Mixed Media

New CDs Out Today and a Word From Critics

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 4:46 PM EST

Hey, there's actually a couple interesting albums hitting stores and internet emporiums today. Perhaps I shall list them in order of how much I'm enjoying them (or anticipating I'll enjoy them), from "most" to "least"?

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PBS Does its DNA Magic with Celebrities for Black History Month Again

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 3:17 PM EST

Skip the usual suspects ranting and raving in kente cloth this month and check out some worthy black history:

"African-American Lives 2," a four-part series on PBS that begins on Wednesday night, belies its sleepy name with the poetry of history, the magic of science and the allure of the family trees of Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock, Tina Turner, Don Cheadle, Tom Joyner and Maya Angelou.
It is the latest incarnation of the highly rated, critically successful star genealogy program that its host, the Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., presented in 2006. Then Oprah Winfrey, Chris Tucker, Quincy Jones and Whoopi Goldberg were among Professor Gates's eight guests for "African-American Lives." That was followed in 2007 by "Oprah's Roots."
This time scientists use DNA samples, and scholars peruse slave ship records, wills and other documents to recreate the histories of 12 people, including Professor Gates and one Everywoman guest.

Check the link for a video excerpt of the show in which Chris Rock learns that his great great grand daddy fought in the Civil War, or that Tom Joyner's two great uncles were likely lynched back in the day.

Yes, yes, non-blacks want to know their history, too. The only difference is, that if your ancestors didn't keep your stories alive, that's on them. Keeping us invisible, except as property or criminal cases, was against our will.

I got myself invited onto the Colbert Report. Wonder how I get myself a free DNA test and have PBS investigators find out how I came to be me.

How Obama's Autobiography Convinced One Writer to Vote for Him

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 11:35 AM EST

In the spirit of my post on the literature of campaign endorsements, I had to pass this on. Gary Kamiya (with whom I worked) at Salon has made up his mind on Obama after reading his autobio, Dreams From My Father. Biracial himself, Kamiya's appreciation of Obama's odyssey to understand himself, and his race, takes us along as the candidate allows himself to transcend that crazy category and move on to full humanity. It's a beautiful, beautiful piece, as Kamiya's always are. Should read the whole thing, but here's a taste:

97.5 Million People Bored by Super Bowl Until Last Three Minutes

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 9:46 PM EST

FootballThe overnight ratings are in, and initial figures show that not only was last night's Super Bowl the most watched Super Bowl ever, it was in fact the second most watched television event in history. Its 97.5 million number is bested only by the 106 million who apparently watched the 1983 finale of M*A*S*H. I never liked that show.

Campaign Ad Factoids

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 5:26 PM EST

obama150.jpgPolitical Punch has an interesting little collection of facts about candidate advertising. Among the most interesting:

* Mitt Romney was the No. 1 advertiser in both parties—35,000 ads—and spent as much as all of his GOP opponents combined—and almost four times as much as John McCain in Florida

* Barack Obama led the Democratic pack with almost 30,000 ads, worth almost $23 million; Hillary Clinton aired more than 25,500 ads, worth well over $18 million.

* Who did the talking? Barack Obama narrated nearly 83% of his own TV ads, while Hillary Clinton narrated fewer than half (43 percent) of hers.

* McCain used images of the American flag more than any other leading candidate, with 77% of his TV ads displaying the Stars and Stripes…compared with 40% of Obama's and 33% of Clinton's.

Another interesting fact: Obama was the only candidate to air an ad during the Super Bowl. Take a look:

The Best Music of 2007: What My Dad Thinks

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 5:21 PM EST

2007 Music

Here we are, a month into 2008. The Village Voice and Idolator 2007 critics polls were recently released, and it feels like it's probably time to wrap up our thoughts on the previous year in music. But rather than inflict my own opinions on you once again, I thought I'd turn to a less-pretentious source: my dad.

Larry Gill is a 67-year-old farmer who's spent most of his life in a small town in Nebraska and has no musical training to speak of (other than church choir). But his taste in music always surprises me: he's a big Coldplay fan and raves about the Zero 7 CD I got him for Christmas a few years back (and my mom assures me he really does listen to it all the time). So I wondered what he'd think about critics' picks for '07. I sent him a CD of some of the year's notable songs (along with a few of my own random picks) and we talked on the phone while he listened to it.

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Dem Debate: Buzzed, Annoyed and Inspired

| Fri Feb. 1, 2008 7:16 PM EST

kodak-LA-150.jpgBarack Obama and Hillary Clinton went mano-a-mano during a Democratic presidential debate broadcast from the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles on CNN Thursday night. The debate left me feeling buzzed, annoyed, and inspired. Here's why:

Friday? Hi Guy, It's Music News Day

| Fri Feb. 1, 2008 5:05 PM EST

Music News


  • NASA is planning to transmit the Beatles song "Across the Universe" towards the North Star, Polaris, on Monday, to mark the 50th anniversary of NASA and the 45th anniversary of their Deep Space Network. Polaris is 431 light years away, so they should be receiving it about the same time Beatles tracks show up on iTunes. I wonder if they're broadcasting it with DRM?

  • Members of TV on the Radio and The Roots are set to cover a civil rights-era freedom song for an upcoming documentary. The film, Soundtrack for a Revolution, is being produced by Danny Glover. No word on a release date.
  • U2 may be considering a record-setting residency at London's O2 Arena later this year. Prince played a run of 21 shows at the venue last summer, but the Irish combo are reportedly planning an even longer set of dates.
  • The deluxe edition reissue of Beck's classic 1996 album Odelay was released with screwed-up lyrics in the booklet. The LA-based musician issued an apology for the mishap, which reportedly was due to a designer grabbing un-proofed lyrics from a lyrics website. But as Rolling Stone points out, "she's alone in a new dilusion" (sic) may actually be an improvement.
  • Obama's Cool Artwork Doesn't Seem Like a Good Sign

    | Fri Feb. 1, 2008 3:30 PM EST

    mojo-photo-obamaposter3.jpgI've already mentioned how Obama's got the best font of all the presidential contenders (and, thanks to an unusually lucid commenter, we now know it's called Gotham, a typeface featured in the great little documentary Helvetica), and now he's got some of the best posters of all time. First of all, anybody watching the Los Angeles debate between Obama and Clinton might have seen these, seemingly-homemade orange-and-black posters out front:

    (photo at left from the LA Times, photo below from the NY Times)

    Blogging While Brown

    | Fri Feb. 1, 2008 12:43 PM EST

    Someone forwarded me a link to a blog called Electronic Village which is tabulating rankings for black blogs. Somehow I qualify, even though it's the MoJo Blog (a 'problematic' they address). I offer this not because I'm on it but because it's a convenient way to figure out where to go looking for black blogs/topics of interest (there's a looong list of black blog links).

    I can't vouch for quality (see below for mention of anti-Toni Morrison misogyny), or the quality of the organization itself, but their top 10 rankings for February 2008 are as follows: