Friday, November 30, 2007

reading the jj collective: a carcinogen?

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (associated with the World Health Organization..I know, right? WHO?) said that working the graveyard shift is a probably carcinogen.

Fine, it's not particularly relevant to me at this point in my life, and cancer is nothing to joke about. We've all lost people dear to us because of this terrible affliction.

However, it seems like everything these days is a carcinogen. Using my cellphone. Drinking coffee (well, coffee is a carcinogen and an anti-carcinogen, somehow, which probably illustrates the problem at hand...nobody REALLY KNOWS what causes cancer). Eating McDonalds. Watching TV.

What's next? Playing basketball? Riding my bike? Typing these posts?

Like I said, I'm not trying to make light of cancer--though the article itself says that working the graveyard shift is only a "possible cause" of cancer. It's really more dangerous biologically to work at night? That just amazes me, to be honest.

It's a serious disease that touches us all. I don't really think it's smart science to push out "possible causes". People already say this and that and everything in-between cause cancer, and I mean, we just have no way of telling what actually does and doesn't. Sure, we should live healthily--but there are certain lines to draw. I just think we need a better correlation than "possibly". People are going to blow that into "probably" and "definitely", and everybody is going to be afraid to work the graveyard shift (even more than they already are).

To follow our ongoing thoughts and conversation about Sean Taylor's tragic, unfortunate and untimely passing, we provide the following link: has a story about other NFL players fearing for their lives.

And two posts about death in the last two days by yours truly? We need some happier news.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sean Taylor: a follow-up

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Following up bsto's last post, it seems that certain things are coming. Antrel Rolle, who played football with Sean Taylor since the age of six (through college at Miami) said that Taylor had been living in fear for awhile...because of old friends who he had tried to distance himself from.

His girlfriend, though, said he had none of those problems.

This obviously presents problems: who to believe? Maybe it's a mixture of both--but it's easy to see that by deciding to "get out" instead of "hang out" (as Wilbon put it), one's old friends can take it not so kindly. They want a piece of the pie--they want to roll deep in the entourage...we're boys, you know--if one of us makes it, we all make it.

That's what's tough about guys. We do have this idea in mind. I'm incredibly proud of bsto for getting on with the dcist, and I feel like it's my victory as well. It's not so much that we live vicariously, but our boys are extensions of ourselves--you are, the old saying goes, the company that you keep.

I mean, my dreams of "success" always include hiring friends as partners in whatever venture I take on, and I know the same is true likewise. Is it hard to differentiate between good friends and business associates? Sure--but I think I have friends that would be both.

And Taylor probably decided first that his friends were both, but upon reflection, saw that his boys were friends, not business partners. It's not that they weren't his boys and, thus, he had to ditch them--it was because they WERE his boys that he had to leave them behind.

As Michael Vick's case illustrates, hanging out with "your boys" can get you into a lot of trouble. And, unfortunately, leaving them behind also complicates things, as Sean Taylor tragically found out.

I think Wilbon oversimplifies the situation, to be honest. However, he gets it right when he writes:
Mainstream folks -- and, yes, this is a code word for white folks -- see high-profile athletes dealing with this dilemma and think it's specific to them, while black folks know it's everyday stuff for everybody, for kids with aspirations of all kinds -- even for a middle-class kid with a police-chief father, such as Taylor -- from South Central to Southeast to the South Side. Some do, some don't. Some will, some won't. Some can, some cannot. Often it's gut-wrenching. Usually, it's necessary. For some, it takes a little bit too long.

This isn't just an African-American problem--it's a problem that we all face. Unfortunately, we hear about it most in the black community because African-Americans simply aren't given the same opportunities to get back on track. There's just less opportunities for minorities to go to college and really get things going in the right direction. Sean Taylor made good on his life--his old buddies, who were unfairly disadvantaged, could not.

It's a problem with the system more than it is with anything else. That's what it always comes down, to, though--the system.

And if you think that we've all got the same opportunities in America, not only will you strongly disagree with my point, but I want you to know that you're lying to yourself. In no other country in the world is there such a disparity between the haves and have-nots than in America, and this creates the problem that took Sean Taylor's life way too soon.

Giant Killers Once Again

(Pat Burgwinkle)

This Saturday, Aston Villa F.C. take on Arsenal F.C. in Birmingham at Villa Park. Arsenal is top of the table in England, but Aston Villa is only one point off of fourth place Chelsea and are currently tied with Liverpool. Clearly this is a highly anticipated Premiership clash.

In actuality, it probably isn't. However, this the second JJ derby (Liverpool edged Villa 2-1 after an absurd Gerrard free kick in the first one) and since Arsenal are pretty good at soccer at the moment, I thought I'd outline what I think are Aston Villa's keys to victory. They're fairly straight forward, but I honestly think if they follow through on these points, they can win.

1. Attack hard, fast, and often

I'll do my best John Madden impersonation here by pointing out that in order to win soccer games, you must score goals and in order to score goals you must attack. However, Villa does need to attack as opposed to sitting back and attempting to weather the storm that is Arsenal in hopes of grabbing a draw. Aston Villa has speed in abundance in the likes of Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young. These guys are fast as hell and can make things happen in a hurry. Add to this the anchoring presence of Garreth Barry in midfield and you have a fairly formidable offensive unit that is capable of scoring goals in abundance. 4 goals against Tottenham and Blackburn, 3 goals against Middlesborough and two of those games were also shutouts. This brings me to key point number 2:

2. Focus on marking

When Villa played Tottenham, they went up 4-1 and then conceded 3 goals, including a 90th minute equaliser. The major problem was when Tottenham attacked in a meaningful way, the Villa defense seemed incapable of covering the men who were in and around the box and unable to clear the ball in an effective manner. In the Manchester United game, a 4-1 loss, Villa actually scored first. Then, Manchester attacked and for reasons that remain unknown to me and anyone else who is even vaguely aware that Wayne Rooney is a deadly striker, the Villa defense refused to put a man on him. I'm pretty confident that Villa can score goals against Arsenal. They've scored 2 on Chelsea and 1 each on Liverpool and Manchester. They're capable of attacking the big four. However, Arsenal has many deadly offensive weapons, Cesc Fabregas being the one I'm most concerned about. If Villa get complacent and don't offer meaningful challenges to Arsenal's formidable offensive weapons, they will lose.

One hopeful sign for Villa has been the goal keeping of Scott Carson all year, but especially the two shut outs he has recorded since his disastrous appearance for England against Croatia. His confidence is clearly not shaken and since the game is at home, he won't have to endure the abuse of an angry England contingent like he has at Middlesborough and Blackburn.

I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't settle for a draw, but to be honest, the American in me thinks draws are for sissies. Arsenal is playing for the top spot in the EPL and have a tough December ahead with games against Villa, Tottenham, and Chelsea all awaiting them in December. Villa on the other hand, is playing for a European spot and, all things considered, could still get that even if they lose this game. Thus, I would recommend taking a page out of Croatia's playbook and just play as if you nothing to lose because essentially, Villa have nothing to lose because people expect them to anyway. As for my prediction for the game, assuming Villa play like they are capable of playing, I'm going for an upset at Villa Park: Aston Villa 3 Arsenal 2


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sean Taylor, Jews, and Asians

Jheez and I, you might have noticed, write considerably on African-American issues. To be more precise, we like to write about two segments of American culture in which African-Americans are major contributors, namely hip-hop and sports.

