like, OK, let's rescue girls.

Oksana Grigorieva

In this episode, Larry doesn't believe the shit that Mel Gibson's battered ex is selling, questions why she would ever bother to record phone calls in which an abusive, insane boyfriend threatened to kill her, tells her that she had all the power in the relationship because Mel is famous (????), and is treated to Oksana's views on the Constitution and the history of 1600s English law.

KING: So why, Oksana, did you tape him?

KING: So, you were taping him and you thought that you would be killed and wanted the world to hear this?
KING: Is it legal to tape a phone conversation?


KING: How did the tapes ever get released?
OKSANA: I have no idea.
KING: They were just in your possession?
OKSANA: In the possession of my lawyers.
KING: How can they be released if you're the only one with them?
HER LAWYER: She just said her lawyers had them!


KING: How are they so technically good?

GRIGORIEVA: They're not that good.
KING: They're pretty good.
KING: Don't you think for -- you had a home machine?
GRIGORIEVA: No, it's not a machine, it's an iPhone.
KING: Just sold a lot of iPhones. That's pretty good -- no I mean, that...


KING: The obvious thing that people have asked about this is, why didn't you hang up?


KING: In this clip that came from Radar online, we hear the man [the man!] giving his feeling about Oksana's appearance.
MAN: You go out in public and it's a (bleeped) embarrassment to me. You look like a (bleeped) heat and if you get raped by a pack of (bleeped), your fault. All right? Because you provoked it. You are provocatively dressed all the time, with your fake (bleeped), you feel to have to show all.
KING: Do you provocatively dress?
GRIGORIEVA: Am I provocatively dressed right now?
KING: No, not now. But I mean, where does that come from?


KING: How about the story that you were out to entrap him in a way. You knew his weakness and you wanted these tapes for -- forget the public use, for use in the courtroom some day. Did you have any script?
GRIGORIEVA: Are you kidding me?
KING: No, I mean, people have said this. I'm just asking.


KING: I'm still a man -- I know that you were doing for hopefully protecting yourself. Why you didn't keep hanging up.


KING: What finally ended the calls? Why did it stop?
GRIGORIEVA: It's just I pulled the batteries out of my phones, literally, physically.


GRIGORIEVA: People died for First Amendment, for Constitution. Soldiers died. I know I'm not dying or anything, but I'm actually being threatened in court that I might lose my baby. I'm terrified talking to you right now because I might lose my child. I might need your help, Larry.
KING: But you know that he's a very famous person.
GRIGORIEVA: Yes, I know.
KING: And so, therefore, it's a risk to him. A power you had over him was his fame. Other people who are -- who treat people poorly and hit them, they're not well-known. Women are forced -- they're slaves to them. They have trouble running away. You didn't have that problem. You had Mel Gibson.
LAWYER: Yes. But look at the power that he had in a role like this.
KING: Except he's more vulnerable. She's vulnerable physically, but he's -- who's getting the bad press now?


GRIGORIEVA: The paternity system is broken. I don't know maybe it's from 400 years ago, from U.K., remnants of the system when one person, the judge, is entirely responsible for something so monumental as your child's custody.

Russell Brand, or "so, you never said to her, why did you strike me with the bottle?"

I really don't get what's going on in this interview with Russell Brand. Brand pretends to be funny and intellectual but he's neither and then Larry tries to take his bad jokes/stupid profound act literally because he takes everything literally and then he gets all homoerotically obsessive with Brand's sex life and strange stuff happens. You'll see what I mean.

KING: You feel like a thing?

BRAND: I think you -- yes, I think you're objectified by fame. They simplify you and say, oh, right, his character, he's like a womanizer, or he's a cad, or he's a troublemaker. And they just use you and they don't -- they remove nuance. Someone said to me, the brilliant filmmaker, Albert Mazors (ph), he said tyranny is the deliberate removal of nuance. People simplify things. They take out away the gray areas. But it's complicated. It's not so simple as Democrat, Republican, good, evil. But like we live in a culture I think that reduces those things so that they can pack these ideas and make us passive consumers. [Russell Brand, victim of tyranny. Brilliant filmmaker told him so.]


KING: How many women do you estimate you have bedded?


KING: How did you meet?
BRAND: At the MTV awards. I was hosting the MTV awards in Radio City, New York...a bottle arched the room struck on the head from distance, I looked at the trajectory using my knowledge of geometry, I looked out, it must have come from Katy Perry's impressive right arm. I thought that's very good that she threw that bottle that accurately from that distance. And a woman with an arm that strong, I have to have in marriage.
KING: She threw a bottle at you? For what purpose?
BRAND: I think it was attention speaking. It was like a romantic riot. There was a civil rights protest between two people.
KING: What did she say? Did you ask her, why did you throw that bottle at me? You didn't?
BRAND: No, I tried to assimilate it in everyday life, Larry. [Rambles on about how it reminded him of civil rights protests.]
KING: So, you never said to her, why did you strike me with the bottle?
BRAND: I've never asked her why she did that because I think it was evident that she was using it to punctuate the slew of ordinary encounters that I was having, giggling, chuckling women, the sweet scent of them, the pinkness of their cheeks, or their rich coffee color depending on the hue of the day.


KING: Why did you name your book "Booky Wook"?
BRAND: Yes. Because like a language, I think it becomes like it is going to be the way that people speak with the language on TV. It becomes like a white noise, you don't really listen, whether it's an oil spill or a murder or what else, someone being given a lifetime achievement award or whatever it is -- just this white noise of language.
So, I think if you disrupt language by --
KING: "Booky Wook."
BRAND: "Booky Wook," it's silly and childish. And it sorts of like it interrupts your thinking.


KING: Why didn't you [propose to Katy Perry] in Britain or Hollywood?
BRAND: Why would you do that? Go to a country like India vibrant with spirituality where you can see God in people's eyes.


KING: So, you're both on the same elephant.
BRAND: Absolutely.
KING: Side-by-side.
BRAND: No, no. We're there, we're on one elephant, like an emblem of (INAUDIBLE).


KING: How did you say it? What did you say?
BRAND: We get off of the elephant (INAUDIBLE) because things are going wrong. So, like, then we walked into a clearing and suddenly all the grandiosity and all of the gestures and the magic melted away into the simplicity of a moment between the two people when you realize there's a kind of -- I got -- it was very, very emotional.


BRAND: -- it's like Houdini's foreskin. Look --
KING: Houdini's foreskin. That's sick.


KING: If you just joined us, we're wearing each others rings for some preposterous reason.
BRAND: And who dare judge us?
KING: That's right.
BRAND: If we choose to wear it, Larry.
KING: Damn by (ph).


KING: That's a little rough. I knew Jim Morrison. You do look like Jim Morrison.
BRAND: Thanks.
KING: I did. Jim Morrison was maybe the handsomest man ever.
BRAND: Well, hold there in a minute. Let's just run this here. This is breaking news.
KING: You're a good looking man.


KING: Now, how do you combine juggling careers? You, actor, comedian. She, a singer, a fame renown. Why am I talking like this?
BRAND: I like it. It's brilliant.


KING: You're an Olympian under the sheets. You were fantastic, right? You were a good lover. BRAND: I really, really tried hard, Larry. It requires chemistry, proper good love making. Doesn't it? You can't do it really good with a table, unless it's a hell of a table. But I really was committed to it, because of this ferocious, deep love of femininity and of women and anatomy. I love the curves of their body, the aroma of a woman, the scent of a woman, to quote dear Al Pacino. I love them. I love them. I love the variety. But in the end, it got a bit much. If you were loose in a candy store for too long, eventually you get diabetes.
KING: Did you ever wake up in the morning and not know who you were with?
BRAND: Yes often, because sometimes you can't remember all their names. If you put name tags on them, that's offensive.
KING: Yeah, it is.
BRAND: Often there was not just one, Larry, of course.
KING: There were two?
BRAND: I was looking for the one. I was very thorough in my search. To save time, sometimes I would audition three or four at once. So occasionally, it was difficult to remember everybody's names.


