Tuesday, February 28, 2006

'Kindred' Spirit Remembered

Black gay bloggers and science fiction fans are both saddened today by the news of author Octavia Butler's death this weekend in Seattle, WA. Black people and science fiction fans are often not thought of as having any common members, but clearly the death of the first African American female (and lesbian!) science fiction author to achieve widespread acclaim (a 1995 MacArthur Foundation 'genius' grant, Hugo and Nebula awards, et cetera) has affected many different people.

I can still remember almost a dozen years ago when one of my best friends said "Oh, you like science fiction? You have got to read Octavia Butler! Her stuff is freaky but really, really good." And she was right. I quickly devoured the Xenogenesis Trilogy (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago) and eagerly moved on to the Patternist Series (Wild Seed, Mind of My Mind, Clay's Ark and Patternmaster). The books address race, sexuality, alien sex, genetic mutation, telepathy, and familial and societal structures. But none of those books prepared me for Butler's masterwork: Kindred. As blogger (and author) Fred Smith discovered last month, there is a huge silent audience of people who love Octavia Butler and her books.

Octavia Butler grew up in the Pasadena area, which is part of the north east section of Los Angeles where I have been living since 1994. Last month the city of Pasadena chose Kindred as the 2006 book for its One City, One Story program. Amazingly, I and that same friend who introduced me to Octavia Butler's work actually met the author at a reading at Sisterhood Bookstore in West Los Angeles a few years before it closed in 1999. At the end of the reading, my friend and I shyly went up to our idol and discussed aspects of her latest novel (I think it was Parable of the Talents but it might have been Parable of the Sower). Octavia Butler had a very deep voice, was well over six feet tall and physically imposing. As the small audience dissipated we realized that Octavia Butler was planning on taking the bus from Westwood (near UCLA on the west side of town) to Altadena (just North of Pasadena, about 10 minutes drive from where we were going). It would probably take her between 2 to 3 hours to make the trip on public transportation. We looked at each other. "Let's offer her a ride," my friend whispered. "Oh my god, we're gonna drive Octavia Butler home!" I squealed.

Octavia Butler declined the offer of a ride at first (did she think we were besotted fans with visions of repeating the author kidnapping from Stephen King's Misery?) but when we were explained we were both college professors from the local liberal arts college in the town next door to hers, she agreed. In the 30 minute drive from the bookstore to Octavia Butler's house, we discovered that she was a funny, shy person. She said she didn't mind taking the bus around Los Angeles. "It gives me a lot of time to do the thinking required for my books." She also loved to walk. "Oh, we like to take walks, too!" my friend blurted out. "We could walk together, if you like." "I'd like that," Octavia replied. After dropping her off and exganging business cards and contact information (this was before the ubiquity of cellphones) we drove back to Eagle Rock. "I wonder if she'll call us to go for a walk?" She did. We went for two walks with Octavia Butler in the next year or so. I carried Octavia Butler's business card in my wallet for years after that meeting. She will be missed.

Monday, February 27, 2006

On The Importance of Algebra

Terrance, at Republic of T, is haunted by the story of Gabriela Ocampo:
Last year, she dropped out of the 12th grade at Birmingham High School in Los Angeles after failing algebra six times in six semesters, trying it a seventh time and finally just despairing over ever getting it. So, according to the Los Angeles Times, she “gathered her textbooks, dropped them at the campus book room and, without telling a soul, vanished from Birmingham High School.”
This is a story that is repeated thousands of times all over the Los Angeles Unified School District. As someone who probably understands algebra even more than English, I am very interested in this problem and in contributing to the solution. I'm not convinced that every person who graduates from high school in California needs to have passed two semesters of Algebra. Why is this a societally beneficial requirement? Don't misunderstand, I do think that numeracy is important. However, there are a lot of very important aspects of modern day life which are not improved, assisted or mediated by high school level algebra. Other skills, such as understanding Excel spreadsheets, the ability to compute percentages and per capita costs (i.e. if the 12 oz jar of food stuff cost $1.89 and the 1 lb jar cost $2.89 which one is cheaper?) and understanding compound interest would lead to a profoundly "better educated" citizenry, in my opinion.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Nigga, Please!?