Our interest in these issues stems simply from the fact that we both grew up with passion for music and athletics. But—and here I’ll stop speaking on behalf of Jheez, what follows is solely my view—I feel that there are other reasons that tie into our interest with African-American culture.

I feel that our personal backgrounds and cultural identities play a significant role. In other words, I see a correlation between myself as a Jewish male from the Midwest, as well as Jheez being a half Japanese and White male from Hawaii, and our interest with African-American culture. Both because of decisions we have had control over and innate characteristics we haven’t, we find ourselves in a position in society related in many ways to the position of African-Americans.

To name just one example, we simply do not feel completely comfortable with American history and its tradition of discrimination. Jews and Asians were, like African-Americans, persecuted and discriminated against across the country.

But the main reason why I feel a certain relation to African-American issues is the sense of marginalization. Jews, Asians, and African-Americans are community peoples—for the most part, they live surrounded by other Jews, Asians, and African-Americans.

And yet here we find the major difference: of the three we’re talking about, only the African-American community is so harmful to its own members (forgive me for speaking generally, of course not ALL such communities are harmful). The Jewish and Asian communities are famously over-protective—think “Jewish mother,” or “Korean mother”—and yet in African-American culture the overriding sentiment seems to be that the only way to succeed is to get out of the community.

What has made me really think about this is the recent murder of Sean Taylor, who was killed during what appears to be a burglary and might well have been a targeted killing.

Michael Wilbon wrote an exceptional reaction to the killing in the Washington Post today, and he spoke at some length about the struggles for African-Americans as they try to leave their community’s negative impact. He says at some point, every African-American has to decide to either “hang out or get out.” He continues: “The kid who becomes a pharmaceutical rep has the same call to make as the lawyer or delivery guy or accountant or sportswriter of football player: Cut off anybody who might do harm, even those who have been friends from the sandbox.”

Isn’t this the real African-American tragedy? That while Jews and Asians are known to use their communities for connections to jobs, known to remain entrenched among their own kind, African-Americans must LEAVE their community for better chance at success.

Taylor’s death really hit me this week. Maybe it’s just because I’m here in DC, but I suspect that the real issue is that I have such respect for professional athletes. On my recent trip to Stanford, I was reacquainted with the Women’s Swimming Team there and now re-appreciate the sacrifices and commitments and struggles athletes have to endure to get where they are.

Taylor was able to endure. And he rose to an amazing athletic height. Yet he was not able to get away from some harmful habits—charged with a felony in 2006—and it could be that his killing was a retaliation (tinged with envy) for a fight he got into a year ago.

I don’t mean to start rumors or anything. It is a fact that somebody put 15 bullets into his SUV not long after the fight. It’s also a fact that Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was killed when his car was riddled with bullets after some nightclub altercation.

The fact is, Wilbon is right. The killing is infuriating and saddening, but not surprising. And this violence, this infighting, this social restriction is the part of African-American culture I will never truly understand or be comfortable commenting on.


bsto's newest DCist contribution here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Three Lions Ain't Cerberus

Here, in my opinion, is the biggest problem with the English national team: they suffer from being grossly inflated. It's as simple as that. They're overrated. Media, FA, fans, even the players themselves--all have terrible misconceptions of this team.

When was the last time they lifted a major cup? 1966. That was a World Cup. How many Euro Cups have they won? Um, nil.

So how come everyone in England persistently seems to think that England is the greatest team in the world?

It's probably because they are blessed to watch what might be the world's most exciting league. The problem is that some call it the best league in the world, somehow overlooking the fact that most of the league's best players are not English.

Here's an argument that should be utilized: the reason why the English league is so fruitful is that most of its coaches are British. In this way, the players--foreign or not--are only the benefactors of a strong coaching tradition. You could argue that because of the coaching talent in Britain, it is fair to expect the Three Lions to do well.

And that's fine, but even Gus Hiddink couldn't get Russia past Israel. You need players. More importantly, you need players who can play together. That's the real secret behind Senegal's success in '02, or Ghana and the Ivory Coast in '06. They had a team.

And, to be fair, it's not like England lost in the Euro Cup finals here. They didn't even qualify! That's a failure for any team that even considers themselves competent.

The team was bad. Really bad.

This English team not only lacked talent to begin with, it cast away one of it's most important pieces (Beckham), totally mismanaged its one talented section(failing to fix Lampard/Gerrard issues), and then buckled under the pressure from the media (not beating Israel?!!!).

That, my friends, is a bad team. It was bad before Owen got hurt against Austria, and it was bad even before Mclaren took over. It's just bad. They were good with Shearer and Scholes and Seaman. They are not good with what they have now.

If nothing else, at least they have a bright future to look forward to. Walcott, Derbyshire, Bentley--these are young players with amazing talent, true passion and grit, and none of them have a tendency to get afraid and choke in big situations like the senior players did this year.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

moving units.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Last week, I heard that Karl Rove was Newsweek’s newest columnist, and I cannot say that I’m anything but appalled. I’m not disgusted because of my political leanings and my particular distaste of the current administration—it’s because Karl Rove is an outright criminal. He should be in jail…and yet, here he is, with a column in one of America’s premier (albeit very watered-down) news periodicals.

I picked up Newsweek while waiting for my plane at LAX—I wanted to see what Karl Rove had to say. Fine, Newsweek got what it wanted—another paper sold—but they should stand for something other than the paper chase.

Rove’s piece was on how to beat Hillary in the presidential race. Timely, relevant--fair enough. His key points (taken verbatim from his article)?

  • Say in authentic terms what you believe.
  • Tackle issues families care about and Republicans too often shy away from—like health care, the cost of college and social mobility.
  • Go after people who aren’t traditional Republicans.
  • Be strong on Iraq.

I’m sorry, but NONE of this is groundbreaking—the man is getting paid to write this? It’s basic politics, especially point four, which essentially means “get more votes!” Obviously, Karl, the way someone wins is by getting more votes than their competitor. Thanks for the refresher!

The fact is that anyone who takes a class on American political culture or a political course in general (or, who basically understands democracy) would have been able to write this column. I think it’s degrading to Newsweek’s readers that the company printed this stuff—as if the reader didn’t already know this? Newsweek’s readers aren’t stupid, and yet, this Rove article makes it seem like Newsweek thinks they are.

This man was the brilliant secret of the Republicans? And the Democrats lost to him?

Congratulations, Newsweek—your newest columnist writes the equivalent of every university’s junior poli sci majors. Great investment! I have a couple of friends who need jobs, and it doesn’t seem like a degree is required—you have a firm offer ready?

(is Karl pulling the wool over our eyes? Is he a follower of the Jay-Z idea that "he would spit it/if y'all could get it"? Maybe he's keeping his best secrets in his arsenal, just in case he gets the call to help out the next GOP hopeful...nah, I doubt it)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

the world is full of crashing bores.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Well, Sir Patrick Burgwinkle beat me to writing about the game.

Congrats, England! You failed to qualify for Euro 2008! (All the highlights/lowlights here)

Neither bsto nor myself were cheering for them to pull of a draw with Croatia today. England just did not deserve it. It's funny hearing the commentators talk about how England really were the better team when they went down 2-0 (they were not) and how they just make excuse after excuse. One pundit later said "we're going to take a break, and I'm going to throw myself off of a bridge".

