Monthly Archives: December 2005

Ammo Boxes

Charlie's Angels LunchboxI was at the army surplus place on Belmont by the train stop and there is something about ammo boxes that I like. I just want everything I own in nice sturdy steel boxes instead of large cardboard ones. I still am looking at this build your own computer project: a mini-itx ammo box. I think that’d be a fun winter project for Ron and I. Or we could build one in this Charlie’s Angles (vintage) lunchbox I saw at another store on Belmont.

Post-Christmas Roundup

The New York Times held on to the NSA/wiretap story. Everybody knows that. The best part is they knew all of this before the 2004 election.

Barron’s mentions impeachment. 

Airstrikes in Iraq up 500%.

Matt Lauer licks Ann Coulter like a BBQ rib. "More leaks… about the NSA spying… which has been a huge win in the polls for him." What?! She even defends the Japanese Internment camps and the Sedition Acts.

Media Matters has a list of the most outrageous statements of 2005.

5 stories you didn’t read in the papers this year. 

Video: snippets of The Corporation. Well worth a rental. 

An article about Damali Ayo and her Rent-A-Negro site. 

I did forget to add that the Intelligent Design fundies were smote down by the wrath of logic and science. 

After 9/11, the White House asked for war powers authority inside the United States. Congress told him to screw off. 

For 2006: Enron trial of Kenneth Lay begins in January. Burn witch burn! 

Rize

Ron and I watched Rize last night. You may have seen the style of dance called krumping (or the precursor: clowning). Frenetic, slightly crazed and lightspeed neo-tribal – it reminds me of a whirling dervish. The movie takes place in the Watts neighborhood and surrounding areas. A guy named Tommy the Clown started it all by simply parking his car, cranking the bass and dancing like a madman to advertise his services as a birthday party clown. Eventually kids wanted to join him and he started a clown academy. Kids start to forego the drugs/gang scene to clown and dance. It is so absurd and totally remarkable. Gradually, Tommy’s alumni move off and start their own clown groups until there’s fifty-plus clown groups all over the region. Tommy’s aesthetic becomes mutated from clowning to krumping – which seemed more aggressive,sexualized and confrontational than Tommy’s original vision. In the finale the clowns and the krumpers have a dance-off to decide who rules the roost. (What roost-ruling really means though is as ephemeral as a sports trophy.)

What is fascinating is the mentoring effect Tommy has on these kids and the seriousness with which the parents (well, the moms) take their kids interest in clowning. It is so insanely creative in the face of the gangbanger life path.

What is frustrating is when the clowning/krumping ends with the dancing. The kids start to see other options besides gangs and crime but don’t make that connection to something outside their neighborhoods. And I think that is indicative of poverty – the fear of leaving ‘my home.’ To ask the rude question: ‘Why don’t poor people just move?’ And that is a typical question – and I don’t know all the ins and outs of poverty and that is what is frustrating. Options. If you don’t think you have any options then you don’t have any options. Other rude statements (which I fully admit are without nuance or compassion): ‘You’re just doing it to yourself.’ ‘Why don’t you move your kids out of there?’ ‘Where are the fathers?’ ‘If you’re so spiritual with God then why are you screaming obscenities at the slightest aggravation?’ ‘You’re dancing and releasing aggression and energy – what are you going to do with it?’

Anyway – thought-provoking (and at times heart-breaking) film and beautifully captured by photographer David LaChappelle. His portraiture is always about the collision of celebrity and absurdity and in this film he collides with poverty/crime and the absurdity of a clown troupe in Watts.

We’ll know it has come full circle when Madonna features krumping in her videos and it ends up on a white middle-class gay dance floor. Everyone will just think you’re withdrawing though.

Oh crap – I’m wrong. I haven’t seen Madonna’s Hung Up video all the way through which does feature krumping (I think Missy Elliot was the first to feature it in a mainstream video). Nevermind. Way to go co-optin’ grandma!

The Good News

Got measured at the gym today.

  • Body fat from 21% to 17%. That is with about a C+ commitment to diet but regular lifting/cardio over the last 45 days.
  • All measurements remains the same except for thighs. Thighs went from 17 inches to 19.5! He measured them four times to make sure. This is from doing squats three times a week, doubt. I have my dad’s legs and shoulders.
  • Lost 3 pounds – but that may be from not hydrating properly this morning.

All in all good news. 

Down With the Cause

I was just at Best Buy doing some last minute gift searching and there was a woman buying a camera for one of her family members and she was trying to choose all the accessories. When asked if she needed a carrying case she told the associate:

No, you know how black people put stuff in a Crown Royale bag? That’s what I’m going to do. You know people put dice or trinkets in there.

I smiled because I knew exactly what she was talking about. She turns to me,

You know what I mean, don’t you? Where you from?

I explained I was from Southern Indiana by Louisville, Kentucky and that here were always Crown Royale billboards at home. The whole economy down there is built on pot, liquor, tobacco and gambling. She joked:

You’ve been hanging around black people too long! 

She’d grown up in Tennessee so we swapped stories about the Jack Daniel’s distillery.

Actually I haven’t been hanging around black people consistently in a long time – if ever. And I feel like I’m supposed to feel awful about that. That I need to making the effort to appease some unseen watchdog that I’m not being integrated enough. I feel awkward even writing that.

It all just sounded like something my extended family might do – 1) drink liquor that comes in a velvet bag and 2) use that bag to carry stuff (like Dungeons & Dragons dice, perhaps).