The "Pimp-My-Ride" Generation
June 1, 2004

Funny how things come full circle. I caught an interesting Cosby Show episode in re-run last night. It was the "Gordon Gartrelle Shirt" episode where Theo, in an attempt to impress a girl on a date, coveted a $95 fashion label silk shirt. A request to which Cliff Huxtable replied, "No 14-year-old boy should have a $95 shirt unless he's on stage with his four brothers".

And for the sake of furthering Cosby's argument, the present condition of former Jackson 5 members, namely the lead singer is perhaps even more indicative of the negative results of allowing teenagers to purchase ridiculously high priced clothing items. It is strange that back in the mid-eighties, a $95 shirt seemed rather pricey, but today, it's easily the norm. It is also interesting that Cosby himself recently critiqued a culture who'd rather buy their child a $500 pair of sneakers than spend it on the child's education. Thankfully, Cosby's priorities have always been consistent over the years. It makes him that much more credible.

I consider myself a fashion connoisseur, in that I probably enjoy shopping more than the average person. However, I too remain flabbergasted at the ridiculous financial decisions people make in regards to exterior status symbols. Under no circumstances, should a person have a $40,000 car if they don't have a mortgage or if they live with their mother. Some of the poorest neighborhoods in Seattle have some of the most expensive cars.

It is interesting, when you drive by the Seattle "projects" (when I say projects, try to eliminate what your definition of public housing might be as some of Seattle "projects" have grass, fenced backyards, and a view of the city), you are likely to see things parked outside that would baffle a semi-intelligent person. You'll see things like Lincoln Navigators and Cadillac Escallades. These are things that disturb me on a regular basis; things like sixteen-year-old girls with $700 Louis Vuitton purses (real ones), and no job.

I volunteer with youth through my church and I once had a parent tell me they couldn't afford the $50 fee to send their child to a two day, life changing retreat. This same parent drove a $35,000 car. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing for or against cars high or low priced, but I am a firm believer of living within your means. This is a concept the majority of America hasn't grasped according to the national statistics on consumer debt. If your car limits you from sowing into your own child's development, Houston, we have a problem.

I think my generation is the worst yet when it comes to materialistic excess. There are kids who can't make it on time to their first period class, but will wake up at 5 o'clock in the morning to be the first in line for the new Nike Air Jordans. This is mostly because we are a product of a mass media consumer enterprise like none other. Still it's no excuse. A large majority of my generation will drive themselves into a grave of consumer debt if the appetite for excess isn't curbed soon. I am not against luxury and nice things as long as long as we can afford it upfront.

Ultimately, the issue of excess comes down to self-image. People who try to keep up with the Jones' are self deceived. Perhaps the most profound message we can trumpet to this generation is that of purpose and proper identity. For in those two, most societal problems can be solved.

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About the New Site
May 31, 2004

Phew! What a ride. I am no web designer and that was perhaps the most horrendous experience in my online life. So a little about the new site. Everything is different; bio, picture, links, and I intend to make more changes throughout the week. This is the first step in my eventual move to a new publishing platform. The goal was a layout softer on the eyes, more user-friendly, and more indicitive of my personality. It's a little wide and views differently depending on the browser, so you may have to scroll horizontally. If this gets annoying, let me know. All feedback welcomed (slow-loading, etc.) Enjoy!

Oh. And happy Memorial Day.

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The Modern Day Minstrel Show
May 28, 2004

Today marks the national opening of the suprisingly non-controversial movie Soul Plane. If you've even seen 30 seconds of the film preview, it is clear that the folks at MGM took a double dose of plain, old, ignorance when they conjured up this one. You might as well be watching a music video on BET. This movie offends on so many levels, I don't even know where to start. It's hard to even point the finger. Who should we be upset with for perpetuating such stereotypical garbage? I recall a time last year when actor Will Smith was quoted as saying something rather prolific about the film industry, "Hollywood isn't black or white. It's green." My family and I managed to have quite an interesting debate about this statement alone. What is it about the movie industry that fuels such ignorance, complete irreverence, misogyny, and stereotyping?

You often hear people say things like, "Hollywood is racist". Generally this comment is directed towards the fact that people of color are underrepresented in film and television. I've never been in Hollywood so I am in no position to comment on a struggle about which I know nothing. What I do know is that the number of people of color in leading (and edifying) roles has been low in the past. Things have definitely changed since the day black actresses were only relegated to roles as servants or maids. I still say there's more honor in that than some of these roles certain black actresses are taking on these days. I wish I was blogging back when Halle Berry won an Oscar for her "riveting performance" in Monster's Ball because I would've had something to say about that. Hattie McDaniel has one over Halle Berry: she didn't have to take her clothes off to win an Oscar.