The thing is qualification won't ever mean that much to the US...and not because nobody cares about soccer (even though hardly anyone does)...but because we will always qualify for the World Cup. CONCACAF is so lousy that, from here on out, the US just has nothing to worry about.

And this goes for bigger things, too. America is such a huge country that no national team is really all that supported. Nobody really cares if Team USA wins the FIBA World Championship or comes in 4th. Nobody really cares that our baseball team won the Baseball World Cup last week. Why? Because this country is so segmented, and we are comfortable with our international standing--so domestic sports take on a much bigger role. We know we have the best sporting leagues (outside of soccer), so we don't even concern ourselves with national sports pride.

Yes, it's unfortunate, but it's the truth. America is a massive, massive country--and it's also very segmented. I, too, would like to have a country that's maniacally fanatic about our soccer team, but it's just never going to happen--we Americans don't do anything fanatically other than eat and go to war.

Yes, it's sad that Europe 2008 will be missing one of it's great powers--but the Netherlands weren't at the 2002 World Cup, either. It just happens that one great team has to be left out.

It should be a good wake-up call. Becks can still play--it's funny how the British want to forget that. He would be starting at most British clubs today.


I was making a list of European teams that I'd rather watch instead of England. Here they are:

Spain (such an amazing midfield)

Then, probably, England. Portugal are too dull and I've never been a fan of Italy.

And, I mean, really? Steve Maclaren? Why? The England job is exactly like the Notre Dame job, I suppose--it's so storied that every coach wants a crack at it...unfortunately, it has really lost a lot of luster as of late.

I'm telling you, Jose Mourinho will take the job, although Steve Bruce's appointment at Wigan being put on hold is also curious--has the FA lined up Steve Bruce taking the England job? Scolari? Martin O'Neill? Sir Alex Ferguson? The Guardian has the betting odds on the next boss!

One thing is clear: Arsene Wenger is not taking it. I couldn't be more thrilled about that.

A very well-written piece by the Guardian, though--England just isn't that good.

And what's to blame for the loss? American football!

One last thing: Gareth Barry instead of Owen Hargreaves? What in the hell, Steve? Hargreaves might be the best player on the squad (him and Gerrard are neck and neck, but Gerrard hasn't been playing that well for Her Majesty as of late), and you don't include him? You deserve to be shown the door for that.


Enough soccer.

The Dalai Lama is thinking about picking his own successor.

Obviously, he doesn't want China to interfere (they imprisoned the last Tibetan-chosen Panchen Lama...), but how can he pick his reincarnate? Theoretically, you have to be dead before you can be reincarnated (I'm not just trying to be a smug student about this--I'm absolutely serious).

There is usually a 1-2 year search for the new Dalai Lama after the death of the old Dalai Lama. I just don't understand how this would work logistically. He cannot pick the reincarnation of his spirit if his spirit is still within him.

I'm sure bsto will chime in--he's a huge Dalai Lama fan.

Hawaii High School basketball is finally turning the way of high school basketball everywhere else--recruiting out of district.

The debate is over a female player who lives on the Big Island. Punahou, one of the state's most storied and revered private schools (of which Michelle Wie is an alum), wants to give her a scholarship to play ball. Dennis Agena pushed her towards Punahou. Agena is somewhat of a basketball guru in Hawaii--he has ball-handling clinics year-round that turn out the state's best well as some of it's more non-descript players. I attended the clinic for 10 did Derrick Low, a pre-season All-American at Washington State University. My all-time basketball highlight? Low went up to try and swat my layup, and I finger-rolled it over him. Swish.

This kid might be an NBA prospect, and I scored on him--when he was ACTUALLY trying. You think I'm not gonna tell my kids that story?

Anyway, I digress. Welcome to the 21st Century, Hawaii Basketball. This has been happening for years. If the girl wants to leave the boringness that is the Big Island for a better education, she should go. Punahou and Iolani offer lots of kids these sorts of chances, and if education is important and Punahou says they'll foot the bill, consider it. Of course, it would be hard to leave one's friends behind, but it is what it is.

Personall, I could never have attended Punahou or Iolani--it just felt wrong to me. And, in the case of this young woman, if you stand out, you stand out. If this girl is as special as she's made out to be, the colleges will find her.


Great article on Pete Carroll at ESPN. I'm still a bit upset that this USC team can theoretically play for the Rose Bowl with two losses, while Hawaii may go undefeated and be forced to stay home.

It doesn't mean that I don't like Pete, though. He's really a well-spoken, charismatic man...and I don't think anyone at 'SC is going to feel slighted if he leaves for the NFL. You can tell he wants the best for the school, and as a result, we all want what he wants.


Today's videos...The Chemical Brothers' "Star Guitar"

The video is really neat...I couldn't find a great quality one, but Michel Gondry (one of the greatest music video directors ever) did a really great job. The scenery passes to the beat of the song--and the scenery is just absolutely gorgeous.

According to Wikipedia, "The video is based on DV footage Gondry shot while on vacation in France; the train ride was shot ten different times during the day to get different light gradients"

Here's a video of the making of the "Star Guitar" vid:

The song is really amazing too. I used to hate this band with a passion--but bsto's constant playing of them made them grow on me (I still think they have a terrible name). It doesn't hurt that My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless" is one of their favorite albums, either.

And, for good measure, here's My Bloody Valentine's "Only Shallow"

Such a woozy, off-balanced and moving song.

Jay-Z "Blue Magic"

This isn't the strongest song on the album by a long shot, but it was referenced by one of my professors in class today. The discussion was on the poor state of the dollar and the pegging of the Chinese yuan...and the professor said "CNBC said a rapper was flashing Euro's in his video...I don't know who it was, though". I just laughed and said "it's probably Jay-Z" and he said "Yes! That's him!" So, there's the video. Jay-Z knows his money--I mean, he is a business, man.

Lastly, a fan made video for Radiohead's "Bodysnatchers"

bodysnatchers from sanddunesandsea on Vimeo

Such a creepy, creepy video. Hopefully Radiohead buy out whoever made this and use this as the official video--it's just that good.

Well, I'm off to the Bay for a few days. Enjoy the holiday, everyone--and don't spend too much on Friday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

On Her Majesty's Royal Football Team

(Pat Burgwinkle)

Before Ben has a chance to post a celebratory "I'm glad England didn't qualify post", I feel I need to express my sympathy for English soccer fans.

I watched the game with two English friends of mine and to see them go through the ups and downs of that Croatia game made me both sad and jealous. Sad because I saw in their faces how much they wanted this team to qualify. These are people who genuinely care whether or not their national team wins. They cursed the Wembley crowd for not getting behind the team when they were down and they lived and died with each England push towards the goal.

I was jealous because I wish there was this kind of passion for the US national team. I know that it exists in a minority of Americans but there is something about a whole nation throwing their support and hope behind a team that I find extremely inspiring. Scotland was the best example of this in these Euro qualifiers but I saw the same the passion from England fans throughout the qualifying stages.

That having been said, England played like crap against Croatia and were not deserving of qualification or the support I witnessed throughout these Euro qualifiers from my friends and other England fans. Peter Crouch was the only England player who showed up at Wembley Wednesday night. The rest looked as though they didn't care whether they were in Austria-Switzerland next summer or on vacation. Honorable mention goes to David Beckham for setting up Crouch's goal. Maybe the MLS hasn't ruined his match fitness. I suppose we'll never know though, seeing as England will be scheduling friendlies next June.

