Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Wright Answer

Now that the Barack Obama/Jeremiah Wright relationship has become the new version of Malcolm & Martin (well, not exactly) we can look at the HNIC Syndrome of 2008 with new eyes.

From The Root:

"For a while at the National Press Club, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was going along fine. But there was a point—and you can see it with the sound muted—where he started to answer questions and flew off the rails. I know a lot of Old Black Folks doing that Wright Thing: spouting off in public hoping that someone will hear and acknowledge their righteous outrage. He's that uncle at the church picnic who's telling it ALL. About everyone. Right or wrong. Loudly.

NOTE TO WRIGHT: Wrong picnic.

This is the problem with him and other Civil Rights Era Old School illuminati: they think it's all about them and their close-up, their message, consequences be damned. The Wright Thing of trying to jack the national stage is a recurring motif. Jeremiah Wright's most recent comments reveal that he thinks every lectern is a pulpit, every audience is a church congregation, and every sound-bite is a teaching moment."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

NY Times covers Bell case, black reaction

From NY Times:
There was anger on the streets of Jamaica, Queens, where Sean Bell was killed in a hail of 50 police bullets in 2006 — both before and after a judge on Friday acquitted three detectives who had been charged in the shooting. But many black men and women in Jamaica and elsewhere in New York said their anger was tempered by the complicated case that unfolded in a city less racially divided than 10 years ago.

In Harlem, Willie Rainey, 60, a Vietnam veteran and retired airport worker, said that he believed the detectives should have been found guilty, but that he saw the case through a prism not of race, but of police conduct. “It’s a lack of police training,” Mr. Rainey said. “It’s not about race when you have black killing black. We overplay the black card as an issue.”

It may seem like the NY Times is trying to mute anger over the Bell verdict, but a point needs to be made that the piece attempts.

First, two of the officers were black.

This dynamic mutes outrage in certain circles because the most vociferous rhetoric that police brutality advocates feed off of is racial polarization. White cops kill black suspects is easier for the public and media to digest. It's a simple headline with an ugly history loaded in those five buzzwords. However, when black officers kill black suspects the subject shifts to more stodgy matters such as police conduct. Also, we should note that many African-Americans have friends or family who are police officers and empathetic to the dangers of the job.

Second, the outrage was limited to the activist community.

Unlike the Jena 6 movement, which ballooned into pop culture, the Bell shooting and subsequent trial was confined to the NYC area. Surprisingly, awareness was easier to broadcast from the small town of Jena, Louisiana than the media epicenter of NYC. This may have something to do with fatigue, controversial police shootings in NYC are becoming commonplace. As the article notes:

“The times have changed,” said Mr. Clark, a case manager for H.I.V. and AIDS patients who lives nearby in St. Albans. “People have been so disappointed by the outcome of the judicial system. Every five years something crazy happens, and people are people. They move on with their lives.”

Lastly, no one can surely say whether NYC is more or less racially polarized as it was ten years ago but the leadership is certainly less divisive. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not Rudy Giuliani. Those that have followed Bloomberg's political career know he's marketed as a post-partisan politician. Bloomberg's mayor tenure is completely contrary to the draconian Giuliani years, at least in image and (false?) consciousness.

Almost immediately after the Bell shooting Bloomberg acknowledged the incident looked as if the NYPD employed excessive force. That slight wording didn't bring the Bell family the verdict it sought, but it removed the burdening image that the political leadership was unbridled in its support of the NYPD.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bell verdict rant: "This is no time to be cowards. This is no time to be scared" - Talib Kweli

As expected, in the wake of yet another controversial police shooting the black protest machinery is left spinning its strategic wheels.

First comes the emotional response.

At a rally, Bell's widowed fiancee, Nicole Paultre-Bell, told supporters, "They killed Sean all over again," with the not guilty verdict. Search on YouTube and you'll find dozens of video diaries with much of the same sentiment. There's nothing wrong with it, whether from Bell's family or community. We're human.

Even BET's depraved 106 & Park paused from the party and bullshit music videos to try and make sense of the Bell verdict. Allowing emcees such as Mos Def, Nas and Talib Kweli an unfiltered pulpit for the entire program was superb.