Mack Reed over at LAvoice.org has given a heads up about Damon Wayans attempt to trademark the word "nigga." MadProfessah believes this is an interesting legal question. The comments over at LAVoice makes it seem like there would be widespread opposition to this idea, but I'm not so sure. Message t-shirts have been popular among the young and trendy for a long time.

What do YOU think?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Clijsters Withdraws From Pacific Life Open, Will Lose #1 Ranking

Kim Clijsters announced that she will not be defending her title at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, CA March 6-19. Therefore, she will lose 527 points on March 19, and Amélie Mauresmo will assume the #1 WTA Tour rank on March 20, 2006!

Conference on Sexual Orientation law

Today MadProfessah will be at the UCLA School of Law to attend the Williams Project's 5th Annual Update on Sexual Orientation Law. It should be very interesting, with speeches by former Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan (who was quoted in a Los Angeles Times article earlier this week on her experience with the excruciatingly high failure rate of the California Bar Exam), Yale Law School Deputy Dean Kenji Yoshino and Geoffrey Kors, Executive Director of Equality California, among others. In addition, the Honorable Steven H. Levinson, author of the landmark Hawai'i marriage case Baehr v. Lewin, will judge the Final Round of the 2nd Annual National Sexual Orientation Moot Court Competition from 5:00-6:15pm.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

FOOD: Pasadena's Cafe Atlantic disappoints on return

On President's Day MadProfessah and his "Plus One" saw a matinee of Eugene Jarecki's "Why We Fight" (a review will follow later this week) at the Laemmle's Colorado One theater in Pasadena and then ate lunch at Xiomara Ardolina's Café Atlantic. MadProfessah had the arroz frito, which had been ordered during a previous visit about six months before and then had arrived with a huge quantity of fried rice, replete with chunks of chicken, pork and plump shrimp. This time the pork and chicken were not as plentiful and the shrimp were these incredibly small, aptly named "rock shrimp." I basically had to spit them out and leave them on the side of my plate. When I had eaten at Café Atlantic before one of the highlights had been the extremely well done maduros, fried over-ripe plantains. This time the plantains were sweet, but they were also chalky and unappetizing, which either means they had been fried and left to sit, or they were not ripe enough when fried.

Mr. MadProfessah ordered the roastbeef sandwich with fries and was very pleased with the results. The fries were excessive in quantity, and perfectly done. A homemade "tomato sauce" (none dare call it ketchup!) was a fabulous accompaniment to the fries but at least two ramikins full would have been needed and only was supplied. The sandwich used the toasted Cuban bread to excellent effect and the horseradish sauce had just the right kick to it. Overall, I was disappointed on this return visit. I know others have had good dining experiences at Café Atlantic, and I think I will give them one more chance, but probably next time order a sandwich or possibly try breakfast, which they serve until 3:30 on weekends.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

EUROPE GAY RIGHTS UPDATE: Czech, Ireland, Russia

365gay.com reports that a public opinion poll in Ireland shows a slim majority of respondents are in favor of marriage being opened to gays and lesbians and are evenly split on the question of gay and lesbian couples adopting children. Last month, a parliamentary committee recommended that full civil partnerships similar to those enacted in the United Kingdom (and taken advantage of by Sir Elton John and others) in 2005 be introduced by the Irish Government.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus vetoed legislation that would have allowed same-sex domestic partners to register with the State and receive some of the rights and benefits of marriage in that European country. Prime Minister Jiri Paraoubek said that it was one of the President's "biggest errors" and that he would use all his political means to garner 101 votes in the 200-member house to attempt to override the veto.