Then there are those who claim, "Hollywood isn't racist. It's all about money". I can agree with this more and more as the days go by. However, at what point are we the viewers, the ones buying the tickets, held accountable for what we sow into? Hollywood isn't going to produce something that they don't think people will watch. For this very reason, every major media conglomerate turned down a partnership with Mel Gibson when he was shopping around his little ole' Jesus movie. So when we buy into stereotypical junk, now who's racist, the producers or the viewers? Or both?

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Excuse the Dust While We're Remodeling
May 28, 2004

So we're working on a re-design here at nykola.com headquarters. Our staff is not that big so posting seems to have taken a backseat to html coding, which makes us grumpy. There are oh so many more fruitful and productive things to do in line than code html. so extreme lack of content is due to this very fact. This is unfortunate as there is so much newsworthy material worth blogging about. New site launch is expected Sunday or Monday at the latest. After receiving an email from a reader who said she was going cross-eyed trying to read the little font on a dark background, we figured it was time to do some remodeling. I'm about as tired of looking at the cheesy black girl logo as you are.

In recent news: John Kerry was here in Seattle yesterday campaigning, raising obscene amounts of money, and schmoozing with the people. I generally have commented that I consider myself a fairly good judge of character, and I don't know what it is, but I just can't take Sen. Kerry as genuine. Maybe it's just politics, but every word he speaks seems so entirely calculated as though he were reading from cue cards. BO-RING. Maybe it's just the nature of politics. I don't know how politicians do it. I would probably not be a good candidate for any sort of political office. I'm far too loose-tongued if you know what I mean. Plus, when I don't feel like smiling, I don't smile. Presidential candidates don't seem to have that luxury. Neither do pageant contestants. In fact, there are some striking similarities between the two. But let's not go there.

Also in politics, Al Gore has lost his mind. Perhaps the worship of Gaia has pushed him over the deep end. Was it just me or did it seem like he needed a Hammond B3 organ going on in the background of his speech? (For readers who are unfamiliar with this reference, visit a local pentecostal church for more clarity) In any case, Gore's speech just goes to prove, you can yell anything and people will get excited.

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Okay So I Fell..
May 25, 2004

I watched American Idol tonight. I fell off the wagon. Hard. And I'm proud to announce that for the first time ever, I actually voted. I just couldn't let cheerleader girl win. I repent. And trust me, I feel really bad about my self-control. I'm certain this speaks volumes about my character. Oh well, that Fantasia girl is dang good.


Update: Restoring my faith in the hearing of America, Fantasia wins the competition. There is a God. I pray she doesn't do the typical and stray far from her gospel roots in the wake of fame.

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Wal-Mart Chronicles
May 24, 2004

I never thought I would say it, but I think I hate Wal-Mart. This weekend, on two occasions, I had to enter the doors of a place I used to love but have now come to detest. Immensely.

No I haven't jumped on the bandwagon of Wal-Mart hatred that has become so trendy lately amongst the anti-establishment and anti-anything-that-makes-money trustafarians. In fact, I get rather irritated by those who mouth off about how much they hate Wal-Mart and use things like "unfair labor practices" and "big business" as a smokescreen for the fact that they really desipse how much money Wal-Mart is making. Well, I am not one of those people.

I actually once enjoyed shopping at Wal-Mart. During my freshman year of college, I probably dropped a good $800+ there on dorm trimmings alone. Wal-Mart is a college student's dream. Always low prices. Always. My distaste for Wal-Mart is soley based on the fact that I feel like I'm responding to a cattle call every time I go there. Wal-Mart is not just a store. It is an experience.

If you're planning on visiting Wal-Mart anytime soon, be certain you pray first. You need to be covered in prayer--lots of intense prayer. For myself, I'd add a little fasting too. Fasting is necessary if you have trouble restraining yourself from telling dense people how stupid they are. Pray for patience. You'll need that right away. Like, before you even go into the store.

Patience comes in handy in the parking lot. Parking is no problem if you don't mind a 25 minute wait for a spot. Call me silly, but I mind. I think I almost had an out of body experience once when this guy in a Toyota Corolla maliciously stole my spot. Is there a nice way to call someone a jerk? Probably best just to say, "God Bless You".

