Tuesday, September 25, 2007

hater in the house.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

First realization after transferring: some things remain constant.

Case in point? Pretentious students.

I know, I know, big surprise, right? But some of my peers are real students (in the British definition of the word).

In my globalization class, there's a kid who just loves himself. From what I gather, he's a transfer student as well--except he's convinced he's got it all figured out. He takes the teacher to task over minor things that don't really matter, and during the opening week of class, he told the teacher to "keep it interesting...because I'm thinking about dropping this class".

Get over yourself, kid. The teacher is an adjunct, and he works at a think-tank (The Pacific Council)...I mean, it just doesn't get more real than that. We've actually read some of the professor's work in my other classes, so you can tell that he actually knows his material.

Regardless, the kid called me out tonight, which I wasn't going to have. We were talking about the Navigation Act (in Britain during imperialist times--times when "the sun never set on the British Empire"), and I mentioned that America had one today about how it was a big issue during last year's Congressional election in Hawaii.

I said the eventual winner, Daniel Akaka, was elected because he was a long-time incumbent but because he also favored protectionism (and not allowing in boats with foreign bottoms). I went on to say that Akaka is one of the most inefficient senators in America.

The kid proceeded to raise his hand, laughed at me, and said "I bet there are more inefficient senators".

I told him to pull up the internet and look it up on Time's website. He said that he was sure that I was mistaken.

Well, anyway, here it is. Akaka denies it, of course, but what can you do? I feel like printing out the articles for the kid--but what's the point? I think he knew I was right as well--he left class early, and the teacher just looked at him funny.

This is my problem--these kids are absolute tools. They're convinced that they know absolutely everything and that they're incredibly brilliant--and aren't afraid to say stupid things that couldn't be further from the truth. Their opinion is their gospel--and they wholeheartedly believe it to be truth.

This monopoly on speech prevents the class from having a healthy discourse. The professor opens the floor up for discussion a lot--but this kid just blurbs out random things and "corrections" that steer the class from actually discussing the issue at hand. No one wants to talk when they feel that an egotistical fact-checker is going to wrongfully call them out on a mundane detail. I pay just as much tuition as he does--why shouldn't I get my chance to talk, unencumbered? If he would have argued with me about the Marine Merchant/Jones Act, great! But no, he just made a stupid point because, well, OBVIOUSLY, he knows everything about politics and has the last say. Because, OBVIOUSLY, he analyzes the way that every senator votes in Congress on every bill and made a rankings chart. DUH!

You may know a lot, sir, but I believe I know a lot more about my state than you do. Just shut the hell up sometimes so that we can all learn something other than your damn opinion.


(Full disclosure: I got into a fight with Daniel Inouye's grandson when I was 8. Inouye is Hawaii's senior Senator--he's the only original member of any state delegation still in Congress, having been elected Hawaii's first congressman upon its statehood in 1959. You thought your state liked incumbents, huh?

Long story short--my family had a reunion on the Big Island. We were staying at the Mauna Lani, and his grandson tried to steal my cousin's water wings. I yelled at the kid, who said that he was going to tell his grandfather. I told him that I didn't care--and, later on, an uncle told me that his "grandfather" that was sitting pool side was the Senator...though I had no idea what that meant at the time.

So, yeah, I know my Senators.)

Transportation Tracks

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

We decided to make this a regular feature series--you can see the archive to the right, where it says "Features and Links".


Here are my contributions:

Latyrx "Rankin #1"
This is Lateef the Truth Speaker's rap over this backing track (there's another version with Lyrics Born rapping over it, and live, they just both rapped over it at the same time). The group is sort of a pre-superstardom supergroup--DJ Shadow, Lateef, Lyrics Born and DJ Excel all worked on their album and EP (and have promised another release next year). The beat on the track serves as a way to wake me up on the way to class. Give it a spin!

Utada Hikaru "Traveling"
This is probably my embarrassing track--except that I'm not all that embarrassed about liking it. It has a great beat, and the lyrics (Japanese) talk about a girl in love--the funny thing about Jpop, though, is that a great number of the songs talk about the bad economy and making the best of it. I wish American popstars was as attuned to the economy as their Japanese counterparts are. I don't think I like Jpop in a campy, cheesy way (but I like so much cheesy music that I can't really tell anymore)--I think that it has a lot of artistic merit. Utada Hikaru, Ayumi Hamasaki, Ai Ootsuka and Mika Nakashima are famous for writing their own music and lyrics, and it's usually pretty deep stuff, filled with symbolism and philosophies on life and death (I know! Not really pop culture stuff, is it?). So, yeah, it may sound really cheesy--but it's almost as deep as most of the "socially conscious rap" that we seem to love at the Collective. I have a dissertation on Jpop coming soon--don't fret. I usually put this on as I ride home after my night classes--it's got such a big city with bright lights feel.

The Smiths "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now"

Nothing beats riding around to the Smiths--Morrissey's sad sappy voice on this track, mixed with Marr's jangly guitars and Rourke's lazy bass really make this song great for just cruising around in the afternoon.

Alright, there's a couple of tracks for you to enjoy. This will become a regular feature, with 2-3 links...and they'll be archived to your right in one spot. Ride on!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Transportation Tracks

I'm no expert on music or anything, but I figured I'd get back into the groove here at JJ by giving a few of the songs I've been biking to...

1--"Thinking About Your Body" by Bobby McFerrin. Let's just say I was not surprised to hear that McFerrin's son is now an acclaimed beat boxer. I swear Bobby McFerrin can do things with his voice that nobody else in the entire universe can. Not even Rahzel.

2--"put down your dream journal and dance" by Blockhead.

Ok, I could list more songs but I just wanted to point out that video of McFerrin because I think he's a ridiculous artist who should be listened to more often. And I wanted to promote the Blockhead album because I like it and he has a lot to do with None Shall Pass's success, so give credit where credit is due.

More later.

hello? is this thing on?

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Here it is, your update post. I figure we talk so much about our opinions that we may as well let you know what's going on in our lives.

As you may have deduced, I, jhuff, no longer attend the George Washington University. I have swapped the coasts and now attend the University of Southern California. We were working on a post to announce this quite some time ago, but I never felt comfortable enough to put it up. This paragraph is the disclosure of this fact, and there we are.

Additionally, Pat Burgwinkle, who is on a writing tear as of late, is spending a semester in Amsterdam. He steps into the European correspondent role that bsto took on this summer. We've been trying to trick Pat into writing forever--I'm glad he's finally been duped...err, that he's finally decided to take us up on the offer. He's writing great pieces that tackle the big issues, and it helps to have another person on staff.