In Russia, an attempt to organize the country's first gay pride parade May 27, 2006 in recognition of the thirteenth anniversary of the legalization of sodomy was vetoed by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov in light of the threat of violent protests by religious leaders if the gay pride celebration was allowed to go on. Apparently explicit homophobia is a common feature of Russian society, although progress has been made in recent years.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bill Frist Kicking Us As He Exits The Senate

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced last week that he plans on scheduling a vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage the week of June 5. (Just in time for Gay Pride Month!) The amendment has just about zero chance of becoming law (it needs 67 votes, it only received 48 votes last time). Frist is retiring from the Senate a few months later (to run for President---ha!), he has decided to go out with a homophobic, otiose gesture. I guess he's not running as "uniter, not a divider."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sheriff Thinks Naked Men Won't Fight

What kind of sadistic, voyeuristic and homoerotic policy is this?? Apparently, after an African American man was killed during a racially motivated, violent mélée at the Pitchess Detention Center, L.A. County sheriff's deputies ordered prisoners to strip naked, gave them blankets and took away their mattresses in a "necessary step to stop the fighting."

Human rights activists have already condemned the actions. Besides the obvious dehumanizing aspect of the actions, it is doubtful that they are even effective. The prisoners were only naked for a day, but the violent fighting between the black, latino and white prisoners has continued for weeks, and another African American male has been killed, and dozens of others injured.

To the MadProfessah it seems obvious that keeping prisoners cold, naked and uncomfortable is likely to give them more reasons to fight than less, particularly when they are already in a highly stratified, psychosexually charged environment like a single sex multi-person holding facility. But, then again, I'm not a prison industrial complex specialist.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Venus and Serena Withdraw From Dubai Duty Free Open

Hat tip to On The Baseline for the information that Venus and Serena have withdrawn from the Dubai Duty Free Open set to start February 20. We can hope it's a protest over the United Arab Emirates' shockingly anti-gay human rights record, but it's more likely the two are still injured. Serena's ranking is now in the 40s and if she doesn't play in Miami's NASDAQ-100 Open March 22-April 2 (everyone knows that neither she nor her sister will play in the Pacific Life Open March 6-19!) she will probably fall out of the WTA Tour Top 100 by the end of March. Then she'll start meeting Top 10 players in the first and second rounds of the Slams. Venus has a lot of points to defend during the clay court season, so her ranking would not fall precipitously until about May.

Meanwhile openly lesbian player Amélie Mauresmo is entered to play in the Dubai Duty Free Open in the openly homophobic Arabic country, although today she is facing Kim Clijsters in the Proximus Diamond Games Final.

UPDATE: Mauresmo has defeated Clijsters 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to defend her title. She now has a chance to win the million dollar, diamond-encrusted racket if she wins the Proximus Diamond Games in either 2007 or 2008. Clijsters bettered her quarterfinal performance from last year so she increases her lead to be #1 on the WTA Tour.

Black Republicans and Gay Democrats: Oxymorons or Just Morons?

Pennsylvanian Republicans have chosen African American ex-NFL star Lynn Swann to be their nominee for November's Gubernatorial election against Former DNC chair and incumbent Democratic Governor Ed Rendell.

Current DNC Chair Howard Dean has decided to terminate the LGBT Outreach staff position but is keeping the DNC's LGBT fundraising operation.

These seemingly disparate events illuminate the complicated nature of what has come to be disparagingly referred to as "identity politics." Republicans and race is a topic that MadProfessah has previously discussed many times before on this blog. The question of the Democrats and their commitment to gay rights is a new topic for this blog, but is a much discussed topic all over the blogosphere.

I suppose the first question to answer would be "How are these two things related?" To me, it is clear they are related in that black people running as Republicans or voting for Republicans indicates a shocking lack of awareness and understanding of the history of race-baiting by Republicans in electoral politics. Similarly, the decision by the Democratic National Committee to disband a specific institutionalized outreach plan to LGBT democrats should not be surprising to anyone who has followed the numerous instances of homophobia by Democratic candidates and various organs of the Democratic Party.