On 106 & Park, Kweli said:

"These cops wasn't white cops...they did they job well, and they job is to protect the business interest, to protect the property...the value of this man's life is not even taken into consideration...

We have to stand up for ourselves. We can't assume that the police is there for our benefit...but the police department as a whole, they job is to oppress black people, they job is to oppress poor people. We have to approach it for what it is. This is no time to be cowards. This is no time to be scared. A lot of people scared...and they have nothing out there in pop culture. nothing out there in mainstream to create a forum to even have these discussion...

We can't wait for corporations, whether it's BET or whoever to help us to decide what we're going to do in our own communities. "

It was such an overdose on substance and consciousness that a corporate disclaimer had to be flashed at the bottom: "The views expressed on this program do not necessarily reflect those of BET". Funny, I never see those before or after they play an interview with Usher or a video by Souljah Boy. Either those items are absent of a message or BET is in agreement with them.

My emotional response:

What's wrong is that we don't say openly that consciousness is better than partying. Yes, I'm an elitist who believes reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X or listening to The Coup's Pick a Bigger Weapon is better than reading "Every Woman Needs a Thug" or listening to Young Jeezy.

What's wrong is that we haven't trained our people with a nationally recognized strategy at the grassroots to combat police brutality. We haven't supported organizations, such as the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.

What's wrong is that we haven't supported artists in music, visual or performing arts that have a message. We love ignorant niggers who rap about guns, drugs, sexual abuse and trappings with baseless values of entertainment underneath. And white suburbia loves them even more! So corporate America will sponsor them with billions.

What's wrong is that we haven't tied the black vote to an urban policy agenda that address police brutality, crime prevention, drug rehabilitation, public education, and the prison industrial complex. We'll vote for Barack --- will he vote for us?

What's wrong is telling our best and brightest to "dumb it down". No, you ignorant bitch! Smarten up. Stop buying all them goddamn shoes, take off all that make-up and be conscious.

What's wrong is that we have our best equipped, best prepared minds in higher education graduating who use their energy and talents to create ring-tones, audition for music videos, promote parties, buy drinks, and organize fashion shows. If this is you, you're a waste! Someone else could've used that degree, asshole.

But fuck it, back to Sexy Can I, by Ray-J!

Friday, April 25, 2008

NYPD officers acquitted for Sean Bell shooting

Remember Sean Bell?

On Nov. 25, 2006 he was killed when plainclothes police detectives showered him and his friends in a hail of 50-bullets the day before his wedding.

According to reports, police were investigating prostitution at the club where Bell had his bachelor party. An incident occurred between the detectives and Bell's entourage.

This just in from NYC.

Not guilty.

From NY Daily News:

"Tears of rage and joy flowed in a Queens courtroom Friday after the three cops who killed Sean Bell on his wedding day in a 50-bullet barrage were cleared of all charges.

Bell's fiancee, Nicole Paultre Bell, ignored the judge's orders and ran crying out of the courtroom while shooting survivor Trent Benefield broke down in tears...

Outside Queens Supreme Court, small scuffles broke out after Bell supporters walked out, some of them yelling "Murderers! Murderers!" and "KKK!" The hundreds of police officers standing watch quickly intervened and there were no other outbursts."

From the Chicago Tribune:
"The three undercover detectives charged in the case elected to have a judge decide their fate, rather than a jury.

The trial of the officers resulted in seven weeks of often-conflicting testimonies about the death of Bell, 23, who was killed in a 50-bullet barrage outside the Kalua Cabaret in Jamaica in the early morning of Nov. 25, 2006...

The officers claimed they only began shooting after Bell bumped [detective Gescard] Isnora, who had identified himself as a officer, with his car -- slamming him into an unmarked police van."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

America's N-word, from Nas to Dick Gregory

Undoubtedly Nasir Jones has been one of hip-hop's most important lyricists. Even at his creative worst, when he mixed dual personas by amalgamating the street prophet 'Nastradamus' with the drug dealing 'Escobar', his positioning in the world of hip-hop has provided listeners of all backgrounds and ideologies with important political/message tracks such as "If I Ruled the World", "Black Girl Lost", and "Black Zombies".