Why, you ask? Because it gets tough between bsto and I to publish daily, which we put down as one of our only real goals when we started in January. Who wants to read a commentary blog that's outdated?

Yeah, no one.

While speaking about bsto, I thought I'd mention that he is currently writing for the dcist, which is a member of the Gothamist family (I believe)....the most widely read blog family on the planet (1.2 million unique viewers a month). You can read his first piece here...I must admit, I enjoyed it (less so after I heard how they hacked it up).


What am I up to? General no good...well, not really. I intern at USC's radio station--the show I intern on, Your Arsenal, can be heard on Thursday's at 9-11 PM (EST) at kscr.org.

I've also taken up blogging for the radio station's, well, blog...located here.

What does all of this taken positions at other blogs mean, then? Nothing, really--hopefully, new readers, but that's about it. I think the delineation of what bsto and I have been asked to do with the other blogs and what we do here is very clear--so I don't see anything changing.


In the meantime, though, we are looking for new contributors. Seriously. email me at jhuff@usc.edu or ben at bsto@gwu.edu if you're interested. We're going to ask for some writing samples, but that's about it. If you care and are punctual (and can talk your family and friends into reading the site), you're probably golden. Well, you'll need to have an opinion too, but you know, like my dad says:

Opinions are like arses: Everyone has one, and they all stink.

Haha. Anyway, email us if you'd like to contribute. And, please, if you think that a friend of yours would enjoy a piece we've done, send them the link. Every reader means a lot to us, because the core of the Building JJ Collective is to foster discussion and discourse--and the more readers there are, the bigger the opportunity for those two things there are.

Good night, West Coast, and, t'll be good morning when you read this, East Coast.

Until then.

(Oh, I thought I'd brag here...I was only off by a touchdown in the Hawaii game, I was off by about 12 points in the USC game...and Michigan ended up winning...haha. It looks like A-Rod is off to the Cubs, though, who are going to make him a shortstop as well as a part-owner. Yeah. Pwner.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses"

(Pat Burgwinkle)

An article in the New York Times recently highlighted what I found to be a highly shocking and morally reprehensible policy of the Federal Government: denying chemotherapy to illegal immigrants with cancer.

The Federal Government has been auditing state medicaid records and have announced that they will no longer reimburse states for providing chemotherapy to illegal immigrants because chemotherapy does not qualify as emergency care. I think this should shock and offend most people but sadly I know it won't. Immigrants, illegal or otherwise, are viewed as less important by most people because they're not full citizens. Even if you ignore the moral obligation I think hospitals and doctors have to treat people who are sick, there is a very flawed logic being employed. If someone has cancer, they will die without care. Having accepted this basic fact of cancer, how is chemotherapy or any other cancer treatment not an emergency treatment? Cancer is as life threatening an emergency as a gun shot wound or a severe allergic reaction. The Times article also points out that out of the 500,000 illegal immigrants in New York state, a minority actually require cancer treatment. Why our government's unwillingness to fund this life saving treatment for people simply because they weren't born in the United States and then came here to seek a better life?

Obviously, people would it is because they came here illegally. I, however, think it's a far more sickening reason: the Federal Government is using cancer treatment, an expensive and long-term type of care, to whip up a furor against illegal immigrants. By highlighting that illegal immigrants receive this care in the first place, the government is hoping to sustain the anti-immigrant feeling in parts of the population, specifically the American-born working poor. This strategy plays two poor, under-privileged segments of society off of one another when they really should be working together on issues like universal health care coverage for all people. This is a repugnant political strategy, using people with cancer as a talking point in the government's case against a productive, critically important, and much maligned segment of American workers: illegal workers.

Medicaid should cover all people for whatever a doctor, not some bureaucrat in Washington, determines to be a medical emergency. Health care is a universal human right and pulling the plug on funding for chemotherapy for illegal immigrants is tantamount to a death sentence for illegal immigrants with cancer. The federal government can play politics with immigration policy but most certainly not with human lives. Shame on them.

Friday, September 21, 2007

no alarms and no surprises, please.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

A girl from Maui attending MIT was arrested in Boston today for wearing a device that appeared to be a bomb.

Her reasons ("that it was career day and she wanted to show off her work"...) seem strange at best, especially because she wore it to pick up her boyfriend at Logan International Airport (I'm not going to comment on what appears to be a huge age difference) .

In case you forgot, Boston was scared by Aqua Teen Hunger Force LCD lights in January
. That was sort of a ridiculous thing--this isn't.

In my eyes, this is the height of bored Hawaii kids wanting to come off as artistic. I am not going to pass any further judgment until we hear more...but man.

It's sad because she's described as being bright and as "an outstanding student". Why go and pull something like this?

Her lawyer saying something about "the height of paranoia" is being outlandish. With people so tense about flying these days, I don't blame the police for taking her into custody.


The San Francisco Giants will not re-sign Barry Bonds for next season. I don't blame them--dude players one game and then takes two off...is that really worth an $15.8 million
yearly investment?

No. Not when Thierry Henry makes $12.6 million. Seeing him in that kit doesn't pain me as much as I thought it would...

The best bet? The Yankees--who else is gonna pay $10 million+ for a DH? OhyeahmaybetheRedSox.

He wouldn't play in New York, though--he knows he couldn't cut it. I don't blame him--it's a brutal city. I can't really see what team is gonna go after him--there was talk about Oakland wanting him last year, but I don't see how their moneyball organization would make it work.

My bets? Yanks, Red Sox...maybe the Angels? Those are the only teams I can see stomaching his pay where he'd play.

The Yanks have a ton of old guys with bad knees who trade off at DH--Giambi, Matsui, therestoftheirteam...do they really want to pay $10 million for another?

Again, $10 million is arbitrary--is he going to take an $5.8 mil pay cut? Bonds is Mr. Ego.

Maybe an NL team will want him--I highly doubt it. I see him in the AL as a DH/occasional outfielder--which the Yankees seem to love. Plus, he's really old (did any of you realize he's 43 this year? OK, that's not old, mom....). He's no Julio Franco...and even that dude has a hard time finding a team (the Mets released him this year, and the Braves picked him up).

So, really, who wants Barry?

The Yanks, Red Sox...and, over my father's (not) dead body, the Angels...though we all know that the Angels are gonna get Pay-Rod this off-season, hence cementing them as the absolute best team in all of baseball--even though nobody really cares about them other than analysts, Los Angeles, and the Huff household.

Finally, though, the Giants can put money into being an actual good team and not just the home-ground for a home-run hitting freak-show monster.