UPDATE: The DNC has released a press release defending its consolidation of minority outreach programs and touting the progress made since Howard Dean became DNC chair.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Say It Ain't So: Silverlake's The Coffee Table Going Away

After waiting for over two years for The Coffee Table to open up a second restaurant/cafe in Eagle Rock, MadProfessah was saddened and suprprised to read at LA Observed about the original The Coffee Table on Rowena in Silverlake losing its lease. LAist says that The Coffee Table may be okay, but Rowena is in trouble.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Who Is The Best Ever? You Decide at YouTube

Whitney Houston
Mariah Carey
A friend of mine told me about YouTube.com, which is a very cool site with lots of personally uploaded videos. One of the fun things to do with YouTube is to review vintage live performance videos of the two greatest popular female singers of all time: Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. Clearly, neither woman can sing live today at the same incredible level they could at their peak. For Whitney, her most impressive performance would have to be "I Will Always Love You" from the soundtrack to The Bodguard. For Mariah, there's actually a lot of things to choose from, but I think probably her first single, "Vision of Love" is without question one of her best. (Her most successful single, "We Belong Together" is from 2005 but is clearly not one of her most scintillating vocal performances, though it is an impressive songwriting and production achievement.)

So, you go and watch the videos and tell me who you think is the greatest female pop singer of "our" age: Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Venus and Serena Enter Dubai Duty Free Open

Interestingly, Venus and Serena Williams have entered the Dubai Tennis Championships set to start February 20th in (you guessed it!) the United Arab Emirates. An intrepid tennis reporter might ask some of these world class tennis players what they think about the human rights record of the country which is offering them millions of dollars in prize money while it imprisons it's own citizens.

5 Year Prision Sentence For "Being Gay"

Kudos to Doug Ireland for highlighting this news report out of the United Arab Emirates:

Eleven of twenty-six men arrested at what police in the United Arab Emirates called a "gay wedding" have been sentenced each to five years in prison.

The 15 others were acquitted but are still being held until the government decides whether to have them retried.

The men were charged with homosexuality, a crime under Sharia law, although police acknowledged that none of the men were engaged in a sexual act when police raided the event (emphasis added).

Please note the emphasis I added to the news report. The police did not witness any homosexual activity. 365gay.com has (as usual) done an excellent job in covering this story.

In their report, they mention that what happened was that there were 12 men dressed in traditional Arab women's clothing (and the men declared that they were not gay, but transgendered) and 12 men dressed in tradition Arab men's clothing. Is this case about ``being gay"? Or is it about gender identity? Or some complex mélange of the two? Regardless, the point is that countries which are ruled using Sharia law can be quite harsh against both gender non-conformity and homosexuality, and often see the two as one and the same.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Did Homophobia Kill This Child?

Monday's Los Angeles Times features a front page story about the tragic details behind the violent death of 2-year old Sarah Chavez. The article includes all sorts of intimate details for the committed reader of the lengthy piece but fails to acknowledge a possible contributor to the death of the toddler: institutionalized homophobia. The reporter, while matter-of-factly naming the "foster couple" who cared for Sarah Chavez as Diana Hardy-Garcia and Corri Planck never exolicitly mentions that they are a lesbian couple. In fact, these two women are not "just your average lesbian couple." Both women are relatively well-known lesbian activists. Planck is the Deputy Director of the Family Pride Coalition, and Diana Hardy-Garcia was for years the most prominent spokesperson for gay rights in Texas as Executive Director of what became Equality Texas.

The article details the story of how the lesbian couple became foster parents to the little girl, and also how distressed they were when the County Department of Child and Family Services suddenly removed the children from their care and placed her back with her great aunt and uncle. Three days after Sarah's death on October 11, 2005, these two "family members," Frances Abundis and Armando Abundis, Sr. were charged in her murder. The coroner's report said that Sarah died from blunt force trauma to her stomach that completely severed her small intestine. Most media reports are revolving around the negligence on the part of DCFS, but I am curious as to the source of this negligence and whether it was not compounded by homophobia. Why rush to take the child from a loving home to give her to two "relatives" she barely knew?

