Friday, December 29, 2006

For the 'dice heads

I totally forgot about this. I remember my mind being blown.



Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

The good old National Parking Association might fuck you up pretty bad too. Don't forget to subscribe to motherfucking Parking Magazine, which exists.

Stevie Nicks in a Bentley swervin'



Clipse is done, Fish is over. It's Tyson time.

Mike Tyson popped for carrying yay. Get him a record deal!! Oh shit, he can't feel his face...from the punching.

work with me not against me



...and we'll make mad dough.

lost somewhere in the ongoing debate about the god-given right to download music between self-important bloggers and extremely-bout-that-gwap record labels is the lowly dj. as one of the few pieces in the music promotion machine that has a legitimate and quantifiable need for free music, the dj has had to put up with a lot of shit to get the hot new digital joints.

so 64 oz. props go to the creators of Whitelabel.net. set up to work in tandem with Serato, the site has its own format (.wl.mp3??) which plays low quality in mp3 players but plays like a 320 kbps mp3 in Serato. nice!

ok, I'm not gonna front like dj's like myself or anyone else have any real problems getting mp3's; we just download the shit like everyone else. but it seems wrong that the concern over downloading by the common folk puts the promo-minded dj at odds with the artists they seek to champion. this seems like a good way around that. even if the site's utility is largely symbolic, having the tracks centralized and available basically as needed is not. if dudes can post on SoulStrut during their sets (they can, and do), best believe they can also download the new Nas joint they neglected to load, should some cutie step up the dj booth requesting it.

(but, as with all other things dj-request-related, that only applies to cuties. dudes in striped shirts are still getting a smile and a nod.)

--

ps: the Flickr Tag Browser got the bloggers like That's That Shit!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

bagg up

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

In compiling my lists for Jackin' Pop (subversive!) and PopMatters (overlooked!), I came to the conclusion that I neglected to listen to a lot of the biggest albums of the year because I never got around to downloading them or I forgot they were on my iPod or nobody was paying me to write about them. Or because I had better things to do with my morning commute than listen to Like Father, Like Son (like listen to Crook By the Book again). And that's just rap. I didn't hear Y's; no matter what P-fork says, I'm just not into harp, except on "Ridin Around Shinin".


They spell it "phaeries."

Being a blogger/ersatz critic is a pain in the ass because it often obligates you to listen to hours of music with the goal of staying informed. With the new shit I actually want to hear, the pile of old new shit I'm constantly wearing down, and old shit I want to hear, new shit I'm ambivalent about gets low priority. I'm just sayin.

But just for posterity, here's the list.

1) Ghostface - Fishscale
There's not much more to be said about this album, but it deserves all the press it's getting. This would be at the top of the list in a good year, but in what is widely considered a bad year for rap, Fishscale is throwin dudes off the hovercraft. The Fishscale doggie bag that is More Fish was actually really good too, but not worthy of the year-end-list-love some dudes are giving it.

2) Field Mob - Light Poles and Pine Trees
I got my hands on Light Poles because I liked what the Field Mob boys were doin on "Shotgun" on Luda's album, and then I listened to it for like a month and a half straight. The beats are wild (thanks Polow!), and Smoke and Shawn Jay have some funny lines and sound like they're having a good time. There's chemistry there too. The whole thing is just mad fun.

Side note: between Field Mob, Shawnna (whose Block Music was pretty good too), Bobby Valentino's pimpin ass, and some promising shit from Playaz Circle and Shareefa, and Luda himself, what other unified movement is fucking with DTP right now? Especially in the South? Yeah both their albums were crap, but that's a really solid line-up.

3) Ray Cash - Cash On Delivery
Anyone but me noticed that every city in America is making (and possibly has been making) Southern rap except New York? The best track on the Cleveland rapper's Cash On Delivery is the generic, yet remarkably pleasing "Smokin and Leanin", which sounds like it got lifted from a T.I. beat tape. Same thing for "P.A.N." with Bun B and Pastor Troy. And let's not even talk about "Bumpin My Music". COD is actually all over the map, with shades of New York ("The Payback") and Cali ("The Bomb"), and Ray's bootleg T.I. style fits anywhere he pleases.

Dude is also the first rapper I've ever heard complain about the hustle. While your average crack salesman takes the Jeezy-via-Marx Work Is Good, Stay On the Grind mentality to their trade, Ray thinks fiends are annoying and sounds like he's mad bored on the corner. He can do the work, he'd just rather do something else. We often hear about the perils of being a d-boy, but danger is at least a rush. Boredom is a bitch, and not many dudes have mentioned that aspect of the dope game.