I'm glad. It's time they got what may be the best hats into the post-season once again (I really want one of these, but I've heard stories about dudes getting beat up outside of Dodger Stadium for wearing Giants gear...that and I already sorta rep the Angels, you know..oh, I'm broke, as well)...where, of course, A-Rod and his Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will sweep them in the World Series.

So there's my pick. The Angels are gonna win the World Series this year and next. I swear. This year, I guarantee they'll win it....though the only way I'll absolutely put all of my money on them for next year a year-and-a-half before they play a game is if they do sign A-Rod this off-season and if Vlad rehabs himself (dude may only DH in the play-offs?).

This post made me realize a few things:

  • I care way more about the Angels than I think [that's what's gonna happen as long as Baltimore is located on the East Coast, and, thus, playing in the AL (B)East]
  • I care way more about baseball than I thought
  • I need to do an entry on my favorite MLB caps

Take it easy, everyone. You know the drill: we usually don't update on the weekends because readership usually drops (because, of course, you're not at work and don't need to be wasting any time)

Anyway, I promise we'll start off with Building JJ Collective news next week--regarding one of the blog's nearest-and-dearest getting a pretty good position with one of the world's most visited blogs.


UH 73-Charleston Southern 10
USC 45-Washington State 24

I would say something about the Michigan game, but I don't know if Derman reads this. Regardless, Michigan will keep it close with Penn State, and Notre Dame will scare Michigan State enough--though not enough to beat them.

So yea, Michigan and Notre Dame will both lose, again...though this time, by closer margins.

Okay, I'm outta here--my laundry needs to be put in the dryer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

eerie coincidences

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Kanye West's latest MTV meltdown is nothing new--he had another one a few years back to protest Justice v. Simian's video "We Are Your Friends" winning video of the year over the video for his song "Touch the Sky".

Kanye professed love for Justice's latest video for "D.A.N.C.E."...but did he rip it off in his own video for "Good Life"?

You be the judge, but the white backgrounds, the walking, and the animation are all pretty similar.

We're not this Kanye-centric, I swear. I've been working on a Jay-Z post for awhile. Take our word for it.

Kanye joining them because he can't beat them? How out of character.

Patriot Games

(An Arrogant New England Sports Fan)

As a Pats fan, I suppose I should weigh in on (it pains me to to type it) "CameraGate".

I think Bill Simmons said everything most Pats fans are thinking and feeling here, but there is still a lot of Bullshit, end of the world, melodramatic sports writing going on regarding this incidence of (Gasp!) cheating in professional sports.

I am, first of all, really disappointed in Belichick. He screwed me over as a Patriots fan. I defend this team as the greatest ever and him as the greatest coach ever against disgruntled Raiders, Steelers, Rams, Jets, Eagles, etc. and then he goes and cheats. Now I can't ever defend him again. I still think he is a brilliant coach, but as soon as someone says, "Cheater!", I have to shut up. Thus, I think this whole scandal is actually worst for Pats fans.

Now onto all this faux-outrage by the rest of NFL fandom.

All of you, from the Jets to the Chargers, coast to coast, can kindly sit down, shut up, and watch as the Pats steamroll you with or without a camera, just as we've been doing the past six years (the aberration in Indy last year aside). Do you honestly think the Pats have been cheating this whole time and were only caught for the first time in a week 1 game that we were going to win anyways? I, for one, have always thought the NFL has done a better job than other sports leagues (read: MLB) at maintaining the integrity of its sport. I find it incredibly hard to believe that the Patriots have been cheating regularly. We're under a microscope because of our success and I think we would have been caught long ago if we made a habit of this.

As for the outrage, it's complete crap. Of course there is cheating in sports. If there wasn't, we wouldn't need refs. Refs are there to prevent cheating. Holding, pass interference, and false starts are all instances of cheating that get called on a regular basis. Obviously taping the other teams' signals is on a different level, but you can stop acting as though you thought you were watching the purest form of athletic competition every Sunday until Bill Belichick and the Patriots rolled into town. The Patriots got caught and have been punished. The system clearly works to some degree, so really this story should be done with. It should be, except every crap team that plays the Pats this year will use this instance of cheating to justify why they lost. It couldn't be because the Patriots are a juggernaut of a football team this year, could it? No of course not, we lost because they taped Eric Mangini for one quarter at the beginning of September. Feeling silly yet? Don't worry you will, just check your schedule to see when the Patriots come to town.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

quick takes

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

As CNN has reported, a student was tasered after asking John Kerry a few questions at a public forum at the University of Florida.

What to make of this? The kid was asking a few questions--sure, they egged Kerry on, but Kerry wanted to engage the kid and said that he wanted to respond while the cops were leading the kid away.

I was sickened with the way that the audience seemed to cheer as the kid was being arrested. It is unclear why they cheered--but it is surreal that hardly anyone spoke up to ask as to why the young man was being led away. The debate now isn't over what the police did was right or wrong, it was whether the young man was tasered while he was in handcuffs.

It brings to mind the UCLA student who was tasered by cops for failing to have his student ID, and the way campus security is handling themselves as of late should be called into question.

Perhaps more interesting than all of this is the way that the people are responding on youtube--most blame it on "insane liberals". America is a country descending into an age where people use buzzwords and pass judgment without knowing absolutely nothing about the issues on which they are speaking--and this goes for both sides, both liberals and conservatives.

I'm sure we'll hear more about this in the upcoming days, and we'll keep you posted.


And, to follow up, UH did the haka this weekend while UNLV was off the field and they were not penalized.


What do you, the readers, make of the situation that the Patriots find themselves in? They're winning, fine--but they're being accused of using cameras to tape the signals of other teams.

To be honest, I don't see much wrong with it. The team is using a competitive advantage offered to them by the game. However, it IS against the league's rules, and, if it's in writing, then I do feel that it needs to be enforced.

I can see teams in baseball taping signals, but the competitive advantage would be null. It would be impossible to relay to the batter the type of pitch that was coming before the ball actually came.

Bill Bellicheck is a great coach, and the Pats are a monstrous team. I don't understand why they got caught for this--but I wonder if they're really the only team guilty?


And, 50 Cent says he doesn't like putting out albums anymore. Of course, he won't admit losing, but here's 50:

"I'm not really excited to go sell a record. I probably won't even put another album out. If I do put it out, I probably won't travel to promote it. The actual release of this record wasn't pleasant for me."