Monday, November 19, 2007

link me up, scotty.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Here's an aggregation of links that caught my eye in the past week that you may have missed:

It's a massively sad joke that even though the University of Hawaii won it's football game this weekend, it dropped one spot in both the USA Today and AP Polls. No other team would ever drop for winning a game--I'm sorry. Teams also get applauded when they win with their backup quarterbacks and have losses forgetting if they lose with a backup. UH won and got chastised for not winning by more--even though Colt Brennan played two snaps (he completed two passes for 21 yards).

The most ridiculous thing? The University of Southern California Trojans leapfrogged them in both polls--even though the Trojans did not play this week and even though the Trojans lost to Stanford. USC's first loss wasn't even a GOOD loss. Give me a break.

The fact of the matter is that the schedule is what it is--and the team has beaten all challengers up to this point. What more do you want the team to do? Michigan and Michigan State pulled out--how can UH play better teams when the better teams pay UH not to play them?

It's all up to this Friday's showdown with Boise State--and with Washington State beating Cal, UH's schedule should feel a little boost.

Sadly, even if the 'Bows find a way to go undefeated, they probably won't get into a BCS game, which is going to make me absolutely sick. As much as everyone wants to talk about scheduling, Oklahoma and Kansas only have the 115 and 116 best schedules respectively--3 spots better than Hawaii...and yet, even though Oklahoma has two losses, they're still most likely going to get into a BCS game without worry.

I'm going to be sick.


Cops open a tattoo parlor in order to catch criminals. This seems like "To Catch A Predator" type entrapment to me.


I found it amusing that Warren Buffett was the one who told A-Rod to circumvent Boras and talk to the Yankees on his own.

Slate is convinced that e-mail is dying among teens. My opinion? The fact is that email never was that popular among the under-20 set--before Myspace and Facebook, IM was (and still is) all the rage. E-mail will come to these kids--once they hit college.

The Democrats are coming down hard on filesharing, saying that if colleges don't start curbing illegal downloading by students, they will start pulling federal financial aid from schools.
And, the RIAA is actively going after college students.

GW warned students about online privacy.

Then, the RIAA got a court order that forced GW to reveal the names of the downloaders (though the name of the court is not revealed...come on, Hatchet staff)

Finally, GW got a subpoena.

36 students at USC are being sued by the RIAA

And, according to another Daily Trojan article,13 schools are seeing lawsuits. It's interesting that I've spent time at both.

A close friend of the Collective was one of the 19 downloaders. Due to privacy issues, of course, we will not reveal his/her identity, but the RIAA is is Interpol (no, not the band). Fine, fine--downloading is illegal. I understand. But I find it laughable how downloading music is made to be as bad as terrorism and drugs in my globalization class. Let's get real. The problem is the business model that the recording industry has. I'm not going to go into it (we've written about it ad nauseum), but the fact is that music is so stale right now. I'm going through the albums that I'm currently listening to, and most of them are from before the year 2000. Record companies are signing boring, safe bands--put out a product we want and we'll buy it.

And, if you do get served, please settle: a woman refused settlement and is now being sued by the RIAA for $222,000. There's just no point in fighting the RIAA legally--especially when they're going to settle for $2,000. Lawyer fees are going to cost more than that.

And, since I'm addicted to orange chicken, here's an article on it--supposedly it accounts for 38% of all of Panda's sales. I'm proud that the Ala Moana Panda Express is the world's number one grossing Panda Express, but I'm EXTREMELY enthralled that the Panda Express in my small hometown, Moanalua (a Honolulu suburb) is the number two grossing Panda Express. INSANITY! MOANALUA is number two worldwide for something!

And this post's video(s) Stardust "Music Sounds Better With You"

What a great song. This band was the precursor to Daft Punk (Thomas Bangalter played in it), and though this was their only song, the band really proved instrumental (Alan Braxe does a lot of remix work, and Benjamin Diamond does a lot of vocal tracks) to the French House scene--essentially, all of today's big French/Pitchfork bands (Sebastien, Justice, etc) were all born from this song.

And see if you don't hear Nana Katase ripping it off to the T:

It sounds like her producer sped it up a bit, but even the drum breaks sound eerily familiar...and ripping off other musicians isn't something new for her--her song "Babe" is a direct rip-off of Kylie Minogue's "Love at First Sight" (and the video for "Babe" rips off Minogue's video for "Come Into My World", while Katase's video for "Telepathy" is the same as Minogue's video for "Can't Get You Out of My Head")

I'd give you all links, but:
a) the Katase videos have been taken down from youtube
b) I realize that you don't care.

And, finally, Alan Braxe's "Intro"

Check out Braxe's "Upper Cuts" if you get a chance--a really solid album. You'll find the Stardust track on it, and the entire thing is just a load of fun...slow house, I guess.

Right then. Cheers. Happy Monday, everyone.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

no love from jhuff for barry bonds' steroid inflated head.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Regardless of my immense distaste for Barry Bonds, I rushed home from work during the week that he was on the threshold of breaking the Hank Aaron’s recor. I rushed home to watch baseball, even though my Orioles had long been out. I rushed home to see something that I held, in my own personal opinion, as a farce.

Fine, Barry is innocent until proven guilty. He’s guilty in my mind, unfortunate as that is. I’ve come to terms lately about what it means to have people think things about you that aren’t true. Maybe Barry took ‘roids, and maybe he didn’t—it doesn’t matter, really. He isn’t on trial for that. He’s on trial for lying, for not telling the truth under the oath.

Like bsto said, Barry didn’t ruin the game for us—baseball did a fine job doing that. It allowed him to play, among all of the suspicion. It let him play after the debacle that was Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire (oh, the ‘SC gods will strike me down for knocking our own alumni). It let him play through the haze, the smoke, the cream and the clear. Why? Innocent until proven guilty?

Baseball had it in their power to prove him guilty. Drug testing. Plain and simple. What? The cream and the clear fooled the tests? Fine. I’ll accept that excuse for a few months—but baseball has a lot more money than any private lab does. Baseball just did not give a damn. It needed the fans back after the ’94 Strike, and it was willing to do so at any cost. So, they let players take injections. Ken Caminiti died. Sosa and McGwire were quickly marginalized by Bonds. Palmeiro took Viagra—and steroids.

Why was this okay for anyone? Why was this okay for baseball? I remember being at Aloha Stadium, waiting for Ken Caminiti to sign my ball when the Padres took on the Cardinals. I was taught from a young age to play by the rules—that this was the only honorable way to win. I was taught that steroids were illegal. And here, no less than twenty feet from me, was a man who would go on to die as a result of shooting up.

Barry Bonds absolutely sickens me. Who supports him? Coincidentally, the people who support him can be found in a single city and could fit in a single ballpark. We’re willing to cheer for the devil if he’s wearing our colors. Fine, Barry was a Giant, but Barry Bonds also wore baseball’s colors. Baseball was said to distance itself from Barry.

It didn’t do so well enough.

It’s convenient for the Giants and for baseball that he broke the record and became a free agent. He’s not our liability anymore, they thought—but they were more than eager to ride his home runs to the bank, even if they “appeared” to distance themselves from the situation.

