Oct 17th, 2009 by admin

Jody Rosen at the formerly-locally-owned Slate has a lovely rant about the unbearable whiteness of “indie” music. Then Rosen segues into a side rant about the peculiar slant of NPR (and upscale white America) toward black music; preferably their preferences for Af-Am artists who are “Dead, Old, Retro, Foreign,” or “DORF.”

Jul 12th, 2009 by Clark Humphrey

…an African American cultural activist gets in a Twitter exchange with a white actress who says Af-Ams are “more free and fun and light hearted”? A lot more than 140 characters, that’s what happens.

Jun 25th, 2009 by Clark Humphrey

The ultimate tabloid celebrity was also the ultimate mess of contradictions, as you’ve long known. He was a devout student of classic R&B who had a series of nose and chin reconstructions, straightened his hair, and wore whiteface makeup on and off stage. He was a self-made sex symbol whose mark of “toughness” was to shriek in an attempt to reach the high notes of his early fame. He was a creator of effortless-sounding music whose life was rife with chaos, drug/alcohol abuse, and music-industry sycophants. He was a beloved entertainer who was accused of some of the most heinous crimes. He’d attained unlimited wealth (or the closest thing to that any African-American man has ever had), then spent the last third of his life scrambling to avoid total financial collapse.

In all the TV, radio, and online chatter in the first hours since his demise, I’ve been reading and hearing the wildest tales. Given what we know about his life, even the wildest of these rumors seem believable, whether or not they’re true.

My favorite quotation about Jackson came in a Facebook message from ex-Seattle semiotician Steven Shaviro: “MJ, in his musical genius and in his sad racial and sexual confusions, epitomized American civilization more than anybody else ever did.”

Jul 4th, 2008 by Clark Humphrey

Yes, the right-wing firebrand ex-senator helped to perfect what we’ve all come to know as conservative standard operating procedure. Bash the blacks and the gays; openly appeal to fear and bigotry; proclaim a love for “America” that includes a hatred for many, if not for most, of the people living in it.

But it’s important to remember, no one politician, not even Helms with his devious genius for divisiveness, created this recipe.

Helms simply exploited and extended the heritage of intolerance and lizard-brain emotions that’s long been a part of our nation’s dark side.

Of course, there’s another side to out nation’s history. Many sides, in fact. I’ll mention them in my next post (which, thanks to the conventions of blogging, you may have read prior to reading this).

RUBY CHOW, 1920-2008
Jun 5th, 2008 by Clark Humphrey

Before she was the first Asian American on the King County Council, she owned the first Chinese restaurant in Seattle outside of the Chinatown/International District. With her husband in the kitchen, she presided over the dining room as a pure diva. This name/face recognition fueled her rise to influence, both within the Asian American community and beyond. You may know of her daughter, longtime public-schools advocate Cheryl Chow. You might not know Chow was the sister of Mary Pang, whose frozen-foods mini-empire met a fiery end at the hands of Pang’s convicted-arsonist son.

Jun 4th, 2008 by Clark Humphrey

Or rather, it’s finally begun.

So now what?

For one thing, there will, to quote a recent movie cliche, be blood.

No matter how lame McCain’s own speeches are, the Right’s many screeching mouthpieces will do all they can to defame the Obama campaign, by any sleazy means necessary.

The next 22 weeks will be brutal.

But they can also be exhilarating.

Let’s get started.

Apr 3rd, 2008 by Clark Humphrey

  • A sad USA Today piece about a Denver-area subdivision increasingly abandoned to foreclosures.
  • A black college professor’s fascinating tale of why he founded a university-funded “museum of racist memorabilia.”
  • Sara Robinson’s similarly-themed essay in which she bemoans stereotyping and us-vs.-them dehumanization in America, then blames all of it on people who are different from her. No, she doesn’t get the irony.
  • A much more optimistic Rolling Stone profile of Sen. Obama’s campaign organization, showing the practical value of including everybody into the “us” group.
  • Naomi Klein’s weighty tome Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.Klein painstakingly traces the entirety of the global tragedy that is right-wing power-grabbing (coups, dictatorships, Iraq, even the response to Hurricane Katrina) back to Milton Friedman. You see, before Friedman ran the Federal Reserve Board (where he was credited/blamed for holding puppet strings on the entire U.S. economy), he ran the U. of Chicago’s school of economics, where “Chicago School” pundits and scholars produced long and ponderous statements offering complex reasoned arguments for letting big business do any damned thing it wanted to.