4) Mr. Lif - Mo' Mega
When Def Jux albums reach their potential (Labor Days, Fantastic Damage, the game-changing Cold Vein), they are the pinnacle of underground rap. With Cannibal Ox in sweatpants-wearing limbo, Lif has taken over as the resident so-simple-it's-complex Jukie. I wrote about Mo' Mega when it dropped and I don't have anything to add to what I said then, but as I really can't get myself excited about the latest 9th Wonder production or whoever's biting J-Dilla this time around, big props to Lif for making underground rap that I care about.

It hasn't been a good month for Lif, so in addition to buying a real copy of Mo' Mega, you might want to throw dude a few ducats since he, y'know, lost all of his possessions in a bus fire.

5) Trae - Restless
I got tired of Z-Ro's I'm Still Livin really fast because it was *too* bleak. Z-Ro's cousin Trae is a pretty sad dude too, but while Z-Ro contemplates suicide (with Trae actually talking him out of it, if his lyrics can be believed), Trae looks towards better times. The same track shows up on both albums, sort of, with Trae bringing "No Help" and Z-Ro calling it "One Deep". Except where "No Help" is just meloncholy, "One Deep" is overdramatic, with huge strings and an outro with Z-Ro encouraging you to throw your hands up if you know any "bitch-ass niggas." Whoah.

"Real Talk" is the wildest rap song I heard all year, the kind of prog-sampling beat El-P was making a couple years ago. And there's plenty of straight-ahead gangster shit here, and Texas rappers are so good at working in guests that the whole "they can't make a track on their own" quip doesn't even apply here. Lil Keke sounds like he's tip-toeing on "Screw Done Already Warned Me", and DJ Paul rhymes about the perils of putting a fishtank in your dashboard on "Cadillac". Even the track with Young Joc ("In Tha Hood") was strangely tight. I mean, Joc even sounded good on it.

6) J-Dilla - Donuts
My tribute covers this one. But all resting in peace aside, Donuts is production wankery from one of the most innovative producers ever. It's like a personal tape of half-finished beats. Something like this would be narcissistic for most producers (lord help us if Kanye ever does one), but it works for Dilla. Also he called it donuts because he really likes donuts, and that's awesome.

As Treats notes, the "Won't Do" video is mad respectful in a way most posthumous videos aren't. It's also beautiful.

7) The Thermals - The Body, The Blood, The Machine
It's like punk that isn't snotty. Works for me.

8) The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
As good as everyone said it was. Mad easy to listen to. All about teenagers getting fucked up and having bad relationships. Also works for me.

9) T.I. - King
Not as nuclear as Trap Muzik, but just as solid and enjoyable as Urban Legend, except with more essential production. No offense DJ Toomp (you got yours with "What You Know"), but Just Blaze, Mannie Fresh and Swizzie's inclusions make King the classic it is. Not classic as in "an essential in a catalog", but this is Tip's pop statement album, and most likely the one for which he will be remembered most. By which I might mean it's hard to imagine him making anything better than King. Nothing wrong with that.

But dude needs to step up his legacy game something fierce. ATL was good, not just not embarassing, but the same can't be said about anything that has anything to do with the Pimp $quad Click. Are you a squad or a click? Figure that out, then we'll talk about why Young Dro must be stopped.

10) Spank Rock - Yoyoyoyoyo
I wanted to hate this album so much because the combination of Philly heritage, Baltimore momentum, Grime-influenced beats/pedigree (British label), a track called "Screwsville, USA", and a plethora of other hipster trends that came together for the movement that is Spank Rock seems so fucking engineered. But whatever, shit's really dope, really level-testing and really cohesive. The production is unique and experimental, but ultimately very dancefloor-approved, in a way that shit labled "experimental" doesn't usually fly.

(off the record honorable mentions: Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury, TV On the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain, Snoop Dogg - The Blue Carpet Treatment, Nas - Hip-Hop Is Dead, Project Pat - Crook By the Book, Lyrics Born - Overnight Encore)

Gay, synthetic, spaghetti



We've been asleep at the wheel the last few days, busy wallowing in cynicism and working furiously on the new Philadelphyinz mixtape (no bff). You know how Jews get around Christmas. I'm not going to pile on about James Brown, I own about fiftenn JB-related 45s, so I'm just going to sit at home and listen to 'em and keep it to myself, speaking jibberish to nobody in particular. I do recommend that everybody go and pick up a copy of Eddie Murphy's Delirous or the LP Eddie Murphy- Comedian if you want to hear the ultimate JB-related humor. There has been far too little mention of the fact that he was an absurd charicature who spoke a language nobody could understand.

We're not really into "news" per se here at justsayin2000, but we've been some lazy bitches when it comes to chiming in about important issues. We understand that you, reader, turn to us whenever you feel fearful or anxious about Allen Iverson, the new Nas album, Jeff Reed's shaved pubic mound and the like. We have a social duty to uphold, but we clearly don't care. I promise to do some more "Whoadie Got Crates" features, the next time I'm alone with my records.