Then again, Barry put the drugs into his body. Let’s not shy away from that. Fine, maybe he didn’t do it. If he did, though, that’s what happened—he put illegal substances into his body. If I was caught doing this? I would undoubtedly go to jail. No one would argue the rationality behind this—I would get hard time.

If Barry is guilty, there is no doubt in my mind that he should go to jail. Not only did he take illegal supplements, but he lied. He fooled all of us. He lied to all of us. He made a mockery of all of us.

This is where I diverge from bsto: I do not feel that the BALCO boys should go down harder than Bonds. We don’t break up the coke makers, we bust the coke users and dealers. Perhaps it would make more sense to do so, but what would busting Anderson do? Stop people from making steroids? The problem is drug use, not drug creation.

I don’t feel sorry for Barry—not one bit. Perhaps, if he tried to engage the public, I would consider embracing him. Sorry, Barry. You were an absolute prick. No one feels sorry when the bully goes down.

And the ‘roids—for what? So A-Rod can break your record in ten years? You threw away a hall-of-fame career to temporarily hold a record. Congratulations. Now, your name will only be looked upon with disgust and contempt.

I hope you get everything you deserve—nothing. Barry going to jail means nothing to me. I hope you’re happy with your millions—because you can’t buy your way into the hall-of-fame with them.

That’s what I hope stings Barry most—knowing he threw away a hall-of-fame career and knowing that he threw away being regarded as one of the ten best players of all time just to temporarily hold a meaningless record. That’s Barry, though—he only cares about himself, not about the forward progress of the game.

Good luck in court, Barry: steroids won’t help you there.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Here's Another Hit--Barry Bonds

It's happened. The hammer has fallen.

Barry Bonds was indicted yesterday on federal perjury and obstruction of justice charges. In English, that means that the federal prosecution believes they have enough evidence to show, in a court of law, that Barry lied to a government investigation. Lied about what? Did he say he was out of town during the murder?? Kind of. He said he never took steroids. Welllllllll bummer. Evidently his famous "Flaxseed Oil defense" simply got called out.

Sportswriters around the country must have been getting a little queasy. Famous Barry bashers like Gene Wojciechowski had been saying Bonds was guilty for four years. With each year, though, even as Barry's head still swelled, the indictment seemed to lose steam. Greg Anderson, Barry's personal trainer, vowed a vow of silence--even going to jail! His determination not be a snitch was admirable. (Of course, he was also looking out for his own arse.)

But Anderson was released from jail yesterday. The feds don't need him anymore. Although we don't know what evidence they have, we know it's good.

Predictably, Wojciechowski and others pulled out all the stops in their Barry hating in today's news. Here's Wojciechowksi's article. For good measure, here's the objective version (via the Washington Post).

But let's take it easy for a second. I know we're all happy that Bonds will be made to look like a total fool for the next few months. I know we're all excited to hear his lawyer make stupid excuses like saying the feds were out to get them (well duh) and then, like Vick's "I'm innocent" BS turning into "I'm sorry" repentance, have him look into America's eyes and apologize for ruining the game for us all.

That's the thing. Barry didn't ruin the game for us all. He was just the best player who used roids. The real tragedy is that so many players--from high school to college to single A to the pros--felt that taking steroids was justifiable. It's disgusting. It's a true tragedy--not something to celebrate.

So when I saw ESPN's breaking coverage of the saga last night, I didn't get so excited. We all know that he's not going to jail for 30 years or anything like that. And even if so, it's still sad. It's sad that he's the one who has had to take the brunt of a calamity so much bigger than him. I know he's cockier than Kanye and more contemptible than Pacman Jones, but that doesn't make his downfall something to celebrate.

I would rather see the BALCO guys, and the inventors of all the undetectable roid crap, get the real punishment.

Barry will go down. Hard. And he deserves it. I sincerely hope one day he has that press conference where he'll have to look at all the reporters whom he alienated and frustrated through years of volatility; I hope he has to meet with representatives of the Giants, and of San Francisco more generally, and confront the only people in the world who maintained their trust in him. But I do feel sorry for him. We all should feel sorry for him.

I remember when I saw him at RFK a few months ago. I didn't know whether to boo or cheer--I was terribly conflicted. I won't lie: I booed and then I cheered and then I booed and then I booed. It was a 3:1 ratio. But I still cheered because damn that guy can hit, and for god's sake he's the home run king!! It's like even if you hate George W. Bush, you don't spit at him if you have the chance to meet him. You show your respect.

Now? I feel the same. I'll boo Barry, sure, but mostly I'll boo the whole paradigm: the generation of athletes who thought it OK to take shortcuts in their sport. That's the real issue, that's the true tragedy.

(Thanks to J Heezy and Lil Weezy for the title)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Originally, the JJ Collective was started to react to the latest news of the day--to try and approach the issues from a somewhat fresh perspective.

And, of course, that aim is still the same. Lately, though, it seems like the news isn't really out there--to me, anyway--and this is really unfortunate. I mean, obviously, things are going on out there, but the American media has just devolved into covering absolute tripe that just really does not matter

The average news day on CNN? A teacher sleeps with her pupil, a police officer something something, an 8-limbed girl...

and celebrity news.

I mean, these were also on the front page of CNN today:
Britney may or may not have run a red light
Justin Timberlake is hosting a PGA tour event

I know that this has been a criticism of the media for a long time--but we're hearing more about Britney than absolutely everyone on the planet...and I just really don't care. Who cares? It's just not even news. Is it important because she's a celebrity? SHE RAN A RED LIGHT! For heaven's sake--who gives a damn?

Like bsto's facebook status says--"bsto
is a pimple on Paris Hilton's inner left ear"--this is bigger news than anything else. Are we going to start caring when Paris eats or when Britney bathes, too? It irritates me that the CNN anchors complain about the airtime that they give to these celebutants, but they're the ones covering it. It would be like me saying we have too many music posts at the Collective--I could easily fix that.

Really, though--the quality of American "news" is just appalling. I don't know what else to say beyond that, but it just really bugged me when I was searching out topics that I wanted to write on and found that the headlines at the top of CNN's page were the aforementioned ones.

A group of online forum members at MyFootBall club all paid 35 GBP ($70!) to buy out
Ebbsfleet United, who are trying to gain entrance into England's League Two (the equivalent of Single A Minor League Baseball). The 20,000 fans now have say over what players to buy and what coaches to hire.

My biggest question is how they are going to come up with the money for transfers--do all of the 20,000 owners (they all have equal ownership) have to pay more money? Are they going to use ticket money? And, of course, not all of the fans are going to agree on players--so will it be a "majority rules" system, or will fans not have to pay for new players if they do not want them?

This is a really cool model...i want to do something like this one day...hopefully I'll get enough guys to buy Arsenal



In Pakistan news, President Musharraf said that elections would not be held later than January 9 (my birthday), while Benazir Bhutto (two time ex-prime minister of Pakistan) is calling for Musharraf to quit.

Pat's point, that we'd rather know who has the weapons than who doesn't, is a good one. And, fine, appeasement is not as dirty of a word as we all think it is. However, President Bush just cannot afford to be a hypocrite on the matter--he needs to support Bhutto's push to oust Musharraf.