    Klein’s own reasoning is lucid, and her documentation is voluminous. But it’s incomplete.

    Economic theory is only one head of the Hydra-like monster that comprises power and privilege in this world. A more worthwhile look at the evils done in the name of America over the decades would look at the topic with more breadth, even if it meant less depth.

Feb 27th, 2008 by Clark Humphrey

The National Review founder and Firing Line TV host wrote in 1986, “I asked myself the other day, `Who else, on so many issues, has been so right so much of the time?’ I couldn’t think of anyone.” Some of the issues he was “so right” on included the civil rights movement (emphatically against), Joseph McCarthy (for), the Vietnam war (for), US support for “friendly” homicidal dictators (for), and rock music (against).

His early opposition to the John Birch Society was mostly tactical and cultural; he wanted a more respectable right wing, with a clear, one-way flow of power from Wall Street to Main Street. Similarly, his latter-day opposition to the Iraq war can be interpreted as a plea to put some brakes on a conservative movement heading inexorably toward a train wreck.

Jan 26th, 2008 by Clark Humphrey

Can’t anybody stage a hiphop club night without somebody firing guns outside?

Jan 18th, 2008 by Clark Humphrey

…black characters in movies who don’t just exist to magically improve the lives of white heroes.

Jan 17th, 2008 by Clark Humphrey

…before WashState’s Presidential caucuses, but Tim Egan’s already got one Seattleite’s perspective on the election: How does Obama sell himself as an Historic Moment in American History without mentioning race?

AS A HYPER-HUSTLING SOCIETY pressures folk to be smiling and assertive 24/7, one Eric G. Wilson dares to praise good old-fashioned melancholy.

Jan 10th, 2008 by Clark Humphrey

…(other than the spendorifical live book event occurrin’ tonight at 2407 First Avenue (note corrected address)):

Nov 26th, 2007 by Clark Humphrey

Nov 23rd, 2007 by Clark Humphrey

  • PORTAND LEADERS WANTED to score PR points with local Latinos by renaming a city street after labor leader Cesar Chavez. Unfortunately, the street they chose is the main street of Portland’s small but fabulous Chinatown, whose supporters didn’t like the idea too much.
  • Should drivers on SR520 help pay for a new bridge via tolls? Some state officials are looking into it. But complications have already arisen: Wouldn’t more drivers just switch to the I-90 bridge? And if you charge tolls on both Lake Washington spans, how do you convince the regular I-90 commuters that they’re getting something out of it?
  • Remember when the Lou Dobbs crowd worried as all get-out about Japanese companies buying up American companies? It’s not happening anymore, at least not so much. And, yes, a different gang of pundits calls it cause for alarm.
  • While the Fun Forest is still apparently doomed, there’s cause for hope that a city-run skate park might, at long last, have found a home.
  • A man in Michigan “ays he shot and killed a neighbor’s cow after mistaking it for a coyote.” The trouble came when he saw the cow opening up a large wooden crate labeled “One (1) ACME Barbed-Wire Fence Disintegrator.”
Nov 21st, 2007 by Clark Humphrey

  • Remember how the Bellevue Art Museum had this big cash crunch that led to a drastic restructuring? Turns out part of its problem was its former chief financial officer. She’s charged with embezzling $300,000 from the organization, because, police say she said, a recent divorce had left her “financially compromised.”
  • We won’t have the Sugar nightclub to kick around anymore.
  • In the “you call this higher education?” dept., unnamed members of a UW frat house allegedly shouted racial and anti-immigrant slurs at a random Asian-looking guy walking outside, and threw a water balloon out at him from their window. Police are investigating it as a “malicious harassment” case.
  • A couple tried to have bathroom sex on a Southwest Airlines flight from Seattle to Vegas. The plane made an unscheduled stop in Portland, where the forbidden lovers were kicked off.
  • Today’s best dumb criminal, as Keith Olbermann would say: A 42-year-old metal thief. Cops found an electric sign had gone out along I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass, discovered wiring was missing from the sign’s control box, and found the stolen wires in the bed of a pickup parked nearby. The driver was in the truck’s cab, sleeping.
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