Cry me a river, 50. You've become Mr. Irrelevant in this race. Congratulations

Monday, September 17, 2007

Kanyeezy, Part Threezy

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

It’s evident (to quote the subject matter at hand) that Kanye put some time into classes after his “Late Registration” to make quite certain that he would indeed graduate. All the cramming, attending of office hours and actually reading up on the classics paid off: “Graduation” is clearly a sign that Kanye is on to bigger and better things. He’s got the schooling in. He’s ready—but considering that he held down a 9-5 with regular overtime…ready for what? It doesn’t matter—“Graduation” is a masterpiece.

The opener, “Good Morning”, sees ‘Ye revisiting the morning theme that he enlisted on “Late Registration”, which, I will add, I was a huge fan of.

The next “full” track, “Champion”, sees Kanye back at his best: boisterous and humorous and also precisely captures his modus operandi. You want the braggadocio? Here he is: “They got the CD then got to see me drop gems/Like I dropped out of P.E.” The lines he spits here are funny, but they’re also awkward and far from perfect. This flawed delivery is what made Jay-Z hesitate to let Kanye put out a record of his own, but, somehow, the man is selling more than his idol (who he sells out on the album’s finale) and is, quite possibly, much more relevant today.

Humorous, boisterous and relevant? He calls out Lauryn Hill by rapping:

“Lauryn Hill say her heart was in Zion /I wish her heart still was in rhymin' /'Cause who the kids gon' listen to? Huh?/I guess me if it isn't you”

This is the genius of Kanye in a nutshell. He realizes that “superstardom” is fleeting and just having one album doesn’t make your name (or your art) eternally relevant—he saw that Hill dropped off and is more than happy to pick up her fans. Of course, people listen to more than one artist, but in this fickle age of music downloads, Kanye knows that you need to put out gold (not just bangers) on a regular basis—something that he’s committed to.

Another of Kanye’s calling cards has long been his reliance on old soul samples. On this album, he spread his wings a bit and utilized samples of Daft Punk and German krautrockers Can. I want to commend Kanye for using Daft Punk’s “Harder, Faster, Stronger”, but I agree completely with Pat’s critique of the song—he rides the sample way too much and doesn’t do a very good job saying anything over it. The outro, with the keys and the scratching, is fairly impressive—however, Kanye could have done much more. I would have wished that Daft Punk actually put in an entirely new song for this record…but, alas, that was not to be.

Unfortunately, though, the Can sample is used on “Drunk and Hot Girls”—the one track that will probably keep this album from becoming an absolute, out-of-the-park, “Barry Bonds” home-run type classic. This song is horrible and retreads Kanye’s worst moments on “Late Registration”—overdramatic, too minor of a key, and over-preachy (is it any surprise that my least favorite track on “Late” was “Roses”?). It’s evident that Kanye is going to pull a track like this on every album, and I guess he has the right to—it’s his record, for heaven’s sake...But I feel that both tracks didn’t fit in with the flows of their respective albums and served as deadweight.

“I Wonder” sees Kanye deliver a great track devoid of any decent vocals. It is one of the most “vintage” (and sounds eerily similar to a lot of Jay Dee’s work) Kanye tracks on this record, and it’s a bit disappointing to hear it go underutilized. He could have easily learned from himself: “Everything I Am” may just be the best socially conscious piece in his entire canon—and it’s done very tastefully over a heavy soul sample. Take this stanza, for instance:

“people talk so much s--- about me at barbershops /They forget to get their haircut /Okay fair enough, the streets is flarin' up /’Cause they want gun-talk, or I don't wear enough”

This just be his most powerful rhyme ever. Lyrically, I believe that this is the best song that he’s ever put out because he calls out the establishment on a level-headed, “these are the facts” way. The lines “I know that people wouldn't usually rap this/but I got the facts to back this /just last year, Chicago had over 600 caskets /man, killin's some wack s--- /oh, I forgot, 'cept for when n----s is rappin it'” are absolute stunners. Kanye wittily, sarcastically and truthfully distilled everything that is wrong with the rap game today in less than a hundred words. And, unlike Jay-Z, who said that he “he would spit it/if y’all could get it” and then continues to use this excuse to turn his back on intellectual discourse for the remainder of the album, Kanye proclaims “that everything I’m not made me everything I am”—he doesn’t lie about his upbringing and doesn’t indulge to make it seem like he is someone he isn’t. “Everything I Am” is one of the finest self-realization tracks in rap history, which is incredibly considering how self-centered rap as a whole has become.

You’d think that by extension, “Everything I Am” is my favorite track—you’d only be partially right. I have yet to mention “Good Life”, which is both a banger and a gem. It mixes the absolute best of everything Kanye West has ever done and distills it in one track. A great background track, humor (if she got the goods/and she got that ass/I got to look/sorry), ego (y’all popped the trunk/I popped the hood/Ferrari), calling out this weeks biggest rival (50 Cent), throwing “it up in the sky” (ala “Diamonds Are Forever”) and a surprisingly strong cameo from a star (T-Pain…I’ve hated everything else this guy has done…how did he bring it here?). In all honesty, this is the absolute best musical track that Kanye has ever committed to tape. The keyboards are so rich and full and the samples complement the rest of the song enough that it just all works…everything balances out. Calling out three of my favorite cities (DC, LA…the Chi) doesn’t hurt, either (get the 808 in there next time, ‘Ye, and we’re all good).

Overall, I love the feel of this record. “Graduation” is played out in very muted tones and keys—there isn’t a ton of minor or major work here, and I’m an incredibly huge fan of that. This perfectly portrays that graduation feel—it’s all a bit bittersweet….you’re scared to be too happy and don’t want to be too sad…perfectly evidenced in “Good Life”. Kanye dialed down his “Jesus” complex on “Graduation” and isn’t out to save the world anymore—he’s just here to be who he says he is.

There definitely is an “end-of-an-era” feel to this album. I’m not quite sure where Kanye plans to go from here—this album is Kanye becoming fully self-realized. Lyrically, it is his strongest record. Musically, it’s leaps and bounds beyond anything he’s ever done. I still can’t get over the piano and keyboard tones that adorn this album, and I don’t think I ever will.

Where next? Soccer moms? I don’t know (but Chris Martin doesn’t hurt in the attempts to capture this market). This could quite be Kanye’s “soccer mom” album, and I don’t mean this disparagingly—this album is incredibly mature but it also retains all of the angst that Kanye had. He doesn’t need “Jesus Walks” anymore—he thinks things out with “Everything I Am”.

