Saturday, December 31, 2005
Auld angst syne
While I mull over Nina Ricci vs. Nicole Miller in the event that tonight turns into an escapade out on the town, I just want to acknowledge how thankful I am to have made it to see another calendar turn. 2005 hasn't been the best of times for me in the least bit. I've been bumped, bruised, fallen flat on my ass and taken my scrapes with as much grit I could muster. But my mistakes have taught me lessons with every scar, and made me stronger for the next challenge waiting for me around the bend.
At the close of this year, I find myself pleasantly surprised that I decided to take the plunge in the sorority of Read My Blog and appreciative for every kind word that's been offered to me in my somewhat skewed takes on something, nothing and everything in between. To my everyone who's made a pit stop here (and I'm not shouting out individually since I know an omission is imminent) be it as a frequent commentator or simply a passerby of my random absurdities, I raise a toast of bubbly in gratitude for your input. Good looking out and all the best in 2006.
Lights, camera, action!
[voiceover]: "It's blogging's biggest night...simulcast from the five boroughs, welcome to the 1st annual TurnStyle Awards — recapping the year in entertainment and pop culture according to ballots stuffed with this know-it-all's picks for what was hot and what was not in 2005.
Live from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, please welcome your host, Miss TriniPrincess!"
Good evening and thanks for joining me for our inaugural cybercast. This year came and went like a blur of alcohol and hangovers. Entertainment wavered in quality but the standouts were always present. Honestly, it's a little like this. Every year as mid-autumn's chill turns a bit more arctic, I start scouring my bookmarked sources for the seemingly highbrow verdicts of what summed up the year that was. The best, the worst, the hits, the misses. I laugh, I cringe, I'm screaming "where the fuck did that pick come from?!" mentally. And then I got to thinking, why not get in on the pretentious hipster posturing as well? I spend enough time skewering entertainment for the past 52 weeks, so it only makes sense to compile my first real retrospective of my likes, loathes and sprinkles of random bitchiness on everything in between for your reading pleasure. So while I dazzle your imaginations with mock costume changes, let's get this show on the road...shall we?
Blame it on Steve Jobs. Thanks to iTunes and a serious Limewire addiction, my attention span for songs, let alone entire albums have gone the way of coherent plots on Desperate Housewives. With mainstream radio polluted with even more dreck on the airwaves, my attention span has whittled to a toothpick. If it doesn't catch my ear by the first 30 seconds, I flip the dial on the radio or skip to the next track. Pity the poor pop star expects to sit through their entire disc as a captive audience. However, as December is officially deemed the month of haughty apotheosis, and it's my turn to bestow recognition on what stood out. So, with the abridged Cliff Notes, check out the best and brightest who rocked, as well as chronic stinkers that, uh, failed in every other regard.
- Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine (Clean Slate/Epic)
- Kanye West, Late Registration (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)
- M.I.A., Arular (XL/Interscope)
- Little Brother, The Minstrel Show (Atlantic)
- Goldfrapp, Number 1 [EP] (Mute)
- Kate Bush, Aerial (Columbia)
- Shakira, Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 (Epic/Sony BMG)
- Esthero, Wikked Lil' Grrrls (Reprise/Warner Bros.)
- Common, Be (G.O.O.D./Geffen)
- Raul Midón, State Of Mind (Manhattan)
- Lizz Wright, Dreaming Wide Awake (Verve)
- The White Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan (V2)
- Shelby Lynne, Suit Yourself (Capitol)
- Franz Ferdinand, You Could Have It So Much Better (Domino/Epic)
- Leela James, A Change Is Gonna Come (Warner Bros.)
- Keyshia Cole, The Way It Is (A&M)
- Brazilian Girls, Brazilian Girls (Verve)
- Anthony Hamilton, Ain't Nobody Worryin' (So So Def/Arista)
- Faith Evans, The First Lady (Capitol)
- Beanie Sigel, The B. Coming (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)
Most overrated album: Mariah Carey, The Emancipation of Mimi (Island Def Jam) One thing the American public loves almost as much as watching celebrities fall from grace is their inevitable "against all odds" comeback story which puts them back in the winner's circle — and no singer better personified the legend of the phoenix better than Ms. Carey in 2005. The #1's began popping up bigger than those inflatable devices that doubles as her tits and securing both the biggest single & album in this calendar year all but camouflaged the One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest misstep that was her meltdown of 2001. Even critics by and large which had taken pleasure in maligning her material affirmed TEOM was her best yet. Ya think?
If you went solely by public opinion (which is about as accurate as Will Smith still winning AMA's), you would be under the impression this broad had rekindled the innovation of Stevie Wonder's golden years and released the '05 version of Songs In The Key Of Life. However the end result was little else but her same old PowerPuff Girls lyrics reined in with toned down melisma (for her bombastic standards) and slicker production value. All of this praise heaped on Charmbracelet 2.0 (save Stay The Night, Fly Like A Bird, Mine Again & Circles) when the supposed "return of the voice" is clearly damaged to the point of ProTools repair? I'm not moved.
Runner-up: Madonna, Confessions On A Dance Floor (Warner Bros.) Reinvention? Try repetition. While the velvet mafia collectively blows smoke up the ass of the masses by touting the bulk of this soundtrack for tweaking iceheads as a "stunning return to form," the truth of the matter is the formerly divine Miss M. has now taken her place next to George W. Bush as a fellow overachiever who has gone extremely far on modest gifts but needs to sit their ass down effective immediately. You know the advanced Botox sessions are in vain when a disciple of blonde ambition not only trumps this electro sludge set to crystal methodized beats not in only material, but also by being ahead of the curve by FIVE YEARS. Pick up Light Years on import and skip the critical hyberbole doled on a lesser effort. Kylie Minogue, I'm hoping the cancer goes into an extended remission because your disco needs you.
- Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx, Gold Digger (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)
- Princess Superstar, Perfect (K7)
- Damian Marley, Welcome To Jamrock (Tuff Gong/Universal)
- Amerie, 1 Thing (Rise/Columbia)
- Shakira featuring Alejandro Sanz, La Tortura (Epic/Sony BMG)
- Gwen Stefani, Hollaback Girl (Interscope)
- The Game featuring 50 Cent, Hate It Or Love It (G-Unit/Aftermath/Interscope)
- Róisín Murphy, If We're In Love (Echo)
- Missy Elliott featuring Ciara & Fat Man Scoop, Lose Control (The Gold Mind/Atlantic)
- Tori Alamaze, Don't Cha (Universal)
- Natasha Bedingfield, These Words (Epic)
- John Legend, Ordinary People (G.O.O.D./Sony Urban Music/Columbia)
- Madonna, Hung Up (Warner Bros.)
- T.O.K., Footprints (VP/Atlantic)
- Mariah Carey, We Belong Together (Island Def Jam)
- Three 6 Mafia featuring Young Buck, Eightball & MJG, Stay Fly (Columbia)
- Gorillaz, Feel Good Inc. (Parlophone/Virgin)
- Imogen Heap, Hide and Seek (RCA)
- Ciara featuring Ludacris, Oh (Sho'Nuff-Musicline/LaFace/Zomba)
- The Killers, Mr. Brightside (Island)
Your body's calling, so why won't you listen?: If you can muster up one good thing to say about Ashlee Simpson (should the need arise out of maddening necessity), the girl's a trooper. In spite of how many times her immune system's been plagued and devolves into a little shop of horrors before a worldwide audience, the muppet who could won't give up. It's truly a triumph of the human spirit. Nobody's gonna break her stride, nobody's gonna slow this vocal powerhouse down. Oh no. She's gotta keep on movin'! Akin to two-fisting back Jello shots on an empty stomach, the body is a tricky fucker when it comes to regurgitating what doesn't agree with you, and in Asshat's case, it's one vicious mother when you put a microphone in her hand. Whether she's miming it in on late night television or waging an epic struggle against acid reflux at halftime, her will to persevere is right up there with any Olympic hopeful. The shovel of bullshit served up from presswhores after collapsing during a MTV Japan performance in Tokyo was that time honored excuse Hollywood loves almost as much as neatly cut coke lines. Exhaustion. Yeah, because trying to legitimately stay on key while warbling out a note or two can really take the wind out your sails. It's a small comfort to know that in the battle against the shit stain that is homogenized pop, we the listeners have the greatest of allies in enemy territory. Ashlee's own innards. Rejoice!
Most entertaining feud of the year: 50 Cent vs. The Game? Pshht. Brooke Shields vs. Tom Cruise? Hell nah. Kanye West vs. President Bush? Not even close. I'm weeping tears of glee over how Foxy Brown and Lil' Kim have rekindled their rivalry past the expiration of actual relevance to the rest of the English speaking world. First up on the American Gladiators obstacle course for original gun clappaz was the competing yardie spiced odes to hometown pride (Lighters Up vs. Come Fly With Me), and their dueling legal skirmishes (Kim's perjury conundrum vs. Fox Boogie's assault trial) and of course the main event bound to become some kind of bloodsport disability battle in a physical therapy session broadcast via satellite. Inga's scrap with never-was Jacki O. in a Miami recording studio earlier this year was merely a Survivor Series undercard to HoodratMania. Kim will roll up in her tricked out Herman Meier wheelchair with customized 22's to the tune of Big Momma Thang piped over the medical facility's loudspeakers and be like "Foxy Brown ain't shit! So what if she's deaf, I keeps it real... I'm paralyzed from the waist down, and what? These implants are leaking too, step to that! You in the hood now, baby..." Then it's popping wheelies back to the Do or Die. Consider my pay-per-view order booked.