And, today's video is Massive Attack's "Teardrop"

I'm not a huge Massive Attack fan, but the size of the band struck me--I think trip-hop groups tend to get written off as being small, unprofessional and lazy--but you can really tell Massive Attack really have it together, and Liz Fraser (the woman singing) was the former front-woman of the Cocteau Twins--one of shoegazing's most prominent bands.

Sigur Ros "Vidrar Vel Til Loftarasa"

Sigur Ros are an Icelandic band--their name means "victory rose" in Icelandic. I'm sure you've heard of the band, so I'll avoid talking too much about them. The singer, Jonsi, views his voice as more as an instrument than as the focal point of the music, and though the band sang in Icelandic on their early releases, Jonsi cooed in "Hopelandic" later on (Hopelandic was said to be the band's own made-up language...they have since disavowed this, and Jonsi said that this was all a bunch of bs--that he was just cooing out sounds).

Regardless, I have always found this to be one of the band's most moving and riveting songs. The title means "a good day for airstrikes" in Icelandic--and though I don't know much else about the words, I'm not bothered. Sigur Ros' music really forces the listener to define their own meanings for the songs, which is something we're not allowed to do very often.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

apple's love is rotten to the core.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Fine, the link is old--but that doesn't make it any less brutal.

Seriously, though--is this girl stupid? Does she not know what she can put lyrics in for each song under "notes"

(I kid, I kid--she's not stupid.)

It's just kind of a messed up thing to pull on a little girl. Fine, you don't want unsolicited ideas--but you don't send cease-and-desist letters to children.


Slate has an interesting article on Disney World as well


And, since I'm on an ambient kick (not ambien), I've posted some tracks. I know ambient isn't most people's cup of tea--but try it out. I don't really know what it is about ambient that's so captivating--it's like synthetic noise that actually sounds like we imagine nature sounds like...even though nature never really sounds like it at all.

M83 "Run Into Flowers"

M83's "Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts" redefined what could be done with cheap keyboards. No longer are they just for bad dance music--M83 really pushed the boundaries and made an album based heavily on My Bloody Valentine's seminal "Loveless" while using no guitars. The irony that one of the warmest albums ever created was done entirely with keyboards isn't lost on me.

Fennesz "Shiseido"

Fennesz (ne Christian Fennesz) is an Austrian based musician who has worked with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle) and is really pushing the boundaries of glitch by layering his glitch on top of songs with rhythmic pop sensibilities. Most of the stuff by Fennesz on youtube is either fan-done or live stuff--so I went with "Shiseido". And, yes, though he is heavily influenced by Sonic Youth, the title of his most famous album, "Endless Summer", is an homage to the Beach Boys.

Boards of Canada "Dayvan Cowboy"/"Roygbiv"

"Dayvan Cowboy" is the band's first official video and was released in 2005, though they've been around since the late '90s. They are indeed named after the Film Board of Canada (whose work they sample heavily) though they hail from the UK. I couldn't find the links, but their music is heavily steeped in symbolism--Waco, Scientology--you name it and it's all there subliminally.

Mogwai "Helicon 1"

Fine, Mogwai isn't ambient, they're post-rock. Just the same, though--many people are unfortunately bored by both genres. They were, at one point, in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World's Loudest Band--and they lived up to that moniker when I saw them live.

This song is absolutely beautiful. Not to sound cheesy, but Mogwai is one of those band's that just don't sound as good on record as they do live--the records can't contain the volume and complexity that are vital to the band's mission.

I also looked for videos by Tim Hecker and Manual but could not find anything. Regardless, give them a look if you liked what you've seen/heard here.

For those dead set against ambient, don't fret--bsto and I are debating the significance of Jay-Z's newest album, so we'll get back to the rap soon.

And our thoughts go out to Kanye West--his mother, a noted academic and author, passed away Saturday night at the age of 58.

Monday, November 12, 2007

a fading (bathing) ape.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Today's post requires you to actually do some reading. Don't worry, it's interesting:

Portfolio.Com A Bathing Ape Article

I think A Bathing Ape is a company really worth reading up on--they're fascinating, really. The problem is that the streetwear blogs are:

a) poorly written
b) overly congratulatory.

(Evidenced here)

So, here it is: BAPE is a company that got big because of its anti-establishment business model. It took on the same approach that Louis Vuitton took on--manufacture in developed countries where one can charge more because labor is higher and, theoretically, "more skilled".

Then, the company sells it's items in select locations in major cities and marks up prices in order to build on exclusivity.

The problem that Louis Vuitton came across? The Japanese were flying to Paris to buy Louis bags, because the bags were 40% cheaper in France because of high Japanese tariffs.

With the expanding middle and upper classes in America, more and more people are able to "afford" Bapes $300 hoodies and $80 t-shirts. This does not mean that they are able to fly to NYC to buy the shirts, though.

And this is where BAPE is shooting itself in the foot. Fine, they want to be exclusive--but they just aren't capitalizing, and this is going to bite them--hard. BAPE was established in the early '90s and was distributed to friends and family--shirts were printed in runs of 25-80. The company started to grow too, and the exclusivity keep the prices where they're still at.

The problem, though, is that people's willingness to pay meets BAPE's selling price. And, within the past two years, the company has exploded--Clipse, the Neptunes, Jay-Z and Kanye all shout-out the brand in songs and wear the clothes at photo shoots. You don't get better exposure than that--and it's all free exposure. The company doesn't advertise--they charge customers for their catalogs.

But you can't have that kind of product placement without having actual product. The brand has one US store and one UK store--the rest of the operation is Japanese. With the ubiquity of the aforementioned artists in the last two/three years, the company has certainly become an American household name.

Yet, my three trips to their NYC store were met with no stock--absolutely nothing in my size. It's just insane that a company would not capitalize on the market. Nigo does not want the brand to be a fad, so he's refusing to put the product on.

What's happening, though, is that people are buying bootlegs. Nothing new here--there will be bootlegs forever. The problem is that the company's brand is being diluted--BAPE's all-over hoodies have become part of every high schooler's clothing arsenal. Most of the time, the kids are sporting fakes--not because they can't afford the real thing, but because they aren't in NYC or aren't able to find a real one. The band does not allow selling through online retailers--ebay may have a few, but most of the Bathing Ape product on ebay is fake.

The brand is being diluted BECAUSE of it's exclusivity. If the real thing was more available, fakes would be less prevalent and the brand would not be suffering from overexposure. However, demand has skyrocketed because of hip hop shoutouts and product has stayed relatively small to avoid relegating the brand to eventual fad status.

The fact is that the band is everywhere--fake or not--and that the only place it has to go is down. It's just a risky business move to rely of exclusivity for so long--especially when people have the willingness to pay (Q, in the business world profit equation) for a product. The price of the company's goods aren't going to kill it--the lack of product is.

Nigo wants the company to last--and fine, it's been around for 15 years. The fact is that you strike while the market is hot--you sell when there's demand. The company simply isn't doing that, and it's going to be something they regret. Fine, Nigo is filthy rich--but he had a chance to be even richer while maintaining the brand's culture. Instead, he essentially pushed it to become a disposable fad by refusing to give the product to the customer.