He remains an icon.

But rappers, even the ones known as "conscious MCs", are NOT infallible. They are NOT Popes of public opinion. And Nas' 9th studio album, entitled Nigger, proves that point. It has been the source of incredible public debate, however, especially among the Civil Rights Generation.

Rev. Jesse Jackson said:

"The title using the 'N' word is morally offensive and socially distasteful. Nas has the right to degrade and denigrate in the name of free speech, but there is no honor in it. Radio and television stations have no obligation to play it and self-respecting people have no obligation to buy it. Many wish he would use his talents to lift up and inspire, not degrade."
My initial reaction is to agree with Rev. Jackson. Plus, when I saw Nas on CNN, he wasn't making any sense.

However, Rev. Jackson never once embraced hip-hop in his political prime while running for president in '84 or '88. Also, the anti-rap movement in the early 1990s, was a partnership of white conservatives like William Bennett and black civil rights icons like C. Delores Tucker. It was elders who led a movement that extinguished or diminished the careers of political MCs (Paris, Public Enemy, 2Pac, Ice-T, etc.).

Today the same Negro Spiritual leaders that denounced hip-hop in the early 90s, protest The Boondocks, which is the only "conscious" hip-hop oriented television show on the air. They also lay the usage of the N-word at the feet of the Hip-Hop Generation while conveniently forgetting activist/comedian Dick Gregory's autobiography. Not to mention other popular presentations of the word.

Originally scheduled for release in February, Nas' Nigger has been pushed back to July 1, 2008. Yesterday the first track was leaked via the Internet. The song is called "Be a nigger too" where Nas raps:

"not mad because Eminem said, nigger/
because he is my nigger/
wigger cracker friend/
cuz we are all black within"

Ummm, I don't think so Nas.

Hear the song below:

Your thoughts?

Obama town hall at IUS Wednesday

hat tip to LEO's General Sense of Outrage:

Barack Obama will be at Indiana University Southeast Wednesday for a town hall meeting. Doors open at 10:45 a.m. and the event is set for 12:45.

More info is at

Volunteers from Obama's Southern Indiana headquarters are out and about every day at 4 p.m., and particularly so tomorrow as Pennsvlvanians conduct their Democratic primary.

I imagine their Clinton HQ counterparts are pretty much doing the same thing.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thunder Under Louisville

At 5:37am tremors from 5.2 earthquake hit Louisville. Originating in West Salem, IL, reports are that it was felt as far as Indianapolis. On a scale from insignificant to extraordinary a 5.2 is between intermediary and moderate. No injuries reported thus far.

My first thoughts when it awoke me this morning.

  1. My cell phone is vibrating way too hard.
  2. Being from West Louisville, Who is playing their music this loud, this early?
  3. Thunder? Wind? The soil is sinking?
Besides that I was calm. I didn't jump out of bed to dial 911 or open the Book of Revelations. After the earthquake hit I called a few friends and turned on my television.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Barack + Jay-Z

...equals Hip-Hop Politics! Now here's a mix of consciousness and swagger I can appreciate.

Responding to the aftermath of the 21st and worst debate with Sen. (Billary) Clinton on ABC News, Barack sent another wink to the hip-hop community by lifting a gesture popularized by Jay-Z that completely went over the heads of most lames (political analysts, mainstream media, media pundits, etc.) covering the presidential campaign.

For you lames who still don't get it, go here.

We should also note that Jay- Z recently endorsed Barack. Also, check out Barack's interview with Jeff Johnson on BET posted below. Sen. Obama told Johnson that of course he loves hip-hop and says explicitly, "...lately I've been listening to a lot of Jay-Z."

We can tell.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why Wear Meaningless Shi(r)t(s)?

Another one from the young, gifted and black at dangerousNegro.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Wall Street Journal

I'm watching Morning Joe on MSNBC when out comes one of my favorite political commentators, comedian/actor Richard Belzer. For those who don't know, Belzer is known for playing the same character, Det. John Munch, on several television shows, from Law & Order: SVU to The X-Files and most notably Homicide: Life on the Streets.