How to wreck two classics without really trying: This is more like a golden shower on your wedding day, and no...it's not terribly ironic still. Remember those carefree days of playing hackysacks on a grassy knoll while ditching class, trying on bisexual kisses with your girlfriends as the Birkenstock'd trend of the week and the sweet smell of patchouli wafting through the air on the way to the nearest Lilith Fair pit stop? Behold the trivial pursuit of blissful mediocrity that is Alanis Morissette. Seeing as how she's spent the last 10 years taking a wrecking ball to any credibility remaining, it's damn near mind boggling to consider just how much of a reckoning Jagged Little Pill really was.
And now to commemorate its bajillion-times-platinum anniversary, along comes a repackaging of those powerful tunes nipped and tucked in a grotesque makeover befitting of Fox's The Swan. Stripping down what used to be anthems down to milquetoast melodies was merely one phase of the blandification still to come. Enter the gratingly cheesy "my favorite song" campaign thought up by those purveyors of corporate conglomeration - the Gap. Alongside Joss Stone, DC3's Michelle Williams (thanks for serving my curiosity on what an alley cat would sound like doing Al Green) and John Legend, Morissette opted to defecate all over Seal's Crazy twice. I suppose the yodeling ramble of her a cappella version wasn't torture enough, so re-recording it with a Eurotrash beat too mindless for even an Ibiza clubhopper was the cherry on a crap filled sundae.
My mind must've gone halfcrazy, because it's a wrap, honey: Musiq Soulchild's descent to the chitlin circuit of gospel plays. Imagine my surprise that the newest Negra spiritual/lonely woman revival to hit the Beacon Theater in "The Man Of Her Dreams," was going to be headlined by Mr. Dead Eye himself. Wait a second, hear that crashing in the offing? That's the sound of a once promising career hitting the skids.
- R. Kelly, TP.3 Reloaded (Jive)
- Tweet, It's Me Again (Elektra/EEG)
- Teairra Marí, Roc-A-Fella Presents Teairra Marí (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)
- Tony Yayo, Thoughts Of A Predicate Felon (G-Unit/Shady/Aftermath)
- Ashlee Simpson, I Am Me (Geffen)
- Pretty Ricky, Bluestars (Atlantic)
- Will Smith, Lost and Found (Overbrook/Interscope)
- Santana, All That I Am (Arista)
- The Black Eyed Peas, Monkey Business (A&M/Interscope)
- Jennifer Lopez, Rebirth (Epic/Sony BMG)
- Shaggy, Clothes Drop (Geffen)
- Faith Hill, Fireflies (Warner Bros.)
- Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill Acoustic (Maverick)
- Daft Punk, Human After All (Virgin)
- Marques Houston, Naked (Universal)
- Missy Elliott, The Cookbook (The Gold Mind/Atlantic)
- The Darkness, One Ticket To Hell...And Back (Atlantic)
- 112, Pleasure and Pain (Def Soul/Def Jam)
- Sheryl Crow, Wildflower (A&M)
- Brooke Valentine, Chain Letter (Virgin)
- The Black Eyed Peas, My Humps (A&M/Interscope)
- R. Kelly, Trapped In The Closet: Chapters 1-100 (Jive)
- D4L, Laffy Taffy (DeeMoney/Asylum/Atlantic)
- Teairra Marí, No Daddy (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)
- Bow Wow featuring Ciara, Like You (Sony Urban Music/Columbia)
- The Ying Yang Twins, Wait (The Whisper Song) (ColliPark/TVT)
- Jessica Simpson, These Boots Were Made For Walkin' (Columbia)
- Destiny's Child, Cater 2 U (Sony Urban Music/Columbia)
- Alicia Keys, Unbreakable (J)
- Eminem, Ass Like That (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope)
- Omarion, O (Sony Urban Music/Epic)
- Akon, Lonely (Universal)
- Nelly featuring Paul Wall, Ali & Gipp, Grillz (Derrty/Fo' Reel)
- Ricky Martin featuring Amerie & Fat Joe, I Don't Care (Columbia)
- 50 Cent featuring Olivia, Candy Shop (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope)
- Ashlee Simpson, L.O.V.E. (Geffen)
- Mariah Carey, Shake It Off (Island Def Jam)
- Frankie J., More Than Words (Columbia)
- Daft Punk, Technologic (Virgin)
- Backstreet Boys, Incomplete (Jive)
In a year that saw a girl group extend their farewell (actually more like good riddance) appearances longer than the Friday the 13th franchise, two R&B heavyweights turned pedophila posterchildren sidestep singing like a jaybird in cell block 8 for all the wrong reasons and musicians reawaken their sense of political awareness by sending conscious anthems like to the top of the charts, it's uncanny that some fresh faces stepped up to the plate with some worthy contributions.
And among the most noteworthy newcomers were:
Natasha Bedingfield, Keyshia Cole, Trey Songz, Bobby Valentino & Chris Brown.
If there is one thing 2005 will be remembered by, it will be the way in which Hollywood decided to dig up the rotting corpses of as many old television shows as it could, only to watch each one of them bomb at the box office in rapid succession. Fortunately, as the year wound down to awards season, a number of excellent pictures arrived at a cineplex near you.
- Good Night, And Good Luck.