Intrepid Lesbian Reporter Karen Ocamb is also following the Sarah Chavez case.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Mauresmo Defeats Pierce for 2nd Consecutive WTA Title

Lesbian power! Amelie Mauresmo, fresh off winning her first Grand Slam title at the 2006 Australian Open, has won the Gaz de France Open in Paris by defeating Mary Pierce 6-1, 7-6 (2). Mauresmo now leads her compatriot 6-4 in head to head matches and has 21 WTA Tour Titles to Pierce's 18.
Next week, Amelie is defending her title at the Proximus Diamond Games in Antwerp. Neither Venus or Serena Williams are entered onto this tournament. The surprising withdrawal is Venus, who lost the "diamond" match last year to Mauresmo. (In addition to the regular prize money, there is diamond encrusted tennis racket valued at nearly 1.3 million dollars which goes t the first person to win the tournament three times in five years.) Venus won the tournament in 2002 and 2003, so 2006 was her last chance to "play for the diamonds."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Freedom To Marry Week

The week of Valentine's Day is is the 9th Annual Freedom To Marry Week, February 12-18, 2006 . The highlight this year will be arguments on Wednesday February 15 before the New Jersey Supreme Court in a gay marriage case, Lewis v. Harris. The queer media is following this case pretty closely. Interetingly, as the picture above shows, the top court in New Jersey "looks a lot more like America" than most courts. The chief judge is female, as are two other Justices on the Court. Unfortunately, four of the seven members were appointed by a (moderate) Republican Governor, the slightly sapphic Christine Todd Whitman. The other three members (which features an African American and a Latino) were appointed by the first openly gay Governor in U.S. history: Democrat James E. McGreevey.

Freedom to Marry Week comes as at a time when it appears the momentum against anti-gay marriage ballot measures appears to be in our favor. In California and in Florida heterosexual supremacists have failed to qualify initiatives for their initended election date. In California they are still gathering signatures and there may be a devastating anti-gay proposition on the November statewide ballot. In Florida, they are aiming for 2008. In Maryland, a judge ruled last month that state's gay marriage ban to be unconstitutional. In New York and Washington State we are still waiting for definitive ruling from those state's highest courts. In Massachusetts, where discrimination-free marriage has been legal since May 17, 2004, opponents have been caught forging citizens' signatures to a petition to have a vote to amend the state constitution to end gay marriage. Our side has filed a lawsuit against the Attorney General of Massachusetts Tom Reilly (who is running for Governor). The earliest a vote could occur in that state is 2008.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Canada MPs Unlikely To Alter Current Gay Marriage Law

Apparently the warm flush of victory in last month's Parliamentary elections in Canada is beginning to fade. After downplaying the urgency in addressing the issue of same-sex marriage in Canada (which has been legal since July 21 2005) during the election campaign, now the Tories are backing away from reconsidering the issue at all. Outgoing Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler told the Globe and Mail newspaper that he believes that most MPs do not want to re-address the divisive issue again, and thus same-sex marriage is likely to remain legal in Canada for the foreseeable future. Oh, Canada!

Didn't She Used To Play Tennis?

Serena Williams with singer Mya at New York City's Fashion Week on Monday February 6. Venus Williams was also seen with Nicole Richie in the front row viewing Oscar de la Renta's collection.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Grammys Defy Prediction, diss Mariah