He's also an unfiltered, fire-breathing leftist. Underneath his arm Belzer was carrying a new parody newspaper, My Wall Street Journal, which he writes for.

It's a riot. With headlines like "Bush Abolishes Death...Move Will Benefit McCain"

From The NY Times:

"The tabloid-format satire, “My Wall Street Journal,” mostly sets out to skewer The [Wall Street] Journal’s new owner, the News Corporation, and its chairman, Rupert Murdoch, with swipes at News Co. properties like Fox News, The New York Post and The Journal itself. It takes aim at other targets, too, including Wall Street firms and traders, and assorted politicians and pundits."

Funnier still, the NY Times reported that a person who supposedly works for the real Wall Street Journal tried to hoard all the copies at a newsstand. The WSJ spokesperson declined to comment.

From Huffington Post:

"My Wall Street Journal, a parody of the Wall Street Journal on newsstands this week to mark the April 15 tax deadline, has rankled News Corp executives so much that they're trying to make sure no one sees it. The New York Times' Richard Perez-Pena reports that a WSJ representative attempted to snatch up all the copies in the Los Angeles area, where they made public a bit ahead of schedule."

Maybe some ambitious Louisville satirist will start My Courier's Journal or The Acceleration, if not in print then at least online. Below is another part of the MyWSJ campaign, a video a faux-Murdoch reacting to the newspaper.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Rep. Geoff Davis (R, KY-4): Obama a "boy"

Congratulations, Kentucky, one of the first stories to go national with the Bluegrass and 2008 presidential campaign headlined together is one of our U.S. Representatives using a racial codeword to describe Barack Obama.

At a Republican dinner, the Northern Kentucky’s Lincoln Day Dinner this past Saturday, Rep. Geoff Davis, whose district encompasses fringes of Louisville to the Cincinnati suburbs to the Kentucky-West Virginia border, raised a hypothetical scenario of a potential nuclear strike.

According to the 49-year-old Davis, the 46-year-old Barack is a "boy". The national blogs are all over this. KY's Page One has already weighed in saying, "Regardless of what Davis meant by his strange choice of words, “boy” is a racist code word."


"I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button," Davis said. "He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country."

An aide to Davis, Jeremy Hughes, declined to comment on the remark, and didn't dispute the accuracy of the quote."
Note: Rep. Davis (b. Oct. 1958) is just three years older than Sen. Obama (b. Aug. 1961). What a difference three years make, boy!


That didn't take long.

Davis apologizes to Obama:

Congressman Geoff Davis has issued an apology for calling Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama a "boy" during a speech Saturday night in Boone County...

"I offer my sincere apology to you and ask for your forgiveness," Davis said. "Though we may disagree on many issues ... my comment has detracted from the dialogue we should all be having on legitimate policy differences and in no way reflects the personal and professional respect I have for you."

Follow up to Ali Center brothel by Frankfort's Finest

Give kudos to The 'Ville Voice and Joe Gerth at the C-J. They're sticking with the story about KY Senate President David Williams and other state’s legislators having a big pimpin' Thunder party at the Ali Center last Saturday, which was paid for by lobbyists.

From Gerth's blog The List:

"Williams, on WHAS Radio, said the event on the top floor of the Muhammad Ali Center was meant to provide transparency since members of the Senate were being invited to parties all over town with little or no oversight by the Legislative Ethics Commission.

'You know, all this information will be out there for the public and they'll be able to decide how they feel about it. And if they don't like the activities of their particular legislator, they have the opportunity at the polls to take some action,' he said on WHAS.

The problem is that while lobbyists have to report what they spend on senators at the event, they don't have to report which members of the Senate attended. And neither do the senators.

Since Williams said the event wasn't open to reporters (we offered to forgo food and drink and even avert our eyes when planes passed by and fireworks exploded), we weren't quite sure how voters would know upon whom to take out their anger."