This is a coming-of-age record. This would be Mr. West’s announcement that “he has arrived”, but he’s been “here” (wherever “here” may be) for quite some time. There’s nothing to say, really, other than “Damn, Kanye, you did it again. Only this time, you did it better than before.” That’s all any artist can hope for—growth. He did more than his fair share of that here…I’m just curious to see where he goes next. “Ph.D. Candidate Mr. West”? “The I-Bank Baller?” The wait may be long, but I’m ready for it: as incredible as this album is on first lesson, it’s so well-packed with production flourishes and textures that it opens up even more with every listen.

And, on a closing note, it’s really disheartening, though, to hear someone like 50 Cent say that Kanye sells because Kanye is “safe” (what “safe” means, of course, is totally open to interpretation, and I don’t want to open that can of worms right now...Dude also said he created the mixtape). Kanye is enlightened and Kanye is not only attuned to the bigger issues at hand; he’s willing to talk about them and confront them. Maybe he doesn’t talk about money, cash and hoes the way 50 does. I don’t think that makes Kanye any more “safe” than any other rapper—I think it makes him more real, more substantive and more provocative. To be honest, 50, in this day and age, money, cash, hoes and drugs, guns and cars are passé and pedestrian—oh, just like your latest album, “Curtis”.

Friday, September 14, 2007

when trying is worse than not even making an attempt.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Any regular JJ Collective reader will know that we’re all fairly huge football/soccer/whateveryouplease fans. Of course, our allegiances differ (Ben and I both love Arsenal, Pat is an Aston Villa fan, and occasional contributor David Byrd is Liverpool diehard) but we all love the game.

I’m not really sold on women’s soccer, but it’s not because I haven’t tried: I watched the Women’s World Cup in 1999 and watch a great deal of their friendlies on television. And, let’s face it—the women’s team is more successful than the US Men’s National Team. Based on what, you ask? Well, based on the fact that the US Women have won two World Cups.

You may say that there aren’t any real “powerhouses” in the women’s game in the way that Brazil, Argentina, England, Italy, Spain, France, Germany (perhaps Portugal and Holland as well) dominate (I named pretty much half of Europe there, I know)…but the fact of the matter is that there are dominant teams, it’s just that they’re a bit different. Sweden and the United States are two powers in women’s soccer that field above average but not stellar teams in the men’s game (Brazil and Germany are ahead of the pack in both Men’s and Women’s).

Basically, just because the Women have won twice in a competition only created 20 years ago doesn’t make their accomplishments worth any less (don’t even cite Uruguay being damn near dominant in the early years of the men’s Copa Mundial). In fact, I’m damn proud of them. This, surprisingly, isn’t my point: I’m upset with the advertisements Nike has put out to “promote” the women’s team ahead of the world cup.

Nike’s ads tell fans (errrr…Americans, because, according to Nike, the women have no fans) that it’s time “to meet the team you’ve never heard of.” We’ve never met? Most sports fans remember Brandi Chastain’s bra-exposing celebration after the US Women won the World Cup in 1999. Don’t try to say that we’ve ignored them. That photo was the cover of Sports Illustrated and most American sports section. Never heard of? Give me a break.

So, onto the ads. First off, Rainn Wilson (aka Dwight Schrute) was cast as a main auditioning in his RV to become the public relations officer for the team. Wilson comes off as bumbling, incoherent, unprofessional and almost illiterate—obviously, this is the way that the script was written.

However, while auditioning, Wilson is shown to have no idea just how successful the team is—saying that they could be big on morning radio and with “local government.” I know, I know, the point is to show that no one in America knows how good they are because they’ve been ignored for so long (along with football/soccer in general), but this disrespects the 90,185 in attendance for the final in 1999 at the Rose Bowl between the US and China (won by the US in dramatic fashion, in case you forgot).

Clearly, there is an audience for soccer in America. I know Nike, Gatorade and the USSF want to spread soccer in order to maximize profits—however, by pandering to the country by using Wilson in such a role is demeaning.

Bsto pointed out that he was tired of the announcer’s on ESPN’s telecasts of the Men’s National Team’s game and how they pointed out just how similar Oguchi Onyewu was to an “American Football” player. Who cares? Does that make the game any more enjoyable for someone who doesn’t already watch soccer? No, it does not.

There are those of us out there who aren’t stupid and who know what the women have done—and, reality check, Nike…we’re the only ones watching the commercials and thinking about them at all. By pretending that no one knows about soccer, you belittle and push away the core audience that actually does care.

Wilson also says that he can get “Big oily muscle men during every time-out.” Obviously, this is acting and meant to be a sarcastic remark—but come on. It was such a cheap joke that not only could one see it coming from a mile away, one could also hear themselves groaning in disgust thirty seconds before the groan actually emanated from their own mouth.

I watched the match between the US and North Korea, and though it wasn’t very pretty, it was very hard fought and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I don’t think soccer needs cheap gimmicks and jokes to make it relevant to a bigger crowd. Maybe America just doesn’t get it—that doesn’t mean that Nike has to make fun of both America and hard-core footie fans in the process.

We get it, we get it: America doesn’t care about soccer! These women can walk around in anonymity! Man, that’s rich comedy! Haha! Potential PR flaks think all these women care about is publicity and muscle men during non-existent time-outs! This is rich! Only the absolute best writers came up with this stuff!

For so long, people have said that soccer has failed thus far in America because it is poorly marketed. I’d rather have it be poorly marketed than be marketed with absolute tripe like these ads.

Will I watch more of the Women’s World Cup, including today's match against Sweden? Sure, but in spite of and not because of these horrible commercials.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

this night has opened my eyes (mama didn’t raise no fool).

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

I set out on my bike at around 11:30. I usually wrap up my studies, hop on my bike, and ride across campus on my orange beach cruiser. My bike is generic as generic gets—the bike shops around here sell them by the dozens, and every other bike on campus seems to be of the same make and model. I thought picking orange would make it easy to find—I saw black, red, coral and turquoise flying out of Lion’s when I picked mine up. Alas, my sherbert baby is usually among three other identical beach cruisers on any given bike rack at any given time on any given day. My black basket sets it apart, I suppose—I figured that most people who bought baskets would be girls and that they’d pick to adorn their bikes with white baskets. So far, I haven’t seen an orange beach cruiser with a black basket that wasn’t my bike. Time will tell—it’s a huge campus and it’s a generic bike…the odds are against me.

Anyway, I put on a brown Dodgers cap—I got it for $8 bucks at a Foot Locker and felt that it'd help me feel more connected to this sprawling city. I couldn’t ever wear true Dodger Blue; I know my dad would rather die than see me wear the color and team scheme. In fact, he wouldn’t even consider a visit to Chavez Ravine (as all Angels fans refer to Dodger Stadium in light of their having played in the park for some period of time—they’d never acknowledge their “cross-town” rivals who actually play in a different city, in a different area code) when talking about an upcoming trip to LA. He said if the Angels weren’t in town, he didn’t care about LA baseball. Period.