You may recall I had previously predicted the winners of the four major categories in the Grammys: Record of the Year ("We Belong Together"), Song Of The Year ("Ordinary People"), Album of the Year ("Late Registration") and Best New Artist (John Legend). Sadly, MadProfessah went 1 out of 4 in these categories, predicting only the last one correctly. Grammy voters went with U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb for Album of the Year and "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" for Song of the Year. Since the boys from Dublin had previously won 16 Grammys it is always dangerous to bet against them in the big categories, but I thought that the "Mariah Carey comeback" story had permeated the Academy. She did end up winning 3 awards (Best R&B Song, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best Contemporary R&B Album) but none of those wins were televised. Mariah not only lost five Grammys but she also lost the opening performance slot to Madonna, who gave a desultory outing with the cartoon group Gorillaz. However, she did acquit herself quite admirably in her live vocal performance. She of course had to do "We Belong Together" but then she made the bravura choice of the final track from The Emancipation of Mimi, "Fly Like A Bird." This is probably one of the hardest songs on the album to reproduce live, but she did an excellent job. It is gospel-tinged, with a full choir and a frenetic, almost chaotic crescendo which Mariah was able to reproduce with remarkable accuracy. She tore up the stage. It looked to me like the audience of jaded music industry types were stunned. Many, many members jumped to their feet at the conclusion of her performance and I saw Sting's wife mouthing "Wow." Indeed.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Mariah versus Madonna: Who Will Appear First Tonight?

Apparently the producers of the Grammy telecast are caught in the middle of a full diva smackdown! MadProfessah reported earlier that Madonna (5-time winner lifetime, no nominations this year) woud be opening the show with the animated group Gorillaz, in a high-tech, hip-hop synergistic blend of dance pop. However, Mariah Carey (2-time winner, 8 nominations this year) has her heart set on opening the show with a choir-backed rendition of the #1 single of 2005, "We Belong Together." One more reason to check out the telecast this evening! Frankly, I think they should go with who is the hottest act right now, and that would be Mariah.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Taye Digs Will--Does Anyone Notice?

The now-irrelevant NBC sitcom Will & Grace featured an interracial, homosexual kiss between guest star Taye Diggs and series star Eric McCormack last week. Rod 2.0 has featured the storyline pretty prominently on his blog, and I agree that it is important to the media portrayals of Black Gay men on television that someone as phyne as Taye Diggs is, on a television show which at one time was important to portrayals of gay issues in the popular media. I don't watch the show any more, but it's my understanding the storyline continues in this week's episode. Rod also has other interesting Taye Diggs news...

California Gubernatorial Primary Four Months Away

The California June statewide primary election is exactly four months away from today. Last week it was reported that while Democratic challengers Steve Westly and Phil Angelides have at least $40 million between them, the incumbent California Governor has less than zero dollars in the bank! However, the Alliance for a Better California's Julie Rosen has the latest poll numbers which has Schwarzenegger in a dead heat with both Westly (behind 39%-40%) and Angelides (ahead 41%-39%).

MadProfessah has met Steve Westly and been contacted by his staff with information about the candidate's positions on LGBT issues. However, Phil Angelides (or his staff) has not been as pro-active. Both campaigns sent holidays cards to the MadProfessah household. Angelides received the endorsement of the California Teachers Association last week. MadProfessah hopes to have an endorsement announcement approximately 4-6 weeks before the June 6 primary election. It appears to be a hard decision. Which candidate can do a better job of defeating Schwarzenegger in the general election on November 7? The hope is that person will be the winner of the primary election, but you never know, it doesn't usually work that way on the Republican side!

Monday, February 06, 2006

NV: Restaurant Sued For Illegally Firing HIV+ Employee

365gay.com is reporting about a federal HIV discrimination lawsuit filed in Nevada in which a man named Robert Hickman claims that his employer, a Subway restaurant in Las Vegas, fired him when he disclosed his HIV-positive status. I find it bizarre that businesses don't realize that it is not only against Federal (American with Disabilities Act) and State (California Civil Code) law to discriminate in employment on the basis of disability, which includes HIV status. It was less than 15 months ago that Cirque du Soleil had to pay 600 000 dollars for discriminating against HIV+ gymnast Mathew Cusick. Oh well, I hope Subway likes to write big checks!

UPDATE: It looks like ignorance of HIV discrimination laws is not just limited to Nevada or California. 365gay.com reports about another "HIV+ food worker" case which has been settled in North Carolina.