The internets is speaking to me, here's what they sayin:


-My Michigan Wolverines foot-ball team (no Gerald Ford) can eat over 600 pounds of prime rib in a sitting. That is fucking disgusting. However, the resident tit-oogler over at withleather.com notes that there is a strong correlation between beef-eating prowess and Rose Bowl success.

-Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode is still a total fucking cock. Quoth your boy, we need to watch our backs or “there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office.” Dude is so ready to put Sacco and Venzetti in the ground.

-I hate year-end lists, roundups, reminiscences, whatever. They're a cop-out, they're arbitrary and they're often stale. I'm on the lunar calender, so I also feel sort of offended by them in a religious sense (no L. Ron Hubbard). You'll probably be reminded of some albums that dropped that you never got around to listening to. At worst you will wonder why the author thinks he is so important that you should care. At best you will be treated to an entertaining list of stuff that could have been published at any other time of the year, but decided that the arbitrary temporal separation provided by the changeover in the Roman calender was just the inspiration the author needed to put numbers on shit he could have told you about before, but didn't. If I do write a year end list, it will be arranged chromatically (no synesthesia).



-As a way to maintain my record of hypocrisy, inconsistency and erraticism (is that a word?) I will now bless you with my year-end best-of list of lists from respected publications that I actually like...that I wouldn't bother to read because I don't like lists:

1. Fader's self-indulgent inside joke of a list

2. Jeff Weiss (that means "White") has a list of lists and made "best of" and "most disappointing" lists himself. Jeff knows numbers.

3. And in the spirit of recent nostalgia for the early seventies, Nixon's "Enemies List" ft. Paul Newman and Daniel Schorr, who was apparently threatening back then. Come to think of it, the way his jowls make his "S" sound all hissy is pretty fierce.

4. Byron Crawford's list of the year's top ten rap albums is miraculously devoid of superfluous jabs at Jews.

5. 33jones.com has two great roundup pieces. They're pretty unconventional- one is a top ten blog posts of the year jawn and the other is a "Who Killed Hip-Hop" roundup which really isn't a year-end roundup at all. For the record, my votes go to Conscious Rappers, Celebrity Rappers and "You."



I promise to return shortly with hard-hitting commentary about whatever it is that we talk about on this site- maybe a Steelers post-mortem or a treatise about French house music. In the meantime, stay tuned for some big news coming out of the Philadelphyinz camp, we have new venues, new guest spots and new tapes in store. Be on the lookout.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

say it loud

While mourning the loss of the Almighty Ambassador of Heavy Funk, be it through the construction of a mashed potato memorial statue or the acquisition of hot pants, please find some time to read "Being James Brown", Jonathan Letham's insane story on touring and recording with the man himself.

He makes a good case for James Brown the Time Traveler.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Stay tuned for the funky resurrection



R.I.P. James Brown, Godfather of Soul, Funk, Disco and Rap. Driving a Cadillac into that big swimming pool in the sky.

So for the last time, say it loud:

Samineh people say- huh! Ha! Can I get some get back? Aingh! Aingh!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Stay tuned for the clang-alang-alang-lang



We've got our eyes on Harrisburg as the nepotistic handouts carefully weighed decisions about the fate of PA's slots licenses are due out any minute.

Soon we'll know about the fate of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the location of the newest Philly douchebag hotspots.

I sure hope the Penguins get the Pittsburgh license, but the decision to even give out slots licenses means we have lost any hope that we can fix the state's fiscal problems legitimately. I won't even touch the enabling effect slots parlors may have on Philly's before-lunch Xanax proclivities. Furthermore, anytime you give away lucrative and exclusive state contracts, you know what happens:

Cue Wizard of Oz flying monkey song



[SportsMontage: The Saga of the Penguin]
[Philly.com: Philly slots Q&A]

Update:
Right about the time this got put up, PITG's North Side proposal was approved, goodbye Penguins, it's been good to know ya. It should be noted that the Penguins (and the Hill District) have been shit on many times before, so it's hard to say this is the "last straw." However, it seemed like the Penguins ownership and the NHL put all their Pittsburgh chips on the table for this deal.

Philly's licenses are going to Foxwoods and SugarHouse, who are building in South Philly (Columbus Ave.) and Fishtown (Delaware Ave.) respectively. If there's anything I know from doing construction in Philly, it's that somebody was gonna get their ass beat if they didn't hook up South Philly or Fishtown.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Show me what you got



Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal just dropped their list of the 50 most influential people in sports. Like most other lists of "most influential people," these are white men with lots of money who fucking own you. Viewing the whole list requires a paid subscription, so here are the top ten, as seen at Off Wing Opinion:
1.George Bodenheimer President, ESPN/ABC Sports
2.David Stern NBA Commissioner
3.Bud Selig MLB Commissioner
4.Dick Ebersol Chairman, NBC Sports
5.Roger Goodell NFL Commissioner
6. David Hill President Direct TV Entertainment Group. Chairman, Fox Sports
7. Tony Ponturo Vice President of Marketing, Anheuser-Busch
8. Brian France President and CEO, NASCAR
9. Phil Knight Chairman, Nike
10. Sean McManus President, CBS Sports
It's always sobering when you see a list like this- one that reads like a roll-call of candidates for a presidential appointment- that reminds you that LeBron James and LaDanian Tomlinson are small potatoes in this whole sports game. Consider the dude in the 700 level with his shirt off and his moobs painted green, screaming "Westbrook, you the fuckin man!" I'm sure he doesn't think twice about how Brian Westbrook is actually a smooth (if unconscious) product rep for a ton of old whiteys behind the tint in the skybox. The commisioners excluded, just about anybody else in that top ten could be padding his pockets any time you flip on the game or cop a NFL branded beer coolie.



The boys and girls on the internets have been persistent watchdogs of the powers that be- and it's important for big media companies like ESPN to have some accountability. There's a fine line between a company that serves your interests (I want to watch some sports) and a company that drives your interests (I need more sneakers). We're used to calling companies out on their illuminati-moves, but we are conditioned as kids to forget that sports franchises run on the same model. Bud Selig, #3 on that list, has an anti-trust exemption. Kenneth Lay had Dick Cheney on speed dial, but couldn't have scrambled enough black helicopters to pull any MLB level cornering.

Akin to my realization that I was programmed to like BigMacs, I get dismayed when I see behind the curtein veiling my idyllic conceptions of sport and realize that I'm not a Steelers fan, I'm a loyal Dan Rooney customer.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I ain't got 1011 else so 1110 it


toothpastefordinner.com

It's Monday.

P.S. I got a new blog. It's very different from this one and way nerdier. It's called "Pour the Science." It's about science. Only with a RZA lyric for a title.

Friday, December 15, 2006

4th wind

a quick ranking of high profile 4th quarter rap releases
(and some notes)

1) project pat - crook by the book
read my thoughts at Gat.

2) clipse - hell hath no fury
you know what this album was missing? more sandman and ab-liva. what do you think your average pitchfork writer would do if he found out joanna newsome played the harp in "ridin around shinin"?

3) z-ro - i'm still livin
peep the video for "no help" over at Oh Word.

4) ghostface and friends - more fish
only "greedy bitches" and a few others are essential, but check it out anyways. give shawn wigs his money!

quick thought: there are like 4 distinct types of ghostface tracks.
-ghost rips crime shit and trife spits the hook
-ghost and trife rip crime shit and ghost sings the hook
-ghost tells a story and there is no hook
-ghost and raekwon tell a story and ghost yells in the outro

5) snoop dogg - the blue carpet treatment
if you can't get down with this album, you either don't really like rap, don't like having fun or you lost money investing in doggyfizzle televizzle. I guess you get a pass if you're suge knight or a woman.

6) nas - hip-hop is dead
surprisingly good, but uncohesive and a little annoying at times. not surprising that the "how quick can you quote a rakim line" and the "wonder if langston hughes got blunted before telling stories" are coming up in all kinds of reviews, as they pretty much epitomize nas's 10th grade rap/black historian persona that brings him down. much brighter, full review coming in print at a later date.

also: glad to see he patched things up with jeezy, although putting them on the same track would be disaster.

7) young jeezy - the inspiration
beats! "hypnotize": futuristic d-boys get laser blasts to the grill in a turf war on mars in 2078. "what you talkin bout": the runners produce the entire track on miami beach with extension cords running several miles all the way back to dj nasty's studio. "bury me a g": in 10 years, hov uses his fortune to obtain a time machine. he decides to go back and release the blueprint 3 for his comeback. he scoops this beat from jeezy for his first session.

8) jay-z - kingdom come
dude had the ill commercial, i will give him that much. even if the "plans for his team" are the much maligned atlantic yards project. just sayin.

9) the game - doctor's advocate
you know those photomontages that you and all your friends would buy ad space for in the back of the yearbook senior year? with shots of all your drunk asses in the woods, and your running jokes printed out and intricately glued in the background? listening to the game is the audio equivalent of one of those for the last decade in rap. and those seemed SO COOL when they hit the paper too, but a decade later, you can't even remember what "the microwave" was and the whole thing just looks self-important and a little silly.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Who put this thing together? Me, that's who!



Joey Porter handles his fucking business.

I don't have to be the one to explain that multi-millionaire athletes are businessmen. Hines Ward knows it, so woe be it for the Frank White of Pittsburgh sports to ignore the need to lock down the board room (No Jay-Z). He's good at it too. Look how well Peezy kept his house in order this week.