When you do finally find a spot, bring some trail mix, a sherpa, and a compass to find your way to the store. I usually have to trek a good quarter of a mile just to get to from my car to the building, where I am immediately accosted by the annoying people-botherers trying to get me to sign some petition for teacher's rights or register to vote. I usually inform said soliciters that I don't sign any petitions without first reading them and I don't care how good "teacher's rights" sounds, I'm not about to slap my name on some "petition" and have it come out one day when I'm running for president of the NAACP, that I signed a petition to eliminate funding for some afterschool program.

When you enter into the circus they call Wal-Mart, you are promptly greeted by 87 shopping carts missing owners, bitter customer service representatives and a McDonalds. This is a recipe for disaster. The phrases, "Excuse me" and "Pardon me" and "Move your big behind out of the way please" become a huge part of your lexicon. These phrases can be said up to two dozen times as one maneuvers their way through crowds of people bottlenecking at the clearance shelf.

Oh look! A new "Atkins drink" for sale, I notice. What a racket.

Oooh look! There's a commotion over at the "two for $11.99" DVD bin!

Everytime I shop at Wal-Mart I feel less like a human being and more like an animal. This is nothing against Sam Walton or his entire rich and lovely family. I wouldn't mind holding stock in such a company. Although, while I was once a vigilant defender of Wal-Mart, I am becoming more convinced that they are partly responsible for perpetuating the lower-class citizen mentality that decends upon every customer who steps foot in their doors.

I try to fight it. I know I am a person raised with pretty good manners, but after about 10 minutes, I am ready to start pushing and shoving my way into the toilet-paper sale aisle just like everyone else.

Then there is the improper use of the intercom system. OH the improper use of the intercom!

"Kendra, calling Kendra, you need to get to the customer service desk now! This is the third time we've asked you! Get over here right now Kendraaaaaaaaaa!"
Please stop that. It's agitating. Now I'm no expert, but I'm pretty certain the loudspeaker should not be used for chastizing other employees. That seems pretty tacky. But wait a minute, this is Wal-Mart.

The intercom ignorance is onl exacerbated by the seemingly trillions of children that have been separated from a parent.

"Attention Wal-Mart shoppers, there is a 6-year-old boy wearing a read shirt at the customer service desk that can't find his mother. If you are his mother, please come get him"
Twenty minutes later, same announcement, same kid. Um, could it be that people go to Wal-Mart with the specific intention of losing their children? As if to say, "Oops! Even though I can't find my child, I thought they were talking about the other 6-year-old boy wearing the red shirt." Child abandoners? I think so. Still, if you can manage to drown out the igorance on the intercom, you should be okay.

That is, until you get to the checkout stand--the pinnacle of the Wal-Mart experience. This is where all civility and common decency are completely lost and your true character is put to the test. This is the place that can break a weak-minded individual. This is the place where you must inform "Miss Independent" in the hot pink shirt that she has just cut you in the line. At this point, "Miss Independent" is highly likely to turn around and cuss you out and say things to you even your own mother wouldn't say. Be strong. Don't let her cut you. Once you've staked out your spot in line, you can't rest easy yet.

Chances are, your "brilliant idea" to get into the "10 items or less Express Line" will turn out to be not-so-brilliant when you realize that most people in line have approximately 67 items. Apparently, most folks don't read signs or count. Or even worse, don't read at all.

My end purchase of a whopping $20.19 makes me wonder if it was even worth it. Apparently millions of people think it is. They keep shopping. Maybe it's just Seattle Wal-Marts. Yeah, that must be it.

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Cosby Legacy: Who Will Take the Baton?
May 20, 2004

The work of Bill Cosby in the entertainment industry is deep and wide. We all know that in addition to his work on television and as a comedian, Cosby has long had a legacy for being a proponent of education. I can't think of one time he didn't appear on the Cosby Show sporting the sweatshirt of some obscure college or university. Monday, he shocked even NAACP President Kwesi Mfume with his remarks when he was honored at an event commemorating the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision,

"Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids - $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics.'"

Somebody better preach on that one. Every major societal problem can be traced back to the family. One can imagine this was not the uplifting message on the plight of black people in education NAACP officials were hoping for. You'll be hard-pressed to find much in the news about his comments, but they are being felt throughout the black community and beyond.