KING: You were a mailman in Britain?
BRAND: Yes, Britain, delivering letters. I thought there would be more sex involved. I thought knocking on people's doors at that time in the morning, the housewives would be vulnerable, I thought.
KING: It works?
BRAND: Do you want an extra delivery. No one picked up on it. It was innuendo laden. Would you like me to stamp that? I've got a heavy sack.
KING: You're a handsome young man. I think women open the door in the morning --


KING: You are totally -- you are totally you.
BRAND: I appreciate this.
KING: There is nothing false about you. And yet you are in show business.
BRAND: How have I achieved this peculiar dichotomy?
KING: Yes. How?
BRAND: It's a paradox. I live in a world of plasticity and synthesis, and yet there is some authenticity.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

You (DMX Voice) Can't Be Serious

From this Sunday's NY Times Magazine article on white neo-neo-soul singers:

Like Hawthorne, Reed was a white middle-class Jewish kid (real name: Eli Husock). He started out listening to country and early rock ’n’ roll; most of the music played at his bar mitzvah was gangsta rap like N.W.A. and Gravediggaz.

You have to admire the writer stupid/ignorant enough to believe this guy's story. What N.W.A. songs did he play at his Bar Mitzvah? 'Something 2 Dance 2'? Maybe 'Express Yourself,' with its righteous say-no-to-drugs message? 'Days of Wayback' would work well in a DJ set with Joni Mitchell's 'Circle Game.' And what about Gravediggaz? 'Diary of a Madman,' perhaps? I bet the intro got all the Jewish grandmothers up from their seats:

[Lady] They killed my baby... oh god they killed my baby
[Judge] Order in the court
[Lady] I will make you pay for this you murderers
[Judge] I said order in the court now! Now, before this
court passes judgment, will the four defendants
please rise and approach the bench
[Lawyer] Trust me guys, it's all under control
the judge is my uncle, he'll take the
insanity plea...oh yeah, don't forget
my retainer balance
[Judge] Okay, I understand you guys are pleading insanity
claiming demonic spirits possessed you to do
these hideous murders. Can you please explain
to the court how these so called spirits made
you into these RAVING MADMEN?!?!

Actually that's pretty funny and light-spirited.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today I Feel Badly For Kanye

As you know, I do not get down with Kanye at all, and I have no interest in listening to/talking about his soon-to-be massively overrated album, other than that starting it off with some thoroughly mediocre rapping over a reasonable facsimile of a mid-90s RZA beat naturally raises questions in my mind as to whether Kanye is even as good a rapper as U-God. I think so, but I had to think about it for a little while. Anyway, as you've all surely heard, Bush recently announced that Kanye accusing him of not caring about black people was the worst or most disgusting moment of his presidency. To which many people have replied that Katrina itself or September 11th or bungling Iraq ought to be the worst moment of his presidency. Now that's silly; all that Bush meant was that was the most personally wounding moment of his presidency, not the worst thing, objectively speaking, that happened during it. So Bush was hurt and that's understandable, as he's not a racist, just a horrible mismanager. But who would've thought that Bush's personal pique at Kanye would lead to Kanye being arm-twisted into recanting his equally understandable views on national television? Not I. Worse yet, after eliciting this blanket apology from Kanye, who was clearly trying to say that maybe Bush wasn't personally a racist but the response to Katrina was still all about race, Lauer goes on to conflate Kanye's accusation of Bush's racism in negligently allowing however many hundreds of African-Americans to die with Kanye's alleged racism in telling Taylor Swift that she was less deserving of an MTV music video award than Beyonce. So the ridiculous upshot of the interview ends up being that Kanye needs absolution from Matt Lauer for accusing Bush of being a racist for seeming, to all the world, completely disinterested in the fate of black people in New Orleans, and Kanye is also a racist for suggesting that a white performer's video was worse than a black performer's video (when it was!), and it would be really great if Kanye could apologize for these appalling acts of bigotry. Then after Kanye has his predictable Twitter breakdown over the interview, Lauer says that there's nothing untoward about rubbing the video of the MTV incident in Kanye's face, while his white coanchor, clearly disgusted with Kanye, sniffily concurs that there was nothing the matter with Lauer's interviewing tactics at all. I mean, not only is showing the poor shitshow footage of his most embarrassing public breakdown less worthy of journalism than one of those sick postgame reunion shows they do in reality TV land, the whole concept of the interview was blatantly racist. That concept, nothing more and nothing less, is that Kanye can be welcomed back into the fold of white civilization as a good, safe black person once he (a) recants any "line-crossing" charges of white racism, and (b) admits that his being rude to a white girl and implying that she won an award because of race was, in fact, racist. That's kind of Orwellian if you stop and think about it. Next thing you know, we'll have people asking Kanye to apologize for his "racist" interest in sleeping with white women, or perhaps his "racist" appropriation of bad 80s rock and shitty French house (stealing the white man's music!). Maybe from now on Kanye's only allowed to do Motown-sampling tunes that bash black consumerism and deadbeat dads. The rest of his career can be 'All Falls Down' re-recorded umpteen times.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


So I was sitting in court today right in front of my life-appointed judge and between falling asleep 5 times, unconsciously I randomly started mouthing the lyrics to Waka Flocka Flame's "Hard In Da Paint." Fortunately she can't read lips. Would've been awkward. Anyway, I have some brief thoughts on music. Like, really brief thoughts.

'Airplanes' is very unfortunate. We truly seem to be headed for an era of emo-rap. The hook epitomizes everything I hate about Music By White People With Guitars. I don't know if there's something objectively gross about that type of "I could really use a wish right NOWWWWWWWW" type of angst or if I just can't relate. I incline towards the former. I mean, it's not like I'm a tough guy, I drive around constantly singing along with the Supremes and shit, but there's a difference between genuine misery and feeling like you want to cut yourself with tiny blades and wear really dark eye shadow. But the rapping's even worse. I mean, the guy's possibly the hugest sellout in the recent history of the genre and he spends his last verse bemoaning label politics - the same, you know, politics that are foisting this awful song on us. He makes Ke$ha feel uncalculated and authentic. Not to mention the shit with the planes and shooting stars. Look, wishing on a shooting star is already bullshit, therefore, you can wish on anything you want to. A fart if you like. Don't act like there's this wish-code that requires you to entreaty the fucking heavens to turn planes into shooting stars so you can have something to stick your little emo wishes to. Like I really thought that we abandoned insanely trite conceits in pop lyricism like that one back in the days of Sinatra.

Forever Young is interestingly bad in theory but not in actuality. In theory because (a) you've got this man rapping/talking/murmuring like he's dying, yet he's babbling about how eternally young he is, (b) the third verse where his flow totally breaks down and he just keeps saying "hold up, hold up", (c) redundantly explaining that "if you love me this is how you let me know/don't ever let me go/that's how you let me know," which is the sort of thing that could've come off as all cool and dadaist, as the lazy critics used to say, in the mouth of the 2004 J.R. Writer, but from Jay sounds more like, "oh my god, let's get this man some help, he's coming down with Alzheimer's", and (d) when he asks if we got the picture yet, because he's painting us a portrait of himself, even though he has done no such thing at any point in the song, so his insistence that there's this picture that we're not getting just seems really delusional. But in actuality it's just a bad song, not spellbindingly awful rapping or anything.