First, Joey demonstrated his Corleone-like grip on his posse when his weed carrier took a dive for some green in Peezy's truck. While this was once standard operating procedure, Michael Irvin's laxity and subsequent rebound let the world know that weed carrying was not a high priority for athlete CEOs. But if Joe Porter was getting suspended for his stash, he wouldn't be able to play with Kellen Winslow's head on the weekends. You got the bol on the payroll, so he best do his job and fall on the sword for Team Porter. Inquiring minds want to know if he's been taking organizational seminars from Theodore Unit. But JP's run for executive of the year doesn't end there.

Your boy weaved carefully between celebrity spear pits by apologizing for calling Kellen Winslow Jr. a "fag," saying "I didn't mean to offend anybody but Kellen Winslow." This is about the best public apology for a PC-related offense I have ever heard. To paraphrase, "I have nothing against homosexuals, but Kellen Winslow is especially sensitive to being called one in a perjorative sense. I am very sorry if I offended the LGBT community by inadvertanty likening them to Kellen Winslow."

This apology was further warranted by the fact that A)It's definitely not cool to go around calling people "fags" to denigrate them and B)Everybody saw Joey Porter's photo spreads for the SI NFL preview (sample here) and heard about his pathological obsession with his "bust down game." It was just a matter of time before somebody said something he couldn't explain away. This was truly shrewd PR move, Peezy managed to make amends for his deviation from social mores while managing to keep his competition squarely underfoot. Posse marketing and PR departments are surely getting a fat Christmas bonus.

[Post Gazette: Joey Porter's weed carrier takes the dive]
[FanHouse: My beef is not with teh gheys, it is with Kellen Winslow]

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Chutzpah



Sometimes you just want to knock somebody the fuck out. Spittin' on the graves of the ancestors. Fuck that shit.

[NYTimes: Holocaust Conference in Iran Provokes Outrage]

Monday, December 11, 2006

This is your captain with no name speaking



The NFL, with all of its marketing savvy, must be trying to recapture the market they squandered after their myriad No-Fun-League crackdowns. In recent years they've gone to war on Wardrobe Malfunctions, Miscegenation in MNF Promos, Mick Jagger, Mimed Mooning, BALLINNNN and Chad Johnson. They've cow-towed to the red states recently, but the ungodly Dems are back in the game like Ron Isley. Commish Roger Goodell, heeding the signal is after the NFL's one-time core fanbase- dudes in lacy assless chaps.

That's why they have booked Prince to play the Super Bowl this year, according to ESPN.



Head intact?

If he plays Pussy Control, it'll pretty much make up for the Steelers missing the playoffs. Well, not really. By the way, don't make that Chapelle joke you're thinking of making.

[ESPN: Roger Goodell is no prostitute, he's the mayor of your brain]

P.S. Just to put a big steaming pile of dog poop on the bottom of this whopper of an exclamation point, here's an NPR interview from January, 2005 where Tipper Gore explains that Purple Rain kickstarted her "Take Away All of GW9K's Favorite Music" crusade. I wish Frank Zappa was around to cop some front row tix to XLI.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

meaning hunt

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Hey Combat Jack.

You know why "wigster" rap critics are popular?

Because nobody at XXL writes shit like this.

Just sayin.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

what do you get when you're 6-10?



Upon hearing that the Steelers dropped everyone's favorite running back sweatsuit model, many commented that we "dropped a duce." Everyone but I, who chose a far nerdier bad pun. Cut a worthless back for the south and the north.

Speaking of sports jokes I can't explain to anyone, the Royals made the decent move of picking up the erratic but underrated Gil Meche. Every time I hear that name, I always think "I know Gil Meche, the real Gil Meche."

the crossover

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Super secret indie rock jump-off. Don't tell anyone or random hyphy rappers might stop trying to be my MySpace friend.

I stepped out to The Mercury Lounge last night to check out Def Jux employee/MySpace Artist of the Day Casettes Won't Listen and ended up sticking around for the next two bands.

My witty one-liner about CWL was that dude wins the Most Improved Ratatat Clone award. When he sent me his demo last year, I dismissed it as uninspired Triton droppings, but he's stepped his game up quite a bit. His shit's a little more dynamic now, a little more adventurous with the song structures. My one complaint is still the drums, which are well-programmed, but could use a little variety beyond the stock settings. But, hey, I recently realized I judge a lot of producers entirely on their choice of snares, so maybe I'm biased.

The live show was decent. I never loved one-man shows, and though dude worked the keys, the decks and the guitar effectively (singing too), he could have used a frontman and a drummer to make things a little more interesting. I felt the same way about RJD2's last round of touring before he went all indie rock. Bisc1 stepped up to spit for a few tracks. He was ok, but I got doubts about anyone that says "rhyme scheme in the atmosphere." At least he didn't put AIDS in the weed.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Band #2 was Tiger City. I like Andy Gibb but I don't like The Cure, so I was only feeling about 75% of their set. But they're very good at what they do. And probably have some tracks worthy of playing out.