I turned on one of the three playlists I spin while riding my bike—it happens to be my embarrassing yet incredibly nocturnal Jpop mix. I have grown a bit tired of my “bike riding” mix, which is heavy on Dead Prez, Kanye West, Latyrx, Aesop Rock and Morrissey and didn’t really feel like listening to the usual late-night ambient playlist.

It turned out to be a night-changing move.

Turning on Nakashima Mika’s “Hi no Tori” may have soothed my ears, but it must have upset the balance in the universe. First off, a bike locked to the same rack stall as mine wasn’t even locked to the stall—as soon as I took my lock off, its lock came off. Kids here are usually careful about their bikes, especially the ones who don’t have cares.

Out of nowhere, a white labrador started walking towards me. It never got close enough for me to touch it, and though it was intrigued by my calls of “here puppy” and my whistles for attention, it eventually walked back into the night from whence it appeared.

Later, while locking up my bike (a bit nonsequential, fine), I searched for the dog, whose shiny coat contrasted with the never-completely-dark LA sky. The dog didn’t return from the suburban shrubs it disappeared into. It didn’t have to. His mama taught him never to trust strangers or to flock to strange whistles or calls of “here boy”. Those things get you run over. Those things get you put to sleep. Mama didn’t raise no fool.

Fine, fine, these two things aren’t unordinary.

Riding along, I thought I’d try to make the light at the intersection. Just as I was about to enter the crosswalk, two people right in front of me got hit by an automobile. The cherry red minivan dragged them forward about fifteen feet, at which point the surprisingly still night was punctuated by myriad car horns.

The woman got out of her minivan and yelled at the young twentysomethings—though they clearly had the crossing signal (“It wasn’t even blinking red” they cried out!). She drove off into the night, probably relieved to have eluded the campus police but probably unknowingly creating a hit-and-run situation, which would have got her more time than turning right on red but would probably have cost her less than fighting a lawsuit for hitting two people.

I pulled over and asked if they were alright and if they needed an ambulance. They replied “no, we’re fine…it’s all too surreal right now.”

Before I felt the conversation had even been properly concluded, they had walked off—I was convinced that this night of sudden departures was continuing. I hopped back aboard ol’ orange and trudged on…and saw that the pair, blood leaking out of their forearms and elbows, had really just been walking to the ATM across the street. I don’t really understand why cash is needed at this time of night—the area shops are closed—but who I am to ask?

I biked along, through campus, trying to spray the water from the sprinklers every which way possible until I reached the coffee shop, where I read the Economist and also watched a tweenage jackass ride his skateboard around in the shop.

All I really took away from my reading was that Belgium is a fractured country with nothing in common other than “the king, the football team, [and] some beers.”

While climbing a fence to get back to my bike, I tore a small hole in my pants. I can’t figure out if patching it up would be worth my while—would patching such a small hole below my crotch be me saying that I thought people would actually look at that area? Would it make me feel more secure to have it patched? Does it really matter, considering I have a pair of jeans with a hole in the rear pocket?

At the crosswalk where I had earlier witnessed the hit-and-run, I saw a line for the ATM. Maybe the machine was malfunctioning and giving out free money—why else would anyone stand in line for the ATM at 12:47?

I wasn’t in the mood to find out. Mama didn’t raise no fool; she hears the sirens when she’s on the phone with me and points out (a bit incorrectly) that that’s “a regular day in Watts” (South Central, Mom). She didn’t raise no fool. I’m not trying to be up forty for thirteen seconds before being eighty shorter in the pocket or six feet below. Mama didn’t raise no fool.

making something out of nothing.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

The University of Hawaii Men’s football team is currently ranked in the top 25 of both national polls (they moved down four spots the past week in one even though they won their game). This team is the dark horse to crash the BCS party this year, but this entry isn’t about that.

What it is about is the haka that the team does before every game. It was a point of contention last year and continues to be this year. In fact, the Western Athletic Conference has said that no team can perform any dance meant to intimidate the other team. The team performing the haka cannot face the other team and cannot do it on the field.

Fine, said the University of Hawaii. They did the haka last week on a knoll 75 yards from the field and were hit with a 15 yard penalty to start off the game. The Warriors did not break the rules...it was the rookie Louisiana Tech coach who was making a big deal out of it. The coach turned out to be immature in more ways than one...but that's neither here nor there.

Hawaii has deep roots with Polynesia, as does New Zealand, where the haka originates. And, Polynesians happen to be very successful in college football--more often than not, most big-time "bowl division" teams are stacked with players with Polynesian ancestry.

Other teams are allowed to stomp on the other team's logo at midfield and are allowed to rally around and cheer and chant before games--I don't see what's different here. This is cultural, and it's no different from any other pre-game ritual. Polynesia has deep roots in Hawaii--the native Hawaiians are from Polynesia themselves. Golden boy Colt Brennan defends the haka staunchly...and he also learned Samoan in order to better communicate with his offensive line. Coach Jones sees nothing wrong with it...and though many have said it could have cost UH the game, really....is it the fault of the players? How can they be penalized for not even breaking a rule?

The New Zealand All-Blacks are intimidating, sure. But, other teams (namely, Tonga) have taken to responding to the All-Black haka by performing their own native dance. Why not take this route? No one is stopping LaTech from rallying around their logo at midfield--why stop Hawaii from something that they do to pump themselves up for the game?

Maybe if Derek Dooley would actually coach instead of whine and would actually determine winning the game as having more points--not by "shutting" down Colt, who still passed for 500+ yards, then Louisiana Tech wouldn't have a terrible record and a new coach every four years that complained about the haka. There are no moral victories in college football--just victories that lead toward bowl games.

Is the UH haka intimidating? Sure it is. But so is the game of football, isn't it? These are huge men, playing a territorial game, pounding the life out of each other for better field position. It's the sport that most resembles an actual war (other than boxing, UFC, etc) because it incorporates land strategy, aerial attacks and retreats.

So what should teams do before games? Have tea parties? Dance ballet?

Get real. If they're allowed to jump around in a circle, yell, and bang helmets, they should be allowed to do a dance that gets them up to perform.

Maybe that's why your team is terrible, Derek: because they'd rather be off doing something else other than getting pumped for the football games that earned them their college scholarships.