In short:
the price isn't killing the brand
counterfeiters aren't killing the brand
exclusivity--what the brand prides itself on--is killing the brand.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

and you can tell everybody that this is your song.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Fine, fine--we've been slacking. Mid-terms, papers--no excuses, play like a champion, right? So, well, we've opened the doors on Saturday. Maybe it's a music post, maybe it's a political post--let's just roll with it.

I actually skipped the USC basketball season opener (which we're losing at the moment) to fill you all in--so, yeah. Right, then.

First up, Radiohead did a webcast last night (I feel extremely dirty for having a .rar on my desktop with the title "webcast", even if it is just Radiohead).

You can find youtube clips and the entire recap here..and believe me, it's more than worth it.

The standout track? That's relative of course--but to me, it has to be Radiohead's cover of New Order's "Ceremony".

For those of you who don't care about either band, it's like The Rolling Stones covering the Beatles (I guess that actually did happen), Jimi Hendrix covering Bob Dylan (alright, that happened as well) or Jay-Z covering Nas (fine, fine--"Dead Presidents").

Maybe it just seems really monumental to me--that is one of my favorite songs of all time and it was covered by my favorite band of all time, so I mean, it's really a win-win. That's the best way to imagine in--your favorite song of all time covered by your favorite band.


And while we're at it, another video

The Microphones "The Glow Pt. 2"

Such an amazing song and a really amazing video. The guitars are absolutely insane, and the organs later on just fill the song out perfectly.


And, viewing schedules--11 PM EST tonight, you'll be inundated with possibilities. Stay in or go out? Party or take it easy? Whatever you do, make sure you're near a television--the University of Hawaii is going to be playing Fresno State on ESPN2.

I don't care what you're doing at 11 PM--just make sure you're watching. On the East Coast? Invite your friends over--it's cheaper than going out anyway--and make a night of it. Out West? Perfect--watch it before heading out. In Hawaii? You'd just better be at the game--there's no reason that this team shouldn't be selling out every home game.

It's actually my first time seeing this team as well, though you'd think otherwise, judging on how much I build them up.

And, a really great song. Elton John's "Your Song"

The "if I was a sculptor/heh/but then again, no" is so great. Haha. I don't know why I'm listening to Elton John, really--am I growing up? Getting out of touch? All I know is 17 year-old Josh would have punched Elton John listening Josh. Haha. It's a bit sad to think that I may be listening to Elton John while driving to work one day--alas, if it's meant to be, it's meant to be.

And this is sort of surreal--Prefuse 73 featuring Aesop Rock and MF Doom's "Black List". I wanted to share the song, and i didn't expect to find a video.

However, there is the song running over what seems to be an Arctic expedition (is that Anthony Bourdain?). It's strange...and strangely captivating.


I think I'm going to head out to catch "American Gangster"--and I'm not going to lie, I mostly want to see it because I love the soundtrack. Jay-Z raps over the entire thing, and it is mostly a Diddy produced affair. Somehow, it works--it's very '70s soul based and influenced, and is a really good "I'm going to go out in the cold and just be a bad ass" feel to it.

Jay-Z "Roc Boys"

Enjoy the rest of your Saturday.

(And go to Panda Express and get some orange chicken. Seriously. I just want them to hook me up to an IV of that stuff)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

policemen getting lost.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

I'm going to finally, finally FINALLY admit that I'm at my wits end with President Bush.

Yeah, yeah.."how can you call yourself a liberal if you're just admitting to that now blah blah". Look: the fact of the matter is that el presidente bothered me for a long time, too, but I just couldn't join the critics on the bandwagon. That's one of my billions of flaws: I play devil's advocate way too much. Sure, I wouldn't have voted for him, but I just felt that it was too easy to dislike the guy and that too many people did...there must be something that everyone was getting wrong.

But really. It started in high school. I got sick of hearing kids talking about how stupid the President was, even if they had no idea why we got Veterans Day and Memorial Day off from school. I just hated seeing the "I hate Bush" tees from kids who couldn't really explain the Iraq War (well, can any of us?) and wore the shirts because their favorite punk bands did.

I remembered the first Gulf War. I remembered the talk of SCUDs and all of that fun stuff--and I remember hearing about Saddam using WMDs on the Kurds in the north. Did Saddam have to go? If he had WMDs, yes. I was sure of this. I was naive to think it was about anything but oil. I was also a high schooler.

As we all know, there were no WMDs. And yeah, Saddam was evil...but so are 72% of all world leaders...and we're not taking them out.

This has a point, I promise.

By now, you're more than aware of what's going on in Pakistan--President Pervez Musharraf declared a "state of emergency", and her more or less suspended the constitution and jailed lawyers who would potentially protest this "state of emergency".

And, you know--this is one of our biggest allies in the "War on Terror". I fell asleep at 4 AM last night, just watching MSNBC talking heads pundit over what was going on.

The short of it? Not to be blunt, but it's scary shit. Come on--suspended the constitution. Can you imagine that happening here in America? Yes, Hawaii was under Marshall Law for most of World War II, and I used to buy into the high school history teacher's excuses for this--to support the war time effort. Now, though...there is just no reason for it. Not at all. I cannot agree with the suspension of the rights that our forefathers bestowed upon.

It just astounds me that our biggest ally would pull this. Musharraf isn't a good man--he took over via a coup and promised to hold elections when the country stabilized. It's been seven years, yet here he is, trying to hold on to power as long as he can by jailing prospective dissidents.

And I went to sleep upset. That was it. Fine, Dubya is now calling for Musharraf to call off the "state of emergency", but it's too late. The facade that we care about global democracy is now just completely obliterated. I always told myself, that as a IR major, my responsibility was to look at the world fairly and according to international relations theory. I just can't anymore, though. Dubya and his crew are just so full of it. I'm sad that I bought it for so long. It's just impossible to believe anything this current administration has to say about anything.

Yet, here they are, still running the country. Magnificent.

Read about this man--AQ Khan-
-and tell me that you're not sickened that Pakistan is still a huge ally. It's just disgusting.

Sit by idly, America. Our freedoms are next. I realize this post hardly says anything new (really, though, Khan should sicken you), but I just can't buy this crap that they're feeding us . I've joined the crew. I think it's past the point of being "fair" and not taking "cheap shots" at this administration--our foreign and domestic politics are such a farce that it'd be comedic if it wasn't so incredibly real and depressing.


And here's the video of the day:

Common "I Used to Love H.E.R."

Fine, maybe the concept is really played out now (don't worry, it'll be clear at the end of the song if you didn't get hammered by it throughout), but the beat is so fresh that the song is just too hard to not like.

And have you heard his song "Go"? The lyrics just creep me Too much information, if you ask me.

Monday, November 5, 2007

s is for songs. s is for senorita.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

I'm at a reflective point in my life. Undoubtedly, I will have many, many more. But, while writing down all of these thoughts, I was presented by a problematic pop culture puzzle that I wanted to answer...which I will look at a little later in the post.

Ever since I started making playlists for Sarah, I titled every playlist I made s, even the playlists that I didn't make for her. They all were attached to numbers, as well, and i think i'm up to around s37 on my computer, or something. s1-s37. yeah.

This past week, I made a playlist. That's what I do in my free time, really--and yeah, John Cusack's character in High Fidelity more or less captures my essence (sadly).