Usher, OMG(osh??). This is a song that I would be sort of cool with, sans verse, if Usher weren't the one singing it. But Usher is actually a real singer, not, like, fucking La Bouche. Or The Dream. His job isn't humming a few bars of crap over an electro beat and calling it a day. So he turns out to be really bad at humming a few bars of crap over an electro beat and calling it a day. Who knew that was a skill? In any event, there's absolutely no sense of desire or sex here. And the whole thing ends up sounding like one of those awkward attempts some of the more conservative 60s bands would make to do something psychedelic post-Sergeant Pepper. All those, "here, we've got a weird spacy synthesizer, we're hippies now" songs. Can you actually imagine Usher performing this thing? What would he do during all the dead space? Everytime I hear the song I imagine Usher on some 1968 episode of the Ed Sullivan show, in some crazy multi-colored getup, awkwardly staring at, his keyboardist, being all like, "see, I can do house-influenced pop too."

Ne-Yo, Champagne Life. Have you heard this? Hilarious. I guess he had to move past Miss Independent sooner or later. It seems that his new artistic direction is imitation-crappy-1995-r&b. At one point he promises female listeners "nice meal and a good wine, definition of a good time." Definition of a good time? I hate it when singers explain that so and so is the "definition of a dimepiece," when rappers explain that they're the definition of a g, etc., but this really takes the take. What kind of good time is it going to be? The DEFINITION of a good time. Well that's descriptive. A good time kind of a good time.

Ludacris, Sex Room. This might actually be Luda's first good single since, um.... well before #1 Spot. His party shit has just become boring as fuck, his flow as predictable as a Law and Order episode, but he can still rap about sex alright. I especially love the beat, which reminds me a lot of Master P's lost track (the sample clearance monsters ate it) 'Smokin Green' (which by the way is a top ten weed-smoking rap song of all time - I should know because I've never smoked anything in my life and generally can't stand people who do, so for a weed song to speak to me it has to be really good since I can't relate at all). And then the hook reminds me a lot of C-Murder's 'Torcher Chamber.'

I was obsessively listening to Lil B for a week but I've come to feel that he has a long way to go. The Lil B concept is great, sometimes it all comes together, but he can be shockingly reliant on Drake-like punchlines that I don't think any of his fans would be able to tolerate if they weren't coming from Lil B. And then a lot of his shit just doesn't come off. Like most of I'm Thraxx.

Rick Ross f. Styles P, that song where he goes, I think I'm Big Meech, Larry Hoover. Ricky really seems to be coming along as a rapper. And unlike Jeezy, when he does rap well, I don't think he sacrifices much entertainment value. Whereas with Jeezy there was a huge trade of charisma and ad-libs for a little technical competence. (Then again, maybe Jeezy is reaching a bit of an equilibrium. I need to listen to his new mixtape more carefully.) Anyway, Ricky and Styles P are a terrible pairing, Ricky being more from the blockbuster action movie school of rap and Styles being just the grimiest and grittiest rapper out. But it's always nice to hear Styles on the radio. Even when he says things like "the money's like a chair, I'm sitting on it," he says it in such a way, particularly the word 'chair,' that not only does it sound like a good line, it sounds really hard.

I'll comment more on music tomorrow perhaps, but I just wanted to call attention to this comment from Camille Paglia, famed scholar of nothing in particular, in the New York Times. Paglia says the white middle class has lost its sex drive, and offers this as proof:

"A class issue in sexual energy may be suggested by the apparent striking popularity of Victoria’s Secret and its racy lingerie among multiracial lower-middle-class and working-class patrons, even in suburban shopping malls, which otherwise trend toward the white middle class."

How did this make it past the editor? First of all, even the richest malls I go to have a ton of "multiracial" patrons. Once you're past the malls that are 80% Louis Vuitton stores, my mall experience is that mall customers are half multiracial. Maybe that's just Philadelphia; all our malls are stops on bus routes. But I just find it incredible that a New York Times op-ed suggests that to the extent black people come to malls, it's just for the Victoria's Secret. Second, I would next point out that (a) gazillions of white women wear Victoria's Secret, (b) gazillions of white women wear those obnoxious Victoria's Secret Pink sweatpants, sweatshirts, sweateverything, (c) basically all their models are white or Brazilian so how the fuck is Victoria's Secret this indicator of minority sexual energy? Obviously if they were this minority niche brand they'd market themselves more like it. Third and lastly, outside of a sexually repressive culture, which it's clear we don't live in outside of our insane overreactions to the misbehavior of black golfers, is it really even possible for a whole race to suffer from, to quote the piece, "sexual apathy"? I tend to think that people, like dogs, are born with about the same desires and levels of desire through the centuries and millennia and that something like, to cite one of the supposed causes of this pseudo-phenomenon, "the lack of genuine eroticism" in much of our pop music isn't going to have any effect on that.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fresh Out The Federal, Cases I Got Several

So I got a job this summer working for a judge whom shall go unnamed on a certain Court of Appeals that shall also go unnamed. For my British readers, and uninformed American readers, the thirteen Courts of Appeal, or Circuit Courts, are second in stature only to the Supreme Court. That is, only the Supreme Court can overturn our decisions, whereas we can overturn everybody else's. In the vast, vast majority of cases, the Courts of Appeal have the last say. Although I am just an unpaid intern and a first-year law school student, my work is quite serious; I am assigned a case, given the parties' briefs, the record (which is sometimes thousands of pages long), and am asked to write a memo recommending how the Judge decides. Who knows, as of yet (I've just started), how seriously these recommendations are taken, or how much of my analysis the Judge will find persuasive, but I have already seen cases where the initial bench memo, as they're called, with a few edits, is turned into the opinion of the court. Of course, I can't say anything about the cases on which I'm working, other than to note that, though one might think that the work of a Court of Appeal is quite momentous (and in fact, tomorrow we are hearing a couple of important free speech cases, so some interesting things get done here), for the most part our caseload is composed of appeals from denials of disability benefits, appeals from sentences of imprisonment, and appeals from decisions of the Immigration Board. All of which, legally at least, is quite run-of-the-mill stuff. What I thought my readers might find interesting is that, as I work on my cases, some of which, I think I'm allowed to say, involve conflicting testimony between police officers and young black felons, people getting caught with guns in dangerous housing projects, stop-and-frisks, arguments about the fairness of sentences, I find myself, a little surprisingly, tending to feel a bias towards the criminals and against the government. And not knowing what else to attribute it to - it certainly has nothing to do with my experiences, or my politics - I'm starting to think it's because of rap. I happened on an old copy of It's All On You Vol. 2 last week, and I've been listening to it every day on the way to work. It's not the greatest album, Mannie being caught somewhere between his earlier bounce sound and his cheap keyboard 400 Degreez sound, and as a result relying, rather uncharacteristically, on a lot of boring little samples, and the repetitive hooks on every song are a major detriment, and it's hard to point to a song on it that B.G. just kills (Juvie has some amazing guest spots, though, and Wayne has some amusing prepubescent ones), but overall it's quite solid. In some ways it's a lot like a Cash Money version of Lifestylez Ov da Poor & Dangerous. Anyway, being that I'm currently listening every morning to this menacing 17-year-old-kid cackle in his syrupy voice about killing fellow residents of ultra-low-income-housing with his ever-ready chopper, it's kind of hard, when I get into work, to not feel a little sympathetic for the guy who goes to jail for a few years because he got caught with a gun and had a prior conviction. In my experience there aren't a ton of lawyers, even my age, who are seriously listening to rap, and the more apolitical it gets the less it will even matter, but one does wonder what effect a generation that grew up on 50 Cent and Jay and OutKast will have on the law.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In Which I Tell You All What To Think About Elena Kagan

So Obama has picked another Supreme Court Justice. Some facts on Kagan, if you haven't read the profiles. Kagan was Dean of Harvard Law and, for the past year, the nation's Solicitor General (our chief lawyer, the one who argues the government's really big cases before the Supreme Court). Reportedly she was a terrific Dean. Contrary, however, to what that post might lead you to believe, she wasn't a huge heavy hitter as a scholar. She's written only six articles (and no books); one of these is cited all the time and very well-regarded, while a couple of the others are pretty well-cited but not as big a deal in their field. None of them really speak that conclusively to what Kagan thinks about anything. They're descriptive, not normative, pieces. As Solicitor General, she's lost her one really huge case (Citizens United, the campaign finance case), but she couldn't really help that. Before the Court she's more than held her own in colloquy with the Justices and has generally confirmed her reputation as a brilliant and amiable lawyer. Basically she's (a) held two, if not the two, of the most prestigious jobs in law, while (b) not necessarily doing a whole lot to get those jobs or revealing anything about what she thinks about anything while doing those jobs, and (c), despite her thin record is undoubtedly one of the sharpest minds in the business.