Football is an unapologetic, take-no-prisoners game. There's no time to complain about a team's pre-game ritual because it is "intimidating"--that time should be spent preparing, not worrying about how the other team's dance makes you feel. Grow up, Dooley. I'm not even going to pull the "ethnocentric" card on Mr. Dooley because it's superfluous. Sure, it's relevant here, but it's not my main point of contention. College is a time for learning, and we're going to further the homogenization of world cultures by saying that there is no place for the haka in sport?

The Warriors were on a hill, not even facing the stadium. They followed the rules set forth in the WAC bylines, and they were still penalized. I am still aghast at what happened in Ruston. Before you know it, Colt will be forced to sit in the second half by the referees in order to make sure that the other team doesn't feel too badly about losing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Kanye Review, My Take, That's Take Two

(Ben D. Schuman-Stoler)

First of all, I’m not sure I agree with most reviewers’ first statement when they take on Kanye’s Graduation. They say that Graduation has salvaged 2007 from an otherwise miserable hip-hop year. I have three words: None Shall Pass.

Ok, to business.

Graduation is good. Really good. Rarely do I hear an album whose first play makes it stick. Every song has something catchy. “Even Drunk And Hot Girls,” the most meaningless, repetitive, and annoying song on the album, has something in it that has me repeating the chorus under my breathe—at least until I catch myself.

None of the other songs, however, produce such embarrassment. The musicality of the album is universally appealing: danceable (“Stronger”), meditative (“Everything I Am”), galvanizing (“Homecoming”), and sometimes all of that in a single song (“Good Life”). The album is so dynamic it fits almost any mood, almost any get-together.

The lyrics and message of the album are more complicated and varied. Take the final song of the album, “Big Brother.” We see Kanye try and sneak one past us with some rhythmically pleasing lines that match the beat and impress the masses with vague unspecified lyrics that don’t make any sense—like his big punchline “people never get the flowers, while they can still smell em”…what the hell does that mean?. But he also tantalizingly gives us a rare view into the machinations of his relationship with Jay-Z (“but to be number one, I’ma beat my brother”).

There has been much talk as to the cockiness and egocentricity of Kanye on the album. But that every song on the album has some kind of over inflated, self-aggrandizing proclamation doesn’t add up to compromised morals, as some critics would claim. Instead, it’s part of something bigger: Kanye isn’t only talking about how great he is (which is, along with competition, a fundamental characteristic of hip-hop lyrics), he is talking about the fulfillment of dreams.

It just so happens that his dream is to dominate the hip-hop world and live a lush pampered life.

Take the song “Champion.” The hook (“Did you realize that you’re a champion in they’re eyes”) and the title are completely self-promoting, and the song is filled with the kind of upper class snobbery that fills the rest of the album (“I shop so much I can speak Italian”). But these statements are built on other ones, not more modest, but more constructive. So Kanye mentions his father’s aversion to buying him the clothes he wanted. What Kanye is really saying is, "I worked my butt off to get what I wanted."

I have no problem with that; it was Thoreau, after all, who said, "I will not through humility become the devil's attorney."

Critics have also talked about Kanye’s rhyme style and debated about his place in the lyrical hierarchy. I don’t think there’s much argument here. He is a smart rapper and a good performer (he definitely falls under KRS’s definition as a true MC) but he has average flow (see “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” it’s gross, most of its rhymes have conspicuous clunky pauses in them just to make them fit…he sounds like Young Joc) and too often the points he makes are diluted by the same dumb-it-down-for-the-people attitude mainstream hip-hop has had since the beginning of time.

So, whether or not this album is one of the greatest of all time is not for me to decide—we’ll leave that for future critics. What I do know is that there are 12 good songs on this album in which Kanye’s brilliant production and witty creativity combine to overshadow and supercede any and all of his weaknesses.

abe's setting sun?

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stepped down as Japan's Prime Minister. This may be of particular interest to JJ Collective readers, as we have followed the controversy of Abe's staunch refusal to apologize to the "comfort women" forced into prostitution during World War II by the Japanese military.

It is widely believed that Taro Aso will take the post...though we will see if this will change the comfort women situation, which Congress has also got behind, calling for a swift apology from Japan to the hundreds of thousands of women throughout Asia for coercing them into serving as "comfort women" for the Japanese military.

Aso does not come without controversy--he said that he wanted to make Japan a country where "rich jews would want to live". He is also incredibly xenophobic and has called for the emperor to visit Yasukuni Shrine--a shrine dedicated to Japan's war dead. Any visit by any Japanese official to Yasukuni is seen as extremely offensive to the people of China and Korea, as it celebrates the Japanese Class A War Criminals and kamikaze pilots and generally trumpets Japan's imperialistic ways in the first half of the 20th century.

We'll see what happens. While Abe's time to step down has come (he lost mid-term elections, had many cabinet members indicted in scandals and had another cabinet member commit suicide), Aso does not seem like a positive replacement.

How can such a liberal, forward-thinking country like Japan put these parties in charge? Clientelism, of course. The LDP (liberal democratic party...Abe's/Aso's/Koizumi's party) has long been infamous for its clientelism.

Really, though...what political party doesn't do things to favor its constituents?

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Support the War

(Pat Burgwinkle)

NOTE: This is a letter I sent to the GWU Hatchet on Monday in response to an opinion piece in the September 10, 2007 issue. The original op-ed can be found here.

I read Frank Broomell's opinion piece with some confusion. Retain respect for the troops? I didn't even think there was an issue in this department. The American public at large has been incredibly supportive of our soldiers in Iraq even as support for the increasingly desperate situation they were thrust into declines steadily. Who are these people who don't support our troops? I've never even met one! I can't think of a single liberal I've ever met who didn't completely support and who didn't have the greatest sympathy for the men and women of the US military in Iraq. The question then becomes, why are we always reminded so incessantly to support the troops if so many of us already do so.

Even Mr. Broomell asserts that "GW's students, along with most college students across the country, have been vigilant thus far about separating" the soldiers from the politicians who created the mess in Iraq. In my opinion, "support the troops" has been hijacked as a slogan by those who really want us to "support President Bush's war in Iraq". Just because I don't slap a yellow ribbon on the back of my Hummer doesn't mean I don't support the troops, just as when I assert that I am not a "pro-lifer" it doesn't automatically make me "pro-death". Throughout the war, "supporting the troops" has really only been code for "support the war".

This is unfair to people who support our men and women in uniform but who do not agree with the war and it is unfair to our soldiers to make supporting them and the war the same thing. With General Petraeus testifying before Congress, I think people should not have to hear about how they should remember to "support the troops". The vast majority of Americans already do. Instead, I think people should start considering how best to salvage the situation in Iraq, even if that means supporting a withdrawal from Iraq, without fear of being labeled unpatriotic for not "supporting the troops".