Band #3 was The White Rabbits. There's a thin line between sounding like Tom Waits and sounding like Barenaked Ladies. But I can't front, there are some jams here. Anyways, big energy, newsboy hats and lots of percussion are a good combo. Also "Maggie's Farm" covers are good looks.

Band #4 was The Grates. A British Australian chick with braces jumping around the stage dressed like Cyndi Lauper? Hell naw. So I left.

And then I listened to the new Jeezy all the way home.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

JEAH.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Molders of men



As the yearly BCS/playoff talk comes back to roost like a bizarro robin, I need some counsel. Remind me again, just what is it about big-time college football that has anything to do with the mission of educational institutions? My Uncle David, who has lived in Ann Arbor for decades, reminded me that when he went to U of M, they played a nine game season. Now they play what, thirteen or fourteen? College football programs can no longer claim to be carrying on the rosy-cheeked Victorian mission of enrichment through exercise and diversion. Red Grange long since destroyed that notion.

Now everybody knows college football is about Tostitos and Adidas and the U. It’s about paydays against patsies and ranking boosts for running it up. These are professional football programs using below-market labor, offering the carrots of social mobility through education and NFL fortune. Are, they leaving a large percentage of their players adrift, knowing they had no NFL prospects but riding them to a payday anyway. All ballplayer Ned gets is a background in Playstation, some choice co-ed poontang and a few years worth of outsourced coursework in "Communications." Everybody knows this, right? I went looking for some statistics to see if I could verify my assumptions. College football is a beloved American institution, but is its Wu Tang for the children?

Yes and no.



PART ONE: Fresh air fund

According to the NCAA, fifty five percent of students who were enrolled in Division I university football programs in 1999 graduated within six years.1 This is not significantly worse than the fifty seven percent graduation rate amongst all males at those same institutions in the same time period. As to the quality of those degrees I can’t comment, but I know that it’s possible to get a top notch education, like Craig Krenzel did, but it is far easier not to (read: OSU linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer’s old class schedule of music, AIDS awareness seminar and golf).2 I've heard numerous stories about athletic department file cabinets filled with info on all the cushy classes where senile, tenured profs give the same quizzes every year. Everybody who has been to a big time college has an anecdote I’m sure they could lend to this discussion, but for me, all roads lead me to ask one thing: Is college football doing right by its scholarship players- the ones who have the most to gain and the most to lose. For every Michael Irvin, who goes to college in order to wear fatigues, get NFL bank and and a career as an analyst inane ESPN head, how many Maurice Claretts are there, selling out a promised future that never comes?

Forty nine and fifty percent of black and Hispanic football players graduate, respectively (culled from the same sample as previously referenced). This stands in stark contrast to the sixty two percent graduation rate of white players. This may not seem significant unless you account for the fact that black players outnumbered white players in the sample by 6535 to 5742. White football players graduate at the same rate as white males in the total student pool, but black students...wait a second, only graduate thirty six percent of the time, as compared to the forty nine percent rate of black athletes.

Football, if it does nothing else (except concuss you) gives you structure and discipline in your day to day life. It’s not news that African Americans are a chronically underserved population in the United States, particularly in the field of education. For example, the top members of the graduating class of say, West Philadelphia High School will surely get accepted to college, but they are coming from an environment where they score generally half as well on standardized tests as their peers in Pennsylvania and the level of educational intensity will ratchet up at least five-fold. Football players enter into an environment with a highly developed system for taking kids who are not college ready and getting them through. Why? The school needs something from these kids- the money they can generate by selling jerseys without nameplates and filling the stands with alums every Saturday, pocketbooks open.



So student-athletes are doing better than their peers (disregarding the fluff degree point), but the school is still going gangbusters making money, which is going towards Title IX support and back into the program from whence it came. Coaching salaries go up, Notre Dame makes TV deals and Kirk Herbstreits everywhere put filet mignon on the table. Every year, the ADs find a way to include one more game so that they can make the late-season poll surge (e.g. USC and Florida in '06) and cash in for millions in a BCS bowl. Some universities, like the Ivies, Carnegie Mellon and Chicago downsized their programs in the early to mid twentieth century, recognizing the degree to which football was subverting the aims and identity of the institution. But the money has proved too lucrative for most schools. Although most D-I athletic programs lose money, sixty-four percent of D-I football programs make money, according to an NCAA year 2000 figure.3 Without the money coming in, it's unlikely that players from low-income backgrounds would be getting the opportunities to go to school. If they weren't making money for the Uni, they would have no place at the school. Here we see the most perverse element of big time college athletics- despite any defense that can be offered by differential graduation rates, these kids are not getting the degree because the university is determined to provide educational opportunity, they are getting degrees because they are cash cows.