Devin Brown Affair Continues To Fester One Year Later

Ok, so the Devin Brown affair continues to fester. This is the case of a 13-year old African American youth named Devin Brown who was driving a 1990 Toyota Camry owned by one of his relatives without permission late one saturday night (83rd Street and Western Avenue, 4am, February 6 2005) when he was fatally wounded after LAPD officer Steve Garcia dumped ten rounds into the automobile the youngster was driving (although the officer claims he could not see who or if anyone was driving). The officer also claimed he feared for his life because the car was reversing directly towards him at a high rate of speed. However, an LAPD computer re-enactment refuted this claim. Despite this, District Attorney Steve Cooley refused to press charges against Garcia. Last week, LAPD Chief William Bratton ruled that the shooting was "within policy" and within days the Los Angeles Police Commission ruled 4-1 to overturn that decision. This Sunday, Angelenos woke up to the continued rabid ramblings of anonymous, police brutality apologist "Jack Dunphy" appearing again in the Los Angeles Times. In the Current section, "Dunphy" questions the impartiality of Police Commission Chief John Mack, claims that Chief Bratton faces a no-win political dilemma and suggests the Police Commission devalues Garcia's life over Brown's. He then ends with this big fat squirming straw man: "The commission's ruling suggests that it would rather have seen Garcia killed that night than Brown. The city must decide what kind of police officer it wants: the kind who will chase criminals through the streets in the dead of night, or the kind who will avoid perils to life and livelihood and simply watch them get away." Holy False Dichotomy, Batman! Are these our only choices? This was not a situation where either Devin Brown or Steve Garcia had to die. And it is precisely this thinking by too many LAPD officers that situations devolve to either the perpertrator or them that is at the root of such distrust, disgust and, frankly, violence, towards police officers. Excuse me, but there are other ways to stop a car then to shoot blindly into the driver's side window. Ever hear of shooting out the wheels? As I've said before, and I will say again, Jack Dunphy is a big fat idiot.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Hingis Beats Sharapova But Loses To Dementieva

One day after putting her racket where her mouth is and stunning Maria Sharapova in straight sets at the Pan Pacific semi-finals, Martina Hingis was defeated by Elena Dementieva 6-2, 6-0 in her first WTA singles final match of her improbable comeback. It was Dementieva's first title in over two years, and the fourth title of her career. Although she lost this final, Hingis has accepted a wild card entry into the Indian Wells tournament. Dementieva jumps to #8 in the World Singles rankings.

2006 Grammy Awards: Predictions

Fresh off my impressive prediction of the 2006 Oscar nominations, here are my predictions for the Grammys. The 2006 (48th Annual) Grammy Awards are going to be given out in Los Angeles on Wednesday February 8. Last year, Mad Professah predicted two of the four wins in the four "big" categories. This year, the artists with the most nominations are Mariah Carey, Kanye West and John Legend (tied with 8 each). Mariah Carey has only won 2 Grammy's previously, in 1990, so this year's slew of nomination is an amazing career turn around for the soulful diva. This is the second year in a row that Kanye West has led the Grammy nominations race. John Legend has been unheralded in the background for years (he played piano and sang on Lauryn Hill's "Everything is Everything" at the age of 16!) but his debut album has generally been received with rave reviews (though the Mad Professah is not impressed). Anyway....here are the nominees (and my predictions)!

ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Mariah Carey: "The Emancipation of Mimi"; Paul McCartney: "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard"; Gwen Stefani: "Love. Angel. Music. Baby."; U2: "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb"; Kanye West: "Late Registration" ;
Should Win: "The Emancipation of Mimi” by Mariah Carey.
Will Win: “Late Registration” by Kanye West.