Gerth goes on to say that Williams said he will comply with an open-records request by the C-J (all deliberate speed Davey) to see who RSVP'd the event. Still, we may never know who actually attended. However, cnce the RSVP list it out it'll be nice to see who chickened out once the party became newsworthy.

Today's editorial in the C-J lists the tangible results of Frankfort's failure, which gives this story a slimier context. We're facing a grave economic crisis in the Bluegrass.

From 'Ville Voice:
"For those who did go, let’s hope they have political opposition at the polls, since Williams arrogantly told WHAS Radio last week that if voters don’t like it, they could “have the opportunity at the polls to take some action."
Here. Here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Frankfort's Finest to turn Ali Center into political brothel for Thunder

Here's exactly what I meant when I wrote in LEO this week that with dull regularity the local media covers the customary sideshows leading up to the equine gallop. In the frenzy of Derby we neglect the important news for the entertainment bullshit.

This Saturday when 700,000 plus converge downtown to watch Thunder Over Louisville in a giant cluster &#*@, some of Frankfort's finest will turn the Ali Center into a whorehouse, a political brothel filled with lobbyists and state officials in the aftermath of one of the worst legislative sessions in recent memory.

hat tip to The 'Ville Voice:

"If you’re really planning to brave the chills downtown for Thunder, you’ll be pleased to know that the same state government officials who are slashing budgets in education and social services will be warm and cozy inside the Ali Center, noshing on top-of-the-line food and drink bought and paid for by lobbyists. You know, the folks who pressure politicians to make unpopular moves, like blocking cigarette taxes and a gaming proposal, despite overwhelming public support.

Members of the State Senate, led by President David Williams, are all lining up to get in for the expensive party as guests of lobbying firms, who will bend their ears over shrimp and martinis, peering out the Ali Center’s giant windows at the poor suckers fighting for a patch of damp grass on the Great Lawn, all the while watching the action on big-screen TVs...

It’s hard to find anything in local media not related to the big Thunder show Saturday...But through all the Thunder news, I caught a significant political story by WLKY’s Andy Alcock, in which he questioned the idea of lawmakers, fresh on the heels of a dismal performance in Frankfort, hobnobbing with lobbyists in the posh indoor climate of the Ali Center."
From the budget cuts in education to the failure of the steam bill to the abortion of the cigarette tax, this is rather shameful. Sadly, you probably won't hear much of it underneath the avalanche of Derby coverage.

For the rest go here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Moyers on 'Journalists as Truth-Tellers'

American journalism is in a crisis. Public trust is down. Coverage is narrow and craven. We're in one of the longest wars and the volume of coverage is down. In these times corporate ownership dilutes and filters mainstream media and the hijacking of alternative press with faux-weeklies puts dance instructions on par with water contamination.


Journalist Bill Moyers, who hosts 'Bill Moyers Journal' on PBS, is an icon of what journalism used to be. Below is an excerpt of remarks he delivered at the fifth annual Ridenhour Prize awards ceremony, sponsored by The Nation Institute and the Fertel Foundation.

For the full speech go here:

"The job of trying to tell the truth about people whose job it is to hide the truth is almost as complicated and difficult as trying to hide it in the first place. We journalists are of course obliged to cover the news, but our deeper mission is to uncover the news that powerful people would prefer to keep hidden.

Unless you are willing to fight and re-fight the same battles until you go blue in the face, drive the people you work with nuts going over every last detail to make certain you've got it right, and then take all of the slings and arrows directed at you by the powers that be -- corporate and political and sometimes journalistic -- there is no use even trying. You have to love it and I do...

Temptation to co-option is the original sin of journalism, and we're always finding fig leaves to cover it: economics, ideology, awe of authority, secrecy, the claims of empire. In the buildup to the invasion of Iraq we were reminded of what the late great reporter A.J. Liebling meant when he said the press is 'the weak slat under the bed of democracy.'..."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What's Wrong With Obamamania?

On Louisville Live, my mentor, Dr. Ricky L. Jones appeared as a guest to talk about his new book, "What's Wrong With Obama-mania?: Black America, Black Leadership and the Death of Political Imagination". As always his analysis cuts through the fog of even the BarackSTAR movement.