Monday, September 10, 2007

here come the boo birds.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Oh boy…steroids. Have we touched it? I don’t believe so. We haven’t even talked about Barry “Roid Rage” Bonds at the Collective—so here we are now.

Of course, it would have made sense to talk about the subject after it was discovered that Rick Ankiel was found to have received shipments of HGH…of course, it would have also made sense to write about 'roids when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were on the hunt for Maris’ one-year record, but here we are.

Now, though, there are some relatively “mid-major” names coming out—namely, Troy Glaus and Jay Gibbons. Glaus got his human growth hormone shipments in 2003—before it was made illegal by MLB.

I’m not going to lie—the second I saw that Jay Gibbons, who has been one of the best players on the otherwise laughable Orioles roster for the last few years, had received HGH was the second that I decided to write this blog. I love the Orioles—which is hard—and was astonished that Gibbons had done it.

Gibbons and Glaus are solid players, but they aren’t putting up amazing numbers and they never have…and, most likely, they never will. Everyone wants to focus on Barry Bonds, and that’s fine—we should be concerned.

But the fact that only “solid” players are taking HGH is incredibly troubling. Pitchers are using HGH—everyone’s juicing. And, when someone like Ankiel—someone who was a pitcher who was forced to go down to the minors because he lost his pitch control and came back to the majors as an out-fielder—is accused of taking HGH, things get more serious. Ankiel had a feel-good story; he was a role-model for little leaguers everywhere. Now, he’s an “I knew it was too good to be true” story.

Ankiel asked the media to respect the doctor-client confidentiality agreement. Fine, Rick, but tell us the truth…were they really prescribed to you by your doctor or by the steroid house in Florida?

This is a black eye for an already battered MLB. Where do we go? The players’ union needs to stop rejecting blood testing. MLB currently has no HGH test mandated—it needs to take the blood of every single one of its athletes now and it needs to keep these vials of blood on file until MLB decides on a test. It doesn't matter that Ankiel wasn't a hitter when he did it...he cheated, plain and simple.

What if the MLBPA refuses the blood tests? I know this is a painful suggestion, but the owners need to lock the players out. I know the sport is reeling, but the game cannot be brought into further disrepute.

The fact that everyone is cheating doesn’t make it okay—even if that’s what the players tell you. Just because a pitcher juices doesn’t make it moral for batters to juice.

The silver lining in all of this is that A-Rod will have the all-time home run mark in 10 years.

Unless, of course, the players’ union declines the blood tests and MLB decides to lock the players out as a result.

Fat chance, of course. The owners don’t care about honesty—they care about the bottom line. Why should they? It’s a business—and it’s unfortunate that all my posts seem to end with this ubiquitous truth these days.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

all my heroes are weirdos.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Slate has a good article up about the Kanye v 50 showdown coming up on Tuesday. Of course, the story is that Kanye couldn't really decide on a date, and 50's record label kept pushing it back because it couldn't get one of the singles to stick...and here we are.

You all know the back story: 50 said he'd quit if he was out sold by Kanye and said that Kanye would change the release date. He hasn't, and we're set for a September 11 showdown.

(I guess we really like Slate here at the Collective--so they're probably a must-read for any regular reader out there...do we have any?)

A couple of things on 50 (of what I have heard..I won't release any final verdict until the 11th):

I heard that the 50 album was going to have a lot of Motown/Soul samples. It sorta does, but they're not that impressive.

"Amusement Park" is a bad almost re-tread of "Candy Shop" in it's sexual innuendo, "Straight to the Bank" is vintage, generic, color-by-numbers 50...and "I Get Money" sees 50 at his absolute egomaniacal best/worst.

"Ayo Technology", which is a social commentary on how dating is so diluted because of texting/myspace/etc is interesting. Musically, it sounds like a video game on crack/speed--I guess this is something we should expect from Timbaland (who sounds like he literally and figuratively "phoned it in" on this track--his vocals do sound like they're being done over loudspeaker and are incredibly generic...and like he was forced out of bed to do it)... but the fact that 50 would critique technology's place in society and, essentially, by extension, globalization...is just amazing. This is something you'd expect from the college drop-out himself...by from Chef Boyar-50?

A couple of things on Kanye:

Dude is on fire. Get with it.

I wasn't impressed by "Can't Tell Me Nothing" (the first single off of "Graduation")...bsto liked it, I didn't. I have since changed my mind a bit--I'm not entirely sold, but it's a decent song.

I was surprised that it took a mainstream rapper so long to use Daft Punk's "Harder, Faster, Stronger" for a beat (as on Kanye's "Stronger"). Kanye doesn't come hard on the verses, which is surprising, considering that his mom said that this album is Kanye's best musically and lyrically, but the track is lighting up radio and myspace and mtv..so there we are.

"Good Life" (featuring Mr. TalkBox himself, T-Pain) is a true, outright banger. Really. Kanye is still riding the old soul samples speed up a bit, but his utilization of fuller keyboards and different musical keys is definitely impressive.

September 11 has releases by a lot of good bands--Animal Collective, Pinback, Go! Team...so check those out as well.

Anyway, like I said--Tuesday.

Stay tuned for big announcements from the JJ Team. Big ones.

Friday, September 7, 2007

window blues.

I'm sure you've heard--Apple decided to lower prices on its iphone and is bringing out an iphone that does not have phone capabilities.

It's business, of course, and not anything to get excited about. (though I must say that the 160 gig ipod, with a 30 hour battery life, is really tempting).

I was not surprised to hear that there were customers who were upset that the price drop was announced...but I don't really feel sorry for them. In fact, I find their situation quite funny.

They braved the lines to be the first with the coveted phone this summer. I'm sure that once they got it, they showed it off to their friends, family, their dogs...and just about anything that had a beating heart.

So Steve Jobs decided to put out a cheaper version of it--that's what happens. When technology has been out for awhile, its price drops. They knew that when they stood in lines. They paid extra to have the new technology first.

It amazes me that they'd be upset. I'm sure that most of them are Apple loyalists. "Take my business elsewere?", they may say, "I'd rather die."

Well, then, don't complain. You paid so that you could have the "wow factor." You paid extra because you wanted to show it off to the woman in the bar. You paid extra so that Jim from accounting would be jealous.

So stop whining. I don't feel sorry for you--you bought in on the hype. Maybe you thought Apple was different, but they're not: Apple is a business.

Get over it. You have nothing to gripe about--you decided that your investment was worth it at the time. Stop complaining and move on.