This is a very tough category to predict. The best selling album of the year is Mariah Carey's Mimi. However, artistically Kanye West's Late Registration is the most respected of the bunch. But then again this is clearly the last time Grammy voters will be able to honor a former Beatle, so nostalgia may siphon off a significant fraction of votes in favor of Sir Paul. It's very possible that U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb may sneak in and win the trophy. I'm just hoping that enough people will vote their conscience, though if I was voting I would recognize Mariah Carey's comeback.

RECORD OF THE YEAR: Mariah Carey: "We Belong Together"; Gorillaz featuring De La Soul: "Feel Good Inc."; Green Day: "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"; Gwen Stefani: "Hollaback Girl"; Kanye West: "Gold Digger";
Should Win: “We Belong Together" by Mariah Carey.
Will Win: “We Belong Together" by Mariah Carey.
This is the most important category. Again, Mariah Carey has the most commercially successful entry. However, Kanye's "Gold Digger" is a truly brilliant record--I can still remember where I was the first time I heard it. The Gorillaz' track is even more impressive--it was indelible and ubiquitous in 2005. Either one of these three would be deserving of the Grammy for Record of the Year, but I believe that the most popular track will win: "We Belong Together."

SONG OF THE YEAR: "Bless The Broken Road" by Bobby Boyd, Jeff Hanna & Marcus Hummon, songwriters (Rascal Flatts); "Devils & Dust" by Bruce Springsteen, songwriter (Bruce Springsteen)"; Ordinary People" by W. Adams & J. Stephens, songwriters (John Legend); "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" by U2, songwriters (U2); "We Belong Together"by J. Austin, M. Carey, J. Dupri & M. Seal, songwriters and (D. Bristol, K. Edmonds, S. Johnson, P. Moten, S. Sully & B. Womack, songwriters) (Mariah Carey);
Should Win: “We Belong Together" by Mariah Carey.
Will Win: Ordinary People" by John Legend.
The best song of the year is "We Belong Together" but I think the voting members will not want to reward a song which contains (credited) important songwriting elements from another song, Babyface's "Two Occasions." Lots of people love the John Legend song(MadProfessah is not one of them). U2 has one this category before (2000's "Beautiful Day") and with 16 Grammys at home can never really be counted out of any category. I suspect that U2 will pull out a surprise win here, especially if John Legend does not win Best New Artist.

BEST NEW ARTIST: Ciara, Fall Out Boy, Keane, John Legend, SugarLand.
Should Win: John Legend.
Will Win: John Legend
Last year, Kanye West lost this award to "Mediocre 5" (more popularly known as Maroon 5). In that case, one would expect Ciara to win, but hopefully Grammy voters will be smarter this year than they were last year or the year before (Evanescence over 50 Cent?).

Anyway, tune in to CBS on Wednesday at 8pm to see what happens...The Grammy telecast can be a crapshoot, but this year it starts with a pairing of Madonna and Gorillaz. It will also be interesting to see if Mariah has the audacity to lip sync a "live" performance in front of the entire recording industry.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Read This. Now!

This post by Max Gordon (although possibly a bit prolix) has beautifully lyrical sections which really encapsulate how racism feels.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Black Tennis Report for January

Black Players Lose Early At First Slam of the Year.
Venus, Serena, James Blake, Shenay Perry, Mashona Washington all exited the draw of the 2006 Australian Open prior to the fourth round of the tournament.

James Blake Joins US Davis Cup Team.
Patrick McEnroe announced January 31 that James Blake has been named to be the second singles player (after Andy Roddick) on the United States Davis Cup team.

Venus and Serena Enter Family Circle Cup.
The Williams Sisters have announced that they are entering the only Tier 1 clay court tennis tournament in the USA, the Family Circle Cup, held April 8-16 in Charleston, South Carolina. Also entered in the tournament is Justine Henin-Hardenne.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

WA: equal rights bill signed into law

Governor "Chris" Gregoire signs Washington State's equal rights bill into law on Tuesday January 31. The legislation adds "sexual orientation" to the list of categories in which it is now illegal to discriminate against in the areas of housing, employment, insurance and credit.


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