This playlist was no different from the rest. It started with an s, though I attached no number to it. I have no idea why I gave it that name, and I don't care enough to try and figure it out. It'll probably be awhile before this changes, but whatever...I've since renamed most of the playlists, except for the ones that I did make for Sarah. Those keep the "snumber" formats. I mean, they're still a big part of my life and my feelings for her, and I'm not a revisionist. Who I am today is a culmination of the experiences that I've had, and Sarah is and always will be a huge part of my life.

Ok, enough. I'm not going to attach the playlist here, because I've more or less put up all of the songs in a certain format on the blog..well, ok, here are some vids that you may enjoy (Phoenix's "Too Young", Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour", The Carpenter's "(They Long to Be) Close To You", John Legend "Save Room"-this one reminds me of Timmy Thomas' "Why Can't We Live Toogether, and covered here by Sade,Pharrell's "Frontin", and Common and Kanye's "The Food").

I mean, I had no idea why I made's really a combination of songs that I've loved for a long time and songs that I've just recently come to like. Songs that just felt comforting. Anyway.

But, I don't want to talk about those songs or those playlists. I just want to discuss one.

Justin Timberlake's "Senorita"

Yeah man. Seriously. Before I talk about JT himself, (hold on, ladies), I'd just like to talk about the music of the song.

I've been thinking about this song hardcore for the last couple of days...for no particular reason other than the fact that I listened to his first record non-stop on my recent foray to Mexico...and this song stuck with me the most. As usual, the Neptunes killed it. This was in the midst of them absolutely tearing it up with futuristic "Neptunes" synths that burned up every dance floor on the planet...they totally flipped it, brought out a chill piano/bass/drum piece with horn stabs..and damn, that bridge is just way too sexy. I can't even deny that.

I always like to think that if I ever had any musical talent, I'd probably produce very similar to the Neptunes. Everything they do is something that I could see myself producing (as opposed to Diddy, Scott Storch, Kanye, J Dilla, Madlib, Timbaland, RJ..blah blah). Every song they put out amazes me, because it feels like they pulled the synth patches out of my own brain.

Of course, the lyrics can mean everything to everyone, so I won't present an overdone analysis on them. Really, what's the point?

Everything. Why do women love Justin Timberlake so much? It seems like every single woman on the planet does. My mom. My grandma. My sister. Every girl I ever met in high school or college, regardless of how into "pop" or "indie rock" they were.

This song capitalizes on the stereotypical pop lyric about seeing a pretty woman who's down and telling her she doesn't deserve that. Fine, fine,'s been done a million times.

But not by someone like JT. Someone who is as old or young as we want him to be. He can dance--we all know that...he can sing (for sure)...and he can really do both at the same time. He plays the guitar and piano at his shows. He dresses well and pulls off college boy sweatpants as well as GQ suits.

I mean, in short, he really is everything to everyone. He's not REALLY a bad boy, but he has enough scruff and tattoos to convince you otherwise. Girls probably feel like, if they do accept Justin's offer to save them from their unhappy, loveless relationships and date him, they're making an acceptable compromise with their parents...he's a rebel, but within acceptable boundaries.

"I don't like his sideburns and his stubble!"
"But he's got a job!"
"And his tattoos!"
"You never see them when he's wearing his suit!"
"He slept with Britney Spears!"
"That was his first time, and he was in love!"

I mean, seriously. And then dude brings out that sing-along part, where the guys sing:
"It feels like something's heating up, can I leave with you"

and the girls sing:
"I don't know what I'm thinking leaving with you"

and then he has the audacity to say "Gentlemen, good night. Ladies, good morning. And that's it"

He's right when he sings that "nobody does this anymore"...probably because no one can pull of both singing in a male and female voice. I mean, straight up: how have this kid and Kanye not hooked up on a track yet? They're both so acceptably and sexily cocky...yet we have yet to hear anything by the two of them in tandem (...and seriously, did you know Pharrelll is 34?).

It's unfortunate that a song of this sexitude will never be released again--it seems like the two have fallen out...and there wasn't one Pharrell track on "Futuresex/Lovesounds".

Sad, sad, sad. But really, JT doesn't really need anyone but himself. Pharrell, Timbaland...hell, dude could have a hit record with Yanni.

Why not a JT/Mika Nakashima/Radiohead record? Give it a thought, kids.

This post isn't about me being upset that JT gets all the ladies..he deserves it. It's just pure admiration. Dude has every woman on the planet in awe, from the children to the grannies. And, from every angle, this is an amazing'd be flat out wrong if you denied it. It'd be hard to really buy the swagger of the song from any other artist, but JT pulls off just about everything.

This is one of his best pieces, and it is also one of the Neptunes' finest works, too.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

off to the races.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Recently, USC's (don't worry, this isn't a rah rah post) quarterback Mark Sanchez has been wearing a mouthguard with the Mexican flag on it. Sorry, I'm having the hardest time finding a picture, but you can imagine what it looks like. Surprisingly, it's been pretty big news here in LA.

There seems to be two schools of thought--one commends Sanchez for wearing the flag (only mildly, though) and the other saying that he is American....and that we're all American.

Obviously, this is a very personal issue, and I think it's one I've wrestled for my entire life, for many reasons.

With a name like Huff and the looks that I have, one would have to look at me pretty hard to think I was anything but Caucasian. But, of course, the Masayoshi and the Hirashima eyes would probably give away the fact that, yes, I have Japanese blood in me.

So, the things I think about are am I white? Am I Asian? Am I American? Am I a Japanese-American?

Of course, it's sorted. What makes us anything? Does speaking the language make one a person race? What if they don't have that blood? Growing up, my friends were primarily Japanese-Americans. We go to Shinto church on New Years and eat Japanese food and have a Shinto shrine in our home. We take off our shoes at the door. I've taken Japanese classes since I was a child. Is all of this cancelled out because my family has been in America for so long?

The logistics that the professor makes about "Americans of Mexican descent" seems a bit off. I really don't think that this term and Mexican-Americans are any different. One just rolls off the tongue easier.

The thing about America is that we don't have a common culture--we are a nation of immigrants. We pride ourselves on being the cultural melting it's strange that now people are so vehemently calling for us to all just be Americans. Fine, maybe the differences and idiosyncies would make it logical to say that this is the reason we ARE Americans...because we are so different.

The fact of the matter is that I just can't accept that. So many nation states are falling apart because of ethnic feelings. Yugoslavia dissolved into six nations based on race, and after the Czechoslavakian people rebelled against the communist government during the Velvet Revolution, the state dissolved into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Belgium hasn't had a national government in months because of the disputes between the Walloons and the Flanders--and 60% want the country to dissolve into two nations.

With globalization, nation states are starting to mean less and less. Borders are being destroyed, and people are more mobile than ever before. Nation states mean less and less because everything is easier...and Sanchez is just showing that this sentiment is alive in the US.

So what am I? A fourth-generation Japanese-American. I am American, but my upbringing has as much to do with who I am as the imaginary lines that make up this country. Crossing the Mexico-US border, nothing changed. We drove from one side of the desert to the other side of the desert...and a fence broke up this stretch of desert. That's who I am supposed to be? That's what line makes me American before anything else? That line trumps what's in my heart and in my past?

Who we are is all about people and customs and culture, not about states that don't exist anywhere other than in our own minds. I am not simply Japanese, though, because my family's version of culture has evolved in an American way.

I am not Japanese. I am not American. I am Japanese-American. And I'm not going to apologize to anyone for that.