Perhaps what worries me the most is the fact that Cosby, at age 66, is headed into the last quarter of his life and has yet to fully impart all that is within him to this generation. This is not Cosby's fault. This is our fault. Someone as influential as Mr. Cosby can stand before a group like the NAACP and utter those very words and many will not understand or recognize the significance of the fathering spirit. I have said for many years that Bill Cosby has not yet walked into the fullness of the respect he deserves as a man of wisdom and experience. This will be to our detriment if we don't take heed to the words our elders speak. We need to shake off this illegitimate child mentality and start receiving those who are attempt to speak into our lives. I suppose it is more cyclic than we'd like to think. Many in the black community cannot receive Cosby's words as a father because they themselves have never had a father. And thus, that value of impartation is not recognized or appreciated. Well, that needs to change. Quickly. I fear people will rally around Cosby's words for a couple of months and then once the hype dies down, we'll be back to complacency as usual.

One of the areas I've most admired about Mr. Cosby is his commitment to family, but more importantly, his commitment to Fatherhood. In the era where the male household figure is predominately portrayed to be a bumbling bafoon of sorts, Bill Cosby has always made sure that anything he put his name on gave fatherhood its due respect and honor. Bill Cosby is once again adding his television-genius to a new animated series based on his best-selling book, Fatherhood. The cartoon will bear the book's name. Here is the Nickelodeon press release:

Nick at Nite, the home to modern classic TV, will premiere its first original animated series, Fatherhood. Based on legendary comedian Bill Cosby's best-selling book, "Fatherhood," this original series will premiere June, 2004 and be executive produced by Cosby. Each installment of the animated series will be a comedic, yet insightful journey that features the challenges, life lessons and confusions of family life. Blair Underwood will star as the voice of Dr. Bindlebeep -- a high school teacher, loving husband and father of three. Sabrina Le Beauf, who played Sondra, Cliff Huxtable's eldest child on the beloved hit sitcom The Cosby Show, will star as Dr. Bindlebeep's wife.

This series is a far cry from the sarcastic and sac-religious cult-comedy of top-rated shows like The Simpsons and SouthPark. To think that he has centered an entire series around the role of a father is admirable, and rare. Fatherhood premieres on Father's Day, June 20th at 9 pm on Nickelodeon.

To compare Bill Cosby with any of the current top black comedians is just no match. Cosby is on an entirely different level. To compare the work he's done in the television industry with our modern-day sitcoms is like pitting Muhammad Ali in his prime against Regis Philbin. There's just no match. I would label the work Cosby has done "edutainment". In the days when people are putting mindless filth on the airwaves, I have always appreciated Cosby's attempt at something greater than just entertaining people. One of his most recent ventures includes appearing on Philadelphia schools television to encourage kids and parents to form a partnership with homework. I am encouraged that Cosby is speaking out more in his prime. I believe the years we have left with him are numbered and there is a great wealth of insight he has to offer this generation. I pray we take heed and listen.

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Tools of the 21st Century
May 19, 2004

I have often discussed my lack of appreciation for certain social and political organizations. These are not just any organizations. Some of these are organizations whose life's work is to beat the air about every un-relevant issue under the sun. Others have somehow gone bad over the years. All of them have postured themselves in a position of insane influence on the culture. I present my beginning list of Tools of the 21st Century:

The NAACP

This should not come as a suprise to anyone who's ever graced this website. While the NAACP may have at one point been a worthwhile and worthy organization, they have now reduced themselves to a useless, mindless, and lawsuit happy, pound of opportunistic flesh. This organization is doing absolutely nothing to advance "colored people". Instead, they advance themselves and their own agenda through illegitimate lawsuits, complaints, and public displays of embarrassment. Let's keep in mind, this is an organization whose entire livelihood is determined by lawsuit settlements, donations, and membership dues. Not a good combination if you ask me. As La Shawn Barber so eloquently writes, kill the dinoasaur!

PETA
Everytime I hear of this organazation's silly antics, it makes me want to go slap somebody and eat a hamburger. If this organization isn't complaining about fur coats or Halle Berry being a spokeswoman for the animal-testing Revlon company, then they're busy passing out religious tracts (yes, they are a religion) about vegetarianism and veganism to school children. I cannot think of one thing this organization does that is admirable or legitimate. They place animals on the same level as humans and tell kids their mother is wicked because she cooks chicken for dinner. We all have better things to do with our time and bigger fish to fry. Yes, yummy fish. Fish that was killed by humans so that I could enjoy it in my tummy. Fish that is on this very Earth for the purposes of providing nourishment to those who choose to eat it. There's nothing wrong with being a vegetarian, but for the love of all things pure, do not proselytize the children. Every year it seems their agenda teeters on the line of complete pychopathy and their members have become more and more belligerant. If PETA had their way, we'd all be worshipping animals.