- A History Of Violence
- Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
- Brokeback Mountain
- Pride & Prejudice
- The 40-Year Old Virgin
- The Upside of Anger
- Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
- Mad Hot Ballroom
- North Country
- Layer Cake
- Wedding Crashers
- Hustle & Flow
- Pretty Persuasion
- Sin City
- In Her Shoes
- Son Of The Mask
- In The Mix
- King's Ransom
- Be Cool
- Get Rich Or Die Tryin'
- War Of The Worlds
- Aeon Flux
- The Honeymooners
- Diary Of A Mad Black Woman
- The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl in 3-D
- Kingdom Of Heaven
- A Lot Like Love
- White Noise
- Must Love Dogs
On the whole, the fights, fears, tragedies and victories paint a picture of a tumultuous, poignant and dramatic 2005. In the space of a year, a tsunami, an earthquake, torrential storms have claimed more than 300,000 lives to the tune of 100 billion dollars in damage. And while an American city was engulfed in peril leaving the rest of the world to wonder how could something like this take place in the self-appointed supercountry, what did our President have to say about this? "You're doing a helluva job, Brownie." In a time when journalists were written off as nothing more than corporate schills contracted to read from the script of the White House press corps, the depravity of human survival in extrenuating circumstances raised the bar for what makes compelling television.
While the film industry's attempt to make everything old new again to disastrous effect this year, in the literary world the transition was far more successful and no one harkened back to a welcome twist on a well-known tale quite like Zadie Smith. Building on her critically acclaimed debut, 2000's White Teeth, she reinvents E.M. Forster's classic Howards End as an engaging tale of a feud between two Rembrandt scholars and their families that encompasses issues of race, art, beauty and ethics in a New England college town, interconnected by love, sex, friendship and professional rivalry. Like so many, I highly recommend On Beauty, a triumph of sophisticated style and broad vision - and a pure pleasure to read.
- Zadie Smith, On Beauty (Penguin Press)
- Peter Guralnick, Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke (Little/Brown)
- Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking (Little/Brown)
- Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
- Bret Easton Ellis, Lunar Park (Knopf)
- Adam Mansbach, Angry Black White Boy (Three Rivers Press)
- Caryl Phillips, Dancing In The Dark (Knopf)
- Walter Mosley, Cinnamon Kiss (Little/Brown)
- Ariel Levy, Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (Free Press)
- Jeff Chang, Can't Stop Won't Stop (St. Martin's Press)
Nick & Jessica. Brad & Jennifer. Renee & Kenny. Charlie & Denise. Paris & Paris. Nicole & DJ AM. Paris & Nicole. Eddie & Nicole. Babyface & Tracey. Valerie & Eddie. Jude & Sienna. It was a busy year for spontaneous combustions and Jewish lawyers to make a killing.
Soul Power Fist Flashback of the Year: You know, one of the things that really tapdances on my damn nerves is the narrow representation of Black folk on reality TV. Either they're portrayed as the ultra-difficult diva (Omarosa, check), the passive brotha who just wants to get along (Kwame), the patented Angry Black Male or sometimes you get lucky when a dude like Randal Pinkett wins the whole damn enchilada. Agreeable to a fault and tough when warranted, you felt a collective "you go boy!" let loose when he chin checked Donald Trump for even suggesting that the runner-up Rebecca be offered a job also in the Apprentice's season finale. I know they told ya'll almost doesn't count, so quit your whining, heifer!
Love.Insanity.Religion.Baby: It's so frightening to truly the downfall Tom Cruise's credibility. Nazi-eyed tantrum toward Matt Lauer and Oprah's upholstery. One minute your America's favorite heartthrob with calling card of free snatch thrown your way, the next downgraded to the David Koresh of Dianetics. Here's the blow-by-blow from TV Squadon the descent to freak show oblivion:
"It all began when he leaped onto Oprah's couch in May. He was on her show to promote War of the Worlds, but all he did was talk jibberish about some B-list celebrity girl we all know for her starring role in a teen-angst drama on WB. He jumped around for 40 minutes of the program and at one point, he appeared to actually murder Oprah Winfrey. How did he and Katie Holmes meet? He couldn't really answer it. What is it about Katie Holmes that makes him love her so? He couldn't really answer that either, except to say she's "remarkable" and "amazing". Later, he also told Billy Bush that "Kate" was a wonderful talent, and that he had seen her on "Dawson Creek". Dude, it's possessive. Dawson's Creek. Obviously he knows her very well. They had been dating since, like, April. A lot of people (myself included) found it all very hard to believe. We're grumpy skeptics who only believe in love at first sight if it's in the movies. Plus, Tom and Katie both had movies coming out at about the same time. It sure seemed like a publicity stunt, didn't it? The two showed up everywhere, giving big, open-mouthed smiles and making out at everything from movie premieres to electronics store openings. It was real, they insisted. And, just to prove it, Tom took Katie up to the top of the Eiffel Tower and asked her to marry him. If you didn't doubt them before that you probably did afterward. How L-A-M-E. That mayhem alone didn't solidify my belief that Tom Cruise must be stopped. At that point, I just thought he was really intense and, quite frankly, I enjoyed watching him make an ass of himself. But it was this little appearance on the Today show, where Tom told Matt Lauer that vitamins and exercise cure depression, that made me realize he is out of his damn mind. Without even knowing Brooke Shields, Tom accused her of being misled into taking prescription anti-depressants to overcome severe post partum depression. Shields, Tom said, was mistaken. He also told Matt that he studied what Ritalin did to people and "do you know Ritalin, Matt?" Doctors all over the country were freaking out about the lasting effects of Tom's proclamation that post partum depression doesn't exist."One to watch in 2006: Ne-Yo. Co-writer of one of the biggest smashes of the year in Mario's Let Me Love You, this R&B crooner takes center stage next month with his full-length debut, In My Own Words. You know a song has passed the smell test when you find yourself stumbling over the lyrics just to get to the hook and the repeat button's on lock. The first single So Sick is just one of those cuts that has mass appeal written all over it.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Crazy or not, here she comes
The fact remains that Lauryn Hill is still that bitch. Ms. Temperamental has had a tough time getting her house in order, but here's hoping that the stars are aligned for the creative cylinders to click once more. I've had my fill of all the crunkafied shit you could fit in a Cadillac trunk and I'm jonesing for some vintage soul searching L-Boogie. Come on home, Lauryn... take off the Lollipop Guild wig and look into the light. We need you more than ever.