Although I disagree with certain assessments -- such as the suggestion that the black electorate is voting for Barack mainly on the basis of race -- I will not reject or denounce him!

However, Dr. Jones is right about one thing. Most American voters know little about their candidates voting record (i.e. Hillary voted for the War in Iraq!) or campaign contributors. A bit of political maturity is necessary in democracy. So don't dumb it down, smarten it up.

The book drops June 15th, 2008. Pre-order your copy here. Maybe he'll let us preview an excerpt on the ol' SOULution.

Watch Dr. Jones on Louisville Live at the bottom.

But first, from The 'Ville Voice:

"[Dr.] Jones, who writes a column on race for LEO, believes African-Americans jumping on the bandwagon for Obama may be harboring unrealistic expectations — that many aren’t even looking at his policies and are voting for him just because he’s black. They’re buying into the charisma, he says, rather than public policy.

And he says that Obama’s campaign is viewed by some as evidence that racial problems are being wiped out in America, which is far from the truth.

“They’re getting better, but some people are saying that race problems are over with,” he told me. “That’s a dangerous idea.”

Don’t get the idea, from the book’s title, than Jones in any way opposes Obama’s candidacy. He says he’ll support the Democratic candidate, no matter who it is. But he warns that Obama is “not what a lot of people think he is. Change isn’t going to happen just because of him.”

Jones said he started working on the book last summer, expecting that Obama might be out of the race by February. Now that it looks like the race will go down to the wire, he’s hopeful the book will be a big seller. It will be distributed nationally and is published by SUNY Press..."

'Cruising the Divide' in LEO

About two weeks ago I posted a story about 'Cruising the Divide', a theatrical play based on interviews with Louisvillians by the Apprentice Company at Actors Theatre of Louisville about our decade-long debate over cruising on W. Broadway.

In LEO this week, I wrote about the play and its message. Check me out. I'm also pulling double duty as a photographer for the piece, what do you think?

For more info on "Cruising the Divide: From West Broadway to Churchill Downs" go here.

One of the interesting people I interviewed for the piece was University of Kentucky doctoral student Benjamin Brandford, who is writing his dissertation on cruising entitled "From Celebration to Confrontation to Condemnation: The short life of ‘Derby cruising’." Branford, who studies geography at UK, was gracious enough to let me see a summary of his paper. With his permission I wanted to share an excerpt that peels off the layers:

"It is important to recognize the role of the ‘streets’ in both the symbolic significance of Derby cruising and the strongly oppositional stance taken by cruising opponents. In the U.S., the streets have been used traditionally to assert a group’s ‘right’ to the city and/or lay claim symbolically to a specific place or neighborhood within the city.

For African Americans in the largely segregated and stigmatized West End of Louisville, Derby cruising also offered an opportunity for participants to engage communally and promote cultural creativity...

The location of the festivities in the ‘streets’ also played a significant role in framing the opposition. Over the last several decades, the availability of public space in the U.S. has undergone a dramatic decline as municipalities increasingly direct communal activities to within private spaces...

The increasing usage of surveillance, such as security cameras, in public spaces, such as the streets and public parks, has signaled an increased regulation of what types of activities are considered allowable in public, as is demonstrated through the criminalization of homelessness. Because Derby cruising took place in the streets, critics framed the event as one that was ‘uncontrollable’ and ‘lawless’. These sentiments gained traction because of the public location of the festivities, not only in the streets, but in the streets of the stigmatized and racialized West End of Louisville."

Righteous. Lucid.

Branford's a Louisville-raised, Bluegrass public intellectual in the state's flagship university. Why again are we cutting funds for higher education?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Duffle Bag Boy from dN

And NOT the Lil Wayne kind. The folks over at dangerousNergo always find creative ways to flip negative stereotypes into apparel that's conscious yet catchy.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Bomani sits down w/ Doemania & The SOULution

One of the best from hip-hop's underground found himself in Louisville for some odd reason. Bomani Armah, a self-described "poet with a hip-hop style" from Washington, D.C, who made national waves when his controversial video, "Read a Book" was aired on BET as an animated short film that satirized the stereotypes of rappers, performed at Tailgaters last week.

Maybe because Bomani's song was so much like the crunk rap he was lampooning, a lot of listeners who you'd think would embrace his message missed his point altogether and trashed the song. Including Rev. Jesse Jackson -- who said Bomani was "recycling degradation".

The song admonishes listeners to "read a muh'fuckin book", and also to raise their children, buy land, brush their teeth and wear deodorant. Sort of like Bill Cosby's speeches or Booker T. Washington's books as a rap song. Still, Bomani's what we're missing in hip-hop. He's not a clown or character or celebrity but a real life human being with a passion for music and community. Sadly, he would never make it in Lousyville. At Tailgaters the "snap your fingers" crowd was not feeling him!

There's a great piece on Bomani's background as a college dropout who left the University of Maryland to pursue a music career while working as an educator and artist. To read it go here.

Before he took the stage at Tailgaters Bomani spoke with fellow rebel journalist and documentary filmmaker John Doemain. Thankfully, Doemania allowed yours truly to get in on the interview and ask a few questions.

Bomani stops thru John's Doe Main

U of L Task Force Calls for 9% tuition hike

From The 'Ville Voice:

"A recommendation made Monday by a University of Louisville task force on tuition recommends a 9 percent increase in tuition, which would be the sixth straight year the cost of a U of L education has gone up by at least that amount.

During an on-campus walkout organized by students last week, demonstrators called for no more than a 5 percent increase in tuition next year.

The Task Force filed its report prior to the release of the state legislature’s budget, which calls for a 3 percent cut in university funding and slashed the Bucks for Brains initiative by $55 million.

The six-page document, written by Michael J. Curtin, Chair of the Task Force on Tuition and Fee Setting, makes 11 recommendations based on its work from last November through March.

Among its “observations” is that the school can’t “sustain many more years of high tuition increases above the overall level of inflation…”

No kidding.

Its rationale for the 9 percent recommendation seems to be from the conclusion that a double-digit increase would be unacceptable, and that at 9 it would be considered “reasonable.”

The letter was addressed to Provost Dr. Shirley C. Willinghanz, and requests that they be adopted by the University’s Board of Trustees.

Undergraduate tuition for residents of Kentucky would rise from $3,470 per semester to $3,782 if the University adopts the Task Force’s recommendations."

Another yellow brick in the long road to nowhere on higher education in KY.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Who is the Flute Man?

This is why I got into (alternative) journalism.

If you've ever walked around downtown Louisville near what is now 4th street Live you've seen him, 'Flute Man', standing in front of The Seelbach hotel, with a shiny flute, playing for any passerby whether they're willing to spare change or not. Though he appears as a rustic LEO's cover story by Shawn Hudson this week profiles 'Flute Man', "a 63-year-old flutist who may be the only street musician in downtown Louisville" with an incredible journey.

From 'The love song of Kamaal 'Flute Man' Ibn-Duriyah Tilford':

Flute Man has other, less-mythic names, but the people who traffic his playground typically don’t know them. For each person who drops a spare quarter into his plastic gas station cup, another 30 lengthen their strides and avert their eyes. It is embarrassing to see.

He is allowed to continue busking outside the hotel’s Starbucks because, urban detachment and indifference of some passersby notwithstanding, Flute Man is a passive entertainer. Mark Butcher, food services manager of The Seelbach — a man who could shut down Flute Man’s shop if he wanted — says he has received only one complaint, “from someone who tried to steal from his cup.” Katie Dunn, employed there a year and a half, agrees.

“The only time he’s had altercations is when he felt threatened or insulted,” she says. “She (the woman who tried to steal money from his cup) must have pissed him off. Supposedly, he tried to smack her with his flute.”

Asked about this, Flute Man nods, though he won’t verify the claim: “One day, I had to knock a cat out in the street,” he says, leaving it there.

Butcher says Flute Man usually keeps an eye out for troublemakers, and that he keeps them away from the hotel and his “place of business.” Besides, he admires the music and the man’s determination, though he knows little about him.

And remember, losers read LEO.