So as to what I think of the appointment. Obama's idea in appointing Kagan, from what we can gather from the reporting on the pick, is as follows. Obama seems to genuinely fear that the Court may invalidate some of his policies, including healthcare reform, even though I really can't fathom Justice Kennedy (the Court's Hamletesque swing voter) or even Chief Justice Roberts going that far. Obama can fathom it though, apparently, and since he hasn't been given an opportunity to replace any of the Court's conservative members, all Obama can do about it is appoint people person types who might succeed in talking the swing voter(s) to vote his way. And since Kagan is such a charming woman, someone who managed to pacify a Harvard faculty that, at the time of her arrival, was reportedly something of a "snake pit," he picked her. That's the idea. Now in the first place, to me this seems like a preventive measure against a disaster that's never going to happen anyway. In the second, there's no evidence to suggest that surrounding Justice Kennedy with chummy liberal characters affects how he votes in the slightest. Outgoing Justice Stevens was a chummy guy, Justice Breyer is a chummy guy, Justice Ginsburg is so warm and chummy that she goes to the opera with Scalia and gives his grandchildren Chanukah gifts. (Seriously.) Nevertheless, Kennedy continues to be about the same judge he was prior to the arrival of these chummy types on the scene, about 16 years ago; if anything he's getting a little more conservative. I just find it a little absurd to think that, in a 9-member Court, in a setting where Justices are probably at least as influenced by the cadre of brilliant Harvard/Yale grads they hire to write their opinions for them as they are by their colleagues, one single person, and the Court's most junior member at that, is going to have some substantive effect on how Kennedy votes.

So what will Kagan bring to the Court besides her nugatory Svengali-like powers? I'm not sure that she brings a whole lot. Certainly, she'll replace one brilliant liberal-leaning legal mind with another brilliant liberal-leaning legal mind. Unlike Sotomayor, whose opinions were generally unremarkable and whose few articles and speeches were somewhat confused and pathetic, Kagan's clearly something of a legal genius. However, from the very little one can glean from what she's written, she doesn't appear to either be a particularly strong liberal or a visionary thinker. That, to me, is a problem, even though I am a conservative and would like to see a conservative Court. For people who are liberals, it ought to be a bigger problem. For the following reasons.

The state of the Court, as I see it, is something like this. For a little over 20 years now, Scalia and an evolving cast of conservative characters have, with a fair amount of success, attempted to impose their vision of constitutional interpretation and policy onto constitutional law. Whatever you think of this vision, it is a vision. Essentially, the Constitution is to be interpreted as it was understood at the time it was written (except when that's inconvenient or would produce terribly untoward results, at which point Scalia and Co. fall back on the policy rationales animating this whole project), which is nice for conservatives as the authors of the Constitution or its various amendments were a great deal more conservative and old-fashioned than we. When you ask Scalia, "why should we be bound by the intent of these old dead men who couldn't possibly foresee contemporary society," he and his conservative colleagues reply, "how else would you like to interpret the Constitution? Twist its vague language to mean something it wasn't supposed to mean? Interpret words like 'equality' in terms of what they mean today, where "what they mean today" will inevitably become, in the hands of a judge not bound by original meaning/intent, whatever that judge wants equality to mean today? Obviously no judge can tell what 'equality' objectively means today, as if it even meant one thing to all Americans; all he can do, once he gives up trying to tell what it meant to the authors of the text, is inject his preferred meaning. Or do you have another idea?"

The liberals on the Court, and arguably the liberals in the law schools, don't have great answers to these questions. They have no overarching vision of constitutional interpretation. Justice Breyer wrote a book about his theory, and pretty much everyone who reviewed it deemed it a huge failure. Essentially, he's a confused pragmatist; half the time when reading Breyer one doesn't know if one's reading law or a cost-benefit analysis. The general idea seems to be that Justice Breyer will read the Constitution in accord with what is good for us, where "what is good for us" is determined by lots of selectively deployed statistics and math. The others, brilliant though they are, have even less of a theory; they generally respond to whatever the latest crazy conservative innovation on the Court is with, "this is crazy and new and inconsistent with the precedents of previous, more liberal Courts, and it just sucks." And it may well suck in every case for narrow specific reasons, but without a deeper theoretical reason for why it sucks and why they're right about campaign finance or abortion or affirmative action, they're doomed, in the long run, to lose the argument. At some point, Justice Stevens essentially surrendered in the fight over interpretive methodology and attempted to out-originalist the originalists, as his dissents turned into counter-histories of what the framers really meant, .i.e. corporate speech isn't protected by the First Amendment because Thomas Jefferson hated big business (I imagine he also would've hated Nazis had they been around at the time, but this wouldn't create a Nazi exception to the First Amendment), the Second Amendment doesn't protect the right of people in D.C. to pack because it was really all about militias. This may have won him brownie points from... well I don't know who, but in the long run agreeing that analyzing Thomas Jefferson's feelings about crap is the way to read the Constitution is liberal suicide. Unfortunately, the liberal members of the Court have no other method to offer. Every time a really big case comes along and the conservatives reach some new shocking result, the liberals say that either (a) "Thomas Jefferson, despite what you say, is NOT on your side," or (b) "come on guys, this is totally contrary to all these decisions that came down in the... 60s, back when the Court was the total opposite of what it is today, but hey, those are still Supreme Court cases and you can't overturn them without damn good reason, and naturally, we being liberals don't think that your conservative reasons are good reasons. Of course, if the old cases in question were contrary to our own beliefs, we'd overturn them, but that, that there would be different. Somehow. We're not sure why."

Thanks to this sort of dithering, we have reached a point where, for example, your constitutional right to confront witnesses against you is today interpreted by reference to what the law in England was in 1787, which is to say, how the law was reported in Shakespearean English in cases we have poor records of from the 1600s. Then when some guy murders his wife and the prosecution tries to bring in her statement that he was a wife-beater into court (Giles v. California), the Court hits the 17th century law books and argues over the appropriate way to interpret the famous case from 1666 where Lord Morley got witnesses kidnapped while he was still in jail, both sides at least pretending that this is a normal way to go about interpreting the Sixth Amendment. This is an absurd state of affairs (both that this is the method and that no one contests it), and nominating a cautious moderate like Kagan isn't going to change things a bit. What you need is someone like Pamela Karlan, a Stanford professor who reportedly made his shortlist and actually has written umpteen articles and books about how to interpret the Constitution in a progressive way. I violently disagree with everything she's ever written, but she'd immediately become one of the three or four most important voices on the Court; she's that good. Unfortunately, Obama will never expend the political capital it would take to nominate someone who's on record as having some kind of coherent nonoriginalist approach to interpreting the Constitution, so we get nominees like Kagan and Sotomayor, carefully chosen for their lack of controversiality. The trouble is that, the Republican Party being the band of obnoxious, ignorant, willfully dishonest boors we are, any nominee who would actually have an impact would be controversial. As in so many other areas of his administration, Obama's too afraid of a little Republican opposition to get anything real done.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hoes On My Dick Cuz I Look Like Jesus