Monday, December 26, 2005
'Tis the season to be cranky
Initial promises that our dinner would be small and tasteful went in one ear and out the other as the proposed menu tripled in a span of minutes with the last minute additions. Making the situation an even bigger comedy of errors was the fact is my kitchen is the size of a shoe closet, so struggling to keep the oven door open as my mom and I shoveled endless baking pans of meats, casseroles and pies in and out and over to the table in rapid succession like a madwoman. See why I keep my culinary forays limited to recipes for one?
Complicating matters was the fact that not only were our lives scheduled around CP time, so was our cooking. And even though our guests were still 20 minutes late, our Iron Chef tandem was running a full 45 minutes behind. It was only after hearing the first car pull up to the house that I had to pull myself from the stove to sprint into the shower to freshen up and get out of a football tee and boxers to appear "presentable" as the designated singleton mascot.
A few body splash spritzes and an ensemble change later, we finally rearranged silverware and the centerpiece to make room from a full spread. Turkey, a smaller roasted chicken, pelau (which is translated as rice & peas for the Yankee crew), callaloo, macaroni pie, pastelles, cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, scalloped potatoes, candied yams, glazed ham along with two jugs of ponche á creme (think egg nog with a stronger kick) on a dining table that was swollen and overstuffed.
In walked the assortment of tanties, uncles and people I just didn't know from a can of paint but apparently remembered me "from small." Why do old folks think that jabbing you in the belly a la the Pillsbury dough boy while sizing up the pounds you've put on since they've seen you last is an acceptable practice? And of course when I shoot the death glance instead of the uncomfortable giggle they were expecting, I'm called rude. Whatever.
Trying to smooth things over from my obvious distance from the ladies making chit chat about distant relatives back home whom I'd never met, much less were familiar with was Mommy Dearest, and I couldn't decide whether I was proud or embarrassed that she still felt the need to brag about my minor triumphs, however few and far between they were now outside the confines of a classroom. The maternal instinct never wavers, does it?
And just when I'd resigned myself to slapping on the rubber gloves and Dawn ready to bat cleanup at the sink after the dessert dishes came back empty with just crumbs of black cake left, the doorbell rang and at the door was my mother's "cousin's" nephew summoned over to drop them home and also as an ulterior motive I sniffed a mile away — fraternizing with moi. One look at his LED lit belt and Akademiks jeans slipping off his ass guaranteed that I wasn't interested in small talk.
Next year, I'm booking a reservation out of town.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Holly & ivy
While my turkey day was laid back and quiet, this one promises to be a pendulum swing in the other direction. Last minute racing around at 3 grocery stores late yesterday evening already ensured that I'll be reaching for the Molotov cocktail of Tums, Pepto Bismol and Stolichnaya frequently as the clock ticks away ever so slowly.
The season of bad Santas, credit card orgies and an over-commercialized assault on what used to be a reason to celebrate family (blood or chosen/acquired) and embracing the little things that make life worthwhile have now left me more than a bit jaded, but watching reruns It's A Wonderful Life & Miracle On 34th Street always find a way to thaw the hardened shell on the surface.
So regardless of whether you're a Jew, Gentile, Buddhist, Muslim or whether you've been naughty or nice, I'd like to wish all my regular contributors, lurkers and fellow writers in the blogosphere a merry Christmas, a happy Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Diwali and everything in between. Stay safe out there.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Spanning the back pages
Steinbrenner rings, I was listeningRed Sox fans got run over by a reindeer, standing on their soapbox this Christmas Eve. If you don't think there's no such thing as karma, head on down to Beantown... they believe.
