Conflicts of Interest! I Don’t Want to Meet The Browns!

I admit it!  I have never watched a single episode of “Meet The Brown’s.”  But since I watch a lot of TNT when the NBA telecast are on, I am constantly bombarded with the stations advertisers who tell me the show is “very funny.” 

But I just can’t seem to bring myself to be interested in this show.   Every time I see highlights, all I see is Mr. Brown shuffling and clowning like Stepin Fetchit.  He looks like a joke who buffoons on the screen singing and dancing like Mantan Moreland and Sleep n’ Eat on Spike Lee’s movie “Bamboozled.” 

“Bamboozled” was meant to make a point about the images in African-American media, and how many of the same issues of yesteryear when all black people were allowed to do on movies and television was to clown and belittle themselves are still relevant today.  History shows that African-Americans shows are mostly always comedies with very little if any dramas.  Since the show City of Angels there have been no dramas on television with a mainly African-American cast.  In many ways Bamboozled seemed to make this point among others by being over the top in it’s parodies.   Or does it?  Tyler Perry’s play – turned movie – turned sitcom looks like a minstrel show just from the previews.  And it’s sickening to me.

I wonder as well why black folk have not had anything critical to say about it.  Perhaps it’s because we are proud of the success Tyler Perry has amassed in the industry.  I think most of us are proud of what he has been able to accomplish, but it seems to me like the motivation for money and acclaim is allowing him to do just about anything with this show.  And it’s like a dirty little secret that we allow it without protest.  This proves that Bamboozled is relevant though many of us critiziced it. 

I already touched on the Mudear thing.  I was fine with the original premise of the plays and I thought it made for good entertainment.  I am not mad about the movies either because it employed black people and allowed a black man to tell stories about black people.  My thing was that it’s just gotten out of hand. 

Other directors like David Simon who did “The Wire”, talked about how after he told the complete story in five seasons on HBO, he didn’t want to do a “Wire” movie or continue the series for the sake of making money.  He  didn’t want to sell out his contributions or cheapen the significance of his product. 

Perhaps it’s not a fair comparison because the two shows are different.  But I am so not impressed.  If anything I am totally disgusted with the way this show is presented.  I can only imagine the horrors of having to sit through hours of it on TV.  Often the network runs hours of the 30 minute show in marathon fashion on certain nights.

I like to laugh as much as anybody.  I can certainly laugh at myself and African-American stereotypes as well.  Stereotypical comedy done artfully is hilarious.  Stereotypical for the sake of feeding steretypes and getting paid is treason!

As black folk we should hold Perry accountable.  But unfortunately, the popularity of the program shows we may be participating in the demise of our own images.  And then we wonder why we are not taken seriously.  For all of our success, this show takes us backwards!

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Losing One of The Good One’s – I’ll Miss You Wayman

I remember Wayman Tisdale from his playing days at Oklahoma with Stacy King and Mookie Blaylock.  He was one of my favorite ballers in the day.

What I appreciated about the “Power Forward” was his smile and enthusiasm on the court.  He was a great combination of smooth and strength.  Wayman was my guy!

When he put down the ball for good and picked up the bass, I got his first CD and thought to myself, “I like his style.  Reminds me of Stanley Clarke but with a few more R&B rhythms.

I went on to buy all of his CDs as each one came out.   Got to see him perform with Dav Coz, Rick Braun and Jonathan Butler.  “Wow that guy is big!” I said as he stood like a giant on stage.  The bass looked like a banjo in his hands. 

As he played that smile still remained!

Wayman battled cancer and lost his leg recently.  He nevertheless still uplifted everyone around him.  He never changed and he touched many lives.

I want to thank Wayman Tisdale for touching my life and leaving the legacy of his memory and his music as a gift.

Rest in peace!

My Amish Ways, or the Last of the Technikans

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 I admit it.  I am always one of the last of the converts when it comes to technology. 

When CDs first came out, I remember my friends raving about how great they sounded.  Or how one can skip from one song to the next without waiting on the cassette to go forward or backward to the next song.  But oh no.  I didn’t want to give up my cassettes.  For one thing, as a notorious music lover and collector of tunes I had a serious amount of tapes I had amassed over the years.  I even had my own mixes that I put together and gave to buddies of mine who wanted to,  ummm let’s just say have something romantic to listen to with their girlfriends or wives.  If I switch to CDs, what would I do with all of these tapes?  And damn I can get Ice Cube’s new tape for $11.99 but the CD is like $18.99!  When CDs first came out, that was what they were costing off the top.  Puuleeeese! 

Then I bought my first CD player.  It was a single Sony model that I hooked up next to my double cassette high fi model.  It was a whole new world.  After hearing the sound that was the most crisp I had ever experienced, I went to the music store and bought almost $300 worth of music.  The first order was to buy music I heard growing up, and then get the ones to match the best of what I had on tape.  I now have thousands of CDs from Miles Davis to Boney James, from Stevie Wonder to Dan Fogelberg, Pat Benatar and everything in between.  I had it made right?

Nope!  Then they came out with MP3 players.  It took quite a while but eventually someone gave me an Ipod and between pod-casting the Jim Rome show and downloading much of my personal music collection, along with music from the library that I didn’t have to buy, I have over 12,000 songs at the touch of my fingers.  This must be heaven!

One would think I would learn my lesson and  get with the times quicker.  Most of my adult life has been spent working in areas where technology was the way we got the job done.  And new system upgrades were the norm.  But I’m still slow to personal technology change. 

I won’t even get into DVDs.  I have plenty of them but only after I amassed hundreds of VHS tapes full of old basketball games, movies and PBS documentaries. 

When I really think about it though,  I’ve learned that there are two reasons for my slow progression in embracing these helpful and often better tools.  First, I am just a person who is slow to change.  I can get set in my ways and set in the comfort of my habits.  Once I learn a thing and can operate it well, I don’t like changing it.  The second reason is that I am afraid of the technology.  I don’t feel confident that I can pick it up quickly. 

I am reminded of how people created these myspace pages years ago.  I heard about them over and over but just refused to mess with it.  I was afraid that I could not navigate through it proficiently.  By the time I got around to it, it was all but outdated.  My boy Rich for instance was already doing a blog.  I recall leaving a comment on one of his blogger friends blog, and I left my myspace page link.  She commented back to me,  “Man, your still on myspace?  You need to get a blog.” 

Sigh… dang!  I must be 5 years behind on everything!

Rich tried to show me the blogging ropes.   But you know how that is.  Richard is very technologically savvy.  He has a natural talent for it.  So he ran through it as if I were in college rather than the Sesame Street level of teaching that I really needed.  Eventually I stood up and faced the learning curve necessary to start this one. 

This morning I decided to go ahead with the next step in my personal technology growth.  The GPS!

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Yes indeed for years I thought I was the man with my Yahoo and Google map directions.  Too often however they are difficult to read especially in rual areas, or when I’m in another city.  Sometimes the directions are the long way to get somewhere or flat out wrong.  Of course driving and looking at directions isn’t the safest thing to do either.  It’s stressful trying to figure these directions when they name a street that doesn’t have a street sign on it when you approach it.  Or when you have a street that is also named a number.  One major artery in St. Louis for instance is called Lindbergh Blvd.  But it’s also called Hwy 67.  (Though it’s not a highway.)  If someone told me to go to Hwy 67 I would know where to go.  If I were not from here, I would be like, “Dammit!  I don’t see no 67, I see Lindbergh!”

Sports officiating has really brought me down to my directional knees as I go to these schools and ball fields in places I have never been to in my natural life.  So once again as Usher would say, “Here I Stand.”  Today I will make the step, pay the financial cost, and learn the ways of technology that will help my life run smoother.  I just hope the salesperson is not a jerk and will explain the basics to me without being condescending.

Cough, Cough! That Choking Sound in Boston

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard looks up at the scoreboard in the final seconds of 92-88 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of NBA Eastern Conference semifinals at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, Tuesday, May 12, 2009. ( Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel)

Let’s get this straight off the bat.  Dwight Howard is technically correct when he says that Stan Van Gundy sucked in his coaching moves against the Celtic’s last night. 

They didn’t pass this dude the ball in the fourth quarter till the end when the Celtics fouled him with the sole purpose of putting him on the free throw line so the team could not put up a three point shot.  The guard play was horrible and they flat out panicked! The decision making in running the offense was some of the worst I have ever seen in basketball period, let alone professional basketball.

Nevertheless Howard does not escape blame himself.  When I look at all the greats over time, Magic, Kareem, MJ, Kobe, Lebron, etc., these guys demand the ball in a time of crisis.  They may not hit the shot but dammit they are either going to take the shot or put the ball in play where they draw enough attention to themselves to open up an easy opportunity for others. 

I remember in the Finals one year when the Bulls played the Jazz.  It was the end of the game and the Bulls needed a bucket.   Jordan was heard in the huddle telling Steve Kerr, “When they double me be ready.”  Sure enough they doubled Jordan and he hit Kerr for the open jumper.  Swish!  Game over!

Once when the Celtics were at the end of a game behind a point, coach KC Jones was drawing up a play and Larry Bird interrupted him and simply said, “Forget all of that, (he didn’t say forget) just give me the ball.”  They got him the ball – Larry shoots – nothing but net, game over. 

Now I am not saying that Dwight Howard is Jordan, Magic, Bird, or Kobe.  What I am saying is that you are the best player on the team, the self proclaimed Superman.  And if the team is not getting you the ball you need to speak up during the game not just afterwards. 

I told a kid this recently after a game he lost that I was officiating.  It was easy to tell he was the best player on the team.  But he was a post player so he couldn’t pass it to himself.  Over and over again the guards shot the ball for misses in the last 10 minutes of the game, ignoring his post up positioning.  The lead they had was lost and so went the game.  Afterwards I could see his disappointment and frustration.  And I told him these words.  “Son, I know your the best player out here.  And I don’t care if your teammates aren’t passing you the ball or if the coach is calling your number during a timeout.  There is a time when every great player who clearly understands that he can make THE difference must demand the ball.  Tell your teammates in the huddle or on the court.  Tell your coach who may not see what you see on the court.  Don’t be scared if you can back it up.  Take responsibility and be a leader out there.”

Same thing applies.  Dwight is a top power forward in the NBA.  When I think of Charles Barkley and Karl Malone back in the day, no way in hell would they not pass these dudes the ball in a playoff game.  They would kick somebody’s ass before that happens.

So yea, Dwight was technically right.  Shaq called Van Gundy “The Master of Panic” and he may be proven right.  But the NBA is a players league and Dwight has been in it long enough to know that.  If you don’t demand the ball then you can’t talk in the press conference.

Sorry Mark, A Blog Apology is No Apology At All

I’ve always liked Mark Cuban for the most part.  His fire and enthusiasm puts a different face on pro sports ownership which is usually full of stuffy blow-hards.  Sometimes he brings up issues that would otherwise go unnoticed in the NBA such as questionably inconsistent officiating.  I was even disappointed when MLB would not allow him to purchase the Cubs. 

Cuban is an innovator and is a brilliant guy who hustles like a hungry man in whatever he is involved in.  I respect that.  But what makes him great is also what makes him stink at times.  Sometimes his mouth writes checks that even his rich bank account can’t cash. 

It’s not unusual for Cuban to make remarks at the officials during games, and sometimes even to opposing players.  His is famous for making comments to the media as well as post on his blog to express himself.  But what he did the other day in pointing at the mother of a Denver Nuggets’ player and calling her son a thug was just way over the top and not befitting the owner of a sports franchise. 

What is worse is that while folks all over the sports world were calling for Cuban to apologize quickly, he waited and let it stew over the entire weekend.  Then when he offered his weak excuse ladened apology it came by way of his blog.

That is just plain WEAK!  The fact of the matter is, he pointed his finger, and disrepected the mother of an NBA player.  He didn’t make his comments Saturday on the blog.  So why does he think an online apology would suffice? 

See that’s the best and worst thing about a blog.  One can really share important information or insight.  One can also hide behind the words typed on a computer screen to say the things they are too afraid to say in real life. 

Cuban needs to man up and speak face to face with both Kenyon Martin and his mother.  Anything else is just sheer cowardice!

Catholic Priest: To Marry or Not!

The Rev. Alberto Cutie was removed from his duties after pictures showed him bare-chested with a woman.

I am not Catholic but sometimes I do find these subject matters interesting.  In the wake of this latest controversy with Rev. Alberto Cutie I listened to a program on the radio and they had a discussion with a religion reporter, a religion professor, and the editor of the Catholic World Report.

One of the topics they discussed was whether the argument for priest to marry or not is more of a political one than a religious one.  What do you think?

Should some priest be allowed to marry?  I say some because the program noted that it’s not uncommon for a minister who was married before converting to Catholicism and became Catholic priest.  They get to keep their wives and families as well as serve in their flock.  Is this hypocritical? 

Some believe that celibacy is a gift that is particular to a person.  So if he/she has that desire and gift it should be a choice but not a mandate.

I have also spoken to some Catholics who take the hard line that if one wants to be a priest, celibacy is what the proper order is and if you can’t hang then don’t be a priest. 

Anyone who wants to give an intelligent take is welcome to comment.  I would love to hear especially from practicing Catholics on both sides of the issue.