A lot of yall have probably been wondering where Lil B is going with this whole "I look like Jesus" thing. (Yeah, I don't see the resemblance either.) Before I explain, let me just say that:

Man, I'm God, I look like Jesus, and I'm coming with that fucking heater. Bitch, suck my dick

has to be the greatest ad-lib intro into a rap song in years. Anyway, when I saw this song I thought to myself, "oh my God, Lil B is clearly, like, me if I were a black teen rapper." You see, I occasionally suffer from delusions of grandeur, mostly because I'm kind of ridiculously brilliant (though you sure as fuck wouldn't know it from this blog), and have a habit of referring to myself as God or Jesus. Only around a few people, of course, as it's not really the sort of thing you want to do in public unless you're a recording artist or some other sort of professional attention whore. Of course it's basically a self-parodying joke as I don't actually believe in/care for God or Jesus, but still. Occasionally it even becomes this obsessive sort of fixation, especially after I've done something especially brilliant, and all I can think about for days is how clever and Christ-like I am. Oddly, obsessive grandiosity, physiologically speaking, feels just like a headache. Like when I get this way my head actually aches. Kind of like when John Travolta would think his autistic thoughts in Phenomenon. (Except those were the product of a magic genius-producing brain tumor. I don't believe tumors actually work that way.) Anyway, I kind of figure that Lil B is sort of on the same tip.

What's funny about Lil B, though, is that he has this deep spiritual Killa Priest side, as seen in 'I'm God' or this. That's one thing about Lil B I never see talked about amongst his blogger fans, yeah he's crazy and weird and whatever, freaky, freaky, freaky freaky flow, but he's also bringing back a kind of merger of spiritual and street shit that the Wu, among others, excelled at with their Five Percenter mumbo jumbo. One of my favorite moments in rap ever is on the largely dismal Wu-Tang Forever, 'The Projects' to be exact, where that little kid tells Rae, 'call me back at the God Hour.' There are a lot of things that you could do in 1997 that you could never do on a huge commercial release today, but one is that skit. I can sit here as an educated well-off white guy and be like, Five Percenterism is some retarded self-serving ghetto shit, but there is a wonderful empowering quality to a religion where all its adherents, mostly underprivileged people, even little kids, are all Gods. You look at rap today and back at Guru's catalogue and one thing that's missing that rap had then, besides the metaphysical concerns that album titles like The Realness or The True Meaning suggest, is religiosity. I imagine some of that is still in the underground but on the street or aboveground level, no one's really doing that anymore. Except for Lil B.

As Seen On Youtube

I was listening to Juelz's 'Murda Murda' and I saw this comment:

Dis da shit!What happened to music??
Everyone talkin how GREAT drake and wayne r....
They WACK there used to be bttr songs out there!In 2001-2006 nd then music just CRASHED!rap music iz GONE and i HATE that!RIP rap music
Those good old days in 2001-2006 when there were bttr songs out there. What really got me though was reading the Source's review of Hard To Earn, where the critic writes that the album (just four mics!) "is definitely a welcome breath of fresh air during this otherwise stale period of rap." The stale period/year that brought you Illmatic, Resurrection, Ready To Die, Outkast's first album, Tical, Do You Want More?, The Main Ingredient, Dare Iz A Darkside, On The Outside Looking In, Keith Murray's debut, Bone Thugs' debut EP, and the quite respectable Blowout Comb. And best of all, this classic.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tray's Personal Reflections on Guru

I wish I could make this piece more poignant than it's going to be, but oh well. So, the summer I failed out of Duke, I decided that I was going to work at a family friend's beachfront arcade down the shore, as we say in Philly when we're talking about the Jersey beach. Specifically, in the Victorian town of Cape May, the southernmost point on the Jersey coastline. This is one of the funnier streets in Cape May:

Victorian cookie-cutter low income housing.

And this is a pretty awesome picture of the arcade (h/t

The idea was that I would live in a tiny room adjoining the garage of the arcade-owner's elderly mother, show up to work every day at 9, and give people prizes in return for the tickets they'd racked up playing skeeball. I guess I was supposed to spend my nights on the boardwalk romancing slutty freshmen at the local community college. To be honest I was actually pretty excited about this job, it seemed like the archetypical shitty job/summer at the shore experience I'd been missing out in this life. Honestly, still to this day I wish I was spending my summer picking fruit instead of working for a Court of Appeals judge. (Sorry, Joey, I'm the sharpest legal mind in the rap blogosphere. Even though I probably did just get my first A- ever in law school. I'm such an embarrassment to my race/mother.) Anyway, though apprehensively excited about the job, I was obviously fairly miserable at the time, having been depressed enough to fail out of college in spite of being, like, the brightest little Jewish boy on the planet. And in fact, as it turned out I didn't get to keep the job, because I was a slow prize-giver-outer and they needed to give the room to some mad genius at fixing arcade games. That guy was one of the strangest people I've ever met or ever will. All that by way of context.

Now back then I didn't have a car, so the plan was for me to take a train from Philly to some point in Jersey, and then, novelty of novelties for this pseudo-privileged, insanely suburban kid, take a bus from that point to Cape May. Many warnings were issued to me about the sorts of people I might sit with on this bus. I'd brought my CD player with me, and back in 2004, as those of you from Philly just may remember, 30th Street Station had an fye. Those were really the golden days of music sales, when rappers used to beef over how many platinum plaques they had and even train stations had CD stores. Stores that routinely made you pay 18.99 for an old album at that. So I picked The Ownerz and went on my merry way. It's hard for me to articulate the comfort that album was to me on the bus ride down to Cape May and later that night when I sat alone in my little room in this arcade-magnate grandma's garage, but at the time it meant quite a lot. The Ownerz is not a perfect album, the second half is largely rather bad and I hate 'Skillz,' but the first seven or so songs (which was all I could hear anyway with my broken CD player) compare favorably, if not to the heights of their own catalogue, to most any album of that decade. The whole thing is steeped in a sincerity, a warmth, a righteousness that's genuinely righteous and not overbearing on some Lupe shit, that the slacking on occasion in Premo's production is well beyond forgivable. A song like 'Rite Where U Stand' that's ostensibly a battle rap/about killing people is really about - as the sample in the beginning of the song goes, how do I explain this to you? - those moments in life of moral clarity where, like Hav says in 'Get Dealt With,' one sees who's who, who's real and who's not, but not in the cartoonish sense of 'Who's Real,' in a really real sense. Later that summer I started listening to Cam and would never again be the same as a rap listener, and I still believe that the Cams and Guccis of the world serve a purpose, but the moral sustenance that Guru and Premo brought to the table is definitely something on short supply in rappers of that ilk and in today's hip-hop. Though shit, it was on short supply even in Guru's heyday. At any rate, I'll always have a soft spot for The Ownerz and for Gang Starr because of what they meant to me that day in that long awful summer.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Blogging WorldStar/Onsmash

My interest being piqued by the appearance of videos from JR Writer and J Hood, at one time two of my favorite up and coming rappers, on the same day, I decided I would take a break from studying Property and listen, though I know better, and see if they have anything left in the tank. I also am making the questionable decision to listen to a new Sauce Money song. We will see how that goes.

As you may recall, JR Writer, AKA the Writer of Writers, was the young tyke who memorably rapped Cam to a draw on the first track of Diplomatic Immunity 2. He also made some pretty great mixtapes, took nonsensical internal rhymes and multis to a whole new level, and reached some kind of apotheosis of the Dipset aesthetic when he rapped in baby talk on 'If Only You Believe' to describe the experience of fatherhood:

It's a miracle from seein' the birth next

To seein' the burp (yes!), first words, even the first steps
Goo-goo ga-ga, hoo-hoo ha-ha
peek-a-boo, I see you, you-who papa...

Subsequently, however, the Writer of Writers' writing got kind of sloppy and he put out a number of albums on Koch, all of which sucked. Or at least I think so having only heard the first. Anyway, now JR is 'Back At It'... and the results are very discouraging. His trademark squeaky voice seems to have disappeared with puberty, his flow is no longer so eccentric, I didn't hear a single funny punchline, and ironically and rather sadly he boasts that "I can do hooks/while your whole tape sounds like a Dr. Seuss book." Still more sadly, he rhymes

I've been a great, how can yall pricks relate
What yall know about Hot 9, 9 minutes straight?
Been a while, but there's a time and a place
My timing is great, I define what it takes

Ah, the tragedy of the has-been NY mixtape rapper. Speaking of has-been NY mixtape rappers...

J Hood also once had quite a bit of promise, what with his quirkily grimey inflection and way with a punchline. He also had a tiny little head and a face like a mosquito. This added to his gulliness. Then J/Jae got himself in trouble with his big D-Block brothers and they decided to end his career and not let him out of his deal. Only a short while after Jada had that shit fit on the radio about how he might toss a stainless steel refrigerator off a skyscraper and kill Diddy with it because Diddy wasn't giving him his publishing. Oh well. Anyway, poverty seems to be bad for J's rapping. I guess this is what six years ago we used to call a "club song." Back when Joe Budden was so confused about how to make one that he actually called a song "Club Song." Six models in this video and only one is borderline doable. The same is probably true of the women at any club that would play this song. That's about all I can say about it.

Talk about unfulfilled promise. The Sauce Money of 'Bring It On' could've made a pretty terrific album. [Excerpt from a puff piece on his debut from the time: "Fiercely determined, Sauce never gave up on his dream and the result is the multi-layered Middle Finger U. on Priority Records, which will undoubtedly take its place alongside other monumental debuts like Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt, Nas' Illmatic and DMX's It's Dark and Hell is Hot.
"] As we know, that didn't occur. Instead he made a bad album and wrote 'I'll Be Missing You,' which isn't really an achievement to his credit but did, I imagine, allow him to live a comfortable lifestyle. Today, Sauce Money is simply very fat, so much so that he sounds an awful lot like Fat Joe. I guess when you blow up your voice goes through changes. Appropriately he's accompanied in this video by a plus-size model. She licks his sideburns at one point. That's sort of gross. The production would've been okay in 1998. The rapping would've been a little more than okay around the same time. You can still tell he has talent though. At one point he says, "if I want it, kings I unseat 'em and rains/reigns become a slight drizzle." Which isn't that good or anything, but hey, his mind is still working. The track is also happily free of pathetic references to the days when he was quasi-important.

Apparently Styles has an album coming out May 18th? I like how all Styles songs begin with conversations between himself and his engineer, Poobs. I also like how Styles never evolves as a rapper at all, technically, thematically, whatever. He's still the same guy with the same eight ad-libs ("uh-uh!"), same elementary yet unorthodox flow, same concerns, etc. Unfortunately Styles has a weakness for shitty piano beats and lachrymose hooks sung by bad singers, and the verses are very by the numbers Styles. Why don't I leave the hood, why don't I leave the corner, rusty blades, D-BLOCK, uh-uh, etc. etc. And this is the first single. Oh well, it'll have 6 good songs and he'll keep making great mixtapes.

I decided to listen to this song from Soulja Boy and Arab just so I could have the unique experience of sitting through Arab's verse thinking, "oh shit, it's coming, a halfway-okay rapper is about to go in, he's going in, he's coming... Soulja!" You know, the way you might listen to a Juelz song in 2003 waiting for Cam to come in and just destroy everything. Well, Soulja certainly does not disappoint... in entertainment value, anyway. I hear a Gucci Mane imitation in here, a weird Master P/Silkk imitation, a Lil B imitation of course, an attempt to rap like he's from Africa, and a claim that he's more "froze than a frozer, I missed the fucking freezer." And that's all in one verse. Arab then says he goes hard like a boulder and gives a shout-out to a guy who's "his dog, just like Milo." And Otis! I believe that movie came out before he was even born.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tray Loves The New Gucci Tape, Rap's Future

Actually how I eat every day in law school (minus the strawberries).

You know, I used to have all these declinist fears about rap. "Rap is declining! There will never be another Cuban Linx again! There will never be another Infamous/Critical Beatdown/Niggaz4life again!" And no, there won't be. It's possible there may never even be a rap album as good as any of those were again but in a completely different way. I certainly can't think of one in the last ten years. But there's still a shit ton of really good rapping out there, which is more than you can say, by analogy, for movies, American ones anyway. At least one can coherently mention Andre 3000 and Pill in the same paragraph; it's not entirely a, back then there were gods, today there are midgets situation. So my hopes for the future are brightened considerably by the new Gucci Mane tape.

Irony of alphabetical ironies, by the way, and one that I think is slightly telling; in my iTunes, Burrrprint 2 picks up where Group Home - 'Up Against The Wall (Getaway Car Mix)' to be exact - leaves off. Can't get much more different than that. There are a lot of stupid points one could make about this totally arbitrary comparison, including the obvious point that Gucci is 50 times the rapper that Malachi the Nutcracker, who is only tolerable over Premo beats (although I imagine that Gucci would be pretty lost on most Premo tracks, though I can imagine an interesting Gucci freestyle over 'Take It Personal'), was, yet real hip-hop heads will give Malachi and Dap a pass while still bizarrely at most giving Gucci props for making "fun shit to listen to while you're drunk," but on a less reactive and silly note, I think what the absurdity of just how damn different Gucci's Drumma Boy phone call from jail is from maybe Premo's best track ever points up is that rap is a big variegated genre and just as you wouldn't compare Beethoven to Dre's comparably paltry musical innovations and arrive at some grand conclusion about the unimportance of rap, we shouldn't compare rap across eras and ought to just let today's shit stand for whatever it is.

So about the actual tape. This is not, by my sadly limited knowledge of Gucci mixtapes, the best or one of the best things he ever did, though I would say it's a more fun listen than his album. There's way too much 'Gucci Speaks' and 'Shawty Lo Speaks' and 'Lil Kim Speaks' for that, a couple of these songs are less than inspired, there's a song where he sings that's utterly pointless. He occasionally fails to rap circles around people (Wacka, Rick Ross) whom he should be rapping circles around and at one point is distinctly outshined by Yo Gotti. No matter. Gucci is in one of those rapper zones where he could read from the phonebook, or even, horrors, Drake's rhymebook, and the shit would come off. Just hearing this guy say "Mi casa su casa patna" is worth the price of admission, and worth wading your way through Shawty Lo and Nikki's verses to hear him do the hook containing that phrase again. (In fact I'd pay a lot to hear him do an all-Spanish mixtape.) Same with the jailhouse pay phone intro which is largely indecipherable but still hypnotic anyway, to the point where I was kind of disappointed when the whole mixtape wasn't phone raps. The disdain conveyed when he says (something like) "if you think this shit gon' flop, go and jump in the OCEAN" in his slow flow is just tremendous. Of course, Gucci actually says tons of funny shit too, such as

I've got Caucasian neighbors, that's just how I rock

Multiply, divide me, then add on the remainder
I push more weight than a personal trainer

Preposterous for you to fathom how you could block this [what other non nerdy white rapper could toss off a line like this?]

Professor, but Gucci didn't graduate from college
Your girlfriend says my earrings are erotic

I pull up in that Spyder, strapped up like McGyver
Should've brought my Phantom out but I'm mad at my driver
He's so fucking [?, turned up?]
Riding on autopilot
Smoking kush, he smilin
He drinkin while he drivin

AC blowin, feel like it's snowin (brrrr!)
Now where I'm goin even I'm not knowin

I only fuck with bad bitches because I'm very picky

I am bossin, proceed with caution, 'cause I be flossin
I didn't do that feature with you because you're not important

You're funny, just like a dummy, without no eyelids

Gucci is a lot of things, but fo sho I'm not scared of you!

Yo yo, yo nose gon' grow, just like Pinocchio
You lyin that you hot as me but that is not the troath

So yeah, actually by Gucci's standards this tape is kind of lyrically weak (perhaps because it's basically composed of throwaways). But it's still a blast. Great beats too.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Tweet Now, and Larry King Is Still A Rider

In a sensible drunken decision I have decided to tweet now. Sensibly I have named my twitter "ughnanana." I have no idea how twitter works and what all the @ and # shit means but if you want to explain that would be cool.

I stopped recording Larry but I sometimes take a look at the transcripts of his shows. They're pretty awesome. Here we have Larry on Tiger's "comeback." Read through this post carefully and thoroughly because this might have been the most amazing Larry episode ever. Here we go. It starts fairly slowly and innocuously like so (but ends up insane and wild as shit):

All right, Jim, frankly, were you surprised at his performance today?

JIM GRAY, CORRESPONDENT, THE GOLF CHANNEL: ... Yes, it's -- it's very surprising. But it's also surprising that we have a 50-year-old man in Freddie Couples leading the tournament, shooting six under par, and we have a 60-year-old man, Larry, Tom Watson, one stroke behind.
So it's all been a very surprising and uplifting day here at Augusta National.

Killing me with the profundities here. Then Gray makes some more idiotic trite observations in which Larry clearly has no interest.

KING: How do you explain, despite the fact that he did things which got him terrible publicity, that he was so cheered today?

GRAY: Well, you know, he hasn't committed any crimes. He simply disappointed a lot of people with his behavior....I think that this is a respectful place where people appreciate the golf. I mean we all want to see Picasso paint. We all want to see Michelangelo sculpt. We all wanted to see Ali box. If we get a chance to see Tiger Woods play golf -- and that's what this is. And he played golf today.

So I wouldn't misinterpret the reception. But, you know, he's been torn down. It's been a tremendous fall from grace, Larry. And I think that, you know, once that happens, you build him up to tear him down and now they're building him up again.

KING: Uh-huh.

GRAY: And his play was outstanding today, so he should have been cheered.

KING: He is a Buddhist. [To be fair that wasn't actually some insane non sequitur, just a really awkward topic change to the guy who flew the banner attached to a plane that asked if Tiger really practiced bootyism.]

Then Larry gets a little pushy when some panelists won't give straight simple answers to his retarded banal questions:

KING: Jim, is there any doubt that he's the greatest of them all?

GRAY: Well, he needs to win the titles. He has 14 major championships. He is four behind Jack Nicklaus....If he were to somehow quit and play golf -- quit playing golf for the rest of his life today, there would be some in some quarters who would say he was the greatest golfer ever. But he would not have the records.

KING: All right. I'll put it this way, is he the best...

FERGUSON: He's an amazing, amazing athlete, Larry.

KING: Is he -- is he the best you ever saw?

GRAY: Well, no. I saw Jack Nicklaus. And as long as Tiger Woods is going to say that Jack Nicklaus is the best -- and I saw Jack Nicklaus -- I'm going to say Jack Nicklaus is the best. In terms of what he could do...

KING: OK, Doug, is he the best...

GRAY: -- in this day and age, I think that Tiger Woods will be the best. I'll agree with you.

KING: All right. Doug, is he the best player you ever saw?

FERGUSON: A little more unfair for me, Larry, because I only saw Jack when he was 46 and -- and won his sixth green jacket. I think Tiger's the best of his generation. I think that's the only way you can look at this. Jack was the best of his. Hogan was the best of his...

KING: All right...

FERGUSON: Jones, you can go all the way back. You just have to look at what you've got today.

KING: Thank you both very much.

Then we have some Stephen A. awesomeness:

And, you know, regardless of being in the sex addiction clinic or whatever where -- wherever he wants to call himself being -- he had plenty of time to work on his game, to practice just a little bit. I'm quite sure that he got on that golf course a little bit and -- and worked on his game....And this is his sanctuary. If he doesn't win here, then that brings more fuel to the flames. And I think he recognizes that and he stepped up and performed.

Fuel to the flames. Dude. Then Larry gets to the Nike ad and introduces one of his panelists like so:

And David Cornwell, sports attorney, known as "the cleaner." He's represented a number of athletes. Among his current clients, Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He's accused, by the way, of sexual assault.

By the way. I love this man. By the way, his first question to David on the ad was, "David, you're a cleaner. Was this a clean bit of work?" Thank God for senile people. Or prematurely senile people like Donny Deutsch, who has this to say about the ad:

Stunningly brilliant. Genius. One of the single best pieces of advertising I've seen in a decade.They took the voice of God, the voice of his conscience, his father, in a very stoic way, to say you know what, this man is carrying this with him now. Yes, what he did was terribly wrong, but don't think because you see him playing golf now that there's not a new level of consciousness, there's not a new level, hopefully, of morality. And I think it was brilliant. It was artfully, boldly, stunningly done. Kudos to Nike.

Kudos to Nike. And as Stephon Marbury would say, kudos to Isaiah Thomas. (Do you remember the video when Marbury was ecstatic because Isaiah traded for Zach Randolph? And he was like, he's a lefty fucking southpaw, together Eddy Curry and Zach will demolish the league with their righty/lefty southpaw combination of devastating post moves. KUDOS TO ISAIAH THOMAS.) But really, Donny, the voice of God? The guy is dead and they took his voice from an interview where he was contrasting his parenting style with that of his wife and they make it into this "Tiger did you learn anything from fucking 50 bimbos" shit. Come on. Then the lawyer makes some hilarious image control arguments as to why this ad was such a good thing:

I thought the ad was brilliant, as well. Another thing is, it was consistent or it is consistent with Tiger's statement, when he said that he needed to go back to his roots. What -- what better way than connecting him back to his father?

Oh my God. This is a man (and a dead man), and you're making it sound like he's a bar of soap that Nike's associating with some pretty-ass flowers. Even Larry, in his usual dense cover all the bases way, sees some issues here:

KING: Isn't that a little weird, though, the voice of a dead person?

JOHN SALLEY: Well, yes, that's like, you know, but I've watched movies of some people who have passed, also. And I've seen some things on, you know, when you show it. Yes. [Yes, John Salley has seen some things on you know when you show it. I love how that statement could be about anything. Most obviously porn.]

KING: OK. Let's see if Stephen makes this a complete agreement. Stephen? [Let's see!]

SMITH: Well, I -- I do completely agree. I think it was absolutely brilliant. But I think that what a lot of people have failed to recognize, you've got some people that -- what -- that they sit around and they talk about how, well, you know what, it's kind of creepy or what have you.

And I said wait a minute. All of us have loved ones, some alive, some who have -- who have passed away -- that we hear them talking to us at key pivotal moments and junctures in our lives. And the fact is, is that that was the situation with Tiger Woods.

Yo but Stephen, we may hear dead people talking to us at these key pivotal moments and junctures, but this is an AD for fucking golf balls in which they are blaring a dead man's voice at US. It's a little different. I mean, "buy our golf balls, our big sponsor feels bad about cheating on his wife, he hears his dad's voice in his head, do not feel ashamed to wear the clothes of our serial cheater sponsor" is kind of crass. Later Stephen speculates that Nike made the ad to show their other athletes that they'll stand by them. To which Larry goes, "Stephen sees motive in all things." To which Stephen replies, "No question!" I love it when the two dumbest sports pundits in the world collide. Actually make that the second and third dumbest pundits in the world, because you've also got John Salley:

But Kobe's gotten past it. Kobe, people are backing, not even talking about it. They're just going to say now that we know that Tiger used to like, you know, like sex.

Yeah, he used to like sex, but not anymore. He went to a clinic and treated that shit away. Now he and his wife sit at home and make cupcakes. Then Donny gets mad about the head of Augusta talking shit about Tiger and wants to know if Augusta has any Jewish members or if it just discriminates against blacks and women (because that would be okay):

But before I get off that, also, Larry, can your research people check and see if there are any Jews in Augusta?
Because I'm nauseous about -- about this Payne guy, also. I was so violated and disgusted by his speech, the way he was spanking Tiger. So I knew we've got one African-American there, no women. Can we check and see if there's a Jew in Augusta, by the way?

Dusted and disgusted, Donny was. I'm telling you, when people go on Larry King, they do coke in the green room before the show. It's the only explanation. Then we get an absolutely insane discussion of whether men don't give a shit about Tiger's evil ways and whether women's views matter. Seriously. Donny and Stephen say the men were never mad at him. Salley says even the women were never mad at him because "the women love a gangster. They love the bad boy." To which an UNIDENTIFIED MALE replies, "a lot of them do." I so hope that was Larry. Then Donny announces that "the women don't matter. The products he sells - razor blades, video games, golf clubs - it's all men. It doesn't matter." What happens next is simply indescribable:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is fun, guys.

SALLEY: We've got a whole new thing. This should be a Viagra show.

KING: That's right.



SALLEY: Oh, I can't say that. We've...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Larry, that's called...


SALLEY: -- help you better. [??????]

KING: Well, I'm -- I'm losing control here.




I wish I knew what happened there. Then Larry starts introducing some metaphysical doubt into the proceedings:

can he win this tournament, John?

SALLEY: Yes. He's going to win this tournament.

KING: Going to win?

SALLEY: This would have been the greatest week...

KING: How do you predict a golf tournament?

Salley then explains that Tiger's going to win because people are excited that he's playing and because Salley's watching the tournament on TV on a Thursday even though, and I quote, "no one ever watches TV." You would think Larry couldn't top that. But he does. By asking a LAWYER if Tiger might have a tough time on Friday because the rains will make the greens... faster! Faster! Have you ever tried to putt on a soggy green? The ball barely moves. Yet Larry goes in:

With the rains there occurring tonight, those greens will be faster tomorrow, David, he might have a rough time tomorrow?

Again, that's a lawyer he posed that question to. A sports lawyer, but still. And being that he knows nothing about the game, he says that Larry is right. Just so amazing. Then Donny makes a plea for adultery:

Larry, once and for all, can we stop being shocked when men of power are adulterers, like multiple women? It goes with the territory... I want to see the guy win the Masters. I don't care what he does with his other putter frankly is probably not my concern.

Then Salley bizarrely replies:

Well, like you said, his putter tomorrow, if he gets more control of his putter, and, you know, he'd shoot better.

I don't think he even knows where that double entendre is going. Then Stephen A. predicts that Tiger will go back to fucking bitches:

I've said it on your show weeks ago, months ago. I'll repeat it again, Larry, just in case you didn't remember. Whether the number 7, 11, 13, 15, 16, 19 or whatever number amount of women, or whatever amount of women he had, you don't go from that to zero. I don't care what anybody says.

Just in case you didn't remember Larry. This is just orgasmic. After the break, we learn that Salley was, according to Larry, "nodding his head viciously no" while Stephen made his remarks. I'm not sure how one does that. Salley being the dumbest man on the planet replies, "well l didn't say viciously." No, Salley, you didn't SAY viciously because you didn't SAY how you were nodding your head. You just did it. Larry said that. Then Larry says in his opinion Salley was viciously nodding. Then Salley admits it:

I was viciously because Stephen's obviously speaking from experience, what he's talking, but you can't really say what somebody else is doing. You can't really go and put that on somebody. That's not -- it's not fair that you're going to go and just put a stamp on somebody, like, you're this and that's your way, people can change.

Could we itemize all the ways in which that comment was one of the greatest things said on TV?

1. I WAS viciously!
2. Stephen's obviously speaking from experience, i.e. Stephen obviously has fucked a lot of bitches and struggled to reduce his bitch-fuck count.
3. You can't say what somebody else is doing. You can't really. It's not fair.
4. Don't put stamps on people. They change. Young Bleed however would like to disagree with you:

The only thing that could top this is if Larry interviewed DJ Khaled. Actually the only thing that could top it is what happened next. Donny announces that we should stop caring whether Tiger does or does not fuck mad bitches because "Tiger Woods doesn't exist in my consciousness because of what he does or doesn't do with women. The only reason he exists in my consciousness is to watch him play golf." What can one even say about such brilliant logic? Stephen A. decides to have a shit fit about it.

SMITH: I can't -- I can't take this anymore. First of all, we're on THE LARRY KING LIVE show to answer the questions that he asked. The man asked me a question, I gave him an answer. He didn't ask us to come on and express how we don't care. He asked us --


DEUTSCHE: What I'm saying is we don't care.

SMITH: What I'm saying is the man asked me a question, and I don't believe that you go from that many women to zero. Simple.

DEUTSCHE: And my answer is whether he does or doesn't, who the hell cares. That's an answer.

SMITH: I agree with that. Will you care about stuff that you're sitting on air? You're here. You obviously care enough to answer.

These guys just have to be high. A, Stephen can't take this anymore? What? B, panelists have a moral/professional obligation to care about stuff that you're sitting on air? It's like the culture of insanely stupid analysis of inanely stupid topics is evolving and growing as these guys speak. Centuries from now people will watch this episode and see it the seeds of the decline and fall of America. Like where in the fuck is this world headed?

But it gets better! Salley then suggests that Tiger will "pick them better" in the future. Smith gets pissed and goes, "oh, so he's going to pick them better now?" Salley starts talking about a girl he saw on Maury Povich. He then says that he aspires to be like Larry and asks, "who's your TV daddy? Who do you really want to get money from?" Smith gets more pissed. Salley says he's just mad that Larry is styling on him. In purple duds. In HD. Larry closes and says he'll have this panel back "because I am basically a masochist." Anderson Cooper comes on to say that he'll be talking to Sean Penn about the situation in Haiti. He also claims that teachers may be going to jail in Wisconsin for teaching sex ed. "How did this happen?," he asks. "Well, we're keeping them honest." That's a responsive answer to your own question there.

Then Dr. Laura shows up to talk about bullying and that is a bit of a letdown. This did happen though:

KING: You were bullied, am I correct? You were bullied as a kid?

SCHLESSINGER: I -- yes, pretty severely when we moved into this neighborhood on Long Island. It was mostly one religious persuasion there and my mother was a nice Italian Catholic, a drop dead gorgeous woman from Italy, a shiksa. And she was married to a Jewish man and that's a shiksa, and that's a bad thing.

And I really took the grief for that because they would say horrendous things about my mother and I would try to defend her and then I got picked up in fistfights and thrown down a flight of stairs. And I had my fun.

Sounds fun! Laura's acting retarded on TV like whoa. Laura then compares what happened to this bullied girl to Christians being thrown to the lions. Larry points out that not all teenagers are bad people:

As we know, not all teens behave badly. Case in point is our "CNN Hero of the Week," a big-hearted bookworm who helps abused and homeless children. Mackenzie Bearup lives with an agonizing and incurable disease but spends her time easing the pain of others by sharing her secret for relief, reading. And she's only 16. Watch.

Oh ho ho it's magic, you knowwww, never believe it's not so.... Larry, Larry. What a magician. Never believe he can't sink to new levels of insanity. It's time for a JR Writer break:

Laura concludes by talking about her new book that's coming out. Apparently it's about revenge. Laura sagely observes that "revenge is mostly sweet in your mind. It's not that sweet when you execute it." Larry bids her goodbye:

Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the internationally-syndicated radio host, best-selling author and a good conversation. But a terrible topic, bullying.

Terrible, terrible topic.