Overnight, the Stadium's glistening
A beautiful sight
Leaving Fenway tonight
Walking in a Yankees wonderland
Gone away is the long hair
Here to stay is the short hair
Singing a love song
Me and Jeter go along
Walking in a Yankees wonderland
In between preparing the holiday menus and readjusting my morning routine, did everyone neglect to mention that hell froze over? I was all but certain that my eggnog had been spiked with the news that now-ex Boston centerfielder Johnny Damon had spurned renegotiating with the front office at Yawkey Way to jump ship to the dark side. Grizzly Adams, a Yankee? It took front page confirmations from both tabloids that this in fact was true. And in many ways, can't say that this is too much of a shock either. The deafening silence that was Cashman & Co. fronting the so-called "Evil Empire" with low-key sound bites and a tight-lipped rein was getting to be a bit unnerving this offseason. However, The Boss rarely misses an opportunity to make a big splash in the free agent market and this turned out to be the whopper of them all.
Rabid high priestess of pinstripes that I am, I'm pretty ambivalent about the whole scenario, really. While this plugs a hole in the outfield and provides our most lethal 1-2 leadoff combo since the days of Chuck Knoblauch wearing down pitch counts with his pesky at-bats, Damon's arm is even worse than Bernie's, his shoulder problems aren't a thing of the past and mere memory of his grand slam off Javier Vasquez in the 2004 ALCS still is a sore subject to even type about, much less discuss at length.
However, when you consider the implications of a team who can count among the highlights of their year:
- losing their boy genius GM
- having their knucklehead, but infinitely imposing star slugger Manny Ramirez so desperate to flee New England that his swanky penthouse went back on the market before a trade scenario could even be worked out
- shipping off their one blue-chip SS prospect to the Marlins in order to swing the Beckett/Lowell trade, meanwhile the supposed heir apparent to Nomar in Edgar Renteria was such a collective bust, they paid the Braves $11 mil to get him off their hands
At the expense of the Fenway faithful, this is a comedy of epic proportions. The Yankees didn't even waste much time in hot pursuit. They waited for Scott Boras to pull his head out of his ass with the ridiculous 7-year contract sticking point, and he fell into their laps for a bit over market value - but only boosted by the "are they kidding?" uptick caused by Rafael Furcal's defection to L.A. Now for Dead Sox fans, it's the nightmare of losing Pedro Martinez being played out all over again as another beloved favorite bolts and the excuses started piling up quicker than Jesus to Judas analogies. "He's not worth that money" and "We didn't really want him anyway" rings really sincere after the fact. Have fun filling all the holes in your lineup, guys.
A father's pain: And on a more somber note, a tragic footnote in recent headlines is the apparent suicide of Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy's 18-year-old son James earlier this week in his Tampa apartment under bizarre circumstances.
So many times sports figures receive all-too-public floggings from the media about the image projected and examples being set in light of their heavy visibility. One couldn't find nary of a source of badmouthing directed to Tony Dungy, because he was that kind of person.
Unfortunately in life, sometimes very bad things happen to very good people. It's a scenario that no parent ever wants to confront and is a horrible juxtaposition against a season that up until this point was on a magical ride, flirting with perfection. And in that chase for immortality in the history books, we're reminded of how life really is. Fragile and oftentimes, far too fleeting.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Back to the basics
"Reunited and it feels so goodAlmost shed a tear after bringing back my MetroCard out of pocket storage. Hearing the icy, corporate assurance of "this is the last stop, please exit the train...thank you for riding New York City Transit" brought a feeling of glad tidings and goodwill. Seeing the napping train booth clerk was enough to know that the stars had realigned back to normal. Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you got till it's... gone.
Reunited 'cause we understood
There's one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited
'Cause we're reunited, hey, hey..."
Love. Angel. Music. Having A Baby.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
A commuter's blues - the post show
This is the final (hopefully) installment of this straphanger's report from the city pavements, so I'm gonna make this wrap-up nice and neat. Okay, I understand that the media has a job to do in covering this bloodless morsel of headlines, but it would be nice if I could navigate through City Hall without the ABC/CBS/NBC/Faux News crews clubbing me in the back with their tripods and camera equipment to keep up with the foot patrol and the Associated Press snapping flicks of oncomers (meaning me) wiping away a booger or struggling with excess baggage. In the eloquent words of that poet laureate Ludacris, move bitch, get out the way!
Chaos in Gotham wouldn't be complete without the rest of the country taking potshots at the avalanche of media coverage surrounding this fiasco. An annoyed reader of the Public Eye sniped:
"All of the network newscasts tonight prominently featured the transit strike. One network had it as the top story. Is there some East Coast bias here? The vast majority of the country is not affected by, and is not particularly interested in, a transit strike in New York City."
Hm. Let's see...with City Comptroller William Thompson estimating the cost to New York's economy at $400 million the first day and $300 million for each subsequent weekday the transit workers are out, NYC being a $450 billion economy on its own and the entire metro area boosting that figure to an eye-popping $808 billion and being the international crossroads of finances, I'd think twice about not pulling your head out of your ass to recognize that this doesn't let the air out of our parcity alone, but on a national scale as well. Let that one marinate, hick boy.
It's about goddamn time
By DEEPTI HAJELA, Associated Press Writer
2 minutes ago
NEW YORK - The city's crippling three-day mass transit strike ended Thursday after union leaders — facing mounting fines, possible jail terms and the wrath of millions of commuters — voted to return their 33,000 members to work without a new contract.
Union board members who emerged from the organization's headquarters said workers will return to their job sites starting with the next shifts. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of returning to work, and resuming negotiations with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
It was unclear when the city's buses and subways would again start running, although transit officials said it would take a minimum of 12 hours to get everything restarted.
The announcement of the vote came outside union headquarters about 3 1/2 hours after state mediators said a possible deal was worked out. It puts the nation's largest mass transit system back in operation while negotiations resume on a new three-year contract.
Roger Toussaint, the combative president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, had recommended that his union's executive board accept the deal.
Once, twice, three times a loser
I was lucky enough to be extended amnesty from the unlikeliest source. My ex-boyfriend. Taking pity on my dire straits in spite of a bad breakup, he offered to drive me into work this morning. It's the little things like that that almost make me wanna book a room at the Mercer for a quickie as a thank-you. But then again, I did say almost.
I now understand why his license has been suspended twice in the past. He's the most manic motorist I've ever had the misfortune of being a passenger with. After nearly sideswiping a taxi while trying to merge on Boerum Place, I temporarily had to renounce the bile-soaked aftertaste of organized religion to recite a few Hail Marys.
But thankfully, all limbs are still in tact.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
That is SO fetch!
Let it never be said that New Yorkers don't have wills of steel to withstand the unthinkable and the inevitable with our brassiness intact. Is the quagmire that is 33,000 transit workers giving the city the finger a valid reason to abandon our cool detachment in the face of a stress factor of 56 on a 1-10 scale? Are we going to let the mask of vainglorious attitude slip because a chastity belt's been put on all transportation until further notice? Of course not, silly wabbits — and we shall overcome with a sense of humor and sardonic fashion.Enter the slaptastic design created by the lovely folks at BlogNYC. Could truer words be rush printed on a Fruit of the Loom? It is THE hottest holiday present to hit the streets since the Murakami hit Canal Street. Don't just flip off the TWU protesters toasting marshmellows over the prerequisite bonfire clad in Big & Tall castoffs. Let the whole world know you've walked 80 blocks and all you got was this lousy t-shirt.
By dawn's early light
To fully grasp the extent of my disgust, enclosed is an edited timeline of my bizarre ride to the far side.
4:08 a.m: After slapboxing my alarm clock for the past eight minutes, I finally roll out of bed and march bleary-eyed into the shower when even the inviting scent of Bliss peppermint soap isn't doing much to perk up my senses.
4:56 a.m: Doing bicep reps holding my Solano hair dryer in Hindu goddess poses trying to sufficiently prevent myself from contracting pneumonia simply because my 'fro was out of control and need to be tamed back into a manageable moptop.
5:37 a.m: Running around my basement like a banshee trying to find exactly where I stuffed those oh-so-sexy pair of thermal underwear to layer under my slacks and furry snow boots.
6:11 a.m: Two Ensures are chugged down as liquid nourishment to go, and I bring the old school AM/FM walkman without the tape deck to get my daily fix of hate from Star and Buc while I pounding the pavement.
8:49 a.m: Trying to weed through the advantage takers for a legitimate carpool further downtown on the corner of Underhill & Vanderbilt is as easy as getting a quick response from EMS in an urban neighborhood.
9:32 a.m: Contemplated hitching a ride with an Aviator full of Pace students, but the vibe was just a little too Negrodian for even me. Young Jeezy blasting in the whip before 10? Nah son, you can go ahead...I'll be alright.
10:25 a.m: I make my way over to the Red Cross hot chocolate booth off City Hall to refuel with a freebie before heading down Fulton Street into work.
Bottom line, I woke up two and a half hours earlier than usual only to be trapped in a snail's crawl to travel the normally clocked 25-minute trip. When it was all said and done, my average of just over a half hour from the subway was tripled in a bone chilling atmosphere. At any other time, I'm happier as a bug in a rug since today kicks off the first day of my favorite season. But this monkey wrench in the script fucked the game up beyond oblivion.
At this point I'm beyond frustrated with both the MTA and the TWU. Both sides need to be padlocked into a room until something concrete can come of this. I respect the union's stance, but goddamn... a sista's feet were crying the blues tonight.
The one upside in this whole fiasco? The emergence of Roger Toussaint as the perfect successor to Mike Quill's billy bad ass swagger. He's public enemy no. 1 on many a dartboards in the city, but dammit, when you see a countryman cause a crooked monopoly to get weak in the knees, you gotta respect the gangsta. Mama always said we Trinis don't bite nice...a metropolis had to learn this one the hard way. Bracing for the trifecta coming tomorrow...