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New Film "Saved" Walks a Very Fine Line
May 19, 2004

So it's no shocker that Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ is completely decimating the competition. The film currently has the #7 slot on the list of highest-grossing movies of all time right between Lord of the Rings and Jurrasic Park (rather telling, I'd say). Final figures can't even be predicted yet so it's assumed that #7 slot will change. The Passion is set to release to DVD very soon and has only recently opened in many international markets. It's safe to say the "bling" is still rolling in. With the success of The Passion, much conversation has been bouncing around about Hollywood venturing into the area of "faith films". I personally don't think we'll ever see "moral" films rightly portrayed until Hollywood actually becomes moral and there's a lot of work to do there. Righteousness is probably the only thing in the world that can't be faked. Not even expensive sets and fancy make-up artists can help that. However, more recently at the forefront of the "faith film" frenzy is the movie Saved starring young adult-boppers Macaulay Culkin and Mandy Moore. Saved was already in the workds before the public success of Gibson's film, and it's a lower budget film that will most likely make the rounds among the independent and small film festival circuits so there's no point in even comparing the two (although the film does do so by poking fun at the Passion by a play on words on their website). The film is set on the campus of a private Christian high school where teenagers struggling with homosexuality, drugs and sex are a plenty. Is this realistic? Unfortunately-- absolutely, yes. However, the film's resolution is not exactly a positive one. The basic synopsis of the film is a group of "Jesusfreaks" disown their friend who gets pregnant in an attempts to "deprogram" her boyfriend out of homosexuality by having sex with him. Lofty, yes. Does it happen, in some circles, yes. Are they out to prove a point? More than likely yes, and probably a controversial one too. The film is definitley more of a satirical dark comedy, although the filmmakers would argue otherwise.

If the film's website is any indication of the movie itself, than I'd say the media is right if they don't think Christians will appreciate it. (Just click around the website for a minute and you'll see what I mean). Columnists are already predicting that Christians won't see the humor. I'd take it a step further to say not only don't I see it, it's completely irreverent and over-the-top. Interestingly enough, the film's website has a section called "Christian Guide". Yeah, okay, whatever. The filmmakers purport that the movie is intended to spark dialogue around "true faith", the real issues with which Christian teenagers are grappling, and what's "not acceptable" to talk about in the church. Nice goals. Questionable path. Well now wait a minute. Let's surf the production credits for a moment....oh yes, now this is interesting: The film boasts some of the same production team responsible for Being John Malkovich, and what's this...Underworld? Oh yeah, sure that's really a morally sound film. NEXT!

Lewis Schaeffer of the National Review notes that gay audiences "love" the film. Nuff said. If that's not enough to let me know something is horribly askew with this film, I don't know what is. Now maybe some other people brush that kind of stuff under the rug, but in following with my other trends of thought concerning the homosexual agenda, I'd definitely say red flag anything the gay community is behind. Like a huge, gigantic, NEON, red flag with sequins, moving lights, and sirens. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this deflated attempt at social dialogue. They won't be getting my money.

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Things I Will Never Understand
May 16, 2004

Boxing. I have witnessed quite a few fights in my lifetime. Of course, being that I am young, it's nothing of the illustrious Ali-Frazier era, but more the ear-biting Tyson-Holyfield era. Afterall, my cousin is a pretty famous boxer, so my family's followed it pretty closely through the years. This said, I do not understand the dynamic of two men (and nowadays women) getting in a ring, and beating the crap out of eachother. I say this in the wake of the Antonio Tarver/Roy Jones upset.

Bungee Jumping. A rubberband. A cliff. A person. This is an equation that just doesn't add up for me. You could not pay me millions of dollars to subject my body (the only body I have) to this foolishness.

Curling. No matter how many times I watch this sport, I cannot understand the point. A bunch of men with brooms, wearing bowling shoes, roll a block of granite on some ice while sweeping its path?

I suppose if you break down just about any sport, it seems pretty pointless. Basketball: people running back and forth down a court trying to throw a ball in a basket. Baseball: people hitting a ball into a field with a bat in order to buy time to run around bases. I think the thing that always gets me is how much of a priority we've made sports. Here in Seattle there are schools that have no computers and no textbooks. Yet, we and our tax dollars just got finished building two multi-million dollar statidums (one for baseball and one for football), side-by-side. It is there that millions of Seattle residents spend 33% of the year worshipping at the altar of two losing teams.

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Why I'm Not a Republican Parts I, II, III, IV
Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
The ROI of a Kid
The Double-Minded Haters
Hindsight
Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
Oh parent Where Art Thou?
Requisite Monthly Rant: the State of the Nation
College Curriculum Gone Wild
Walmart Chronicles
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