The diploma is a complete red herring- a convenient and fortunate externality which enables top-tier football schools to claim they are strictly in the do-right business. As I mentioned above, well over half of college football programs are profitable, some of them very profitable, with some, like Notre Dame generating revenues of 61 million a year and paying the school's entire athletic budget, according to CBS news. It's short of heartwarming to think of the kids who get to play volleyball because of the sweat of the Notre Dame's second string safety. That second string safety is being pimped to make volleyball happen. If national averages hold, he'll have a forty nine percent chance of graduating. Like graduate students of the 1970s, the football players' answer should be but one word, and it's not payment, it's union.



PART II: Anarcho syndicalist wheel route on two


Whereas graduate students have a difficult time defining themselves as university employees rather than trainees, football players have a much clearer case because they do not get paid, but they generate income, business and publicity based on their labors. Furthermore, they have a strong case, demonstrating the spuriousness of the argument that the Notre Dames are sure to make- the one saying that college football is about academic enrichment through sport and giving educational opportunities to underprivileged but athletically gifted kids. If that’s what it was about, why should schools reap any more money than is needed to subsidize the program and its scholarships? Top-tier football players are much like any other workers- they are compensated, sure, but under-compensated relative to the total profit. But they have a strong bargaining position.



But what piece of the pie should a college athletes union pursue, given its potentially diverse membership? Paying college athletes would simply make the economic situation in college athletics more fractious and unequal. There is no real reason to pay athletes when professional leagues exist to do just that (the issue of age limits in pro sports is a totally different post). Furthermore, the markets created by player payment and the inevitable bargaining and differential pay escalations between programs and sports would shatter the foundation of college athletics, for good or for ill. So, given one does not want to explode college sports, there are numerous compensations that could be made to minimize the risks associated with playing college sports. I can think of several risk-reducing programs which would provide athletes with equitable compensation for their service, spread across the entirety of each tier of quality:

1. Provide a stipend to cover the necessities of college life and the athlete’s children, if there are any.
2. Offer free insurance packages covering “work-related” injury with increased, arbitrated settlements for those with professional athletic prospects.
3. Focus on academic results: guarantee scholarships for four years and make hard and enforceable limitations on the amount of quote unquote voluntary practice there is. Shorten the football season by at least a game- teams may play no games within ten days before finals.4

I am OK with athletes not having individual licensing rights, so long as revenue from gross merchandise sales, corporate sponsorships and the like are directed in part towards the services listed above.

Obviously, there are powerful and moneyed interests which do not want any of this union business, in part because the opiating effect of modern sports media has made the inequity of college football somewhat of a white elephant. Surely the mention of a union will prompt doom and gloom prognostications from those ADs and executives who stand to lose control. This would be more or less consistent with the response of every manager who stands to lose strands of their authority to a union. But if everybody wants a college football playoff and everybody wants a conference championship game, they must be made to understand that these players are not their playthings.

______________________________

1)The NCAA also keeps a statistic for graduation rates of student athletes called the “graduation success rate” (GSR) which excludes those who didn’t finish because of injury or death or came to school through transfer. Because rates of debilitating injury (requiring surgery etc) are possibly much higher than amongst the football playing population, I ignored this statistic. Furthermore, comparing simple graduation rate for students against GSR for athletes would be an apples-and-oranges situation.

2) Somehow Ohio State players figure very prominently in this article. I guess half of my college football anecdotes come from the OSU-UM games every year.

3) Surpluses from football and basketball generally go to subsidize other sports which do not generate revenue.

4) In the course of my research for this post, I stumbled upon The College Athlete’s Coalition, a small, California-based union started in 2001. They have several other goals which I did not list above, including the relaxation of employment restrictions.

______________________________

I would like to credit my Uncle David with the idea for this piece- it was he who first suggested to me that an athlete's union would be a valuable institution, although I am sure he has much more to say about it than I.

the count

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Dispatches from the internet.

-The Wire's David Simon interviewed in Slate.
I've seen exactly three episodes of the show (the first one and the last two, bizarrely including the unaired season finale), but this interview's still interesting. Having watched a ward in north St. Louis elect a septagenerial alderman after promising, in a public forum, that new development (for which he had absolutely no plan or proposal) would bring "eight kinds of hot dogs" and a "new fried-chicken spot" to the local main strip, I'm intriguied by the show's impending take on hopeless mid-sized city politics.

-ESPN asks what if the BCS ran the NFL?
With 32 teams instead of 119, a statistical method for determining the championship contenders makes a lot more sense. It would also cut out all that tedious drama, excitement and collapses that we all hate about the NFL playoffs. The BCS reminds me of the twilight of Communism; everyone but the winners agree that the system is unfair, and nobody has a plan that resembles anything but rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

-Brooklyn gets some subway love.
Park Slope residents now have a one-train ride to Williamsburg. Seeing as how Park Slope is all lesbian mothers, and Bedford-area Williamsburg is turning into an extension of douchebag-filled Union Square, this is about, oh, three years too late. Just sayin.

-College is a scam.
Seriously, how long will it be before you're just better off with $150,000 than a college education?

-Sunset Parker warns of the Brighton Beach robot invasion.
Robosayin.

-San Francisco deads cookie-scented bus stops.
STOP SNITCHIN.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sobering

Just Sayin friend, favorite and recent Philly bol Mr. Lif was apparently involved in a bus crash yesterday in California according to a report from rap.about.com. He was traveling with the Coup and various others. Lif is apparently OK but several others were seriously hurt. We have attempted to confirm this startling news with Lif by phone but as of now we have been unsuccessful. More news as it emerges.

[rap.about.com: The Coup, Mr. Lif invovled in bus crash]

Monday, December 04, 2006

where tha party at

Don't look now, but we relaunched Can I Bring My Gat?. Go peep my piece on The DFA and the underground rap album they mysteriously helped produce a couple years ago.

New York, you have been warned


Philadelphyinz, you know, the progressively nihilistic libertarian panflute dance party that has been fracturing skulls at the Khyber for over a lunar year? Well it's not just for the thinking man's Sagittarius anymore...this Saturday it's going to crush your New York soul you gentrifying fuckhead.

The Beautiful/Decay Magazine Issue Q NYC release party. Date: Saturday, December 9, 2006. Location: M1-5, 52 Walker Street (A,C,E,N,R,6 to Canal). 10PM-4AM, at a measly $5.

Peep the flier right here.

Philadelphyinz (DJ Apt One and Skinny Friedman, Philly/NYC), with Disco D (Bk/Sao Paolo), Caps & Jones (Fire Drill), The Masters (DJ Jayceeoh and DJ On and On) and Synapse (Zulu Nation).

Not only that, free Sparks 10-11 and Kangol is sponsoring, so you never know how Sam Jackson this might get. Whoa fuck.

All New York bloggers and friends are expected to be there to get their worldview thoroughly ethered.

P.S. On Friday, Skinny's got some action at Guero in NYC while Apt One does the knowledge in Philly at 409.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ultimate Sayin: Volume XVI



First Pat Boone went metal, now he's gone Van Impe. Tell me he isn't being impersonated by the "Wha' Happen?" guy.

From examiner.com
After warning of the “new order of Armageddon,” [Boone] delineated his vision of the new revolution. Referring to the Supreme Court justices, he said, “We need a new Boston Tea Party, only this time let’s not waste good tea — let’s heap a bunch of black robes into the harbor. It won’t hurt the robes. They can swim out and they can re-enroll in Constitution 101.”
.........
Finally, noting that there were songs written for the Army, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, but none for the National Guard, Boone said he took the chore upon himself, penning “For Our Country: The Ballad of the National Guard.” He said, “Bruce Springsteen didn’t do it. Nelly, Eminem and Diddy and Piddy and Poopy and whoever the other rappers are didn’t — so I did.” And then he sang it.
Poopy. Nothing else I can say about that. That's why it's today's.....ULTIMATE SAYIN!!!!

[examiner.com: I've got a Boone's Farm story for ya]

But did the CIA put it in the weed?


Queen- substantially better than hymns

In honor of World AIDS Day (which should be every day, but is actually today, December 1st), organized homophobes Christian conservative leaders are fussin' that they are not the focus of federal monies from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. This from the Boston Globe:
"There's cancer in the fund," said Peter L. Brandt, senior director of government and public policy at the Christian group Focus on the Family. "It does such an unbelievable job in discriminating against faith-based organizations."

I hate to break it to Mr. Brandt, but when you represent an organization that sees homosexuals not as a population but as a group of operatives in a vast, subversive, sodomite cultural conspiracy, you effectively disqualify yourself from being contracted to run point in the global war on AIDS. Giving Focus on the Family a hand in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS would be like asking Henry the VIII to run a state-mandated marriage counseling service.

The Family Research Council, an allied organization founded by Focus on the Family chief James Dobson opposes a vaccine for HPV, a virus that causes cervical cancer (cervical cancer!) because such a vaccine will promote premarital sex by, I dunno, keeping you alive in order to have sex in the first place? Does sex have to be deathly dangerous in order to highlight its filthyness? I think the best way to keep from getting esophogal cancer is to not eat.

You know what, it's not worth reporting how bonkers the Christian right is, everybody knows. Also, I think Americans have a decent awareness of the severity of the AIDS problem. I also don't think that many Africans read this blog. So, in conclusion, the Christian Right can go fuck itself, and let's get rid of AIDS.

assholes by nature

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Albert Pujols is a bit unhappy about not winning the NL MVP this year.

""My contract cost 25 billion dollars, fam!", said Pujols. "I was jumpin across canyons and shit!"

"If I don't win, the MVP loses credibility", he added emphatically.

In other news, Ryan Howard has signed with Ed Banger records.