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Save a train, ride a transit worker
After OD'ing on much deprived Z's, I scrambled to hit the snooze button and check out the latest word from the newsreel. A chorus of angry picketers told the whole story before I laid eyes onto the "strike ON" graphic from WNBC. The news I had been dreading for close to a week had finally come to fruition.
Fuck me gently with a chainsaw.
The bluffing days were over...the workers walked off the job at approximately 3:00 a.m. EST which meant mayhem and misery for millions of straphangers this morning as rush hour would turn into an obstacle course of the worst kind.
While my boss had already given my department a heads-up yesterday that strike or no strike, he wasn't coming in, I had two options:
- Be a trooper and forge ahead with my personal contingency plan to make it into Lower Manhattan come hell or high water
- Stay under my warm covers with a mug of chai tea watching the events unfold from the comfort of my home
However, I can't get too comfortable in reveling in being the spoiled brat that I am since tomorrow I've got to channel my inner G.I. Jane and hoof it into the city by any means necessary. Suddenly turning down a charity bone to that clod in human resources is looking like a really bad idea. I could've had some vacation days be magically accrued at the last minute...you know, kind of like the MTA's billion dollar surplus they've been moving around like Colombian drug weight. Or if I had bothered to learn how to drive, oh about a decade ago as kids in the boonies do, I could've put my hustle tactics to good use running a gypsy van route up to MetroTech.
The same kindhearted souls who have put your job in jeopardy with end-of-year dockings, rerouting the yellow brick road for the kiddies to meet their perfect attendance quotas and making near biblical pilgrimages to see your loved ones outside of a 5-mile radius would really, really like to wish you a Happy Holidays from the bottom of their broken hearts. Can you feel the love tonight?
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Thought it would be cool to blow off some steam in the next few weeks with a quickie weekend getaway, but making the mini-excursion into a "girls nite out" theme. Well, more like a girl + 1 since my circle of single and fancy-free girlfriends have been shrinking faster than Mary-Kate Olsen. Damn near everyone I know is either getting or have already gotten hitched, on the inside track for the idealized amount of 2.5 kids while migrated into the blandness of suburbia. So, the cheese stands almost alone. Enter my homegirl Nadine.* We've been friends for eons, and when she moved across the street from me about 5 years ago, it seemed like we had made a 360° from sleepovers to just chillin' on the stoop with a couple of cigs talking about whatever.
So around September when I had the bright idea to make a weekend run out of the tri-state area, she was on the short list of candidates I could proposition 3 days of debauchery to. And as luck would have it, Nadine was up for the trip. But then again, who in their right mind would turn down some sunny skies and an excuse to drink in the daytime during the dog days of winter? The whole plan still hinged on whether or not she could get the time off as schedule was constantly schizophrenic due to the revolving nature of being a hospital staffer. I figured as long as she gave me answer before Thanksgiving, I'd be good to book the flight and then plot the hotel scouting.
September ended, nothing.
Halloween came and went, nada.
Thanksgiving rolled by, still no concrete answer.
What kind of janky ass position are you holding down if you can't get a yes or no from your supervisor damn near three months ahead of time just to take two days off? Meanwhile in the midst of all my thumb twiddling, American Airlines kept tempting me with new discounted flights smack dab for the time I was eying. A round trip of under $150 was just too much of a steal to pass up. So I put the booking on hold so I could run the numbers by her first. I call her cell and home numbers so many times I may have given myself carpal tunnel. No response. I'm pacing and getting antsy because I'm slated to lose the pending seats at midnight if I don't put the order through. Finally at 11:09 p.m., this broad calls me back feigning apologies. Never mind the bollocks, are you in or out? She says she's still going. So, I reserve the tickets at least feeling a bit more at ease since the biggest hurdle was cleared. Well, for the time being.
Now I was comparison shopping for the best place to stay, and of course I was the one doing all the work. Every time I would call her to stop over to take a look at the details and sit down to crunch the numbers, the heifer would pull some incognito bill-collector avoidance tactics.
This constant push & pull only served as a reminder of why I keep the socializing with broads to a bare minimum because this is the kind of nonsense that's far too commonplace.
Here's hoping a U.S. marshal doesn't put a slug in me if I happen to choke the living daylights out of her en route.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Cult of personality
1. Thanks in part to an overwhelming need to salute a countrywoman who made good, I was named after the first Black woman to win the title of Miss Universe.
2. A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I appeared on an episode of Reading Rainbow. Yes, I was one of the dorky runts who summed up a book review in 60 seconds or less. The VHS copy will be taken to my grave.
3. I graduated high school at 16 and college shortly after my 20th birthday.
4. The approximate generation gap between myself and my three half-siblings spans my exact age: a quarter century.
5. I still have the response to a fan letter I sent way back in 1989 framed and I refuse to throw it away just out of the kitsch value. The artist(s) in question? New Kids On The Block. Stop laughing, goddamnit.
Five victims chosen to be in the hot seat: